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KnightDoc

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Hi all, this is partly to vent and throw my thoughts out into the open, but also to receive some advice from the community.

As background: I'm a pre-med applying this cycle with an app I've worked very hard on (3.95GPA, 525 MCAT, >1000 hrs of clinical/research exp, 100s of volunteer hours, the works etcetc.)

Lately, I've been thinking very hard about this path and whether it's right for me or not (I'm not sure there's a way to really know 100%).

It's not that I don't think I would like being a doctor. Based off of my clinical experiences and my values, I think I would LOVE being a doctor (the greatest pulls for me is the direct personal interaction the job involves, the privelege of being intimately involved in others' lives to make a difference, and being able to have a positive impact on people's lives/my community/the world). And now just as I'm applying I'm getting cold feet again.

Why? Well a few disruptive and intrusive realizations/thoughts have been wracking my brain constantly for the last few days (haven't slept well in a week...)
  • Sacrificing freedom/independence in my 20s/30s: The majority of my friends are in SWE (software engineers), consulting, IB. I have 2 premed friends I'm very close with, and a few current med student friends I'm less close with. While the path to medicine has always seemed glorious to me, I am (quite frankly) jealous of my friends when I hear them talk about their plans. My current view is that if I'm going to continue down this path, I would love to eventually arrive at clinical practice, but I fear that I am restricting myself to never doing anything outside of medicine up until the point I die. I hear my friends saying they plan to move jobs every 2 years (something I see as terrible honestly; as I hate applying for stuff) or plan to switch careers (e.g. going from tech->product management or consulting->starting a business; this seems cool to me). In the path to being a physician, that freedom to move around and liberally carve one's professional path as you go just does not seem to exist. Correct me if I'm wrong.
  • Rise of the mid-levels and decreasing respect/autonomy for physicians: I understand that this should NOT be a sole motivator for going into medicine, but I will admit that the prestige/respect involved with being a doctor is one thing that made medicine alluring to me. I browse r/medicine and this website a lot, and it seems like doctors just get **** on from all angles. The public is grossly misinformed about the hierarchy in medicine (midlevels vs doctors, med interns vs residents vs fellows vs attendings). I fear that by the time that I actually become a doctor, there will be no inkling of respect for doctors anymore. Disrespect from admin/the government during the COVID-19 pandemic has only made my sensitivity towards these issues worse.
  • Advent of single-payer system: I am 100% for expanded access to healthcare. I welcome universal access to healthcare, but I fear the possibly catastrophic disruption that exploding our current system and putting single-payer in its place will have on the field of medicine. I fully expect single-payer to come in my life time, and I'm worried that salaries will tank and doctors will lose even more autonomy (and mid-level autonomy will receive even greater support due to lower costs). While autonomy and money are NOT sole motivators for me, they are definitely things that draw me to the profession given the immense monetary and temporal sacrifice required by this path.
  • Alarming physician dissatisfaction: As much as I have evaluated my decision to march along this path, convincing and proving myself that being a physician is the profession for me, the reality is that I am not a physician. I think that recent figures from MedScape report that ~25% of doctors regret their career choice (or something like that). I can convince myself that this is the right path for me, but I am also a realistic person. 25% is A LOT-- how can I say that I won't end up in that group? It scares me.
  • Do I even like science?: I've always been convinced that I like science/biology. However, I grew up in a household where both my parents went to medical school and my sister is an MD/PhD. It was the thing I was most exposed to, and by working hard, I became "good" at it. I am a fairly competitive person, and I do derive a lot of joy/self-esteem from success. This has made me wonder: do I only like science because I've invested the most time into it and therefore it's the thing I'm best at studying (i.e. do I only like science because I've managed to find success in science by working hard)? Would I like something else just as much if I spend my efforts there instead?
I honestly think I have a terrible terrible case of "grass is greener" syndrome... To re-iterate, I am still convinced that I would love being a physician and clinical practice, but I worried that, in this one life that I have, there could be something else for me as well and committing to medicine will mean I will never have a chance to explore.
All things considered, my logical self says I should not throw away years of investment into this path over a few intrusive thoughts that have clouded my mind these past weeks, but my emotions have been more vocal about this than ever (the last time something like this bothered me was sophomore year of college) and this is the closest I've ever felt towards abandoning this path.

Current MDs/Med students (or even pre-meds with similar doubts): How did you address doubts about medicine? Did you have similar concerns?

To calm myself down a bit, I did some searching and I was wondering if the following plans seem feasible:
  • If I get rejected this cycle: I'll quit pre-med or at least take a year off to explore something else like learning coding for a career in SWE (am I crazy? My MCAT score expires in 9/2022 I believe)
  • If I get accepted this cycle: I plan on getting an MD, but I've also been curious about how MD/MBA programs work. I would plan to complete residency and practice clinically, but I would hope that if I wanted to, I'd be able to look into consulting or something outside of clinical practice. (Is it possible to do consulting and clinical practice part-time concurrently?)
To me, it sounds like you worked very hard to get to the point that you will be an excellent candidate, and, as you are on the verge of going forward, you are having second thoughts due to the sacrifices involved and the possibility of reduced future income as compared to those who came before you. This is valid.

A ton of people have advised me that there are far easier ways to make money if that is what is motivating you. If you are envious of the lives your friends are going to have while you are basically an indentured servant in the beginning of your career, this is also valid.

Bottom line, this isn't something to do because you think you'll probably enjoy it -- this is something to do because you can't see yourself doing anything else. The inability to see yourself doing anything else is the primary thing that makes the many sacrifices tolerable. Quite frankly, that doesn't sound like you based on your post. Good luck!!!
 
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KendallJennerSniperLady69

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To me, it sounds like you worked very hard to get to the point that you will be an excellent candidate, and, as you are on the verge of going forward, you are having second thoughts due to the sacrifices involved and the possibility of reduced future income as compared to those who came before you. This is valid.

A ton of people have advised me that there are far easier ways to make money if that is what is motivating you. If you are envious of the lives your friends are going to have while you are basically an indentured servant in the beginning of your career, this is also valid.

Bottom line, this isn't something to do because you think you'll probably enjoy it -- this is something to do because you can't see yourself doing anything else. Quite frankly, that doesn't sound like you based on your post. Good luck!!!

Hi, thanks for the reply.

I guess I didn't come off clearly. Reduced income is definitely a concern, but that alone is not enough to throw me off this path. I'm on this path because I'm convinced that I will enjoy the work until I die/retire.

It is true that I can't see myself doing anything besides medicine currently, but that's because I haven't invested nearly as much time looking into other career paths. And I guess this is where my my qualm comes in. I'm not envious of my friends because they don't have to go through more schooling/residency. They all work hard, and I'm sure I have friends who are will also be going through 80-100hr work weeks in their lives to further their careers. I also have always loved school. My main envy is my friends seem to have their whole lives to explore and shape their paths, shifting to other things when they feel their heart unexpectedly (or maybe not) drawn to something else. I just don't see any flexibility in the path of a physician, and it scares me that, although I'm enamored by the work a physician does in clinical practice now, I can't predict how things will be decades from now, and because of the nature of the path, I won't have the freedom to explore other things.

I'm guessing that you're still a pre-med student (?), and so you probably don't have the perspective that I was looking for from current med students/residents/physicians, but as a premed student, how would you address concerns about restricting yourself to one path for the rest of your life (possibly 50+ years!!!)? I personally think it would be naive not to fall out of love (even if temporarily) with anything given that amount of time.
 

KnightDoc

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Hi, thanks for the reply.

I guess I didn't come off clearly. Reduced income is definitely a concern, but that alone is not enough to throw me off this path. I'm on this path because I'm convinced that I will enjoy the work until I die/retire.

It is true that I can't see myself doing anything besides medicine currently, but that's because I haven't invested nearly as much time looking into other career paths. And I guess this is where my my qualm comes in. I'm not envious of my friends because they don't have to go through more schooling/residency. They all work hard, and I'm sure I have friends who are will also be going through 80-100hr work weeks in their lives to further their careers. I also have always loved school. My main envy is my friends seem to have their whole lives to explore and shape their paths, shifting to other things when they feel their heart unexpectedly (or maybe not) drawn to something else. I just don't see any flexibility in the path of a physician, and it scares me that, although I'm enamored by the work a physician does in clinical practice now, I can't predict how things will be decades from now, and because of the nature of the path, I won't have the freedom to explore other things.

I'm guessing that you're still a pre-med student (?), and so you probably don't have the perspective that I was looking for from current med students/residents/physicians, but as a premed student, how would you address concerns about restricting yourself to one path for the rest of your life (possibly 50+ years!!!)? I personally think it would be naive not to fall out of love (even if temporarily) with anything given that amount of time.
You're right about me just being a premed. My point was that this is something I've been wanting to do since grade school. I never deviated, and thankfully I have the grades and other experiences to support it. Granted, lots of others come to it later than I did, but, and n=1, I haven't really thought about investing time looking into other paths. If you do, you will find many paths that are more lucrative with less personal sacrifice.

