Friday, May 06, 2005

What it's like to be a physician

Red State Moron (May 5) blogs about a program to help pre-meds determine if they are cut out to be a physician:
So Santa Clara University is helping its students determine whether they're cut out for it early, long before they even enter medical school. Pre-med students who land a much-coveted spot in a special university program shadow doctors, nurses, social workers, chaplains and business administrators at San Jose's O'Connor Hospital for the better part of an academic year.
They see births. And deaths. They learn how to remove a catheter and burp a baby. They watch the calming bedside manner of chaplains during a patient's final hours, and discuss how hospitals can keep financially afloat when caring for many uninsured and under-insured patients.

Being a physician isn't so bad. The money is good, usally at least $2000 annual salary per hours worked in a typical week (40 hours per week= at least 80,000, 60 hours per week = at least $120,000). The job can be stressful at times, but it's probably less stressful than working for minimum wage at McDonalds. There's a lot of flexibility; administrative positions are possibilities for those who don't like seeing patients all day.
Being a physician is easy, it's becoming a physician that sucks. What these pre-meds need to learn is what it's like to accumulate $150,000 of debt during med school, and then watch the interest on the debt build up during residency. What it's like to work eighty hours per week during residency (when I was a Med/psych resident, there were some medicine rotations that I worked 110 hours per week on, but there are now strict caps on hours). They need to learn what it's like to spend thousands on board exams and board review courses.
The pre-meds should shadow surgery interns and see the crap they have to put up with. The program should have these pre-meds hold retractors for 6 hours during surgery and then have an attending yell at them for no apparent reason.
Being a fully trained physician is great. Being a med student or resident sucks. Med school and residency are long hours during the best years of your life.
I like being a doctor. I don't like the price I had to pay to get here. I don't know if I would do it all over again.