[AMA] I'm a Law Graduate Turned Doctor

Hey ozbargain,

I'm a medical doctor who used to do law (full disclosure: wasn't really a full fledged lawyer, just did a law degree but was never did the college stuff). Thought I'd do an AMA to help answer some questions for people looking to jump onto the med boat, or just looking for a sea-change in general. Other inquiries of a general nature are welcome too (but don't rely on any of my statements in any capacity =)).

Currently I'm still pretty junior in the medical field but am hoping to become a surgeon at some point.

Won't be answering any personal or specific questions just cause I want to keep my anonymity (and yes, there are enough ex-law people that do medicine to make it difficult to identify who I am).


closed Comments

      • +1

        And the 2nd best?

      • congenital adrenal hyperplasia =(

        • :(

          BTW, what androgens can be prescribed in NSW?

  • What kind of junior doctor are you? JMO, RMO or Reg?

    • +3


      • +2

        Digital Rectal Examiner?

    • JMO = RMO

      He sounds like a junior doctor.

      • JMO = PGY1 RMO = PGY2 - You can see the differentiation in the state awards.

    • PGY2

      • Me too, if you work in NSW we might be in the same hospital.

        • Nope =( but would like to work there in the future

  • Any concerns about the future of surgeons and GPs due to the evolving automation and AI space?

    • Not OP, but I see it like adding an electric drill to a trademan - they will work faster, with higher quality. They will make far more money.

      It is not the same as a computer software completely replacing a book keeper

    • I don't know if it'll ever be truly autonomous with surgery; anatomy is varied in different people, things that should be in position A might be in position B or things that should go from A to B go from A to C then to B and there might be an additional thing going from C to B etc. I don't know if an AI will be able to learn these things in a dynamic setting (blood everywhere, poor views, poor access etc.).

    • look at da vinci robots. they just help surgeons make more money

      • I wouldn't call the da vinci machines a form of AI, they're just another tool for a human operator to use.

        • yep that's the point, no matter how advanced AI is they will just be another tool. regulatory authorities will always make sure there is a human to supervise machine. it only takes one case for people to lose faith in machines, just look at tesla's self drive function

  • Did your parents support your studies financially? Did you work during all this study?

    • Nope. HECS to the hilt.

      Worked at the start, didn't do much work in clinical years

  • How many years post study will it be before you are earning at least 100k?

    Is it more important to have great memory/recall, be highly intelligent, or be highly organised to do medicine?

    • If you really, really, really wanted cash you can do it in your first year out if you take everyone's shifts (you also need a team that is willing to give you their shifts). In terms of base salary, it's usually around 4th year depending on what you're doing.

      Memory: yeah, unfortunately, a lot of random things to remember. Organisational skills helps like in everything in life. Not highly intelligent but definitely well above average and probably the biggest one is you gotta be hard working.

      • Overtime makes all of the difference here. I work about 20k of overtime each year. But I work Sundays and take other peoples shifts.

  • How much do you get paid (salary) as a Law Grad and now a Doctor?

    • Law 50-60k vs Med 70-75k

      • That's terrible even for a Grad. How's the salary growth?

        • +2

          People generally don't go in for the $.
          But here are some rates. Generally jumps a bit after registrar.
          but then its really going for consultancy/specialist which is what you are aiming for towards the end.

          Eg. Qld health rates

        • @p0o0ohbear: Thanks for that, have always been curious. It's taken me 8 years of working experience post-Uni to achieve Level 16 salary in Engineering. Wondering how long that equivalent grade would take in the Medical field?

        • +1


          Level 16. sounds like a lot of levels :)

          In Med, You'd probably be at L8. but then there are overtime depending on your specialty.
          Depending on how successful you are with specialist training program (ie. getting in it and also getting through it)
          you can become a specialist by the end of 8-10 years post Uni. Note some specialty take longer for a variety of reasons.

          Mind you there are shorter training for GPs so which may attract other people.

      • What the hell, only 50-60k in law..? I'd expect around that amount for a paralegal..

        Edit: you're not confusing the question for your study costs are you?

  • I’m 25 and on dialysis and want to do something medical to help others in my position, any suggestions?

    • Medical Science?

    • -3

      You could sign up to be an organ donor.

    • +1

      I think volunteering at a hospital would be great. If you're in any sort of science field you can also volunteer to help with research.

    • Perhaps educate on preventable causes of kidney damage
      and/or educate patients about what its like to go through dialysis? how does it change your life? etc.

