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My daughter just finished her freshmen year of high school and continues to express interest to join the medical field as a physician.
Of course, as a parent, there is an initial sense of pride that swells when hearing that information.
Most families, particularly those of the Asian/Indian descent place a premium in the “white collar jobs,” namely physicians, engineers, and lawyers.
Education is highly emphasized in the Eastern cultures and many view obtaining an MD degree as the pinnacle of success for both the family that raised the physician and the physician him/herself.
There is a particularly strong expectation that a child follow his or her mother’s/father’s footsteps, particularly if one or both parents are physicians as well.
As mentioned previously, my father was a physician (Internist) and there was a strong push for me to become a doctor myself.
Luckily it was a career path that I would have followed without this “strong encouragement,” as I naturally gravitated to and excelled in the sciences (although I wonder how much of that was due to the environment I was in, as my father would be a great source of information for the main science subjects giving me certain advantages).
I do feel that my daughter is at the same stage I was when I first expressed my desire to become a doctor.
She (and I) only saw the trappings of a physician life and had no inkling of the dedication, commitment and sacrifice needed to achieve this.
We both grew up in beautiful homes, traveled in nice cars, ate nice food, and took nice vacations.
Who wouldn’t want to continue this lifestyle?
My daughter is smart enough already to recognize that this lifestyle requires a certain income to achieve it and that there are only so many professions that would make this a viable option (she unfortunately has also inherited my lack of physical prowess so I’m afraid being the next Tiger Woods or Lebron James would be a longshot).
So why do I feel hesitant giving her my full endorsement in her chosen career path?
Yes, her becoming a physician would give me a deep sense of satisfaction.
It would indicate that I raised her right and gave her the opportunities/advantages to succeed.
It would mean that I truly would not have to worry about her economic future as she would be in possession of the skills necessary to earn a high paying job for as long as she needed and there will always be a demand for her talents.
But I also consider the often not talked about darkness/shadows that cling to the medical profession that could consumer her:
Placing a large target on her back by people trying to seek economic gain.
The amount of sacrifice not only to achieve an MD but the subsequent 3-5+ years working less than minimum wage, sleep deprivation, and the expectation to assimilate large volumes of knowledge constantly.
The likelihood that she will be carrying student loans from graduate school that, by the time she graduates, would dwarf mine (and I know what a struggle it was for me to get that beast off my back).
[I do hope to fully fund her undergraduate education to pass along the same financial headstart my parents gave me]
That as a female she will have tougher choices trying to maintain a proper family/work balance that society expects, which, as a male, I feel I get let off the hook some.
Even as a practicing attending the headaches do not stop, with increasing paperwork, declining reimbursements, and increasing costs that have created a medical environment where doctors are looking for alternatives to earn a living (FIRE community being a direct result of that).
The “Golden Age of Medicine,” if there ever was one, is long by the wayside.
This entire process changes people.
I know it did me.
I worry it will do the same for my daughter.
In the end I have come to the conclusion that no matter what my daughter chooses, medical or non-medical, I will support her decision fully.
If she does try to follow my footsteps I will do my best to offer insight of what it truly is like to earn that MD degree (I feel this conversation will come when she’s a bit older).
The tiebreaker in this thought process was if I myself had to do it all over again, knowing what I know now, would I still become a radiologist?
The answer is yes (as I mentioned before, being Lebron James was out of the question).
Even though it was a tough journey, the point where I am now has more than made up for it.
I am hoping that the medical climate does not change too much so that she too can enjoy the privilege of being able to practice medicine.
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Man, that would be a tough conversation. I am not sure what I would say if my kids wanted to go into medicine. I’ll also say that you don’t wanna be LeBron James either after he missed those free throws and lost that game last night, either! I think on my trek towards medicine I completely bypassed the thought of becoming an entrepreneur, which I’ve really enjoyed. And, truth be told, people trained in a skills profession (mechanic, plumber, electrician, beutician, etc) would likely far outpace most college grads if they knew something about money from the onset. Can you… Read more »
Appreciate you stopping by and commenting TPP. Yeah it is a mixed bag feeling when my daughter first brought it up. I agree with you about how skill professions could easily trump most college grad earning potentials if they were able to apply sound finance principals and get a decade head start. If my daughter does choose to go into medicine I hope that it will not be even more regulated/clerical in nature than it is currently (which I feel is too much already)
Wow, what a blessing to have such an ambitious daughter!
