Author Topic: Quit medicine to pursue teaching?  (Read 34194 times)

Osprey

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Quit medicine to pursue teaching?
« on: June 25, 2013, 03:46:09 AM »
I am not sure whether this warrants a face punch or the opposite of one:

After obtaining a medical degree and promptly burning out in three years, I took some time off to recover. Recently landed an office job with lots of travel, humongous opportunity and many doors opened. However. The only reason I took it was because my savings were running low. Also, I am underqualified and there are definitely people at my job who are wondering what I'm doing there.

What I want to do is teach high school science/biology. I may or may not be seeing teaching through rose tinted goggles. It's something I always instinctively say when people ask, only I never took myself seriously because many people (mostly family) saw teaching as being "beneath me."

My options:

1. Commit to my current career path, pursue further education in the field, do as much good and make as much money as I can, retire in 10-ish years. Start a family somewhere in there, which I feel would be crazy hectic since my partner also has a demanding job. Potentially have made a big mistake.

2. Hold current job and pursue a teaching degree via distance learning and make the switch in 3-4 years: right around the time I'd like to start having children. Push back retirement by (???) years. Potentially have made a big mistake.

I have a vague premonition that my future might be filled with this kind of rapid career change, and there's no way of knowing if I'll be bored of teaching, say two years into the job. I am female, late twenties, ENFP personality type (for whatever it's worth).

Any older and wiser forum members on here who have advice for me? It would be greatly appreciated!

Emg03063

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Re: Quit medicine to pursue teaching?
« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2013, 04:46:02 AM »
There are alternatives to consider:

-other jobs within the medical field (lower stress, less demanding)
-wait 10 years to start a family (freeze some eggs if you're overly concerned about having bio-kids)
-teach medicine
-Retire, then teach

SnackDog

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Re: Quit medicine to pursue teaching?
« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2013, 04:55:22 AM »
What have you go to lose?  I had a colleague who quit to teach for a few years around the age of 50 or so.  He managed it for a few years but realized the students were pretty awful as was the pay, the education system, administration and colleagues.   He came back to the corporation, which happily put him in a better job than the one he walked away from.

ender

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Re: Quit medicine to pursue teaching?
« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2013, 05:27:42 AM »
When you say teach, I was thinking not high school but college or community college.

I suspect those options might be better from a career perspective?

happy

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Re: Quit medicine to pursue teaching?
« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2013, 05:34:13 AM »
I'm not clear whether you have decided to ditch medicine for good or not. As a 54 year old physician, I can totally understand if you had. I had issues with burn out quite early in my career, but being a baby boomer (loyal, hardworking, stay in the same job for life etc), never quite "rebelled" enough to get out. And had issues with what else to do.  I 'survived" by taking intermittent excursions out of clinical work, including a medical education job...but you can't stay out too long. Also now in Australia at least there are recency of practice requirements that stifle a creative approach to coming and going. You can't really be in medical education without maintaining some sort of practice. Once I became a single parent age 41, the higher income of medicine enabled me to have time with family, by working part-time. And at that point I gave up the notion of changing careers for good. But  in fact working part-time has enabled me to continue in my current career. I work half time and still earn  quite a bit more than a teacher working fulltime.  But the real issue is that a longer weekend and more down-time enables me to deal with the various stresses and strains...whereas working fulltime I tend to implode.   Of course the problem is that when I was  younger I wasn't mustachian. If I had my time over I would have saved like crazy, built a stash..then moved on. Also there really are a lot of medical side alleys you can go up  without sacrificing that good salary too much: suggest you explore. Try googling: doctors leaving medicine and have a look at some of that e.g. www.lifeaftermedicine.co.uk/‎

RE the issue of teaching (yes I dallied with that idea too ): the question is "Do you really love kids and  in particular adolescents if you are interested in teaching high school?  Do you feel motivated to make a difference and/or play a part in young people's lives?" Because thats what needs to sustain you...day in  day out adolescents can be  difficult...its not the easy option you take with another subject degree. After talking to some teacher friends I decided it was not for me. But that doesn't mean its not for you: that "E" may help no end.  If you can try not to worry about the status issue...yes I know its very difficult but it's your life. If you think it is what "will make your heart sing", go  for it. I wish I had had more courage to do what I wished: I should have been a horse vet. Don't let status and family living vicariously through you, dictate your choices. Make a change now whilst you are in your 20s....there's still lots of time.

The final issue I think is how fast do you wish to be FI?....because once you have that stash you can do anything you want. Would you consider sufferin' and stashin' for a shorter time (and medicine is a good place to produce $$$)? OR longer and more enjoyable i.e. a lower paid job? Only you can decide.

Zamboni

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Re: Quit medicine to pursue teaching?
« Reply #5 on: June 25, 2013, 05:37:46 AM »
Having been basically in your shoes, I offer the following perspective for your consideration:

1)  As Happy noted above, you are in a great position because of your education in a very high paying field which has limited numbers of employees.  Therefore, you should be able to find flexible work arrangements or less hours at some point if that's what suits you.  Less hours = less burn out.  I have a friend who works only one day per week in the medical professional at a big local hospital.  I can't believe it either, but they need her and she held firm that she could only work that much.

2)  Have you considered teaching within the medical profession?  Even teaching one or two courses at a med school will likely pay more than an entire year's salary for a HS teacher.  Talk to other women in the field and see if anyone is interested in job sharing.  Make contacts at local universities to see if there are options for alternatives like pre-health advising for undergraduates, etc.  It can be hard to get your foot in the door, but once you do you're golden, so keep trying.

2)  If you are sure you want children, then start actively trying to start a family now.  It might take longer than you think, and once you are pregnant people will suddenly communicate understanding your desire for work life balance.  I think you should keep your current job while you get the family plans rolling and bank most of the money for later.  That way you can stop work abruptly is needed.  Do you have maternity benefits at your current job?  That can be a big help as well.  I ended up leaving my job after having twins, but it did pay disability when I had a major complication near the end of my pregnancy.

3)  Work on cutting your expenses down to a bare minimum to see how little you can happily live on, which goes without saying on this blog.  Work travel should actually help this, as the company should be footing the bill for transportation and meals while you travel.

I really relate to you as I started having fantasies of becoming Amish or giving up my job to wait tables at a Denny's when I started my formally high stress working life.  The future will be brighter!

totoro

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Re: Quit medicine to pursue teaching?
« Reply #6 on: June 25, 2013, 06:00:54 AM »
I'm not a doctor, I'm a lawyer.  High rate of burn-out for women in my field.  I found that working traditionally was not for me.  Working part-time for myself has been a much better fit.

I think teaching high school could be rewarding.  There are a lot of teachers who burn-out as well though.  I used to be a teacher and loved it at first, then found it repetitive because the material does not change all that much from year to year.

The real issue I see with your plans is money and ability to control your working hours.  Your medical training is going to get you a higher salary and more flexibility than teaching will.  Retraining means loss of salary and further expense - and probably retiring much later if this is also a goal. 

I would focus on a way to use your profession to match your motivation.  My doctor only works three days a week and takes long sabbaticals with her family.  She is part of a shared practice so this works for her.  There are many options in medicine.

I think the burn-out factors are also worth exploring a lot more.  I would invest some time and money into yourself this way through some counselling or self-development program.

markbrynn

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Re: Quit medicine to pursue teaching?
« Reply #7 on: June 25, 2013, 06:05:45 AM »
Whilst I understand the good intentions of the advice above (from Zamboni), I can't disagree enough with what sounds to me as a bit of a cavalier approach to having children. There is no right time to have children and you might never feel completely ready, etc., but there's no rush to have kids just because you're in your late 20's. Some women struggle to have kids (at any age), but plenty of women have little trouble into their mid-30's and beyond.

