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Old 01-08-2012, 05:01 PM   #1  
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Default Leaving the career for med school

Long story short, I am getting real sick and tired of it all. Eagle in bankruptcy, Pinnacle looking for pay cuts (Good job on standing up to management), Gojet/TSA fiasco. Ten years ago I would of never imagined considering anything but someting involving aviation as a career. Now the thought of going to medical school is sounding a lot more appealing and has been lingering in my head longer than I anticipated it would: Expect to make six figures after completing residency, home every night, constantly a shortage of qualified personal, etc, etc. ER doctors work around 30 hours a week and make just under $400k a year. They also have a "reserve" systems similar to airport ready reserve, where doctors get top notch facilities and are on standby waiting for ER patients. I can keep going on and on about how well they have it, but I know there must also be some negative aspects to this career.

I am in my mid twenties and I don't think it's too late even if it means four years of medical school and four more years of residency. My questions for APC members are:

-Am I nuts?

-Has anyone heard of an airline pilot leaving the career and going to medical school?

-At the end what specialty did the former pilot choose?

-Were they happy/satisfied after they left?

I appreciate everyones opinion and advice.
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Old 01-08-2012, 05:17 PM   #2  
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You're never too late for med school. With that said the grass isn't always greener. Doctors are taking huge paycuts. You definitely aren't guaranteed $400,000 right out of residency. Surgeons make between $400 and 600k. General practitioners and ER doctors are more in the $150-200k range (I could be wrong). Sure you're not going to be poor, but the hours and headaches are there just as much as you see in the airlines. Lot's of school and student loans ahead with no guarantee on your return. Not to mention the health care system debacle that is going on in our country.

With that said I joined a doctor forum similar to our airline forum a few years back when I was considering making the cross over to be a Pilot Physician in the Air Force. You'd be surprised how many...

"I'm thinking about leaving medicine and becoming a pilot" threads you will find on their forums. Like I said the grass isn't always greener.

The fact of the matter is both of our professions require a great deal of commitment, both financial and mental dedication, for many years before you see any return on your investment.

Personally I made my decision after talking to a lot of my doctor friends. Like I said we all have to pay our dues at the beginning, but when I finally make it to the top I want a lot of time off and that's not something doctors have a lot of. They work long hours and have a lot of headaches from insurance companies, medicare, etc. Sure they have the edge in the salary department, but I think I'd rather make a little less, but work a whole lot less and know that when I come home I'm leaving my work at work. Just my .02.

Good luck!
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Old 01-08-2012, 05:27 PM   #3  
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Another idea you might consider is becoming a Physician Assistant, I don't know if your familiar with it but this is something I've been thinking about for a long time. The benefit of this is the program is usually about 2 years, although you must meet prereqs. There is no residency, thus less debt. Also many jobs and you can work in any area of medicine. You won't make MD money, but you would start around 80k and go up to 6 figs. Just something to consider. I like the idea of making money in 2 years as opposed to 4 years of med school, which means 2 less years of paying and 2 more years you are making money,
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Old 01-08-2012, 05:29 PM   #4  
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My family doc continually *itches about insurance - liability and the paperwork involved in getting a claim paid.

He just went "concierge" last year, went from 2400 patients to 600. The 600 kick in 1500/yr just to see him (our insurance pays this!). He says he's busier than ever now. His hours are longer, works Saturdays, and the 600 have his cell phone #.

At least he has small fingers.
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Old 01-08-2012, 05:29 PM   #5  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FLY6584 View Post
You're never too late for med school. With that said the grass isn't always greener. Doctors are taking huge paycuts. You definitely aren't guaranteed $400,000 right out of residency. Surgeons make between $400 and 600k. General practitioners and ER doctors are more in the $150-200k range (I could be wrong). Sure you're not going to be poor, but the hours and headaches are there just as much as you see in the airlines. Lot's of school and student loans ahead with no guarantee on your return. Not to mention the health care system debacle that is going on in our country.

With that said I joined a doctor forum similar to our airline forum a few years back when I was considering making the cross over to be a Pilot Physician in the Air Force. You'd be surprised how many...

"I'm thinking about leaving medicine and becoming a pilot" threads you will find on their forums. Like I said the grass isn't always greener.

The fact of the matter is both of our professions require a great deal of commitment, both financial and mental dedication, for many years before you see any return on your investment.

Personally I made my decision after talking to a lot of my doctor friends. Like I said we all have to pay our dues at the beginning, but when I finally make it to the top I want a lot of time off and that's not something doctors have a lot of. They work long hours and have a lot of headaches from insurance companies, medicare, etc. Sure they have the edge in the salary department, but I think I'd rather make a little less, but work a whole lot less and know that when I come home I'm leaving my work at work. Just my .02.

Good luck!
You are absolutely right. Commitment is everything and there are many similarities between the two career fields. I agree with you about paying your dues as well, but in the last 4 years it has been a never-ending cycle of paying your dues. Furloughs, bankruptcies, downsizing, etc, etc. I don't want to sound like an Occupy Wallstreet activist(because I am not), or the typical 20-year-old who expects everything to be given to him/her on a golden platter. I am just beginning to see that this cycle may continue for another 10 years before an opportunity may arise for a decent quality of life, and that to me is more important than anything else right now.

