T Nation

Career Change, Dealing with Social Pressure


#1

I'm a long time lurker here and have always been impressed with the insightful advice given on here, on more than just lifting.

I have started my anesthesiology residency a couple of months ago and am absolutely hating it. Every morning driving to work I consider crashing my car into a tree. I simply hate everything about it. Extremely fed up with medicine. I could write a book about why I'm hating it, but that doesn't really matter.
However I obviously have an objectively bright future: well respected profession and high paying job.... but at what cost?
I was wondering if people on here have experience with leaving the beaten track, leaving a high paying job. How in the world did you deal with peer pressure and reaction of family?


#2

[quote]Xav wrote:
I’m a long time lurker here and have always been impressed with the insightful advice given on here, on more than just lifting.

I have started my anesthesiology residency a couple of months ago and am absolutely hating it. Every morning driving to work I consider crashing my car into a tree. I simply hate everything about it. Extremely fed up with medicine. I could write a book about why I’m hating it, but that doesn’t really matter.
However I obviously have an objectively bright future: well respected profession and high paying job… but at what cost?
I was wondering if people on here have experience with leaving the beaten track, leaving a high paying job. How in the world did you deal with peer pressure and reaction of family?[/quote]

Do you have a plan B? Social pressure is inconvenient but bearable but you need to know what else to do and how to keep paying the rent.


#3

That would be my question, too. If not this, what?

At the end of the day you will have to justify to yourself having spent your life poorly (by your own measure). Others may wonder or have input, but they don’t have to live it.

On the other hand, many residents are miserable due to stress, exhaustion, having climbed a hill that still seems without end, etc. Could it be that you hate being poorly paid and of questionable competence, and will feel better when you can feel effective and appreciated?


#4

Question - Is it the job itself or the environment in which you practice? If it’s the job, what about it do you NOT like - what drew you to it initially? At what point did you begin to dread your job?

If it’s the environment, same questions.

Are you under any financial (or any other tangible) obligations to continue to practice (either all together or in this environment or both if you hate both) or is strictly social pressure? It’d help a lot if you could give us a little more to work on than you’re frustrated and disappointed with where you’re at.

You say that you could write a book about how much you hate your job, but it doesn’t really matter. I say it DOES matter WHY you hate your job. I don’t think anyone here can really give you advice worth taking without knowing particulars about WHY you hate it.

I was in a position where I liked my job well enough but HATED the people with whom I worked. They made it toxic and tense and I left after I had found a better position with better pay.


#5

The worst thing you can do is leave in the middle of school. Think, you will have the debt of a doctor without the salary of a doctor to pay it off.

I think caring what other people think is the least of your problems. Most people aren’t bright and don’t think much to begin with, so their opinion don’t count.


#6

[quote]Aero51 wrote:
The worst thing you can do is leave in the middle of school. Think, you will have the debt of a doctor without the salary of a doctor to pay it off.

I think caring what other people think is the least of your problems. Most people aren’t bright and don’t think much to begin with, so their opinion don’t count. [/quote]

*doesn’t count … when you decide to be pedantic, dismissive and superior you should probably at least make sure your grammar is beyond reproach


#7

I have many plan B’s, but most are quite vague. I am a succesful trader (I developed this my early years in med school, when the workload was bearable), but my capital is too low to make a large enough income. With my medicine degree I have many theoretical options (according to google search anyway). About my rent, I’m actually still living at home (VERY close to the hospital so it was financially irresponsible to move out, especially since I make very low money, not to mention rental prices are pathetically high). However I doubt I’ll be allowed to stay once I quit.

Emily, I’ve had the same ideas but I believe that would simply be getting used to the suck. Everybody starts to enjoy something once you gain some proficiency, but what if you like it from the start?

Polo: When deciding what to do as a specialty I was very fed up with clinical medicine (not quite as bad as now). I went backpacking and wouldn’t come back without a decision. I decided for anesthesia because it is quite broad (no specialization in just one organ), you need to know a lot about the physiology of the whole human body (which was always my favorite subject), no contact with complaining patients, no homework, possibilities to go into other fields (intensive care, pain and emergency), time to work on my trading.

During my internship I loved it: got to discuss about the mechanics of the drugs, about physiology, some procedures etc. All while having the time to study at least 2-3 hours per day and add a great workout at the end of the day.

