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Medicine will steal your life

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  • Avatar llessac15 
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    Status: Physician
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    I recently over heard some 60 y/o+ docs in the lounge calling us young docs lazy because none of us are willing to work the hours they did or see as many patients. I quickly chimed in to say that us younger docs just care more about the important things in life and aren’t willing to let Medicine steal our life from us. Being a doctor is my job, it’s not my life or “a calling” like it is to so many older docs. Also, I’ve never once had a retired doc advice me to make sure I work more hours before it’s too late. But, I have had many say with regret that they missed their children growing up because of their commitment to Medicine.

    New attendings, protect yourself from Medicine. It will steal your life if you let it. Draw a line as to how many patients you will see, how many calls you take, how many meetings you attend, and how many committees you are on. Don’t waste your life.

    Avatar pierre 
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    Being a doctor is my job, it’s not my life or “a calling”

    Click to expand…

    Funny you say this. I was recently reviewing a study guide about some bs non-interpretive skills for my upcoming boards and the first paragraph begins with the sentence:

    Merriam-Webster defines a profession as “a calling requiring specialized knowledge and often long and intensive academic preparation.”

    I can’t wait to read the next 47 pages.

     

    #211657 Reply
    Lordosis Lordosis 
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    Ugh sounds terrible. Who would sign up for something like that :p

    “Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what is right.”

    #211659 Reply
    Liked by Craigy, Anne
    Avatar resident_1 
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    Status: Physician
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    Joined: 06/26/2016

    Agree with everything said. Currently starting 3yr year post-residency (psychiatry).  Wife is working 4 days per week (2 days off just doesn’t give enough time to recover). Once loans paid off in 4 years will also try to go to 4 days per week.  Do 4 call weekends per year (to cover inpatient unit), happy with this arrangement, otherwise no other call duties during the regular week.
    As a personal opinion is that our training (shift-work since duty hour limitations started, which was a great thing), work environment where big health systems have reduced our existence to “providers” (who make the system run but can have little input in decisions made by non-medical administrators). Job environment (applies to non-medical fields) where highly skilled professionals change jobs every 1-2 years to move up (i.e. little employer and employee loyalty). Our desire to be home with our families over being at work. Realization how the size of gap between what we had in our minds as practice of medicine during undergrad/med school, and the reality of soul draining/burnout day to day clinical work (ie. being responsible for tons of useless documentation/coding responsibilities/MOC requirements/patient satisfaction/etc).  Salary is excellent. But certainly it is a job, and family/personal life should not be sacrificed for what work environment is currently like for physicians. Unfortunately my wife and I regularly talk about how long we can keep going, how demoralizing and exhausted we are by end of the week.  Frequently think “there is no way I can keep doing this for another 20 years” (and hoping to pay off student loans before salaries start to drop).

    I recently over heard some 60 y/o+ docs in the lounge calling us young docs lazy because none of us are willing to work the hours they did or see as many patients. I quickly chimed in to say that us younger docs just care more about the important things in life and aren’t willing to let Medicine steal our life from us. Being a doctor is my job, it’s not my life or “a calling” like it is to so many older docs. Also, I’ve never once had a retired doc advice me to make sure I work more hours before it’s too late. But, I have had many say with regret that they missed their children growing up because of their commitment to Medicine.

    New attendings, protect yourself from Medicine. It will steal your life if you let it. Draw a line as to how many patients you will see, how many calls you take, how many meetings you attend, and how many committees you are on. Don’t waste your life.

    Click to expand…

     

    #211662 Reply
    Lithium Lithium 
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    Status: Physician
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    Joined: 02/15/2016

    I wish I could remember who I frequently steal this quote from, but someone here once wrote that hospital administrators are night school MBAs who exploit the fact that doctors are naturally altruistic.  When I hear the word “calling,” to me it is a code word like “professionalism” that facilitates being walked over.  People do not use it unless they are trying to undervalue their subjects, or they are 60 y/o docs in the lounge trying to justify to themselves that they have been undervalued for their whole career.

