Author Topic: MD or FI?  (Read 2385 times)

VeggieNumNum

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MD or FI?
« on: March 04, 2019, 10:49:00 PM »
Hi Everyone!

I am in desperate need of some mustachian advice:

Background:

I am 31 years old, married and I have just started my first year of medical school (in Australia it is 4 years). Previous to medical school, my husband and were running a very successful business for about 10 years (he is still managing it). I had always wanted to study medicine, however I became wrapped up in our business and ended up only applying last year. Unfortunately I found Mr Money Moustache & FIRE after I submitted my application - before that I had never really questioned working hard until I retired at 65. My perception on what constitutes a good life has changed since first finding this blog and I am no longer sure that medicine is the correct choice for me. At best, if I choose the quickest route/specialty training program and if everything goes according to plan, it will take me 10 years until I finish my training (6 of those will be paid years).

I received a scholarship position at an excellent school, however I have had to move interstate, so I am only currently seeing my husband on the weekends (I fly home with frequent flyer points that we have accrued over the years through the business). We would ideally like to start having children in the next couple of years, however now that I am studying, I am seeing this as less likely to occur due to the amount of study, time (and stress) involved in medicine. I am also a bit depressed over loosing all of my free time as I am no longer able to pursue the hobbies that I enjoy! I have tried talking to friends and family members about the possibility of not continuing, but it is hard for people to see past the idea of me not wanting to be a 'doctor'. I know it would be a satisfying career, but as I am almost FI, I just do not know if the life hours it would cost me would be worth the potential career enjoyment. My husband is 100% onboard with whatever I decide.

Here is a snapshot of my current financial situation.

Financial situation

We own our own home (with no mortgage) - approximate value $1,000,000
We own the factory that we run our business from - approximate value $400,000
Combined superannuation (Australian retirement account) balance  = $200,000
Term deposit @ 3% = $300,000
Vanguard index funds = $30,000 (just began contributing this year)

While the business performance varies from year to year, we have generally been able to save between $200,000 - $350,000 per year over the last couple of years. Also we have no debt.

I guess it is hard without having finished my studies to know how much joy I would get from being a doctor. Right now I love the learning side of things, but the rigidity of the program, the time away from my husband and home as well as the length of the training, is weighing really heavy on me. I would love to hear people's thoughts on whether career success/satisfaction is important to a happy life and what you would do in my situation.

Thanks :)

Malcat

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Re: MD or FI?
« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2019, 05:29:29 AM »
Feel free to pm me, I don't share personal info here, but I will say that in your position, I wouldn't do med school.

Ultimately, it's a very personal decision, but as satisfying as patient care is, it's still a job. There are countless other ways to do meaningful and satisfying work that won't require nearly as much personal sacrifice.

hops

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Re: MD or FI?
« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2019, 05:33:56 AM »
How intense is residency/registrarship in Australia? It's lengthy, yes, but what kind of hours will you work? If you're reluctant to start a family in medical school, will it be equally (or more) daunting once training's underway? We chose not to start a family during my wife's residency, but we were in the minority.

It's not uncommon to have second thoughts early in medical school. For some people it never goes away, while the turning point for others might be once patient contact starts (third year in the US) and they either realize "I love this!" or think "No thanks."

If you decide to keep at it but find it's definitely not for you, there's no harm in stepping away. Your financial freedom is a great gift here. Others in that situation often lack the ability to leave due to debt. Being miserable from the onset certainly doesn't help with burnout.

Linea_Norway

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Re: MD or FI?
« Reply #3 on: March 05, 2019, 08:13:20 AM »
It sounds like a very large investment (in time and money) you need to make, to get a career over 10 years. It fits badly with your family planning. And as a woman, you only have your ideal age for pregnancy so long. Maybe 10 years later would be a bit late. If you don't need that career financially, I wouldn't do it. You could focus on running the factory, making as much profit as you can from it and really become FI. Then you can combine family life with perhaps some volunteering work where you get some use for your current education.
« Last Edit: March 06, 2019, 04:43:04 AM by Linda_Norway »

affordablehousing

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Re: MD or FI?
« Reply #4 on: March 05, 2019, 10:42:15 AM »
Being a doctor (at least in the US) is poorly paid and just not worth it from a financial perspective anymore. So you better love it for intrinsic reasons. Assuming you're business runs itself, you're already on auto-pilot, so maybe just go get some good therapy and work on finding out what satisfies you for the next 60 years.