More important than the science behind conception, I would urge you not to "rush" into having kids in general. If you're already confused about careers, it might not be the best timing to throw a kid or three into the mix. I have a bit of a thing about this societal norm to have kids before you're 30. Everybody's life is different and for some having kids early is good, for some it's better to wait a bit, or even not have kids at all. There is a timeline eventually for women (in particular), but that shouldn't be a big concern (from my point of view) until at least about 35.

Small point on the main topic: quittting medicine, taking an office job and dreaming about teaching seems a bit indecisive. There's nothing wrong with changing careers and trying new things, but it might be best to stick with one of these for a few years and see where it takes you. My first couple of jobs were not thrilling. I ended up staying in the same field and have generally loved my jobs since. Getting past a certain point on the learning curve/ladder can bring a much more relaxing/rewarding period.

good luck.

happy

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Re: Quit medicine to pursue teaching?
« Reply #8 on: June 25, 2013, 06:36:22 AM »


2)  Have you considered teaching within the medical profession?  Even teaching one or two courses at a med school will likely pay more than an entire year's salary for a HS teacher. 

This might depend where you are., so investigate. In my country, medical clinical academics make only 40% of a salaried staff specialist ( who in turn make about half to two thirds of docs in private practice).

Quote
There is a timeline eventually for women (in particular), but that shouldn't be a big concern (from my point of view) until at least about 35.]
There's another post about this elsewhere, but in summary I don't agree.  I would always advise women try to start their family well before 35.  For some couples it can take time, and if it does all of a sudden you can be over 35 and into risk territory and reduced fertility. You don't know if thats going to be you until you start trying.  Personally I started to try to get pregnant @32, but didn't have my kids until 36 and 39 respectively.  There were no discernible or correctable  medical reasons for this. 

Edit: for layout typo
« Last Edit: June 25, 2013, 07:36:37 AM by happy »

rtrnow

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Re: Quit medicine to pursue teaching?
« Reply #9 on: June 25, 2013, 07:23:21 AM »
I'll preface my response by saying I both work with K-12 education and am myself planning a career change next year. I'm leaving higher ed to pursue cooking which will probably reduce my pay by at least 60%.

Education can be very rewarding and demanding. I think it's worth trying out if you really have an interest. The pay is not great, but you get a lot of time off to enjoy life or make more money if you want. This may vary state to state, but here you don't have to get a teaching degree to start teaching. Obviously you already have a college degree or two under your belt. Usually, you can start teaching and pursue the teacher certification on the side. Either way, you shouldn't need another BS degree just the certification or a masters in education. The masters would help increase your pay a bit more than just the cert.


Zamboni

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Re: Quit medicine to pursue teaching?
« Reply #10 on: June 25, 2013, 08:18:30 AM »
Quote
plenty of women have little trouble into their mid-30's and beyond

I know you also mean well, but this is actually a myth.  OP is a doctor, so probably she knows this.  Fertility declines rapidly in a woman's 30's, while miscarriage rate increase rapidly in this decade.  I've just seen too many friends wait and wait thinking lots of women get pregnant in their late 30's and early 40's and then try without success only to be told "you need to consider donor eggs at this point."  While birthrates for women in their 40's are increasing, it's primarily because of assisted reproductive technology, which I wouldn't characterize as "little trouble."  ART is expensive, often not covered by insurance, exceedingly stressful, and no guarantee that you'll take home a baby. 

BZB

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Re: Quit medicine to pursue teaching?
« Reply #11 on: June 25, 2013, 09:19:30 AM »
There's a mustachian teachers thread somewhere on this blog - search for it - and ask them for advice. Personally I would not want to do K-12 teaching in my state (Texas) because of the huge emphasis on teaching for standardized tests. I've seen family members who are Texas public K-12 teachers burn out because of this. But, there are many many different ways to be a teacher. Maybe med school teaching is the way to go, although, from having worked in a med school, I know about the day after the test when the students rush en masse to the prof's office to challenge their grades, and that would irritate me to no end. Do all the research you can and maybe you could shadow a couple of teachers for a day.

lifejoy

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Re: Quit medicine to pursue teaching?
« Reply #12 on: June 25, 2013, 09:33:47 AM »
My boyfriend is a doctor who romanticizes the idea of highschool teaching, and my mother is a teacher.

My first thought is that you are already in a job where people think, "what is she doing here?" And that seems to bother you. I think if a doctor is working at a highschool, you're going to get the same response. Why??

I would definitely look into teaching at a university level. The pay and maturity levels if your students ought to be better.

Consider this: if you teach HS and your life sucks, you don't have a ton of money to make things better. Of you're a doctor and your life sucks, financial freedom may give you more options.

Alternatively, sometimes you just need to try things so that you can stop wondering "what if". You're worried about making choices and regretting them.... But wouldn't it be worse to not try them and regret the lost opportunity?

Disclaimer: I'm totally biased against teaching at levels below a university level. My mother is passionate, overworked, and underpaid. She is so burnt out. Do you have any teacher friends that could candidly tell you about their working life? Be careful there though... My mother tends to defend her profession, despite admitting how stressed out if makes her.

markbrynn

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Re: Quit medicine to pursue teaching?
« Reply #13 on: June 26, 2013, 02:06:33 AM »
in response to Zamboni:

I think we're not far off on the agreement about statistics. My first statement said "mid-30's and beyond," my second statement said "until at least about 35." The first statement is a bit vague (and perhaps a bit more optimistic than I feel now), so let's take the second one. I definitely agree that late 30's and early 40's is not the best time to try having a baby, but OP is "late twenties." Even if that means 29 1/2, she still has 3 or 4 years before she has any real need to worry about fertility rate (IMO). I stick by my point, that often it is better to sort out some of the other issues in your life before "rushing" to have kids before you're 30. A lot can happen in 3 or 4 years.

So, women who think they can wait and wait past 35 with no problems should probably rethink. However, women in their late 20's who think they need to start now should probably also rethink. Depends which type of woman you're dealing with.

Osprey

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Re: Quit medicine to pursue teaching?
« Reply #14 on: June 26, 2013, 02:56:48 AM »
Thank you so much for your responses, it's great to have solid feedback and a variety of opinions. I see now that there are far more options available to me than I thought and I'm lucky to be in a position to rake in the $$$.

My current job is related to medicine, just non-clinical. I've looked at other fields (consulting, pharmaceuticals, health insurance, research) but nothing appealed. I've also been seeing someone for the burnout. I talked to a bunch of teachers and yeah they get very defensive about their profession, even as they tell me how horrible it is. Kinda reminds me of what doctors say when asked about medicine: "It's absolutely terrible, but also wonderful and rewarding! I would never let my children do it... but I'd be proud if they did!" Been lurking on the teachers thread too.

The rational thing to do would be to gain FI as soon as possible and the best way to do that would be... NOT teaching, obviously! What throws a spanner in the works:
- I really want to help kids at the most tumultuous stage of their growth. If I'd remained in medicine I'd have concentrated on women's and adolescent health
- Not sure if I can go back to clinical medicine. I'm keeping up with the continuing education requirements of my professional organisation so theoretically I could return.
- Biological clock and all that

totoro:
The real issue I see with your plans is money and ability to control your working hours.  Your medical training is going to get you a higher salary and more flexibility than teaching will.  Retraining means loss of salary and further expense - and probably retiring much later if this is also a goal. 

