Hi Helloblanc - how are you doing? Did you reach a decision yet? As you can guess, that decision is one only you can make as it would be uncomfortable for anyone else to take that responsibility in an on-line setting like this. I do hope you have been able to weigh the pros and cons of the different choices and dig deep into yourself to refe3lct on what will provide you with a) a lifelong sense of fulfillment and b) the lesser amount of regeret in the long run :)
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I came into medicine at a later stage after having a pretty eventful and exciting life beforehand. I was always curious about science but never academic and had only just enough brains to get in. Medicine was a way to prove I was smart and keep my intellectual curiosity at bay. I also had and still have a very deep empathy for others and my people skills are excellent - and so I thought….that’s enough, right?
Well I’m only one year into medical school and I’m utterly miserable. I never had that deep-seated passion to be a doctor, I just thought it made practical sense and I got horrifically bored in every other career, so it’s been hard to focus. I also have trouble buying into the identity of being a doctor, because at heart I am extremely rebellious, spontaneous and creative. Structure and rules make me shiver and it’s been getting me in trouble attendance wise.
On top of this I recently rediscovered my passion for the arts and have been making significant headway in a related field, and am increasingly distracted by opportunities that have been presented to me. Right now I go to lecture about once a week and spend the rest of the time pursuing other avenues. For some obscure reason I am still passing, but I’m sure that won’t last.
Other than these existential angsts I have the practical problem of already being in debt and on top of this I think I am still suffering from the artefacts of PTSD, which makes it very difficult to make real, cognisant decisions. I don’t want to go back on SSRI’s because I believe that treatment is inappropriate right now (I know someone will suggest it)…and yes, I’ve been in therapy.
If I studied a little bit more I think I would actually make huge strides but the trouble is that although the subject matter is still very interesting and I especially love psychiatry, I just can’t buy into the idea of being a doctor because it takes away the space and time I need to be creative. When I believe in something and actually, literally want it then the things I achieve are insane…but I just can’t make that leap to focus on medicine and give up the other stuff - Oh and before you say you can balance things…hobbies are not what I’m describing. I am an extremely passionate person and the concept of ‘purpose’ means a lot to me. I believe in giving your whole heart to what you do so it’s really one or the other.
Everyone is rooting for me med-school wise and are horrified that I’m thinking of quitting. Because I’ve jumped around so much they see it as me just bailing on another career path and my parents just think I’m weak. The people at med school are also shocked as many think me to be very bright and have a lot to offer the field, which may be true - but I want to be happy.
Any other closet artists out there who have made this leap?
Thanks for listening x
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Hey there! I am 36 years old and until December of 2013 I was a practicing ObGyn. I have since happily hung up that hat and donned several others that I thought I would share with you here. My “real work” is something I created at www.projectonefifty.com where I am employing my passion for physical and emotional health (something I feel doctors by necessity sideline for their careers) to get people to meet the minimum standards of physical activity. It is a lifestyle medicine approach, primarily through wellness coaching and with an emphasis on exercise. I also love to write and have been working on a memoir about my own leaving medicine story. It is a more serious and hopefully more thoughtful version of a blog I have also just begun at www.quittingthedoctorgig.com. The blog is a lighter version of the trials and tribulations of quitting and one I wrote initially to give my sister (also an ObGyn, still in practice) some comic relief. Listening to her struggle with all the frustrations I was no longer willing to devote my energies to has confirmed my decision to leave but also fills me with sympathy for her and others soldiering on in their careers. I know it isn’t easy to face the disappointments of medicine given the time, energy, money, and hope invested. Anyway, I just wanted to share my new projects and say thank for this wonderful site. I have enjoyed reading it over the last year as I made my own scary, liberating bolt from my secure but depleting medical career.
Tough to answer this question for you - but it is good that you are doing your homework to find this out before making a big decision and then investment of time, effort and money if you’re uncertain. I went into medicine a long time ago when it was very different, and also in a different country so my input isn’t very helpful now.
I hope that others help provide answers - maybe just their own experiences.
Let’s see what our audience of women doctors has to say.
My 2 cents are to ask if it is Medicine (the profession) you dislike or the specialty you have chosen? Would you be happier in another residency program in a different specialty - and can you take a year off to determine that ehile you wait to apply elsewhere? Just thinking out aloud!!
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Hello I am 20 years old and I am a sophmore in college. I was one to always think that medicine was for me and that I had always dreamed of becoming a doctor. I was to become a DO physician, and eventually go into internal medicine or emergency medicine. I am starting to come to terms that this may be something that is in the future could lead to me becoming very unhappy, everytime I talk to my friends about it they all say oh youll be a great doctor, or youll always regret not becoming a doctor. I look at it financially, and I was very lucky to have gotten a full ride scholarship to pay for my undergrad, so I do not see how financially being a physician will benefit me with this healthcare system. I want to take time after my senior year to fufill my dream of being a paramedic (not glamorous I know), I am looking for someone to give me the hard truth about if becoming a doctor in the future will be worth it? and if not what other profession should I consider? I also like PA or flight nurse, or critical care paramedic thankyou
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I am a 27 year old internal medicine resident in Canada struggling through my residency. I have always dreamed of becoming a physician since high school (looking back now I think probably partially because I wanted to prove I could coming from a small farming community and a family where I was the first to even attend university without really having a good idea of what becoming a physician entailed). I worked my butt off through undergrad and medical school. I love my job while I’m at work but I have battled depression and anxiety throughout my residency and find myself miserable at night and in the mornings and having to fight to get myself to the next day.
