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MS4 thinking about not doing residency

6 years 3 months ago #90989 by ellabay
Hi -
I would love some advice and perspective from moms and physicians with some more experience.

I am a fourth year medical student, a newlywed, and am 33 and am seriously thinking about not doing residency. I have submitted my ERAS applications and am starting to get interviews, but I am not excited and having serious doubts, for a couple of reasons.

First, I am feeling in serious baby mode. The original plan was to put off TTC until after intern year. I am worried about waiting until I'm 35. I'm also worried about having a child during residency and worried that I'll have no time for that child. Residency sounds stressful enough without adding the extra challenges of being a new mom, plus feeling guilty for not being there and all the added sleep deprivation.

Second, I am feeling burned out. It's been a long 4 years for me. Spending the next 3 - 4 years working 16 hours at a time or 24 hours straight sounds, well, not what I want to be doing. I want to spend time with my husband, family, friends, outside, living life, walking the dog, cooking dinner, hopefully caring for a new baby. I love patient care and love getting to know patients and talk to them and take care of them, but the hours and hours of work for 3 or 4 more years seems unbearable. And I suspect overnight shifts wouldn't have been a huge deal at 26, but at 33, I am a wreck the entire next day. Not sure if I can keep doing this to myself.

Then I see these polls that say 60% of doctors want to quit and I wonder even more if the next 4 years of non-stop work are worth it.

Any thoughts?

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6 years 3 months ago #90994 by nerdy
What field are you applying for?

Maybe you want to defer graduation for this year to do research/MPH/MBA/ think about things instead of not doing a residency? Maybe a year of rest will help you have a clear perspective of why you went in to medicine?

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6 years 3 months ago #90998 by sahmd
A lot of people think about quitting at many points during their medical career. Medicine can be difficult, and the future is unknown. However, quitting at this point in your career means that you have already made most of the sacrifices (especially financial) and will get none of the rewards. In addition, if you start to miss patient care in a few years, it will be difficult to go back. From what other people have reported, you must complete all 3 steps in 7 years, and also matching is much more likely to be successful if you are still in medical school.

If you really believe that choosing medicine was a mistake, then I guess it does not make sense to spend any more time on that career path. But it sounds like you like patient care and you are more worried about the temporary difficulties of residency hours and having a baby. Those are valid concerns, but there are a lot of people here who have successfully combined residency and childrearing, so it is not impossible. Have you chosen a field that has a more family-friendly residency? That might help.

I hope you are able to have a relaxing fourth year so that you are able to recover from feeling burned out.

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6 years 3 months ago #90999 by ellabay
I actually think that most of the sacrifices are yet to come. For the past 4 years I've just been in school. I have much more time and much less stress than I will for the next 4 years. I also have much more control over my schedule than I will when I'm actually working and required to be there. Financially, it's a wash as I have no loans and will either get a job in medicine or outside of medicine, either of which will pay me enough to be comfortable.

It's not that I think choosing medicine was a mistake. I love what I've learned and I love the experiences I've had. But I'm just wondering if moving forward is worth it. Not having kids yet, I don't know how my feelings will change, but I see so many of my friends with babies who are home or working part time and all of the time they get to spend caring for their kids as a result and I wonder if I'm going to be miserable missing that.

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6 years 3 months ago #91000 by sahmd
You are lucky not to have loans! That does change the equation a bit.

Maybe we will hear from those who had babies in residency felt about not having as much time with their kids.

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6 years 3 months ago #91003 by newmommdphd
I had many of the same questions - if you go back and look in old threads, one of which was called "Struggling," you will see the dialogue we had about this a few years ago. I ended up going into a residency program but I had some strict rules for myself. One rule was that if I got overwhelmed I would quit. This is always an option -- not a good one. But you really don't know what it's like to be a doctor till you try it. Medical school is different. And for the record, with all my doubts, and as hard as internship is, I am glad I stayed the course. Being a doctor is awesome and I am privileged to touch people's lives in this way. I have a nearly 4 year old child with special needs and my husband is a resident too. The sacrifices have been tremendous, but they don't feel that bad in light of the privilege it is to practice medicine. And if I don't fixate on the sacrifices, and focus on the positive, I find I actually enjoy my life as a resident! Other strict rules I had for myself in choosing a program: I chose a field where on average I do not work more than 60 hours per week, even as a resident. Many weeks are 45 hours. I chose a specialty where people believe in having a life outside medicine and so the culture matches my mindset. I chose a program where there is no 24 hour call, as I do not believe in staying up all night. See what I mean? There actually is more choice than you would think -- there are differences between residency programs and specialties. I also chose to have nannies regardless of the cost as I felt my child needed one on one attention. I chose a collegial program where residents have each other's backs. I have already switched call shifts several times with colleagues so I could be home while my husband was on call. Having one parent home for bedtime as much as possible is another one of my strict rules. And I keep the long view in mind. Residency is another 3.5 years for me, and then I get to choose whatever job I want!

Keep in mind that you don't know how you will feel until you're there... this includes being a resident and a mom. I did not know how I would feel about having a child and methods of child care (staying home vs. working, for example). And then I had my son, and my questions were answered...I did want to work outside the home but only if I felt his needs were cared for in an excellent way. So my advice is to keep moving forward, you'll get there when you get there, and you can decide how you feel once you are a mom.

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