But Nooo Doctors

When I was little, one of my mother’s favorite picture books was But No Elephants. It was not my favorite. Too much of it stretched my childish credulity about how people act.A salesman with a car full of animals sells a granny-type, Tildy, a beaver as a pet. The beaver is useful; she appreciates him. The guy keeps coming back selling her more useful pets, like a woodpecker, etc. And each time she grudgingly agrees to take the pet with the stipulation, “But no elephants.”

That’s where I began not understanding. Yes, elephants take up more space and eat more, but they’re also stronger and have those wonderful trunks. Every animal has its pros and cons; why wouldn’t she even consider the elephant?

When it comes to shidduchim, there are some things that people just won’t accept, because all they can think of are the cons. Which is why the average Mr./Miss Premed has serious issues getting a date. Everyone assumes that Doctor Mommy is somehow an oxymoron, or that it’s impossible for a frum person to make it through medical school spiritually healthy.

I’ve got a neighbor who’s a pediatrician. He works from 8 am to 10 am and from 4 pm to 6 pm, because that’s when most kids discover that they’re sick. The rest of the day he learns. There’s a female pediatrician who zips around all the male-run private practices doing annual checkups for the squeamish teenage girls. How’s that for flexible hours? And hospitals do run on shifts. Once you get over the killer interning/residency years, it’s easy street in terms of choosing hours. (OK, sort of.) My point being: there are many types of doctors out there, and a physician has some leeway in choosing when he or she works.

Just for reference, your average physical therapist also works 9-5. They can only go into that much touted “private practice” business when they’ve built up a clientele, and even then, they’re not really choosing their own hours; their clients choose for them. And for most clients, weekend and post-5pm on weekdays is when it’s convenient.

So how do premed students go about getting married? Well one Miss PreMed tells people she’s “going into the medical field.” People automatically assume “physical therapy,” because that’s so much more appropriate than doctor. Heck, dissecting a dead and defenseless guy or taking off one’s shirt in class to look at back muscles is all in a day’s work for an aidel maidel—and that’s just Gross Anatomy class.

Of course her real goal comes out eventually over the diet coke. And that’s when things get interesting. One guy, upon hearing that his date intended to go—pardon my language—to medical school [rinse out mouth with soap], got wide-eyed and said,

“Um, I just remembered, this isn’t such a good night for a date. Let’s go.”

Gotta give him credit. This guy’s got finesse.

“Why a doctor? Why not a nurse?” Some feel the need to ask. “That’s also helping people.”

Aw c’mon, folks. Some people are meant to be in charge. They’re too smart to spend their life changing bedpans.

“I asked my rav and he said it’s OK for me,” Miss Premed complained. Being exceedingly bright and capable, she feels confident that she’ll be able to balance family and schoolwork, but if not, she knows her priorities, and it’s not the degree. Why doesn’t anyone give her a chance?

Oh yes, and it’s essentially the same thing with lawyers.

35 thoughts on “But Nooo Doctors

  1. There was a so-called ‘bummy’ girl in Stamford Hill, that no one would touch with a ten-foot pole that went to Medical School. She married a more modern guy and moved to Golders Green.

    Now everyone from SH uses her, and none of the Mosdos have a problem asking her for money.

  2. Why doesn’t anyone give her a chance?

    Because brainy women, regardless of the protests that it is not true, scare the pants off of most men. Because there are self-image issues on their part that are not going to be served when it is clear that the woman is not going to be “looking up” to her husband for all intellectual guidance. Because having a woman who is going to be making more money then you make can damage the ego.

    Lawyers frequently marry doctors–neither party has to worry about self image as they are both quite secure. Your friend might be looking in the wrong places for a shidduch. On the other hand, my favorite shidduch is the rebbi who married a doctor–of course I had to twist his arm to breaking point to get him to go out to begin with. And it helped that his father, a doctor, and her father, a pulpit rabbi, were both rooting for the shidduch.