I think I need to read this doctor forum to better educate myself on what to expect.. Can I ask you to PM me a link to it?

Thanks for your input and advice.
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Old 01-08-2012, 05:36 PM   #6  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by splash333 View Post
Another idea you might consider is becoming a Physician Assistant, I don't know if your familiar with it but this is something I've been thinking about for a long time. The benefit of this is the program is usually about 2 years, although you must meet prereqs. There is no residency, thus less debt. Also many jobs and you can work in any area of medicine. You won't make MD money, but you would start around 80k and go up to 6 figs. Just something to consider. I like the idea of making money in 2 years as opposed to 4 years of med school, which means 2 less years of paying and 2 more years you are making money,
I was not familiar with that path. Definetly something I will be doing more research on this week....-thank you!
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Old 01-08-2012, 09:23 PM   #7  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by splash333 View Post
Another idea you might consider is becoming a Physician Assistant, I don't know if your familiar with it but this is something I've been thinking about for a long time. The benefit of this is the program is usually about 2 years, although you must meet prereqs. There is no residency, thus less debt. Also many jobs and you can work in any area of medicine. You won't make MD money, but you would start around 80k and go up to 6 figs. Just something to consider. I like the idea of making money in 2 years as opposed to 4 years of med school, which means 2 less years of paying and 2 more years you are making money,
The local university here has a program in this. But it is notoriously difficult to get into. First, they require an equivalent of 3 years of paid experience of direct patient care prior to even applying for the program, on top of the prereqs. They had 800 ish applicants to the program last year, interviewed 90, accepted 45.
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Old 01-08-2012, 10:09 PM   #8  
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You might read this article before you go into debt (again) chasing another career.

Small Business: Doctors going broke - Jan. 5, 2012

I would go the Physicians Assistant or RN route.

By the way, lawyers are no different. Law grads are pouring Starbucks because no jobs exist. 100K+ school debt.

good luck
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Old 01-09-2012, 06:36 AM   #9  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seven6 View Post

I think I need to read this doctor forum to better educate myself on what to expect.. Can I ask you to PM me a link to it?
No problem dude. I'll just post it on here for everyone to use...

forums dot studentdoctor dot net
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Old 01-09-2012, 04:00 PM   #10  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seven6 View Post
Long story short, I am getting real sick and tired of it all. Eagle in bankruptcy, Pinnacle looking for pay cuts (Good job on standing up to management), Gojet/TSA fiasco. Ten years ago I would of never imagined considering anything but someting involving aviation as a career. Now the thought of going to medical school is sounding a lot more appealing and has been lingering in my head longer than I anticipated it would: Expect to make six figures after completing residency, home every night, constantly a shortage of qualified personal, etc, etc. ER doctors work around 30 hours a week and make just under $400k a year. They also have a "reserve" systems similar to airport ready reserve, where doctors get top notch facilities and are on standby waiting for ER patients. I can keep going on and on about how well they have it, but I know there must also be some negative aspects to this career.

I am in my mid twenties and I don't think it's too late even if it means four years of medical school and four more years of residency. My questions for APC members are:

-Am I nuts?

-Has anyone heard of an airline pilot leaving the career and going to medical school?

-At the end what specialty did the former pilot choose?

-Were they happy/satisfied after they left?

I appreciate everyones opinion and advice.
Interesting dilemma - I think you need a lot more exposure to the medical field and what it means to be a physician. It is not sunshine and roses, but clear benefits and drawbacks to the career.

Your decision is really primarily not about salary, because the lifestyle choice that you are about to make will dominate your whole experience, er.., well, your whole life! If your reasons for becoming a physician are only as enumerated above (primarily financial), you will likely have a huge disappointment. You have to decide first, and foremost, "do I want to become a doctor." Salary will come and go, what may be high paying now may be low paying later. There are a LOT of better ways to earn money at much lower personal cost and work.

First of all, your numbers are way off for the ER doctors... National median salary is probably near to $225k, not "just under 400k". Medicine is weird in that big city salaries are likely lower than those out in "undesirable" areas (supply and demand... people are willing to work for cheap in Boston but not in Fargo, North Dakota.) ER physicians have huge stress, and a very high malpractice / rate of getting sued.

Secondly, starting medical school requires prerequisites, including biology, chemistry, physics... have you done these in college? If not, you'd need a minimum 2 year postbac program prior to applying to medical school. If you didn't go to a strong college, getting into a good medical school can be difficult. Schools discriminate a bit against older applicants, meaning it is harder to get in a bit (but if you are still in your 20's that should be ok) as they have less "time" to practice, and residency positions are still subsidized by the government a bit (but not much). If you don't go to a good medical school, getting into a good residency (competitive residency) could also be difficult.

Expect to earn $45k when in residency and fellowship, together with budgeting $150k in student loans.

Short story is, it can be done, but is a huge commitment, and not something to be taken casually. You shouldn't decide something like this over the internet, but be in touch with doctors, perhaps a school counselor, and talk to people in and out of training. Certainly talking with fellow pilots is useful for the pilot perspective, but also mosey on down to studentdoctor dot net, they will have a lot of information for you and people would be happy to help.
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