The job market is continually evolving and changing. Jobs come into and go out of demand. (Computer keypuncher/operator used to be well paying, secure career. Today, no one even knows what a computer punch card is.) With very few exceptions, I think all young people have to prepared to change careers/retrain as the economy and job market changes. There are literally hundreds of jobs today that simply didn’t exist when I was in college. I’m sure that as technology and AI advances there will be hundred of jobs 15 years from now that simply don’t exist today and hundred or thousand that have become obsolete.
And for the record, I trained, then re-trained and then retrained again and worked 3 different career fields during my working life.
Some things about medicine as a career you need to consider–
Even medical specialties come into and go out of demand. There are constant turf wars between various specialties-- cardiology vs. interventional radiology for heart attack treatment/stenting or neurosurgery vs neuro-radiology for stroke management or neurosurgery vs orthopedic surgery for spine surgery, for example. Family medicine physicians used to man every ER in the US until about 1985 when the idea of a specialized physician just for emergency medical situations was first suggested. Today you can’t work in the ED unless you are a formally trained EM physician.
Physicians are in a constant state of retraining as medical practices change and best practices evolve.
I am the mother of two young physicians. Being physician is a tough life. There are long hours and huge demands on your time. Even after residency, the work hours are much higher than the typical 40 hours work week of other careers and professions. It’s tough to manage a reasonable work-life balance.
Physicians also carry a heavy burden of responsibility. The physician suicide rate is about 3x higher than an age-matched peer population group. (And among med students & residents, the suicide rate is 5x higher than their age-peers.)
The cost and length of training required of physicians is enormous. Medicine requires 4 years of med school, 3-7 year of residency (add another 2- 3 years if you plan to sub specialize) before you can practice independently and earn a “doctor’s salary”. Residents & fellows are paid peanuts–less than your high school math teacher–while routinely working 80-100 hours per week. And let’s talk debt. The typical med student who graduates from a public med school (lower cost) has an average of $190K in student debt and a graduate of a private med school has $250K, just from med school alone, at an annual 7.5% interest rate. (And since most residents can’t start paying off their debt until residency & fellowship are done, the interest continues to accrue and capitalize each year. Having over $350K in debt when a new doctor first reaches attending status is very common.) Then there are 6 figure practice buy-in costs if you want to go into private practice.
Whether you go into private practice, large group practice or academic medicine, there are constant production pressures from your management. Your salary literally depends on the volume of patients you see, how many diagnostic codes you can generate for each patient, and how those patients rank you on Press Ganey Patient Satisfaction surveys. In large group practices you are often an “at will” employee who can be fired at any time. CMGs (Corporate Management Groups) are taking over large segments of medical care. The corporate bean counters offer no benefits, but pay big salaries–but miss a day of work because you’re sick or the weather is bad and you have reimburse the CMG for someone to cover your shift. Want health insurance? Too bad–buy it yourself. Want maternity/paternity leave? Too bad, only if you pay the salary of a locum to cover your shifts. Insurance reimbursements are also outside your control, yet those reimbursements control your income.
Malpractice costs can run as much as $120,000/year (higher in NY and PA) if you’re in a high risk specialty–OB/GYN, any surgical field or radiology.
Want to live in a desirable area–like major East or West coast cities, Chicago , Dallas, Austin etc? So does everyone else–and your salary will lower than it be in small town West Texas or SE Utah…
Yes, medicine does (usually) provide a secure, well-paying career, but it comes with hidden costs, both financial and personal.