So, what are you going to do with the rest of your life?

It's about that time of year when the 4th year students are sending out their applications for residency. It's always interesting to find out what people are going to do with their lives, especially the students that I worked with, to see if my predictions were right.

I do alright. I usually bat about 0.400, which isn't too bad considering. The surgeons kind of stand out usually. The family practice folks stand out as well. The medicine nerds are pretty consistent. Anyway, around about now, advice comes as easily as toilet paper.

My advice to medical students is always the same: you have to love the pathology. People tell me all this shit about shift hours, good pay, no call, or radiology (nuff said), and all sorts of other things. Here's the thing though. 4 years of undergraduate education. 4 years of medical school. A minimum of 3 years of training. A potential career of 30+ years. We work too damn hard to do something we hate.

But if you love the pathology, you can do the job. You can make the hours work. You can make the time. But you can't learn to love a career you hate. So if you love treating hypertension, you'll be okay. If you love cutting out gallbladders, you'll be aces. If you love looking at CT scans of the abdomen, you'll do alright. If you love treating kids, then you'll be fine.

You are exceptionally fortunate that you can choose what you want to do, so why wouldn't you do something you love? Find what you love. Do it.

But if you're picking your career based on hours or shift work or pay, you'll never be happy, because you'll spend every moment you're at work wishing you were somewhere else. And that's fine if you're a high school dropout mopping floors or stripping at the titty bar. Then feel free to hate your job and life. But what a fantastic waste of your life if you put in 11 years of education and $100k+ of debt just to have the same satisfaction in your work as a high school dropout. Is it any wonder that the folks going into ER just for shift work end up burning out?

And here's more bad news: I know a lot of janitors and strippers who love their jobs.

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