Radagast

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Re: MD or FI?
« Reply #5 on: March 05, 2019, 08:38:49 PM »
My wife will be in that exact position and age in about two years. The good news is she is already in healthcare and knows what to expect. There are no easy answers. Financially, if it is like the US, you are looking to break even in 15-30 years vs a similar person getting a 4-year STEM degree, depending on what assumptions you make about future discount rate and salary. I have been suggesting to Dear Wife strongly that she go to medical school and we can make it work somehow, I will relocate to whatever city as soon as I find a job there. What is the point of pursuing financial independence and maximizing life if you can't do what you really want? Then the true question becomes, is that what she really wants? TBD

Abe

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Re: MD or FI?
« Reply #6 on: March 05, 2019, 10:15:13 PM »
I would not pursue it if your priority is FI rather than being a doctor. It is too long a road to not want to do it every day. Even after all my training and suffering there isn't a job I'd rather do, and you need to believe that to get through all the sacrifices you make otherwise in life.

"...I am also a bit depressed over loosing all of my free time as I am no longer able to pursue the hobbies that I enjoy!"

"...rigidity of the program, the time away from my husband and home as well as the length of the training, is weighing really heavy on me."

These only get worse. Med school is a daycare compared to residency. Most of my family members (including my wife) are physicians, so they understand the sacrifice involved. All of them (including me) would not recommend it to people who can see themselves being happy doing literally any other job (or none at all).
« Last Edit: March 05, 2019, 10:16:57 PM by Abe »

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: MD or FI?
« Reply #7 on: March 05, 2019, 10:45:14 PM »
Wow, this is tough. My gut instinct is for you to skip med school. The time away from your husband reduces the intimacy, now add stress and studying plus beginning doctor life is hard and then kids? Ouch. What you donít want to be is looking at divorce on top of that. However, thatís your dream and it gives you your own career. If you donít do that, make sure to protect yourself with your business so if anything happens, you are still financially ok and wonít regret not doing the medical degree.

Could you go the PhD route? That would be 3-5 years and you could try for a unit where your husband is.

VeggieNumNum

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Re: MD or FI?
« Reply #8 on: March 06, 2019, 03:31:59 AM »
Thank you everyone for your responses. While every response was slightly different, they all aligned with a thought that I have had while trying to make this decision. It made me realise that it is a really grey situation and I keep hoping for a black and white answer. I think I might go and talk to the medical faculty and see if I can suspend my enrolment for a year and take that time to decide if it is truely what I want. I feel like at the moment I am so inundated with classes, study and hospital rounds that I cannot really take the time and space to make an informed decision. I do not know if I can suspend my studies, but hopefully if I go and talk to them I will at least know my options. 

Hops: the intern/resident/registrar years are all extremely long hours - I would guess at 80hrs per week, but I noticed that it is quite state/hospital specific so I am only going by the doctors I have spoken to at my clinical school. I know that it gets even worse trying to have a family during that time and that everyone recommends medical school as the best time, but I still cannot imagine trying to fit one in around my schedule at the moment. I keep hearing that third and fourth year clinical rotations make the training a lot more worthwhile, I am actually enjoying it a lot at the moment as I find a lot of the study really interesting. I am also lucky in my program I am in the hospital seeing patients two days per week, but I am sure that this does not give me a complete snapshot of what to expect in the future.

MrThatsDifferent: I probably could do a PhD, but I do not think that I would worry about doing any further study if I discontinued in medicine. I would go back home and work at the business with my husband because it is pretty full on and I already feel guilty for leaving him to deal with a lot of the logistics by himself.

hops

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Re: MD or FI?
« Reply #9 on: March 06, 2019, 06:14:31 AM »
Learning more about your options is a great idea. I'm hesitant to say "Run, VeggieNumNum! Run like the wind!" because while it seems like the obvious answer, I've also heard stories of people who had doubts about whether to finish medical school, especially early on, and were ultimately quite happy they stayed. But there are also those who were just as happy to leave. Whatever the outcome, it's much wiser to examine your feelings now than postpone a great reckoning until residency or later.

Good luck, and I hope you update this thread along the way.