--> Yeah this makes sense. Like happy said, I can make more as a part time doctor than a full time teacher. Thanks for pointing this out, sometimes my emotions get in the way of common sense.


Zamboni:
I really relate to you as I started having fantasies of becoming Amish or giving up my job to wait tables at a Denny's when I started my formally high stress working life.  The future will be brighter!

--> Haha! Thanks for the encouragement!


happy:
Of course the problem is that when I was  younger I wasn't mustachian. If I had my time over I would have saved like crazy, built a stash..then moved on.

The final issue I think is how fast do you wish to be FI?....because once you have that stash you can do anything you want. Would you consider sufferin' and stashin' for a shorter time (and medicine is a good place to produce $$$)? OR longer and more enjoyable i.e. a lower paid job? Only you can decide.

--> Thank you so much for your insight, I'm very grateful. I already miss interacting with and helping people. I get panic attacks at hospitals but a GP might be doable. Lots to think about.

Zamboni

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Re: Quit medicine to pursue teaching?
« Reply #15 on: June 26, 2013, 05:06:13 AM »
Quote
I really want to help kids at the most tumultuous stage of their growth. If I'd remained in medicine I'd have concentrated on women's and adolescent health

That's wonderful (and needed in medicine!)  Keep that in the crosshairs for the future, then, with your eyes always open for a good opportunity in that area.  Another thought:  College students are still adolescent (especially first years.)  Student health work at colleges is understaffed and from I understand high burn out, but I'm going to guess there are plenty of periodic openings if you want to try it.  You do need work that is meaningful to you.  We're cheering for you!

Quote
I stick by my point, that often it is better to sort out some of the other issues in your life before "rushing" to have kids before you're 30. A lot can happen in 3 or 4 years.

Yes, I agree that parents ideally should feel secure and be ready for it.  There's never really a "perfect" time for it, though, so once you've found the right person to be the other parent you might as well do it if you are sure children are in your future cards (imho.)  I think right after you finish formal schooling is a great time, with the benefit of hindsight.  Many women have a "second honeymoon" with their careers because of less work interruption once their children get older, so a career blip right at the start is just fine.

happy

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Re: Quit medicine to pursue teaching?
« Reply #16 on: June 26, 2013, 05:38:03 AM »
Quote
once you are pregnant people will suddenly communicate understanding your desire for work life balance.

This is very true in my experience. I'm not suggesting you get pregnant to avoid sorting this out for yourself, because the issue will continue to haunt you. However having kids and working part-time is widely acceptable.  Its worked for me for nearly two decades...I get the occasional confused look now mine are 18 and 15, but thats only started to happen recently.  Haha, little do they know I've moved seamlessly in my mind from SMWPTWK ( single mum working part-time with kids) to Semi-Retired.

Dee18

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Re: Quit medicine to pursue teaching?
« Reply #17 on: June 26, 2013, 07:51:29 AM »
At my daughter's private high school, there is a physician who was a science teacher for many years, teaching the most advanced courses and seminars.  she does not have an education degree.  once all her kids finished school there, she went back to part time medical practice to finance their college.  You could try teaching at a private school to see if you like it, without investing in more education first.

TrulyStashin

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Re: Quit medicine to pursue teaching?
« Reply #18 on: June 26, 2013, 08:04:57 AM »
+1 to the private school teaching idea.

In Virginia, and many states, teacher pay is automatically pegged to the degree held.  From an administrator's perspective, a beginning teacher with a BA degree is the most cost-effective way to fill that position.  With a MD, you'll automatically be pushed into a higher income part of the pay scale -- good for you -- bad from the admin's point of view.  Essentially, the admin may see you as a very expensive beginner.   In Chesterfield County VA, a beginning teacher with a BA makes $38,954.  A beginning teacher with a doctorate makes $42,947.  So, in a weird way, public school may be loathe to hire you because of the cost to them.

http://www.nctq.org/docs/Chesterfield_11-12-teacher-scale_Sheet1.pdf

Dee18

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Re: Quit medicine to pursue teaching?
« Reply #19 on: June 26, 2013, 10:26:08 AM »
The student health idea is a good one if you decide to stay in medicine.  At the small university where I teach, they have a doctor two days a week and a nurse practitioner the other days. The two day a week job might provide enough income for you.   Having a wonderful student health center really helps students succeed in college, especially as we seem to get more and more students who do not have a clue about how to take care of themselves.

StarryC

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Re: Quit medicine to pursue teaching?
« Reply #20 on: June 26, 2013, 11:01:18 AM »
I grew up in a pretty rural area where at the time there was one doctor.  Now there are no doctors, and the nearest doctor's office is about 30 minutes away.  The "doctor" in town is a physician's assistant.  I know for teachers and dentists there are loan repayment options for working in rural areas.  Have you considered something like that?

 If you are the small town doctor, you can set your hours and run your clinic as you see fit and work say 9 to 4 if you want.  You'll see the same patients for years and years.  It's not big money, but it seemed like a pretty low stress life to me, and a good arrangement for raising a family.

However, it would assume that you already have a partner- finding a partner in a small town is challenging.  Also, you'd have to want to practice, just at a slower pace. 

rtrnow

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Re: Quit medicine to pursue teaching?
« Reply #21 on: June 27, 2013, 07:09:25 AM »
+1 to the private school teaching idea.

In Virginia, and many states, teacher pay is automatically pegged to the degree held.  From an administrator's perspective, a beginning teacher with a BA degree is the most cost-effective way to fill that position.  With a MD, you'll automatically be pushed into a higher income part of the pay scale -- good for you -- bad from the admin's point of view.  Essentially, the admin may see you as a very expensive beginner.   In Chesterfield County VA, a beginning teacher with a BA makes $38,954.  A beginning teacher with a doctorate makes $42,947.  So, in a weird way, public school may be loathe to hire you because of the cost to them.

http://www.nctq.org/docs/Chesterfield_11-12-teacher-scale_Sheet1.pdf

You are correct, but only after getting certified to teach. One could try out teaching with your current degree(s), without any additional education, and you would be paid like a substitute. That may vary a bit state to state, but the 3 states I've worked with all follow that model. To me that seems like an easy/no real cost way to try out teaching. IF you like the job, you can then work on your certification while on the job. Getting an MS in education on the side is not that hard or expensive to do. I have friends in private schools and they do like the atmosphere. Pay and benefits will usually be better in public school though.

fiveoclockshadow

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Re: Quit medicine to pursue teaching?
« Reply #22 on: June 27, 2013, 08:07:58 AM »
Would you suffer the nearly complementary analysis of an INTJ? :)

I would say tread very carefully into the teaching path.  As others have pointed out you have the benefit of good income right now which if the job is at least tolerable gives you flexibility.  Volunteer, many school systems need classroom help.  In doing so you will get a taste of the work but most importantly will also surround yourself with the people doing the work.  There seems to be extreme variation in the character of different schools and school systems.  You want to sniff all that out while you've still got good income and flexibility.  This will also factor into your spouse's job.  If your spouse has geographic constraints then while teaching may be great somewhere it might be intolerable where your spouse can work.

It sounds like you are already trying to think of alternatives to teaching, which is a good avenue to explore.  It sounds like you've looked at a bunch of different related fields and found they aren't that different.  I would suggest approaching this differently.  Don't just look at different fields because they are different in name or function.  You will find that "normal" in a wide variety of fields ends up in similar work environments.  It sounds like you want a different work environment (focused on more direct interaction with children, potentially more flexible hours and with a likely trade off in lower earnings).  So instead of looking at different fields look at the less "normal" work environments within your field or related fields.  This will mean less retraining and easier re-entry to a "normal" high paying work environment if it doesn't work out the way you hope.  It is medicine - everyone needs that at some point (even kids) and by definition eventually it has to be one on one.  Lower income clinics, pediatric research trials, pediatric cancer centers, school health - it would seem all these things might have opportunities of interest to you.