I definitely understand your hesitations regarding loan burden, burnout and life balance. Is it a situation where she can continue to study hard and take the appropriate classes (that would allow for the option of med school), but decide later? I know how competitive it is, but that’s such a major decision for an 8th grader! With your guidance and first-hand knowledge, I’m sure she will stay on course for what’s best in the end.
Thanks MFM for stopping by. Yeah she has awhile to make that final decision on whether to attend med school or not. Most majors in college satisfy the basic core requirements needed. The big thing for me (and I’m sure it effected me too) is that as kids we only see the end result of being a doctor (ie the money aspect). If she goes into it with eyes wide open and hopefully not for monetary reasons then I think she could still have a good career in medicine (if it is money oriented there are so many other professions… Read more »
As someone who was bound for medicine from the time I could essentially walk, I honestly don’t know if anything could have derailed me from my goal which is ironic given that my entire blog is a compilation of wistful regret. What I do wish is that I had more honest conversations about what a career in medicine would look like and how it would change me. I’m was the first in my family to make it to a post-graduate degree, so I didn’t have that mentorship that I’m sure you will provide for your daughter. Ultimately, your daughter will… Read more »
Great point Millennial Doc about concern of stunting growth and providing support. The best I can do is tell her exactly what it takes to become a physician a little later on and also some of the changes in the medical climate that may effect her more in the future. The way education costs are rising and reimbursements are decreasing is a very scary combination that young docs are going to have to address.
My daughter, a junior in high school, has recently made the same declaration. She indicated that she specifically wanted to be an ENT (!).
I am not sure that she has the grit or commitment to take this on, but we will support her so long as it is her goal.
That is my take on it as well. Give all the emotional support (and some financial) to let my kid choose her career path. It is a great feeling for both of us knowing that we must have done something right for our progeny to want to follow our footsteps 🙂
We all knew people in med school who were there for the wrong reasons. Med school and residency isn’t worth it just because your dad and grandfather were doctors too. I think you are right to take a cautious approach. Let her take the wheel and be there as a resource if she needs it. If one of my three kids wanted to be a doctor I would neither encourage or discourage it. Just make sure she’s doing it because she wants to (not because she thinks she’s supposed to). If she’s anything like me she’ll cycle through 10 different… Read more »
Options… they’re great to have. It’s interesting to replay decisions that you’ve made in the past and try to decide if you’d make the same call knowing what you know now. Sure there are benefits to doing it all over again, but taking the licks is what gives us the experience. I think your daughter will benefit from the support system she has in place regardless of her choice – which will ultimately help her out in the long run. And at such a young age, it’s exciting to think about all the options…
Good luck, Dad
Thanks Mike for the encouragement. Yeah I probably would do it all over again knowing what I know now but I honestly would dread having to go through medical school again (especially first 2 years where it is all book knowledge). Thanks for stopping by!
Awesome she is ambitious. I suppose I am cautious about wanting my son to go into medicine at this time or anytime soon. It’s just not what it used to be. I hope it changes by the time my son has to decide these things.
He’s only 1, although he “picked” the stethoscope at his 1 yr bday party.
Awww. Sounds like you may have a budding early doctor on your hands as well 🙂 It is an interesting time for medicine to be honest. I am not sure by the time she reaches that age if the practice of medicine will be even recognizable compared to what it is today. I am sure in a couple of decades artificial intelligence will play a major role in medical care making some specialties (gasp radiologist) obsolete. I am more concerned about attacking the issues of burnout more than anything. I don’t want her to sacrifice so much if she does… Read more »
Medicine is essentially our family trade . My parents encouraged medicine but allowed us to do whatever we wanted to do in college. I did computer science and I my brother did Econ but we both ended up in Med school and eventually in Emergency Medicine. I wouldn’t discourage it based on the current climate. Things will always keep changing and it’s hard to predict where we will be in 20 years. Were all the physician parents wrong when they encouraged medicine during the Golden years? No because they couldn’t predict burnout, suicide and suits changing the field. Just like… Read more »
That is a wonderful take on things Dr. Linus. Glad your parents gave you free will to do what you wanted and you still chose the medical path. I have to say that being brought up in my household I really was very strongly encouraged to go into medicine. It felt like almost any other career would have been a disappointment. This was mainly from my mother (the same one who pushed me into an ill-fated arranged marriage) and not my dad who died too early to have great conversations on a medical career and what it really entailed. I… Read more »
The good news is it doesn’t matter what she says she wants to be when she is in the 8th grade. She will likely change her mind a few times before she arrives. 80% of the Freshmen who entered Stanford with me were pre-med and pre-law. Stanford did not graduate 80% in those fields. Organic Chemistry took out most of the pre-meds. Just encourage her and support what she is thinking at the time. If it ends up medicine, 15 years from now when she is a resident, medicine will be very different than it is now. It’s hard to… Read more »
Very true. I think the natural course to become a doctor does have a natural selection phenomena to it. I do love the trend that NYU has made med school tuition free to its class, if more schools follow suit it would certainly renew my faith in a career choice in this field. Thanks for stopping by as always.
