Should I Rule Out a Medical Career?

<p>I spent a day with a cardiologist. He was in the cath lab all day. I gotta say I found it incredibly boring. However, most of this was because I just stood there and watched all day rather than do anything. I'm extremely confused as to what I want to do... Gahh.. I imagine an actual surgery would be more exciting than an angiogram and inserting a stent. Also there was almost ZERO patient contact and I love people so.. But my mom said that there are plenty of specialties with more patient contact and it also depends on the day. If he was doing consults it would've been more. Does this bad experience mean I won't enjoy a career in medicine?</p>

<p>Your mom is right. But you might want to try shadowing one of those other types of doctors for a day to see if it seems better.</p>

<p>What did the doctor say? Did he describe the day you visited as "typical"? I'd imagine your day as terribly boring too, because he's busy doing something and all you're doing is watching. If you are busy, or feeling useful, you'd be doing something useful with your time, not just standing around. Maybe next time you can suggest you do something that can be useful. You are there to learn, I suspect. Get the doctor to talk to you, even if he/she's busy.</p>

<p>And in answer to you question, "Should I rule out a medical career?" No: I don't think you got a fair read. You need to talk to the doctor. You need to keep busy. You need to find out what a typical day looks like.</p>

<p>
[quote]
Maybe next time you can suggest you do something that can be useful. You are there to learn, I suspect. Get the doctor to talk to you, even if he/she's busy.

[/quote]

I'm not sure what level student the OP is but,</p>

<p>I hope you mean get the doctor to talk after he is done and is washing up. The doctor is there to perfrom an uneventful catheterization, not to encourage the career iof a budding physician. The only reason for the doctor to talk during the procedure would be to the staff or to a colleague/trainee learning the procedure. Sorry, but I would be incredibly annoyed if some high school kid (and like I said, I don't know if the OP is a high school kid) was shadowing my doctor while he had a wire in my heart, even though I know this is a pretty routing procedure. I probably wouldn't even like knowing the kid was in there standing around. Shadowing on rounds is one thing, unnecessary people in the cath lab/operating room, that's a little different. Although I'm sure it happens all the time.</p>

<p>I'm assuming you're a high school student? I agree with your mom, see if you can find a doctor with a different specialty to shadow. My husband (ID) has had HS students shadow him. I recently ran into the mom of the most recent one and she went on an on about how the student loved it. My son shadowed a radiologist and loved it. Radiologist can also have days without a lot of patient contact, but they have very cool high tech equipment, and that was right down my son's alley.</p>

<p>There are many specialties in the medical profession. For cardiologist, this is a procedure day. If you would have been with him on a clinic day, you would have seen more patient interaction.</p>

<p>Don't give up yet. Spend some hours shadowing different types of docs. Look at primary care (pediatrics, family practice, internal medicine) if you want more patient contact.</p>

<p>You might also see whether you can find opportunities to shadow people who work in health professions other than medicine.</p>

<p>Several years ago, I broke my leg very badly. During the days, weeks, and months that followed, I had a lot of contact with physical therapists in multiple settings -- at the hospital, in a rehab facility, during home visits, and eventually, after I could drive again, at a physical therapy center where patients come for PT sessions. Except for the physical therapists who worked in the hospital setting (who only saw patients a couple of times because of today's short hospital stays), these professionals had extensive contact with their patients, often over a period of weeks or months. They had a chance to interact with the patients and to see whether things were going well or poorly, and there seemed to be a lot of satisfaction to be had when the PT and the patient successfully worked together to achieve improved function. This was health care with a plot and characters; every patient had a story, and the physical therapists played an important part in that story. </p>

<p>I remember deciding at the time that if I had sought a career in health care (which I never did), this would have been the ideal one.</p>

<p>I totally agree with the other posters - shadow different types of specialties to get a feel for things. </p>

<p>In many communities, cardiologists don't do open heart surgery - instead cardio-thoracic surgeons do it. What you saw the cardiologist doing may be the extent of their procedures. Also, with the advent of cholestorol lowering drugs and stents, the cardiovascular specialty is seeing a huge drop in actual surgeries - just something to keep in mind if that is a specialty that you are particularly interested in.</p>

<p>The other thing you need to realize is most physicians find a large part of their time is taken up with boring, repetitive tasks like paperwork or routine procedures. It's not always like you see on ER or Grey's Anatomy. Most surgeons I know (I work in a hospital) only do surgeries 1-2 days a week. Of course, it is very dependent upon the specialty.</p>

<p>There is a medical student forum that is very helpful to browse if you want to get an idea of what medical school is like and information about the different specialties. Many people go into medical school without knowing what they want to specialize in and decide after doing rotations.</p>

<p>All intellectual fields are kind of boring if you mean lots of non-exciting stuff. A trial lawyer is lucky to get into a courtroom these days and if that happens it's likely on a motion or something minor. Most of the time is spent doing fun things like answering interrogatories or reading files to prepare for depositions and the like. </p>

<p>A primary care doctor sees lots of patients but that also has drawbacks because then you are hand-holding a lot, seeing completely routine stuff almost all the time, and you need to have patience to deal with 50 patients who have the latest stomach virus. </p>

<p>Surgeons who do a lot of ops are mostly doing the same procedure over and over with only occasional strange ones. My brother does lots of routine surgery. He does have a few 6 hour marathon cases but practices are built on doing the same thing well time after time.</p>