Now for some conflicting advice:

- Once you have kids your life will change, significantly.  The work load is extremely high and more than anything the fatigue level is very high.  Talk to a lot of parents and you will probably learn the biggest battle is sleep and fatigue.  You will become far less effective at your job for an extended period.  Worse, how much you are impacted is extremely variable.  If you are incredibly lucky you will have a little angel who sleeps solidly through the night for 10 to 12 hours by 5 or 6 months.  That is our experience, it is abnormally good and it still kicked us in the tail and we aren't even close to normal productivity as our daughter approaches one year.  We have friends that have kids nearing three years old that still do not sleep through the night.  I don't know how they survive, it is clearly more than they thought they were signing up for.  And there is no predicting it - talk to folks with multiple children and you will find siblings where one was an "angel" and the other a "terror".  Infant temperament is completely beyond parental control.  You have limited control over modifying and coping with it, but the "starting point" is wide and varied and will dramatically affect your experience compared to others.  The message here is once you have your kid it is very likely you won't want to have career change or the work associated with it on your plate at the same time.  Get your house in order first.

- And now for the conflicting advice.  Besides your life changing your whole perception of life and priorities will change.  What makes sense to you now may not make sense anymore then.  For one thing it is very likely that time with your child will suddenly become the top most priority of your life supplanting all other considerations.  (And this is actually a huge marital risk to having kids, counter intuitive as it is be sure to prioritize your relationship with your spouse and make real effort at it - it is easy and natural to put your kids first and this is often the first step to divorce).  Your time will now be the most important resource to you and it will be an immediate need.  You can't press the pause button on a child growing up.  Every economic calculation you now make will be based not on present or future dollars but on time available right now.  Essentially the marginal value of your time now shoots through the roof and the marginal utility of money in the future drops.  That means you may suddenly find a high paying job that is not "fulfilling" is actually more desirable than a low paying job that is "fulfilling".  Neither job is at all "fulfilling" compared to more time with your child, so the higher paying one that you can work fewer hours at is far more desirable.  Additionally if you are in a dual income situation you may find one of you doesn't want to work anymore or at least wants to scale back hours significantly.

What this means is that if you spend time, money and effort now to change career paths you may discover that once you have kids that your choice no longer makes sense to you.  I've seen this happen more than once, most often to the mother.  Huge amounts of effort in a career change and then the kids come along and either they leave the workforce or just change careers again.

So that's the conflict.  At the first glance clearly you should make a change before having kids when you have more time and resources to affect the change.  Upon second thought you should consider there is significant risk that you don't have enough information right now to actually change to the career you will discover you want once you have the kids.

So I would consider getting yourself into the best hedging position you have with the resources you have now and avoid making a big shift immediately.  Get yourself into a flexible work hour situation with decent pay in something you are comfortable and happy doing part time.  Maybe full time it will burn you out, but you don't have to do full time.  And be prepared for a change with kids.  It is almost certain there will either be a change or at least a significant desire for change at that point.  Rather than trying to guess what that change might be position yourself to be ready to handle whatever change comes.

Best of luck!

Hamster

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Re: Quit medicine to pursue teaching?
« Reply #23 on: June 27, 2013, 10:45:08 AM »
OP, curious what country you are in. Sorry if I missed it above. Your use of the words "spanner" and "GP" make me suspect you aren't in the US, or at least not originally from the US. Knowing where you are could have a lot of bearing on the feedback offered.

I'm also trying to get a sense of where you were in your medical career and what caused the burnout.

In the US, you'd have just finished University, Medical School, and residency by 28-29 years old, and not had the chance to experience what medical practice outside of the life of a resident or academic physician is like.

As a primary care provider in the US, my clilnic job is nothing like residency/training - not heaven by any stretch of the imagination, but not the hell of residency either. There are certainly options for part-time clinic jobs or hospitalist work (somewhat higher stress, but much more time off), although you say the hospital stresses you out. Or locum tenens work where you can travel, although challenging with a partner.

Without knowing all the details, my personal advice would be to explore all the flavors/iterations of clinical practice before leaving it entirely, and focus on something you can do part-time. As others have said, you are unlikely to find another full-time job that pays the same as a half-time physician job (at least in the US). The hard part is making half-time actually be half-time...

Osprey

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Re: Quit medicine to pursue teaching?
« Reply #24 on: June 27, 2013, 02:56:08 PM »
@fiveoclockshadow:
Wow, thank you so much for your in-depth and analytical... analysis. Honestly you've shocked me a bit with your way of thinking/pov. I am going to need some time to re-read and digest it. You do make some very good points.

@Hamster:
Ya I'm from outside the US. We do 5-6 years of med school; one year as a house doctor; then finish off with two years community service, usually as a jack-of-all-trades in the sticks with very few resources. You kinda get to dabble in everything though, which is nice. After all that you get your licence as a non-specialist GP, which is where I am now. Specialising is another 3-5 years depending on the field.
Like you said, it's hard to find a clinical job that is truly part time. I see friends (all female - why?) doing reduced hour locums in an effort to focus on their families but they struggle with issues around pay and hold quite a bit of resentment. Perhaps I am expecting too much from a job. That's a big mistake, according to the book YMOYL...

Thanks everyone for your ideas, and especially around different ways of getting a teaching "fix" via unconventional routes. I'm excited!

AmyGarfield

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Re: Quit medicine to pursue teaching?
« Reply #25 on: June 27, 2013, 08:25:25 PM »
I'm a teacher and a parent, and I'm gonna tell you that teaching is NOT the easiest job to do while raising your family. Yes, you'll get your summers off, but the rest of the year you will work endless hours after school and on weekends and still feel like you're not done. There is also a tremendous push in virtually every state in the union to teach to the high-stakes standardized tests, and if that isn't bad enough, in many states (soon to be all states) your evaluations will be tied to your students' test scores. Yes, in my state, 50% of a teacher's evaluation will be from test scores, and if your principal rates you highly but your test scores weren't good, your rating will be taken from the test scores. So if you happen to have a bunch of special needs kids one year (because maybe you're really good with them so the special ed teachers give them to you) you're most likely gonna get lower scores than the teacher next door who happened to get all the gifted kids.  Classes are not and have never been equal, and in fact it is almost impossible to judge what will happen once students are assigned. A child can have a crisis, their parents can get divorced, and these things all affect test scores. You will work your butt off to try to keep this child afloat and you may or may not succeed, but if those scores go down it will be your fault.

My advice is to stay in medicine. You can work part time and make as much as a full time teacher and have more time for your own children.  You will also not go to bed every night worrying about other people's kids and then feeling guilty about how you had to neglect your own family so that you could get your schoolwork done. DON'T DO IT!

LowER

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Re: Quit medicine to pursue teaching?
« Reply #26 on: June 27, 2013, 11:19:43 PM »
You are not alone.  I work in a community where I did all my training, which I completed about 9 years ago.  I don't know a single doc who is happy with their professional life or who would want their offspring to follow iin their footsteps.  Docs are changing jobs like socks, running for cover but there doesn't seem to be much, and if there is it's transient.  I love taking care of patients though I hate dealing with money-grubbing insurance companies, electronic medical records, and burgeoning administrative tasks, and having to care for more patients with less time.  By a twist of fate, or maybe my reluctance to put up with BS, I have, for now, found a happy place, and I am counting my days....

