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Any CRNA's or Physicians here? Seeking advice.


Original Post
Dan Evans · · Phoenix, AZ · Joined Mar 2013 · Points: 80

I just got out of the Marine Corps last year and have since been going to school for BSN pre-requisites with the intentions of becoming a CRNA later down the road. I am coming up on my second year of undergraduate classes (2 more semesters of pre-reqs until starting the nursing program) and am starting to have thoughts about potentially going to med school instead.

Are there any climbers here that are physicians or CRNA? I've spent quite awhile on other forums reading mixed thoughts regarding the two paths along with pros vs. cons, and would like to get the climbers take on it. I'm 28 years old right now and my worry is that if I decide to go to med school, the good portion of my thirties (the good years) will be spent indoors studying. Whereas if I stick to the path I'm on I could potentially ride out the travel nurse gig and take advantage of it for awhile before committing to the DNAP program. On the other hand, my thoughts are that if I'm going to decide to go to med school, then I need to decide now while I'm still relatively young rather than waste my time becoming a nurse.

Thoughts?

Dan Evans · · Phoenix, AZ · Joined Mar 2013 · Points: 80

Plan C I'm also considering is I continue down the path I'm on to get my BSN (it's paid for by the GI bill), then once I graduate I pay out of pocket to knock out the remaining prerequisites for med school and decide years down the road which route to take. But at that point I'd be looking at 3 yrs 6 mo for DNAP and 7+ years for any sort of specialized MD field.

webdog · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2009 · Points: 0

What about PA or if you get BSN then nurse practitioner? Rural areas struggle for medical professionals and there has been a push to allow more autonomy for the above

Dan Evans · · Phoenix, AZ · Joined Mar 2013 · Points: 80
webdog wrote:What about PA or if you get BSN then nurse practitioner? Rural areas struggle for medical professionals and there has been a push to allow more autonomy for the above
I think for me it's more about reaching my max potential. I feel that if I were to become a PA/NP or CRNA then I would always regret not spending the extra time to become an MD.

I know I will be happiest in the OR setting (hence my mention of CRNA over NP) and just don't think I will have the autonomy that I want if I settle for anything less than MD as I'd probably opt to work in a larger trauma center. I think since posting this I've become much more convinced to just buckle down and go for pre-med instead of finishing my BSN. I talked to a friend last night who's a psychiatrist and she said that more people are getting into medical schools right now than they are PA/CRNA schools due to the extreme shortage of physicians.
T. Maino · · Denver, CO · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 5

Dan,

All the options you mentioned are good ones. They all have pros and cons. I am a former Navy physician who had the privilege to serve with the Marines. I would be glad to help in any way. Email me at drmaino@gmail.com if I can be of assistance.

Tom

PCowan · · Loveland, Co · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 5

How important is climbing time to you? Some opportunities in med school for free time are there but really only in the first two years. If a surgical specialty is what most interests you the quickest residency programs to complete and be board certified are four years ob, 5 for general surgery and ortho, 6 for plastic and 7 for neuro.

You will not have time in residency to climb, or very very minimal. You also need to consider the match process, no guarantee of what program you end up at. Most programs are still an awful grind of hours. Assuming you fast track and all goes well you'll be around 40 when training is complete.

Most of the physicians I know that climb do emergency medicine, no idea if they naturally like it or choose that specialty due to the more flexible work schedule options. Becoming a practicing physician in the US is definitely not the best way to maximize income:freetime, but if it's your passion go for it. I know way more RNs that climb with amazing sounding schedules, ymmv.

Dan Evans · · Phoenix, AZ · Joined Mar 2013 · Points: 80
PCowan wrote:How important is climbing time to you? Some opportunities in med school for free time are there but really only in the first two years. If a surgical specialty is what most interests you the quickest residency programs to complete and be board certified are four years ob, 5 for general surgery and ortho, 6 for plastic and 7 for neuro.
I need to look into it more and job shadow each field in order to decide what I ultimately want to do, but right now I'm looking into either general surgery (with an interest in either pediatrics and trauma), anesthesiology, or emergency medicine.

PCowan wrote: You also need to consider the match process, no guarantee of what program you end up at.
What do you mean by program? The fellowship?
jdejace · · New England · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 10

After going $200k into debt (that's the average these days,at 7% no less - what a racket) for the privilege of going to medical school, on the Ides of March of your final year, in front of your family, friends, faculty and all your classmates, you get to open an envelope designating where you will go spend 5 years training in general surgery. Maybe Denver, maybe Omaha. Maybe your girlfriend can't find a job in Omaha and stays behind. If you're lucky enough to match into the specialty you want at all, that is - no guarantees. Some people jump for joy on Match Day, others cry. Even those who get their dream job sometimes decide it's not worth it , but this is largely kept quiet.

Truly,a profession for masochists. You're asking intelligent questions and are appropriately skeptical about how this will affect your hobbies (not to mention your family and your sanity). You will work 100h/week in surgery residency (even though the "humane" legal limit is now 80h, only two full-time jobs). You will not climb, hell you won't even eat or sleep a decent amount. Meanwhile your nursing buddies will work three 12h shifts per week at >2x the $ per hour (until you're an attending at age 40), and be climbing and traveling their heart out. But people worried about their "max potential" don't generally heed these warnings. I sure didn't. Good luck.

I'd do travel nursing and climb/travel/do good deeds unless you define your potential as a human being 100% in terms of your accomplishments as a physician.

Also (apologies to whomever I offend), I wouldn't take advice from a psychiatrist. Although their jobs are challenging in many ways, it's generally not in terms of hours or physical exhaustion. They can't typically give you much perspective on being a surgeon unless they happen to be friends with one (or have some as patients :-(

Dan Evans · · Phoenix, AZ · Joined Mar 2013 · Points: 80
jdejace wrote:After going $200k into debt (that's the average these days,at 7% no less - what a racket) for the privilege of going to medical school, on the Ides of March of your final year, in front of your family, friends, faculty and all your classmates, you get to open an envelope designating where you will go spend 5 years training in general surgery. Maybe Denver, maybe Omaha. Maybe your girlfriend can't find a job in Omaha and stays behind. If you're lucky enough to match into the specialty you want at all, that is - no guarantees. Some people jump for joy on Match Day, others cry. Even those who get their dream job sometimes decide it's not worth it , but this is largely kept quiet. Truly,a profession for masochists. You're asking intelligent questions and are appropriately skeptical about how this will affect your hobbies (not to mention your family and your sanity). You will work 100h/week in surgery residency (even though the "humane" legal limit is now 80h, only two full-time jobs). You will not climb, hell you won't even eat or sleep a decent amount. Meanwhile your nursing buddies will work three 12h shifts per week at >2x the $ per hour (until you're an attending at age 40), and be climbing and traveling their heart out. But people worried about their "max potential" don't generally heed these warnings. I sure didn't. Good luck. I'd do travel nursing and climb/travel/do good deeds unless you define your potential as a human being 100% in terms of your accomplishments as a physician. Also (apologies to whomever I offend), I wouldn't take advice from a psychiatrist. Although their jobs are challenging in many ways, it's generally not in terms of hours or physical exhaustion. They can't typically give you much perspective on being a surgeon unless they happen to be friends with one (or have some as patients :-(
Are you a physician? If so, what is your specialty if you don't mind me asking? I feel like my 8 years active duty in the Marine Corps would substantially increase my odds of being selected for residency at a VA in the state that I choose--no?

I am not dead set on general surgery... It is a difficult situation unfortunately as I'm sure you know/or have experienced personally. I would love to be a pediatric or trauma surgeon, but I also want to have a life outside of work with normal time off to climb and enjoy life. Why are physicians in so many of these critical fields over-worked like this? Solely due to manpower?

And I realize that my friends experience a psychiatrist is much different than that of other specialties, however I was purely discussing the topic of medical school with her (acceptance rates, admission process, etc.). She wasn't trying to fill me in on what I should expect with pursuing general surgery, which is actually what she originally intended on doing.
MrVandemar · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2016 · Points: 0
Daniel Evans wrote: Are you a physician? If so, what is your specialty if you don't mind me asking? I feel like my 8 years active duty in the Marine Corps would substantially increase my odds of being selected for residency at a VA in the state that I choose--no? I am not dead set on general surgery... It is a difficult situation unfortunately as I'm sure you know/or have experienced personally. I would love to be a pediatric or trauma surgeon, but I also want to have a life outside of work with normal time off to climb and enjoy life. Why are physicians in so many of these critical fields over-worked like this? Solely due to manpower? And I realize that my friends experience a psychiatrist is much different than that of other specialties, however I was purely discussing the topic of medical school with her (acceptance rates, admission process, etc.). She wasn't trying to fill me in on what I should expect with pursuing general surgery, which is actually what she originally intended on doing.
That is not really how the match works. Also, as I am sure you have been told (or will be told), most people will change their minds many times on the field they want to go into during medical school. In my class I'd guess around a half of those intending on entering a surgical speciality changed their minds either because they found they loved medicine or because they hated surgery. These are people who spent the first two years of medical school grooming their application (research, shadowing, leadership etc.) for the wrong field. So don't even stress about this pediatric vs. trauma vs. general surgery thing. Only go into this if you want to be a physician, for whatever overarching reason that may be, but not because you have this specific vision of doing ED thoracotomies or sewing up baby bowels or whatever.

Unless things have changed or I am wrong, to become a CRNA you'll still have to get your BSN and get a couple of years of critical care nursing experience before applying. And then you do the program. It's not a short road either. And in terms of becoming an NP, I would look into the dismal educational requirements for most programs and consider strongly if you would be happy taking that route. I'll also caution you against getting your BSN with the intention on going to medical school, as it raises a lot of questions which are not always positive to the admissions committees. So if you want to do it, just take the med school pre-reqs and study whatever makes you happy in college (no need to major in biology), and do well on the MCAT. Being a veteran makes you an interesting applicant, and they'll like you for it. But this entire process is going to suck, so just know that. And you will have significantly less say in where you end up for medical school and residency than you imagine, particularly if you end up loving a competitive specialty.

But to answer your questions about climbing as a doctor: you can probably climb during the first two years of medical school, and a good chunk of fourth year assuming you get into a school somewhere with climbing nearby. I don't know many (any) residents in any field who climb unless it's a random couple of hours in the gym. I do know several IM and EM attendings who climb, and one orthopedic surgeon who climbs.
Tom Rangitsch · · Lander, WY · Joined Jan 2007 · Points: 1,504

I am an emergency physician. I went to med school right out of college at 22, did 4 years in Nebraska as it was the only place I got in. I probably could have done some climbing if there had been any. I had decent MCAT scores and a 4.0 from undergrad, but not much in the way of medical experience. I think that hurt me as far as being a great candidate for other schools. I also feel like having some sort of "in" helps in medical school (knowing a physician alumnus, being local to a particular area, etc.- I had none of this). Everyone you are competing against will use whatever advantage that they have to get a spot (duh).

I ended up getting my first choice in the match and did residency in New Mexico. It was infinitely better for climbing, but I was mostly stuck in the gym and bouldering in the foothills of Albuquerque. Some weeks I was in the hospital for over 120 hours a week. I think that this has improved somewhat, but not to any great extent.

It was basically 7 years off of climbing. I felt very lucky to only be climbing 2 number grades below my previous self after those seven years. All my climbing buddies got regular jobs out of college and turned into crushers. I felt really disappointed when comparing myself to them.

I now work in a rural ER and do 24 hour shifts. I am lucky enough to live in an area that has 2000 routes within 45 minutes of my house (Lander, WY). I was also lucky enough to get the state of Wyoming to pay off my loans just for working here for 3 years. I get to go climbing 2 or 3 times a week now and am actually stronger than I have ever been.

I do not love my job. It is stressful and it takes a full 24 hours to recover from a shift. I cannot speak to other specialties other than I believe that emergency medicine has one of the best schedules, and surgeons generally work way more than I do.

I define myself more as a climber than a doctor (always have). I think that is not the case with most physicians. While I do enjoy certain aspects of my career and I do make a decent living, I have been contemplating doing something else for the last few years. I really don't know what that would look like as I have already dedicated 7 years of my life to a profession and changing horses this late in the race seems pretty daunting. I don't have the energy that I had in my 20s.

Sorry to write a book, but that is/was my experience. Feel free to PM me if you have any specific questions.

Dan Evans · · Phoenix, AZ · Joined Mar 2013 · Points: 80

Thanks for the responses guys. Just an update, I have dropped the BSN route and am looking into a B.S. of Psychology instead. Potentially getting a minor in chemistry or biology as well. But yes CRNA requires a BSN and 2 years experience in the ICU as an RN and I was never really interested in the idea of becoming an NP so I didn't look into the requirements. That being said, the lengthy amount of time required to become a CRNA was partially my reasoning for wanting to go to medical school instead, as it would only be 3-4 years longer and I would be getting everything that I wanted out of it as oppose to feeling like I just settled for the next best thing.

Definitely approaching Med School with an open mind. Like most people, I realize I won't know if I actually love something until I try it, and as many have said above there is plenty of time to figure that out later.

That is awesome about Wyoming paying off your student loans. Are you from Wyoming? Or do they do that for anyone? I was looking into some of the programs offered through the military, but there is a large part of me that does not want to rejoin out of both principle and a burning hatred for anything DOD-related and military life in general. And while it would save me a ton of money, I also wouldn't be guaranteed the specialty I wanted. If you join the Navy for example, they will send you to be a primary care physician if they are short on medical officers.

Interesting to hear everyone's thoughts, schedules, and experiences though--some good, some bad. On that note, I will say that while I am extremely thankful for all of you to take the time to share them with me, everyone is different and I know my calling is to be a medical doctor so I don't want to shy away from it until I have at least given it a valiant effort myself.

If anyone else has anymore experiences they wouldn't mind sharing, I would love to hear them.

Thanks again.

Dan Evans · · Phoenix, AZ · Joined Mar 2013 · Points: 80

Also how many 24 hour shifts do you work per week? What's an average week look like for you? Is it not possible to work 12 hour shifts in the hospital you are at? and who decides the schedule? Do you work it out with your colleagues or is there some sort of manager type that simply says this is how it's going to be like it or not?

Kevin D · · Phoenix, AZ · Joined Aug 2007 · Points: 160

I am an emergency physician and I think it was worth it. Full time for my group is 120hr/month so lots of free time. Residency was more like 200hr/month with some of these being nights which you have to take into account. In med school I was getting to the gym 3x/week and about 1 weekend a month outside with the exception of 3rd year.
I would suggest getting a part time job as a scribe in the ER for a year. You will follow around docs and PAs and really know if it's what you want.
I am in the Phoenix area too so PM me if you want more info.

Dan Evans · · Phoenix, AZ · Joined Mar 2013 · Points: 80

Outstanding, thanks so much. Messaging you shortly.

normajean · · Reading, PA · Joined Jun 2015 · Points: 100
Tom Rangitsch wrote:I define myself more as a climber than a doctor (always have).
This deserves to be a whole other thread.
Patrick Vernon · · Estes Park, CO · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 935

For what it's worth if you decide on the CRNA route again, nursing schools are full of students professing "I just am here to be a CRNA/PICU NP/ fill in the blank advanced practice degree ______ in the future". It drives actual RN's insane. I have yet to meet an RN who went into CRNA school after just 2 years of nursing. I am sure this happens, just very very rarely. You better like being a nurse. CRNA programs want at least 2 years of critical care (ICU) experience, but the people I know who have gone that route usually have many 5+ years of ICu experience. Also straight out of nursing school it is very hard to just start working in an ICU, usually you need 1+ years of Med Surg experience before starting critical care. The programs are competitive to get into and there aren't many CRNA schools.

