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    Top 11 advice physicians would give their younger selves



    No matter the profession, everyone wishes they could go back in time and provide sage wisdom to their younger selves to help ease the path that awaits them.

    It’s no different in medicine.

    We recently asked members of the Medical Economics Editorial Advisory Board and our 200-physician member Reader Reactor Panel what they would say to their younger selves in medical school or residency about medicine.

    What do you wish you knew back then? Tell us at [email protected]


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    • [email protected]
      The future of medical practice is too uncertain to take big risks. My advice is to not spend a single cent on education. Join the military and have them pay for it all, AND get a stipend while in school. Put in 20 years of service and then have a lifelong pension with benefits in your late 40's. Practice medicine at that point in a cash practice or whatever you want to do without pressure.
    • UBM User
      I have split practice between the Emergency Department and Family Medicine,(when I graduated Med School there were only 2 or 3 EM residencies) and it has been a good life. There were times when I definitely worked too much, unfortunately during the times my kids were growing up, and times when I was willing to accept a smaller pay check in trade for some free time. Overall it has been a wonderful life. I started when FP was fee for service, the patient paid up front and you gave them the billing info to send to their insurer. Then there were PPOs, and HMOs. Then managed Medicaid and Medicare. Then MACRA and MIPS, now ACOs, all of which are basically about money, as is everything else in our country these days. The older I get, the more I realize that it does not matter. My kids all ended up successfully growing up in both related and unrelated fields, mostly because they wanted to do something easier, and I did not discourage them. They are all happy, which is what really matters. So the advice to not just my younger self, (I actually took this advice years ago), but to those considering a career today, is that you need to forget about medicine as a means to a lifestyle. I have been teaching for over 30 years as well, and every student will describe how they are going to med school for the most altruistic of reasons, and then pursue a specialty based almost solely upon the income they expect it will generate. So here are the specifics. If you want to be wealthy, and you like Mercedes, Porches, Rolexes, and McMansions, more power to you, but do not become a doctor to get there. Not because you can't, you just shouldn't. I will tell you a secret. Your patients will think it is kind of nauseating. Be a banker or an executive. There is absolutely nothing wrong with those careers. Ask yourself if you would do it for a teachers salary. If not, pick something else. Be Humble. You may know more about something than a colleague, but chances are that he knows more than you about something else. He has chosen to remain silent and not to rub it in your face because he is a really cool person, so do the same for him. Be Kind, always. Love People. You are treating people, not diseases. Always put yourself in the other guys shoes. That seems to be a tough one for some of us. Listen to your patients, even if the extra time costs you money. Most great diagnosticians get there in large part because they listen, no matter how long the patients meander. People will actually talk longer and less effectively if you keep interrupting them. I had one of the best IM docs I have ever known tell me that if you let patients talk long enough, they will almost always hand you the diagnosis, without an exam or laboratory testing. I have found much truth in the advice. Be Mindful. Take satisfaction in your family, in conversation, in seeing a play, even if it is just the High School Play, maybe especially if it is The High School Play. Take satisfaction in knowing how much your dog will love you forever no matter what. Pet Him or Her, often. Remember that our wives and husbands are smarter than we are. Do the job because it is what you love. Have an avocation. Run, ride a bike, build something, learn an instrument. If you do what you love, based solely on the fact that you love it, you will do just fine.
    • [email protected]
      It's pretty sad to see all of the negative comments ranging from not making enough money, to getting out of direct patient care, to avoiding relationships in school or residency. I make more as a solo physician and work less office hours (1.5 days less) than when I was employed. I can take off when I want and there's no partner(s) or CEO to tell me when I can leave and what I can do. I love interacting with people and feel I make a much larger impact on their lives than any policy ever could. I've taken it a step further, though, by also being the medical director of an ACO through a hospital that covers our entire region rather than just one city. I had great relationships in school and met my wife during that time. We married while I was in residency. Med school was the greatest time of my life. My advice? Go after what you want, learn the business aspect of running a clinic, and have fun!

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