Would you do it again?

I have a question for the OPM med students, residents, and docs out there. Before I ask, let me lay a little groundwork. After spending some time browsing this forum along with several others, I followed a thread on another website that asked the question “Would you do it again?”. It was a very discouraging thread to me. Answers were given by people in all different stages of their medical careers. Everyone from veteran docs to MS-IV’s replied with an overwhelming No Way! Get out now! The pay is not what it used to be, the patients are a pain to deal with, it’s not what I thought it would be… You get the picture.
How pervasive is this type of attitude within the medical community? Aren’t the majority of the people you work with glad to be there?
I don’t expect every day to be all rosy, but should I expect to be working in an environment full of people with negative attitudes? Has your attitude changed from what it was at the beginning of this process? If so how?
Thanks to anyone who can provide some insight into what to expect in the years to come.

I’m just a pre-med, so please do not take my word as authority. But, I do believe I saw the same thread on that “other board”, and, if it is the same one I saw, I have my own theory as to what is going on there.
Remember that older applicants are still a minority. Most MD students have either just graduated from university, or have been out of college for 3 to 5 years. To be honest, I don’t think most applicants know what they are getting into, particularly those who go right from college to medical school. Volunteering a couple of hours a week at the ER and doing a 3 credit biology-oriented research project in junior year is not going to give anyone much insight into what the practice of medicine is really like.
Then, after 4 years of medical school, and 3+ years of residency training and fellowship, many doctors find themselves in their early to mid-thirties having made essentially no money for the previous 10 years. They see their friends in other professions spending money on new cars, exciting vacations, houses, and they see themselves struggling to pay off loans. Now they are making good, but not great, money, working long hours, and wondering if it was all worth it. I imagine that this was much worse during the mid-to-late 90’s dot-bomb boom when 25 year old MBA graduates were making $200K+ creating Powerpoint slides on new business models.
Unless you’ve worked as a nurse, NP, PA, etc., or have a close friend/relative who is a physician, it is hard to truly understand what the practice medicine is really like. I would be interested in hearing from any allied health professionals who have made the jump to the dark side and getting their perspective on whether the jump was worthwhile.
Some more of my thoughts on money:
- Doctors today still make good, not great, money. However, if you stay in practice long enough, the financial rewards will accumulate, and you should be able to enjoy a comfortable retirement. And, you will have job security.
- There are individuals in other professions (law, investment banking, etc.) that make more money than most doctors. However, these individuals are a minority (most lawyers make $60K or less), and they, too, work lots of hours, and have no job security.
- There are other ways to make money. Most of these ways require a lot of effort and a smattering of good fortune. Many small business owners work insane hours, and few get rich. If you’re last name is Hilton, none of this applies.
- Physicians can specialize in a variety of fields. In all these fields the demand for medical services is great. Physicians can work in a variety of practice settings and locations, and can even work part time once established. Very few, if any, other professions have this level of flexibility and diversity.
From my own perspective, I cannot forsee how I could possibly make up the financial opportunity cost of medical training. However, it is something I really, really, really feel I want to do. I also know I do not yet understand or appreciate fully what I am getting myself into; fortunately, I have a couple of years of taking pre-reqs to figure this out.

Hi there,
Yes, I would do it again in a heartbeat. First, I love what I do and I do it well. I am a PGY-4 General Surgery resident headed for a fellowship in Vascular Surgery. There is nothing like being in the OR and getting the job done. I love every aspect of my work from the intricate microsurgery through the scope to the big colon cases that I am just getting comfortable with. I love using the argon coagulator for liver cases and the sound of a Harmonic scalpel is music to my ears. I have a good grasp of the skills that I need and now I am honing my experiences. I can get into a chest (and I know what to do once I am there) and cross clamp an aorta faster than most people can open a can of tuna.
I would do this job even if I did not get paid. The years of residency have flown by and I am looking forward to fellowship (University of Virginia or University of Maryland). I was fortunate to have a full-ride tuition scholarship for my medical education and not to owe any money for undergraduate or graduate studies. This has made my career change a bit easier.
I can’t imagine why people are so negative about medicine. All I can say is that I have a job that I can’t wait to do every day. I love my patients and I love the way that I can help them.

I remember reading a thread like that. One thing that stuck in my mind was a common theme of advice given by many… If there is anything else you would like to do… do that. I felt reasonably comfortable given that I have done lots of other things already and medicine is all I want now. My own assessment is similar to that already posted but I believe it also boils down to people feeling like they have missed out on something. If you have already had lots of non-school experiences and don’t feel that the 7+ year commitment is like giving up 7 years of your life then the grass may be greenest for you in medicine. I start med school in August. All of the people I know who began medicine later in life have no regrets. It helped me decide…

I am doing post-bacc work (on my own, not thru a program), coming from the field of speech-language pathology. So far, I feel it’s worth it. SLP is a good field, but I feel very limited in my scope of practice, and want to work with the patient on their complete health, not just one aspect of it. I’m not too worried about the money. I know it won’t be less than I’m making now (part-time work and student ).