THAT is the point. To me, it doesn't matter, because this is what I've wanted to do since I was a little kid. The mere fact that you are thinking about it is an indication that you will be playing "what if" every time something along the way sucks, and you will make yourself miserable. I know this, and I haven't even gone through it yet. Any med student or doctor will tell you the same. They'll tell you it's worth it, because, to them, it is. Only you know whether or not it will be for you, but the tone and nature of your OP indicates that it won't.

Assume every negative you mentioned turns out to be true. If you are still in, you have your answer. If not, you also have your answer. Yes, the grass is greener. Medicine is for people who have no interest in the grass.
 
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Moko

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It is true that I can't see myself doing anything besides medicine currently, but that's because I haven't invested nearly as much time looking into other career paths. And I guess this is where my my qualm comes in. I'm not envious of my friends because they don't have to go through more schooling/residency. They all work hard, and I'm sure I have friends who are will also be going through 80-100hr work weeks in their lives to further their careers. I also have always loved school. My main envy is my friends seem to have their whole lives to explore and shape their paths, shifting to other things when they feel their heart unexpectedly (or maybe not) drawn to something else. I just don't see any flexibility in the path of a physician, and it scares me that, although I'm enamored by the work a physician does in clinical practice now, I can't predict how things will be decades from now, and because of the nature of the path, I won't have the freedom to explore other things.
My thoughts:
- It's good that you're having these thoughts now rather than several years down the line once you are in debt. These thoughts are natural, common, and healthy.
- You are correct that the pursuit of medicine demands many sacrifices, and that sacrifices are needed to get anywhere in life (whether it be in medicine, finance, engineering, etc). No one gets to the top without hard work.
- A MD degree remains marketable and opens doors. Some of my friends and co-workers do consulting on the side, others are engaged in healthcare policy, education, administration, research, etc. One even took a few years off to start a business/education venture. Transitioning to these other environments inevitably requires 'learning the ropes' (and some natural aptitude), though this again remains true for any field.
- Medicine essentially offers lifetime job security. This can't be said for many other jobs. I know that I can comfortably provide for myself and my family for as long as my brain remains functional, and that's a huge blessing, especially in times like this.
  • Rise of the mid-levels and decreasing respect/autonomy for physicians:
  • Advent of single-payer system:
- These are valid concerns, though are by no means new. About a year ago, someone revived a 10+ year old thread regarding mid-levels and physician autonomy, and it was striking how people back then were complaining about the exact same things. Physicians still have not been replaced by mid-levels, and people (for the most part) continue to respect the work that we do. Certainly, the dynamic between mid-levels and physicians will likely change, but I do not foresee physicians being replaced ever. We will need to adapt though.
- With how gridlocked our political system is (and how influential lobbies are), I'm not holding my breath for a single-payer system any time soon..
  • Alarming physician dissatisfaction: ~25% of doctors regret their career choice (or something like that). I can convince myself that this is the right path for me, but I am also a realistic person. 25% is A LOT-- how can I say that I won't end up in that group? It scares me.
- Physician burnout is a real problem, and highlights the need to go into this field with realistic expectations and an honest and thoughtful evaluation of one's career goals. Medicine is definitely not for everyone. As an aside, I wonder what percentage of people in other fields are dissatisfied with their work.
I honestly think I have a terrible terrible case of "grass is greener" syndrome...
The grass is always greener on the other side. Keep in mind that you can always explore other career pathways first to see if you would be happy doing something else. Medical schools will always be here if/when you are ready to take the plunge. Best of luck with your decision.
 
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New med student here. Non-trad, graduated a few years back. Im not a materialistic person- I have high quality relationships with friends and family, enough money from research assistant job to at least afford an independent life. I've been with my newly-minted fiancee for 7 years, and couldn't be happier only having to plan the small party we can afford for our wedding next year. But HECK if I don't get super jealous when I see all the friends I graduated with throw super lavish weddings, live in West-Elm decorated two bedroom apartments in downtown metropolitan areas, have new trendy clothing every month, go on biyearly vacations, and buy their first homes together. How in HECK y'all doing it. Any money I have saved the last three years will be used up in the first few months of medical school. Lol.

At my best during application time last year (first and only cycle), I trusted my intuition, hit submit on that sucker, immediately went out for margaritas, and just knew it would work out because I was true to myself. At my worst, I responded to ads for data scientist online boot camps only to dream about what it would be like to make six figures and work from home within 2 years as I manically checked my email and portals.

This **** gets to you, but only you can decide if its worth it. I do think I could be relatively happy doing something else.. but when it came time to help in a medical crisis or correctly educate someone about what was best for their health, I knew Id never be happy not being able to responsibly act in those situations because those are my real passions.

I have no regrets and I never did, but I also don't think contemplating your choice is necessarily unhealthy. It gets you thinking about your goals and dreams, continually interrogating yourself about what you really want out of life as you grow and change. To me it shows thoughtfulness and awareness and honestly that this profession isn't perfect, not being unfit for this career or stubbornly sticking to it because principle and whatever. I personally think having Plan B and not being wrecked if life doesn't go exactly to your original plan is fine. There is wisdom in redirecting when all the signs are pointing to it.

You don't have to have wanted it from since you were a kid and never changed your mind. You just have to know now what's going to keep you grinding, knowing what you're doing is worth it, when the challenges get even worse cause they will haha.

(And all those friends who seem like they have the perfect financially stable career and life always have their own problems, always)
 
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readmypostsMD

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I’d say still consider it.

- salary. socialized medicine will reduce physician salaries, but not sure how much. It could be 10% or it could be 40%. Doctors in Canada still make a lot of dough. I presume that the “politicians” would be smart enough to not drop salaries below Canadian salaries, or else you expect a lot of movement up north, and also realize that if you cut salary too much, you’ll end up with low quality physicians because the smartest, most hard working people will realize they can have a better life elsewhere. Besides, you can do plastics and go into cosmetics, which will probably explode due to generations addicted to scrolling through Instagram models... sigh

- prestige. There’s not doubt in my mind that doctors still are among the most respected professionals in the public eye. I feel like a lot of the redditers are talking about bad interactions with hospital managers. Maybe you should get an MD/MBA, this will probably boost your earning potential. Also, you don’t really have a “boss” as a doctor. That’s huge for me. I can’t stand the idea of someone lording over me :panda:

- encroachment. Yeah this and AI. I’m not too sure about this tbh. I guess gravitate toward something that mid levels can’t actually do, like surgery?

- also the 20/30s living the life thing with the cool tech job. Unless you’re naturally entrepreneurial and know business and economics, don’t expect to be making it big in these industries or starting a business. Otherwise you’ll be other corporate drone. Also, most Med schools are pass fail nowadays and step is going pass fail. It’s still a ton of studying but a lot of people party in Med school. Also, you likely won’t ever get the social environment provided by med school out there in the working world.
 
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readmypostsMD

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Also about salary... just be sure to marry another doctor. Assuming you make as low as $200k, if you both make that you’re netting $400k, which is a lot
 

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Dont do it.

I would choose to be a doctor even if i was making 50K a year on single payer system in a poorly staffed rural hospital in the middle of nowhere. And i literally MEAN it. I even love how hospital smells. nothing is "too gross" for me, and i love every second of it. Do i get upset? sure. when i see addicts who messed up their lives... moms who didnt vaccinate and their child is sick.... when i see ppl dying from horrible illnesses. The rest of it? not important.

Please, dont go to medical school.
 
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Skarl

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Frankly, it's incredibly naive to tell someone not to go into medicine just because they are having doubts and want to make an informed decision. The idea that you need to want to be a doctor from day one and that if you can imagine yourself in any other career then you shouldn't go into medicine is exaggerated and ridiculous.

OP- as a physician, your skills will always be in demand and at the end of the day you are guaranteed a relatively high salary as long as you work hard and graduate. High earners in other fields (e.g. banking, engineering) are likely working just as many hours as physicians. The issues you mentioned are valid and worthy of consideration, but I don't think the fact that you are asking these questions disqualifies medicine for you.
 
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I may not be who you want replying, but as someone who spent a longer time in school to go into a career where I make a lot less and get constantly have my students ask if I ever regret "not becoming a REAL doctor" and remind me angrily that "if I had the ability, I would do rather than teach"... Money and prestige aren't always the things that make a career worth pursuing.

While you shouldn't ignore financial realities when choosing a career, worrying about whether you're top of the pile in prestige and money aren't great reasons to choose stressful, demanding and consuming careers. Especially not when there are other options where you will, as you pointed out, make a lot more.

My suggestion would be to take some gap years to explore other options. They won't hurt your application. If you decide you love software engineering and are happy, then don't go back to med school. If you find you really miss it, then you can apply with a really strong story of how you tried another option, and realized that medicine really, truly, is what you want to do.
 
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lanzhou_lamian

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New med student here. Non-trad, graduated a few years back. Im not a materialistic person- I have high quality relationships with friends and family, enough money from research assistant job to at least afford an independent life. I've been with my newly-minted fiancee for 7 years, and couldn't be happier only having to plan the small party we can afford for our wedding next year. But HECK if I don't get super jealous when I see all the friends I graduated with throw super lavish weddings, live in West-Elm decorated two bedroom apartments in downtown metropolitan areas, have new trendy clothing every month, go on biyearly vacations, and buy their first homes together. How in HECK y'all doing it. Any money I have saved the last three years will be used up in the first few months of medical school. Lol.

At my best during application time last year (first and only cycle), I trusted my intuition, hit submit on that sucker, immediately went out for margaritas, and just knew it would work out because I was true to myself. At my worst, I responded to ads for data scientist online boot camps only to dream about what it would be like to make six figures and work from home within 2 years as I manically checked my email and portals.

This **** gets to you, but only you can decide if its worth it. I do think I could be relatively happy doing something else.. but when it came time to help in a medical crisis or correctly educate someone about what was best for their health, I knew Id never be happy not being able to responsibly act in those situations because those are my real passions.

I have no regrets and I never did, but I also don't think contemplating your choice is necessarily unhealthy. It gets you thinking about your goals and dreams, continually interrogating yourself about what you really want out of life as you grow and change. To me it shows thoughtfulness and awareness and honestly that this profession isn't perfect, not being unfit for this career or stubbornly sticking to it because principle and whatever. I personally think having Plan B and not being wrecked if life doesn't go exactly to your original plan is fine. There is wisdom in redirecting when all the signs are pointing to it.

You don't have to have wanted it from since you were a kid and never changed your mind. You just have to know now what's going to keep you grinding, knowing what you're doing is worth it, when the challenges get even worse cause they will haha.

(And all those friends who seem like they have the perfect financially stable career and life always have their own problems, always)

This is really great advice.
 
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Damson

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    hey man. As long as you craft a well-balanced school list, lemme tell you this, you will get in

    Even within the field of medicine there are vastly different specialties that do vastly different types of work, each with their own pros/cons and lifestyle. You will find something that suits you

    Whether or not some other field of work will suit you, is dubious. Everything gets repetitive after a while

    And, setting yourself up for financial independence with a safe career is a good enough reason to go through with it. Take this opportunity. You may have other interests that COULD be developed into a real career. I guess I could do it - I'm talented in violin and badminton, and I know I can be a good programmer. But I can develop my skills in these interests as serious hobbies later on. My talents and interests don't need to be manifested in my life as careers in order for me to enjoy my life, as long as you make sure you space out some time to cultivate those interests.

    I know I'll enjoy being a doctor. I also know I'll want to spend time on other interests. So no specialties with crazy ass hours for me.

    Your MD/MBA idea is good too.
     
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    KendallJennerSniperLady69

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    Don't do it.
    Don't quit pre-med or don't go to medical school? I'm assuming you're a physician, so your perspective is greatly appreciated.

    Dont do it.

    I would choose to be a doctor even if i was making 50K a year on single payer system in a poorly staffed rural hospital in the middle of nowhere. And i literally MEAN it. I even love how hospital smells. nothing is "too gross" for me, and i love every second of it. Do i get upset? sure. when i see addicts who messed up their lives... moms who didnt vaccinate and their child is sick.... when i see ppl dying from horrible illnesses. The rest of it? not important.

    Please, dont go to medical school.

    Hmm, well I'm not you, and our experiences/values are different. I don't think being 300k in debt and the opportunity cost of nearly a decade of my life to have a career that pays me 50k seems like a great prospect for myself or the family I hope to have in the future. I also don't think an unwillingness to be receptive to that scenario should disqualify anyone from medicine. I also love everything about being in a healthcare setting too, but to ignore rather tangibly important things like financial security seems kinda irresponsible and a recipe for disaster.

    My thoughts:
    - It's good that you're having these thoughts now rather than several years down the line once you are in debt. These thoughts are natural, common, and healthy.
    - You are correct that the pursuit of medicine demands many sacrifices, and that sacrifices are needed to get anywhere in life (whether it be in medicine, finance, engineering, etc). No one gets to the top without hard work.
    - A MD degree remains marketable and opens doors. Some of my friends and co-workers do consulting on the side, others are engaged in healthcare policy, education, administration, research, etc. One even took a few years off to start a business/education venture. Transitioning to these other environments inevitably requires 'learning the ropes' (and some natural aptitude), though this again remains true for any field.
    - Medicine essentially offers lifetime job security. This can't be said for many other jobs. I know that I can comfortably provide for myself and my family for as long as my brain remains functional, and that's a huge blessing, especially in times like this.

    - These are valid concerns, though are by no means new. About a year ago, someone revived a 10+ year old thread regarding mid-levels and physician autonomy, and it was striking how people back then were complaining about the exact same things. Physicians still have not been replaced by mid-levels, and people (for the most part) continue to respect the work that we do. Certainly, the dynamic between mid-levels and physicians will likely change, but I do not foresee physicians being replaced ever. We will need to adapt though.
    - With how gridlocked our political system is (and how influential lobbies are), I'm not holding my breath for a single-payer system any time soon..

    - Physician burnout is a real problem, and highlights the need to go into this field with realistic expectations and an honest and thoughtful evaluation of one's career goals. Medicine is definitely not for everyone. As an aside, I wonder what percentage of people in other fields are dissatisfied with their work.

    The grass is always greener on the other side. Keep in mind that you can always explore other career pathways first to see if you would be happy doing something else. Medical schools will always be here if/when you are ready to take the plunge. Best of luck with your decision.

    Thanks for your reply! Along with other replies in this thread, it definitely put my mind more at ease.

    As for others who have replied, I apologize but I think I came off as overly concerned with money/prestige in my original post. I need to clarify that these are NOT the most important things weighing on me. As long as I make enough to comfortably support myself and my prospective family, then I'm sure I'll be happy with the money I make.

    As for prestige (i.e. respect), I just don't see how respect doesn't matter to people. I don't have to be the MVP of the environment I'm in, but I sure as hell don't want to be treated like dirt. I would think as a physician that it's very important to be concerned about the level of respect people have for you, as that is tied to how much your co-workers and patients trust you to take the lead in making crucial medical decisions. If no one respects you, you can sure as hell bet that they don't trust as you as much either, and even if you have the knowledge to help people, what good is it if they don't trust you enough to guide (heal) them (e.g. see anti-vaxxers)?

    The main thing I was brooding over is what I perceived to be a lack of freedom to forge my path in life. As I see things now, I love school, I love biology, and I love medicine. At least right now, I can see myself enjoying these things till the day I die, but I don't think it's wrong to doubt that I'll feel the same way decades from today. I don't think I can predict what I'll feel like 30 years from now, just as 10 years ago, I wouldn't have been able to predict how I'm feeling now.

    Thanks for everyone's replies! I really just needed to vent. I will continue working hard at my goal of becoming a physician. If that falls flat, maybe I'll consider other things. If I ever fall out of love with it, at least along the way I can work towards honing other skills to branch out in life if needed :).
     
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    lumya

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    Every profession has its ups and downs and honestly, I think medicine has the fewest downsides (but I might just be biased). I have friends in FAANG companies, in big 3 consulting, and in financial investment, and you know what? They all hate aspects of their jobs. It’s not to say they don’t enjoy their careers (and the money doesn’t hurt) but no illustrious career isn’t going to ask you to give up your freedom and independence in your 20-30s, work until you’re borderline burned out, and risk a reduction in wages based on factors you can’t control (recession, pandemic, ect.). I’ll admit, I’ve had fever dreams of abandoning everything to open up a shaved ice cart in Hawaii, but then my momentary happiness will be quickly replaced with feelings of stagnation and unfulfillment the older I get. Your stats show you’re a hard worker and capable of a lot, but your “cons” aren’t limited to science and they will keep on persisting no matter what career you choose. So if you don’t want to be a doctor, don’t. But don’t naively believe that your other options will offer you a much better life. Do your research before you jump on a different path.
     
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    M&L

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    Are you in medical school? I have to say this sounds like naive pie-in-the-sky premed talk. I probably thought along these lines at one point too, but as an MS4 with growing debt I see things differently. Medicine is a job, and one that appears to be pretty frustrating at times I might add. OP listen to the attendings on here or better yet talk to a few that you know personally. From my perspective, the sense of time passing by while you accumulate debt is very real and it is a tough pill to swallow. And I still have a very long residency ahead of me. I think that I could have been very happy in another career like engineering, but that might be grass is greener syndrome talking. I know that I’ll enjoy being a physician but it comes at a high cost. For me that cost is worth it because of the job stability and high income that will enable me to support my family and help my parents retire. You just gotta decide if you want it bad enough.
    I AM in medical school . And I am not naive . Of course , I am not talking about the debt (the 300K part). If we would be paid 50K-70K rAnges , we wouldn’t have to pay 50-60 K per year. I was talking about the fact that I would do this even if it was not one of the best paying careers.

    snd no, I am not naive . I am actually older, I have done and seen a lot of crazy and bad things in life,and me saying that I would do medicine regardless of how much it would pay comes from a place of love for the job vs naive attitude . And before you say that I haven’t “seen enough”, Ijust started career as a doctor - true. But I worked in other positions in a medical field for many years with very difficult types of populations. I just realized over all this that Very few things in life matter to me anymore, and this is one of them .
     
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    MisterMukwa

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    Every profession has its ups and downs and honestly, I think medicine has the fewest downsides (but I might just be biased). I have friends in FAANG companies, in big 3 consulting, and in financial investment, and you know what? They all hate aspects of their jobs. It’s not to say they don’t enjoy their careers (and the money doesn’t hurt) but no illustrious career isn’t going to ask you to give up your freedom and independence in your 20-30s, work until you’re borderline burned out, and risk a reduction in wages based on factors you can’t control (recession, pandemic, ect.). I’ll admit, I’ve had fever dreams of abandoning everything to open up a shaved ice cart in Hawaii, but then my momentary happiness will be quickly replaced with feelings of stagnation and unfulfillment the older I get. Your stats show you’re a hard worker and capable of a lot, but your “cons” aren’t limited to science and they will keep on persisting no matter what career you choose. So if you don’t want to be a doctor, don’t. But don’t naively believe that your other options will offer you a much better life. Do your research before you jump on a different path.

    Best response I’ve read so far. High paying jobs all have negatives in some way shape or form. Honestly, I think medicine seems comparatively worse to a lot of people because most physicians don’t have a career before medicine since the medical school path is so long. They aren’t able to compare and contrast their prior career to medicine. Instead, they look at the “highlight reel” of their friends who are successful in finance, tech, etc. And I’m not saying medicine isn’t incredibly difficult and loaded with sacrifice, because it is.
     
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    EdgeTrimmer

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    Hi all, this is partly to vent and throw my thoughts out into the open, but also to receive some advice from the community.

    As background: I'm a pre-med applying this cycle with an app I've worked very hard on (3.95GPA, 525 MCAT, >1000 hrs of clinical/research exp, 100s of volunteer hours, the works etcetc.)

    Lately, I've been thinking very hard about this path and whether it's right for me or not (I'm not sure there's a way to really know 100%).

    It's not that I don't think I would like being a doctor. Based off of my clinical experiences and my values, I think I would LOVE being a doctor (the greatest pulls for me is the direct personal interaction the job involves, the privelege of being intimately involved in others' lives to make a difference, and being able to have a positive impact on people's lives/my community/the world). And now just as I'm applying I'm getting cold feet again.

    Why? Well a few disruptive and intrusive realizations/thoughts have been wracking my brain constantly for the last few days (haven't slept well in a week...)
    • Sacrificing freedom/independence in my 20s/30s: The majority of my friends are in SWE (software engineers), consulting, IB. I have 2 premed friends I'm very close with, and a few current med student friends I'm less close with. While the path to medicine has always seemed glorious to me, I am (quite frankly) jealous of my friends when I hear them talk about their plans. My current view is that if I'm going to continue down this path, I would love to eventually arrive at clinical practice, but I fear that I am restricting myself to never doing anything outside of medicine up until the point I die. I hear my friends saying they plan to move jobs every 2 years (something I see as terrible honestly; as I hate applying for stuff) or plan to switch careers (e.g. going from tech->product management or consulting->starting a business; this seems cool to me). In the path to being a physician, that freedom to move around and liberally carve one's professional path as you go just does not seem to exist. Correct me if I'm wrong.
    • Rise of the mid-levels and decreasing respect/autonomy for physicians: I understand that this should NOT be a sole motivator for going into medicine, but I will admit that the prestige/respect involved with being a doctor is one thing that made medicine alluring to me. I browse r/medicine and this website a lot, and it seems like doctors just get **** on from all angles. The public is grossly misinformed about the hierarchy in medicine (midlevels vs doctors, med interns vs residents vs fellows vs attendings). I fear that by the time that I actually become a doctor, there will be no inkling of respect for doctors anymore. Disrespect from admin/the government during the COVID-19 pandemic has only made my sensitivity towards these issues worse.
    • Advent of single-payer system: I am 100% for expanded access to healthcare. I welcome universal access to healthcare, but I fear the possibly catastrophic disruption that exploding our current system and putting single-payer in its place will have on the field of medicine. I fully expect single-payer to come in my life time, and I'm worried that salaries will tank and doctors will lose even more autonomy (and mid-level autonomy will receive even greater support due to lower costs). While autonomy and money are NOT sole motivators for me, they are definitely things that are important to me when considering my future given the immense monetary and temporal sacrifice required by this path.
    • Alarming physician dissatisfaction: As much as I have evaluated my decision to march along this path, convincing and proving myself that being a physician is the profession for me, the reality is that I am not a physician. I think that recent figures from MedScape report that ~25% of doctors regret their career choice (or something like that). I can convince myself that this is the right path for me, but I am also a realistic person. 25% is A LOT-- how can I say that I won't end up in that group? It scares me.
    • Do I even like science?: I've always been convinced that I like science/biology. However, I grew up in a household where both my parents went to medical school and my sister is an MD/PhD. It was the thing I was most exposed to, and by working hard, I became "good" at it. I am a fairly competitive person, and I do derive a lot of joy/self-esteem from success. This has made me wonder: do I only like science because I've invested the most time into it and therefore it's the thing I'm best at studying (i.e. do I only like science because I've managed to find success in science by working hard)? Would I like something else just as much if I spend my efforts there instead?
    I honestly think I have a terrible terrible case of "grass is greener" syndrome... To re-iterate, I am still convinced that I would love being a physician and clinical practice, but I worried that, in this one life that I have, there could be something else for me as well and committing to medicine will mean I will never have a chance to explore.
    All things considered, my logical self says I should not throw away years of investment into this path over a few intrusive thoughts that have clouded my mind these past weeks, but my emotions have been more vocal about this than ever (the last time something like this bothered me was sophomore year of college) and this is the closest I've ever felt towards abandoning this path.

    Current MDs/Med students (or even pre-meds with similar doubts): How did you address doubts about medicine? Did you have similar concerns?

    To calm myself down a bit, I did some searching and I was wondering if the following plans seem feasible:
    • If I get rejected this cycle: I'll quit pre-med or at least take a year off to explore something else like learning coding for a career in SWE (am I crazy? My MCAT score expires in 9/2022 I believe)
    • If I get accepted this cycle: I plan on getting an MD, but I've also been curious about how MD/MBA programs work. I would plan to complete residency and practice clinically, but I would hope that if I wanted to, I'd be able to look into consulting or something outside of clinical practice. (Is it possible to do consulting and clinical practice part-time concurrently?)
    What is your major? What would you do if you decide not to go to med school?
     

