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Is it harder to be a physician or a soldier?

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  • #16
    I was a battalion surgeon with Marine Corps infantry for two years and would not trade places with my soldiers for any price. (Of course, most of them, maybe all of them, would not trade places with me, either).

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    • #17
      One day a buddy of mine and I were complaining. My dads response, “yea, we had it tough in ‘Nam, too.”

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      • #18
        I make life and death decisions. Military makes life and death decisions while potentially being killed.

        Sometimes I spend long periods of time at the hospital. Sometimes soldiers move overseas for months at a time.

        Sometimes someone in the chain of command makes a dumb decision . I mumble and shrug. Sometimes someone in the military makes a dumb decision and their buddy gets killed.

        I don’t follow protocols and I may get an email or even fired depending on the offense. A soldier doesn’t follow protocol and gets put in jail.

        Also, I get paid 5-10x what a soldier makes.

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        • #19
          Having experience with both (not physician), the comparison is apples and oranges, They both have ups and downs.

          Getting shot at sucks. Incoming indirect fire sucks. Having friends maimed and killed sucks. Being a soldier in garrison is pretty damned chill depending on the unit. The really bad days as a solder are generally concentrated in a limited period of time. The lack of autonomy can be hard, but if your able to just do what you're told and get on with things it's pretty easy. Military pay is lowish but guaranteed. Soldiers tend to experience this stress when younger and less able to cope.

          As a doc, being the one making the decision can be incredibly heavy. No matter how crappy today is, there is no guarantee that tomorrow is better. Being a doc has more cumulative stress, but peak stress as a soldier is exponentially higher. Peak stress comes later in life when better able to manage, but when also having multiple sources of stress. Pay is better.

          All that said, I got out of the army on purpose, and haven't been trying to get back in.
          Last edited by Molar Mechanic; 08-03-2021, 03:49 PM.

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          • #20
            Soldier. I have a serious question: was this a serious question? seriously? not even close. Read some combat stories.

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            • #21
              What I do is very difficult, but I don't need to be in combat to know that it is orders of magnitude more difficult than what I do.
              Erstwhile Dance Theatre of Dayton performer cum bellhop. Carried (many) bags for a lovely and gracious 59 yo Cyd Charisse. (RIP) Hosted epic company parties after Friday night rehearsals.

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              • #22
                Originally posted by Tangler View Post
                Soldier. I have a serious question: was this a serious question? seriously? not even close. Read some combat stories.
                I get the feeling that whoever posed the question must not know many who have served. There’s a reason we all say “thank you for you service.”

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by burritos View Post
                  Inpatient or high volume outpatient vs forward unit or support.
                  Outpatient medicine practitioner (regardless of volume) versus what I assume was intended to mean soldier stationed at a forward operating base? Really? Not sure why you chose those examples specifically if there was ever to be any whiff of a debate, but c'mon.

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                  • #24
                    Important to distinguish crappier vs. harder.

                    Of course being a soldier is crappier.

                    What percentage of soldiers if plopped into med school could do it? Not flunk out, match a residency, pass board exams, etc.

                    What percentage of med students if forced to could be a soldier?

                    Nevertheless it's different enough to be incomparable imo

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by Turf Doc View Post
                      Important to distinguish crappier vs. harder.

                      Of course being a soldier is crappier.

                      What percentage of soldiers if plopped into med school could do it? Not flunk out, match a residency, pass board exams, etc.

                      What percentage of med students if forced to could be a soldier?

                      Nevertheless it's different enough to be incomparable imo
                      Ever watch the training? SEALs in buds, or marines in marine boot camp or something similar?

                      Give these guys some credit.

                      I had the highest board scores in my residency. All that required was studying. Never did anyone die, get seriously wounded or injured.

                      Real soldiers: Training for those people is insane, combat much worse.

                      IEDs, friendly fire, friends dying, ptsd, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, these are common, not rare in combat.

                      My dad is a surgeon, as are 3 brothers. I am an adult and pediatric cardiac anesthesiologist, my sister is internal med……no one injured at work. No one trying to kill us.

                      Think it over. What we do is important and challenging but soldiers, especially deployed in combat, that is another level.

                      Freedom isn’t free.
                      Last edited by Tangler; 08-03-2021, 06:39 PM.

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                      • #26
                        Originally posted by Tangler View Post

                        Ever watch the training? SEALs in buds, or marines in marine boot camp or something similar?

                        Give these guys some credit.

                        I had the highest board scores in my residency. All that required was studying. Never did anyone die, get seriously wounded or injured.

                        Real soldiers: Training for those people is insane, combat much worse.

                        IEDs, friendly fire, friends dying, ptsd, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, these are common, not rare in combat.

                        My dad is a surgeon, as are 3 brothers. I am an adult and pediatric cardiac anesthesiologist, my sister is internal med……no one injured at work. No one trying to kill us.

                        Think it over. What we do is important and challenging but soldiers, especially deployed in combat, that is another level.

                        Freedom isn’t free.
                        Again, totally depends on what definition of "harder" we're using.

                        If "difficult to bear; causing suffering.", I think soldier.

                        If "difficult to understand or solve.", medicine.

                        Not sure how we're defining soldiers, but if we're talking about navy seals then the math shifts for sure.

                        I hope nearly everyone would at least agree that being a soldier is a far worse gig, which is why it's much more competitive to be a physician. Seems hard to argue that physicians have it "worse" than soldiers. So if we're talking about a contest like that I side with the soldier.

                        If we're not explicitly talking about navy seals, then I think a higher percentage of physicians could probably become a soldier if they HAD to than vice versa, in which case being a physician is "harder".

                        Lastly, wow thats a lot of docs in your family!

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                        • #27
                          Originally posted by burritos View Post
                          Inpatient or high volume outpatient vs forward unit or support. Settling a debate. If military is deemed harder by this group, that would lend it more legitimacy.
                          I am curious, was your question legitimate? Have you ever read any historical non-fiction books on war and war-time? This question baffles me.

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                          • #28
                            I do think about the original question sometimes….

                            When things going really bad, and I mean really bad… I think about some of the things our soldiers have had to endure in the past and I remind myself, “If they could do that, this is literally the least I could do.”



                            https://www.youtube.com/watch?app=de...ldoZ9ojoQxZx6o
                            Last edited by Jaqen Haghar MD; 08-04-2021, 06:23 AM.

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                            • #29
                              Bizarre thread

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                              • #30
                                Originally posted by WorkingToFish View Post

                                I am curious, was your question legitimate? Have you ever read any historical non-fiction books on war and war-time? This question baffles me.
                                I've watched all the war movies over and over again. Saving Private Ryan and B of B are my favorites. Looks hard, but most survive(some died of course). Based on the replies, it's obvious it was a stupid question. I've been stupid before and it will occur intermittently in the future. That's my nature. I apologize for the stupidity and any offense that obviously is being exuded in many posts. Someone said there are no stupid questions, just stupid people. They say even stupid people can occasionally become doctors. Many of my close friends regard me as the airhead in the group. I guess it's true with online strangers too.

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