Would you do it again?

Okay, I've been following a thread on another forum. The question is, for those of you in medicine, would you do it over again if you had the choice?
This question (on mommd) has become a heated topic with, overall, a very negative slant. It seems most of the people replying only stay in medicine because they are financially obligated to do so. Many of them respond as unregistered users for obvious reasons.
So I'm curious, do the nontraditional doc's feel that way as well? I have this theory that OPM'ers go into medicine with more experience and a better understanding of what medicine is really about, unlike the traditional premeds with the rose-colored glasses. But I could be wrong.
What do you guys have to say???

Finishing training after four years of undergrad (okay, maybe more…), four years of medical school, a one year fellowship, and five years of general surgery. I love, love, love my job. Couldn't imagine doing anything else.

QUOTE (GED2MD @ Jan 30 2003, 04:38 PM)
Finishing training after four years of undergrad (okay, maybe more...), four years of medical school, a one year fellowship, and five years of general surgery. I love, love, love my job. Couldn't imagine doing anything else.

Hi there,
After numerous careers before medicine plus four years of medical school where I encountered the most incredible mental challenges and now residency in surgery, I have to echo my colleage. "Couldn't imagine doing anything else."

Thanks, I knew I could count on you guys! wink.gif
I wonder, does your job satisfaction have anything to do with being in surgery? Most of the negative replies on the other forum appear to be from GP’s. Why might a surgeon experience more satisfaction? So your peers feel the same?
Also, I would love to get more replies, positive or negative! Feel free to post as an unregistered user if it makes you more comfortable.

Without a doubt, going back to school, after having had a professional salary, stable life and having enjoyed all the perqs of a 2-income home w/o children was extremely tough. Furthermore, medical has been the toughest undertaking of my life…esp the first two years. I have been pushed, academically, harder than I have ever been before – and I made it and I did well. My third & fourth years were like coming home for me…long hours, but it so much fun. My worst day on the wards was better than my best day in the classroom.
Would I do it agin? Without a moments hesitation!!! Not only have I had my academic ass kicked; I loved it!! All of my life, I was a chronic underachiever…I now know that is was due to a lack of self-discipline and pure boredom. Once I set my head to it and made myself be challenged…oh, I cannot tell you how wonderful it is. I would never trade the experience!
My mother-in-law sums it up so well, “Dave, the reason you able to accomplish these things is that medicine is your driving passion”. B/t my wife, daughter-to-be, my dog and my career – how could I ask for anything more???
The folks who tend to regret their decision to become physicians, in my observation, are the ones who picked it for the wrong reasons. Many applicants, both traditional & nontraditional, opt to try for prestige, delsuions of immediate wealth, becasue it is among the most challenging of paths and a host of other reasons. I agree that nontraditional tend to know more why they are doing this; however, nontrads are not immune for choosing medicine for the wrong reasons, they just seem to do so less oftern.
In the end…when the poo-poo hits the fan, your need to be a physician must come from a deeper well than those. When you’ve been up for an untold number of hours and yet another pt circling the drain shows up, or even a more benign concern…you have to have it in you to snap up, think and make the best decisions that you can with the info available. Some folks love & thrive on this sort of challenge. They are there to truly help folks…as corny or cliche as that may sound.
If you’re heading down our path for the right reasons, you efforts will be repaid in massive dividends…not necessarily dividends into the old pocketbook, but dividends that mean so much more than dollar signs. If you’re walking this path for the wrong reasons, you are likely destined to be very unhappy…and possibly one of the asshole Docs you hear too much about.

QUOTE (OldManDave @ Jan 31 2003, 08:42 AM)
In the end...when the poo-poo hits the fan, your need to be a physician must come from a deeper well than those. When you've been up for an untold number of hours and yet another pt circling the drain shows up, or even a more benign concern...you have to have it in you to snap up, think and make the best decisions that you can with the info available. Some folks love & thrive on this sort of challenge. They are there to truly help folks...as corny or cliche as that may sound.

How is someone going to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that being a doctor is for them? The things you describe are situations most people will never experience until they're in their clinical years in med school. The fatigue, being pushed to your limits, life or death choices...these are things I don't expect I'll encounter while finishing my ugrad degree, and I can't imagine any volunteer opportunities that mimic what a doctor goes through.
I'm asking because I am genuinely interested in knowing how I will know that being a doctor is what I want. Everything I read, see, feel, and know tells me yes...but will I really know unless I experience the scenarios you've described? I've read stories about students who finish college and then leave either during medical school, or in their internship year. I would hate for that to be me.
Most of the negative replies on the other forum appear to be from GP's.

