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Seasoned PAs with med school regrets, what do you think of this post?


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This was recently posted on the med school subreddit:

https://www.reddit.com/r/medicalschool/comments/7wwufu/why_medical_studentsdoctors_kill_themselves/du3wdmq/

I know that there are a good number of PAs here that have said that if they could go all the way back to the beginning of their college careers, they would have chosen to pursue medical school for the autonomy and respect (which is completely reasonable). But when you hear of the serious systematic issues being faced by med students and residents in articles and personal accounts like this, what are your thoughts? Is it the idea that the light at the end of the tunnel (post-residency) makes it all worth it? Genuinely interested in everyone's opinions.

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Poll the seasoned doctors and you will find nearly 50% are very dissatisfied with their choice to go to medical school.  The time commitment, decreasing benefits and skyrocketing student loans.  I would include my last 3 supervising physicians in this.  All of which said to me personally, "no way" would they do it again.  Just saying.

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I'd do it again without a second doubt.  I think the problem is that a lot of people go straight through their education without taking a breath.  They get through training and think there's a big prize that's very different at the end.  No, this right here is a pie eating contest where the prize is more pie.   You have to be ok with that.  Even as a resident, I LOVE my job.   I'd do this even if I never made more money than I do now (although don't tell my future employer that..).   But then again, I had a long career doing something else before med school and I realize that grass isn't greener on the other side.  Ask those doctors what they would do instead and half will say shit like "investment banking".  Like it's that easy.  The halls of Ivy League business schools are littered with the corpses of failed investment bankers.   

Also, 50% compared to what?  Most fields will probably have similar numbers.  You also have to realize, just like press gainey, the voices you hear the loudest are going to be the people that are the most  dissatisfied.  

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There's a good documentary called doctor's diaries NOVA that was on PBS.  You can watch it on youtube.

They followed doctors from their first day at Harvard medical school until they were in their 40's-50s. Many of them were on their 2nd, 3rd, 4th marriage. Some were on the edge of quitting during their residencies. One of them said their 5yr old daughter stated they also wanted to become a doctor but the mother wasn't sure if she would want her daughter to go through same hardships she experienced.

It really gives you a good idea that being a doctor isn't all peaches and cream. It's a good watch, and I am sure it would sway anyone who isn't fully dedicated to going through that.

 

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That has been the prevailing sentiment among most docs I have worked with. Sometimes in the team room the conversation will turn to "would you do it over again?", and I think every doc said no in one way or another.

I think it's great dudes like lkth487 love their job; they're probably not the norm. I want those people to be my doctor.

But I've never regretted for 1 second not going to med school and I had that option.

 

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1 hour ago, BruceBanner said:

That has been the prevailing sentiment among most docs I have worked with. Sometimes in the team room the conversation will turn to "would you do it over again?", and I think every doc said no in one way or another.

I think it's great dudes like lkth487 love their job; they're probably not the norm. I want those people to be my doctor.

But I've never regretted for 1 second not going to med school and I had that option.

 

I think it's very specialty dependent too.  I'm sure there's self selection but I'm in pediatrics and no one picks pediatrics for the money.  So generally you pick it because you love taking care of sick kids (or mostly well kids if you're in outpatient).    I think other people pick their specialty because they see dollar signs or they pick a specialty because their step score was high and they feel the need to validate themselves by picking the most prestigious specialty.  People who go to med school were likely the best at schooling for the longest time and can't get rid of that mentality when it comes to picking a specialty. They always have to be the best and be the top dog.   In our first year orientation, it was revealed that a full 60% of our class was valedictorian at their respective high schools and 20% had a 4.0 GPA in college.  Those are crazy numbers (for the record, I was not close to either).   The guy with the highest step score in our class went into psychiatry and the gunners were making fun of him because they thought it was a "waste."  They never considered that hey maybe that's what makes him HAPPY.

 

The time for gunning is over, now you have to decide about your life. I know MULTIPLE people who LOVED FM but didn't do it because of prestige or money.   Most of them are now miserable in residency - and it's not gonna get better afterwards for them, regardless of their paycheck.   I had another career prior to medicine and made decent money but I hated it and I quickly realized that you're at work for the majority of your wakeful day and if you're miserable there, having a nicer car isn't going to make up for it.  So it's been a very stress free med school and residency for me - I know the grass isn't greener and I'm doing what I love and what I want to do for the rest of my life. 

