Author Topic: Quarter-life crisis  (Read 12902 times)

Jacob1234098

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 17
Quarter-life crisis
« on: March 10, 2015, 09:04:30 AM »
I'll start by saying I've been a Moustachian since beginning the workforce. Five years later, I have 210k saved, a large portion in retirement accounts. I am a software developer making 75k, saving approx. 80% of post-tax dollars (maybe 48k/year).

This past year, I've been strongly encouraged by family (and my brother in medical school) to pursue med school. I finished most of my pre-reqs in college. After a lot of work, I am now ready to submit my application for entrance in Aug 2016. But I'm terrified. I will be giving up my job/salary and paying over 100k for school to pursue a career that there is no way I can leave once I begin.

I have shadowed several doctors, and I think I'll enjoy the career more. But I'm doubting whether the things I will be sacrificing (time, opportunities, travel, early retirement) will be worth the trade. And as I mentioned, there's no backing out once starting, without big penalties. I hear burnout and being stuck are common problems for physicians.

I'm 28, and I feel I have missed out on so many experiences studying and working and never exploring life. I worry med school will continue this trend. But school might be full of new, exciting experiences instead.

The other option is travel, living in low cost-of-living countries, discovering new things, meeting new people, floating. I know this would fill my desire to explore life, but I fear I may regret this decision later and want the challenge, purpose, and community of med school.

If there are any physicians, residents, or current med students who can provide some wisdom, I would REALLY appreciate it!! I am under so much stress trying to make this decision.

--------------

Lastly, I am thinking about quitting my job and traveling the world between winter and Aug 2016 if I do get accepted to med school. Maybe that will reveal some answers.

swick

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2884
Re: Quarter-life crisis
« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2015, 09:39:53 AM »
I will preface all I am about to say by the fact that I didn't go med, although considered it, and have several friends who have. I have one friend who considers medicine an all-consuming passion/life mission. He does an amazing job but has no work-life balance. I have several friends who got into it because their family thought it was a good idea and either washed out of med school or became the type of doctors who go through the motions and are miserable.

At your stage in life, I personally wouldn't do it. You wouldn't be just switching careers at this point, you would be basically buying yourself a gig to last you until retirement (or burn out) You have a awesome savings rate and are well on your way to early FI.

On the other hand you could go to Med school, lose out on the salary and any promotions, opportunity cost of having so much invested as well and end up starting a new super high stress career in a shit ton of debt.

Do you see your job/career as a means to an end, or a life-long passion/calling?

Before making any decisions you should spend some time really looking at WHY you want to go to medicine. A couple of red flags in your post for me: "I've been strongly encouraged by family (and my brother in medical school) to pursue med school." - How much is family pressure affecting your decision making process?

"I will be giving up my job/salary and paying over 100k for school to pursue a career that there is no way I can leave once I begin." and " there's no backing out once starting, without big penalties. " and  "I'm 28, and I feel I have missed out on so many experiences studying and working and never exploring life. " - this suggests at least part of views this career path like a prison sentence.

It sounds like you are trying to still find out who you are as a person. Outside of career, what are you goals in life? Do you see yourself having a family? do you have any non-career goals that you would be sacrificing/impacting if you start a new career that is high-stress, long hours and emotionally/physically draining?

It does all come down to the "why" you want to do it, you mention " I know this would fill my desire to explore life, but I fear I may regret this decision later and want the challenge, purpose, and community of med school." Is this really what you are looking for?  Challenge, Purpose and Community? are there other ways you can meet these needs? With FI the world is yours, you have the time and the financial security to do anything you want to fulfill any life-purposes you have.

What specific needs do you have that will be fulfilled by a career in medicine and is there any way to get them by thinking a bit more creatively?

Have you sat down and figured out a financial plan for both options? How long it would take you to achieve FI on your current path and what you would like to do afterwards compared to how much debt you would be taking on, what you can expect for salary etc and how long you would be signing up for if you go med?






MLKnits

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 276
Re: Quarter-life crisis
« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2015, 09:49:52 AM »
I'm not in the field and so am of limited utility, but you might want to check out this report: http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/07/is-medical-school-a-worthwhile-investment-for-women/260051/ It's based on a study largely about women, but I think it applies pretty clearly to anyone who wants to spend time on pursuits other than work (travel, kids, seeing the sun).

There are other paths within medicine that might be worth looking into, basically.

catccc

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1684
  • Location: SE PA
Re: Quarter-life crisis
« Reply #3 on: March 10, 2015, 09:56:51 AM »
Ever think about pursuing something medicine related, but without the accompanying price tag and lack of work life balance?  Nursing?  Physician's Assistant?  Physical Therapy (doctorate programs are out there, and they are much shorter than the traditional MD route, I believe)?  EMT?

Psychstache

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 842
Re: Quarter-life crisis
« Reply #4 on: March 10, 2015, 10:05:30 AM »
Ever think about pursuing something medicine related, but without the accompanying price tag and lack of work life balance?  Nursing?  Physician's Assistant?  Physical Therapy (doctorate programs are out there, and they are much shorter than the traditional MD route, I believe)?  EMT?

My guess, based on the wording of the OP, is that s/he is not really interested in medicine but comes from a family that places high value on their children becoming doctors (ex. Indian, Asian, and Jewish cultures). Given that, anything other than MD is not the goal.

If the OP is interested in medicine, these could be some very worthwhile alternatives to consider.

decembeir

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 29
Re: Quarter-life crisis
« Reply #5 on: March 10, 2015, 10:09:07 AM »
You obviously have a high savings rate and must be doing pretty well in the field you are in now. If you can be happy enough in your current profession, you could probably reach financial independence within 5-10 years, depending on how much you want to be able to spend. Then you could travel the world for as long as you want, and if at some time you still have a true hankering to become a doctor, you could go to med school and become a sort of 'gentleman' doctor who does't really need a salary (except probably at first to counter the cost of schooling).