  3. I had a close in friend in Passaic who became lawyer.

    He is a brilliant talmid chochom, and a genuinely yeshivish ben Torah. It took his wife’s family some time, however, to fully appreciate his qualities because of the misconception that lawyers cannot be good Jewish people, let alone great people.

    He married a really, really nice girl, one who reported to my wife that she was very intimidated by his intelligence (for those on this blog who constantly moan that men are intimidated by smart women).

    To make matters worse, it appears that his hyper-sensitive, low-achieving brother-in-law and his wife (this fellow’s new sister-in-law) HATED this guy because he made them look bad. Just a week after he got married, his sister in law called him a crook, ostensibly alluding to the fact that he PLANNED on going to law school. His brother in law, one who went to R’ Dovid’s and generally gave the impression of being frum (i.e., into ruchnius) would never miss an opportunity to call this fellow “krum” (obviously, he’s going to law school) or “modern.”

    In the meantime, this boy learned in kollel, went to law school (while still learning two sedorim a day), gave at least one chaburah a week (the chaburah consisted mostly of young men still in Kollel) EVERY Shabbos, and eventually became so popular that he was asked to speak at several different shuls on Shavuos. He is a quintessential mentch, graduated number two in his class–and impressed the socks out his a prominent real estate company to hire him straight out law school as its Assistant General Counsel.

    He has since moved to Lakewood and learns roughly six hours a day–on workdays. The brother-in-law who went to R’ Dovid’s? His Totty gave him money to invest in real estate. He was impossibly jealous of this fellow when the same was able to buy a house as soon as he started to work. And guess what? His wife always talks about how much her husband learns to cover up for the fact that he would rather stay home and play on his computer.

    The moral of the story is not that all frum lawyers learn more and better than those who went to Brisk. The moral of the story is that each boy can only be judged on his own merits, and that it is ridiculous to make assinine assumptions about people because of their choice of where (and how) to work.

    Suffice it to say, this fellow’s in-laws worked hard to make sure their next daughter marries someone like this fellow, and not like his older, boorish brother in law.

  4. One more cute thing: He learns now among one of the biggest “Brisker” Rosh Yeshivas in America. The boy from R’ Dovid’s claimed to learn in a forum to help teens at risk . . .

  5. You gave a few examples that are generally the exception and NOT the rule.
    most doctors are very busy and being a doctor is generally a stirah to being a mom.
    and even if there are situations that can work out generally this is only after many years of internship, residency, and then getting a reptation all of which take many years and during those years the doctor-spouse is not working a few hours a day or running around doing checkups for aqueamish little girls

  6. doctors are great! So are lawyers and PhDs, at least in my oppinion.

    (although I might be biased on that account. My mother is a doctor, almost got a PhD, has like 2 batchelors and 2 masters, and is liscenced as both a pediatrician and a psychiatrist. my father, by contrast, only has one batchelors and a masters.)

    Everyone keeps on telling me I should go into academia in something (none particularly cares what) but I just want to teach children. They deserve someone who knows how to answer questions too!

    but bring on the doctors and lawyers and phds, and I hope shes capable in studying talmud to boot! (I’ve been told that very little is so good for a marriage as studying together, particularly tenach or ethical texts, but anything really, so that both of your hashkafot grow together instead of appart. it sounds like a good idea to me!)

  7. I acknowledge that I was citing an exception, not the rule. I made that clear. But I was adding that boys should be judged on their own merits. Plenty of businessmen are as busy as the most hassled doctors and attorneys. My father is one of them. They are so laden with worries and headaches that few, if any, are able to seriously sit and learn. Its about your personal character, your integrity, your strength.

  8. I’m a lawyer, as is my wife (we met in law school). As a practical matter, I think it is important to realize that lawyers (and doctors, and investment bankers) work exceptionally long hours for a good portion of their career. It is very difficult to raise children in an environment where neither parent is home with them. Pre-school kids come home at 2pm; who do yuo want greeting them when they arrive, giving them dinner, etc. Unless there is support from grandparents (I mean physical support as in Bubbie or Zaydie can drive carpool, etc.) It becomes very difficult. My wife has had to sacrifice her career by taking part-time/local jobs in lieu of more interesting and lucrative Manhattan opportunities.