Cassie

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Re: MD or FI?
« Reply #10 on: March 06, 2019, 07:35:03 PM »
Tough decision as kids and medical school donít go well together.   Make a list of pros and cons and then when reviewing pay attention to how your heart feels and not your mind.

talltexan

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Re: MD or FI?
« Reply #11 on: March 07, 2019, 09:18:16 AM »
frankly, doctors manage to have kids all the time. Kids will cause an earthquake within your life no matter what else you have going on.

Dr Kidstache

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Re: MD or FI?
« Reply #12 on: March 07, 2019, 12:05:32 PM »
Tough call for sure! When I read the post title, my first thought was "If you even have to ask, then an MD is not the right decision for you". Medicine, especially the training years, can really swallow a person whole. I simply could not in good conscience recommend that anyone in the US go to medical school if there's anything else that they can see themselves doing. The fact that you are in Australia and won't face the same financial constraints that American MD students face changes the calculus a bit. You'll have the flexibility (although perhaps not the opportunity depending on your performance & family constraints) to choose a speciality better fitting your desired lifestyle. But, regardless of AUS or US, you gotta love the journey. Getting through medical school/resident/registrar years just to get past them is a recipe for burnout and depression. If your only light at the end of the tunnel is a consultancy, you'll be miserable.

talltexan

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Re: MD or FI?
« Reply #13 on: March 08, 2019, 07:34:29 AM »
So you like health care, but the ramp-up of MD training seems...exorbitant?

What about nursing?


VeggieNumNum

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Re: MD or FI?
« Reply #14 on: March 13, 2019, 03:41:15 PM »
Talltexan - you are correct, and I do not want to say that my situation is different to any other working mothers, however if given the choice, I wonder how many women would put themselves through full time work, particularly with a young family, if their financial situation allowed them a little more flexibility. I know personally in my situation, I would be lucky to get 2 weeks off after having my child, then I would be back to full time work (with plenty of after hours and weekend study on top). Which seems like a pretty big sacrifice for me. Some of my friends who went into medicine directly from high school are now in the position where they can take 6 months maternity leave and even have the option to go back part time. Unfortunately because I am an older student, I do not have this luxury and it will probably be too risky to wait, as I will be about 41 (and my husband will be 45) when I am at that same point in my career.

I think if I dropped out of medical school I would be hesitant to take on any further study. I already have two bachelor degrees and business which I enjoy working at, so I think for the short term I would try to be satisfied with that.

I plan on going to the medical school co-ordinator and finding out if a one year deferral is an option. It would give me the space to decide what it is that I really want. I actually enjoy medical school a lot so it is not an easy decision.

Thanks again everyone for your comments, I will update this post to let you know how I go.

ysette9

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Re: MD or FI?
« Reply #15 on: March 13, 2019, 04:17:20 PM »
I’m curious to know what you decide. Good luck finding the head space to make that decision.

In your shoes I would run like the wind back to my husband and tell med school “thanks, but no thanks”. I have two little kids now and we have two careers and it is HARD. Your personal dream is important so don’t discount that, but the cool thing about being in my 30s is I care less about what others think and more about what is right for me and my family. Don’t sacrifice yourself to this idea of being a doctor unless it really is what drives you inside. You owe the universe nothing.

A fairly big perspective shift happened for both of us after our first baby was born. We just stopped caring as much about work and career. The drive and satisfaction of advancing wasn’t the same as pre-baby because now family life was our first priority. Thank god I had already discovered MMM and we were well on the path. Today the thought of FI and how close we are to our goal is about all that keeps me coming in to work each day.

The amount of leave you can take when you have babies is incredibly important. I had 3 and 4 months respectively with mine and that was just barely tolerable. Anything less is plain cruel in my mind. Granted, my babies were both preemies so a month into my leave they hadn’t even reached their due dates.

Apple_Tango

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Re: MD or FI?
« Reply #16 on: March 13, 2019, 04:19:40 PM »
If you decide not to pursue MD, What about an alternate medical career that doesnít take 10 years and provides more flexibility? Nursing or therapy comes to mind. For me, none of the above would be worth it as Iíve already come running and screaming away from working in the US medical field. But Australia could be different.

The really cool thing about your position is that you can do whatever you want, and money need not be a factor. Do you want to be a doctor for fun? Do it!!! Do you want to sit on a beach all day? Do it!!! Do you want to have babies and be a full time SAHM? Do it!!!

Literally money is not a factor for you. You can choose whatever path brings you joy. And none of us can answer that question for you.

65 years is a long time to not work, but if you fill that space with passion projects and other interests, youíll be fine :)