If you can get access to sermo.com (a physician-only website), you will find a tidal wave of disdain for the practice of medicine, and almost every one of the several hundred thousand members, wants out of clinical medicine, for too many reasons to type in this post.

Many are finding careers in "at-home-medicine" and as insurance company lackies.  Some do cruise ships or wilderness medicine coverage, or locum tenens on their own terms, or work for pharmaceutical companies, and many others.

I have also contemplated teaching as one of the most influential people in my life was a high school math teacher, and I really didn't care for math that much at the time.

I have much empathy for you as do hundreds of thousands of doctors around the world. 

From a financial perspective, believe it or not, the average teacher and average doctor end up in very similarly financially assuming each takes the traditional route.  After all of your training, and relatively advanced age, that will not be the case for you.

Happiness and health are key however. 

Do whatever floats your boat, but don't buy one unless it says Bubba Gump Shrimp on the side.

Search like crazy; I am confident that in time you can find something that works for you.

As many of my patients have told me, the 3 best things about being a teacher are June, July, and August.

Good luck.

AmyGarfield

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Re: Quit medicine to pursue teaching?
« Reply #27 on: June 29, 2013, 02:58:51 PM »

From a financial perspective, believe it or not, the average teacher and average doctor end up in very similarly financially assuming each takes the traditional route.  After all of your training, and relatively advanced age, that will not be the case for you.


You give a lot of good advice, but I find this difficult to believe. I know many doctors (most of them work at the community hospital in my town) and they are living in vastly more expensive homes and neighborhoods, drive expensive cars, and vacation in exotic locales regularly. I don't begrudge them this, because no way would I ever want to do what they do, and I think they earn their salaries. I'm just saying there is no comparison financially. In most states, a teacher's salary will top out around $80k, maybe a little more in the cities or affluent areas. I don't think that compares with a doctor's salary.

Even taking into account their school bills, the doctors I know have a lot more money that we do.

Albert

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Re: Quit medicine to pursue teaching?
« Reply #28 on: June 30, 2013, 03:01:34 AM »
I don't really have an advice to give, but your situation recalls me a story of our family friend from Toronto. He started out as a chemical engineer, was making a good money and had a moderately successful career in the field. However in his late 30-ties he realised that he is liking his corporate job less and less and teaching is really what he would like to try. He went back to university to get a teacher's certificate and is now teaching high school mathematics. It took him 7-8 years including school to obtain a permanent teacher's position (apparently a difficult task in greater Toronto area), but he is so much happier in his new job than before. It's probably something he should have done from the beginning.

It's all very individual of course. I don't think I would have a patience to teach kids with often suspect motivation to learn anything.

mushroom

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Re: Quit medicine to pursue teaching?
« Reply #29 on: June 30, 2013, 03:27:43 AM »

From a financial perspective, believe it or not, the average teacher and average doctor end up in very similarly financially assuming each takes the traditional route.  After all of your training, and relatively advanced age, that will not be the case for you.


You give a lot of good advice, but I find this difficult to believe. I know many doctors (most of them work at the community hospital in my town) and they are living in vastly more expensive homes and neighborhoods, drive expensive cars, and vacation in exotic locales regularly. I don't begrudge them this, because no way would I ever want to do what they do, and I think they earn their salaries. I'm just saying there is no comparison financially. In most states, a teacher's salary will top out around $80k, maybe a little more in the cities or affluent areas. I don't think that compares with a doctor's salary.

Amy, I think LowER is referring to this: http://benbrownmd.wordpress.com/ comparing the "adjusted net hourly wage" of high school teachers vs. doctors. I disagree with a lot of his assumptions and don't think the comparison is as close as he tries to make it (even though I earn much less than an internist as a pediatrician). But the gist is that high school teachers start earning money way before doctors do. Doctors get a late start, work long hours in training and in practice, and often start out with crazy amounts of student loan debt.

Even taking into account their school bills, the doctors I know have a lot more money that we do.

Also, I'm guessing you haven't read The Millionaire Next Door - the way to judge a person's wealth is not by whether they live in fancy neighborhoods/drive fancy cars/go on expensive vacations. Doctors are often UAWs (underaccumulators of wealth) precisely because they're spending money on silly things like status symbols and often actually have little net worth compared to their salary. Haven't you been reading MMM? The way to get wealthy is by spending far below your means. Savings rate really is all that matters. People who live like you mentioned above are often not spending far below their means, and sometimes even have a negative savings rate (i.e. in debt up to their eyeballs since people are willing to lend them money just because they earn a high income). Sure, they could still have a decent savings rate if their income is high enough, but you can't tell just by looking at whether they have a luxury car or not.
« Last Edit: June 30, 2013, 03:50:40 AM by mushroom »

AmyGarfield

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Re: Quit medicine to pursue teaching?
« Reply #30 on: June 30, 2013, 05:55:40 AM »

From a financial perspective, believe it or not, the average teacher and average doctor end up in very similarly financially assuming each takes the traditional route.  After all of your training, and relatively advanced age, that will not be the case for you.


You give a lot of good advice, but I find this difficult to believe. I know many doctors (most of them work at the community hospital in my town) and they are living in vastly more expensive homes and neighborhoods, drive expensive cars, and vacation in exotic locales regularly. I don't begrudge them this, because no way would I ever want to do what they do, and I think they earn their salaries. I'm just saying there is no comparison financially. In most states, a teacher's salary will top out around $80k, maybe a little more in the cities or affluent areas. I don't think that compares with a doctor's salary.

Amy, I think LowER is referring to this: http://benbrownmd.wordpress.com/ comparing the "adjusted net hourly wage" of high school teachers vs. doctors. I disagree with a lot of his assumptions and don't think the comparison is as close as he tries to make it (even though I earn much less than an internist as a pediatrician). But the gist is that high school teachers start earning money way before doctors do. Doctors get a late start, work long hours in training and in practice, and often start out with crazy amounts of student loan debt.

Even taking into account their school bills, the doctors I know have a lot more money that we do.

Also, I'm guessing you haven't read The Millionaire Next Door - the way to judge a person's wealth is not by whether they live in fancy neighborhoods/drive fancy cars/go on expensive vacations. Doctors are often UAWs (underaccumulators of wealth) precisely because they're spending money on silly things like status symbols and often actually have little net worth compared to their salary. Haven't you been reading MMM? The way to get wealthy is by spending far below your means. Savings rate really is all that matters. People who live like you mentioned above are often not spending far below their means, and sometimes even have a negative savings rate (i.e. in debt up to their eyeballs since people are willing to lend them money just because they earn a high income). Sure, they could still have a decent savings rate if their income is high enough, but you can't tell just by looking at whether they have a luxury car or not.

Yup, that's all true but COME ON....a doctor's salary starts well over 100k, probably closer to 2-3 in my area. A teacher will start at 40 or 50k, and most have student loans as well, although not as much as a doctor would.  There is a reason they can throw that kind of money around and their salaries just increase with time. A teacher's salary will cap out very quickly. My husband makes about 75k and that is at the top of the pay scale. He's been teaching got 23 years and will never make more than that, although may get cost of living raise if the union is able to negotiate it successfully next time a contract is due.

I forgot to mention the most important point of all:  there is a glut of teachers, and few jobs, although someone certified to teach high school science has a slightly better shot.

