Wednesday, November 09, 2005


I have reached the brick wall.
I would like to have a job that I enjoy and that pays me well enough to enjoy my life as I want to.
My current job pays me well enough but I do not particularly enjoy it. My pay will rise gradually over the next 10 years but I envisage that I will remain unhappy and continue to feel the same sinking feeling every day as I approach 9am.
So I need to find a job I enjoy more, possibly sacrificing some of my salary to do so. Within medicine, the jobs with the most regular hours (GP, Dermatology, etc) are ones I am not particularly interested in. The jobs with the best pay (surgery) do interest me but I am not prepared to sacrifice my life to become good at them.
So do I leave medicine? I will lose the good salary and the job security. I will hopefully also lose the stress and misery that working in the NHS can bring. Or will I? Will I end up doing an office job somewhere which is just as stressful and be earning less doing it?
There is no easy answer. My final plan may be to continue to get my exams, and once I have those under my belt quit medicine and see what happens. I think a short break will be in order. But what will that actually achieve? Will it just be a waste of time that makes it harder to progress in a career?
When I say I have reached the brick wall, what I mean is that I have reached the point when I honestly feel that thinking about the issue more will not help in any way. The fundamental problem is that I want to be successful and happy in my career and my life outside work, and medicine is not providing that. I may have to accept that I will not be fortunate enough to achieve job satisfaction, and spend my time trying to make the rest of my life as good as it can be.
On the other hand, if you think about the fact you only have one life to live then why would you want to waste over half of it doing something you don't enjoy? Sometimes I feel like jacking all of this in, just in case I get hit by a bus in 10 years - at least I could say I had fun while I was alive. What if you spend your twenties and thirties working towards something and then it all ends? Would you look back and say "well, at least I tried" or would you think "shit, I wish I had spent the last ten years with friends/travelling/partying/gambling(substitute your own vice)".
Now I'm not suggesting it is sensible to live every day as if you are going to be dead next month (that would lead to chaos), but doing a job like mine you see plenty of "fit and well" young men and women coming in and dying within days/weeks/months. It makes you think about your own life and whether or not you are making the most of it.
I am now going to listen to some Portishead, and try and do some more revision for my exam which may not actually be of any use to me in the future but it might be so I will try and pass it and if I pass it it means I can get out the NHS quicker.
I am going to get caned on Friday night.


Anonymous said...

Working in a similar field as you, i have a faint understanding of what it must be like for a doctor to live the way they do. The busy work schedules, the pressure they face everyday with the decisions they have to make and the phone calls they get at 4am in the morning about one of their sick patients. You seem to be unsure about wether to stay in this profession or not and the way i look at it is, life to me is what i want it to be. That for me is enjoyment, laughter, fun, love and a sucessful career. My job is part of this however, i do not want my job to over power my life. I realise you have worked hard to get where you are and i know you are good at what you do, however from what you have written you do not seem to be happy. As you said you only live once and in the profession we are in, we see so many things that make us think about our own lives and wether we are living them the way we want to. I do not think that anyone can provide you with the answer you are looking for, however maybe what i have written will make you think about some things you have not thought of. However form what you have written, i think you all ready know the answers to the questions you have asked us.

Ami said...

Maybe a change of field?????????
You're too good a doc to leave medicine for good, though obviously if you're that p####d off with it you definitely need a break. Maybe change to a specialty where you're learning new skills, you get to do things independently (say..... give anaesthetics) and where once you reach the top there's plenty of private work, it's very easy to go part time cos you only work in sessions (so just do less sessions) and everyone you work around enjoys their job , oh and you can just sit and laugh as the consultant surgeon throws his toys. You then get the best of both worlds; an enjoyable well paid job but with the option of not working full time so you still have your life. Sure you can probably do that in other specialties too. Am loving my job at the moment and gutted for you that you aren't mate.§or=3&classification=26&subClass%5B2280%5D=on&Submit=Search\n\n

Anonymous said...

Howdy from Oz,

My Advice - things are just as shit at the bottom as they are at the top, only you get paid less. I used to be a bar tender and had the same sinking feeling every time I started work and still get patches of it in my finance job now.

If you were to change, what would you do anyway?

Anonymous said...

I do know what you mean about life satisfaction, I have moments of wondering why the hell I've picked a specialty that involves such a high chance of being up all night... but it just feels right. I have to say, most of my friends have been fairly happy in medicine (or just haven't confided otherwise) but we do all have moments of despairing over the job vs life thing. One guy in my year
walked out during his PRHO jobs, so I hear, but after 6 or 12 months out (when I believe he started training as a pilot?) he's returned to medicine. Most
people I've spoken to who have had serious doubts have taken 6 months out and gone and done other things eg worked in the city, and the vast majority have come back. But I think that time was probably helpful in showing them where
they wanted to go. Most said that compared to medicine, city work was just dull, dull, dull and they didn't enjoy sitting at a desk / computer all day.