  • How did you switch into med? I’m currently doing RN (study @ Uni) and am thinking about medicine but my maths isn’t great and didn’t do chem or physics in Year 12, do you think that the switch would be possible? Did you need to go a bridger for the science gear when you went from Law to Med?

    How do you find working in med? Is there a lot of bullying and rubbish that you have to put up with?

    Thanks for the AMA.

    • +1

      Have a good GPA and do the GAMSAT.

      There used to be some bullying in certain specialties of medicine (e.g. female doctors working in surgical specialties as an example). The culture is improving in most hospitals. Most people that you work with will be lovely people who will treat you very nicely. There is a small minority of people who will give you rubbish. But you will deal with people like that in all fields. That said, there is a lot of hierarchy in medicine, so as a junior doctor be prepared to do all the crappy jobs for your senior doctors until you become one yourself.

    • +2

      Definitely possible, I work with several RNs that are studying/planning to go into medicine. I think the biggest thing is do it for the right reason (predominantly, I'd be lying if I said job security and career progression weren't important). I don't think you need a bridger, it helps, my grades early on definitely weren't great and it took me a lot more effort to get those grades. Later on it paid off though.

      Working in med is good. Not much bullying but it is usually a high intensity and demanding environment and mistakes aren't great but you just gotta be resilient and keep on getting back up. TBH, the older RNs are usually the ones that bully junior doctors the most, I think it's a weird power thing. I've also heard if you were previously an RN and go to study medicine, some of the RNs don't like that.

    • Edit: thanks heaps for the replies crunch and dsquall :)

  • Do you get annoyed by patients diagnosing themselves (or rather, Google diagnosing them)?

    • +10

      Nah, at least those people give a damn.

      What annoys me is the diabetic that doesn't take his insulin and is pretty much blind and about to lose a foot, comes into hospital to take up a bed that costs $2k a day because he's in DKA. Also, the 18 year old that decides to go on a bender so hard that he needs to go to ICU for $10k a day and have a tube stuck down his throat.

      TBH, these people probably also have social issues and a background that have made them the way they are but still, they annoy me.

  • How old were you when you decided a law career wasn't for you and wanted to change fields?

    • Mid 20s

  • So if someone breaks into my house and tries to steal my shit, am I legally allowed to knock them out?
    Can they sue me if they get permanent injuries?
    What if I set traps in my house and an intruder gets injured by one of them, can they sue?

    • +2

      Don't rely on this as legal advice. In the first instance you'd have to argue self defense, If you didn't have fear to your own safety you'd probably get done for. So in short, if all they're doing is stealing shit, no, you can't knock em out =(. If by suing you mean bring up a civil case against you, yes they can, the prosecutor might also choose/choose not to bring a criminal case.

      The traps is an interesting question, I think for them to sue you it'd be under tort law. Unless there was an invitation by yourself for them to be on the premises I don't think they'd have any grounds to do that. But I guess you could argue it may be criminally negligent on your part leaving around traps in the house for people to run into.

      P.S. I was really bad at law

      • +1

        In America, if you break into a house with an accomplice, and someone in the house or the police shoots your accomplice dead, you will be charged with murder. In some states anyway.


        The 15 year old in that article got 65 years.

    • You'll find courts will make an assessment as to whether your response was proportionate to the threat.
      If it's disproportionate, you may find yourself in a spot of legal bother.

      There's been cases of people committing burglaries suing for injuries sustained at the hands of their victim.

      Setting traps will get you into very very serious trouble. Keep in mind others may enter - police (not always with a warrant), fire brigade etc.

  • Huh, I guess my situation is similar except I made the switch a little earlier.

    I did only a year of Law/Commerce before I switched to med. I guess my question is, are you glad you switched after completing your degree? Or do you wish you had switched earlier?

    • I think if I bailed first year out I wouldn't have my current mentality. That aside, earlier is definitely better.

  • +9

    Oh boy would Stephanie360 love you…

    • haha dont let her find out. OPs inbox will be flooded with PMs

  • Which particular program are you interested in? I am currently doing gen surg
    Just understand surgical training is a long-haul commitment, fellow-ship pass rates are low. The job itself is very rewarding, albeit gruelling. The key for me and most of my colleagues is supportive partners at home and some kind of small hobby (for me it's tinkering on cars).
    My main tip on entering on a program is to just be around, be in theatre, read, do all the minimum requirements early (GSSE etc) and publish like there is no tomorrow. To be honest, in hindsight I think I was too committed and did not look into other specialities until I got too far in. I highly suggest you also look into which state you want to work in or willing to go. QLD, NZ and WA have some of the best training and pass rates. NSW is probably the worst, but most people aren't willing to move.