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4 hours ago, lkth487 said:

I'd do it again without a second doubt.  I think the problem is that a lot of people go straight through their education without taking a breath.  They get through training and think there's a big prize that's very different at the end.  No, this right here is a pie eating contest where the prize is more pie.   You have to be ok with that.  Even as a resident, I LOVE my job.   I'd do this even if I never made more money than I do now (although don't tell my future employer that..).   But then again, I had a long career doing something else before med school and I realize that grass isn't greener on the other side.  Ask those doctors what they would do instead and half will say shit like "investment banking".  Like it's that easy.  The halls of Ivy League business schools are littered with the corpses of failed investment bankers.   

Also, 50% compared to what?  Most fields will probably have similar numbers.  You also have to realize, just like press gainey, the voices you hear the loudest are going to be the people that are the most  dissatisfied.  

It is super cool to see a doc who loves their job. Hope to have someone like you as my SP/CP one day. 

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I had the chance of going to medical school, but declined as it was not the right fit for me. I am mostly happy with my career choice, rural family medicine is not easy that why I put "mostly." I don't work that many hours, make good money, and most days feel like I am helping at least 1 person. Now I got to pay these darn student loans off then I will be very happy! :) 

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13 hours ago, lkth487 said:

I'd do it again without a second doubt.  I think the problem is that a lot of people go straight through their education without taking a breath.  They get through training and think there's a big prize that's very different at the end.  No, this right here is a pie eating contest where the prize is more pie.   You have to be ok with that.  Even as a resident, I LOVE my job.   I'd do this even if I never made more money than I do now (although don't tell my future employer that..).   But then again, I had a long career doing something else before med school and I realize that grass isn't greener on the other side.  Ask those doctors what they would do instead and half will say shit like "investment banking".  Like it's that easy.  The halls of Ivy League business schools are littered with the corpses of failed investment bankers.   

Also, 50% compared to what?  Most fields will probably have similar numbers.  You also have to realize, just like press gainey, the voices you hear the loudest are going to be the people that are the most  dissatisfied.  

 

 

I am very happy that you love your job in residency.  I hope once the realities of life outside of residency hit you in 10 years or so, you can still say that.  Most don't.  Virtually every doctor I know is either trying to get out of clinical medicine, or wish they could get out.  Ask the other PA's here, this is not an anomaly, but par for the course.  Physician suicide (especially female docs), substance abuse, depression numbers are all very concerning for a field you elude that happiness is "specialty specific".  I guess if you are an Ortho making $600k per year, then yea I might agree with you.  Most are not.  Most are on the front lines making very little, while getting their butts handed to them every day by huge patient loads and admins shoving press/ganey scores and Yelp reviews down their throats.

UC Riverside started a Med school and residency to combat depression and burnout by residents (and increase docs in the Riverside area).  The numbers they cite for medical resident suicide were absolutely terrifying and I applaud them for restructuring a FP residency to account for the pressure you guys are under.  If you want to read about it, it's on the front page of the LA Times.

My point is, Physician dissatisfaction is real....and getting worse every year.  Sticking one's head in the sand will not make the growing problem go away no matter how much we wish it would.

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Medicine in America is broken.  A PA career and an MD/DO career are both broken, but in different ways.  There's always a "the grass is always greener" sentiment, but at the same time, there's no question in my mind that my family would not have survived med school and residency, while we came through PA school intact.

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15 hours ago, lkth487 said:

I'd do it again without a second doubt.  I think the problem is that a lot of people go straight through their education without taking a breath.  They get through training and think there's a big prize that's very different at the end.  No, this right here is a pie eating contest where the prize is more pie.   You have to be ok with that.  Even as a resident, I LOVE my job.   I'd do this even if I never made more money than I do now (although don't tell my future employer that..).   But then again, I had a long career doing something else before med school and I realize that grass isn't greener on the other side.  Ask those doctors what they would do instead and half will say shit like "investment banking".  Like it's that easy.  The halls of Ivy League business schools are littered with the corpses of failed investment bankers.   

Also, 50% compared to what?  Most fields will probably have similar numbers.  You also have to realize, just like press gainey, the voices you hear the loudest are going to be the people that are the most  dissatisfied.  

agree. I am not in this for the money but for "more pie". when I was a medic making 35k/yr I wanted more pie at a time that PAs were making 40k. I didn't expect for a minute back then to be making the salary I am now. it's nice, but I would honestly do this job for 1/2 what I make now.

