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10 years since graduating, want to go into medicine: help w/ decision

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Midoritori

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Hello

I graduated in 2005 with a degree in East Asian studies/ Japanese. In collage I wanted to do a second major in Biology but I was accepted to a program overseas and graduated before I added that second degree.

I graduated with a 3.8 GPA, in Phi Kappa Phi, Phi Beta kappa, and international golden key honors society. full As (usually 4.0) in Biology, Entomology, Oceanography, Astronomy etc. Not exactly medicine bound courses (except Bio) but I was heavily interested in science. I have always excelled in science and my biology professor pulled me aside in collage and asked why I wasn't getting my degree in Bio.

These days I am a science enthusiast, usually reading scientific journals, I did research for a documentary for prime time television, I love to read science based books magazines. My friends always come to me with ailments as they say I very knowledgeable. I don't say this comment to say I'm somehow above training (light years from it) but more to highlight I thoroughly enjoy researching ailments for friends (don't worry they go to real doctors too!) many many people tell me I should be in medicine. and I think I made a mistake in collage.

I have children and am married. I do not want to give up being there for my children at the end of day. I think this is so important.

I would love to become an MD, but doing residency where your working 24 + hour...I can't do that. I can't understand how anyone can. So I am looking into Nurse Practitioner in Integrative Medicine (or PA). But, I am worried it won't be challenging enough. I live for very complex cases- this is where I really feel a pull. I also feel possibly PAs won't have any complex cases or autonomy as much as an MD or an RA.

Need advice

Thanks so much
 
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There's a forum specifically for people who want to go NP or PA - this particular forum is more about becoming a physician so we might not have the best specific answers (though there are certainly NP's and PA's here who are going the doctor route).
 
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Midoritori

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I put a few edits in. I am now thinking between NP, PA or MD. oh the decisions!! :D
 

DokterMom

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In deciding between the different careers, how do you feel about being the one in charge? Or about the degree-determined-certainty of never being the one in charge? All the medical knowledge in the world will never put you in charge as a PA or most particularly, as an NP. If this would frustrate you to no end, then go MD -- you've clearly got the intellectual chops for it. If it's not a big issue for you, then PA offers a rewarding and life-balanced career choice.

I'd caution against NP because the 'low to high' range of talent, skills and academic training is so vast, and low-ability NPs and "I have a doctorate [in nursing] so call me doctor" attitude often ruin it for all. The entry bar for PAs is high and getting higher, so not as much of a problem.
 

Midoritori

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Thank you for your reply.

Good questions. I'm torn here. On one hand I don't mind being in charge. That wouldn't bother me in a sense. But, if it would mean getting very routine cases that would not be mentally challenging enough for me personally. I want complexity. Things that make me pause and think. I want to be able to think outside the box and think creatively and I fear being either a PA or NP would not allow me to do this as much.

With being a doctor though I fear not being able to spend enough time with patients, long residency hours in the beginning, and tons of paperwork.

On the residency note, as I have a family, having to do residency for 24 + hours feels sad to me. I don't want to be away from my kids like that. And I feel sad that doctors have to balance/ choose like this. Are we ever able to get part-time residency (I can hear the laughter) if we have families? Or is this out of the question?

Oh the decisions. :/
 

QofQuimica

Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting....
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I've already told you in your other thread that this is not possible. Once you're out of residency, you can work PT, find "mommy tracks" in many specialties, and otherwise reduce your work hours if you're willing to accept reduced pay. But as a resident, you do not get to control your work hours. On most rotations, you will work 60-80 hours per week, and you will do this for a minimum of three years depending on what specialty you choose. You will also work those kinds of hours while on some of your med student rotations during the MS3-MS4 years. If that's a dealbreaker for you, then again, becoming a physician is not an option.

FWIW, nobody, whether or not they have kids, works the long hours during residency because they love being away from their families or feeling sleep-deprived. I sure as heck didn't enjoy it. There's also no question in my mind that it's much harder to pull all nighters when you're in your 30s than when you're in your 20s. (I did residency in my late 30s.) But the reality is that working these long hours is a necessary hurdle that must be jumped over if you want to be a physician, and it's doable if it's important enough to you. It all comes down to you being honest about what you really care more about in life, and living with your decision. I'm not at all meaning to suggest that you should choose medicine over more time with your family, either; I kind of agree with you that people who go through residency with small kids in tow are a little insane. There's no question that someone else has to do a large chunk of the day-to-day work of raising their kids while they're in residency. But still, plenty of people do manage to do it. We had a few parents in my residency class, including one girl who had a baby during residency.

All that being said, if work-life balance matters to you as much as you say it does, then again, you should pick a different career.
 
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