Training Regrets: Physicians Are Talking

Brandon Cohen


February 24, 2011

In This Article

The desire to change the past is a common and often frustrating pursuit. In a posting on Medscape Physician Connect, an all-physician discussion group, a family practitioner asked, "Do you regret anything in your training?" If it is true, as Thoreau wrote, that "to regret deeply is to live afresh," then virtually all who replied were emphatically alive.

Regretting a Choice of Specialty

More than a few doctors regretted their choice of specialty; pathologists in particular seemed most likely to want a do-over.

"I regret pathology/laboratory medicine training because of the bad, bad job market for the field.... This bad job market was never pointed out to residents. It should have been," one pathologist lamented.

A colleague concurred: "I went into pathology because I love the science part (and no, I'm not a social idiot either, like many people think pathologists are).... The program turned out to be a disappointment.... Some nights I lie awake wondering how much longer I'll even have a job, with the future of healthcare so uncertain."

Another pathologist agreed and even had an idea of the route that should have been followed: "What would I do? Retool to be an internist, try to get a job in areas lacking medical care."

Several general practitioners also felt they might have chosen more wisely. One general practitioner put it succinctly, "I regret [that] the young me did not meet the older me, to be advised to avoid primary care at all costs."

Another neatly summed up youthful naiveté: "I actually thought that Marcus Welby was a noble guy and that general practice was a really neat word."

Other physicians wished they had shown more independence in the face of bad advice.

"I wish I had stood up for myself more. The part I regret the most was not saying no to placing radiation in patients," offered one OB/GYN.

An ER physician also wished she had stuck to her guns: "I regret that I allowed the surgeons to make me pick between having a baby or having a surgical residency. It was 25 years ago, and they were very open [about] their displeasure that females have babies.... Still pisses me off. I would have been a great plastic surgeon!"


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