i'm not a doc yet - though some of my patients, bless 'em, call me "doctor" biggrin.gif (it's a thrill, I admit it!) but what i've observed is this: if, as a primary care physician, you expect the gratitude of your patients as part of your reward, you are likely to be disappointed. In this era of managed care, where people are paying more and getting less, the doctor is a convenient point person for their anger and frustration about how their insurance company is screwing them over. And so they take their docs for granted. They expect a lot. They're not grateful, not by a long shot. They don't look at those EOBs (Explanation of Benefits) their insurance companies send them to find out that their doc was reimbursed $20 for a visit where they spent half an hour for a fifteen minute appointment, trying to cover five different major problems because, dammit, they paid a $15 co-pay and so they want their money's worth! And besides, she kept them waiting to see them... never mind the obvious disconnect between their over-lengthy appointment and the doctor not keeping to her schedule! Besides, the doctor must be rich - all doctors are, everyone knows that. (and so, if they actually DO look at the EOB to find out that the doc was reimbursed $7.50 for a pelvic exam - honest, I actually saw that - they won't spend a second wondering how the doc is managing to meet payroll if that's her level of reimbursement)
It can be wearing, to say the least, to deal with this attitude every single day, which is what primary care physicians have to do. The managed care mess has taken away the therapeutic alliance between patient and physician. People used to stick with one doctor who would get to know them well. Now, their company health insurance changes every year and every year they end up having to look for a new physician. And since physicians are the contractual representatives of the hated insurance companies, we have unfortunately become 'the enemy.'
When I write it all out like that I do wonder, why am I going into primary care? Well, because I don't need people's gratitude - I know I will do well by my patients and they will be better for seeing me even if all I have to give them is some reassurance or information. The ones who see me as the representative of the enemy - (shrug) I know I'm not, so it doesn't bother me if that's what they think.
I DO hope that I'll be able to make a decent salary at it, although obviously anyone who goes into medicine for the money these days is suffering from delusional thinking.

I think people have posted good comments, but I would also try to find some old premeds that have finished their training maybe? Wait, that is an oxymoron! Non traditional students that are now practicing physicians!! It seems like most of the comments below are from people are still in the process of completing their training, while a good portion of the comments from mommd were from physicians who had been practicing for a while…

Okay, so I’m not even in med school yet, but I will be this fall. But, I have a very good friend who was a nontraditional student himself, and he has been in practice for over 10 years now. And when I asked him that exact same question, his reply was, “Absolutely.” He went on to say that people who really want to be doctors for the pure joy of practicing medicine, and not necessarily for the money, will almost always give you the same answer.
If you have any doubts, come to the conference this year and listen to some of our speakers, including Dr. Randy Hunt, who just happens to be the friend I was just talking about.

Sorry to have been so absent here lately. My desktop is in critical care & may not survive the fall from my second story window…wonder how that happened?
You are correct in that not too many folks are “old war horses” like Nat Belle, Tae & myself & unable to relay that depth of exposure. However, the AdComs very much to see that you have made the effort to expose yourself to the medical professions…JP, before you even start – this sort of exposure does not mandate a long trench coat!!
Try doing some volunteer work, shadowing a Doc (also a great way to get an LoR from a physician) or working in a non-licensed clinical capacity: phlebotomist, nursing/resp assistant…No, it is not mandatory to do this…but it can help. Simply volunteering for other worthy community/humanitarian projects: Habitat for Humanity, Amer Hear, Red Cross & others; demonstrates a commitment beyond lip-service to the welfare of your fellow citizens.
Additionally, you are leaving another career. Be able to articulate why you are doing so without making disparaging remarks about your profession or your employers. As a second-/third-career person, they may perceive a concern over you possibly being a career-hopper. Be prepared to defend your rationale for changing to medicine.
The AdComs do not expect you to be able to walk the walk & talk the talk if you have not been there. You can anticipate their expectations to be commensurate with your station in life: never been medical, second career, nontraditional w/ family – they want you to be able to justify & defend your decisions more thoughly than your typical 24 year old applicant, although they certainly have to be able to do so as well…just not as likely onas deep a level.
Is this more clear?

Excellent questions! We do have several physicians here on OPM…not as numerous or as active as many of the med student members…understandably. But they are around. I would suggest that you visit the other forums and ask post questions. There is a med student section and a section for the Docs of OPM – by the by, those sections are so named not to imply that anyone other than is not welcome there, but to provide you all a forum where you can direct your questions at specific populations of OPM members. If you want to ask a med student something…go to the med student areas…ask a Doc…go to the Doc area. All areas are open to all members.
Never be afraid to ask the questions others are afraid to ask!

Thanks Dave. Glad to see there are more and more non traditional physicians out there! We need ya! It would be great to hear some of their input on this thread too- I would imagine that the stresses for nontraditionals after practice would be different than for those that went straight through. I would think that in general there would be more awareness of what it’s like out in “the real world” and less discouragment about the current state of medicine. However I wonder if they might deal with other concerns as well, such as accumulated debt from other endeavors beforehand or retirement concerns. Also since more nontraditionals might be married beforehand the effect and balance on relationships through the medical school process, residency and after.

Thanks for the reply Dave,
It's always appreciated when you folks in or out of med school take the time to respond.
I guess my main concern was that any volunteer or shadow experience I have will seem sheltered compared to the rigors and harsh realities of med school, internship, and residency.
I suppose nothing can truly prepare you for that and you have to hope your heart and mind are in the right place and in the end, the satisfaction of helping others outweighs any perceived negatives.

If you don't like medicine there are any number of other things you can do with your medical degree, from research to consulting to business to medical journalism… Only timidity and/or a lack of imagination locks M.D.s into medicine per se. So the real question is whether you think it's likely that you'll like medical school, and then after that you can decide whether it's likely that you'll like residency, and then after that you can decide whether it's likely that you'll like medical practice. There is no life commitment here: just take things one step at a time. The odds are that if you do this, you'll come out the other end as a doctor, and probably a happy not-bitter one too.
As for me? I like medical school.
boston joe

This article may be of interest to you; OPMs, non-trad med students, and former non-trad students now in practice are all quoted: