I recently received a comment on the blog posing the following questions. At first, I was going to just correspond via email, but I thought perhaps my readership could also jump in on answering these questions from "A," a 3rd year medical student considering Ob/Gyn. So, thank you in advance for your help!
Hi Dr. Whoo,
I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog and appreciate the time and effort you put into your posts to provide us readers with a glimpse of your life. I am currently an MS III with only 6 months left to decide on what to do with my medical career. My top 3 choices are OBGYN, Anesthesiology and Psychiatry. I loved my OB rotation and feel that the field is a perfect blend of medicine, surgery, procedures and primary care.
Hello, A! Thank you for the nice words about the blog, I am glad to be able to provide a glimpse of life in the world of Ob/Gyn. I agree that Ob/Gyn is a perfect blend of medicine, surgery, procedures, and primary care. It is a really great field, but it does have its limitations.
However, I am afraid to commit to the field for the following reasons:
-Work hours. I cannot get a straight answer from the academic faculty on what to expect after residency. Most of them have flat out discouraged me from choosing OB, telling me that I should just do one of my other 2 choices. Is it possible to find a job working 60-65 hours/week and still come out with a salary of $250-$300k in smaller cities in midwest or the south? I just want to be well-informed of what to expect before I take the plunge to ensure that I don't end up hating my career .
HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Ahem, I mean, ah, not likely right off the bat, at any rate. I think you can get the salary you want with more work hours, or the work hours you want for a lower salary, but it would be rare to find the above combination just out of residency. My average work week (5 person group practice) is right about 60 hours with weekday call, 110 hours for weeks where I have weekend call. As an employed physician, I make less than $200,000. My pay will increase with each employed year until I am able to "buy-in" to the practice. After that, my income will increase (but a large portion of it will go back into buying into the practice). After about 5 years of "paying my dues," I will be able to set my ticket for income. It just takes some time.
At my previous job, I made over $250,000, worked in a rural, under served area with high Med.icaid, and only had 4 days off per month, so 168 hours the weeks that I worked weekends, 120 hour weeks the weeks when I had the weekend off. Trust me, it is far better to make less money and work less hours, especially now when O.b.ama.care looms on the horizon. (Plus, think of the taxes you will be paying on a higher salary, you may get to keep more of your money working for a lower income.) So, while I am sure you can find some places where low work hours and higher income combines, that would certainly not be the norm until you establish a practice.
-Liability. How stressful is this aspect of OB if I choose to move to a state with Tort Reform or low liability?
Liability, Tort Reform or not, is always stressful in OB. It will loom over your shoulder with every decision you make, especially with respect to managing labor and delivery. Even when you uphold the standard of care, you can still be sued for bad outcomes, and all it takes is one case to destroy you financially, personally, and professionally. Malpractice premiums are fairly exorbitant in the field, as well. You may not be able to cover your malpractice costs if you have a poor payer mix, meaning more volume, which leads to more chances of things going wrong. Vicious cycle. Most of the time, it is just like static noise in the background, other times you hear the alarm bells clanging. You get used to it, but it is always there.
-I am a male (a minority in the pool of OB applicants). I have been told that being a male would make it difficult for me to find a decent job because practices tend to prefer women OB's (hence males have to settle for worse locations, work hours and call schedules). How true is this?
Well, to be honest, I am not sure, since I am not a male. (Any male Ob/Gyns out there want to field this question?) I know that in many of the positions for which I interviewed, they were very interested in procuring a female physician. One field that you may consider, if you are so inclined, is the field of Urogynecology. I think it is a 3 year specialty after residency. It is a more surgery-heavy specialty, and, in my experience, still fairly male-dominated. You still get some procedures, good primary care and a lot of good surgeries, no babies, so less liability, and likely better hours and compensation overall. I hope that these answers helped somewhat, and I hope my readers are able to clarify further some points I am not able to elaborate upon. I truly wish you the best of luck with the rest of your training, and in whichever specialty you choose to pursue.