Cars Doctors Drive (Or At Least Medical Students)!

The other day I had a talk with a couple partners of mine about their medical school cars while they  were medical students. You see, in spite of what some may choose to  believe, not every doctor was born with a silver spoon in their mouths. I owned one car. In high school I drove a 1985 four door grey Mercury Topaz. Heat. Air. Stick. And a radio. A nice decent car at the time.

 I can't say it had the appeal of a Camero, but it worked for me. In college I drove a 1985 Mercury Topaz. Heat. Air. Stick. And a radio. Again a hot rod, but you don't really have to drive so much in college. In medical school I drove a 1985 Mercury Topaz. By now, one really cold winter, I snapped the control on the vent system. Now I had no air. I had no heat. And I had no defroster. For me, my defroster was squirting windshield washer fluid to get rid of the ice and then ride the fluid button until my heat warmed up the windshield. Often times I would drive with my head out the window.

Then, the door handle snapped during a cold streak. No door handle. I had to Bo and Luke it for a while. Or I'd open it up from the inside. Complicate this by a random hit and run  to  my door frame  and I had to use a crow bar to open my door. This left big nasty indentations. After several years of delivering pizzas in college, my seat frame developed a noticable angle to it from constantly reaching over to the passenger seat to pick up the pizza containters.

 I drove almost at a 45 degree angle to the road.. I had no mirror on the passenger side. I had no park break. My clutch was unnecessary to change gears. By now the floor had rusted out as well as in  multiple zones across the whole body. Then, the axle or struts, I'm not sure, were so badly worn down that my two rear tires drove at a slight outward angle. This left a tread wear on my tires so bad you could see the metal frame of wires within my tire that left smoke coming off the road. I drove her into her  last few miles.

At the end of my medical school career, I took her to a dealership, parked half a mile away and walked in shame. I told them I needed something decent. The salesman said, "Are you going to buy a car like a doctor"?  I thought that was odd, so I asked them what he meant by that. He told me his wife was a physician and she always told him she buys cars like she practices her doctor stuff:
See one.  Drive one.  Buy one.  
How funny.  I ended up with a three year lease on a Ford Focus. Perfect for what I needed for residency. They asked me what I had for a trade in. I offered them my humble mass of scrap metal. They took it off my hands for $200.  I was the happiest medical student alive.   Now, fast forward to ObamaCare.  All that is old, is new again, as this original Happy medical ecard helps explain.

"Stop bitching about payment cuts at MY nursing station, doctor.  If you're worried, sell your Mercedes and buy a Hyundai like the rest of us."

Stop bitching about payment cuts at MY nursing station, doctor.  If you're worried, sell your Mercedes and buy a Hyundai like the rest of us nurse ecard humor photo.

Some of this post is for entertainment purposes only and likely contains humor only understood by those in a healthcare profession.  Read at your own risk.

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23 Outbursts:

  1. Well I was downright elitist I guess since I drove a 1996 Mitsubishi Galant in medical school(8/99-5/03) and continued to drive it until Fall 2006.

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  2. A 1997 Saturn SL. They don't make those anymore. It was as no-frills as you could get. Roll-down windows. Rack-and-pinion steering. Manual. I did splurge for the CD player.

    By the time I donated her to the Salvation Army in 2006, she had 263,000 miles on her, had been through 3 accidents (one of which resulted in cancelling a residency interview in Memphis that never got rescheduled), had been broken into 5 times, and suffered 4 flats.

    I will not proceed to tell y'all what I upgraded to, lest you think I deserve the 85% Medicare paycut.

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  3. 78 Pinto, Collision with an Uninsured Motorist Upgraded me to a 74 Dodge, Ex-Georgia State Patrol car, Cop Motor, Cop Shocks drove it till I moved to a commie Yankee State and it wouldn't pass emisions.

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  4. Similar to you, I drove the same car in high school, college, grad school, and med school until the incident. I burned through three alternators, two AC's, a catalytic converter, and a motor mount. The door handle broke off on the passenger side, forcing me to open it from the inside. Dates always assumed that I was being polite when really there was no other way for them to get inside. I put 190,000 miles on it and would have driven it further if not for the accident.