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I used to have regrets about not going for med school and if I'm being honest part of me still would. Maybe that's why I'm looking or hoping for a real bridge degree/program but when I look back on my career thus far (only 7 years) I see what I would have missed with my kids. They were 2 and 5 when I started PA school and it was already hard on them and my wife with me being gone 5.5 days a week. And even when I was there I wasn't because of all the studying, stress about tests and assignments etc. Had I gone to med school, my family life would have more than likely been in the garbage. Then i would have to do a residency where I may have had to uproot my family. I was 35 when I started PA school and now looking back I see I made the right choice.

Despite my sometimes grumpy posts on here I actually love my job. A buddy at church asked me the other week the all infamous question we all get "why don't you FINISH and just become a doctor?" I told him I am finished! I'm 45 have a military disability and 2 chronic illnesses with recurrent flares lol. I'm looking forward to retirement.

Again, there's a part of me that wished(s) I had gone but it's the "grass is greener" syndrome. I make a very good living compared to my physician colleagues especially if you take into acct all the crap they have to put up with that i don't (RVU, no benefits, call, etc) and I am almost out of school debt... Some of them are in school debt still though they have a few years on me in practice. I have a daughter about getting ready to apply to college and the little one in a few yrs will do the same.

So my point is you gotta look at the big picture. Where are YOU at in YOUR life?

If med school works for you go for it. Are you willing to make the necessary sacrifices to do that? If so, godspeed!

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G891A using Tapatalk

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31 minutes ago, EMEDPA said:

agree. I am not in this for the money but for "more pie". when I was a medic making 35k/yr I wanted more pie at a time that PAs were making 40k. I didn't expect for a minute back then to be making the salary I am now. it's nice, but I would honestly do this job for 1/2 what I make now.

It’s funny to me that so few of my PA friends can’t comprehend that I love my work. This is my sailing, my fishing, or whatever enjoyable hobby. More pie is the best reward.

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    I am very happy that you love your job in residency.  I hope once the realities of life outside of residency hit you in 10 years or so, you can still say that.  Most don't.  Virtually every doctor I know is either trying to get out of clinical medicine, or wish they could get out.  Ask the other PA's here, this is not an anomaly, but par for the course.  Physician suicide (especially female docs), substance abuse, depression numbers are all very concerning for a field you elude that happiness is "specialty specific".  I guess if you are an Ortho making $600k per year, then yea I might agree with you.  Most are not.  Most are on the front lines making very little, while getting their butts handed to them every day by huge patient loads and admins shoving press/ganey scores and Yelp reviews down their throats.

UC Riverside started a Med school and residency to combat depression and burnout by residents (and increase docs in the Riverside area).  The numbers they cite for medical resident suicide were absolutely terrifying and I applaud them for restructuring a FP residency to account for the pressure you guys are under.  If you want to read about it, it's on the front page of the LA Times.

My point is, Physician dissatisfaction is real....and getting worse every year.  Sticking one's head in the sand will not make the growing problem go away no matter how much we wish it would.

 

 

There was a Medscape article a few weeks ago that stated 42% of physicians are burnt out and it went across many specialties. 15,000 respondents nationwide.  What was odd was FP/IM was not the top specialties with burnout. They were #3 and #5 respectively. Critical care and I think Neuro was the top.

 

Here i found it

 

https://www.medscape.com/slideshow/2018-lifestyle-burnout-depression-6009235

 

Could be worse... My brother is a criminal defense Atty and he has to pack heat. Hearing his work stories makes me love my job even more lol. My dad was an Atty and discouraged us from law. That's why I went with medicine but my Lil Bro is a little hard headed. Always the rebel! Lol

 

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G891A using Tapatalk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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35 minutes ago, LT_Oneal_PAC said:

It’s funny to me that so few of my PA friends can’t comprehend that I love my work. This is my sailing, my fishing, or whatever enjoyable hobby. More pie is the best reward.

yup, very few things are as cool as managing a critical pt that you save....

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8 hours ago, Cideous said:

 

 

I am very happy that you love your job in residency.  I hope once the realities of life outside of residency hit you in 10 years or so, you can still say that.  Most don't.  Virtually every doctor I know is either trying to get out of clinical medicine, or wish they could get out.  Ask the other PA's here, this is not an anomaly, but par for the course.  Physician suicide (especially female docs), substance abuse, depression numbers are all very concerning for a field you elude that happiness is "specialty specific".  I guess if you are an Ortho making $600k per year, then yea I might agree with you.  Most are not.  Most are on the front lines making very little, while getting their butts handed to them every day by huge patient loads and admins shoving press/ganey scores and Yelp reviews down their throats.