    I think that if a woman wants to be a surgeon or a corporate lawyer, well great–but she and her husband need to both understand the sacrifice that it entails. (Same is true if that is the husband’s goal, many sholom bayis problems arise when a husband is always traveling or working 18 hr days). While one can often find part-time medical or law jobs, often economically the professions don’t scale down well financially.

    If my daughter told me she wouldn’t want to marry a doctor/lawyer because of the hours her husband worked I would certainly understand.

    That all being said, I do agree that in Flatbush, the objections typically raised are more image oriented than practically oriented. In my experience the a good chunk of the problem is that Yeshiva bochrim spend twenty years of their life hearing how they are the smartest people in the whole world, as they are the only persons smart enough to understand intricate brisker chakirot, etc. In the mind of the average Yeshiva bochur, he could easily be the greatest lawyer/doctor/investor but for the fact of his sacrifice. He is certain he is smarter than any woman, which is proven by the fact that women don’t have a clue about what he is learning and traditionally have been deemed to dim to understand it. Meeting a woman who knows more than him, or demonstrates a distinct possibility of accomplishing something he knows that he can not is something to dangerous to be considered as his entire world view is at risk.

    I know, it took me six months at law schoold to realize that there was even a possibility that some of my female classmates might actually know more than me!

  9. I’ve known many frum female med students, and weirdly enough, many of them were married to lawyers, or lawyers-to-be.

  10. good thing i decided not to go to med school, huh? that left all my choices wide open… the guys are just banging down my door…

    truth is, one will find others against whichever field you want to go into. some guys don’t want a touro girl, some guys don’t want a teacher, some guys don’t want a secretary, some guys don’t want a therapist…. the list goes on.

    the thing to remember is that we are not in charge and that if a guy doesn’t want us (or vice versa) then we weren’t meant for each other.

  11. Please send good, frum, ehrlich doctors and lawyers my way. I need a guy who won’t be scared off if I can hold my own in an intelligent conversation.

    By the way, it’s not only yeshivish guys who are scared of girls being “too smart”. My family knew a girl who was bat bayit in our house who had a really hard time finding her bashert because every guy got scared off by the fact that she was in med school, and she was definitely not yeshivish. B”H, after many frustrating years of dating, she married an investment banker and they are very happy together.

  12. M,
    While one can often find part-time medical or law jobs, often economically the professions don’t scale down well financially.
    And more then often they do. Do you know of many other part time or flex time jobs that pay upwards of $135 dollars an hour plus benefits? And in some cases the pay scale is much higher.

  13. Don’t plan om working 15 to 20 hrs a week and getting 135 an hour in law. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen…but it is rare. (I don’t know about medicine). Talk to women lawyers, partners at large firms, who have gone part-time or “mommy-track.” They work 40hrs+ a week (+ commute) and then are still stigmatized as part time.

    My children go to bed at 7:30 and with the exception of Shabbos, Yom-Tov or many Sundays I never, ever have dinner with them. Good luck davening shachris, learning a little bit, taking the train to the city, billing the required number of hours and getting home. Could a woman do the same, absolutely. Should she, well it depends–will her husband be able to pick up the slack, if not will she be comfortable with a nanny raising her kids?

    If you know lawyers at some of the larger law firms ask them how many women partners are married with kids? Not many people can pull it off. Some choose to sacrifice career, some choose to sacrifice family.

    Everyone has their cheshbon. Ironically, the schedule of a kollell/chinuch person would likely be very compatible with the needs of a female doctor/lawyer…don’t wait around for it.

    I think it is also important to factor into the analysis how much someone really wants to be a doctor or lawyer. Someone with a real desire to acheive (whose desire is supported by their spouse) will likely be better able to acheive then someone whose dreams are not supported.