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  5. I'm a med student now with a 1994 GMC sonoma with 250,000 plus miles. I wrecked it and repaired it in highschool. I hunt with it. Have driven from one coast to darn near the other. It still works like a charm, but I'm confident when it goes, it will do so suddenly and in glory!

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  6. College & Med School (grad '81): '66 Opel Kadett. (1.1 liter engine. 45 mph uphill on the freeway). Replaced nearly everything including the U-joint.

    Had to park at the top of the parking lot at the start of med school to roll-start it. Got a battery when PHS scholarship came through. As an R2, brakes went out on Christmas eve on my honeymoon, my father had to tow us home to finish the trip and fly back to MI.

    Remainder of training had a '77 Suburu. This rich doc now drives an '81 Mercedes 240D (280k mi) or a '97 Nissan Altima.

    And a question: How did your car compare to what some of your Medicaid or Disability patients drove during your training?

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  7. 1973 Chev Vega GT (aluminum block engine that used more oil than gas)
    Med school 1977-81. Got a Monte Carlo in last year of med school when hatchback rusted and broke in half!

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  8. A Ferrari Testarossa. No, I'm kidding. It was a 1990 Mitsubishi Eclipse - until my girlfriend totaled it.

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  9. Med school from 1978-1982. Drove a 1969 MGB that I bought from a neighbor for $100. Put about 10 pounds of body putty in it to fill in the rusted out areas.
    Temperamental car with dual carburetors.
    Sold it my senior year for $300.

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  10. First car when I was 20. '79 Honda CVCC hatchback. (grad BSN '87)96,000 miles 'new'. 5 speed, heat, am radio, a/c 455 (4 windows, 55 mph), towels tied on for seat covers. Used a quart of oil per tank of gas. Backfired every time you turned off the engine (not good in the neighborhood I resided in in nursing school, people took cover). Windows spontaneously shattered. Broken into twice (why???). Sputtered into the dealership 5 years later at 180,000miles, blowing black smoke all the way. Trade in value $400. (It WAS a Honda). LOVED that car! Good times! Now drive a '99 Tahoe or '04 Santa Fe. Nothing will ever compare.

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  11. Med School 1998-2002. Drove a 1991 Ford Escort throughout med school and residency.

    Bought a 5 year old Camry my final year of residency because some drunk jackass totaled his (and my) cars at 2 am - I was on call, driving into the ER at the time. I made it to the ER, but not the way I planned...

    Still driving the Camry, it's now 8 years old.

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  12. 1980 chevy citation family car hand me down. 200,000 miles. No a/c. Had to trade it back and forth with my brother who went to a different school. By the end of med school it had stickers from 5 colleges and universities on the back. Paint was long since gone, it all flaked off when I washed it with a power hose. One day there was a big bang and a bunch of smoke. Towed it to the junkyard where they gave me 150 bucks, 50$ went to the tow driver. Bought a 1993 Ford Ranger when I started internship. I still have it today, currently in the shop getting a new clutch.

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  13. I still have my med school car (being only three years removed from the experience). I also still drive it to work. We have upgraded the fleet and I drive the new car (2008 Accord - the bare bones version) when the weather sucks or when one of my husband's siblings needs a vehicle.

    My med school car is/was a 1999 Saturn SC2. It's a "three door" model, as it has a back door on the driver's side. It's red. It's rusting. The cassette radio only now picks up AM stations (I think it got hit by lightning a couple of weeks ago while in the parking lot at work; I usually listen to my iPod via the cassette deck so I don't care). It leaks. It burns oil. It has about 94,000 miles on it and I'm going to run that puppy into the ground.

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  14. Well, cars are kind of important to me. I'm an M3 now, and I bought a '99 Acura TL when I was a senior in college for $10,000. I paid it off in two years, and it'll certainly get me through med school. I'm tempted to upgrade when I hit residency, but I really shouldn't, unless it completely breaks down. It's got a few flaws, but it has premium sound, power everything, climate control, etc. It's nice.

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  15. I had a '90 Civic hatchback (med school 96-2000) with a screwed up electrical system that literally blew up in the fast lane of Canada's busiest highway. Ended my relationship after the clutch went and a biggg dent in the driver-side door from the parking lot at my teaching hospital. It did have a kick-ass stereo, but the locals liked it too and broke the door latch a couple of times trying to break in. It also sparked nicely at night over bumpy roads. Now I've got an '04 Subaru Forrester.

