........................ I am sorry to break the mould of the usual messages on this board, but I am thinking of getting out of ophthalmology. 

I don't know if these thoughts have come to a head due to impending exams yet again, or what, but they are preoccupying me more and more. 

I thought everything was going swell. I got my teaching hosp job, I am involved with research and several of my consultants have hinted to me that I would have a good chance of getting a number in their region if I play my cards right and pass my finals. 

So why am I so down about things? Well I am in a region which is over 250 miles away from my partner, which has put a strain on our relationship. I have got mates here, but well it's not the same as with my old friends from down South, who I guess I've been through alot with. Most of the people I have met here are married or introverted and don't socialise much outside work. 

I am stressed about exams, I have 3 half finished audits on the go (don't ask how I got into that one), I am trying to write up a paper, have just had a case report rejected, so need to resubmit elsewhere. I could really do with sometime off to relax, and think about things, but do not want to book time off, as I want to get my surgical logbook up to scratch as I am hoping to apply for numbers if get my membership, and so at the moment every theatre session is crucial. 

I have discussed some of these concerns with my collegues, but I always get looks of incredulation, when I say I am not sure if all this is compatible with the type of life I want to lead. I don't really want a number in this region, even if I did get it. Sorry if that sounds ungrateful or whatever, but it is just that everything meaningful to me is down South. My partner has a great job, and there wouldn't be anything equivalent up here, so one of us has to give. 

I am living in a hospital room up here, which is dismal and characterless, but I own a beautiful house near the sea which is my pride and joy. What am I doing? Are the sacrifices worth it. 

I know I must sound like a whinging old so and so, but I have just been thinking though. What should be the most important thing in our life; work and job satisfaction, or relationships and lifestyle? 

Does anyone else out there have similar thoughts, or been through similar problems and got through it. I am seriously thinking of jumping ship, and doing a speciality in which I have more choice of where I work. 

I was once an enthusiatic, bright young thing who was ophthalmology on the brain, but now I just get so frustrated with it. I feel so alone, as there is no one who can empathise with me. 

And now my bleep has just gone off.####! Great life hospital medicine, eh?

- September 7, 2004 at 21:08:10 by Dr A

I came into Ophthalmology late and there was a choice to move back into hospital accommodation miles away from home, husband and family whist pregnant, to go to a pretigious teaching hospital...or to stay where I was as a SG. I chose the latter and have a fab work/life balance and would certainly recommend it as a way to enjoy Ophthalmology but still have a life too.

Always put joy first....second ....third and fourth. I have 2 mates whom have already got on another ship - GP. Both are happy because they are doing 1 in 12 oncalls, and get time to watch Neighbours in midday. 
On the other hand, you have come a long way to be giving up and if you think ophthalmology is bad then look at your medical/surgical counter parts - have to stay in hospital for their oncalls, have protracted wardrounds etc etc. 
Well, no pain no gain....but how much pain can you bear is another question.
- PC

Don't Jump Dr A. Ophthalmology is a great speciality. You will not be happy if you leave, this is a transient phase and you will get over it. I came into ophthalmology having done 2.5 years of surgical training. Having done MRCS I am now having to put myself through the agony of MRCOphth. Believe me I have asked myself the same question many times. But I really enjoy ophthalmology and at the end of the day I would never leave. One of the best things in life is enjoying your profession. People and relationships are also extremely important but would you sacrifice everything you've worked for your mates down south. You may even get a number down south if things go your way. Hang in there.
- Eye Surgeon

You know that you are a good doctor with the potential to go all the way. You were brave to leave your friends and partner for your job. I tried to stay with my better half and it meant that i was unemployed for over a year and then ended up with a 100 mile daily commute. unfortunately a culture has developed where the expectation is for us to be ophthalmologists first and human beings second.perhaps 2-3months off just to concentrate on finishing your audits/research or study would help clear your head.speak to your trainer about compassionate leave, and if that fails :unpaid leave.then re-think your plans. i hope this helps.
- Fox C

Dr A, 

Sorry to hear of your woes. Nevermind your partner, a house by the sea sounds very good to me! 

No seriously though, you are not alone. I was in a very similar situation to you when I moved jobs a while ago, but that relationship has now gone belly up. Not because of the move, I might add, but it may have catalysed events. I owned a gorgeous flat in another city. Hospital accomodation is always grim, and as one gets older, we do feel we deserve a bit of creature comforts. So I now rent that place out, and am renting an equally gorgeous place here, and make a bit of profit on it. Can you do something like that? 

I think pre exam stress does make problems seem 10 times worse. So do not make any rash decisions. 