    Maybe I am overly cynical, but it is better than just being another hapless stooge.

    Avatar wideopenspaces 
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    Status: Physician
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    Joined: 01/12/2016

    I don’t know, I have an excellent work life balance ( part time since finishing residency) and I still feel like I found my calling in psychiatry. I love my patients and the work. I try my best to go the extra mile for my patients and I give them the care I’d want my friends and family to receive. In general it feels like a privilege to me to be a doc. I still set firm limits and boundaries though. I don’t think the only options are to sacrifice everything for your patients,/ be walked all over by admin/ not see your family or to be a lazy doc that hates their job/doesn’t care about their patients. Moderation in all things. This black and white, all or nothing thinking is a false dichotomy. There’s a lot of gray in there where you can find personal and professional happiness while doing a lot of good as a doctor and living your life. I hope everyone can find that place for themselves.

    Avatar antheus 
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    Status: Resident, Physician
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    Joined: 04/18/2017

    Those same doctors milked the system during the glory days of medicine and spent it all on fancy cars and second wives which is why they’re 60+, still working, and complaining in the doctor’s lounge about how much medicine has changed and how doctors don’t get the respect or money they deserve anymore.

    Medicine won’t love you back. It is a job like any other. It is a stressful, high risk field that requires massive personal sacrifice with less and less reward, both financially and professionally. I agree with everything you’ve said OP. Get what you need from your job and get out. Do the things that you find rewarding and, when possible, avoid the things you don’t.

    Avatar treesrock 
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    Status: Physician
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    Joined: 08/14/2017

    I dunno guys, I love my job, I’m sorry that so many don’t.

    #211696 Reply
    Avatar hightower 
    Participant
    Status: Physician
    Posts: 1472
    Joined: 12/07/2016

    I recently over heard some 60 y/o+ docs in the lounge calling us young docs lazy because none of us are willing to work the hours they did or see as many patients. I quickly chimed in to say that us younger docs just care more about the important things in life and aren’t willing to let Medicine steal our life from us. Being a doctor is my job, it’s not my life or “a calling” like it is to so many older docs. Also, I’ve never once had a retired doc advice me to make sure I work more hours before it’s too late. But, I have had many say with regret that they missed their children growing up because of their commitment to Medicine.

    New attendings, protect yourself from Medicine. It will steal your life if you let it. Draw a line as to how many patients you will see, how many calls you take, how many meetings you attend, and how many committees you are on. Don’t waste your life.

    Click to expand…

    A better come back for those older docs would be to mention the student loan burden we had to take on.  Most of us graduate with $250k+ in loans.  That changes the way we feel about our careers because we feel shackled by the debt.  Imagine if you had graduated with hardly any loans and the interest on those loans was tax deductible (up until 1986 you could deduct all interest on student loans regardless of your income level)…you can thank Ronald Reagan for getting rid of that little perk in the name of lower taxes for the top brackets;)

    These docs you’re referring to got their start during the golden age of medicine.  They got lifetime board certification, big perks from drug companies, and no corporate BS to deal with.  Many of them were owners of their own practices as well, which changes the mindset with regards to working long hours because you know you’re going to get a piece of the pie at the end of the day.

    So, if I hear older docs complaining about younger docs and their perceived lack of work ethic, I just roll my eyes and walk away.  They’re just showing their ignorance.

    Avatar llessac15 
    Participant
    Status: Physician
    Posts: 99
    Joined: 01/17/2016

    treesrock, You can still love your job and protect yourself from the drain that medicine can cause you. There is no limit to the amount of hours you can spend working in Medicine if you allow it.

    I definitely do not love my job though. I love my family and my life outside of my job. However, my job does provide some level of personal fulfillment given that I’m taking care of people everyday. We all like to be public servants from time to time.

