Would you do it again? (revisited) #illumedati

Hey everyone, it’s Medicine Mondays again. I’ve talked about “Would you do it again?” in regards to being a doctor before. However, today we’re going to revisit the topic.

Would you do it again? (revisited)

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Would you do it again?

The TL;DR is that yes I would do it again. However, this answer is different for different people. There is a surprising amount of doctors (that I know), that would not do it again. The explanations are pretty broad. Hours are too long. Too much paperwork. Student loan debt is too high. General lack of respect.

Some of these things can’t be controlled. However, I wanted to see if removing one variable made a substantial difference. So, I talked to some of my friends (in different specialties) who had previously told me that they wouldn’t do it again.

This time, I asked them… what if you finished your training debt-free?

Interestingly, the responses were similar, but the while some answered almost immediately, others took the time to think about it — as if doing some kind of calculation in their heads.

The TL;DR is that in my small sample size, those I know who would not do it again… would still not do it again whether they had loans or not. For these people, while the staggering amount of student loan debt is a problem, it’s not what is keeping them advising people to not be doctors.

Why is this?

I think it’s pretty simple actually.

People love to talk about how doctors make so much money and are so rich, and yadda yadda. However, they seem to forget the amount of time needed to cultivate a doctor and the opportunity cost to become one. Time is money, friend.

When I asked what some of my friends would go back and do instead of medicine, the answers were once again varied. Computer programmers, dentists, investment bankers, history professors… just lots of different answers. I think the reason for this is because medicine draws from a large pool of exceptionally talented individuals.

So then, from my small anecdotal sample size, which is in no way representative, the presence (or absence) student loans has no effect on whether these individuals would “do it again”. I found that interesting because I didn’t expect it.

So what is it then?

I think when all things are said and done, it all comes down to job satisfaction. Money is just a tool. For those of you who wouldn’t do it again, maybe you should ask yourself a different question. Maybe instead ask yourself:

What would it take for me to enjoy my job more?

Would you like your job more if you only worked 30 hours a week? or took less call? or had a shorter commute? Obviously, the changes I just mentioned may result in a decrease in pay… but maybe that’s ok.

What variables which may be currently out of control would you like to be able to control?

I think that for a lot of doctors there is a sense of “I like my job, but just not for the 60 hours a week I’m currently working.”

Would kind of hours would be optimal for you? What kind of pay deduction could you handle? If it’s possible maybe look into cutting down. Maybe the idea of doctors working long hours until they’re 70 is an old one. Maybe instead we need to work less hours and retire a little earlier. However, in order to do that, we must set what our priorities are. Do you really need a 10000 sq foot house and a Maserati? If so, then yes, then it may be difficult for you to work less hours and retire a little earlier.

That said, if you try to plan out things a bit, you may be surprised by what you don’t need.

Then when you get rid of those things, you may be surprised with how much time you’ve bought for yourself.

So, isn’t this just FIRE again?

Not really. Not everyone needs to be financially independent and retire early.

For example, the likelihood is that I probably won’t retire early. However, I do want to be financially independent someday with the option to go to part-time. The key word here is “option”… I am putting away my money in the best possible way to give myself options. Now, I probably won’t be able to retire as early as some who make more money than me, or live in a lower cost of living area, or are just simply better with money than I am (or all three). However, I’ve made my choices in life (and medicine) to give myself options in the future.

That said, plans always change. While you might have a plan in place for 20550, something in 2019, 2025, or 2047 may throw a monkey wrench at you. You need to be flexible and make changes to your plan, but still try your best to stay on course. The path may change, but the goal shouldn’t.


Interestingly, in my small anecdotal sample size, the presence (or absence) or student loan debt did not have an effect on whether people would do it again. (In a population who already said they wouldn’t do it again)

From my small sample size, I think job satisfaction matters much more than money.

So, why not try for that? What variables which may be currently out of control would you like to be able to control?

I think that for a lot of doctors there is a sense of “I like my job, but just not for the 60 hours a week I’m currently working.”

Life is short. Be happy.

Medicine Mondays Sensei


Agree? Disagree? Questions, Comments and Suggestions are welcome.

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