When I Grow Up...

It's a long hard road. When I tell people what my husband does, the typical response is "Good for you! Moms always want their daughters to marry doctors." To be honest, after hearing this I cringe inside. People too often do not understand the sacrifices made monetarily and physically.

Time Invested
Have top scores in High School
4 years
Attend an accredited college and obtain top scores in all classes especially prerequisites to medical school

(Chuck was fortunate to get full ride.)
4 years
Take the MCAT

$200 per test
1 year study time
Apply to medical schools

$50 per application plus cost to visit colleges
6 months – 1 year
Take step 1 after year 2 of medical school

One shot to pass
Minimum 1 year study time
Medical School
$200,000  to $300,000
4 years
Possible research @ $10/hr
Take step 2 after year 3 of medical school

One shot to pass
1 year study time
Apply to residency year 4 of medical school

Depending on specialty, 50-80 applications are encouraged at $20-$50 each
6 months of filling out applications
Residency interviews
11 interviews are ideal for most specialties. Must pay for gas or plane ticket, hotel, and food for each
3 months
Relocation cost
5 years
$45,000/ year which works out to be McDonalds wages for the time spent in the hospital
Possible relocation cost
1-2 years
$45,000/ year which works out to be McDonalds wages for the time spent in the hospital
Practice as a Doctor
Possible relocation cost
30 years
$100,000 to $600,000+/ year depending on expertise, education, specialty, and location

...And somewhere in all of it, step 3 / oral exam need taken.

By the time a doctor is able to practice on his own, he or she has spent (in some cases) half  a million dollars and enrolled in 15 years of schooling post high school.

Fun Facts.

So how does residency work?...

After year 3 of medical school (starting 4th yr) med students need to pick a specialty to devote their lives too. This is influenced by your step 1 score and grades in school. If you don't have an above average score, it's likely the most competitive hospital and or specialties will not consider you. Lucky for us orthopedic surgery is one of the most competitive. Thank goodness he is a smarty pants and has done amazing! Residency programs also look into the amount of published research articles a student has. He is scrambling to get on side projects now to boost his resume. These seemed easiest to land during rotations 3rd year. Everyone is researching something. For orthopedics it is encouraged for students to apply to 50-80 different hospitals to ensure a residency match. These post graduate programs are government funded. Only so many "slots" are given to each specialty. Each MS4 (medical student year 4) is competing with all other MS4s across the nation for a slot at their desired program. All applications need to be submitted around October MS4. Depending on the specialty, programs announce interviews very differently. For othro, many programs send out an email saying something like this:  "We would like to interview you but if you do not see this email by ___ o'clock today and call us immediately... sorry our interview slots are full." (I got used to checking our joint email account every 3 seconds.) Out of 50-80 applied programs the magic number of interviews is 11. By Thanksgiving most other specialties have announced all interviews while ortho is just beginning to announce theirs. Generally, most residency programs  hold interviews between December and February. For some it's tradition to hold a "social" the night before the interview for spouses to be involved in the process in something like a cocktail hour(s). It's a very informal way of seeing how you will interact with your colleagues both personally and professionally. "Does she/he fit into our club?" The following day MS4's will be interviewed formally in front of a panel of doctors to further assess credentials. For ortho, many programs have a "boys club" stereotype. Unfortunately women generally are few and far between in this specialty. Most orthopedic surgeons are ex-athletes with somewhat of a frat-boy attitude with the occasional exception of course. Once again typically you will need to fit into the "club". In very very very rare cases MS4's have been invited to strip clubs post- interview. Fun. Fun. I know of only one program who has this ritual. Once all interviews are over, all MS4s rank their top 5 programs. Hospitals do the same for all MS4. This is very much like speed dating. March of MS4 is exciting for all medical students. Schools across the country celebrate "MATCH DAY". All 4th years are invited mid march to receive a letter telling them if they got matched with a program and where they will be spending the next 5-6 years of their lives. (Non-surgical specialties are typically 3 year residencies while high ranked researched based programs can be up to 6 years.) Once matched and PGY (post graduate years aka residency) is completed, doctors have the option to specialize further learning "better" techniques or theologies by repeating the application process for 1 to 2 year fellowships. Most completion of fellowships will yield a higher ending salary. 

1 comment:

  1. Welcome! I am in such support of your blog, reasons for doing it and feel like I can relate on such an intricate level with everything you have already said. Having this blog WILL be therapeutic for you and I can't wait to read more of your posts :) My hubby is a PGY2 now in Ortho so I know what you are feeling/experiencing at this point in the journey. Good luck with the rest of med school and shoot me an email or comment if you have any questions along the way. Congrats on the engagement - enjoy this special time!