    Med Ed

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    • Sacrificing freedom/independence in my 20s/30s: The majority of my friends are in SWE (software engineers), consulting, IB. I have 2 premed friends I'm very close with, and a few current med student friends I'm less close with. While the path to medicine has always seemed glorious to me, I am (quite frankly) jealous of my friends when I hear them talk about their plans. My current view is that if I'm going to continue down this path, I would love to eventually arrive at clinical practice, but I fear that I am restricting myself to never doing anything outside of medicine up until the point I die. I hear my friends saying they plan to move jobs every 2 years (something I see as terrible honestly; as I hate applying for stuff) or plan to switch careers (e.g. going from tech->product management or consulting->starting a business; this seems cool to me). In the path to being a physician, that freedom to move around and liberally carve one's professional path as you go just does not seem to exist. Correct me if I'm wrong.
    • Rise of the mid-levels and decreasing respect/autonomy for physicians: I understand that this should NOT be a sole motivator for going into medicine, but I will admit that the prestige/respect involved with being a doctor is one thing that made medicine alluring to me. I browse r/medicine and this website a lot, and it seems like doctors just get **** on from all angles. The public is grossly misinformed about the hierarchy in medicine (midlevels vs doctors, med interns vs residents vs fellows vs attendings). I fear that by the time that I actually become a doctor, there will be no inkling of respect for doctors anymore. Disrespect from admin/the government during the COVID-19 pandemic has only made my sensitivity towards these issues worse.
    • Advent of single-payer system: I am 100% for expanded access to healthcare. I welcome universal access to healthcare, but I fear the possibly catastrophic disruption that exploding our current system and putting single-payer in its place will have on the field of medicine. I fully expect single-payer to come in my life time, and I'm worried that salaries will tank and doctors will lose even more autonomy (and mid-level autonomy will receive even greater support due to lower costs). While autonomy and money are NOT sole motivators for me, they are definitely things that are important to me when considering my future given the immense monetary and temporal sacrifice required by this path.
    • Alarming physician dissatisfaction: As much as I have evaluated my decision to march along this path, convincing and proving myself that being a physician is the profession for me, the reality is that I am not a physician. I think that recent figures from MedScape report that ~25% of doctors regret their career choice (or something like that). I can convince myself that this is the right path for me, but I am also a realistic person. 25% is A LOT-- how can I say that I won't end up in that group? It scares me.
    • Do I even like science?: I've always been convinced that I like science/biology. However, I grew up in a household where both my parents went to medical school and my sister is an MD/PhD. It was the thing I was most exposed to, and by working hard, I became "good" at it. I am a fairly competitive person, and I do derive a lot of joy/self-esteem from success. This has made me wonder: do I only like science because I've invested the most time into it and therefore it's the thing I'm best at studying (i.e. do I only like science because I've managed to find success in science by working hard)? Would I like something else just as much if I spend my efforts there instead?

    Agree with @gyngyn, don't go down this path right now. Do something else.

    If, after your 20s/30s evaporate like spilled gasoline, you find yourself staring down the barrel of middle age having perhaps made some money but little difference in the world, medicine will still be there.
     
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    Angus Avagadro

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    Compensation will decrease, thats a given. How much, who knows? I don't know what your debt level will be at this point. Some students on SDN have said they are in debt over 400k. Decreased salary makes executing the debt more difficult.
    You dont have a Boss??? Think again. There is a practice manager, someone who is far from your peer intrllectually telling you your patient satisfaction scores arent high enough or you arent seeing enough patients to fullfill your contract obligations,(meaning you aren't generating enough money to pay for yourself). If the latter happens, they will Non-Renew your contract and you are selling your house in a down market. Not to mention pulling your kids out of school.
    Lack of autonomy. You have to jump through the hoops the insurers set up if you need any expensive testing for your patients. This is cause for great dissatisfaction amongst employed physicians. Docs in the UK are very well trained but only provide generic care because they are extremely limited by what they are allowed to order and the beauracrats that authorize testing.
    Having said all of this, my son, completely aware of everything i have said is finishing his 3rd yr of Family Medicine residency and applying to fellowships. Its normal to have these doubts. You don't realize what great insight you have about medicine with your family experience. Much more than the average pre med. I normally tell pre meds if you have to think about it, dont do it. Its something you know in your heart. You are a good student and can always go non clinical, research, administration, med ed, etc..
    I would apply and see how things go. Good luck and best wishes!
     
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    Med Ed

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    But HECK if I don't get super jealous when I see all the friends I graduated with throw super lavish weddings, live in West-Elm decorated two bedroom apartments in downtown metropolitan areas, have new trendy clothing every month, go on biyearly vacations, and buy their first homes together. How in HECK y'all doing it.

    Consumer debt.

    Eventually the lavish weddings will become distant memories, the West Elm furniture will age and be discarded, the apartments will turn over, the clothing will be donated after transitioning from trendy to hideous, the home purchases may or may not turn out to be good ideas, and everyone will keep on trying to fill the void.
     
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    fathergoat

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    Dont do it.

    I would choose to be a doctor even if i was making 50K a year on single payer system in a poorly staffed rural hospital in the middle of nowhere. And i literally MEAN it. I even love how hospital smells. nothing is "too gross" for me, and i love every second of it. Do i get upset? sure. when i see addicts who messed up their lives... moms who didnt vaccinate and their child is sick.... when i see ppl dying from horrible illnesses. The rest of it? not important.

    Please, dont go to medical school.

    Don't listen to this person. They're not even a resident yet, much less a physician.
     
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    hmockingbird

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    I agree with a lot of the posts about burn out, compensation, etc. I think if you do any type of high powered or academic (PhD) career you’re gonna give up some of your 20s. However the part that sticks out to me is that you say that you think you only like science bc you’ve worked at it. If you’re still in college maybe take a random elective or join a club that interests you and has nothing to do with science. Or if you’re out of college join a MeetUp, find something cheap/free in the community, even just reading books about something different. You could still apply but that might help explore other interests. At the least you could find a hobby which is always good for balance!
     
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    SunBakedTrash

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    It’s a job at the end of the day. Yes, it pays well and let’s you do something cool that few will ever get to experience, but it’s still just a job. The whole “it’s a calling” pre-med BS will fall by the wayside as you go through. I would say go for it if you can’t see yourself being happy doing something else, and if you can do it by not going into an obscene amount of debt. Everyone has second thoughts, but you really have to want to do it. It’s a long path and does require much sacrifice for an ever decreasing return.
     
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    openstage

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    Hi all, this is partly to vent and throw my thoughts out into the open, but also to receive some advice from the community.

    As background: I'm a pre-med applying this cycle with an app I've worked very hard on (3.95GPA, 525 MCAT, >1000 hrs of clinical/research exp, 100s of volunteer hours, the works etcetc.)

    Lately, I've been thinking very hard about this path and whether it's right for me or not (I'm not sure there's a way to really know 100%).

    It's not that I don't think I would like being a doctor. Based off of my clinical experiences and my values, I think I would LOVE being a doctor (the greatest pulls for me is the direct personal interaction the job involves, the privelege of being intimately involved in others' lives to make a difference, and being able to have a positive impact on people's lives/my community/the world). And now just as I'm applying I'm getting cold feet again.

    Why? Well a few disruptive and intrusive realizations/thoughts have been wracking my brain constantly for the last few days (haven't slept well in a week...)
    • Sacrificing freedom/independence in my 20s/30s: The majority of my friends are in SWE (software engineers), consulting, IB. I have 2 premed friends I'm very close with, and a few current med student friends I'm less close with. While the path to medicine has always seemed glorious to me, I am (quite frankly) jealous of my friends when I hear them talk about their plans. My current view is that if I'm going to continue down this path, I would love to eventually arrive at clinical practice, but I fear that I am restricting myself to never doing anything outside of medicine up until the point I die. I hear my friends saying they plan to move jobs every 2 years (something I see as terrible honestly; as I hate applying for stuff) or plan to switch careers (e.g. going from tech->product management or consulting->starting a business; this seems cool to me). In the path to being a physician, that freedom to move around and liberally carve one's professional path as you go just does not seem to exist. Correct me if I'm wrong.
    • Rise of the mid-levels and decreasing respect/autonomy for physicians: I understand that this should NOT be a sole motivator for going into medicine, but I will admit that the prestige/respect involved with being a doctor is one thing that made medicine alluring to me. I browse r/medicine and this website a lot, and it seems like doctors just get **** on from all angles. The public is grossly misinformed about the hierarchy in medicine (midlevels vs doctors, med interns vs residents vs fellows vs attendings). I fear that by the time that I actually become a doctor, there will be no inkling of respect for doctors anymore. Disrespect from admin/the government during the COVID-19 pandemic has only made my sensitivity towards these issues worse.
    • Advent of single-payer system: I am 100% for expanded access to healthcare. I welcome universal access to healthcare, but I fear the possibly catastrophic disruption that exploding our current system and putting single-payer in its place will have on the field of medicine. I fully expect single-payer to come in my life time, and I'm worried that salaries will tank and doctors will lose even more autonomy (and mid-level autonomy will receive even greater support due to lower costs). While autonomy and money are NOT sole motivators for me, they are definitely things that are important to me when considering my future given the immense monetary and temporal sacrifice required by this path.
    • Alarming physician dissatisfaction: As much as I have evaluated my decision to march along this path, convincing and proving myself that being a physician is the profession for me, the reality is that I am not a physician. I think that recent figures from MedScape report that ~25% of doctors regret their career choice (or something like that). I can convince myself that this is the right path for me, but I am also a realistic person. 25% is A LOT-- how can I say that I won't end up in that group? It scares me.
    • Do I even like science?: I've always been convinced that I like science/biology. However, I grew up in a household where both my parents went to medical school and my sister is an MD/PhD. It was the thing I was most exposed to, and by working hard, I became "good" at it. I am a fairly competitive person, and I do derive a lot of joy/self-esteem from success. This has made me wonder: do I only like science because I've invested the most time into it and therefore it's the thing I'm best at studying (i.e. do I only like science because I've managed to find success in science by working hard)? Would I like something else just as much if I spend my efforts there instead?
    I honestly think I have a terrible terrible case of "grass is greener" syndrome... To re-iterate, I am still convinced that I would love being a physician and clinical practice, but I worried that, in this one life that I have, there could be something else for me as well and committing to medicine will mean I will never have a chance to explore.
    All things considered, my logical self says I should not throw away years of investment into this path over a few intrusive thoughts that have clouded my mind these past weeks, but my emotions have been more vocal about this than ever (the last time something like this bothered me was sophomore year of college) and this is the closest I've ever felt towards abandoning this path.

    Current MDs/Med students (or even pre-meds with similar doubts): How did you address doubts about medicine? Did you have similar concerns?

    To calm myself down a bit, I did some searching and I was wondering if the following plans seem feasible:
    • If I get rejected this cycle: I'll quit pre-med or at least take a year off to explore something else like learning coding for a career in SWE (am I crazy? My MCAT score expires in 9/2022 I believe)
    • If I get accepted this cycle: I plan on getting an MD, but I've also been curious about how MD/MBA programs work. I would plan to complete residency and practice clinically, but I would hope that if I wanted to, I'd be able to look into consulting or something outside of clinical practice. (Is it possible to do consulting and clinical practice part-time concurrently?)
     

    openstage

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    As much as I love the SDN forums and the wisdom people share, I think it can be a Petri dish for negativity and doubt. Any career that involves a massive bureaucratic structure will be stressful and demanding. There will be red tape by the miles. Imagine being a politician, a teacher, a lawyer, a social worker or a police officer these days? You don’t think these people are questioning themselves amidst the upheaval? They don’t have the debt, but they certainly have the stress and headaches. These people face relentless public scrutiny - sometimes deserved. Just remember every profession has it’s trade offs.
     
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    Med Ed

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    It’s a job at the end of the day. Yes, it pays well and let’s you do something cool that few will ever get to experience, but it’s still just a job. The whole “it’s a calling” pre-med BS will fall by the wayside as you go through.

    There are certainly pressures, both internal and external, that can make the work routine, but your generalization may be overly broad.

    Association between physician burnout and identification with medicine as a calling:

    Conclusion: Physicians who experience more burnout are less likely to identify with medicine as a calling. Erosion of the sense that medicine is a calling may have adverse consequences for physicians as well as those for whom they care.
     
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    RangerBob

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    I’m not a fan of the “only do medicine if you can’t see yourself doing anything else” attitude. It suggests you need medicine to be happy, which suggests an external locus of control. If we can only be happy doing one thing, then I personally think we need to go on a spiritual retreat and find true happiness.

    As others have said, lots of jobs have downsides. I wanted to be an architect for a while. First you need a professional degree (typically graduate), so there goes 2-3 more years post bachelors. Then you need to find your own internship. Then if you’re lucky you get hired somewhere and maybe you’re designing window detail. Long hours, especially at project deadlines. Like most jobs, work comes home with you.

    Life just sucks for all of us these days...

    OK, I’m kidding. Adult life does get hard though. While I’d love to work 9-5 with al weekends off and no work once I leave the office, the truth is those jobs are few and far between, and the few that there are usually don’t pay well and are much more susceptible to being eliminated.

    Medicine is great. You’re job is to literally make people’s lives better. And the majority appreciate and respect you for it (we are still one of the most trusted/respected professions). Our job security is great. Maybe midlevels expand more and there’s downward pressure on our salaries-that would suck, but we’re going to still get paid very well. Which brings us to the last point-no “intrinsically altruistic” profession (think of teaching, firefighters, clergy, etc) pays what medicine pays.

    A job you can feel good about, that others will respect/look up to you you just based on your title, with great job stability and income? What’s not to love.

    Honestly-I didn’t think of any of this when I applied to med school. I just felt like it was the right path at the time. But now I’m thankful I didn’t go into any of the other professions I’d been thinking about. Though park ranger would still be pretty cool-if I didn’t get placed in Death Valley...
     
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    SunBakedTrash

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    There are certainly pressures, both internal and external, that can make the work routine, but your generalization may be overly broad.

    Association between physician burnout and identification with medicine as a calling:

    Conclusion: Physicians who experience more burnout are less likely to identify with medicine as a calling. Erosion of the sense that medicine is a calling may have adverse consequences for physicians as well as those for whom they care.

    lmao, what a ridiculous “study.” Ok, guess I better start seeing a therapist about ma feels and burnout.
     
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    RangerBob

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    lmao, what a ridiculous “study.” Ok, guess I better start seeing a therapist about ma feels and burnout.

    It makes sense. Anyone who sees their job as a calling can deal with the lousy stuff much easier because they see the higher purpose of their job. It’s why most people in religious life(monks/nuns/etc report such high levels of happiness and purpose)
     
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    M&L

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    It makes sense. Anyone who sees their job as a calling can deal with the lousy stuff much easier because they see the higher purpose of their job. It’s why most people in religious life(monks/nuns/etc report such high levels of happiness and purpose)
    thats exactly how I feel. And that is not naive , this is just a different way of looking at it .
     
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    SunBakedTrash

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    It makes sense. Anyone who sees their job as a calling can deal with the lousy stuff much easier because they see the higher purpose of their job. It’s why most people in religious life(monks/nuns/etc report such high levels of happiness and purpose)

    I do not equivalate my job to that of a nun or a monk. If anything, that is insulting to someone who has dedicated their life to God and who I agree is answering a higher calling. In medicine, that is something naive pre-meds who say to get their foot in the door, along with “money doesn’t matter to me” and “pediatric interventional [insert competitive medical speciality] is my passion.” It’s pure nonsense.

    I feel that my job is closer to that of a mechanic; I offer a service that is specialized and few could offer competently without proper training. Are dentists, pharmacists and lawyers supposed to feel that their job is similar to that of a nun? If anything, perhaps this where that supposed surgeon God complex comes from. This study simply replaced “job satisfaction” with “higher calling” and published it. Of course people with better jobs are happier. And just like everything else, medicine has good jobs and bad jobs. I’m not questioning people’s drive to become physicians. I strongly instead suggest we don’t diagnose people with burnout over seeing medicine as a career rather than a “calling.” That is minimizing a real and serious condition (burnout) with both professional and personal consequences in order to pump up this career into more than it is for many doctors.
     
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    Med Ed

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    I do not equivalate my job to that of a nun or a monk. If anything, that is insulting to someone who has dedicated their life to God and who I agree is answering a higher calling. In medicine, that is something naive pre-meds who say to get their foot in the door, along with “money doesn’t matter to me” and “pediatric interventional [insert competitive medical speciality] is my passion.” It’s pure nonsense.

    I feel that my job is closer to that of a mechanic; I offer a service that is specialized and few could offer competently without proper training. Are dentists, pharmacists and lawyers supposed to feel that their job is similar to that of a nun?

    No, but perhaps you could recognize that there are approximately 950,000 practicing physicians in the United States, and they have a variety of outlooks on this matter.
     
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    bonedoc5576

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    OP your concerns are well-articulated and valid. You also have the makings of a very strong application which, with a good bit of luck, can be leveraged for a free education by way of merit aid if you wish to simply practice medicine, or admission to full pay top med school if you wish to become a consultant in the medical space. I'd continue the application process and see where it leads.
     
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    LunaOri

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    I've been an attending physician for over 25 years. I teach medical students. My child will be a medical student, beginning in a few weeks.
    I started college as a premed, changed course and worked in a different field for a few years, then went to medical school.
    I think I could have been happy in many different careers, because I have many different interests and always love learning new things.
    I have never, ever regretted going to medical school, and I love being a physician. It's a great feeling to go to work every day, knowing that you can have a positive impact on people. They trust you with their lives. That's a privilege you won't get in business or finance.
    Doing a job that you can feel good about, in a field that is fascinating, with reasonable job security and a good income--pretty terrific!
     
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    LunaOri

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    It's fine to take a gap year (or a few!) I've heard of quite a few students who finish college as premeds, then go into finance for a few years, with the goal of financing their lifestyle through the "lean years" of med school and residency.
    It's also fine to choose a path like MD-MPH, MD-PhD, MD-MBA that may give you more career options.
     
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    readmypostsMD

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    If, after your 20s/30s evaporate like spilled gasoline, you find yourself staring down the barrel of middle age having perhaps made some money but little difference in the world, medicine will still be there.
    [/QUOTE]

    I took this sort of advice about 5 years ago and wish I didn’t. It backfired, I was rejected from med school, had to take more years off, and am now starting school at 27.