Now I hate everything, and I do mean everything about this job: 90% is boredom (during surgery when nothing happens), 10% is pure panic, the procedures which were challenging in the beginning are already starting to feel extremely repetitive, the responsability of having a patient’s life in my hands all the time…nearly every single action I do in the hospital is potentially lethal. Yet, everything is extremely rushed and chaotic.

I simply have no time to study anymore (I’ve always enjoyed studying the basic sciences in medicine, not the idiotic mindless repeating of lists of symptoms in clinical medicine. Also have always studied other subjects such as economics. No time to read literature anymore etc.). The hypocrisy in the OR and in medicine is unbearable. Most people in the OR are extraordinarily unfriendly and toxic. You’re right that this could be improved and is only temporary.

However I believe this environment makes you toxic. Normally I’m a very good humored person, however since I started this residency I’m a constantly angry time bomb. Quite often my bosses tell me exactly the opposite: they have completely different approaches. There is no STRUCTURED education…hell in my second week I had to do anesthesia on a guy who got a Whipple operation (an >8 hour long MAJOR abdominal surgery).

Not having some basic control of your schedule is something I extremely hate. I’ve always been a worker and I’ve always gotten up very early in the morning, because it was my choice and to study something meaningful or to do something I enjoy.

In the end what really matters is this: is it normal that since starting this job (and I do mean since day 1) I sleep no more than 5 hours per night (I simply wake up at 2 am and cannot get back to sleep), that I am either feeling like I’m about to cry or EXTREMELY angry (which is good for my lifting though!), that I dread going to work? I know the beginning of something new is always hard, but after a couple of months it’s only going downwards.

Objectively speaking I should quit…both due to emotional and rational reasons. Emotionally I can’t handle this. Rationally: the better is the enemy of the good. Not to mention I have studied in a socialist country and have absolutely no debt whatsoever. If my trial for success and for some basic happiness fails, I can always go back to medicine (and even anesthesiology), at another university / country (I speak 4 languages fluently) if necessary.

I’m not exactly quitting in the middle of school. I’ve done 7 years of med school and internship and am actually a doctor. Now I’ve started a 5 year residency. However I find quitting something I have started very difficult and a sign of weakness. My main concern is peer pressure and especially from my parents. I know this sounds extraordinarily pathetic from a 25 years old, but my family has been going through an excruciating divorce since more than 10 years (due to malignant lawyers) and I simply do not want to be responsible for more pain (talking about my mother here).

This move would wreck her, and she’s been through a shitload. Actually she is the reason I aint quitting right now, but is also unfair of me to put the responsibility of this decision in her hands. It’s easy to say you shouldn’t care what other people think but I’m no sociopath and humans actually live together in a society. Easier said than done.

EDIT: And let me add that you guys are right that I should have a more tangible plan B to avoid to fall in an empty black hole when I quit.


#8

[quote]polo77j wrote:

[quote]Aero51 wrote:
The worst thing you can do is leave in the middle of school. Think, you will have the debt of a doctor without the salary of a doctor to pay it off.

I think caring what other people think is the least of your problems. Most people aren’t bright and don’t think much to begin with, so their opinion don’t count. [/quote]

*doesn’t count … when you decide to be pedantic, dismissive and superior you should probably at least make sure your grammar is beyond reproach[/quote]

When you get a life you probably wont care as much about those things.


#9

[quote]Aero51 wrote:

[quote]polo77j wrote:

[quote]Aero51 wrote:
The worst thing you can do is leave in the middle of school. Think, you will have the debt of a doctor without the salary of a doctor to pay it off.

I think caring what other people think is the least of your problems. Most people aren’t bright and don’t think much to begin with, so their opinion don’t count. [/quote]

*doesn’t count … when you decide to be pedantic, dismissive and superior you should probably at least make sure your grammar is beyond reproach[/quote]

When you get a life you probably wont care as much about those things. [/quote]

Doubtful


#10

OP - I’m in no way putting you down - it seems like you can’t really handle all the stress in your life right now. From what I know about anesthisiologists (or however you spell it, i’m not looking it up) is you’re more or less liable for A LOT of shit. It’s very stressful and I do not envy you and understand why their pay is as high as it is. It takes a special kind of crazy to handle it.

Have you considered teaching? It sounds like you really enjoy the learning process of it all and it would allow you some time to develop your portfolio and acquire capital.


#11

Could you learn to enjoy your work? Is your work inherently and objectively unpleasant; or is your reaction to your work a subjective response and therefore under your control?