    • Thanks for those tips PGee, doing most of those things without much of an idea if I want to go down the sub-specialty road (PGY5-10 without any guarantee of getting on is pretty scary). I've already moved interstate after finishing med school, happy to go anywhere along the eastern sea board (even rural if I had to, which I probably will have to).

  • I suggest you do a trade.

    • To be honest, I wouldn't mind being a wood worker or something. Unfortunately there weren't many opportunities for me to pursue that when growing up, but I do play around with wood and acrylics in my free time.

      Also, not to be morbid or inappropriate but surgery is a bit of a head rush sometimes, not that we put patients in danger or anything. I find that another level you probably won't get from trade work.

  • Is there much (or any potential) for crossover between law + medicine ?
    ie. Any career path and/or profession where you could make good use of knowledge of law, and a medicine.

    • There are but I'm not a fan of the work.

  • Could you elaborate the other pathways to study Medicine apart from ATAR results?

    • study any undergrad degree you like (anything with real anatomy / physiology helps a lot in med school - but most definitely is not necessary)
      sit the GAMSAT (highly competitive now…)
      interview + complete pre-reqs (e.g. unimelb)

    • If your ATAR is >95 do UMAT every year while you're in uni.

      If your ATAR is not competitive and your GPA is competitive (6+), finish your current degree and do the GAMSAT

      If your ATAR is not competitive and your GPA is not currently competitive do a masters or something (work your arse off) and then do the GAMSAT

      • Isn't it more like 99+ ATAR and UMAT? Not doubting but like the minimum atar I saw get in from my high school without Rural Assistance was like high 98.

        • You need to titrate your ATAR and UMAT target to how awkward you are as an 18 year old sitting interviews. I know someone who got in UNSW with 98.90/95 UMAT. I know someone who failed UNSW with 99.80 and 98 UMAT.

  • If there was a time machine where only you could go back in time and Kill Hitler would you do it knowing hat if you do so would cause yourself to never exist anymore?

    • Killing Hitler at what point in time? When he'd already joined the Nazi party and was waging war on Europe or some point before then?

      I don't think you could've prevented much unless you stopped the consequences of WWI on the German population.

      So to answer your question, No, I wouldn't kill him, not because of the existence thing but because I don't think it'd make much difference in the grand scheme of things.

  • has a medical student ever pissed you off? :P

    • Yes =)

  • +2

    No questions, but a couple of comments.

    I know of a guy who did medicine, but was disabled (no arms & legs? - not sure now, but it was serious). He finished the degree, but had trouble functioning in the hospital environment, and so decided to do law, which he also completed followed by some postgrad work as a patent attorney. He then worked as a patent attorney specialising in medical-related patent applications. He didn't need law to do that, but did it anyway. He's obviously an exceptional guy.

    Another guy developed a phobia to blood during his medical training. Bit of an issue that. He did complete the training but then went on to study engineering and worked as an engineer.

    People take all kinds of curious routes, especially if they're highly motivated and capable.

  • do you think we will ever find a cure for stupidity?

    • do you think we will ever find a cure for stupidity?

      Serious answer: stupidity is a subjective comparison . So, therefore there will always be "stupid people" however they could probably use genetic engineering etc to make everyone much much smarter, yet there wiuld still be some smarter than others, so they could still subjectively consider 'stupidity' to be present within some of the population.
      Side note, really smart and mature people with confidence in who they are, do not need to call others stupid. Generally people calling others 'stupid' are not that smart themselves tbh.

  • We need to start verifying these AMA claims.

    Too much potential for trolling!

  • Any tips for studying? Specifically biochemical pathways, they are just killing me atm. Also how many hours did you work per week during your residence?

    • Biochemical pathways have very limited relevance to clinical practice. Study as much as you need to in order to pass. You will need to know some biochem for BPT but nowhere near as much (and different in content to) what you learn in preclin

  • Tell us a good lawyer joke.

  • Is an adult taking approx 80mg of Asprin a day generally considered good medical advice?

    • previous history of coronary heart disease / cerebral vascular event / TIA ?

      If not no.

      you'd be doing yourself harm taking regular NSAIDs which aren't indicated, as they impair renal function and increase your risk of gastric bleeds, especially irreversible platelet inhibitors.

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