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Am I ABNORMAL??

Discussion in 'Nontraditional Students' started by XXTriathlete, Dec 28, 2008.

  1. XXTriathlete

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    Is it just me or did a bunch of you guys take forever to 100% decide that you want to pursue medicine? I'm in career change mode but it's almost going on 2yrs here (deciding on what career to pursue) and I always seem to go back and forth between PA/NP vs MD. The only reason why I consider PA/NP is the length of time it'll take to finish school. I'm almost 30 so the MD route scares me. I'm not sure if I want to spend the next 8 (or so) years bogged down in books and slaving away during residency. I like the 'prize' but I'm not sure if it's worth it.

    Am I alone? If not, how did you guys get through it/suck it up? (Fyi: I don't doubt that I'll be able to handle the material, once I set my mind to it; I just don't know if I want to :confused:)
     
    #1 XXTriathlete, Dec 28, 2008
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2008
  2. gman33

    Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

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    My answer may be a little different, but I find it very difficult to "100% decide" on anything until I get involved. I don't think there is one magic path for me; it's more like a bunch of options and you just need to pick the one that is the best fit.

    Have you taken any prereqs yet?
    If not, make sure you realize that you need more prereqs and clinical experience to get into most PA schools compared to MD. That said, if you include residency in the equation, MD is a much longer road.

    If you are not currently doing it, start volunteering in a hospital. See if you like being around sick people. If so, try to envision what role you'd like to take in their care.

    Eventually you'll need to make a decision based on your gut. If it tells you that the commitment is too long or just not for you, pick something else and move on. NP/PA are great career options as well. :luck:
     
  3. FrkyBgStok

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    you are def not abnormal. i have spent countless hours taking prereq classes, changing my mind, taken more, thinking about it, and everything. i have been fighting the decision for years as well. good luck and I wish you the best.
     
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  4. J ROD

    J ROD Watch my TAN walk!!
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    It took me several years before I committed completely.

    My brain still thinks it does not make sense when I put it on paper and think objectively, BUT

    my heart wants it and I am not happy settling for less....

    so MD or bust, baby!!!
     
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  5. XXTriathlete

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    Yes, I'm pretty much finished w/ my pre-reqs. All I have to do is figure out if I'm going to hop aboard this MD adventure....and, get in of course ;).



    That's exactly what happens to me. I'll make a pros and cons list but although MD has more cons than pros...I still feel drawn towards it. I might as well jump in b/c it's been 2yrs of going back and forth...apparently, nothing is changing.
     
  6. Empi

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    Constantly.

    We nontraditionals generally have a lot of established commitments and interests.

    Also, for me, finances.

    And worrying about age-related issues like fatigue and paying off my loans before I retire.

    I also have a wide range of interests and could see myself happy doing a variety of things.

    But it always seems to come back to medicine.
     
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  7. clinicallabguy

    clinicallabguy PGY5 Oto-HNS
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    I was initially going to go to PA school because the pre-meds that I knew made the medical school track seem next to impossible (now I feel that they were exagerating). And, I was just starting to learn about healthcare fields after changing my mind from another field.

    I shadowed a PA who worked in pediatrics, and here are some bits of the conversation:

    Me: "So why did you become a PA?"

    Him: "Because I didn't think I could get into med school."


    Me: "So is it fairly common to get hired at one of the places you did your rotations?"

    Him: "I wish. On the east coast that may be common but around here [in Utah] it can be difficult to find a job right out of PA school. Are you willing to relocate?"

    Also, at some point during the shift he told me that when he started working he was terrified. He thought that it would have been really nice to have had a residency.

    He also said that it could be frustrating sometimes to be the "doctor's little brother." He said that it could be frustrating to see as many or more patients than the doctor's were seeing, but be compensated so much less.


    He really wasn't as dissatisfied with his job as I make it sound. These are just the parts of the conversation that rang in my ears, and that I still remember. I think that PA is a great route for many people, but this was the beginning of what made me decide to go to medical school.