<p>I think a lotvof shadowing is pointless and misleading. Often what people love about their jobs is stuff you can not see or appreciate by watching it ( especially occupations that require tremendous technical, or cognitive skill, be it mental challenges, creativity, or problem solving). so don't put much on your boring experience yet.</p>

<p>My job is amazingly interesting and satisfying, and it requires a big amount of mental effort which engages me, but if you watched me, it looks like I sit there all day! How boring! A surgeon might love their job but probably not because the task you are observing is fun to do ( it's not a video game), but because of what it mentally requires, the challenge, the sense of satisfaction or whatever. An executive might love the excitement of making something happen in a company but watching his or her meetings or answering emails is boring! Most cool jobs requiring advanced education are like that-- you cant possibly appreciate what's so wonderful about them just by seeing them in the surface, since you are not privy to either the big picture, all of the context, nor what's going on in their brain.</p>

<p>Also want to add that for any occupation, unless you get a decent sampling, it won't help you much. In this case, a sampling of doctor,s or specialties, or days, or tasks. Every single profession has great parts and crappy parts... it isn't all going to be fun or exciting. And some parts in one part of your career will be fun at first or challenging, and later maybe boring and routine. Just like people you marry, and life itself, it's a package deal. </p>

<p>I also take it you are in high school so don't stress! You are not suppose to know what you'll be as an adult, and nor should you! Just keep learning things and learning about yourself and trust it will show itself in due time. Life is seldom some kind of predictable linear path that starts in 10th or 11th grade... You don't have to know the outcome, so its very very normal, healthy and okay ( and probably wise) to be uncertain for many years yet!</p>

<p>Shadowing a cardiologist on a clinic/office visit day would differ a lot from a procedure day. When they're doing office visits, there is patient interaction, a discussion of the medical issues etc. That may be more interesting/educational to you than standing in a cath lab looking at a screen, where you may not be entirely clear on what you're looking at, why it's significant and where you may not be able to move around too much since there are concerns about things being sterile. Also, during a procedure, the MD focusing on doing the procedure, is not (always) on explaining to you what's going on. If you feel like you had a decent experience/conversation with that cardiologist, you could always ask to shadow again down the road and see if you can be involved in a clinical type of day. However, keep in mind that it's easier to have others in the room for a procedure, where the (sedated) patient isn't concerned about who else is watching the screen. The cardiologist may not be ok with you shadowing on a clinic day because many patients would not allow/be comfortable with a HS student being in the room during a visit; it's one thing when you get med students/residents on an office visit, but it's quite different to have HS or college students who don't need to be there. </p>

<p>In the future if you shadow MDs doing procedures -- stand quietly during the procedure, but if they have time after, ask questions about the procedure, their daily practice etc. -- the MDs who do this enjoy students and will happy to discuss what they just did, why etc.</p>

<p>About that "talking to the doctor part" as bovertine (#4) suggested, your "talk" would NOT be during the times he is busy. The doctor you are shadowing is doing his job. What you need to do is some research and preparation to know what he is doing, so you know what you are looking at and can appreciate his skill. Then, speak with him about his work afterwards or at the end of the day, so you understand it better. This requires you to do some legwork too, as he's not there to entertain you.</p>

<p>^^^That's what I thought you meant. I've had a couple caths, and I was barely sedated. My doctor is actually a buddy of mine from college, but he talked to me through a lot of it - breath in, stay still, etc. No reminiscing. If it was me, I probably wouldn't mind having anybody in there who could stomach seeing me with a hospital gown and a wire up my crotch, as long as they kept quiet and it was sterile. Heck, for all I know there could have been a lot of visitors in during my procedure.</p>

<p>If it was my child, or somebody dear to me, I would probably be a lot more skeptical.</p>

<p>^lovely visual bovertine! But, heck, to that doctor and to the OP, it might have been interesting. No reminiscing? Wonder why not.</p>

<p>Flying eagle, in no way should you determine that this cardiologist's life is like the role other doctors have. As a nurse, I can tell you there are many versions of healthcare delivery and involvement. Cardiology is a very specific area that that doctor drifted to after doing rotations in every other area of medicine.</p>

<p>I suggest you see if there is an urgent care center near you that will let you shadow one of their doctors for a day. That doctor will see a new patient every 10-15 minutes with a variety of problems from sore throats to sprains to abdominal pain. Usually nothing super serious but basic internal medicine exposure which will expose you to those areas of medicine ENT, orthopedics, Gastroenterology for example. Good luck with your exploration.</p>

<p>People do not go to medicine for entertainment. Most have sensere desire to help others. There are lots of entertaining fields, maybe you should look into another career.</p>

<p>when students come to see me for advice about medical school, I try to talk them out of it. I give them many reasons why they shouldn't do it. I am watching to see how much they actually know about medicine and whether they really feel they MUST have a career in medicine - that they will be miserable if they don't become a physician. Part of having this certainty is shadowing doctors or volunteering/working in a medical setting. Do not attempt medical school unless your really have the desire and need to do so.</p>

<p>Dude - why are you worried about being bored? Have you read the healthcare reform bill? You need to talk to some MDs about the collapsing economic model for physicians. have you thought about being a nurse practitioner? NPs will be getting a lot of work under the "the taxpayers can't afford to send you to a doctor when everything you really need you can get from a NP" plan goes into effect.</p>

<p>Being a doctor is awsome, but your kids can't eat "cool."</p>