Rearview Mirror – Doctor Edition #illumedati

Hey everyone, it’s Medicine Mondays again. Today is going to be a kind of a stream of consciousness type post about “Rearview Mirror – Doctor Edition”.

Rearview Mirror - Doctor Edition
Image by jwvein from Pixabay

Rearview Mirror?

Yea, I’ve done post like this one for my house before. It’s basically just my way of saying “retrospective analysis”.

I’ve talked about Medicine before and whether or not I would do it again. I actually talked about it a second time as well. I would recommend that you read those two posts first before you continue on with this one so you better understand my thought process.

So here’s the thing, I wrote the original post wayyy back in May 2016 and the more recent followup post was still a year ago in October 2018. Since then not too much has changed except that I’ve gone from “uncomfortable” financially to “not uncomfortable” — but not yet comfortable.

Has anything happened to change my mind?

Not particularly.

For me, medicine was and still is the best option. However, more than ever I don’t feel the need to push my children into medicine.

As I’ve grown older, I do understand why parents (especially immigrant parents) try to push their children into medicine. Parents want the best for their children. The road of medicine, while long, is the closest you can get to a guarantee to middle class or upper-middle class status — where they wold be comfortable. Of course, this assumes you can are able to walk that road — which is a marathon and not a sprint, and requires a large sacrifice of time on the front end.

You can imagine that if your parents grew up working hard (maybe too hard), they would want their children to have better lives than them. As a non-doctor they don’t really understand the amount of training necessary to walk the path of a being a doctor. They know that there is medical school which you need to study hard for and gain acceptance into. However, anything beyond that is really a mystery to them.

  • What is internship?
  • What is residency?
  • Why are you moving away from us?
  • Why aren’t you moving back to us?
  • When are you going to be a real doctor?
  • What is fellowship?
  • When will you start making money?
  • Your loans are how much?
  • When will you be able to come home for the holidays?

Looking back on things, I really had no idea what medicine really entailed.

I did my best to shadow physicians and volunteer at hospitals and such. However, that is nothing compared to what real medicine was like, maybe only 1%. You don’t understand the lifestyle or the culture at all. You don’t understand the responsibility. Nothing will make you understand what it is like until you are a 3rd year medical student — then you have some glimpse into what real medicine is like (maybe 10%). However, that is only a small part of it. As an intern you learn a little more and you understand how things work and you’re at 50-60% which slowly ramps up to 80% by the time your finish residency/fellowship. Then you start your first job and it takes an additional 5 years to work a few jobs and see enough patients to really understand what medicine is like (90%+).

So then, how do you explain to someone in high school what medicine is like? How do you help someone decide in college what medical school and a medical career will be like?

The truth is — you can’t.

Currently, my daughter wants to be a baker — but not just a baker, a baker rock star. This means she will own a bakery and give a rock concert at her bakery to her customers. An impressive endeavor to say the least. As for my son, he wants to be a dinosaur. I’m not sure how, but he said that’s his plan and if that doesn’t work out, he’ll just be a dragon instead. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

However, if someday they ask me about being a doctor, I’m not sure exactly how to explain it to them. Of course, different doctors do different things and work different schedules. Some would argue that there is a specialty for everyone. While that sounds nice, I don’t necessarily think that is true.

I know a good amount of doctors who have told me that they would much happier doing something else. There are even some with plans in place to only do this “doctor thing” for a few years, pay off their loans, and build a nest egg — so they can do something else.

What’s the bottom line?

Unfortunately, there isn’t one.

I am sure there will be a day when my children ask me what it’s like to be a doctor — or tell me that they want be doctors. When that day comes, I hope to have a reasonable answer for them about how it is, rather than my current long winded answers which will make them fall asleep.

It is probably more likely that I will just have to show them over the course of time. I have friends that are physicians that they can shadow. However an 8 year old shadowing a doctor will understand a lot less things than a 16 year old shadowing one. For this reason, the type of shadowing makes a difference.

What do you mean?

I really wish there was something that existed to show children and tens how it really is to be a doctor. Keep the fun and interesting stuff for them to see when they’re little, to get theme excited. However, once they are teens, they should be exposed to the day to day workings of what a doctor does as well as the “fun, interesting stuff”. I suppose it will be my job to do that when the time comes.

The likelihood is that medicine will change by the time my kids are teens. I am unsure if it will change for the better or worse. My hope is that the EMR gets better and physician burnout is addressed. I also hope medical insurance costs and medical costs in general become more reasonable. However, I am a realist and I don’t think all (or even any) of these issues will be figured out by the time my children are in high school.

It will be my job to show my children what real medicine entails — not just what they find fun and interesting. More so than that, they will need to understand that the road is long and student loan debt looms large.

Rather than telling them to become doctors, I will show them the complete life of a doctor — not just the rose-colored glasses version. After they understand all that, I hope they can make a more informed decision.


Just my thoughts about my medical career as I look back on it.

Also, thoughts about how to prepare my children to understand what the path of medicine truly entails — so they can make an informed decision.

Medicine Mondays Sensei


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