I haven't done this, but it is something I'm sort of considering.
« Last Edit: March 10, 2015, 10:15:53 AM by decembeir »

chops

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 164
  • Location: Mustachian Midwest
Re: Quarter-life crisis
« Reply #6 on: March 10, 2015, 10:14:42 AM »
Not an easy decision.  I'm not a doctor, but am engaged to one, and have seen firsthand the amount of struggle that going through medical school and residency is. 

It's a huge challenge in 4 ways: Timewise (80 hour weeks in med school and residency are common, 30 hour shifts, night shifts), Mentally (Med School / Residency will test you repeatedly under both short time lines and enormously long exams that you will take when you apply for med school and then again every several years for the rest of your career), Financially (debt of $250k for my fiance if you include undergrad loans, then making barely over minimum wage/hour in residency), and Emotionally (you will set high expectations for the level of care you provide for patients, you will have to balance real risk that involves people's lives, and have incredibly difficult cases which will stretch you to the limit). 

And then you start as a brand new doctor, after 7 years minimum, if you don't specialize.  Otherwise it's 9 or 10 years.  It will pay off financially in the long term (~15-20 years from when you start med school), but it is definitely not the ticket to early retirement.   You're on that path now with your current job and savings rate of 80%.  Making zero dollars and incurring at least $160k of debt in med school with no rate subsidies, my fiance has loans between 6.8-8.5%.  It was a challenge for her just to pay the interest on this in residency while living nearly ERE style.

The bottom line is you really have to want it more than anything else in your life. 

Do you? 

If you can't answer that question definitively with a "yes", you need to do some serious soul searching before you even start down the med school path.  Don't force it. 

I would recommend you take a leave of absence if you can from your job now and travel the world and get your answers now.  You can always go back to your job that way if you decide you really can't say you want to be a doctor more than anything else in your life.   

Best of luck and I'd be happy to answer any more questions. (Or my fiance could, if she ever gets a break from work - I wish I was kidding :)

 - Chops

MooseOutFront

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 510
  • Age: 39
  • Location: Texas
Re: Quarter-life crisis
« Reply #7 on: March 10, 2015, 10:16:51 AM »
I went to medical school right out of college. Twice.  It sucked!  Now that I'm grown my only regret is all the money I could be making now had I of stuck with it.  My reasons for going were for the money, power, prestige, and affirmation.  All good reasons, but I had too much self confidence and decided once I was in there that I could attain all those things through easier paths that didn't involve sick people and such extreme bureaucracy.  I was na´ve.  Nobody gets paid or respected like docs for "simply" finishing their credentials.

At the end of the day I still have no interest in practicing medicine and think it looks like a rough job day to day, but I see capitalist investor doctors who will be past their need to practice medicine in their late 40's.  So I think I could have made it work.
« Last Edit: March 10, 2015, 10:21:23 AM by MooseOutFront »

TN_Steve

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 257
  • Age: 59
  • Location: fly-over country
Re: Quarter-life crisis
« Reply #8 on: March 10, 2015, 10:31:12 AM »
DW is a doc and loves it, even though she is mid-50s and still being called out middle of the night for deliveries.  You are two years older than our eldest son and are similar to him--a highly compensated for his location, high-saving engineer, with academic/test credentials well above those of a typical medical applicant.  If he were to consider the switch at this time, we'd probably counsel against it unless it was his burning desire.  You are taking minimum of 7 years off of your earning curve (well, you can make some in residency, but even if you can get away with moonlighting, relatively, it won't be much), and incurring the loans and stress/hours.

True, you'll start working at a higher income than you have now, and your lifetime earnings might be higher, but it is a hell of a price to pay if you aren't burning for it.  And, for most specialties, the stress doesn't end after training is over.

Particularly given your savings rate and desire to travel, kick back, the economics can't justify it.  And it sounds like your desire isn't there.


theonethatgotaway

  • Guest
Re: Quarter-life crisis
« Reply #9 on: March 10, 2015, 10:37:15 AM »
It depends on what you want for yourself.

I'm not a doctor, but I have friends that are and my father financially advises a few.

1st) Every doctor that my father financially advises does medical for the money. If you have no moral obligation to that, then go for it.
2nd) My best friend's husband is a transplant surgeon. He is 35 and finished his fellowship last year. Based on their experience, he is rarely home and if done again he said he would not due to the time restraints.
3rd) Another friend's father was retired at 46 after being an E.R. doctor. He made millions by partnering with an entrepreneur on the side and opening a few of those independent 'walk in emergency room' clinics then selling them off to a conglomerate.

My take: In your position I would stick out the dip and find another route to increase your happiness and/or productivity. Medical school would burn you out even more.

catccc

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1684
  • Location: SE PA
Re: Quarter-life crisis
« Reply #10 on: March 10, 2015, 10:41:41 AM »
Ever think about pursuing something medicine related, but without the accompanying price tag and lack of work life balance?  Nursing?  Physician's Assistant?  Physical Therapy (doctorate programs are out there, and they are much shorter than the traditional MD route, I believe)?  EMT?

My guess, based on the wording of the OP, is that s/he is not really interested in medicine but comes from a family that places high value on their children becoming doctors (ex. Indian, Asian, and Jewish cultures). Given that, anything other than MD is not the goal.

If the OP is interested in medicine, these could be some very worthwhile alternatives to consider.

Ha.  I'm Asian and approximately 90% of my cousins are doctors of some sort.  My parents were atypical in allowing me and my siblings to choose our own adventure.  To the OP, examine your values, what might make you happy.  Don't live life to please others.  It sounds like you aren't into it.

The Beacon

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 148
    • Financial Freedom Tips
Re: Quarter-life crisis
« Reply #11 on: March 10, 2015, 10:51:23 AM »
I'll start by saying I've been a Moustachian since beginning the workforce. Five years later, I have 210k saved, a large portion in retirement accounts. I am a software developer making 75k, saving approx. 80% of post-tax dollars (maybe 48k/year).

This past year, I've been strongly encouraged by family (and my brother in medical school) to pursue med school. I finished most of my pre-reqs in college. After a lot of work, I am now ready to submit my application for entrance in Aug 2016. But I'm terrified. I will be giving up my job/salary and paying over 100k for school to pursue a career that there is no way I can leave once I begin.