Thanks for your replies. Here is the way I feel about it. I have never been more sure about a decision to do something than I am about this one. I am determined and motivated to succeed in medical school and beyond. All the years I spent doing other things have only served to clarify in my mind what is important.
It’s not about the money. I won’t have a free ride, so I will have substantial loans to pay off. To me it is about a gift that I have been given, and I want to give back. The best way I can think of to do that is to combine my thirst for knowledge with my total and complete fascination with the human body and how it functions, in a way that makes a difference in someone elses life. I know that is cliche’ and idealistic, but after so many years of being concerned only about myself, I have realized that helping other people is what it’s all about.
I don’t expect that one day I will wake up as an MD and my life will be perfect. I do expect that like Natalie I will love what I do, and I will love my patients. I am loving each step of the process right now. The preq courses are challenging and stimulating. It’s pretty cool being the old guy that sets the curve. For me the most difficult part is waiting for that next step. I can’t imagine how it must feel waiting for MCAT scores to be posted, or to wait on responses from applications.
The bottom line is I think I’ll just stick to browsing this forum where all the energy is postive and look forward to the MCAT!

It sounds like you have everything lined up with a wonderful attitude and positive outlook.
As to me, I’m a third year medical student, 54 years old, facing over $250,000 in student loans. Would I do it again? You bet I would! Am I tired? Of course I am. Rotations are wonderful, but they are physically, mentally, and emotionally challenging. BUT. . . though I may get home exhausted, aching, and wondering how I’ll make it tomorrow, I know in my heart that I will. Because I want to. Because I have to. It is something that is in my blood and heart that just can’t be given up.
I absolutely love every patient I see, whether they are major problems or routine check-ups. From the strep throat to the challenging unknown problems, they all excite me and remind me of why I chose this path. The preceptor I am working with continuously challenges my knowledge, giving me stuff to work on at home in the evenings. And, it is really exhilarating when I can go back the next day and tell him what I found, how it relates to our patient, and what I would do as far as assessment and plan for the patient. It is thrilling when he hasn’t come up with an answer and I give him a piece of information he hadn’t yet thought about that enables him to come to the same determination as I did, or to another, even better one.
Would I do it again? As long as God gives me the strength and ability to get through it, I would do it again in a New York minute!
Best of luck as you progress towards the achievement of your goal and dream!


Unless you’ve worked as a nurse, NP, PA, etc., or have a close friend/relative who is a physician, it is hard to truly understand what the practice medicine is really like.

I agree with this statement 100%, but I’d like to add that either being a patient with a serious illness or the caregiver for someone with a serious illness also gives you a pretty darn good perspective on the practice of medicine.
Form what I’ve observed on this site and in real life, nontraditional students are much more satisfied with being medical students/physicians than others. As a matter of fact, I can’t recall in the 3 or so years I’ve been a member here of ever hearing anyone gripe in a major way about being a med student/physician.

I am one of those allied health professionals you speak of. Would I do it again? I guess it depends upon what you want out of it. AS for me…yes, I would. I have been an RN for more than 10 years and have seen changes that are unbelievable. The trend toward money orientation as opposed to patient orientation has been incredible. I work ER more than anything and see patients that are ungrateful, demanding and rude. Supvisors understaff to meet financial goals. I have taken care of patients from a simple bead in the nose through gunshot wounds, and all the way to septic and cardiac shock. I have been vomited on, spit on, stalked and wiped the backside of some of the most rude people I’ve ever met. So why do I look forward to two more years of pre reqs, MCATs, interviews and possible rejection??? Well, because once in awhile I get to make a difference…and to me this is what makes it all worthwhile. I am not looking to get rich, only to positively touch a few lives. I fell into nursing by mistake (looking to support my family as a single mom), and was blessed enough to find something I not only have a skill for…but love (not every day, mind you).
So, you just have to decide what it is that “you” want. Like some of the other responses, I believe some of the younger people expect “physician” to be a position of glory and respect tied in a neat little package of wealth. What they get is a surprise in reality.

I think what you’re seeing is an example of this old saying. People who came right out of college and went to medical school really don’t how things in the ‘real world’ are in terms of professional careers. So they probably have some misconceptions about what a regular job would entail when they compare their medical careers to such jobs.
On the other hand, those of us who are OPMs and had a second career probably have a few such misconceptions about medicine.
My opinion is this (after working in a non-medical field for a decade and growing up in a household where both my parents were doctors)…
Every profession has seen the gold plating that used to attract people to professional work (and by this I just don’t mean money) stripped from it to one extent over the past 3 decades. So yes - the “golden age” of medicine is over. That having been said, so is the “golden age” of practically any profession you can think of joining in the modern world.
If your motivation is money, bypass medicine and go get an Ivy Leage MBA and find your way into the upper management of corporate America. You’ll save a lot of time and money in achieving your goals.
If you genuinely want to become a doctor, however don’t let the fact that things aren’t as they once were stop you. From what I have seen, it’s still one hell of a career.

Would I do it again?
In a heartbeat (or faster, if possible).
I’m just starting my emergency medicine residency, but I can’t think of anything I’d rather be doing with my life. Medical schoo, while alot of work, was alot of fun and certainly beat the hell outta working for a living.
Am I in incredible debt? Sure. Do I care? Not all that much. I’m almost guaranteed to make more money than 90% of Americans and 99.99999999% of all people in the world. I’ll be able to repay my debt, feed my family, put my kids through college and, if I’m not a complete financial idiot, buy myself cool computers and camera lenses.
Even if I were truly worried about paying off those loans, or if I obsessed about my likelihood of being sued (in EM, its VERY high), I’d still do it all again. To paraphrase the NBA ad, “I LOVE this job”!
Take care,