Decisions

Angie, Third Year Medical Student

Hello Readers,

I am writing to you as I take a break from studying the day before my Ob/Gyn mock board exam. Did the last 6 weeks of Ob/Gyn fly by? YES. Did I fall more in love with Ob/Gyn? YES.

I’ve had a lot more opportunities to talk to residents and attendings and hear their stories about how and why they decided to do Ob/Gyn. There were lots of diverse reasons including “I loved Ob/Gyn and hated everything else”, “I always wanted to do Surgery but the people were malignant; Ob/Gyn has surgery AND friendly people”; “I love working with female patients more than with male patients”, and so on. What has been most encouraging to hear is that everyone has unanimously (and I believe earnestly) told me that they would choose Ob/Gyn AGAIN knowing what they know now.

We had our journal club last week, which was led by the former chair of the department, Dr. William C. Patton. While he is now retired, he still stays involved and up to the date with the literature. We read some really great articles including one regarding the ethics of students performing pelvic exams on patients under anesthesia (this is ILLEGAL in California and condemned by ACOG and AMA). While he brought up some very thought-provoking issues on the articles, what I took away the most was his advice on life as a doctor. This is what he said (as interpreted by me):

First, pick an area of medicine that you are passionate about. Don’t worry about the money, lifestyle, or what other people tell you. It’s your life. If you go into a field because of the money or lifestyle, you’ll dread going to work and you’ll stop doing your best and start making poor decisions. Apparently 1 in 6 doctors will have to face the medical board during their lifetime for doing something wrong (i.e. DUI, pulling a Michael Jackson’s doctor stunt, etc). He looked at us and counted that would be at least 2 of us (statistically). Yikes.

Second, live within your means. If you have a big house and lots of shiny things, you will need to make enough money to support this lifestyle. He gave us a great example. As an Ob/Gyn, you will see a lot of patients with endometriosis. The least invasive treatment to offer is an intrauterine device (IUD) like the Mirena, which the doc can fit in the office, and get $200 for the procedure. Another option is doing a quick laser ablation in the office for which you can get $2000. The third option is a hysterectomy (which I’ve witnessed takes about 3-5 hours to perform) and you get about $1000. On a UWorld question, you know what the first step of management would be: an IUD or something equally less invasive. However, in the real world where the Ob/Gyn has a lot of things to pay for, will she choose the “right” answer or skip to what she knows will have the best return: the laser ablation?

Third, save your money, and manage your own finances. A bit of diligent saving will go a long way when you are ready to retire. Also, keep track of your own finances rather than having a outside party manage it––you won’t know what really happened if you lose it all.

I must admit that this is the first journal club where I actually took notes and listened attentively! Thank you Dr. Patton for you advice. I found great wisdom in your humble and principled words. By the way, if you ever run into him, ask him about the didelphys uterus (he’s funny too!).

Also, another interesting post that I ran across about one doctor’s positive perspective about the medical student’s role in patient care: “When a medical student sees you, consider it your lucky day”

One more day and then we’re on Winter Break! Study hard. Stay dry. We can do it!

-angiek

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