    If I didn't know which one to do, I would ask myself: Would I be really unhappy doing either? If not, then pick one and go for it. I know it's a really big decision, but you've got to make the decision somehow.

    Have you spent time with both PA's and MD's?
     
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  8. darkosbunny

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    I've definitely been flip-flopping back and forth between various career choices the last 3 years. I've been in the Marine Corps, and probably since 2005, I've been trying to decided which major and career I want to pursue once I get out of the service.

    The one constant that was always in my head was physician, but most of the time, I'd just dismiss it and think to myself, "that's too long/unrealistic/costly/etc." However, the last year I've been looking into other healthcare related jobs like nurse (and eventually getting CRNA certification), PA, pharmacist, etc. But then I realize, maybe these jobs are great jobs, great careers, but if I became one of those professionals, maybe I wouldn't be totally happy. I think the only way I would be totally happy or satisfied with myself is if I became an actual physician. I don't want to be 40 or so, and look back and wish I would've just done MD/DO school. I figured, why not me? Why not do it? Just go for it!

    So that's what I'm doing. I'm just going to go for it, and I will succeed. Kind of corny, but it's the way I feel.
     
  9. Lacheln

    Lacheln Cavorting in the Hills
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    First of all, hey to a fellow triathlete. :)

    Second, yeah, I definitely wavered. As empi said, we non-trads tend to have more commitments and factors to consider. For me, however, I tried to genuinely learn about and imagine myself as a PA. It helped that I had a few friends in the field. When I would really sit down and think about being a PA, try to imagine life, my day, etc, in my heart I always felt like I had given something up. I think I would always feel that way, and I didn't want to feel that way.

    I am lucky, however, in that I don't have a family to consider - kids probably would have sent me the other way, as I wouldn't want to give up time with them. And, although I'm decrepit by pre-allo forum standards (30), I know better. I'm not looking forward to poverty and sleep deprivation, but I think it will be ok since I'll be surrounded by other people in the same situation. It's hard right now because I'm surrounded by people who are getting more settled, not less, but once I've officially switched worlds I think it will be fine. Plus I plan to find a hot attending and be a trophy wife immediately, so the poverty thing won't be a problem. :smuggrin::highfive:
     
  10. XXTriathlete

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    No, I haven't spent time shadowing a PA or MD. I've worked in an office w/ an MD but I haven't been able to shadow one. I'm having the hardest time trying to find a PA and MD to shadow. Currently, I'm in the boonies and no one seems to be a fan of letting people they don't know shadow them. Grrr.

    :laugh::laugh: Can't let the good looks go to waste ;)
     
  11. galactica2001

    galactica2001 ID fellow
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    I think you should think this carefully through - decide whether this is really what makes you happy. Find residents to shadow - and see for yourself what's it like.
    It probably looks very glamorous to be a doc, but believe me, after working like crazy and having some difficult patients, you may start to wonder if your decision really was a good one after all - I do, pretty constantly lately, but I have a lousy schedule and I work at the internistic ER somewhere in Europe. I don't know how it is in US, but I think residents are working awful alot.
    Being a non-traditional med you don't really take all the crap you're pushed down your throat during internship&residency and you may have a problem with immature coworkers. That's how I see it...but maybe I'm just weird...don't you know ;)
     
  12. JuniperB

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    You are not ABNORMAL!

    I have changed my mind so often I say that I am majoring in Fickle Studies with a minor in confusion.

    Rightnow my dreams are drifting around in PA due to less time than MD/DO.

    Volunteer, work for school/hosp, shadow, interview Docs, PA, NP, etc.

    I wish the answer were simple and the road less long, but I guess that universe is not this one.

    Good luck with your decision. Do not feel alone.

    Cheers,

    JB
     
  13. Eli Wiggles

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    Another fellow triathlete here :)

    I am totally in the same boat. I've been struggling with my med school decision for about 2 years now. I'm now 25 and wish I would have just jumped right in because I would be a lot further by now!

