A recent Doximity poll showed that 3 out of 5 physicians did not want their kids to go into medicine. Reasons for not wanting their kids in medicine abound. But in all, most doctors just didn’t feel like it was worth it or a good profession for, well, anyone. If you wouldn’t recommend it to your kids, presumably you wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.
Regardless, after I read about this, I ran a straw poll in the private Facebook group for Prudent Plastic Surgeon as well. The response was similar. Most respondents did not want their kids going into medicine. Further, if they did want their kids in medicine, it was only if it was the only thing that made them happy. In essence, they would prefer their kids do anything else.
Is this surprising? I don’t think so. Burnout is widespread in medicine. Why would a burned out physician want their kids to go through the same things? Student debt for doctors is absurd. Why would a doctor up to their ears in debt want their kids to feel that? The crunch of administration/insurance companies/private equity groups/(insert anything else) on physician autonomy is claustrophobic. Why would a doctor feeling this want their kid to do the same? They wouldn’t! When I was expressing burnout, if you asked me this question, I wouldn’t think twice. No way I would have wanted my kids in medicine! But now I do.
So what changed?
I made a comeback. I recognized my lack of financial education was a huge contributor to my burnout. I realized that financial well-being is a very important component of overall well-being, although it is perhaps the most overlooked. So I started to care about my financial well-being and worked toward financial freedom.
It made me a better doctor. I now love medicine. I’m getting closer and closer to being able to practice it only because I want to, not because I have to. This has given me the freedom to be more aggressive about doing only the things I want to and working on my own terms. And I honestly think that if all physicians became financially free, things would be a lot better. For them. For their patients. Even for all of health care in fact.
With improved financial and overall well-being and more ability to focus on what they love in medicine, I think just about any physician would want their kids to consider becoming a doctor.
So, what is my answer? It is yes! If my kids show an interest, I will encourage them to go into medicine. I will happily demonstrate all the benefits that medicine has to offer for them. And here are my three reasons that I will encourage my kids to go into medicine:
Intrinsic Rewards Like No Other
Tear away all of the extra stuff. All of the administrators. All of the debt. And all of the other issues facing health care and physicians. Being a doctor and helping people provides a fulfillment that I just can’t imagine is surpassed by anything in the world. I don’t want to get overly sentimental, but to help someone in need using your mind and/or hands is just so rewarding.
It’s so unfortunate that a million other things converge on medicine to overshadow this satisfaction for physicians and their patients. But that is what leads to burnout. The annoying ancillary stuff. Not us. Not our patients. I try to focus on this whenever I get a bit discouraged by some outside noise. But I love that feeling. If my kids want to experience that and get to do it through their hard work, I would be very happy.
There's An Antidote to Burnout
I really believe that financial freedom is the antidote to burnout and the key to physician satisfaction. If you can be financially free, you can work because you want to, not because you have to, you can negotiate for your time and desired physician activities much more aggressively, and you can move on to another opportunity if your current one isn’t fulfilling you. If you could just focus on medicine without all the other nonsense, wouldn’t you love it even more?
Another thing I’ve recognized on my journey to financial freedom is that little administrative things that used to annoy me don’t annoy me as much anymore. I see them for what they are … annoying. They become just a small thing I do in order to enjoy being a physician and helping people. Without financial freedom, I don’t think I would feel this way.
Obtaining Financial Freedom Is Simple As a Doctor
- Save 20% of your gross income
- Invest those savings wisely and for the long term in broadly diversified, low cost index funds
- Retire on your own terms when you reach your goal nest egg
Truly any physician can do what I am doing. And remember, my goal with FIRE is not to retire. I just started! And I love what I, but I do want to be able to do it because I want to, not because I have to. I know that makes me happier and makes me a better doctor. And if you are interested in increasing your compensation inside and outside of medicine, there are a lot of options out there for you!
Medicine is still a great profession. I really believe this. I love it and think my kids would too if they decide it’s their passion. Moreover, despite a lot of external issues, there is still an antidote available to all physicians: financial freedom. And it is thankfully obtainable for all doctors by developing simple habits and working to improve our financial well-being.
Would you encourage your children to go into medicine for the finances? Share in the comments.
Jordan is a graduating fellow in plastic surgery at NYU.
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