And if you want to compare doctors vs. teachers at the private school level, forget it. Most private school teachers are married to spouses who can support them, because the pay is pitiful. A public school teacher will never be rich, but at least it's a living wage.

happy

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Re: Quit medicine to pursue teaching?
« Reply #31 on: June 30, 2013, 06:30:57 AM »
Doctors earn a lot but the problem is many also spend a lot. You only see the external consumption. They spend more, take on more debt etc etc.  Just like Big Law lawyers, there is an expectation of high levels of expenditure.  You would think by their conspicuous consumption "they are rich", but many end up just like many other people, with little net worth and a lot of debt. The docs I know who have substantial net worth are those who financially savvy: live below their means and invest. There's great potential in the earnings rate, but one has to immunise oneself against the spending expectations. I don't really socialise with any of my peers because it would be uncomfortable for both them and me.

(The handicap of shorter income earning period, and high student loans is also true IMO.)

AmyGarfield

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Re: Quit medicine to pursue teaching?
« Reply #32 on: June 30, 2013, 06:42:22 AM »
Doctors earn a lot but the problem is many also spend a lot. You only see the external consumption. They spend more, take on more debt etc etc.  Just like Big Law lawyers, there is an expectation of high levels of expenditure.  You would think by their conspicuous consumption "they are rich", but many end up just like many other people, with little net worth and a lot of debt. The docs I know who have substantial net worth are those who financially savvy: live below their means and invest. There's great potential in the earnings rate, but one has to immunise oneself against the spending expectations. I don't really socialise with any of my peers because it would be uncomfortable for both them and me.

(The handicap of shorter income earning period, and high student loans is also true IMO.)

That is a function of their spending habits and financial knowledge, not what they make over a lifetime. That is a completely different argument.

A frugal teacher and a frugal doctor will not end up in the same financial scenarios at age 65. A doctor has far more opportunities to expand their income, especially if they invest wisely.

This thread debunks the Brown theory quite nicely:http://forums.studentdoctor.net/showthread.php?t=881422

In essence, the author of that "study" took the worst case doctor scenario and compared it to the best case teacher scenario. He also included teacher retirement earnings but didn't include the doctor's retirement earnings.

He is also assuming that teachers work a normal work week with summers off. It's more like a 50 or 60 hour workweek with summers off if you DON'T have to do training for your district or decide not to take a temp. job to make extra money.

I believe that doctors deserve their pay. But you're never gonna convince me that they make more over time than a teacher.

As for conspicuous display of wealth, the working and retired doctors in my neighborhood and town appear to be doing just fine. The doctors are retiring at the same time as the teachers I know but they are living a vastly more affluent lifestyle.   I can't imagine how much wealth a frugal MMM doctor would be throwing around vs a MMM teacher....


happy

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Re: Quit medicine to pursue teaching?
« Reply #33 on: June 30, 2013, 06:58:13 AM »
Quote
A frugal teacher and a frugal doctor will not end up in the same financial scenarios at age 65.

Yes I agree with you here :)

Quote
But you're never gonna convince me that they make more over time than a teacher.

Umm I thought that your argument was that doctors earn more than teachers?

Zamboni

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Re: Quit medicine to pursue teaching?
« Reply #34 on: June 30, 2013, 07:01:14 AM »
Quote
From a financial perspective, believe it or not, the average teacher and average doctor end up in very similarly financially assuming each takes the traditional route.  After all of your training, and relatively advanced age, that will not be the case for you.


You give a lot of good advice, but I find this difficult to believe. I know many doctors (most of them work at the community hospital in my town) and they are living in vastly more expensive homes and neighborhoods, drive expensive cars, and vacation in exotic locales regularly.

Quote
A frugal teacher and a frugal doctor will not end up in the same financial scenarios at age 65. A doctor has far more opportunities to expand their income, especially if they invest wisely.

+1

Well, there are some doctors who do very, very well with money (there's a surgeon in my area who has a vast network of rental properties:  hundreds of houses, divided into 2, 3, or 4 one bedroom apts.  He makes far more money from being a slum lord than he does from medicine, which he now treats as a hobby.)

BUT, most doctors are as bad with money as the rest of the general public.  I now see that many students are motivated to even study medicine (and law) because they want the financial rewards and "finer things in life," so it's kind of a chicken and egg problem now to determine why they spend so much when they finish school.  Engineers, teachers, and farmers are generally better stewards of their money, and many people in these professions end up in more financially secure situations in the long run.  I find this hard to believe, but the research bears it out.  More doctors than not seem to fritter their money away keeping up the jetset appearances.  Remember, FI has two parts to the equation:  amount that you earn from passive investments AND amount that you need to live.  Teachers are much more reasonable on the latter part of this equation, and the fact that no one expects teachers to drive a Jag probably helps. 

happy

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Re: Quit medicine to pursue teaching?
« Reply #35 on: June 30, 2013, 07:48:21 AM »
Most of the docs I know who are FI, I reckon would be FI no matter what job they had. Sure they've had a really good income  and so their results are spectacular, but I bet they'd be FI  as teachers also, although maybe their lifestyle would be pitched at a less expensive level.

mushroom

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Re: Quit medicine to pursue teaching?
« Reply #36 on: June 30, 2013, 09:06:45 AM »
In essence, the author of that "study" took the worst case doctor scenario and compared it to the best case teacher scenario. He also included teacher retirement earnings but didn't include the doctor's retirement earnings.

In case I wasn't clear, I do disagree with a lot of the assumptions that Brown made and I don't think that the hourly wage of physicians and teachers is nearly as close as he makes it out to be. However, I do think there's a common misconception out there that a doctor must be crazy wealthy without considering the large student loans, late start, long hours, and often excessive spending.

It really just comes down to savings rate:
http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/01/13/the-shockingly-simple-math-behind-early-retirement/

Teachers have lower earning potential, but get a big head start and don't have as big a burden of student loans. You may have seen Arebelspy around the forums - he and his wife are teachers who will be financially independent soon, and I think they are late 20s/early 30s (if you're around Rebel, correct me if I'm wrong). Pretty much the earliest a doctor can start earning a good salary is around 29 or 30, and that's if they go straight through. I'm a 31 year-old pediatrician and I'm sure he has far more net worth than I do. It's like a tortoise vs. hare scenario except that the hare is released from his cage later and has to wear heavy student loan debts around his neck. And there are a lot of foolish hares out there. The race is a lot shorter too if we're specifically talking about ER rather than retiring at 65.

I can't imagine how much wealth a frugal MMM doctor would be throwing around vs a MMM teacher....

When you use the phrase "throwing around," it makes me think you are still way too focused on looking at status symbols as a sign of wealth. If you're throwing money around, chances are you're probably not wealthy. I would consider myself a frugal doctor, and I don't throw my money around so that I can try to build up some wealth: I have a 2001 car I bought used, live in a small apt with my husband for 700/month (good for Chicago), no TV let alone cable, always pack my lunch, mostly cook at home from scratch, etc. Probably similar lifestyle to a lot of Mustachians on here. I really would recommend reading The Millionaire Next Door. I am most definitely grateful that I am finally earning a good salary, but I am not letting that go to my head.

Most of the docs I know who are FI, I reckon would be FI no matter what job they had. Sure they've had a really good income  and so their results are spectacular, but I bet they'd be FI  as teachers also, although maybe their lifestyle would be pitched at a less expensive level.

+1

AmyGarfield

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Re: Quit medicine to pursue teaching?
« Reply #37 on: June 30, 2013, 09:27:01 AM »
All good points people. But the earning income of most physicians far exceeds the earning potential of any teacher. So if you put them side by side and have them both apply the same principals of saving and frugality, the doctor will still come out ahead. Their ability to earn far exceeds the teacher's, and even taking into account their loans, they are going to come out ahead.