My job is now going well, but despite all that, I do sometimes still question if I am doing the right thing. Again for me, it is the life/work balance I resent, but in a different way to you. I cannot do my oncalls from home, as it still takes about 45 mins to get to the hosp I am working in at the mo. My oncall rota, is really annoying. It only just meets the new deal, and they say it meets EWTD as it is non resident, even though I have to be resident. I worry my surgical logbook will not make the grade also, as they seem to keep shifting the goalposts these days. I don't know about "emphasize" but our wards are always mega busy, as we are the regional centre for most things and frankly I am sick of doing what should be a houseofficer's/nurse's job. I have had to give up a hobbie I really enjoyed at my old place and was good at, due to time pressures, I can't remember the last time I sat down with a good book. I know there are many much more cleverer people than me, who probably can fit in other personal activities as well as work, but at the moment I just find I can't, and that can get to me sometimes. 

But..., I speak with my consultants, and generally they are a happy lot, so I am hoping the struggle is worth it in the end. Sometimes though the call from GP land is just so loud though. 

I have 3 friends who were former ophthalmologists who left for various reasons. 2 went into general practice, and are always telling me how great it is, like dangling carrots. But on the other hand, I know many people who have done other specialities prior to Ophth, and they say Ophth wins everytime. (But is GP better than Ophth?!) 

To answer your original question though. Is job satisfaction more important than relationships/lifestyle? I would definetly always say relationships and general happiness with life are more important. And I do not think you can be happy with life if you are not happy with your job, and this in turn will affect your relationships with people. 

Sounds like you have alot of thinking and weighing up to do. I hope it helps to get differing opinions from fellow ophthalmologists on this board. I doubt very much that you are alone in this one. I am sure though you have confused lots of the users of this site, which has made me chuckle! 

One thing I would say though is, do allow yourself to come to some decisions whatever they have to be. Only then can you start to fully embrace your future. 
- Kate

don't despair. i was thoroughly disenchanted balancing work, research/audit and a long distance relationship. i even went and did some time in general practice in my research sessions. i had told my family and close friends that i was quitting ophth. 

then i passed the exam and a cloud of gloom lifted from my shoulders and suddenly i could have a life again, even if it did mean living apart in the week now it means the weekends that we do have together are not taken up with me revising and we can actually do stuff together. 

even better i have now got an spr job in the right region so finally it seems to be working out for me after all. 

a word of warning my colleague took a spr job in our region though her husband has a spr job elsewhere and she has been having trouble transferring as she knew he worked elsewhere when she took the job 

best of luck. hang in there. with gp evening surgeries our hours are actually more social. (in the end)

You see, their may be light at the end of the tunnel. And you may even surprise yourself and get the job in your region. Sounds like you are due a bit of luck. 

To answer your question about my friends who left Ophth. I have only kept in touch with 2 of them. It is funny, because they both made that "not like working in McDonalds" analogy that you made! One is a GP reg now, and loving it. The other has just started doing some hosp medicine in order to fulfil the criteria for being a GP, so it is still early days. 

From what they and my friends who are actually GPs tell me, life is good for them, both lifestylewise and financially. Most GP practices in their area do not work out of hours, as there are lots of walk in centres. That means they never work weekends/bank holidays. They work anything from 7-9 sessions per week and that is it. There are golden handshakes for your first salaried post of up to £12000! If they do want to earn even more cash as a top up to their already generous salaries, they can just sign up to do sessions at the walk in centre at £80-£90/hour. Do 2 sessions of those a month, and you have practically got the mortgage payments for the month. 

Yes, it all sounds great, but then I watch that silly lunchtime soap "doctors" and think no thanks, not for me! 

Anyway, your posting has got me thinking though. I know for alot of people things seem to happen anc come to them easily, but alot of us make alot of sacrifices for this career. There is no right or wrong answer, as to whether we should or not, or whether it is worth it or not. It is purely a personal choice at the end of the day.
- kate

Dear A, you sound to that you are a british graduate..but I will ask you this... have you ever considered getting a SG job in your region..down south. Surely if you got your MRCOphth with a good surgical log book and if you failed to get the glam SpR post then gettign SG post will much easier. Some of them will have on calls to cover the salary difference and if you are good enough you might get AS post with possible second line on calls...I think it all depends on how much ophth means to you...think about it... i did it myself, though i am an overseas ophthalmologist and i think SG is more accpetable for me...I am doing it now and I commute about 100 mile daily but at least I think that saved my family, my son and my love to ophthalmology...best of luck with the exams...
- Overseas A

More Questions