    I’m not externalizing fault, but taking years off is risking because you may not actually get into medical school the first time you apply, yes even with those stats. If you don’t get in, then you’ll likely have to take another 2 years off. If you had already been 2-3 years out of college, that’s 4-5 years. Then you’ll start to have existential anxiety because you might still be rejected again.

    Again, unless you’re a naturally super social and extroverted person (which some peopel don’t expect the “living the 20s life dream” to come true. You’ll probably be working a 9-5 job, coming home, watching Netflix, and going to sleep, and maybe sometimes grabbing beers with friends.

    Given the slightly reduced pressure in med school from everything being pass/fail now, med school is probably a more enriching and social environment.

    Maybe take 1 gap year, 2 is a maybe, but don’t go above 2 unless you’re ok with delaying your life a lot :panda: o_O :( :rolleyes: :pirate: :laugh:

    also, why doesn’t anyone here use these amazing outdated SDN emojis

    edit sorry for all the error, my phone sucks
     
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    readmypostsMD

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    Compensation will decrease, thats a given. How much, who knows? I don't know what your debt level will be at this point. Some students on SDN have said they are in debt over 400k. Decreased salary makes executing the debt more difficult.
    You dont have a Boss??? Think again. There is a practice manager, someone who is far from your peer intrllectually telling you your patient satisfaction scores arent high enough or you arent seeing enough patients to fullfill your contract obligations,(meaning you aren't generating enough money to pay for yourself). If the latter happens, they will Non-Renew your contract and you are selling your house in a down market. Not to mention pulling your kids out of school.
    Lack of autonomy. You have to jump through the hoops the insurers set up if you need any expensive testing for your patients. This is cause for great dissatisfaction amongst employed physicians. Docs in the UK are very well trained but only provide generic care because they are extremely limited by what they are allowed to order and the beauracrats that authorize testing.
    Having said all of this, my son, completely aware of everything i have said is finishing his 3rd yr of Family Medicine residency and applying to fellowships. Its normal to have these doubts. You don't realize what great insight you have about medicine with your family experience. Much more than the average pre med. I normally tell pre meds if you have to think about it, dont do it. Its something you know in your heart. You are a good student and can always go non clinical, research, administration, med ed, etc..
    I would apply and see how things go. Good luck and best wishes!

    I’m not sure if the no boss thing was in reference to what I said?

    do “practice managers” exist in hospitals? Or are you referring specifically to the manager of a private practice?
     

    CA_to_VA

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    26-year-old applying this round for 2021 acceptance here. I had an *incredibly* similar set of hesitations a few years ago and decided to put my medical aspirations on hold while I explored other options. I have since explored other career paths and, while I've worked my way into a really interesting career path with a promising future, I decided that medicine is the only thing that will really satisfy everything I want from a career.

    I cannot possibly recommend taking time off more. My work has given me huge insight into the world that I couldn't possibly have had right out of undergrad. I have learned so many skills, from time management to negotiation, to project management, to writing grant proposals, and more, that will benefit me both in medical school and in my career as a physician. I have more confidence in my abilities and more confidence in the choice I'm making.

    You have time! This is something that I never realized when I was younger. A year, or two, or three is NOTHING. You can make anything work. So, I would recommend that you take the time you need to explore other options and enter medical school when you really believe that's the right step for you.

    Of course, nothing is permanent (another lesson I've learned in recent years). Though so many people have the perception that once you commit to a path, you're stuck on it forever, that's simply not the case. It may take some extra confidence, but even if you went to medical school, you could always opt for a different career path.

    Good luck! I really struggled with these decisions and know how consuming it can feel.
     
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    You have time! This is something that I never realized when I was younger. A year, or two, or three is NOTHING. You can make anything work. So, I would recommend that you take the time you need to explore other options and enter medical school when you really believe that's the right step for you.

    I just want to emphasize this. There are some dissenting positions in this thread, but I have not had any students who have taken gap years (even several gap years) ever tell me they regretted it. Most talk about how important it was in their development.

    I do have former students who did not take gap years and in retrospect wish they had, including those that left medicine either after a few years in medical school or after getting a degree, and were saddled with quiet a bit of debt as they tried to transition to other fields.

    Taking some time to get perspective can seem like it will delay things too much, but the perspective can be immensely valuable both in career discernment and in putting you in a better spot to succeed in med school and post-med school.
     
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    Goro

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    If, after your 20s/30s evaporate like spilled gasoline, you find yourself staring down the barrel of middle age having perhaps made some money but little difference in the world, medicine will still be there.

    I took this sort of advice about 5 years ago and wish I didn’t. It backfired, I was rejected from med school, had to take more years off, and am now starting school at 27.

    I’m not externalizing fault, but taking years off is risking because you may not actually get into medical school the first time you apply, yes even with those stats. If you don’t get in, then you’ll likely have to take another 2 years off. If you had already been 2-3 years out of college, that’s 4-5 years. Then you’ll start to have existential anxiety because you might still be rejected again.

    Again, unless you’re a naturally super social and extroverted person (which some peopel don’t expect the “living the 20s life dream” to come true. You’ll probably be working a 9-5 job, coming home, watching Netflix, and going to sleep, and maybe sometimes grabbing beers with friends.

    Given the slightly reduced pressure in med school from everything being pass/fail now, med school is probably a more enriching and social environment.

    Maybe take 1 gap year, 2 is a maybe, but don’t go above 2 unless you’re ok with delaying your life a lot :panda: o_O :( :rolleyes: :pirate: :laugh:


    [/QUOTE]
    From an admissions standpoint, people who have life experience and "seasoning" are valued as applicants.

    Personally, I'd like to see a year of employment be a pre-req for med school, because my school and others, as well as PDs as seeing med students and newly minted residents come with a poor work ethic, or or accurately, a poor employment ethic. So they leave work/clinic early, show up late and ask for vacation after two days on the job.

    For many people, residency is their first job, and it shows.
     
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    Angus Avagadro

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    I’m not sure if the no boss thing was in reference to what I said?

    do “practice managers” exist in hospitals? Or are you referring specifically to the manager of a private practice?
    Both, but they have different titles. Practice managers are found in practices which employ physicians. For hospital based docs, there will be an administrative type who will be constantly meeting with the group to discuss various financial aspects. Sometimes the hospital will subsidize some services that don't make money or coverages that dont pay for themselves. They will constantly ask for increased service for lower subsidy or threaten to eliminate the subsidy. Ex, hospitals sometimes help pay for Nighthawk coverage in radiology, or a stipend for the Chief of the dept to be out of the dept to attend all those meetings. Hospitals might want docs to sign up for ins plans that the hospital desires but are very poor payers to docs. If you are hospital based, oftentimes your group will have an exclusive contract for Rads, Path, or Gas, or ER. Administrators will sometimes use that as a wedge. Being an employed doc has upsides and downsides
     
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    Osminog

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    Prior to medical school, I spent a few years in a white-collar role outside of healthcare. My career switch decision ultimately hinged on my answers to these two questions:
    (1) What professional tasks would I derive the most personal fulfillment from if I had to devote >50 hours to them every week until I become a senior citizen?, and
    (2) What sort of impact do I want to have on the world, over the course of my lifetime and after I'm gone?

    If you want to be an expert on human health, if you want to directly help people when they feel most vulnerable and afraid, if you're fascinated by the human body, if you want to independently apply your expertise and critical thinking skills to understand and solve complex, life-defining problems, then become a physician.

    If you'd derive more fulfillment from developing software (or conducting financial analyses or providing guidance to corporate clients), then consider careers outside of medicine. Also, if you're strongly motivated by wealth, prestige, or respect on the job, you might want to take a step back and weigh your options; the medical profession's golden age is in the rear-view mirror.
     
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    KendallJennerSniperLady69

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    Thanks for everyone's replies!

    I've reflected a lot on how each response makes me feel.

    I posted this to vent and hear people's thoughts, and it's been super helpful in reflecting on what I want. I general, I felt good reading the responses that seemed to provide encouragement about continuing down this path, while I felt bad/negative about responses that seemed to encourage me to abandon this path.

    This just tells me that if I left this path, I would find it dreadful, and I would more than likely regret my decision. The reality is that my experiences along this path have only grown my love for it. My doubts are founded mostly on speculation about the future of medicine that nobody can predict for certain and about a fear that if I continue down this path, it may end up being a ball and chain that I won't be able to release myself from if I wanted to.

    I get the sense from some of the responses that even after or during clinical practice as a physician, the knowledge and expertise I will have gained will open up other doors outside of clinical practice that I may choose to explore if desired. This is comforting. Obviously, I have been concerned about my singular life on this planet, and it's terrifying to feel like I'm making a possibly damning decision about the rest of my life as an early 20s young adult.