I have shadowed several doctors, and I think I'll enjoy the career more. But I'm doubting whether the things I will be sacrificing (time, opportunities, travel, early retirement) will be worth the trade. And as I mentioned, there's no backing out once starting, without big penalties. I hear burnout and being stuck are common problems for physicians.

I'm 28, and I feel I have missed out on so many experiences studying and working and never exploring life. I worry med school will continue this trend. But school might be full of new, exciting experiences instead.

The other option is travel, living in low cost-of-living countries, discovering new things, meeting new people, floating. I know this would fill my desire to explore life, but I fear I may regret this decision later and want the challenge, purpose, and community of med school.

If there are any physicians, residents, or current med students who can provide some wisdom, I would REALLY appreciate it!! I am under so much stress trying to make this decision.

--------------

Lastly, I am thinking about quitting my job and traveling the world between winter and Aug 2016 if I do get accepted to med school. Maybe that will reveal some answers.

 Doctors are very busy too. if you are seeking life work balance, think again.  Money wise, if you work hard enough, you will get promoted to be a director or a VP in your mid 30s.  A lot of  technical Directors and VPs in large firms make 300k-500k.  A friend of mine makes 450k as a software engineering VP at Goldman. If you are in for money, you do not need to go to a med. school. Work life balance?  Forget about that too.

I remember someone did a survey among doctors.  Over 50% of the respondents would not choose that profession.

 

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3057
  • Location: Emmaus, PA
Re: Quarter-life crisis
« Reply #12 on: March 10, 2015, 10:52:56 AM »
I don't know any happy doctors. I have several in the family.

TN_Steve

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 257
  • Age: 59
  • Location: fly-over country
Re: Quarter-life crisis
« Reply #13 on: March 10, 2015, 11:01:17 AM »
I don't know any happy doctors. I have several in the family.

Wow.  That's unfortunate.  I know a lot of Docs who are happy with their life and work.  (If I had to hazard a guess, I'd bet that as a group, they are happier than my fellow lawyers--although that is a pretty low hurdle!)

Nonetheless, I don't think OP should go that route. 

Ricky

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 842
Re: Quarter-life crisis
« Reply #14 on: March 10, 2015, 11:04:28 AM »
I wouldn't do it personally.

You're in the "sweet spot" for burnout given you've been there 5 years. It hit me at 4 years.

I'd also ask for a sabbatical rather than quit. Traveling gets tiring too.

thingamabobs

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 145
Re: Quarter-life crisis
« Reply #15 on: March 10, 2015, 11:06:15 AM »
First off, you wouldn't be stuck if you did start med school. Yes, it would be a costly experiment but not one you can't turn away from if after the first year you decide it's not for you.

As others have said, it doesn't sound like you're sold on this idea. You have a few more months until app season starts, I would do more shadowing, volunteer at a clinic, etc to see if you really enjoy it.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3057
  • Location: Emmaus, PA
Re: Quarter-life crisis
« Reply #16 on: March 10, 2015, 11:14:47 AM »
I don't know any happy doctors. I have several in the family.

Wow.  That's unfortunate.  I know a lot of Docs who are happy with their life and work.  (If I had to hazard a guess, I'd bet that as a group, they are happier than my fellow lawyers--although that is a pretty low hurdle!)

Nonetheless, I don't think OP should go that route.

I'm not saying nobody can be happy being a doctor, certainly. Just, apparently, nobody I know.

tlars699

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 55
Re: Quarter-life crisis
« Reply #17 on: March 10, 2015, 11:15:06 AM »
You obviously have a high savings rate and must be doing pretty well in the field you are in now. If you can be happy enough in your current profession, you could probably reach financial independence within 5-10 years, depending on how much you want to be able to spend. Then you could travel the world for as long as you want, and if at some time you still have a true hankering to become a doctor, you could go to med school and become a sort of 'gentleman' doctor who does't really need a salary (except probably at first to counter the cost of schooling).

I haven't done this, but it is something I'm sort of considering.

+1 - I was going to recommend this exact thing. The world will Always need doctors, and you can go become a Medical student at any age, ala Patch Adams.

Cwadda

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2182
  • Age: 25
Re: Quarter-life crisis
« Reply #18 on: March 10, 2015, 11:18:53 AM »
Are you sure that making a career change and huge commitment would accomplish your goals? You seem to be in fantastic shape financially. Have you ever considered taking some time off and traveling? Maybe you could go to Africa and help out medically. It might give you a similar sense of fulfillment without having to spend $100k + the opportunity cost of not working at that time. Then once you've reached financial independence you are free to do what you want in life.

DA

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 73
Re: Quarter-life crisis
« Reply #19 on: March 10, 2015, 11:45:50 AM »
I'm a lawyer, so I can't speak to the medical profession itself, but I have experience with making the decision to join a profession with high barriers to entry and high demands on one's time.

In your situation, I would recommend you ask for a sabbatical at work, for anywhere between 3 months and a year. Now, you have to be ready to quit if you do this, because they might just fire you on the spot. But if they grant the sabbatical, go travel and see some things, and then reassess how you feel when you get back. Med school isn't going anywhere*; in fact, taking time off to travel extensively would likely be a positive on your application. If you still feel a yearning to go to med school, apply and see what happens.

If you end up entering the medical profession, do it as mustachian as possible. Limit as much as possible your student loans. Don't chase prestige and money (you'll start losing control of your life). Develop skills and then open your own practice. Not sure where you live or where you want to live, but I believe lots of rural areas need physicians. You could likely open a GP practice outside of a major city and earn a tidy living, while being your own boss and not working too many hours.

One last note:  consider the future direction of the medical profession. For most of my life, physicians have a cozy little arrangement whereby the supply of doctors was kept artificially low, allowing them a lot more bargaining power in the labor market, leading to high salaries and very respectful/humane working conditions. How long will this continue? If the U.S. moves to single payer, what will it be like to beg the government to pay your bills? Etc. I have no answers, but you should consider these things if you get serious about medicine because there is such a large upfront investment to join the profession. 

