Adventures in Medicine

Medical School and Beyond!

No Small Sacrifice

on February 11, 2014

As of 2:40 pm AST another block of Medical school is only visible through my rear view mirror as I left my final block 1 exam for the semester.  After a weekend filled with 30+ hours of studying and sitting through 3 exams with a grad total of upwards of 100 questions one’s brain is exhausted.  Therefore, the night of blocks is one set aside for relaxation, movie watching, and vegging.  A night where one can say a textbook what is that? 

This block night is going to be different, but different in a better way.  See today was a day of travel for my mom as she is coming to visit me for 2 whole weeks.  As I write this post I am sitting on my balcony watching the parking lot waiting for her taxi to pull up.  In fact, after my last exam I was able to see her plane come in from Miami.  Tonight I will be relaxing with my mom an getting her settled as I forget about textbooks and PowerPoint presentations for the time being (until 9:30am tomorrow).

With the amount of studying a a typical medical student puts it most people will already realize the sacrifice they make to become a doctor.  But yet many complain about the salary full fledged licensed doctors receive.  What they do not realize is the financial sacrifice these students make in getting their education and training.  This excerpt is from the most recent AMSA (American Medical Student Association) news letter.

In the past five years, the world of medicine has forever changed for everyone, except medical schools it seems.  Their costs and expectations for revenue continues to exceed inflation by a large margin.  When will it stop?  For our newest trained doctors increasingly saddled with nearly insurmountable debt, the lure of medicine is waning. For those already in the pipeline,  the reality of what’s coming when the loan bills come due is inevitably going to be turning our best new hope for medicine’s future away unless the cost problem is fixed soon. For Medical Students, It Seems Nothing’s Changed, Westby G. Fisher, MD, FACC (a board certified internist, cardiologist, and cardiac electrophysiologist)

A current 3rd year medical student stated:

third year student, already over 300K in debt, will hit lifetime Stafford amount next year which means most of 4th year will be grad plus loans at higher rates. nothing is subsidized for grad students anymore so the debt grows exponentially. My spouse is also in medicine, and while in a little better shape than I, in a year and a half we will begin life making a combined ~100K with ~500K in debt before we’ve bought a house, had a kid, put a dime towards retirement, or traded in our POS cars. My family and friends already assume we’re rich, and if they have anything at all to say about finances and medicine, it’s that doctors make too much money. 

Treated like scum for years of training, put life on hold for 10 years, and at the end of it spend half your day documenting complete garbage and being told how you will and will not practice by people who have no idea what they’re talking about. The sad but true reality for me is if I could go back and do it again, I wouldn’t go into medicine. I still love the patients and the puzzles, but on the whole it’s becoming a tough sell. Hopefully it seems worth it when all is said and done, but hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel right now.

The high salary is necessary to be able to pay back these several thousand dollar loans.  Pay to make the hard work and dedication worth the job.  It is no secret that medical residents work long hard hours and get very little pay.  Well the same is true of Medical students.  Once we pass the step 1 board exam we enter a time of clinical rotations where we spend a month or two in each specialty as free labor.  A labor force that is paying to be in the hospital learning how to be a great doctor.  While I cannot speak for others I know I willingly work hard and am looking forward to getting to the hands on part of my training. 

Despite the financial and time sacrifice doctors also sacrifice their families.  Being a physician is not a 9-5 weekday job.  Physicians work 7 days a week and have their on call nights.  While in residency training they might work a 100 hour work week but only get compensated for 70 of them.  Working these these long hours makes it hard to spend quality time with family and friends for when they are home they want to sleep.  

Sacrifices aside I believe medicine is a rewarding career.  What could be better than making people feel better or saving a life?  What could be better than bringing a baby in the world?  What could be better than finding a cure to a horrible disease such as AIDS or cancer?  Yes, medicine has its downsides, giving patients and their family members bad news, but the upsides overwhelming shadow the downs and sacrifices.  

As a future doctor I have joined my classmates from day in pulling up our boots and putting our faces in our books and working hard to fulfill our dreams.  Working hard to become the best doctors we can be.  Working hard to fulfill our potentials.  Working hard to learn all we can to deliver the best medicine possible…

…So tomorrow I jump back on the bandwagon and get back to listening to lectures and studying hard!   


One response to “No Small Sacrifice

  1. Keith johnsen says:

    Kimber I know you work very hard to get where you are I also know that you. Will make a excellent. Docter. I was reality fill with emotions when I read your blog I love you.

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Bek Moody


my journey in this world

finding joy in everything

Redeeming Naptime

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Marriage, Miscarriage, and the Goodness of God

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