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A fork in my Highschool career!

Discussion in 'Psychiatry' started by Agriff, Apr 17, 2007.

  1. Agriff

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    Ok, I know these forums are for confirmed med students and people already involved in medical careers, but I think this is the easist way I can get answers to some questions I have. The reason I call this a fork in my highschool career is that im a 17-year-old Junior starting to look at colleges, and I only have a rough idea of what I want to do, and the little I know has taken a long time to gather. Skip down to #8 if you want to cut to the chase.

    My thought process started like this:

    1. 7th grade- Our Home and Careers class was shown the occupational outloook handbook. The top earning careers were lawyers and doctors, and since the job market is flooded for lawyers, I naturally chose doctor to look into further.

    2. After looking more into medical professions, I saw that the mental health professions could earn upwards of $180,000 a year, and for a profession where I could call myself a doctor without contact with blood, infectious diseases, and risk of getting sued, not to mention accidentally killing someone, it looked pretty good. I liked the stereotypic image of a "psychologist" asking a patient on a couch how "he feels about that", and the I thought about it, the study of the mind and how people think seemed cool and interesting, and I had often pondered the same subject.

    3. 9th grade- A chance encounter with the subject of hypnosis and the idea of a subconscious mind perked my curiousity even more.

    4. After wandering into the about.com psychology forums to ask a work-related question about human behavior, I stayed a while and read up a bit on the subject, seeing the name "Sigmund Freud".

    5. 10th grade- While on a trip to Barnes and Noble to pickup an AP study guide, I saw on the same shelf an AP Psychology study guide, flipped through it, and saw something like "Psychologists still follow the main ideas of Sigmund Freud". A couple weeks later I picked up a book that was along the lines of Psychology for dummies, and realized that it sucked, taught almost nothing about the actual subject of Psychology, and focused on things like "tips for relieving stress".

    6. A couple months ago- A renewed thrist for information on the subject sent me back to Barnes and Noble (actually what did it was about 3 Freud references in the Departed) to find out what this Freud character is really about. I picked up the first book with the name Sigmund Freud on the cover- "Civilization and its Discontents". I read it twice to make sure I understood all of his thoughts and theories correctly.

    7. It was during this time that I really started to try to research the topic as much as possible. I found out that a psychiatrist is very different from a psychologist. Wheras the psychiatrist is what I was thinking of in the upper portion of #2, psychotherapists were more like the lower portion of #2, and made nowhere near as much money.

    8. About 2 weeks ago- I first start to look at what colleges im interested in. The problem is, before I visit a college, I want to know if there's any chance I'll go there, so I started using college search engines to pinpoint a nice college in NY, my homestate, for a nice weekend visit within proximity of my house. This becomes a problem when the engine asks you what major you're interested in, and there're 16 subcategories under the category "psychology", including psychology "general" and psychology "other"! Not to mention under the category "Health Professions" there's "Psychiatric Health Services Technician" and "Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy".

    This is probably starting to seem like some kid asking you to play guidence counselor, and it is. I come from a small public school in a small rural community, (my graduating class is about 125) and we don't have a lot of money to spend on guidence counseling, so basically you get a junior review, a senior review, she holds your hand through the college application process, and you're done.

    So I need direction some direction in my life. This post is in the psychiatrics thread because im leaning towards psychiatry. I can make it through med school on academics alone, but money is a problem. My family isn't poor but 8+years in tuition isn't a poor man's problem. That seems to eliminate my chances in clinical psychology because I need to make enough to pay off student loans. However, Psychiatry seems to be associated with pill pushing, and I don't really believe in treating mental health on medication alone, without talking, which pushes me more in the direction of psychotherapy.

    Some of my questions:

    Are psychiatrists more like prescription-writing psychologists that deal with people known to be sick, or people that just write out meds and do frequent checkups to monitor mental health?

    What major do you you suggest?

    Does major even matter that much as long as I meet med school reqs? (Im alienating a lot of colleges if I insist on being able to major in either psychology or psychiatry)

    (Sort of off topic) Does what college you go to premed matter that much in the long run?

    Thanks in advance and I hope I get some great feedback!

    EDIT- I forgot to mention something- I have a sophmore GPA of 3.4 (89%) and I have no idea what it will be for this year as the school doesnt calculate GPA's until the year after. The GPA is largely out of laziness and not because of a lack of intellect, and im taking AP courses as well. This sort of has me freaking out, am I even psychiatrist material?
     