    While I'm envious of my peers' perceived freedom to carve their own paths, I guess I have been immature in focusing on only the good things I see in their lives. From my personal experience, I'm pretty certain that I would hate if my work revolved around a computer (rather than working with people), as that's the part of my job I currently detest the most, and I would feel tremendously unfulfilled if I was not in a line of work where I feel my impact has a positive effect on my community or the world (I think I've always tended to stress out about my existence/purpose on this planet a lot, and I don't think this is a trait that will change).

    I've been talking a lot with my friends too, and I've decided that once secondaries pass, I'll devote a lot of time to try to learn how to code (I'll probably find use for it in my job anyways). As it stands now, I'm kinda doubtful that I would suddenly develop a new love for it (I had previous experience in college and high school) that would inspire me to abandon pre-med, but I do think I should explore it more seriously. Or maybe I'll quit my job and try to find a gig in a health-care consulting firm to see what that's like.
     
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    Damson

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    Thanks for everyone's replies!

    I've reflected a lot on how each response makes me feel.

    I posted this to vent and hear people's thoughts, and it's been super helpful in reflecting on what I want. I general, I felt good reading the responses that seemed to provide encouragement about continuing down this path, while I felt bad/negative about responses that seemed to encourage me to abandon this path.

    This just tells me that if I left this path, I would find it dreadful, and I would more than likely regret my decision. The reality is that my experiences along this path have only grown my love for it. My doubts are founded mostly on speculation about the future of medicine that nobody can predict for certain and about a fear that if I continue down this path, it may end up being a ball and chain that I won't be able to release myself from if I wanted to.

    I get the sense from some of the responses that even after or during clinical practice as a physician, the knowledge and expertise I will have gained will open up other doors outside of clinical practice that I may choose to explore if desired. This is comforting. Obviously, I have been concerned about my singular life on this planet, and it's terrifying to feel like I'm making a possibly damning decision about the rest of my life as an early 20s young adult.

    While I'm envious of my peers' perceived freedom to carve their own paths, I guess I have been immature in focusing on only the good things I see in their lives. From my personal experience, I'm pretty certain that I would hate if my work revolved around a computer (rather than working with people), as that's the part of my job I currently detest the most, and I would feel tremendously unfulfilled if I was not in a line of work where I feel my impact has a positive effect on my community or the world (I think I've always tended to stress out about my existence/purpose on this planet a lot, and I don't think this is a trait that will change).

    I've been talking a lot with my friends too, and I've decided that once secondaries pass, I'll devote a lot of time to try to learn how to code (I'll probably find use for it in my job anyways). As it stands now, I'm kinda doubtful that I would suddenly develop a new love for it (I had previous experience in college and high school) that would inspire me to abandon pre-med, but I do think I should explore it more seriously. Or maybe I'll quit my job and try to find a gig in a health-care consulting firm to see what that's like.

    This is good - you are a thoughtful kid well beyond your age

    Agree on the last part with poking around other fields seeing what they're like. But don't you dare waste further brainpower thinking about that right now. Kill those secondaries, first draft second draft, have trusted peeps around you read them
     
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    You trade hard work and sacrifice of your 20s for basically a job that will always be needed. Consulting and switching careers may sound cool but the stability you get with medicine is second to almost nothing else. And stability (financial and personal) matters when you have a family, sudden expenses, unexpected health issues etc.
    cold feet are normal. There is nothing in your post that’s sending up a giant red flag. It’s just that you are suddenly realizing, oh yeah... I’m going to suffer, is it worth it? Everyone feels this to some degree. It’s even worse in residency. But then it gets better.
     
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    bananafish94

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    I'll take a stab at it. I'm a newly minted resident for what it's worth. Honestly, I think it's healthy to have these thoughts and not blindly walk into it with rose colored glasses. However, I will say that in a large sense people tend to be more vocally negative than positive. People on the Internet aren't nearly as likely to talk about the good stuff.

    Sacrificing freedom/independence in my 20s/30s:
    This is real. You friend will ask if you can come to their birthday in two weeks and you won't know because you don't have your schedule yet. You might often feel that your time isn't really your own because you have to study so much outside of work. That all blows, and obviously somebody who works a 9-5 M-F job doesn't have the same problems. However, it is temporary. I don't know how old you are right now but you can graduate residency as young as 29 as an attending and basically work as much or as little as you want. And at that point you'll likely have much more autonomy than your peers. I'll also say that you're right that the grass is always greener. I've joked in the past - where are all the SDN users finding all these friends with the six figure jobs right out of college? Honestly, my bet is that most people are just over-exaggerating their life on social media and don't have as glamorous a time as one might think. The reality is that most people right out of college are in a grind. Low salary, hard jobs, long hours, bad economy. Medical students probably work harder, but there's a greater stability underlying it.
    Rise of the mid-levels and decreasing respect/autonomy for physicians:
    In my opinion, this current cultural moment is relatively anti-medicine but I think the pendulum will swing back. In my experience, the patients I actually see and care for are by and largely extremely grateful for doctors. One thing to consider is that it's getting harder to be your own boss these days and medicine is becoming increasingly concentrated in the hands of large health systems that buy out smaller practices, which is something to consider if that in particular is of interest to you.
    Advent of single-payer system:
    Regardless of how you feel about single payer, the obstacles to this country actually developing a single payer system are immense. The Democrats had an enormous majority when they passed the ACA and couldn't even get a public option in because it was opposed by other democrats. It's currently only supported by like 1/3 of Democratic senators. Political winds would have to shift in a dramatic way for that to even be in the realm of possibility.
    Alarming physician dissatisfaction:
    I think this goes back to the discussion about people being more likely to be negative publicly. Who's more likely to fill out some survey about how happy they are and if they get paid enough? The dissatisfied people are going to be magnified. The overwhelming majority of physicians I've met seem extremely happy and fulfilled in their career.

    Good luck with your decision! It's certainly better to think about these things now than 5-10 years from now when you can't easily change your mind. I'm confident you'll do what's best for you!
     
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    EileenX

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    Everyone else here has written great replies, but just wanted to contribute my own perspective as someone where you are now. Currently applying this cycle to MD PhD programs (even more commitment), but I definitely had the same existential crisis as you around 7 months ago. I came from a very competitive STEM high school where many students went to Ivies (I did not and felt like a massive failure, but I'm good now). They are now working as software engineers and investment bankers, some earning close to half a million dollars yearly straight out of undergraduate. I too want to be able to not only do medicine, but also entrepreneurship work.

    Here are some observations and thoughts talking to peers and family.
    • The biggest problem seems to be fear of commitment. However, being in medicine does not mean giving up your 20s/30s, whether for fun or for professional purposes. Having an MD will only strengthen your options, no matter what you do, especially after graduation. I would advise going for it now since an MD is arguable the hardest graduate degree to attain, you worked so hard, and switching fields is possible later. Even just being in medical school will give you more clout to explore. For example, I know several medical students who have started their own companies and have had an easier time getting funding just because they are in medical school. I have one friend who is taking a gap year from medical school to run his own very successful health tech start up. I know medical students who have done or plan to do health care consulting. My friends without MDs, despite making hundreds of thousands of dollars as SWEs, regret not getting an MD because they don't know how to enter the health tech space. I know several medical students or current doctors who are running for Congress, and their MD background is even giving them great success. Having an MD along with a PhD will help with getting funding if you want to be a PI later.
    • You really don't need that much money to be happy. Doctors already earn way less considering the amount of time and effort that goes into it. This might be my privilege speaking, so can't say this for everyone, but I think science shows a steep drop off in income versus happiness too. My friends who are earning a lot of money aren't even as happy as people think they should be.
    • Many of my friends in SWE or business used to be premeds. While I won't go as far as to say they regret their choice, they express discontent with where there life is going, their lack of purpose, and the fact their work doesn't really help people. SWE and business are just jobs. Again, some want to enter health tech, regret not getting an MD, and have no idea where to start.
    • Ultimately, can you really imagine another career that is more fulfilling for you? All careers have their downsides, and if doctors become less respected in the future and face a drop in salary, so be it. If you feel like you haven't explored enough, please consider taking a gap year or two do others things or talk to people in other careers. That exploration part is key. Many current physicians (including some I shadowed) sped through the process and regret not exploring other options, which contributes to physician dissatisfaction. I considered SWE, and even did some work in it, but I just can't see myself typing in front of a screen all day. I did, some engineering as well. I definitely do not want to do business or politics after experiences in university. Look at the many activities that you have done in your course of being a premed. Ask those closest to you what you spend the most time on, or talk excitedly about, and your path forward may be clearer. I also was pushed into STEM at a young age, and while it may have been my family's influence, science is what I get excited about now, and it took my friends pointing out that I regularly stay in lab until midnight or later just so I can find the result of the next experiment. That's what really pushed me to pursue an MD-PhD rather than just an MD or another career.
    Wishing you the best! Hope this perspective was helpful.
     
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