Yes, some doctors may overspend, and buy too many status symbols, but that doesn't mean that they didn't have the potential to be far wealthier/FI earlier. And many of them, if they are managing wisely or are in the right specialties, are likely able to afford such things. The doctors I know who have retired are living vastly different lifestyles than the teachers I know. I'm going to guess that since these doctors are retired and are living quite well, that they are able to afford this lifestyle.

Mushroom-- I get the whole Millionaire Next Door Concept. I really do. But it's just silly to say that someone who has the capacity to earn upwards of 300k, 500k, even 1 million makes less than someone who will never earn more than 80k a year. With good management, both will do well. But to say the doctor will do about the same is just silly. Only if he/she blows it all!  Your logic is flawed.

AmyGarfield

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Re: Quit medicine to pursue teaching?
« Reply #38 on: June 30, 2013, 09:29:06 AM »
Quote
A frugal teacher and a frugal doctor will not end up in the same financial scenarios at age 65.

Yes I agree with you here :)

Quote
But you're never gonna convince me that they make more over time than a teacher.

Umm I thought that your argument was that doctors earn more than teachers?

Typo, sorry. Obviously I meant to say that doctors won't earn less than a teacher.

Katnina

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Re: Quit medicine to pursue teaching?
« Reply #39 on: June 30, 2013, 01:50:45 PM »
just want to put this facepunch out there:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/12/opinion/12sibert.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

My mom is a pediatric endocrinologist, and is still practicing at 65.  I get how hard it can be, how frustratingly little pay can be relative to expectations out of med school, but you should have thought about that before committing to it.   There is a shortage of doctors, and by getting an MD, you took a spot away from someone else who wanted one & may have used their degree for the common good.

Why not practice medicine for a while to at least give back to us, the taxpayers, for funding your education, and then become a teacher?  If you want better work/life balance, why not work at an urgent care facility or pharmacy-run minute clinic, where you will have more say over your schedule, make decent $$, save a ton of it and then become a teacher once you are FI?
Or at least teach medicine so you are giving back to the profession.



mushroom

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Re: Quit medicine to pursue teaching?
« Reply #40 on: June 30, 2013, 02:00:51 PM »
But to say the doctor will do about the same is just silly.

I think if you expect both doctor and teacher to work until 65, then the doctor obviously has a higher earning potential. 

But if we are talking about FIRE and if the goal is just to retire as early as possible, I don't think the physician path is the quickest. Thanks to the earlier start, a teacher really could retire earlier than a physician depending on how well they save and spend. Like I said, I think Arebelspy has much more net worth than I do even though 1) he and his wife are both teachers while my husband and I are both professionals (who just happened to spend a lot of time getting a Ph.D. and MD respectively), 2) I think we're about the same age, if not older than they are, and 3) I would consider all of us frugal.

Hypothetical: Teacher starts teaching at 22 and saves 60% of her salary to reach ER in 12.5 years, or 34 years old. A doctor who has gone straight through college, medical school, and the shortest 3-year residency program most likely starts her career as an attending with negative net worth at 29. Let's say that she was really aggressive with debt repayment in residency and her first year as an attending and miraculously pays off all her loans by the time she's 30 and finally gets to start from 0. Then she saves 85% of her salary because it is higher to reach ER in 4 years, or when she's 34, at the same time as a teacher, except that she worked 80-hour weeks during residency so her average hourly wage including time in medical school is probably lower than a teacher's.

And if we're talking about gross numbers, spending 40% of 55,000 (average teacher's salary) is 22K and spending 15% of 135000 (average starting salary for general pediatrician since we're assuming they will work for a much shorter period of time, and it's even worse if you're in a big city) is 20K, not even considering the much higher tax burden for the pediatrician. So if anything, I'm being really generous with the savings capability of the pediatrician above.

Anyway, you can argue with my numbers or say that other specialties have a lot higher earning potential (often with longer residencies and fellowships to go along with them) or whatever, but I think if ER is your main goal, I would not encourage you to go the physician route. My gross pay is about twice the gross pay of a teacher's, which I'm definitely grateful for, but teachers also got about a 10-year head start on me. And as a general pediatrician not working in a hospital, I really doubt I would ever get to the 300K you mention.

mushroom

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Re: Quit medicine to pursue teaching?
« Reply #41 on: June 30, 2013, 02:40:50 PM »
just want to put this facepunch out there:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/12/opinion/12sibert.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

My mom is a pediatric endocrinologist, and is still practicing at 65.  I get how hard it can be, how frustratingly little pay can be relative to expectations out of med school, but you should have thought about that before committing to it.   There is a shortage of doctors, and by getting an MD, you took a spot away from someone else who wanted one & may have used their degree for the common good.

Why not practice medicine for a while to at least give back to us, the taxpayers, for funding your education, and then become a teacher?  If you want better work/life balance, why not work at an urgent care facility or pharmacy-run minute clinic, where you will have more say over your schedule, make decent $$, save a ton of it and then become a teacher once you are FI?
Or at least teach medicine so you are giving back to the profession.

Oh man, that article made me mad the first time I read it and it still makes me mad! I say this as a female primary care doctor practicing full-time, too.

You know what's worse than a doctor not practicing medicine? A horribly unhappy burned-out doctor practicing medicine. Guess what, a doctor could easily end up killing someone that way. Besides, OP is not even in the US and talks about how her current job is in public health, anyway.

I and many other Americans value being able to make our own personal choices. Did you receive any federal grant money to attend college? How about any taxpayer money for your K-12 education? Are you being as productive member of society as you could be while you are retired and 32? How long do doctors have to work before they have given enough back to society and the taxpayers? Apparently part-time until 65 isn't enough for the op-ed columnist, but why doesn't she work more than full-time if she's capable of it? Why did she go and have 4 kids instead of devoting more time to medicine?

And you can say all you like how everyone who ends up leaving medicine should have foreseen that they would, but no matter how much you volunteer at a hospital or whatever beforehand, you really have no idea until you go through it yourself. I assume most people who apply to medical school do want to be doctors. I really doubt that people who end up leaving medicine find it an easy decision to make.

Hamster

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Re: Quit medicine to pursue teaching?
« Reply #42 on: June 30, 2013, 02:58:29 PM »
Dr vs Teacher lifetime earnings: Doc starts with much higher debt on average and a much later start on earning, but much higher salary. They begin in a deep hole, but build their savings ladder quickly. The typical teacher is in a shallower debt hole to start, and begins building the ladder of savings sooner, but the rate of ladder construction (income) is slower. So, the doc starts below the teacher, but will eventually catch up and pass the teacher if they both continue to work, and neither keeps digging their hole deeper through wasteful spending or keeping up with peers. It's just a question of when and how long you want your working career to be.

Hamster

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Re: Quit medicine to pursue teaching?
« Reply #43 on: June 30, 2013, 03:00:38 PM »
just want to put this facepunch out there:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/12/opinion/12sibert.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

My mom is a pediatric endocrinologist, and is still practicing at 65.  I get how hard it can be, how frustratingly little pay can be relative to expectations out of med school, but you should have thought about that before committing to it.   There is a shortage of doctors, and by getting an MD, you took a spot away from someone else who wanted one & may have used their degree for the common good.

Why not practice medicine for a while to at least give back to us, the taxpayers, for funding your education, and then become a teacher?  If you want better work/life balance, why not work at an urgent care facility or pharmacy-run minute clinic, where you will have more say over your schedule, make decent $$, save a ton of it and then become a teacher once you are FI?
Or at least teach medicine so you are giving back to the profession.