  14. As an attorney I can attest that it is difficult to juggle family life, learning and one’s career. But its possible. Of course, this means you will not be working at a very large firm making the kind of money such a position ordinarily provides.

  15. Wow, I sure do feel sorry for all you highly intelligent single ladies out there. How ever will you be able to find a husband amongst the masses of quivering, insecure, self-agrandizing young men. Truly your lot in life is to search in vain for someone who has the inner strength and sense of self to allow himself to wed one so far superior or to be lucky enough to find those extremely rare individuals who either do not care about or in fact covet such qualities.

  16. It’s amusing how people jump to conclusions based on job occupation. Does every person in the same job act the same? Will every premed student respond to med school the same way? And what about people who are workaholics, what will their hours look like? And who knows when a person might decide on a career change?

    “‘Why a doctor? Why not a nurse?’ Some feel the need to ask. ‘That’s also helping people.'”

    Nursing and medicine are two very different fields, needing two different types of people. And nurses can have crazy hours too. Many hospitals have 12 hour shifts, so either mommy isn’t home to get the kids ready for school or she’s not home to put them to bed. Not the most optimum of situations, is it?

    “Aw c’mon, folks. Some people are meant to be in charge. They’re too smart to spend their life changing bedpans.”

    Up onto my soapbox.

    Sorry, b4s but that is a little bit out of line. Nurses work very hard and do much more then changing bedpans. When someone is hospitalized, it is usually the nurses who help the patient and family most, medically and emotionally. They are the ones who explain the patient’s situation, speak up to the doctors and lend a comforting shoulder.

    The schooling may be much shorter but that doesn’t make it easy. Some schools have a 50% dropout rate. I’m not a nurse or in nursing school but I do have experience dealing with nurses so I hate to se them being put down.

    Off my soapbox.

  17. are you waiting for a ‘good4shidduchim’ ‘haskama’ to go to medical school? it’s hard to be a good doc when u smell like fried onions.

  18. do what you have to do and e.o will smile. no learning guy would look down on a girl that can support him without the inlaws

  19. Oh, you also have that book? I think you overlooked (intentionally?) the point — the idea is that she had no good reason for her bias against elephants, and in the end she learned that every person — er, animal, has its good qualities. The elephant may eat a lot, but it also transported everyone to a place with more food. 😛

  20. Sure, being a med student is hard for meeting people. But try being a rabbinical student- also not so easy. Among my classmates (both male and female), it’s quite classic to put one’s profession out there as “graduate student”, or as whatever part time job you also hold along with it, rather than “rabbinical student”. It’s another profession that often requires long hours, and also involves a general lack of privacy if one is going into the pulpit (but not going into the pulpit doesn’t always make you sound much more appealing).

  21. G – this blog is moderated. Which means that if I leave my desk for an afternoon you need to wait for your post to appear.

    That said, many fields are hard to break into and require long hour plus commute. If you don’t need a second home, it’s possible to get along as a doctor or lawyer with reasonable hours. Otherwise, any career can eat up your life.

    CM, nurses may be the most important ppl in the hospital (from one POV) but they’re by no stretch in charge or as highly skilled as doctors. I’m sorry if that came across as insulting, but I meant that many students can go farther, and why shouldn’t they?

    Also, as pointed out, nurses just have shorter schooling – not shorter hours.

    Just a point – becoming a dr is no shorter than becoming a clinical psychologist, but yet one is more acceptable.

  22. the hours of schooling and the hours work are considerably less for a clinical psychologist than for a doctor or even lawyer

  23. um, I will point out that careers like being a doctor or lawyer only eat up ones life if one makes their the amount of money they earn as their measure of a successfull carreer, or if one particularly cares about status or prestige.