Just my 2 cents.

*It's my understanding that med schools won't admit people above a certain age, but I think you still have time, but it's something to investigate.

Raste

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 12
Re: Quarter-life crisis
« Reply #20 on: March 10, 2015, 11:47:32 AM »
Consider pharmacy school. I briefly thought about med school but after working around residents I don't think I'm cut out for it. I did a Ph.D. in my 20's and it about killed me. I'd do pharmacy school if I needed a career switch later in life.

Guesl982374

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 501
Re: Quarter-life crisis
« Reply #21 on: March 10, 2015, 11:56:32 AM »
If I were you, I would do the math on when I would be FI + have med school costs covered. If it was quick enough (<35 yrs old) I would work towards FI and then make the decision post-FI as it takes money out of the question.

My back of the napkin guess would be that your current spend is somewhere in the $12-15K range plus some small amount of post-FI taxes which would mean you'd need ~$400K invested + med school costs. It sounds like you'll be there 4-6 years.  I would probably consider waiting it out and focus on increasing my current income / getting to FI + med school costs. Then if you are truly passionate about it, then go for it. If you've changed and don't want to pursue that path then don't, you are still FI plus a decent margin so you can then figure out what you want to do with the rest of your life.

theonethatgotaway

  • Guest
Re: Quarter-life crisis
« Reply #22 on: March 10, 2015, 12:07:46 PM »
 "A lot of  technical Directors and VPs in large firms make 300k-500k.  A friend of mine makes 450k as a software engineering VP at Goldman."

large banking firms. My friend works at JPMorgan as a technical director and makes 250k.

So, OP, go into banking tech for a few years then retire. (You won't have time for anything else during this job- much like doctor).

The few doctors I know that have more balance in their lives are older and run their own practice.




dilinger

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 457
Re: Quarter-life crisis
« Reply #23 on: March 10, 2015, 12:23:30 PM »
I know two very happy doctors.  They work part time, and volunteer 4+ months of the year abroad at small clinics for free.

That said, you're asking a bunch of people who value financial independence/early retirement if you should commit the equivalent of early retirement suicide.  The answer is going to be an emphatic NO, of course. :)

The few people that I know before they go to med school end up dropping out of my life because they don't have time any more.  The people that I know that have gone through the process all agree that it's bullshit; it's a hazing, the people who have gone through it survived it, so you should do.

Become financially independent, and learn medicine through free or cheap methods if your goal is to actually become a doctor.  If your goal is to please your family, that's a bigger issue that medical school might not necessarily even solve.

ltt

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 740
Re: Quarter-life crisis
« Reply #24 on: March 10, 2015, 12:59:17 PM »
Ever think about pursuing something medicine related, but without the accompanying price tag and lack of work life balance?  Nursing?  Physician's Assistant?  Physical Therapy (doctorate programs are out there, and they are much shorter than the traditional MD route, I believe)?  EMT?

My guess, based on the wording of the OP, is that s/he is not really interested in medicine but comes from a family that places high value on their children becoming doctors (ex. Indian, Asian, and Jewish cultures). Given that, anything other than MD is not the goal.

If the OP is interested in medicine, these could be some very worthwhile alternatives to consider.

I am getting that this is the case also--that there is a lot of family pressure here, and it's not something that the OP necessarily wishes to pursue.

With that being said, should you, the OP, decide to pursue medical school, know that this skill/knowledge, etc. would be welcome pretty much anywhere in the world you wanted to go.  Have you actually sat down with any doctors who are willing to talk about the debt they incurred and what their monthly student loans are and how long it will be until they can retire??

On the other hand, you have done a great job at this point in your life.  Not that you don't have more to go, per se, but you have time on your side for your investments to grow. 

You may want to pencil everything out on paper and estimate out your investment growth.  The debt of medical school (which I wouldn't wish on anyone) versus your investments growing and when you think you will be done working--which, if you are saving around $50k per year you could pretty much call it quits, depending on your spending habits, well within 15 years.   

Jack

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4734
  • Location: Atlanta, GA
Re: Quarter-life crisis
« Reply #25 on: March 10, 2015, 02:26:00 PM »
I am a software developer making 75k, saving approx. 80% of post-tax dollars (maybe 48k/year).

This past year, I've been strongly encouraged by family (and my brother in medical school) to pursue med school.

My guess, based on the wording of the OP, is that s/he is not really interested in medicine but comes from a family that places high value on their children becoming doctors (ex. Indian, Asian, and Jewish cultures). Given that, anything other than MD is not the goal.

WTF? Don't those assholes realize that software developers already have a professional career that's just as respectable (if not actually just as respected) as practicing medicine? That entire attitude is downright offensive!

Depending on what kind of thing they're working on, software developers (not to mention, other kinds of engineers) can easily have more responsibility than doctors. After all, if a surgeon screws up he can only kill one patient at a time. If an engineer screws up, the resulting failure could kill bunches of people at once.

My advice is to not flush all the software dev knowledge and experience you already have down the toilet, to take that sabbatical as others have suggested, and then get a better software job. (I can tell your current job sucks because if it were anything more interesting/complicated/important than generic code-monkey bullshit then, with 5 years of experience, they'd be paying you more than $75K to do it.)

Psychstache

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 842
Re: Quarter-life crisis
« Reply #26 on: March 10, 2015, 02:50:56 PM »
I am a software developer making 75k, saving approx. 80% of post-tax dollars (maybe 48k/year).

This past year, I've been strongly encouraged by family (and my brother in medical school) to pursue med school.

My guess, based on the wording of the OP, is that s/he is not really interested in medicine but comes from a family that places high value on their children becoming doctors (ex. Indian, Asian, and Jewish cultures). Given that, anything other than MD is not the goal.

WTF? Don't those assholes realize that software developers already have a professional career that's just as respectable (if not actually just as respected) as practicing medicine? That entire attitude is downright offensive!

