× Women Residents

Thinking about transferring out of gen surg

5 years 5 months ago - 5 years 5 months ago #95058 by Ptefabulous
Hey guys,

I'm new here, I found this forum in a desperate attempt to find information from other women who have transferred programs. I'm 3 months into my first year of gen surg residency, and 3 months of 7 into my gen surge rotation. And I'm exhausted! Physically, mentally, emotionally... These 80 + work weeks are tiring me out. I have barely seen my fiance. Our ward has been extra busy for me since there is no senior so basically I'm the senior running the team and running lists with attendings. I don't even enjoy the OR anymore, even when I get to do procedures skin to skin. I find lap appy's and chole's just tiring and mostly can't wait for it to be over so my shoulders get some relief from holding instruments in awkward positions.

Anyway I know residency is busy, but I wasn't expecting it to be THIS busy, and to basically have to give up the rest of my life for work. I'm seriosuly considering a transfer to fam med for the future lifestyle I want. Which would be to work normal hours, be home to see my family, and be able to have hobbies outside of work. I just can't imagine feeling like this for 5 years, especially when I don't know if I will be able to get a job in the city of my choice. Even the seniors look stressed and miserable but they seem to continue on somehow. I just don't know if the sacrifices I will be making when it comes to family and lifestyle for the next 5 years will be worth it.

Have you guys felt like those too? Has anyone made the jump from gen surg to something else? I don't know if these feeling are mostly stress, or if I really need to do something else for my own well being.
Last Edit: 5 years 5 months ago by .

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5 years 5 months ago #95076 by nightowl
I made the jump from ob/gyn to FM, for all of the reasons you mentioned. Some days I regret it, other days I'm relieved that I can work part time when I finish residency. I do miss the OR and the excitement of OB. Sometimes I see pictures of the people in my ob intern class and feel a lot of regret for switching out. It's hard because there is time pressures as far as switching specialties. I made the decision three months into my intern year (about where you are now). I wonder if I had waited another year if I would have made the same decision. all unknowns, and you have to live with your decision either way. I can tell you as I get older and now with two children and a husband in medicine, I find myself pretty exhausted by the end of the day. The long hours and call of OB definitely would have worn me down, I think, especially combined with kids. That said, every person has different sleep and energy requirements and I just happen to require a lot of sleep and time to recuperate. Some people handle it better. But being tired your intern year is a given in any specialty. Intern year sucks no matter what. I think what you need to ask yourself is what you want in the long term. If you want to operate, stick it out. It will get better. If you can see yourself being happy in a clinic based specialty, maybe you should switch. And at the end of the day you have to know your limits and have strong priorities. I have my days where I miss the OR but I enjoy my time off with my kids. I plan on working part time when I finish my training. I am not that concerned with making money. So for me, I think it was worth it.

I would do some reflecting on what you liked in med school though. If you hated doing your family med rotation, I wouldn't switch into it, even if the schedule is better. Be sure to pick something that you liked in med school. Hope this helps.

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5 years 5 months ago #95079 by southernmd
Consider Anesthesia. Very procedural, OR time still, but most agree we have a better schedule. It's not as light as an outpatient-medicine based specialty, but I have experienced 80+ hours also as an intern, and I firmly believe 60 hours a week (what I regularly work) is way better than 80. And I enjoy what I am doing! We have lots of people that switch into Anesthesia from surgery also. It is not uncommon, and there are usually ways to slide into a CA-1 (PGY-2) position after intern year.

Tough out intern year. You can do it. Intern year sucks so bad everywhere, so look at it with an end point in mind. But know there are other alternatives.

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5 years 4 months ago - 5 years 4 months ago #95094 by Ptefabulous
Sorry this didn't post before, for some reason my posts are blank when I try to post from my iphone...

Anyway, Thank you guys for your advice. I took a week off, and I'm starting to feel a bit more rejuvenated, and am going to give it a few more weeks before I make a final decision. However I did ask the dean about a transfer already and he said it should't be a problem, and I already feel a great sense of relief. I'm hoping things might get a bit better, but I don't know if it will. I don't feel like my co residents are supportive of one another especially in approving on call requests in a timely fashion, and I don't feel that the staff stands up for us residents when it comes to the dealing with nursing staff and making sure that they realize that we are doing the job as our staff wants us to.

In addition, I don't want my whole life to be about work, which I think it will be if I stay in Surgery.
Last Edit: 5 years 4 months ago by .

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5 years 4 months ago #95138 by English
Ok-- so I am not a resident or a surgeon for that matter. I am an attending, but I am married to a general surgeon. I would readily tell you to get out of general surgery. But that is my bias. I guess my question to you is what is your plan and how do you see your future. I mean sometimes residents and medical students, etc. see just the moment and what seems interesting, exciting and sexy for the moment, but the question is in your 30th year of doing this specialty-- will you still find it exciting? The second question is every other aspect of life worth sacrificing for this career/job?

My husband still works about 100 hours a week and he is an attending. The thing is there is no work hours when you are an attending. In that way-- being an intern is easier than being an attending. Yes, you may have a little bit more autonomy to decide your own hours, but for a surgeon to earn their weight or salary you have to work pretty hard and there are not really other options. Then there are the lawsuits, complications, malpractice, higher deductible so less elective cases, and more emergent cases that happen at all hours and more unpredictable and high stressed. My hubby loves his work and loves the OR, but I always wonder at the cost and I think he now wonders too. There are some times days in a row that he doesn't see our son. His health takes a toll as well because there is only so long that your body can go on 3-4 hours of sleep. It's really not worth it. I'm sorry-- you talk about surviving the next 5 years, but how about the rest of your working life until retirement? What is your plan for that part? I mean maybe the breast surgeons have more of a life, but you need a certain amount of volume to do that which requires multiple hospitals and likely doing general surgery for awhile until your practice builds. There's trauma surgery which is 24 hrs on and then off, but that 24 hrs on is crazy. These are big questions to ask yourself and you are still in the beginning so you can change. I don't want to be harsh, but what did you think it was going to be like? It's general surgery-- it's not as malignant as it was 20 years ago, but it definitely is not family friendly. It's not even life friendly, but if you like to work and that's about it then it's perfect for those individuals.

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5 years 4 months ago #95139 by Ptefabulous
Thanks for sharing your story. The last line you wrote really resonates with me, I'm realizing that gen surg is not life friendly at all. I expected it to be busy, but I never expected it to be THIS busy. As a medical student rotating at my program the hours seemed reasonable, but now I'm realizing just how much students are shielded from. Even with the work hours restrictions in place, it is expected that we stay until whenever the work is done and to work excess call if needed. This month I don't have a single weekend off call.

I can't make my whole life about surgery, I have other life things that I care about too. In the end, I don't think surgery will be worth it for me. It does break my heart to leave though, to walk away from something that I worked so hard to get into. I guess that's life, making hard decisions. Hopefully I will accepted into family and life will be better...

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