View Full Version : Question for anyone who works in healthcare.

04-12-10, 03:19 AM
What motivates you? What compels you to do what is known to be hard and thankless? A desire for heroism? Meaning and purpose from work? Compensation? Prestige?

Open question to any healthcare or health service providers including nurses, doctors, EMTs, etc.

I've purchased and read several books and talked to doctors, nurses, advisers, and other medical students. So far, the vibe I get is that the profession of medicine, to them, is valuable because its the most important job in the world: Maintaining the species.

I regret not focusing more of my undergraduate education in liberal arts and sciences. So, any move into the field of healthcare, particularly if I intend to be an MD, requires me to nearly start over. The exception is if I study overseas and hope I do well enough on USMLEs. The problem is, I'd still be limited in my residency options and the stigma would follow me around for the rest of my career.

I had a very enlightening discussion with a premed adviser at my university. He opened up the idea of healthcare administration and healthcare economics as a way of tying in my undergraduate degree in business. He also made an excellent point: We get into what we do less as a result of circumstance and more as a result of our natural desire to do those things. So maybe the dramatic change I'm intending to make would be counter to what I'm already doing.

My ultimate goal: Create value in the world while enjoying professional fulfillment.

I could exist in perpetuity starting more businesses and earning a healthy income, or attending law school and then practicing as I intended years ago, but would it be fulfilling? So far, I've enjoyed a comfortable living, but I don't currently feel like I'm doing enough as a human being to use my intellect, skills, and abilities to create value for society.

[Normally, my answer to someone with this problem would be: "White people problems. There are people starving in this world. Stop complaining."]

My next step this summer is to do some volunteer work and internships in the interest of getting a feel for hands-on care.

Please opine!

04-12-10, 12:27 PM
I had a very enlightening discussion with a premed adviser at my university. He opened up the idea of healthcare administration and healthcare economics as a way of tying in my undergraduate degree in business.

My next step this summer is to do some volunteer work and internships in the interest of getting a feel for hands-on care.

Please opine!I've interviewed a couple of pre-med students at OSU, and at least one of them is minoring in healthcare economics and policy because he believes understanding the economics of healthcare is an important part of medicine.

I also highly recommend doing some volunteer work in the medical field to see if it's a good fit. You may find you absolutely love it, or you could hate it with a passion. No sense committing yourself to several more years of school unless you're sure that's what you want to do.

04-12-10, 02:40 PM
I heartily endorse volunteer work in the healthcare field as a way to determine the extent of your interest and the degree of commitment your a willing to make to obtain the education you will need.

I say this because I am familiar with the dedication, educational requirements and costs of persuing a career in medicine as a doctor. Four children of close friends and one young cousin are just finishing up their M.D. degrees and are embarking on their residencies this Summer. All are very dedicated, exhausted and already deeply in debt (and likely to be even further in debt by the time their residencies are over).

My young cousin did not take the pre-req sciences courses as an undergraduate so had to go back, while working full time, and take those courses so she would be elgible for med school. She is just finishing her internal medicine intership prior to going on her residency in neurology at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, FL. When this is finished she will have incurred close to half a million in educational debt and be 31 years old .... something to think about.

None of the kids who I know took advantage of the military scholarship programs available to med school students which would have paid them a salary while going to med school and left them with no educational debt after completion of their specialty in return for a number of years service as a military doctor in return.

You might also talk to Rolex on the educational requirements of becoming a nurse anesthicist or similar certification. One young man I know completed Emory's program in this (a Master's degree in medical science program) and is now practicing in Atlanta at a very decent salary plus overtime.

Hospital administration might be a route for you but I would think be even more challenging with the new healthcare law going into effect.

But for any of these career choices commitment to a healthcare lifestyle is essential and this commitment should be made prior to undertaking any course leading to career in this field.

As for law, unless you are willing to put in the work and have the potential to be at the top of your class from a highly rated law school and then put in 60 hour or more weeks after you are hired by a firm, the outlook is not very good at present. I know of a Univ. of Virginia law student graduating next month, who was hired by a very prestigious NYC international law firm, only to be put on a year's deferrment (at a salary of $40,000/year) with the possibilty of not being picked up at all after that year. The fellow's father was a highly respected and well connected CEO of a major US bank and curently runs a moderate sized venture capital firm. As you well know this is not an uncommon experience for those recent law graduates who have had their associate employemnt terminated due to cutbacks at law firms.

04-12-10, 08:23 PM
Most people in health care work very hard under high stress situations in often unpleasant messy situations at all times of the day, involving people that are not always in good control of their emotions. It's no wonder there's already a shortage of qualified nurses.

They deserve more, not less.

04-12-10, 09:12 PM
Ask my sister, she has worked thanklessly in medicine for decades.
My best friends mom does also.

