A recent article published in this week’s NY Times, titled “More Physicians Say No to Endless Work Days,” details young doctors’ choices to practice based on lifestyle. The detailed article follows a generation of physicians: grandfather, father, and daughter. While Dr. Dewar’s grandfather and father worked in a close-knit private practice, the young MD decided to go for the quick-paced, but lifestyle-friendly specialty of Emergency Medicine. In EM, she will be dealing with acute cases, procedures, trauma, and quick-thinking. In her elders’ generation, they were with patients for long-term, family-oriented care.
Doctors in my generation are considering specialities based on family and lifestyle. We do not want to be sleepless, over-worked residents and doctors. Women especially want to have families and be around for the kids. Personally, doctors can do the things they love outside of the hospital and watch their kids play in the sandbox. Professionally, quality patient care may be at stake. With professions that do not take many calls and intense work hours, doctors are less accessible. Back in the earlier private practice setting, doctors were on call and immediately available to see their patients. Doctors nowadays are steering away from that part of the job. Dr. Dewar has mentioned that her father was barely around for the family dinner; she has joked that when he sits down for dinner, his beeper goes off. He was always busy with his patients, leaving little time for his family.
As a young first year medical student, I am considering what I want to do with my life. Yes, I’m still in the prime of my youth. I also hate stumbling when people find out I’m in medical school and fire at me, “What do you want to do?” Uh… honestly, I don’t really know. I have ideas, but they are not set-in-stone because it will not be until rotations that I get to see what it’s really like in the field. I may love pediatrics now, but who knows, I might hate getting sticky from a delivery or arguing with belligerent parents. So I don’t know. I can say I am weighing heavily my personal life and future family when it comes to what I want to practice. I would like to cook my signature recipes, spend time with loved ones, watch my kids perform at school, travel the world, socialize with old-time friends, and sleep! After all, I’m still human and I have every basic needs, wants, passions, and hopes I wish to fulfill.
In medicine, there are several ‘lifestyle-friendly’ specialties abbreviated as ROADS: Radiology, Ophthalmology, Anesthesiology and Dermatology = Satisfaction. They tend to be super competitive too, weeding out people based on research, letters of recommendation, and BOARD scores. I’ll be studying much harder next year for this Step 1 exam, because it will make or break you ANYWHERE you go. In addition, I am considering Internal Medicine or Pediatrics, with subspecialties such as Hematology… I know I will not enjoy the simple, rote lifestyle of a primary care physician; I will find more excitement with procedural skills, because I like working with my hands. Plus, I have a whole personal ‘hand story’ I talked about for medical school.