I don't buy into the argument that a physician should continue to practice for x years or not work part-time because of a perceived debt to society or the taxpayer. Although residency programs may be subsidized by medicare and federal grants, that is not really assistance to the residents, but rather to the hospitals, who pay residents less per hour than they pay nurses aids. The hospitals need residents to do the work - or hire others to do it for more money. If teaching hospitals weren't weren't receiving those subsidies they would charge more or cut services.

LowER

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Re: Quit medicine to pursue teaching?
« Reply #44 on: June 30, 2013, 03:00:52 PM »
Thank you mushroom.  I agree with everything you've said, so you saved me a lot of time typing.

Thanks again,
LER
« Last Edit: June 30, 2013, 03:03:20 PM by LowER »

KimPossible

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Re: Quit medicine to pursue teaching?
« Reply #45 on: June 30, 2013, 03:37:13 PM »
Mushroom, thank you.  You saved me a lot of time typing, too.

Katnina, are you facepunching physicians who are aiming for FIRE?

Katnina

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Re: Quit medicine to pursue teaching?
« Reply #46 on: June 30, 2013, 03:53:25 PM »
I understand how grueling it is to be a doctor-my mom did gen peds for a while after she was laid off from a hospital position and while she was starting up her peds endo practice.  However, I don't think it's fair to others who actually WANT to be doctors, for people who plan to FIRE to go to med school, taking up degree spots from others, while taxpayers are subsidizing medical education. So yes, I guess I am facepunching doctors who are aiming for FIRE, if they only went into medicine to make money.  If they went into medicine to make a difference/help others/do important research and then decide they have the goal of retiring early, more power to them. If they went into medicine because of ego and/or earning potential alone, our medical education system is too broken and our need for doctors too great for that to be acceptable, in my opinion.

If the goal is FIRE, why even become a doctor in the first place!? So much schooling, student loans, loss of sleep, residency, fellowships, etc. means income doesn't start until one is almost in their 30's (as mentioned above).  I have friends who are just now starting their first real doctor jobs, and owe $200k+ in student loans. Most of them, luckily, actually want to practice medicine, and didn't go into it just for the prestige.  I know other people who have gone into the field mainly for ego/$$ reasons, and they all seem miserable.

Not saying that was anyone on the forum's motivation either, but it is a pet peeve of mine.   And I sold my soul to Wall Street for nearly 10 years, so who am I to judge?!  Luckily, my k-12 and bachelor's degree were privately funded by my parents, but I'm not as productive a member of society as I could be, now that i am retired, though I do volunteer a lot and donated a lot of $$$ to charities over my working years.
« Last Edit: June 30, 2013, 04:57:26 PM by Katnina »

KimPossible

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Re: Quit medicine to pursue teaching?
« Reply #47 on: June 30, 2013, 05:48:02 PM »
Katnina,

With all due respect, most of us made the decision to become physicians when we were about 18-20 years old--the idea of FIRE was nowhere on my radar. 

In order to get accepted to medical school, we busted our butts in undergrad, studied like crazy, and jumped through a whole lot of hoops.  I can't speak for the rest of the physicians here, but I worked my ass off to "take a degree spot from others".

Once accepted to medical school, there were the four years of study, three of which were unlike anything else I'd ever experienced before (I'll admit, fourth year was pretty nice).  I studied a lot to get through organic chemistry, but holy crap, I'd never been in a situation where my notes for one test created a pile five inches high.  And that was for one test out of three or four for the week.  In addition to the innumerable hours, I spent about $65,000 in tuition for the privilege of having taxpayers subsidize my busting my ass.

During residency, as noted above by Hamster, we worked very hard to take care of our patients (residents do a huge percentage of the patient care at academic medical centers).  When I was in residency, 80-120 hour weeks were common during ward months. 

After many years (12, in my case, from undergrad to finishing residency), we are finally free to start practicing medicine.  Well, as it turns out, practicing medicine kind of sucks.  Sure, I'd love to have known that before I spent 12 years of my life working my ass off to get here, but it's pretty damn hard to know what it's actually like to practice medicine until you actually get there.

Most of the doctors I know feel the same way I do.  Given the percentage of physicians who are unhappy with medicine, I think it's safe to say that those people we "took spots from" wouldn't be shining beacons of benevolence, but would be just as unhappy as we are.

So, yeah, I'm aiming for FIRE.  I went into medicine to make a difference, and my patients tell me that I do.  But it's not enough.  I like taking care of patients, but the constant threat of litigation and the ever increasing amount of interference (both administration and governmental) make it a very unpleasant job.  Given that I invested a WHOLE lot more of my time, sweat, tears, money, and life in my education and training than "the taxpayers" did, I don't really care what they think about my goal to FIRE.

For what it's worth, I know two physicians who went into medicine for the money/prestige.  Interestingly, they're pretty happy with their careers.  It's the ones of us who wanted to make a difference who aren't happy.



Hamster

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Re: Quit medicine to pursue teaching?
« Reply #48 on: June 30, 2013, 06:38:21 PM »
When I'm in the exam room with my patients, I enjoy those moments 90+% of the time. It is an amazing privilege to get to know and be trusted by children and their parents. As soon as I come out and have to deal with the busy work that interferes with taking care of patients, though... that's when I think about FIRE, or at least cutting back to part-time. Since about 1/4-1/3 of my work day ends up being paperwork or busy work outside of the exam room, it makes for a fair amount of dreaming about a better way. The frustrating part isn't practicing medicine; it's everything that gets in the way of practicing medicine. I am a big believer in reducing costs and improving quality, but our system somehow equates increasing complexity with good care... so the number of clicks and checkboxes is steadily growing...

As a quick example, when I see old chart notes from an ear-infection visit from 18 years ago, the doc would summarize all the salient parts of the visit in 3-4 sentences. Now the same note is a page long, and practically unreadable so it has enough elements to not be denied by the insurers...

The money part really doesn't bother me. As a primary care pediatrician, earning the industry-average of nearly $200,000 per year, I have nothing to complain about in absolute financial terms. It's more money than anybody needs, although I selfishly (?) don't think that the orthopedists, anesthesiologists, or radiologists deserve to make 2-3+ times what a pediatrician earns (nor the i-bankers...). The part that bothers me is the general suck factor and lack of value of the non-clinical parts of the job and the morale that seems to be worsening over the last 5 years.

Sorry for the rant. I do realize how fortunate I am and how much worse things could be, and I'm actually a pretty happy guy. I'd be happier working half-time, but am sticking at full-time for a while longer to accumulate a bit more stache. These are first world problems if there ever were any.
« Last Edit: June 30, 2013, 11:04:24 PM by Hamster »

Zamboni

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Re: Quit medicine to pursue teaching?
« Reply #49 on: June 30, 2013, 07:54:29 PM »
Quote
And in a perfect world, hospitals and clinics could keep more female doctors working full time by setting up child care centers with long operating hours on site.

This op ed column is offensive on so many levels that I don't even know where to begin. 

The AMA lobby has successfully kept the number of MD's awarded low for years.  It keeps salaries high, but at what cost?  Why should doctors have to work longer hours that anyone else?  I don't want a burned out physician treating me, and I'm starting to get that vibe A LOT! 

I say double the number of MD's and let them all work 20-30 hours per week for $100-$150K.  Restrict hours like they do for commercial airline pilots (or at least used to do, that job has gone into the shitter lately, too.) That would be better for everyone involved.