As others mentioned her ambition will give her guaranteed success, no matter what she does. She’ll be FIRE by 35 😉
That would be awesome if should do that, beat her old dad by a good 15-20 years 🙂
Thanks for stopping by 🙂
Medicine is still a noble profession. If my daughter wanted to do it, I would support her. She has a lot of years left to decide! 🙂
Thanks DMF. Definitely a lot of years left for her to run the entire career gamut. As long as she is happy I know I did a good job raising her.
My kids have shown zero interest in medicine so far. Let’s just say we don’t actively encourage it. ? The workforce is changing at breakneck speed, and I’m excited to see what sort of opportunities lie ahead for our children. There will be jobs that do not currently exist. There will be continued innovation and growth in response to the challenges that we will always face as a society. I am hopeful that they will rise to the occasion!
Excellent point that there are likely a lot of jobs that haven’t been even created yet. Thanks for stopping by
When my daughter was in high school she took one of those interest/aptitude surveys and in a nod to Vagabond suggested she should be an interventional radiologist. I neither encouraged nor discouraged her from medicine but suggested she only pursue it if she really wanted it, not because it might please someone like Mom and Dad. Fast forward to college she did take some premed courses but decided medicine wasn’t for her. The courses were fine but she didn’t like dealing with the ultra competitive nature of the premed crowd. She ended up graduating with a degree in informatics and… Read more »
Glad your daughter is doing what she is meant to do and didn’t feel any external parental pressure. That is the right way to do it
Would I become a doctor again? I’m not sure. Knowing what I do now about FI and FIRE and the journey that an MD demands and continues to demand makes it hard to convincingly come down on the pro-MD side of that question. I probably could be happy in any number of professions and that is probably true for most people. Knowing that by this time in life I could be nearly financially independent if I started down this path in my 20’s is somewhat mind blowing. As for Baby Kpeds, I’m with most of you in that I’ll encourage… Read more »
Appreciate the detailed comment Kpeds. Like you I am not sure what if I would have chosen the same profession knowing the level of sacrifice needed to get to this point. Once in here it is nice but like you said you could be FI a lot earlier in pretty much any other profession. Hope both our kids make wise choices and that they will be happy with them
Both my children are in university now. I tell them that there is no “job charming”. That is the problem I have seen with folks who chose Medicine, they believe it is suppose to solve all their life’s problems. Um, it doesn’t.
I figure my kids will figure it out. If they don’t like what they end up doing, they can always change. No wasting time and energy on regrets.
That is smart advice. Medicine definitely does not solve all life’s problems and in fact can create more. Yeah I think part of the process is trusting your kids to make decisions on their own and deal with the consequences. That’s how we all learn and if they do’t like it, they can gain experiences to see what they need to avoid in future in order to be happy.
I considered being a doctor, or vet. I also had also strong interest in science. As I got some self awareness in high school that lack of sleep made me very grumpy and that I wasn’t sure my emotional personality was well suited for bad news, I reconsidered that option. I ended up in the pharmaceutical field, still helping people, but without a sleep deprived residency. ?
There are related careers out there, keep exploring without a ‘doctor or not doctor’ as the only options. ?
That is wonderful you recognized some of the pitfalls of a potential career and pivoted to find a career better suited. Pharmaceutical field is a great option in my opinion as well. Thanks for stopping by
This hits home for me because my daughter is a HS senior and wants to start premed next fall. I know it’s a noble – and lucrative career but I too worry about the enormous dedication, the liability and the insurance issues. I don’t want to discourage her but I worry about what she’s up against. My niece started a premed major and switched halfway through. She’s now a physicians assistant and doing very well. I guess it’s a road they need to travel down themselves but I agree, its tough to see them struggle.
Thanks Bill for stopping by and sharing your personal story regarding this. It really is tough for me because I have no idea what medicine will be like 15+ years down the road from now. There has been a disturbing trend the past 15 years or more and honestly there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. As the population ages, there will be more demand on medical care straining the budget. There is only so much of the pie medical care can take. So the quick and easy fix for government would be to reduce reimbursements which they… Read more »