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A little advice

Discussion in 'Pathology' started by theblackknight, Apr 27, 2004.

  1. theblackknight

    theblackknight New Member

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    I have been reading the pathology threads for a few days and I was wondering if you swell folks could give me some advice.

    I am starting a PhD. program in drug design this fall but for some reason decided to give medical school one last look. I decided a few years ago (I finished undergrad in 2000) that I didn't want to do medical school for a variety of reasons. First, I don't really have any need/desire to have patient contact. Second, I noticed that doctors spend way too many hours at the hospital. Third, medical school is expensive, PhD. is free.

    A friend of mine that is a fourth year in med school told me about pathology and now I have an interest in medical school. I think I would make a decent doctor/pathologist; I like to learn about disease, I have sat in on an autopsy and thought it was cool, and I want to help people, but don't necessarily want to deal with them face to face. I also attract crowds at the gym when I pile on the plates to bench press.

    I don't really have any real interest in any other area of medicine, anesthesiology and pediatrics of minor interest comparatively. Sure I think that some of the rotations in other areas would be interesting, but have no interest in them as a career. Is it a bad idea to go to medical school with pathology as my only real interest? Do pathologists make enough to cover the mountain of debt I will incur?
     
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  3. cookypuss3

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    Interesting.... veddy veddy interesting..... *Mr. Burns finger tapping*

    I don't think it's bad to go through medical school with pathology being your main interest. Tons of people know exactly what they're going into long before they ever step foot in a medical school lecture hall. It's just a matter of getting through all the rotations in areas you could care less about. Pseudoenthsiastic smiles will get you far.

    Pathologists make decent bank. Especially with investments in labs, etc. It's not like derm, where you pick zits all day for mad cash, but it's not as dreary as FP. I last read that the median pathologist's salary was about $180K. Anyone else heard any differently?

    And, of course, no matter how attractive you are, you get immediately elevated to Adonis status once you become a pathology *****. Salivating members of the opposite sex will flock to you. Your mere presence will make knees tremble wide and far. It's all good.
     
  4. joedogma

    joedogma Senior Member
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    My advice for anyone who is not sure whether or not they WANT to go to med school...DO NOT GO. The whole process is such a grueling, humbling experience that if you are on the fence, get off. If your reasons for not going years ago are still valid today, that should be enough for you make up your mind. If you don't have much interest in medicine or its many fields, med school will be torture and you will become one of the many bittermen that now practice medicine. I see that you want to "help people." That's great but remember, you don't have to be a physician to help people! Also I have noticed that there a quite a few PhD's that are on staff at a few of the larger path programs so you don't really have to be a physician to get exposed to pathology and become part of the team. Another point...the bling bling. I am guessing that you have been working the past few, sockin away some cash, are probably financially independent...med school will change all of that. Sure eventually the salary will be there but you will be poor for a long time and you can kiss your savings goodbye. I am guessing a PhD in drug design will give you some great earning potential so I wouldn't worry about that. The only people who get into medicine so that they can become wealthy most likely failed out of business school before enrolling because it makes NO financial sense. It sounds like you have a pretty good setup. Most PhD students I have come into contact with are VERY happy. You would be hard pressed to find such content in medical residents regardless of field. And don't worry, I imagine that drug designers are fairly studly too...you just have to know how to work it :D
     
  5. yaah

    yaah Boring
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    Welcome black knight. Who would have known that, in his spare time, besides inventing bifocals, stoves, conducting electricity experiments, journeying to France, writing an "Almanack" and being one of the founders of our nation, that dear old Benjamin Franklin doubled as the black knight!?!

    Med school is a very varied experience. Not everyone who comes into med school has a huge interest in clinical medicine, or even in taking care of people. A lot of people go into it as a default, because they think it is a good career, or because they enjoy science. I am of course not suggesting that you go to med school regardless of how you feel about clinical medicine, just to suggest that it isn't the only thing you get out of it. Clinical medicine (3rd and 4th years) are a serious education, not only in medicine but also in life. I have learned a ton about myself and the world, as well as medicine. I have come to realize that while I enjoy interacting with people, doing so in a clinical sense is not all it is cracked up to be.

    The problem with medicine is this: It is a 4 year (provided you don't extend) program, takes up tons of time, not allowing you to really do much in the way of second jobs, or second careers certainly. It is also generally expensive, and when you finish, you have to train for a few years at a low salary. The payoffs are high: A respected career, a degree of autonomy in your career (depending on the field), job security (provided you are a decent human being and hard working, and don't have problems with other areas such as immigration or drug abuse), good pay, and a lifetime of learning. Every day at the hospital is different. Some say it gets repetitive, and it basically depends on how you look at it, and what your outlook is. Things do repeat themselves, and your job does have some characteristics of repetitivity (is that a word?). But you really never know what you are going to see each day. Have to be on your toes. In short, it's a rewarding career. Pathology, as a specialty, is fascinating, and it takes a lot of the things that are good about medicine (the science, the variety, the continuous learning) and removes a lot of the objectionable/irritating things like paperwork, constant phone calls/pages, rude and non compliant patients, and of course poo and other horrible odors.

    No matter how old you are, you will always be learning about yourself. Perhaps by entering med school you would discover a fascination with the patient-doctor relationship. Perhaps you would hate it. Your initial impressions of it may be correct, but they also may change.