    #211707 Reply
    Liked by MaxPower
    Avatar hightower 
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    Status: Physician
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    Joined: 12/07/2016

    I don’t know, I have an excellent work life balance ( part time since finishing residency) and I still feel like I found my calling in psychiatry. I love my patients and the work. I try my best to go the extra mile for my patients and I give them the care I’d want my friends and family to receive. In general it feels like a privilege to me to be a doc. I still set firm limits and boundaries though. I don’t think the only options are to sacrifice everything for your patients,/ be walked all over by admin/ not see your family or to be a lazy doc that hates their job/doesn’t care about their patients. Moderation in all things. This black and white, all or nothing thinking is a false dichotomy. There’s a lot of gray in there where you can find personal and professional happiness while doing a lot of good as a doctor and living your life. I hope everyone can find that place for themselves.

    Click to expand…

    That’s truly wonderful that you like your profession and feel satisfied with the work.   It sounds like you have some control in your practice though.  I think what a lot of burnt out docs are experiencing is the feeling that they are just factory workers with no control.  I know that’s how I’ve felt for a long time.

    I think there are a few important elements to finding a satisfying career.  Passion is not one of them per se.  1. It should line up with your natural talents and interests  2. It should give you a sense of purpose or feeling that the job lines up with your values and 3. Autonomy and the ability to grow in your role

    I think many physicians these days are able to satisfy 1 and 2, but lose out when it comes to number 3 and, imo, this is all due to the corporate take over of our careers.  For me, I don’t think my career lines up with any of those 3 unfortunately, maybe a little bit with number 1…but that’s why I’m working on an exit strategy.

    #211710 Reply
    q-school q-school 
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    Status: Physician
    Posts: 2587
    Joined: 05/07/2017

    ouch

    let me ask it differently.  if you still feel joy in trying to help someone else who needs it, and you are one of the few people who can provide it, is it still stealing your life?

    yes it frequently is like drinking from a fire hose, and yes there are millions of dollars swirling around you invested in your choices, but at the center of it, are you still feeling like you are making a difference in someone’s world?

    hopefully yes.

    have a good day

    jmo

    ymmv

     

     

    #211719 Reply
    CordMcNally CordMcNally 
    Participant
    Status: Physician
    Posts: 2670
    Joined: 01/03/2017
    second wives

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    Only two? You’re giving some of these guys too much credit.

    “But investing isn’t about beating others at their game. It’s about controlling yourself at your own game.”
    ― Benjamin Graham, The Intelligent Investor

    #211727 Reply
    Liked by Tangler, DCdoc, Tim
    Avatar FIREshrink 
    Participant
    Status: Physician
    Posts: 983
    Joined: 01/11/2017

    With medicine as with life, you get as much out of something as you’re willing to put into it. I set limits but also approach each patient, each colleague, and each administrator as an opportunity to collaborate, to achieve, to grow from. I have been rewarded with deeply meaningful relationships with each of them, and after many years of working together believe I have earned the respect of all of them and, not coincidentally, a great deal of control over my professional practice. It’s a virtuous circle of good tidings and a true blessing in my life.

    I recently gave the keynote for our Foundation (philanthropic) dinner and so many donors approached me afterward to talk about how my words touched them; who shared a personal story of behavioral health need in their family; who were eager to support our department in whatever needs we have. This kind of relationship develops over many years of being deeply embedded in a community, and does not come cheap – but it is worth it.

    For those who view admin as the enemy, colleagues as PITAs, and patients as paychecks – or annoyances, or pending lawsuits – I suggest you get therapy, or a new job, or both. You deserve better in your life, and so do your patients.

    Avatar Tim 
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    Status: Accountant
    Posts: 2818
    Joined: 09/18/2018

    Does absence make the heart grow stronger or is it the specialty?
    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/03/970313111952.htm

    Are pharmacists better at work/life balance?
    https://hms.harvard.edu/news/doctors-divorce

    Maybe it’s professional pride.
    https://qz.com/1069806/the-highest-and-lowest-divorce-rates-in-america-by-occupation-and-industry/

    Marriage takes effort. Do it well is about the only conclusion.

    I am not a physician or an expert. I do have a long lasting marriage. At least for now.

    #211743 Reply

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