My sister has put her life at risk to help other people and had like 6 needle sticks with HIV patients! She did home care for a while but I know she has had to change jobs a few times for one reason or another.
I know she is good at it and I know she works her butt off doing it for not enough money.
She's in your neck of the woods too, she's a nurse though so she hasn't had all that fancy learnin'.
Oh she did a lot of school but I don't think she got a degree or anything but I do think she at least got her LPN.

04-12-10, 10:15 PM
+1 on doing volunteer work to see if this is really the thing for you. Also, remember that there are many ways in this world to serve one's fellows, and nothing at all wrong with a career in business.

04-13-10, 09:39 AM
I have been a Firefighter/EMT for almost 27 years. I spent my first 7 years as a volunteer. I gave up a management position at a Mercedes dealership so I could serve full time. Most days, I can't wait to get to work. If you decide to become a servant of the people, you must remember that people are never happy, but at best, relieved to see you. When they need you, it is because something is wrong. But what you do will make things better. Try volunteering first. If you like it well enough to do it for free, then you may find yourself on the way to a career. Life is good when you wake up and want to go to work.

04-13-10, 10:33 AM
I went into medicine because I have always loved the field and helping make a difference in someone's life. My Mother was very sick when I was growing up and her primary care physician is the one who diagnosed and initially treated her Lupus.. he really inspired me. I was a volunteer at our local hospital when I was in high school.. then pre med... then decided to take a job as a research assistant at Eastern Virginia Medical School and sell cars at the same time... then I went to medical school 2 years later.

Medicine is a dirty job nowadays. I practice 'defensive' medicine daily and it is a shame. If someone told me this is what I would be doing in my practice.. I would have thought twice about this profession. You have to document EVERYTHING because every patient that walks in your door can have the potential to sue you. I have seen Physicians lose everything from one mistake. Insurance is another blow to the head... public aid payments come 3-6 months after you see the patient. Private insurance pays you whatever percentage of your bill they feel like....

.. I still love my job though. I get thank you cards, the occasional fruit basket, hugs and 'high fives'... and that makes it worthwhile despite the aforementioned.

It is a LONG road. MCAT is the first hurdle to even think of applying. Then after your 2 years of basic sciences, you take the USMLE step 1. After 1 year of clinical rotations, you take USMLE step 2 CK and CS.. then you apply for residency. After those 4 years of medical school you then have to finish a residency. Depending on the specialty that can be 2-10 years long. Keep in mind the cost of medical school and the fact that you make $40-50K during residency while working 80 hours/week.

I am not trying to scare you, just bringing forth the reality of this career path. I watched my siblings and friends soar past me in life while I was still in school. While they were getting married, having kids, and buying that brand new car... I was in the library studying. I lost my ex-girlfriend my second year of medical school because she didn't understand my schedule. I was lucky to have met my wife later in medical school and we both understand each other's schedule and provide support to each other when we have bad days. It takes dedication and if you are not 100% sure it will make you happy, then do not do it. Not every day at my job is perfect, but it does make me proud that I can make a difference in someone's life. I just hope the new health care system will allow me to do so!

Hope this helps.. PM me if you have any detailed questions.

04-13-10, 11:34 AM
My grand daughter was your average rudderless teenager. Somewhat overweight and lazy as hell. She discovered volunteer EMT. It's like you flipped a switch on the wall. She's at the firehouse all the time. She's on a diet, working out, and in training to be a fireman as well as an EMT. She looks great. She has a very pretty face to start with and now she looks like every brick is in the proper place. It's all she can talk about and is obviously more than a passing fancy. She has found her calling. It can happen to anybody.

04-14-10, 04:32 PM
I work in healthcare security at two hospitals. In my daily work environment, I can face any situation from the boring to the inane to the disturbing to the potentialy lethal. I have stopped the aggression of those who would harm innocent people; I have calmed the fearful and assisted the bewildered. I have witnessed brutality and cruelty to the defenseless, and I have seen mercy and compassion to the suffering. I have seen acts of heroism regarded as daily routine by those who perform them. I have been in tense situations with cowardly officers, supposedly there to have my back, melting away at even the first sign of crisis; I have had the help of officers who were with me no matter how insane things got, but are the last people you would think of as heroes if you looked at them. I have had the chance to ask myself this question: "If the worst happens, can these people depend on me?". I have had the chance to have it answered, and to earn the trust of those I serve. I have had many instances were I should be dead, but lived.

I get to see every range of human folly and nobilty, get to serve next to heroes no one will ever memorialize. I even get to deliver in a small way both the feeling of safety and the reality of it. That is what motivates me to do the job I do, and love it.

04-18-10, 12:05 AM
CRAAAAAP much to think about.

04-18-10, 12:16 AM
I think volunteering in health care is an excellent idea! After all, the entire profession is soon to become a volunteer effort, or at the least, non-profit. :D

But seriously, it's a noble profession if you can stomach it.