Hello everyone. I'm currently a junior biology-neuroscience & physiology major and for as far back as I can remember, I have wanted to become a doctor. However, recently, I began to question this decision, mainly because unlike before, I've heard so much about doctors who are not happy with their decision and hate their careers. I do not want to have to go through so many years of study and stress to get to the top, only to find out that after thousands of dollars, and hours, I hate it. Furthermore, I eventually want to start a family, and I know that will be my priority. But after reading through the message boards, it seems that medicine isn't a family friendly field, in any way. But being such a big field, I believe there has to be at least some areas that aren't that bad. ARE ANY OF YOU IN SPECIALTIES THAT YOU ENJOY, THAT ALLOWS YOU TO SPEND AMPLE TIME WITH YOUR FAMILY???? and how many hours do you work on average? Thanks!
Life is meant to be lived; so live it to the fullest!
I don't mean to be a "downer" but I am an OB/GYN and now have a 14 month old and am finding that my career is not even close to family friendly. I am considering changing careers. I think there are ways in medicine that you can make it work, but you have to be very realistic and proactice. You need to be very careful in what specialty you choose. However, traditional doctoring in any specialty is not a 9-5 job so you need to go into it with your eyes open. I do love medicine however my son and family come first. That is why I am contemplating a change. If I had to go back, I don't know if I would do it again despite the fact that I do love OB/GYN. I hope this doesn't deter you but instead just makes you think about all your options in medicine before you chose one.
The OP's question is one I've also thought about, I am just a post-bacc though.
One related thought I've been having, though, is there are so many questions like this one on this board--how to balance family and medicine, which specialties are most family friendly, etc. but my question is why aren't people who don't have kids asking these same questions--i.e. how to balance personal free time and medicine, which specialties will allow me to have the most free time, etc.?
The fact is that for those of us who don't have kids yet, and even those that do, medicine eats up a huge chunk of your free time, so that you have much reduced time left for personal interests--hobbies, etc. whatever they may be.
Why is it that we as women don't see time for ourselves as just as important as time for family? I know that many people on this board already have kids or are contemplating near future pregnancy, but I'm just asking this as a general question.
Time away from the hospital (for family, or for myself) is very important to me...as it is for most people. The problem is young doctors get "sucked in and trapped" so to speak, if they are not careful. They choose specialties based on what they think they'll enjoy, without considering the amount of *time* the specialty will require of them...both during training, and beyond. After finishing they realize that student loan payments are not cheap...and cannot be paid without a good high-paying job (forcing them to continue working like crazy just to make ends meet). And, the most revealing thing about being a doctor is...sometimes, patients are a pain in the a$$. "I wanna help people" you say in medical school...but once out you're like "why don't people help *themselves* more?" So, dealing with people (patients) can become stressful.
Primary care fields are the worst in terms of family time. OB/Gyn, IM, FP, peds...and even general surgery. Call sucks, clinic sucks, hospital rounds suck, you hate your pager, you work too hard, and make way less than you should. The RNs in the PICU make more per hour than the pediatrician....and they get 3-4 days off a week, low malpractice, less stress, less training, less financial investment, less time investment...12 hour shifts...no call...and did I mention they make more per hour? Overall the physician makes more money...but they work everyday sometimes, for 12-15 hours a day, take call, paperwork, etc.
For the OP question. I am an EM physician...and *yes* I do have ample time for myself, and my family outside of the hosptial. I work 13, 12 hour shifts/month...which leaves me with about 17 days off/month. I have no call, no clinic, no rounds, no pager. I make almost $200/yr. And I have 17 days off/month. Not many people, regardless of specialty, has that many days off. Of course some days are post shift (which means you sleep the next day until afternoon). There are weekend shifts and holidays (so you'll miss some family activities). But, primary care MDs have call on weekends and holidays. And if you're a surgeon, anesthesia, or IM, FP, peds, at a bigger institution, you're on call in the hospital...sometimes on weekends/holidays. But, the worst part is...you still have a pager...which can intrude on your family/personal time.
There are areas of medicine that allow for better lifestyle...and these residencies are becomming very competitive. Like you, medical students are getting wiser, sooner, and realize that lifestyle is just as important as "your job" in the hospital.
I've just finished the 3rd month of my intern year in a Family Practice residency. I'd like to spend more time with my son, but I really can't complain. Our hours do allow us to spend a lot of time with our families.
My work hours are 7am-5pm, at the worst, Monday-Friday. We're usually on 1 or 2 weekends a month, and over-night call is about q 10 since we have a large class.
It's obvious that there can be some horrendous hours involved. I made it a priority to match into a position that allowed me plenty of time with my son. It's a difficult juggling act, though, because it's really important to me to be a competent physician and a really good mom. It's a tall order.
Thanks to all of you for the information! I'm starting to learn something new, because I always thought that maybe ped/IM/fp's would have the most time. But I guess that's not true. Please keep the responses coming!!
Life is meant to be lived; so live it to the fullest!