    If you are willing, go for it. Certainly, if you don't think your life as a drug designer will offer you what you want out of life. Don't do it just for the money though.

    I am encouraged in your willingness to brag about bench pressing as well as your distaste for poo. Both are high qualities. :)
     
  6. Stinger86

    Stinger86 Intern year? Ha!
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    Everyone brings up great points, the most important being that medical school is a mental and physical trial that lasts four years. Going into medicine with the intent to pursue pathology is perfectly fine, but if you find out that you really don't like the personal aspect of it (taking histories, doing physicals like yaah, tip-toeing around patient's feelings and beliefs) it can be a LOOOOOOONG four years. Take it from me... I'm going to be a third year student this fall, and although I enjoy talking to and helping patients, I dread the formal aspect of patient care (making sure you ask all the right questions, don't miss anything obvious, establish rapport so you don't get sued or shut out). I'd much rather just take the information, make a diagnosis, and then talk with the patient about how things are going (I consider myself more of a pure diagnostician than a manager). Ok, now I'm off-track.

    Sure you might find out that you love all aspects of patient care, or you might find out you hate it. Just in case it's the latter, make sure now that you can handle it for before you go to medical school. You'll be exposed to a LOT of patient contact, and your attitude about medicine will probably change depending on how you like dealing with sick folks. Four years may not seem that long now, but it can certainly get that way when you're not enjoying yourself.

    In case I'm bringing down the mood here, let me switch gears. Based upon the fact that you like disease, the diagnostics of medicine, autopsies, and you don't have the innate desire for patient contact, it sounds to me like you'd make a good pathologist. You and I have a similar mindset about medicine, and hell, I'm already halfway through med school (I can be the poster child for early-decision pathologists). Do a little more research on the field, and if you feel that urge, take advantage of it. Everything will probably turn out fine. Good luck!
     
  7. Stinger86

    Stinger86 Intern year? Ha!
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    Unless you do what yaah does, and sign up for several "SDN forum" electives your fourth year, which should free up plenty of time. ;)
     
  8. yaah

    yaah Boring
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    Yeah, they actually count for psych rotations!

    Seriously, though, 4th year is often kind of annoying. You usually have to be in the hospital, so it isn't as though you can just show up at noon. But there often isn't a ton to do, because you don't have tons of responsibility. There are rotations where you can elect more responsibility (ICU, SubI months, etc) but a lot of the consult services are kind of slow. And by this point, you really don't have a lot of motivation to study, so you try to find something else to do, hence, the wonderful invention (thank you, Mr Gore) that is the information superhighway.

    I am getting really sick of espn.com. I like washingtonpost.com. The Onion is a good site, but only once a week. It's kind of hard to play internet games in the library without seeming like a real loser. Email can only take up so much time. Thus, places such as this. And random google searches.
     
  9. cookypuss3

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    Ha. It never changes. The residents I work with make me look like a friggin angel of peace and love. Over the last few days, conversational topics have included:
    • The chinchilla is the only animal that gives itself head.
    • Each resident's weirdest sexual fetish.
    • How attendings like to ask the dudes how the "p*ssy chasing" is going.
    • Salad tossing, and how to approach.
    • Shaping one's pubic hair into your partner's initials, and how to do so.
    • How the program director is a homo.

    Finally.... I'm at home. :love:
     
  10. joshmir

    joshmir Senior Member
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    the original poster should consider being a PA. I am not sure what their exact roles are in pathoogy, but there are legions of them employed there, and they seem to have great hours in that specialty.

    also saves you a number of years and lots of money. PAs make decent money
     
  11. theblackknight

    theblackknight New Member

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    If you ever get tired of practicing medicine, it sounds like you could handle a career in sales and trading. One amusing anecdote, at least i think so, was when a co-worker of mine came into work with a bandage on his forehead and my boss said to him, "What happened to you? Belt buckle injury?"

    I thought it was funny.
     
  12. yaah

    yaah Boring
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    Different places have different roles for PAs. In most cases, PAs are involved with gross specimens though, very little histology except for frozen sections. Most will become fairly familiar with histologic slides though, out of curiosity and in the process of learning how to be better at grossing. At some programs, the role of the PA is limited to small specimens (like gi polyps) so it can get somewhat repetitive. Unlike residents, you don't get to spend a lot of time actually making the diagnosis. Some will also double as autopsy assistants or dieners. The benefits are that your hours are generally limited, no call, no late frozens. A PA who has been working for awhile is often better at grossing than residents, simply because of the volume they see. Right now, PAs do make decent money. Especially well trained ones.

    Black Knight I like the title of your movie. Sometimes it is hard to get through a day without laughing when you hear stuff like, "I have 5 large specimens to deal with tonight, I probably will be here late." I encourage sophomoric humor. The department I used to be in didn't have tons of talk like in Cookypuss's deparment. There was some, of course. Ours was usually full of making fun of the other people in the department. Equally sophomoric, I think. Belt buckle injury. That's a good one.
     
  13. cookypuss3

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    Yeah... I'm going to have to file "belt buckle injury" away for the very next opportune time. That was pretty good.

    Sophomoric humor is extremely important. Without humor I am dead. On Friday at work I think I did pee a little bit from laughing. I haven't done that since college when we threw all those rotten eggs off the 7th floor of the dorm onto traffic below. I guess I've been slacking on my Kegels.

    :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :eek: (graphic representation of pee slippage.)
     

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