Medicine as a Career
The Reality Of A Physician's Career
On average, the professional career of a physician can extend close to 40 years, assuming he or she starts to practice at 27 and retires at 65. Obviously, quite a number of physicians will work beyond the traditional retirement date. The pattern of an average physician can be portrayed in a linear fashion as follows:
|College (4 years)||Medical School (4 years)||Residency (3–6 years)||Practice (about 38 years)||65||Post-practice (5 plus years)|
It is imperative for every premedical student to have a genuinely realistic view of a medical career, in order to avoid disillusionment at a later date. However, it is challenging to obtain such a perspective. Bear in mind, that the response of individual physicians largely depends on the nature of the specialty and on their own professional success (or the lack thereof). Each field has its own demands in terms of working hours per week (range: 45–65), the frequency of night calls (from none to heavy), and stress due to the nature of one's responsibilities (from none to very intense).
The best picture of what might lie ahead, can come from, in addition to reading, autobiographical accounts written by physicians (see Bibliography, page 686), personal visits to hospitals (both wards and emergency rooms), as well as speaking to physicians, (both satisfied and dissatisfied), from a wide range of specialties.
When practicing physicians reach the last phase of their professional career, many options are available; thus, they can slow down the pace of their activities, yet retain a professional link to medicine. Some older physicians found a second career in some medical-associated activity following retirement. This can include administrative work for insurance companies, local government, etc. Thus, medicine can offer a life of financial security and respect as well as a deep sense of accomplishment that continues until retirement and even beyond.
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