Several questions from a student with aspirations of a medical career
Q: I am entering my last year of high school at the end of this summer. I have wanted to be a doctor ever since I can remember. I have always been sure of the fact that I want to specialize in pediatrics. Recently I discovered my interest for the exciting and unpredictable. While watching the show ER I realized that it was exactly what I wanted to do with my life. I searched for information and found your www.ERbook.net site. I see how you don't always encourage students to become ER physicians but my ultimate goal is to become an emergency room physician specializing in pediatrics. Could you inform me about the cost of schooling? Also, I read about you helping Amy out a lot in your www.ERbook.net site, and I was hoping you would take me under your wing, too. I'm an excellent student; I rank third in my class. I just need advice. One more thing: do you believe I made a mistake by changing my career from Internal Medicine to ER physician?
Answer by Kevin Pezzi, MD: The cost of schooling varies tremendously from one school to another, but even the least expensive schools are now rather pricey. Most students (other than those with rich parents) accumulate a substantial debt by the time they graduate from medical school. Repaying those loans will reduce your ability to do some things you'll probably want to do, such as buying a nice car, home, and furnishings for it. Thus, the economic rewards of being a doctor are now delayed for a few more years. Nevertheless, I think people should choose an occupation based on what they enjoy doing. If you enjoy being an ER doctor, do it. You may not become as wealthy as you could doing other things, but you'll eventually have far more money than the average person.
Also, I read about you helping Amy out a lot in your www.ERbook.net site, and I was hoping you would take me under your wing, too
OK, I will. BTW, Amy just completed her first year of college. My how time flies!
One more thing: do you believe I made a mistake by changing my career from Internal Medicine to ER physician?
That depends on your personal interests. What Internal Medicine physicians do is vastly different from what ER doctors do. Medical students often disparage Internal Medicine as "Eternal Medicine" because much of what IM doctors do is to treat patients for what seems to be an eternity without curing them. Being an ER doctor gives you the opportunity to see more immediate changes, and it pays a bit better, too. In general, you will also work fewer hours per week, but those hours could be substantially more stressful.