I have to say that I really enjoy this debate. Because you will get some really passionate responses on both sides of the fence. So let’s just dive right into it: Should doctors encourage their kids to go into medicine?
My answer is implied right in the title of this post…yes. If my kids show an interest, I will encourage them to go into medicine. And the caveat is, of course, if they show an interest. This goes for any vocation in my mind. But I will happily demonstrate for them the intrinsic and extrinsic benefits.
But before we get into it, let’s see what other doctors think
A recent Doximity poll showed the 3 out of 5 physicians did not want their kids to go into medicine.
Reasons for this abound. But in all, most doctors just didn’t feel like it was worth it or a good profession for, well anyone. I mean, if you wouldn’t recommend it to your kids, presumably you wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.
After I saw this, I ran a straw poll in our private Facebook group as well. The response was similar.
Most respondents did not want their kids going into medicine. And if they did, it was hedged with the caveat that it was really the absolute only thing that made them happy.
I take this to mean that they would not encourage medicine. In this case, the overwhelming majority (26 vs 13) would not encourage their kids to go into medicine.
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?
Debt 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?
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!
So what changed?
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 healthcare in fact.
With improved financial and overall well-being and more ability to focus on what they live in medicine, I think just about any physician would want their kids to consider becoming a doctor.
So with this said, here are my…
3 reasons I will encourage my kids to go into medicine
1. Intrinsic rewards like none other
Tear away all of the extra stuff. All of the administrators. All of the debt. And all of the other issues facing healthcare and physicians.
Being a doctor and helping people provides a fulfillment that I just can’t imagine is seconded 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.
2. There is an antidote…
…to the very real issues surrounding physicians and their burnout.
I’ve talked a lot about this, but I really believe that financial freedom is the antidote to burnout and the key to physician satisfaction.
I alluded to it above. If you can financially free, you can:
- Work because you want to, not because you have to
- Negotiate for your time and desired physician activities much more aggressively
- 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…
3. Obtaining financial freedom as a doctor is actually quite simple
- 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
All physicians are high income earners. With this blessing and advantage comes the ability to grow and build wealth using a pretty simple and easy formula. You can see it laid out in more detail here: The 7 Step Basic Formula for Wealth as a Physician.
The criticism that I always receive is that this is easy for me to say as a plastic surgeon. My specialty is among the highest paid in medicine. This is true. And more income is just more wood that I can throw on my FIRE.
But I also know pediatricians and internists making much more money than me. And I also know a lot of poor plastic surgeons.
So, 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 do (see above)! 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 interest 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 its 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 as I have.
But none of this matters! Because I am not you. And it only matters what you think! So…What do you think?! Would you recommend your kids go into medicine? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments below!
5 thoughts on “3 Reasons I Will Encourage My Kids to Go into Medicine”
I agree with you. As challenging as the system of modern medicine is, it is still the greatest profession in my opinion. Much like you, I love it! My oldest is just starting family medicine residency and I have two others that are nurses. As you mentioned, helping them to leverage their professional income into personal and professional freedom (holistically not just financially) is the key. It is still possible to thrive personally and professionally as a doctor!
I really enjoy your blog.
Yes I am one of those surgeons which would 100% do it again.
None of my children went into medicine but not because of me discouraging them.
I never was aware if the FIRE world till the end of my career but would not have retired “early” when I was able to!!
I did retire before my colleagues had to sit me down and say what are you doing here, which I did several times in my practice. Never had to do with money with that group.
Anyway keep up good work, I forward you writings to some young surgeons I know.
I get into this debate a lot so could relate to a lot in this post. I only work a day in medicine now as I became financially independent at 41. And I would totally encourage my kids to do medicine … for all the reasons you mentioned!
Loved the blog post : I have been referencing your post in my more recent debates 😀