    If you don’t, its easy! Just find a partime job, and work at it! I know my mother, after her practice went bankrupt (she was insistant on doing a good job and not just cranking people out for money. She is still regarded as pretty much the top pediatrician in the area) she went and worked at an emergancy peds place part time, made like 75 or 100 dollars an hour, and had like 10, 15 or 20 hours a week, a whole lot of money, didn’t have to pay for malpractice insurance, and generaly enjoyed the job except she didn’t get enough money to support a family. For a woman who wants to be a mother but wants some other measure of stimulation in her life such a job is litteraly ideal as it provides her the best of both worlds, without crushing hours. Likewise, if one distinguished ones self durring residency, or in partime work, one can always find a practice that will take you on part time for a hand full of paitents. More money for them and more money for you.

    It is managable, as long as one isn’t looking at the success of ones career as in howmany dollars one is bringing home instead of how good a job are you doing with that you are doing, and how happy and pleased with your work you are.

    Most jobs if one allows acheivement of status or whatever to become an obession are consuming. Does this mean that one should not work?

    (for the boy who has to support the family, this is a different issue all together.)

    but I would NOT recomend marrying a girl or boy before they have at least mostly finished residency. Med school is crazy, when my mother went we didn’t see her for 4 years, save for on pasach and on rosh hashana, etc.

    residency these days is much kinder but still it is quite litteraly legal slave labor.

  24. Being Premed is probably the worst place to be. The hardest part of med school, you see, is getting in to begin with. A pre-med student is worthless without a really good MCAT score or an acceptance letter to someplace in in New York City.

    There are plenty of nice, frum guys and girls out there who are dying for the eventual doctor or who have professional parents and want a professional wife/husband. They, you see, are just smart enough to know that the premed label is just talk without that acceptance letter.

  25. Last I checked, residents get paid. 40k may not be enough to buy a second car, but it’s a respectable starting salary!

  26. 40k may not be enough to buy a second car

    Have to wonder what you consider as a car. 4 months ago a brand new Toyota Corolla LE with all the extras and including tax was only $17,000. Even after taking taxes on the $40K that leaves more than enough for that second car. And people who are just starting out need that second car just why?

  27. Should have said “to afford a second car.” Assuming they’re a married couple paying rent, transportation, food, babysitting, and college loan repayments.

    …though the hours are long. Though, take a special ed wife who hops from money-making employment to college to fieldwork, and she’s probably only slightly more “around”.

  28. Why exactly would a smart woman want to spend a lifetime with some fellow who is intimidated by smart women?

    My wife of over a quarter century, who is an engineer wih 3 degrees from MIT did not need to hide her intelligence to find a good match (at least, she says it is a good match) nor did her friends from grad school.

  29. Yonah,

    You don’t know who this is, but I know you. I know the attorney who you are reffering to. And I know his brother in law, as well.

    I think it was inappropriate to be so detailed in your post, as anyone who knows probably the only young attorney who should be a Rosh Yeshiva (and he’s a very good attorney) would be able to figure it out.

    Most girls are not looking for a guy who stays up till the wee hours morning learning after a long day at work. 99.9 percent of the women who would marry an attorney are not looking for a husband who would never miss a seder–even if it means not going to any chassunas (unless they are brother or sister) or out to a resturant during “zman.” Being married to a working man AND a kollel man is a very difficult challenge. And yes, his BIL was insanely jealous (as was his SIL of her sister because she has to be older and better or whatever) but why are you airing out family issues like this? This lawyer obviously would never talk about it. If he doesn’t care, why do you? I would not say that the BIL is a boor, per se, either. He just looks like a complete failure and blithering idiot in comparison. I would also look like an idiot if I were forced to talk after a smooth guy with a over the top, genius IQ gave a beautiful speech. Yes, his in-laws are dying for others like him, but who is? Either you are on or the other, both seems almost impossible unless you are really devoted and single minded about it. And who is at such a young age? When you have so many excuses.

    My other point is. He is not a rayah. You are talking about an exception. Most lawyers have to work more hours in order to make the money this guy is making. They are not considered so “worth it” so early in their career so as to deserve shorter hours. And its hard. Really, really hard.

  30. Pingback: Friday Repost: Aaah! A Doctor! | Bad for Shidduchim

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