I am definitely in the boat of "I love climbing/traveling/ enjoying life more than medical stuff". With that in mind I am more or less happy with being an ER nurse for now. Stable job, good schedule, flexibility, interesting work that gives you a unique experience on life, raucous co-workers. Plenty of cons, but all jobs have that. The schedule can't be beat.

-Patrick

Jim Fox · · Westminster, CO · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 40

I'm a physician and went to medical school at the relatively advanced age of 30. Spent 4 tough years in school in FL, then 3 more years doing an Internal Medicine residency in Denver. Obviously, no climbing in Miami but climbed a fair amount during and after residency. Fortunately, I am in pretty good shape, other than bad knees, and still climb some at age 60.
Not the career of choice if you want to climb often, but it's still possible if you live somewhere where climbing is close.
Big downside of starting a medical career for me was always being older than my peers (sometimes awkward, felt like I didn't belong there) & the fact that I got a very late start making a decent living & starting to save for retirement. I also had to borrow a whole lot of money to pay for school and am just paying off the last of of my loans at age 60. (25 years later)

Dan Evans · · Phoenix, AZ · Joined Mar 2013 · Points: 80

@Patrick Vernon - Interesting. I was unaware that RN's felt that way about student's wanting to pursue mid-level degrees out of nursing school. I guess I can understand why to a certain extent though. At this point, I've pretty much made the switch and set my sights on medical school. I think I just finally realized that the nursing model was not for me. I have a lot of respect for nurses though, all of the ones I know personally are amazing people.

@Jim Fox - I'll be starting medical school (if everything goes perfectly) at age 32/33. But... I am looking at potentially working in NHSC-approved location for three years once I become board-certified to work off my loans. At this point I pretty much view the income as a perk. After getting paid $20k a year to fight wars in the Middle East, it will be nice to finally get paid for working crazy hours.

I'm just at the point in my life where I need to find something I will be happy doing for the rest of my life and I feel like I'd rather be in surgery saving a child's life for 16 hours than working somewhere that makes me miserable or live with regret from 9 - 5.

Jim Fox · · Westminster, CO · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 40
Daniel Evans wrote:@Patrick Vernon - Interesting. I was unaware that RN's felt that way about student's wanting to pursue mid-level degrees out of nursing school. I guess I can understand why to a certain extent though. At this point, I've pretty much made the switch and set my sights on medical school. I think I just finally realized that the nursing model was not for me. I have a lot of respect for nurses though, all of the ones I know personally are amazing people. @Jim Fox - I'll be starting medical school (if everything goes perfectly) at age 32/33. But... I am looking at potentially working in NHSC-approved location for three years once I become board-certified to work off my loans. At this point I pretty much view the income as a perk. After getting paid $20k a year to fight wars in the Middle East, it will be nice to finally get paid for working crazy hours. I'm just at the point in my life where I need to find something I will be happy doing for the rest of my life and I feel like I'd rather be in surgery saving a child's life for 16 hours than working somewhere that makes me miserable or live with regret from 9 - 5.
Medicine is a great career but only if you really like what you are doing. Otherwise, it's not so fun.
After serving in the Middle East, anything will probably be easier.
The income as a physician is obviously good. Just realize that it's at least 7 years before you get your first real paycheck and you are losing potential income you could have earned during those years. However, you eventually come out ahead financially, just takes patience.
Again, key thing is doing something that you like and find rewarding. I know lots of high paid medical specialists that don't like their jobs and money doesn't make them less miserable.
Good luck whatever you end up doing. Feel free to PM me if you ever have any questions.
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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