Depending on what kind of thing they're working on, software developers (not to mention, other kinds of engineers) can easily have more responsibility than doctors. After all, if a surgeon screws up he can only kill one patient at a time. If an engineer screws up, the resulting failure could kill bunches of people at once.

My advice is to not flush all the software dev knowledge and experience you already have down the toilet, to take that sabbatical as others have suggested, and then get a better software job. (I can tell your current job sucks because if it were anything more interesting/complicated/important than generic code-monkey bullshit then, with 5 years of experience, they'd be paying you more than $75K to do it.)

It's just a different cultural attitude. Not saying it is right or wrong.

That said, I think we pretty much agree. I'm pretty sure that if being a doctor was a true goal for the OP, they would've gone to med school after graduation anyways (esp if we assume that the family pressure to become a doctor existed before just now). The opportunity cost plus the devaluation of current experience doesn't seem to make med school appealing unless you really, REALLY want it.

On a somewhat related tangent, maybe you might find this speech helpful OP:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ERmo8TmDYCI

(for reference if you haven't seen the movie, Walter Matthau is a judge/mentor and Matt Damon is talking about changing his life direction/career path.)
« Last Edit: March 10, 2015, 02:53:21 PM by Psychstache »

gluskap

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 169
  • Age: 40
  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
    • Money Savvy Mommy
Re: Quarter-life crisis
« Reply #27 on: March 10, 2015, 04:51:21 PM »
I had a similar choice to make when I was about to graduate college too.  Lots of family pressure to become a doctor.  I had taken the MCATs, got a decent GPA, worked on my applications and everything.  I decided before I applied to schools though that I would take a summer off and backpack Europe.  After I came back I decided that medical school wasn't for me.  I wanted time and opportunity to travel and really experience life.  I had a taste of that in Europe and wasn't looking forward to putting my personal life on the back burner to medical school.  At the time I dated someone in medical school and it sucked because he couldn't go on all the trips I went on and we ended up breaking up in part due to the fact that he had no time for me.  Although I can't say what it would've been like for sure if I had attended medical school, I can say that I am really happy now and I feel like I made the right choice.  Although I make six figures and decent money, it's not as much as I would've made as a doctor but I think the trade off in work/life balance is totally worth it.  Especially now that I have a kid.  I work my 40 hours a week and I go home and spend time with my family.  I think you should take the trip and see how you feel afterwards.

The Beacon

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 148
    • Financial Freedom Tips
Re: Quarter-life crisis
« Reply #28 on: March 10, 2015, 05:32:12 PM »
"A lot of  technical Directors and VPs in large firms make 300k-500k.  A friend of mine makes 450k as a software engineering VP at Goldman."

large banking firms. My friend works at JPMorgan as a technical director and makes 250k.

So, OP, go into banking tech for a few years then retire. (You won't have time for anything else during this job- much like doctor).

The few doctors I know that have more balance in their lives are older and run their own practice.

Not just banks. Very senior software engineers with 10+ years of solid experience at firms like Linked in, Google make close to 300k.  Of course that 300k is in a very high living cost part of the country.  The downside is that they burn out quickly too.  But again, I think their work env is much better than a hospital.   

There is a lot of money in software development.  If you put the same mount of effort into writing ass kicking code as you would become a doctor, your earning potential could be as high as  a doctor's.


BTW, i could become a director. But after I saw how busy the directors are at my firm, I got scared.. I just want to finish my work and call it a day.  When I get home, I'd rather spend all my time on improving my side hustle instead of thinking about my work.
 
« Last Edit: March 10, 2015, 05:39:29 PM by Sharpy »

ragnathor

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 33
Re: Quarter-life crisis
« Reply #29 on: March 10, 2015, 06:41:46 PM »
I am a 28 year-old 2nd-year anesthesiology resident. I echo a lot of what people have said here with some caveats.

Financially, medicine does not make sense at any age, but especially you with an established career and well on your way to FIRE. I was very close to doing engineering or finance instead, and often times I wish I had as I could reach FIRE that much sooner.

Work/life balance sucks, but depending what you do it's not as terrible as some make it out to be. Medical school is not 80+ hours a week, it's more like 60 hours a week on your own schedule, and maybe even less if you are really efficient. Everything after medical school will vary drastically depending on what you do. Residency varies a lot from 50 hours/week (think dermatology) vs 80+ hours a week (surgery).  After residency, some fields have a really nice schedule (again, think dermatology), and some will likely have a poor schedule (neurosurgery). A lot are in between.

Compensation depends on specialty, location, and how much you are willing to work. I can work in a big city 7-4 making 180k, no weekends/no night. Or, I can work in the middle of nowhere for 70 hours/wk for 450k. I am fortunate in having gone to a low-tuition medical school and had help on the way to graduate with minimal debt, but average debt is around 150k + opportunity cost of not working, you only make 50k/year in residency for 3-5 years, and with healthcare reform the future is uncertain on future compensation (probably less).

I have read the statistic someone mentioned that 50% regret going into medicine. A lot of this has to due with how medicine had changed the last 30 years. Compensation is down, doctor autonomy is down, and "defensive medicine" plays much more prominently. For those starting like me, we never experienced the golden age of being a doctor in the 1970s-1980s so its not something we'll miss. There will be a lot of changes in the coming decades, and I imagine a lot of it is going to focus on cost control.

I like what I do, but I think I would have been happier doing something else (engineering, finance) when I could reach FIRE sooner. Not to say those are easy, but schedule and work/life balance is better. Having said that, when I do get closer to FIRE I will likely work part time and spend time abroad volunteering my services.

frugaldrummer

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 694
Re: Quarter-life crisis
« Reply #30 on: March 10, 2015, 07:04:38 PM »
In my 50's, in medicine.

First of all - I'd say, don't do it if you don't love it.  I have great job satisfaction and enjoy my work every day.  BUT it would suck if I was doing it just for the money.  And I could have made more money earlier and easier in another field.  And I gave up a lot of my youth to be here - if I could do it again, I would have traveled more in my single 20's.