While all of my feedback for performance in residency has been positive, I constantly worry that I am not performing at the level I should be because of mental health issues. I worry that I do not study enough, that I’m not bright enough, that I don’t measure up, etc. I have taken six months off early in my residency and have since returned to continue the battle. It’s hard for me to sort out if this would happen to me in any job or in medicine in particular. I thrive off the busy environment and the patient encounters and yet find the expectations, hours and politics draining all at the same time. I am at another transition point of considering taking more time off at present.
I worry that if I continue with medicine I may not be able to find the happiness I desire and may eventually completely burn out. I also worry that if I left I would miss or regret it (having not actually entered my own practice). Not to mention the debt I face and the lack of training for any other career. My husband is beyond supportive and we are hoping to start a family soon. I again wonder how I would manage to balance being a health mother and physician.
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It is really heartwarming to find so many doctor friends out there with a similar mindset and guilt laden confused attitude - it tells me that we are not alone in this daily war against ourselves.
I am a 45 year old ophthalmologist outside the US sitting in my balcony late into the night (2-00am)contemplating leaving my private practice for good while my husband,also an ophthalmologist working for an institute, and my son are sleeping in the bedroom.Before going to bed,we had another long sad discussion about carrying on this life and work as a means to survive- we have no other employable skills.A thankless job ,the good old doctor patient relation nonexistent,we are selling our skills as a commodity to sceptical patients,long hours,not much money,no time for family, no respect,constant fear of errors and litigations,never ending skill up gradation- I had a late childbirth,complicated pregnancy,ailing mom and grandmom who recently passed away.Throwing my child in any daycare I could find,taking years off practice to act as a caregiver,working part time,- I did all I could to stay afloat,constantly felt guilty about not doing enough for the career or the family. Today I read your blog and posts and finally am at peace with myself.Thanks!
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First of all I’m so glad I came across this group. I have been battling with the decision to either just suck it up and hope things will get better or just count this as a (very lengthy and expensive) experience in my life and leave medicine.
I am only 24 years old and I feel blessed to have the opportunity to have a medical degree at my age. ( I studied outside the US). But the truth is that I feel sad and miserable and somewhat depressed. Simply put, I’m not happy. I have sought advise from colleagues, friends and family but all I get is negative responses. Most people (mostly my parents) think I’m crazy to leave the potential of earning bucket loads of money in the future. I just want to wake up every morning and feel something I have never experienced in my life… the joy look forward to going to work.
That being said, I have kind of partly made up my mind to leave. Only problem ( the same problem that got me applying to med school in the first place) is that I do not know what to do after leaving medicine.
What are some of the options that I could pursue after leaving medicine? My top on the list is going back to school. I am considering a masters program in healthcare administration if I can find one that will accept me. I have also thought about becoming a PA… although I’m not so keen on this as it is not exactly far from medical practice but it is relatively low stress and I can have a chance at a social life (and eventually time for my future husband and children). Not to mention the decent pay. Plus it probably won’t be that hard considering what med school puts you through.
I’d really love to hear suggestions/ experiences/ stories on options after leaving medicine.
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I am thrilled to have found this page to share my story and current situation. Any friendly advice is welcome!
I am 32, a wife, a mother to a joyful 17 month old, and a first year resident at an OB/GYN residency program living remote (verrrrrry remote) from family and friends. I am the sole mother within the program, and I have no “mom friends” in my remote location. I am eager to grow my family very soon and make my son the great big brother I know he will be. Having said that, the program as a whole - attendings and coresidents alike - are completely appalled at the very thought of my having another child while in residency (not to mention, how the heck am I going to mother two children with a full-time working husband and no help nearby!). When I think about transferring programs to one that might be more supportive, I am personally appalled at myself that I would bother “soldiering on” in a career that I have felt has caused me much suffering and little joy. You see, I know that I went into medicine because it’s what my father, a passionate and successful surgeon, wanted of me. And at the time, single, without children, with the energy of someone in her mid-20’s, and without any other realistic career path in sight, I went for it. It was my lifelong plan B. The costs have finally outweighed the benefits for me, and I’m eager to change my path. I’m having a challenging time processing and planning the following few things: (a) helping my father to understand my perspective and choices (I know, I’m a grown woman and it isn’t about him, but my relationship with him is still important and complicated, and he will be 100% devastated/heartbroken/etc), (b) finding a more personally rewarding path to pursue when I’ve spent so many years trudging down the road to doctorhood, and (c) convincing those on that new rewarding path that I am well-equipped and talented to handle the job at hand when my resume reads like a Guide to Higher Education.
Many thanks for any support and words of encouragement this community can offer!
Gosh that is a big question and the answer is yes on both counts. I do know of young doctors leaving (some who even chose not to finish residency), and yes, there are many ways to use MD skills that do not require you to practice medicine. I have a lot of podcast interviews with physicians entrepreneurs (in my Conversations with Trailblazers category) on my other website, The Entrepreneurial MD at http://www.entrepreneurialmd.com. You can check out the interviews and get plenty of ideas!!