The other thing to bear in mind is that any high-powered well-paid job will probably involve similar hours and stress admittedly not in such a literal life-and-death sense. A friend from school is a lawyer and she works long days
into the nights regularly, plus some weekends. Yes, they don't do weeks of nights like we do, but it is still long, stressful work on occasion.

Most of my friends who have had issues with quality of life vs hospital medicine have now started GP training. I do know what you mean about doing GP as I personally am not sure I could stand it - all those snotty nosed kids with coughs, depressed people, and elderly people who just want to go somewhere warm
and talk to someone... But it is a fantastic quality of life, there's no doubts about that, and the pay is bloody good too. In the future if my situation changes who knows, maybe I'll go to GP land too. I've had friends go sideways into GP after doing med / paeds / O&G, and another friend change from surgery
to A&E. They're all much happier. One of my friends has her MRCP (all parts) and has now gone into GP training. I told her she was MAD to put herself under all that stress when she knew she wasn't going to be a physician, but she says it'll let her do many more things once she's a GP. I know certainly some GPs have a specialty interest in certain things and do eg one hospital DM clinic a week / one A&E session a week etc etc. Maybe that would be something to consider?

The other alternative would be, what did you think of life out heren (Australia)? You could certainly continue with your surfing outside of work... A friend from med school came out here for 6 months after PRHO jobs and stayed for 18 months. He then went home to a year's ITU rotation, and has now just emigrated out here with his Australian fiancee. He's a v keen windsurfer which I'm sure was also a factor.

The other thing would be to find a sympathetic senior (ie probably NOT a surgeon!) to talk to, mentor-esque, who may or may not have been through the same thing but may be able to help.

DO talk to as many people as you can, DO try and weigh things up (I know you say you're sick of thinking, but...), DON'T make any rush decisions.

MsD said...

u need a loooooooooooooong holiday. i guess u've probably got into med school right after high school? 6 years of study then 2-3 years later long days-night work. mate, u really need a break. take 6 months off- go traveling- join some organisation that works in the 3rd world and be a Doc there- or just stay home be a bum go out with friends-get a girl/boy friend (that may add to teh stres through) - just chillout ey? then u can clear ur head - decide what u wanna do- and medicine isn't gonna go away so u can always come back and there will always be demand for your skills.
don't let the money/salary decide what u should be doin with your life- as u said- life could be over tomorrow.

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

It is so hard when you pursue a love as a profession, only to discover that it does not fit well within you. I have worked with many people who experience what you are going through. I think it would be great if you could talk to someone. I know time is not easy to come by with your training, but I am certain that you will find a way to bring compromise and happiness in your life with professional guidance. I wish you continued success in all aspects of your life!


Heidi said...

I saw your comment on Deb's blog

I'm so sorry your going through this...I hope things will work and your dreams fulfilled....

Hugs to you.

Anonymous said...

Mate, it's 6.50am...just coming to the slow end of my first night...arrived at work at 1330 for a supposed lecture which didn't happen, and have now been here for the last 17.5 hours, though i am only paid for 12. Why is it we put ourselves through this? Like yourself, I have asked myself similar wuestions, but ultimately I think we thrive on learning and few jobs can guarantee this for a lifetime. Stress, frustration, boredom, poor quality of life due to shift work, the perpetual need to study and pursue projects to stay ahead of the rat race that has defined medicine for many negatives, but at the end of the day, the hope that we may be stimulated, and the gratification from knowing that we have made a small difference is often enough to keep me going. I know few people with your talent in this profession...I hope you hold on to the positive aspects that medicine offers...we will be worse of without you. Your fellow Vegas buddy...

Anonymous said...

You want to try being a f*****g psychiatric nurse. We do all your work for half your pay

Anonymous said...

Poppet, is Portishead a good choice of music if you're feeling down?
I think it would make me feel worse - but each to their own.

Anonymous said...

no we dont.

Poetry said...

Yes, I understand job despair. I have a PhD in English, and I've been stuck doing contract work since I was 21 and that's 25 years ago. I don't mind part-time work, but always have to supplement it with other little jobs. What I can't stand is the ostracism and harrassment of bosses. A person can end up feeling completely isolated, and there have been instancces when the bosses were so cruel and offputting that it was frightening. I too have come to the end. I've looked for something else to do, but nothing seems to work out. I have to earn an income, because I live from month to month as a single person. The rent has to get paid.