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  16. In high school, got a 68 Chevy Nova for $100 cash. Didn't have legal tags for 6 months. As a student over the summer, one of my job's was being a garbageman for the summer. Well, I found an old license plate in somebody's garbage that was tin snipped in two and it still had the red "T" temporary sticker on the back (those were legal until you got the approved "month/year" sticker. Well, my license plate holder was when that folded down to expose the gas tank at the rear of the car. I just bolted that plate on there and lined up the markings on either side to "appear" as if it was legal. The floor board under the driver's seat was made up entirely of, what used to be some type of street sign, that was riveted to the rest of the floor board. Whenever, I put oil in it (quite often), it would emit this horrible cloud of black smoke (not unlike the scenes of when Sadam Hussein told his henchmen to burn all the oil rigs in Kuwait on his way out in the first Gulf War). It was also a canvas for one of my friends to spray paint, in neon orange nontheless, a likeness of Bart Simpson all over the car: hood, roof, trunk, and doors. It became known as the "Bartmobile" It finally kicked the bucket when I was driving home from college one day and I heard a loud bang (blew a rod) and somehow made it home another 10 miles and parked it out front and some guy came by to tow it. BTW, when I finally got legal tags and insurance, I was pulled over because my license plate (gas tank cover) was down after filling up.
    An additionally funny anecdote: I had a friend who had an early 70s Chevy Monza. I used to race him all the time and beat him most of the time. Did I race him with my Nova? NO, just my own two feet!! It was maybe a 100 meters or so, but always worth some entertainment

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  17. I drove a 1992 Nissan Sentra for both college (95-99) and medical school (99-03). Now that I am a rich attending, I drive a 2003 Ford F150, it's paid for and I plan to keep driving it.

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  18. Silver spoon car history as follows: high school vehicle (age 16 and license-able until 1998) then through college was a 1989 Nissan Pickup, comfortably seating 2 with an additional 2 seats facing toward each other --> the "King Cab". This beauty had a full two-wheel drive and a tape player. It did have heat for the winter and, unfortunately, the summer... A/C was an "add-on" which the original owner hadn't added. Fortunately, I was able to hand crank the windows down and drive faster for all the cool air I desired.
    Medical school (2002-2006) and the first two years of residency were done in a 1994 Volvo 850. This was bought from my girlfriend's parents the day before we broke up (she actually broke up with me the day before I would have broken up with her... her way allowed for a 300 mile drive together with well fewer than 100 words spoken). By the end of its life (at 158,000 miles), the glove box wouldn't open, the radio was stuck off awaiting the security code (which was locked in the glove box) though it wasn't important since the antenna had broken off 7 months before. Sadly, I lost the ability to play the lone mix tape that kept me company on long drives. Worst of all, I couldn't keep the "Check Engine" light off for more than a week at a time (despite multiple $500-$1200 repairs).
    Moonlighting has allowed me to upgrade to a new Honda Accord, my first car with a sunroof. If you need me, I'll be admitting fake chest pain, happy that I'm $50 closer to the next payment.

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  19. I spent high school, college and medical school borrowing my parent's car PRN. I got a motorcycle (1995 Suzuki gs 500 - which I still have and love) during my second year of medical school. But I did not own my first car until residency. My first, current and only car is a 2000 Mitsubishi Eclipse GT which I bought in 2006 - great car.

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  20. My Med school car was a Ford Contour with a dented front end. My 3rd month of private practice I got a note put on the windshield by hospital security - "This Parking Area is for Doctors Only".
    (which is still framed in my office...)

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  21. I graduated 2001. I drove a 1985 GMC Jimmy from high school through med school. It finally died in residency, where I bought and still drive a 2003 Honda element. I haven't upgraded to anything fancier yet, b/c 1) I love my element 2) I drive all over the place and don't feel like putting alot of wear and tear on a porsche.

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  22. I'm an M1 now. Been driving a 1992 2WD Toyota pickup (now called a Tacoma) since Freshman year of college. It's a strip-down version: stick shift, power-nothing, no AC/radio/etc. However, it does have a cup holder. It's got 288,600 miles on it--only had a transmission rebuild and a clutch replacement at 240,000 mi. Can't kill it---*knock on wood*.

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