I agree that medicine as a profession is early retirement suicide.  You could achieve FIRE earlier doing what you are doing now (or, if you want to mimic being in medical school, add an extra 30-hour-per-week bartending job at night on top of your current job).  Training is brutal (even though the hours are somewhat better now than when I trained).  It's a great profession if it's something you LOVE and find fascinating, and desire a lifelong career in.  But it really doesn't make FIRE financial sense.

Astatine

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3623
  • Location: Australia
  • Pronouns: they/them
Re: Quarter-life crisis
« Reply #31 on: March 10, 2015, 08:03:18 PM »
The big red flag for me is the encouragement from your family seems to be the motivation, not *your* motivation. ie if you do this, you may well find you're doing it for the wrong reasons, not for yourself. For something relatively minor, no biggie, but this is a major life changing decision.

FWIW, I've known 3 people who chose to do medicine. 2 chose to do it after their first degree in their mid twenties (in Australia, I think you can still go straight into medicine straight after high school - it was certainly the case 20 years ago) and seem happy with their decision. As far as I can tell, it was entirely their own decision to do it. The other one is a much more tragic case. She went into medicine straight out of school. From what her sister has told me, it was kind of out of a sense of obligation to not "waste" her very high marks from high school (I know this is quite possible - I had some pressure from my relatives to not "waste" my marks on a science degree because I could have easily got into law or engineering). She regretted her choice, and ended up committing suicide after a patient of hers died during surgery. I know she was likely suffering from depression but the long hours and the wrong career choice for her didn't help.

MoneyCat

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1754
  • Location: New Jersey
Re: Quarter-life crisis
« Reply #32 on: March 10, 2015, 08:05:58 PM »
It sounds like you are a Millennial.  I would recommend either A.) Going backpacking across Asia and blogging about it or B.) Starting a cupcake bakery.  Quarterlife crisis solved.

arebelspy

  • Administrator
  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 28022
  • Age: -999
  • Location: Seattle, WA
Re: Quarter-life crisis
« Reply #33 on: March 12, 2015, 04:36:42 PM »
The quarter life crisis (at age 20 / 80) is called "figuring out what you want to do with your life" which is what pretty much everyone around age 20 has to do, particularly if you are attending college and have to pick a major and/or occupation after.  That's not a "crisis," it's just part of maturing.  :)
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, spent some time traveling the world full time and are now settled with two kids.
If you want to know more about us, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
We (rarely) blog at AdventuringAlong.com. Check out our Now page to see what we're up to currently.

Jacob1234098

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 17
Re: Quarter-life crisis
« Reply #34 on: March 13, 2015, 09:20:17 AM »
This thread is INCREDIBLY helpful. This is the hardest decision of my life, and every comment has given me something useful to think about.

#1 concern going: I will be 38 before I start working, 44 before I could break even with my engineering savings (probable scenario - see calc.xlsx - a lot of guessing with these numbers). I will lose all that time that I could be exploring the world, meeting new people, while in good health and not tied down.

#1 concern not going: Regret. The regret when I hit 38 and realize I could have been a practicing physician, interacting with and helping people every day, in a job that gives me purpose. This may stem from the fear that I don't know what retirement and travel feel like. I fear I may discover in retirement that I am aimless/directionless, or not getting the same level of personal interaction as a doctor.

Addressing concerns:

My dad and brother have put pressure on me to pursue this. They are doing it because they genuinely think I will be happier going down this path. My brother has explained to me how if I attend the same medical school as him, I probably won't need to work more than 40-50 hour weeks with the exception of the weeks prior to big exams. His 3rd year has been relatively easy, as he is smart choosing his rotations. The path still won't be easy, but it won't be much more difficult than my current job, and will provide more variety, self-improvement, and peers.

I do feel my high marks and effort will be wasted if I quit. I have a very high GPA, and it's hard to stop the momentum when I know if I just endure it, I will likely be accepted. I have pretty much everything lined up to apply now.

I have a limited but accurate understanding of day-to-day medicine. I have shadowed a doctor who was bitter and highly discouraged going. He is making under 100k working long hours and frustrated at the paperwork and the many drug-seeking patients. He lives in a drug trafficking area that already had enough docs (saturated market).

I shadowed an osteopathic surgeon who clearly worked very hard to get where he is. He still works 70 hr weeks, and is very OCD about his work. I did not enjoy surgery at all. These two examples discourage me from pursuing medicine.

I have also shadowed at an amazing rural family practice. This group of 5-6 doctors have done everything right to set up a perfect practice. The entire staff is positive and happy, most paperwork and tedious work has been delegated to management, scribes, etc. I love the interaction with the patients at this facility. The doctors are respected, and the patients are happy to be there. The doc has time to dedicate to the patients because they don't have to deal with all the overhead work. Income at this clinic is extremely high, as more procedures can be done (rather than referred) in a rural practice and flow-rate of patients is very high. I would LOVE to work at a practice like this. Having said that, this environment is rare and difficult to replicate, taking a lot of effort. Building a team of positive, friendly coworkers may be difficult. My brother is focused on setting up this exact type of practice and he is 4 years ahead of me, so it is possible I could walk into an environment like this. I would be forced rural, which I'm not sure I would like. There's the risk of big hospital groups buying out these small facilities in the future. The risk of committing 7 years of my life aspiring to this type of practice is big, as there is no guarantee I will find or build such a practice after residency.

I worry that my mind will be forced to think about only medicine for the next 7 years. I like learning a broad array of things. To what degree do you think it is necessary to love the study material in order for it to be the right decision? I do not feel a love for it. Studying medicine to me is not particularly interesting, about on par with studying any other subject.

My plan is to continue with applications, hopefully get accepted, and then take temporary leave from my job (or quit if necessary) and travel the world for 7 months. This may give me enough time to identify if I truly want to dedicate the next 7 years to medicine. I will be taking a medical mission trip to Guatemala in the summer prior to interviews. Hopefully that will reveal a bit as well.