#12

[quote]aeyogi wrote:
Could you learn to enjoy your work? Is your work inherently and objectively unpleasant; or is your reaction to your work a subjective response and therefore under your control?[/quote]

A very difficult question that I have asked myself many times these past months.

Polo: I fear that you’re right. It sucks to admit you can’t handle something.


#13

[quote]Xav wrote:

[quote]aeyogi wrote:
Could you learn to enjoy your work? Is your work inherently and objectively unpleasant; or is your reaction to your work a subjective response and therefore under your control?[/quote]

A very difficult question that I have asked myself many times these past months.

Polo: I fear that you’re right. It sucks to admit you can’t handle something. [/quote]

Explore your options; find something to transition into before making any rash decisions (if that’s the route you decide to take. Look at us a sounding board - nothing more. Weigh what’s best for you and your situation) - Who knows, maybe while you’re exploring options, you’ll hit a groove where you’re at and things will pick up. Besides, it sounds like you’re dealing with a lot more turmoil than just what’s in your professional life.


#14

[quote]polo77j wrote:
Have you considered teaching? It sounds like you really enjoy the learning process of it all and it would allow you some time to develop your portfolio and acquire capital.[/quote]

That sounds reasonable. I’m crossing over into teaching for similar reasons (minus the capital).


#15

You kind of sound like an entitled little bitch to me. Does he sound like that to anyone else?


#16

[quote]Xav wrote:
I’m a long time lurker here and have always been impressed with the insightful advice given on here, on more than just lifting.

I have started my anesthesiology residency a couple of months ago and am absolutely hating it. Every morning driving to work I consider crashing my car into a tree. I simply hate everything about it. Extremely fed up with medicine. I could write a book about why I’m hating it, but that doesn’t really matter.
However I obviously have an objectively bright future: well respected profession and high paying job… but at what cost?
I was wondering if people on here have experience with leaving the beaten track, leaving a high paying job. How in the world did you deal with peer pressure and reaction of family?[/quote]
I have not read the entire thread yet. My only advise is this.

Slow the fuck down, relax and get done with school FIRST.


#17

[quote]Aero51 wrote:
The worst thing you can do is leave in the middle of school. Think, you will have the debt of a doctor without the salary of a doctor to pay it off.

I think caring what other people think is the least of your problems. Most people aren’t bright and don’t think much to begin with, so their opinion don’t count. [/quote]

I’m going to push back against all these posters who suggest you finish and also ask them whether they have comparable experience.

OP, I am currently living the future version of you in a different context and may provide a cautionary tale:

I’m originally from po-dunk nowhere, went to state U for undergrad, did well, attended law school at a Harvard-Yale-Stanford. Did not care for law school at all; knew it was the wrong path. I took a leave after the first year to get a degree in another profession (one which I’d always wanted to pursue and plan to in the future). That put me at 23 years old–one year of law school done, master’s completed.

So there I was: to complete law school? I made the decision many of these people are urging: “do it for ‘future me’!” “I can pay off the debt lickety split with my attorney salary!” Etc.

So I go back. I don’t care for the next two years but say whatever, I got the degree. Then I start working. I’m a corporate attorney at a major firm, have been for a bit over two years. Have regarded it with varying levels of contempt the entire time: high stress, no job satisfaction, no happiness generally. Have no savings whatsoever but have paid off all my student debts. Being a doctor places similar demands on your time and attention.

Let me emphasize the latter part of that because it’s important: your attention. Let me tell you, with the types of jobs we have, if you do not care about or like your job, you will suck at it. And people will know you suck at it. So you will be sitting there in a job you hate, knowing that your colleagues have little to no regard for your ability. And you know what’s the worst part? You’ll realize that they’re right.

I’m 29 now. I was 22 when I started law school. I have a high paying job that I hate. Looking back, I viewed the entire decision making process as a “what is the right decision” pathway that would make sense to the world-at-large. Most of these posters probably don’t know what it’s like to have an entire social network where your position in it is regarded as some elevated place of prestige, but it makes it hard to make the type of decision that you’re confronting. It’s humiliating; it’s inconvenient; it takes you out of your comfort zone. You’re used to succeeding your entire life now matter what you do–that’s how you’ve gotten yourself in the “mess” you’re in in the first place!

And there’s really a double whammy here in terms of how poor a decision you can make in continuing with what you’re doing. I’m 29 right now. It would be bad enough if the years 22-29 (some of the best, most productive years of your life!) are largely a waste of time (excepting my master’s degree). What’s the worst part is that you(I)'ve been miserable for the vast majority of it! And I don’t get those years back!