UC Riverside started a Med school and residency to combat depression and burnout by residents (and increase docs in the Riverside area).  The numbers they cite for medical resident suicide were absolutely terrifying and I applaud them for restructuring a FP residency to account for the pressure you guys are under.  If you want to read about it, it's on the front page of the LA Times.

My point is, Physician dissatisfaction is real....and getting worse every year.  Sticking one's head in the sand will not make the growing problem go away no matter how much we wish it would.

I’m curious where you’re drawing these conclusions from.  The vast majority of literature on burnout is on physicians and nurses.  Just because studies don’t look at all those phenomena in PAs doesn’t mean it’s not there.  If we’re going to use anecdotes I could give you a dissatisfied/burned out PA for every doctor you mentioned, and I’m still on rotations!  

 

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1 hour ago, ApolloPA said:

I’m curious where you’re drawing these conclusions from.  The vast majority of literature on burnout is on physicians and nurses.  Just because studies don’t look at all those phenomena in PAs doesn’t mean it’s not there.  If we’re going to use anecdotes I could give you a dissatisfied/burned out PA for every doctor you mentioned, and I’m still on rotations!  

 

 

 

Umm.....because he is a doctor in residency and everything you just quoted me saying was about doctors....where as you say all the literature is?

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I guess I never really answered the original question.

 

Am I a seasoned PA, yes.  25 years.

Do I ever regret not going to Medical school?  Yes, from years 8 to around 14.

Have I regretted it after year 14?  Not for one second.  I have too many close friends who are docs to regret it.  Not to relitigate the above discussion, but the overwhelming majority of them are hurt, depressed and disillusioned by the direction medicine has taken over the last 20 years.  Several have already got out, and the rest are trying to retire early.  So yea, I don't regret it.

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13 minutes ago, Cideous said:

I guess I never really answered the original question.

 

Am I a seasoned PA, yes.  25 years.

Do I ever regret not going to Medical school?  Yes, from years 8 to around 14.

Have I regretted it after year 14?  Not for one second.  I have too many close friends who are docs to regret it.  Not to relitigate the above discussion, but the overwhelming majority of them are hurt, depressed and disillusioned by the direction medicine has taken over the last 20 years.  Several have already got out, and the rest are trying to retire early.  So yea, I don't regret it.

Sorry I probably worded my comment incorrectly.  What I meant was what makes you think that these feelings are exclusive to physicians and not PAs/NPs?  Clearly the culture of medicine and healthcare has evolved over the last two decades and is not the same field these older doctors envisioned.  The same could be said about any profession and its workers, no?

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1 hour ago, ApolloPA said:

Sorry I probably worded my comment incorrectly.  What I meant was what makes you think that these feelings are exclusive to physicians and not PAs/NPs?  Clearly the culture of medicine and healthcare has evolved over the last two decades and is not the same field these older doctors envisioned.  The same could be said about any profession and its workers, no?

Gotcha, that makes more sense.

Yes, I absolutely agree that burnout, hyper-stress, addiction etc are not specific to only docs.  We suffer very similar issues.  The main difference I see is 'hopelessness".  

According to my friends (docs I've know for 15 years plus), Spending 12 years of your life achieving a goal under brutal academic and physical conditions takes a major toll.  But, there is supposed to be some payoff at the end right?  That payoff for the majority of docs is massive student debt, press ganey nightmares and oppressive patient volumes.  Now, run by non-clinical admins and publicly traded "Investment groups".  Docs in the places I work at are treated the same as MA's from a professional respect standpoint, and I don't blame them for being pissed about it.

PA's spend approx 6-7 years training, vs 10-12 (start to finish), have about half the debt as docs, can switch specialties anytime they want etc etc.  PA's are in, but lets face it...we are not all in like docs from a life sacrifice stand point.  This has left many of the docs I know feeling utterly hopeless.  They have committed so much of their lives to this dream, that when they are faced with reality, they crater....hard.  Most PA's who figure out they don't like what medicine has become, are usually a little less life committed compared to our MD/DO colleagues, and seem to find it easier to switch professions/careers.  These options imho = less hopelessness.

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