Please continue giving advice. This is really helping me!!
« Last Edit: March 22, 2015, 09:21:38 AM by Jacob1234098 »

Sibley

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3651
  • Location: Chicago, IL
Re: Quarter-life crisis
« Reply #35 on: March 13, 2015, 09:50:18 AM »
OP - after reading your most recent post, I don't think you want to go to medical school. You're not satisfied with your current job/life, so do something to fix that, but I don't think medical school is going to help.

As for your dad and brother, yes they love you and want the best for you, but they don't know what that is. They aren't inside your head. Only you are. Your dreams are not the same as theirs.

Murse

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 542
Re: Quarter-life crisis
« Reply #36 on: March 13, 2015, 10:16:34 AM »
This thread is INCREDIBLY helpful. This is the hardest decision of my life, and every comment has given me something useful to think about.

#1 concern going: I will be 38 before I start working, 44 before I could break even with my engineering savings (probable scenario - see calc.xlsx - a lot of guessing with these numbers). I will lose all that time that I could be exploring the world, meeting new people, while in good health and not tied down.

#1 concern not going: Regret. The regret when I hit 38 and realize I could have been a practicing physician, interacting with and helping people every day, in a job that gives me purpose. This may stem from the fear that I don't know what retirement and travel feel like. I fear I may discover in retirement that I am aimless/directionless, or not getting the same level of personal interaction as a doctor.

Addressing concerns:

My dad and brother have put pressure on me to pursue this. My brother is doing it because he genuinely thinks I will be happier going down this path. He has explained to me how if I attend the same medical school as him, I probably won't need to work more than 40-50 hour weeks with the exception of the weeks prior to big exams. His 3rd year has been relatively easy, as he is smart choosing his rotations. The path still won't be easy, but it won't be much more difficult than my current job, and will provide more variety, self-improvement, and peers.

I do feel my high marks and effort will be wasted if I quit. I have a very high GPA, and it's hard to stop the momentum when I know if I just endure it, I will likely be accepted. I have pretty much everything lined up to apply now.

I have a limited but accurate understanding of day-to-day medicine. I have shadowed a doctor who was bitter and highly discouraged going. He is making under 100k working long hours and frustrated at the paperwork and the many drug-seeking patients. He lives in a drug trafficking area that already had enough docs (saturated market).

I shadowed an osteopathic surgeon who clearly worked very hard to get where he is. He still works 70 hr weeks, and is very OCD about his work. I did not enjoy surgery at all. These two examples discourage me from pursuing medicine.

I have also shadowed at an amazing rural family practice. This group of 5-6 doctors have done everything right to set up a perfect practice. The entire staff is positive and happy, most paperwork and tedious work has been delegated to management, scribes, etc. I love the interaction with the patients at this facility. The doctors are respected, and the patients are happy to be there. The doc has time to dedicate to the patients because they don't have to deal with all the overhead work. Income at this clinic is extremely high, as more procedures can be done (rather than referred) in a rural practice and flow-rate of patients is very high. I would LOVE to work at a practice like this. Having said that, this environment is rare and difficult to replicate, taking a lot of effort. Building a team of positive, friendly coworkers may be difficult. My brother is focused on setting up this exact type of practice and he is 4 years ahead of me, so it is possible I could walk into an environment like this. I would be forced rural, which I'm not sure I would like. There's the risk of big hospital groups buying out these small facilities in the future. The risk of committing 7 years of my life aspiring to this type of practice is big, as there is no guarantee I will find or build such a practice after residency.

I worry that my mind will be forced to think about only medicine for the next 7 years. I like learning a broad array of things. To what degree do you think it is necessary to love the study material in order for it to be the right decision? I do not feel a love for it. Studying medicine to me is not particularly interesting, about on par with studying any other subject.

My plan is to continue with applications, hopefully get accepted, and then take temporary leave from my job (or quit if necessary) and travel the world for 7 months. This may give me enough time to identify if I truly want to dedicate the next 7 years to medicine. I will be taking a medical mission trip to Guatemala in the summer prior to interviews. Hopefully that will reveal a bit as well.

Please continue giving advice. This is really helping me!!
If I were in your shoes my number 1 priority would be taking advantage of the great place you have already put yourself in- become FI asap
After that is accomplished money is out of the equation, the only concern after Fi is what to do with the time you have left. You don't have to worry about the roi of med school, you only have to worry about what you would enjoy. If you still feel the need to go to med school do it after FI, or choose to become a PA (so much freedom because they can switch specialties on a whim.) I am currently in nursing school and had this debate internally, I pretty quickly ruled out med school but was stuck on if I wanted to become an advanced practice nurse (np or crna.) I asked myself why I wanted to do those, took me awhile to discover it but I found that I believe it is the money. I asked myself, if money were no object, would I even consider going back to school? The answer is no. I hate school with a passion.

 If your saving 48k per year already (if I remember right) money should not even be a consideration (unless you plan on bringing your expenses way up with your income.) reading everything you posted, if you want to do medical, I would look at physicians assistants. Good luck with your decision.

Bearded Man

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1142
Re: Quarter-life crisis
« Reply #37 on: March 13, 2015, 10:29:34 AM »
I agree with swick. Basically, if it ain't broken, don't try to fix it. Keep doing what you are doing for a few more years and you'll be FI. If you still like the job/industry after that keep working and add to your nest egg.

BCBiker

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 187
  • Location: Colorado
    • Business Casual Biker - Health, Wealth, and Mental Stealth BTYB Bicycle Commuting
Re: Quarter-life crisis
« Reply #38 on: March 13, 2015, 11:39:28 AM »
Resident here.  So I started med school in 2008 at the age of 22-23.  I am now almost 30 and I still have 3-4 more years of training before making a true physician salary.  I have huge loans and I make much less at the moment than most people on this forum, but I am happy as hell!  I have a ton of thoughts on this subject so feel free to PM me with any questions you have.

From a financial perspective, going to medical school is a very, very, very bad decision, especially if you are already semi-established in a a career. 

However, I would probably make the same decision if forced to choose a career again. 

I really like what I do now and I know that I will likely continue to enjoy my work well into the future.  Being a physician gives you incredibly unique access to people's lives at very difficult times.  Also, the expertise required to do whatever specialty you decide on is very desired and appreciated by your patients and others.