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  3. OldPsychDoc

    OldPsychDoc Senior Curmudgeon
    Physician Moderator Emeritus SDN Advisor 10+ Year Member

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    While we all certainly admire your enthusiasm, you may want to lurk a bit more first. Here you will read that we enjoy: a) plenty of contact with blood and infectionus diseases, b) plenty of risk of being sued, and c) plenty of opportunities to kill someone in exchange for the privilege of being called "doctor".


    Answer to both is "Not that much". (My personal bias--go with a state school for undergrad and limit your debt burden. You'll thank me for this in 10 years!)
    Focus on finding a college you like, enjoying undergrad, and trying to prepare for med school. (Do read the pre-med forums too.)
     
  4. Encephalopathy

    5+ Year Member

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    From a 3rd year med student going into psychiatry:

    >>What major do you you suggest?

    Check out psychobiology. Not a lot of schools have it but it's a good combination and relevant to psychiatry.

    >>Does major even matter that much as long as I meet med school reqs?

    No, but a science major will help with the MCAT and ensure that you meet the reqs.

    >> Does what college you go to premed matter that much in the long run?

    No, but in the short run it will help with getting into med school.

    >>This sort of has me freaking out, am I even psychiatrist material?

    Relax man, you're 17. First step is getting into college. Then take some psych and bio classes and go from there.
     
  5. tennreb

    7+ Year Member

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    You will have plenty of contact with blood and sick people if you go into medicine, no matter what field. If you don't like blood and sick people, then don't go into medicine. You will have to do many years of regular medicine before you can specialize. You should volunteer at a local hospital to find out what you really think. Most hospitals have volunteer programs, and I highly recommend volunteering in the ER where you will have the most real-word experience a volunteer can have. Secondly, the biggest secret is that it doesn't really matter where you go to college. The big name schools only help you in getting connections, which don't matter for getting into med school. People aren't really impressed with where you got your degree from. I went to a state party school and hardly studied, and I walked into medical school. Some of my friends with equivalent credentials coming out of high school went to schools like Vanderbilt and Notre Dame. They didn't get into med school. Save your money and go to a state school with a quality reputation. It will be harder if you go to a regional/commuter college, but any flagship state school is more than enough to get into medical school. Thirdly, you will take out lots of loans for professional/graduate school. Only the rich people get their parents to pay for it. Don't even think about money for that right now. Lastly, chill out. While it is good to plan ahead and think about your future, you seem to be going overboard for someone as young as yourself. Enjoy life now while having a rational balance of planning for the future. Don't party too much and don't study too much. Balance is key. The overwhelming odds are that you will change your mind what you want to do with your life many times. Build a broad base of what you can expand upon in the future. Don't be afraid to take classes and expose yourself to things that have nothing to do with your career goals.
     
  6. musm2008

    7+ Year Member

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    You'll figure it out. It's awesome to have some idea of what you want to do this early in the game. Psych is a good choice. Even though I knew at the beginning of med school that I wanted to something do psych-related, I certainly didn't know this in high school.
    You must be really, reallly smart to be thinking about it with this much depth in high school.
     
  7. jjbmsiv

    jjbmsiv INTJ
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    Erm. Well. That or he'll change his mind once he takes a couple of college courses. And there is nothing wrong with that! It's so hard to decide what you want to do without having a huge amount of exposure to it. This is partly why we have college! If you find that your passions are continually flamed by psych courses, then bravo, you're luckier than most folks when it comes to knowing your career.

    But, please, don't let this ambition blind you to other opportunities you might have. High school is simply not enough time "to see the world yet," as it were. Be open-minded about many things. This will help you be a great doctor, but it may also lead you down a different road, one you couldn't possibly imagine at this point in time. Perhaps a Philosophy class will stir you, or polysci, or, I don't know, history! It's so easy to say now what you want, but the next four years are such a period of personal growth and change, that your tastes and interests will mature and change with them. I just want you to be able to see this if it presents itself, instead of wearing blinders you put on from a younger, less mature, self.

    Good luck.
     
  8. i61164

    i61164 Polar Bear, MD
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    If you need direction in your life, I suggest doing some volunteer work. You could volunteer in a free clinic, or habitat for humanity, or get involved in a church missionary trip. Ironically, helping others will probably teach you a lot about yourself. If you do end up pursuing medical school, a long history of volunteer work is worth its weight in gold.
     

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