    The biggest thing stopping me right now is finding time to do the pre-req's, work full-time (have-to), shadowing and volunteering. I am starting the pre-req's this Spring and am going to just make it work - at least I keep telling myself that.
     
  14. galactica2001

    galactica2001 ID fellow
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    I think it's important to realize that you'll never be 100% sure, no matter what you do. It's just the courage to dare and do something you'd like to do.
    That's life. When I decided to go into medicine alongside my other career (I was working on my PhD in pharmacy and teaching at pharmacy faculty), I couldn't know for sure that I will make it through, but I had to try (and made it :) now working as an intern). I think the point is that you just never know for 100% sure, you just have to risk it or leave it...
     
  15. XXTriathlete

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    Thanks to everyone who has responded to this thread...you guys have been very helpful. Now, I know I can't be 100% sure of anything. I guess I'm super anal and trying to make sure I'm 100% sure I want to pursue medicine (<--I've already pursued another medical career and I don't want to make the same mistake again. :scared:).

    Good luck to all of my fellow Non-Trads!! :thumbup:
     
  16. nyinjuly

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    So good to hear that many of us have similar doubts. I'm starting a formal postbacc this summer, then I'll be off to med school the following year, if things go right for me! =)

    I chose my first career path because it was safe, and then I realized that safety isn't a good reason to do something you don't love. So now I'm doing something that makes less sense (tons of debt, tons of hard work, tons of time in school) but it feels great! I still have moments where I waver, about financial stuff mostly, and I'm sure that there will be hard times in the future, but I'm okay with it. In fact, I've never been more excited about my future. I'd rather be excited about what I'm doing with my life than be bored and not worried about debt, haha.
     
  17. annospree

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    It's so nice to know that I'm not the only INDECISIVE one out there! Sometimes I feel like I'm loosing my mind trying to make this decision. I've gone back and forth since freshman year of undergrad (I'm 26 now). I spent a year studying primates in Africa and am wavering now between the ecology/conservation route vs. medicine. I love nature and science, but I also love helping people and medicine, so it's been a hard one. It often comes down to life-style--which one better fits my personality. Being in medicine is definitely hi-stress, and you're always in hospitals or some sterile clinical environment with flourescent lights. Doing ecology would not give the tangible satisfaction of medicine but it would let me be outside and more freedom to do different things, maybe. I work with patients now in a non-clinical way and it can get frustrating dealing with patients who are sick mostly because of the bad choices they make, like overeating and not exercising mainly. That sounds judgemental but so many of these health issues could be prevented and that's what frustrates me. You can only do so much for people like that.
    Anyway, I like the non-trad forum. it's got the best discussions by far. The allo pre-med ones are full of obnoxious undergrads comparing GPAs and MCAT scores.
     
  18. futureboy

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    For whatever it's worth, here's my story. I graduated from college with a liberal arts degree, with some science classes. Of all the options available at the time, law school seemed to be the best one, so I went. After graduating and practicing a few years, I realized that while law wasn't too bad, it wasn't really for me. At 28 years old, I took a part time law job and started taking the rest of the prereqs for med school. While in an MCAT review class, I was offered a law job I had been trying to get for a couple of years. I decided to quit the class and take the job.

    Fast forward 13 years. I'm now 41 and am considering med school again. Things are much more complicated now. I'm married, and have a pretty good job with a firm (different than the one I quit the MCAT class for), along with a mortgage. I don't dislike practicing law (on most days), but I've come to realized that my 28 year old self was right -- it's just not for me. I can't imagine doing what I do for the next 25 years.

    The point of all of this (yes, there is one), is that if you really want to be a doctor, go for it. You're not too old, and besides, you'll be 38 anyway; why not be a doctor too? Life tends to sneak up on you...

    I don't necessarily regret the past 13 years, and I've learned a lot about myself, and life, in those years. But had I continued with my original plan, I would probably be an attending physician by now...
     
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