That being said, I have chosen a specialty that is mostly 7-5 with almost zero nights spent in a hospital.  My career also has a very high degree of choices in the way you can practice.  My first year out of med school (intern year) I spent 20% of nights in the hospital and worked tons of hours. I think that would be hard to keep up and stay happy for the length of a career.

I don't really care about the "respect" or other social components of being a physician.  I generally don't tell people if they ask what I do and this is the first time I have mentioned it on this forum.

If you are worried about only studying medicine, that is simply not true unless you are really struggling to pass tests (but it sounds like that will not be an issue for you).  I basically read the entire New York Times every day while in med school and now am very free to read about personal finance and write on my blog.  I have also traveled a fair amount with DW.  In my mind medicine is very intellectually flexible because almost every aspect of life can be somehow related to your work in medicine and that knowledge will be useful at some point to the patients you care for.

Like I said, I am willing to answer any questions you have.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2015, 03:02:02 PM by BCBiker »

intirb

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 80
Re: Quarter-life crisis
« Reply #39 on: March 13, 2015, 11:55:21 AM »
#1 concern not going: Regret. The regret when I hit 38 and realize I could have been a practicing physician, interacting with and helping people every day, in a job that gives me purpose. This may stem from the fear that I don't know what retirement and travel feel like. I fear I may discover in retirement that I am aimless/directionless, or not getting the same level of personal interaction as a doctor.

What are you doing, right now, to help people?  Have you tried volunteering?  Coding for good?

I think a lot of people are drawn to medicine because it seems like a really obvious way to contribute positively to the world.  It's a well-worn path to helping others.  There's nothing wrong with that, but I think you'd be doing a disservice to the world if you didn't first consider how much you already have to offer.  You do have so much to offer.  When you hit FI, you'll have even more to offer.  I understand the apprehension - the way doesn't seem as straightforward as practicing medicine, and it'll be more challenging to figure out how best to contribute.  Once you've figured it out, though, you've made it that much easier for other people to follow in your footsteps.

And when you think about the big picture, there are tons and tons of people who want to be doctors and would make good ones at that.  If you go to medical school, you'll just be replacing someone you would probably only be marginally better than, so the net effects are quite small.  On the other hand, there's a lot of room and need for software developers who want to create some positive impact. 

I really understand and empathize with this strong desire to "have purpose".  When you're young, you're given purpose - go to school, get good grades, get a degree, get a job, etc.  You did all these things and did them well.  Now you've got to find your own path.  This freedom can be overwhelming, but I think you should resist the temptation to find easy answers.  You don't need a new career to refocus your life on service to others.  Look for small ways to contribute - think small and local - and build up from there.  Build your own purpose.

yoga mama

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 111
Re: Quarter-life crisis
« Reply #40 on: March 13, 2015, 12:38:03 PM »
You've gotten some great feedback here.  I will echo PPs that it doesn't really sound like you want to go to medical school.  I am a physician, I am currently satisfied with my life and finances but I was pretty miserable throughout med school and residency and I started my career with over $300K in student loan debt.  I would not do it all over again, especially if you're interested in FIRE.  I don't know what to add to the excellent info from the other docs here because it sounds like you're already set on going ahead with it.  Good luck to you!

dilinger

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 457
Re: Quarter-life crisis
« Reply #41 on: March 13, 2015, 03:08:24 PM »

What are you doing, right now, to help people?  Have you tried volunteering?  Coding for good?


This, right here.

Would working on Free Software be fulfilling?  How about working on medical devices?  Writing software for clinics?  Government transparency?  Educational/learning software?  Diagnosis/disease software?  Cryptography/privacy software?

My wife writes code to model disease transmission in developing countries.  The code her group develops influences how governments and non-profits spend millions (if not billions) of dollars to treat major health problems worldwide.  This sort of higher scale work, while often lacking in face-to-face interaction with the people being helped, can be immensely more satisfying when you look at the sheer number of people being helped.

theonethatgotaway

  • Guest
Re: Quarter-life crisis
« Reply #42 on: March 15, 2015, 07:02:49 PM »
Are you sure this whole medicine thing (from your posts it just seems like a- you're not even that into it and b- financial suicide) is not just a distraction from your current situation?

Your job doesn't have to define who you are. You define that. If you are unhappy, scratch that, not calm and peaceful, you need to look within and figure it out. Changing such a huge thing like your career and having buyers remorse or what-ifs, seems like a drastic action and I don't think the results will justify the means. You could end up putting in years of work in medicine to be floating around equally unhappy.

What if your brother and dad were saying things like, wow you're so good at what you do right now! I mean, I think that would change your perspective a bit. I wish they would leave you alone and respect how far you've come. I can see how that doesn't help your current situation.

I think this is an inner type thing that needs improvement, I don't think it's a career thing.

The post even says 'Quarter-life crisis' not 'career crisis'- perhaps a life coach, a good therapist, and some books would help. Taking on the real issue will solve all the rest (such as career).

pbkmaine

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8360
  • Age: 63
  • Location: The Villages, Florida
Re: Quarter-life crisis
« Reply #43 on: March 15, 2015, 11:23:53 PM »
I am not an MD, I just know a bunch of them and I hear them kvetching. The ones who are happy are totally invested in medicine as a career and would not be happy doing anything else. The ones who are not happy are all the others. I am not getting "totally invested" from you. I am getting "Eh, why not."  Massive debt, long hours, many years? Sounds like the most Antimustachian thing you could possibly do.

DoNorth

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 226
Re: Quarter-life crisis
« Reply #44 on: March 16, 2015, 05:39:55 AM »
How do you feel about the military or public health service?  In exchange for the obligation, medical school is free and you draw a salary while you're in school....$2934 base pay, $2000, housing allowance, $240 subsistence = $62K/year if you're single or about $65K if you're married starting out.  By graduation, you'd be closer to $70K or $75K with no student loans.

In general though, if you're not completely into it, you should go another path.