What is my actual advice? Mine is to take a middle road: take a year of leave if you can, do something different. Reflect on what other things you could be doing. Hell, if you have money (I never did), either take a total vacation or go travel somewhere. But I think continuing down your current path is a road to nowhere that you want to go. And I should know–I walked it myself.


#18

[quote]MinusTheColon wrote:

[quote]Aero51 wrote:
The worst thing you can do is leave in the middle of school. Think, you will have the debt of a doctor without the salary of a doctor to pay it off.

I think caring what other people think is the least of your problems. Most people aren’t bright and don’t think much to begin with, so their opinion don’t count. [/quote]

I’m going to push back against all these posters who suggest you finish and also ask them whether they have comparable experience.

OP, I am currently living the future version of you in a different context and may provide a cautionary tale:

I’m originally from po-dunk nowhere, went to state U for undergrad, did well, attended law school at a Harvard-Yale-Stanford. Did not care for law school at all; knew it was the wrong path. I took a leave after the first year to get a degree in another profession (one which I’d always wanted to pursue and plan to in the future). That put me at 23 years old–one year of law school done, master’s completed.

So there I was: to complete law school? I made the decision many of these people are urging: “do it for ‘future me’!” “I can pay off the debt lickety split with my attorney salary!” Etc.

So I go back. I don’t care for the next two years but say whatever, I got the degree. Then I start working. I’m a corporate attorney at a major firm, have been for a bit over two years. Have regarded it with varying levels of contempt the entire time: high stress, no job satisfaction, no happiness generally. Have no savings whatsoever but have paid off all my student debts. Being a doctor places similar demands on your time and attention.

Let me emphasize the latter part of that because it’s important: your attention. Let me tell you, with the types of jobs we have, if you do not care about or like your job, you will suck at it. And people will know you suck at it. So you will be sitting there in a job you hate, knowing that your colleagues have little to no regard for your ability. And you know what’s the worst part? You’ll realize that they’re right.

I’m 29 now. I was 22 when I started law school. I have a high paying job that I hate. Looking back, I viewed the entire decision making process as a “what is the right decision” pathway that would make sense to the world-at-large. Most of these posters probably don’t know what it’s like to have an entire social network where your position in it is regarded as some elevated place of prestige, but it makes it hard to make the type of decision that you’re confronting. It’s humiliating; it’s inconvenient; it takes you out of your comfort zone. You’re used to succeeding your entire life now matter what you do–that’s how you’ve gotten yourself in the “mess” you’re in in the first place!

And there’s really a double whammy here in terms of how poor a decision you can make in continuing with what you’re doing. I’m 29 right now. It would be bad enough if the years 22-29 (some of the best, most productive years of your life!) are largely a waste of time (excepting my master’s degree). What’s the worst part is that you(I)'ve been miserable for the vast majority of it! And I don’t get those years back!

What is my actual advice? Mine is to take a middle road: take a year of leave if you can, do something different. Reflect on what other things you could be doing. Hell, if you have money (I never did), either take a total vacation or go travel somewhere. But I think continuing down your current path is a road to nowhere that you want to go. And I should know–I walked it myself.[/quote]
You ^ are 29 and still growing up.

OP Get done with school and THEN take a fucking vacation, go snort blow of a hookers ass in Taiwan, go run with the bulls, do whatever the fuck you want for a few months.

Then come back and find a job you like.

Find a hobby you like.

Find a woman that you get along with in life and fuck her brains out.

Then post back pictures of said woman.


#19

[quote]Derek542 wrote:

You ^ are 29 and still growing up.

OP Get done with school and THEN take a fucking vacation, go snort blow of a hookers ass in Taiwan, go run with the bulls, do whatever the fuck you want for a few months.

Then come back and find a job you like.

Find a hobby you like.

Find a woman that you get along with in life and fuck her brains out.

Then post back pictures of said woman. [/quote]

Just fyi.

OP probably understands that education at our level is as much an investment as it is anything else. If it’s not something you actually want to do longer term, then it’s not a prudent investment. And if you take a break after and opt for some other line of work, you are going to be financially underwater.


#20

Should have mentioned, OP–now that I’m out of student debt, I’m going to begin the active job search in the other profession in a few months. You will be surprised at how supportive your friends and family probably will be: ultimately, they want to see you happy.