Hey everyone! It’s Medicine Mondays again and this is kind of follow-up to my prior post Talking to Med Student Me. Today I’m going to go back in time and talk to Pre-Med Me.
Stock Photo from: Pexels
Before I jump into this post, I wanted to do a quick side story.
Awhile back my daughter went to a birthday party from one of her friend’s from daycare. At that birthday party I was introduced to another radiologist who was mainlander that moved to Hawaii after finishing fellowship. However, a kid’s birthday party can be hectic so we didn’t really get to talk much, especially him since he has twins. For that reason, I hadn’t seen him since then.
However, after PhysicianOnFire was kind of enough to let me do a guest post, I received an email from him since he reads PoF and recognized my name on my About page. We met up just this last week and it was nice to be able to talk to someone who had a similar path in life to mine. I was actually pretty surprised at just how similar our paths were. However, he’s done much better for himself because he was able to pay down most of my loans, something I haven’t been able to do yet. Do As I Say Not As I Do… remember? He is also much farther along with his 529s than I am, with a conservative plan to save about $150k for each of his children. In essence, he’s where I want to be be a few years from now.
While we do differ a little bit in certain aspects, I think that overall we are both trying to position ourselves to have the option to go part-time in our mid fifties. Additionally, we have both prioritized experiences over things. It was nice to get feedback on my plan, what I try to do, and what I advise my readers to do.
I’ll try to convince him to write a guest post, but he’s a busy guy and I think he’d prefer to remain anonymous.
Ok, now let’s refocus, and talk to Pre-Med Me.
Understand what being a physician entails.
While I did shadow a physician back in college, that experience was nowhere near enough. Additionally, while volunteering at a hospital is also nice, that is also nowhere near enough. I would advise any college student that is seriously considering a career in medicine to understand “The Track“. While I was in college taking pre-med courses, I must admit that I had no real idea what happened after medical school or even how choosing a specialty works.
I also believe it is extremely important to understand the nuts and bolts of a day-to-day career in medicine. My mother and father are both not doctors. I was the first doctor in my generation, and as such, I had no idea what to expect. Although I am glad that I was able to find a specialty I enjoyed and very thankful, it could have turned out very differently because of my own lack of knowledge/preparation.
Understand the opportunity cost.
Being a physician is a long educational (and time) commitment. It’s a marathon, not a race.
There was very much this “assumption” from everyone around me of “Just become a doctor and everything will be ok.” With The New Meta of Medicine, I think a physician must be prepared from the beginning and armed with both the understanding and financial literacy to pay back their loans quickly and catch up on saving for retirement.
Understand it’s a calling.
“If it was easy, everyone would do it.” – My Dad
I love my dad, but I kind of disagree with him on this a bit. I don’t consider myself to be super smart or super intelligent. There were many, many other smarter or more intelligent people than me that I had the luck to meet at Berkeley. However, one thing that I did have, and I believe the majority of other doctors have, is an extraordinarily strong will and determination.
I can think of few, if any of my peers that didn’t hit a speed bump during their path to becoming a doctor. B- in OChem or a C+ in Calculus. A subpar MCAT score. Unexpectedly low Step 1 Score. Only a pass (and not high honors) in your specialty of choice. Matched at choice #9 instead of #1 even though you were “ranked to match”.
Every doctor has a story.
It’s like this movie clip:
Also, there’s also a lot of faith involved. You have faith that it will all be worth it in the end.
You believe that you’ve made the right choice and you believe it’s what you’re supposed to do.
There isn’t anything else.
Understand that many will not understand.
This kind of alludes to my Why Do Doctors Marry Other Doctors post. It’s very difficult to explain what a doctor does to people who are outside the medical field. A lot of what people think we do is gleaned from pop culture. People think that we really are just like Grey’s Anatomy, or ER, or House. If anything, I think medicine is actually closer to Scrubs than anything else.
Everyone sees the end result, but not everything leading up to it. However, that’s not how medicine works. You don’t just graduate college and then fast-forward 10 years and you’re an attending making all the calls like a bigshot. It’s not really their fault though. All of my friends from college basically saw me fall off the face of the earth after graduation because we lost touch during medical school. That probably comes from being on a small island in the Caribbean for two years. Then during the “clinical years” it wasn’t very easy to get a hold of me since I was usually on call, studying, or flying around for interviews. The following 6 years after that were spent in residency/fellowship.
I mean, what could I even talk to them about? They were all already working before I finished medical school. My life during medical school and residency was mostly consumed by medicine. I mean, I could tell them about the cool TIPS case I saw, or the interesting MCA aneurysm… but I would only be met with blank stares and maybe some mumbling about how the Lakers suck this year. It may feel like your friends have moved on… without you.
Medicine can feel isolating. I think it’s probably a not very well understood reason for why Physician Suicide is so high.
Understand that you will never stop learning.
Medicine continues to evolve. You may think to yourself that after the MCAT, USMLE, and Board Certifications that it all ends there.
Continuing Medical Education (CME) and Life-Long Learning is very important.
You must commit yourself to excellence for the rest of your career. It is your responsibility to be as up-to-date as possible for your patients to offer them the best possible care.
Understand that happiness comes from within.
There is nothing in this world that anyone can buy me that could rival the happiness I get from being with family.
Just talking to Pre-Med Me about what I didn’t know, and what to expect.
Agree? Disagree? Questions, Comments and Suggestions are welcome.
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