MD Considering dropping out of medical school as an MS1. Looking for advice.

Icall

2+ Year Member
Aug 1, 2018
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Hey everyone.

I'm an MS1. Worked really hard to get accepted to multiple MD schools and matriculated at my dream school.... Just to realize very quickly that medicine isn't for me.

Long story short I find myself working on a software business I started in college substantially more often than school. I feel more fulfillment in building something that can make a scalable impact, creating, and innovating. I do really enjoy patient interaction, but I'm starting to question if 4 more years of medical school + 3 more years of residency (for EM bc thats what I wanted to do) is worth it for me if it is not truly what I want to do. Additionally, it has been extremely difficult to manage both medical school and my business and I'm starting to feel the burnout. At first I was just trying to stick it out but I'm not sure if this is sustainable as I hear year 2 & 3 gets much more difficult. Also, being away from my family who I am close with has been really difficult. By just doing business I could be close with them again.

I am looking for some advice and I would greatly appreciate it as this is a really scary decision I'm about to make:

  1. Do you know anyone that has dropped out and regretted the decision?
  2. Is it common to feel this way in my first-year? I feel that I am the only one in my class who feels this way.
  3. I grew up in a typical Asian immigrant household and I'm really worried about disappointing my family. They keep telling me to finish the MD and then I can focus on my business after. Do they have a point? Is it worth it to just finish the MD knowing I may not practice? This is a question I have been pondering on for awhile now.
  4. On one hand, I am worried about regret and also the idea that staying in medicine could open more doors for me down the road in terms of innovation in Healthcare. On the other hand, I am worried about opportunity costs from not being able to focus on business and growing as an entrepreneur and innovator. Anyone have thoughts on this dilemma?

I really feel stuck and I would appreciate any guidance. I also feel sick to my stomach about all of the time and energy wasted trying to get into medical school and also how I took another applicants seat who would have stayed in medicine and helped patients in the future.
 
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Tenk

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Jan 5, 2007
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As an ER doc I wish I knew more about software and coding because there are few that do and we all have limitless ideas.

You can do whatever but know that med school is pretty much a guaranteed path to a great life. Your other path may not be. A combined path where you put the business on hold for a while then apply it to your medical career could be more fruitful than either. Just some food for thought.
 
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LoGo

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Consider taking a leave of absence, you’re early on enough in training to hit the pause button to see where the business goes and to reconsider what makes you happy - wish I could, but too far into residency now.

If you have a great business idea you can run with now, I’d do it now - postponing a great idea for 8 years quickly makes the idea irrelevant, especially in the tech space. Could you be more successful combing Medicine and business? Maybe, but if your idea now is your “google” moment, then maybe you’re actually throwing away the possibility of something great that you won’t necessarily have later. Medicine is wonderful at convincing would-be entrepreneurs who have slight risk aversion into taking the stabile, practical, guaranteed, safe approach. But as the saying goes, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. Gotta take an educated risk if you believe in the idea.
 

Smurfette

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If you don't think you'll regret it, you're still early enough down the path to quit. But once you quit, realize you are not going to be a doctor and you are DONE.

However, if you are just going through some "stuff" with the adjustment to med school PLUS pandemic PLUS juggling business + med school, it may be that you are depressed or need some help adjusting and sorting out your actual feelings. In that case, dropping out may be a bit premature and taking a LOA or talking to a counselor may help you figure things out before you make an irreversible decision.

As far as getting the degree and then doing your business as family suggested, I don't see why you'd waste the time and money to never practice. They are likely hoping you'll change your mind after you invest more time. If you were almost done with med school, that's different. But you're an MS1...3.5 years to go is a lot.
 
Jan 18, 2019
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Think about it this way. The business has about a 1% chance of being successful. If you remain in school, you have almost a 100% chance of becoming a doctor.

Before med school, I worked at a FANG as a software engineer and had several failed attempts at launching a product. I read an article titled "10 years of failed side projects" which really resonated and ultimately decided on a path that had a much greater chance of success and fulfillment.

Also, you can write software as a doctor. However you cannot practice medicine as a software engineer.
 
Dec 29, 2018
207
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Hey everyone.

I'm an MS1. Worked really hard to get accepted to multiple MD schools and matriculated at my dream school.... Just to realize very quickly that medicine isn't for me.

Long story short I find myself working on a software business I started in college substantially more often than school. I feel more fulfillment in building something that can make a scalable impact, creating, and innovating. I do really enjoy patient interaction, but I'm starting to question if 4 more years of medical school + 3 more years of residency (for EM bc thats what I wanted to do) is worth it for me if it is not truly what I want to do. Additionally, it has been extremely difficult to manage both medical school and my business and I'm starting to feel the burnout. At first I was just trying to stick it out but I'm not sure if this is sustainable as I hear year 2 & 3 gets much more difficult. Also, being away from my family who I am close with has been really difficult. By just doing business I could be close with them again.

I am looking for some advice and I would greatly appreciate it as this is a really scary decision I'm about to make:

  1. Do you know anyone that has dropped out and regretted the decision?
  2. Is it common to feel this way in my first-year? I feel that I am the only one in my class who feels this way.
  3. I grew up in a typical Asian immigrant household and I'm really worried about disappointing my family. They keep telling me to finish the MD and then I can focus on my business after. Do they have a point? Is it worth it to just finish the MD knowing I may not practice? This is a question I have been pondering on for awhile now.
  4. On one hand, I am worried about regret and also the idea that staying in medicine could open more doors for me down the road in terms of innovation in Healthcare. On the other hand, I am worried about opportunity costs from not being able to focus on business and growing as an entrepreneur and innovator. Anyone have thoughts on this dilemma?

I really feel stuck and I would appreciate any guidance. I also feel sick to my stomach about all of the time and energy wasted trying to get into medical school and also how I took another applicants seat who would have stayed in medicine and helped patients in the future.
I'm not sure what a software business entails, but if it's making you money, could you theoretically pay someone to handle most of the tasks that don't require software skills so you can try balancing both?
I don't think it's ever a wise idea to continue to pursue a path based on what other (your family) might think. Plenty of people make a living doing other things, however, being a doctor does have its perks as stated above.
 

FutureSurgical

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Jul 2, 2014
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  1. I do know a guy that burned out in medical school. He purposely failed out due to being in a bad headspace. Once he sought help, he realized that he was approaching medical school the wrong way and now he sincerely regrets sabotaging himself. I'm trying to convince him to apply to the school again (whether that's even possible is another discussion I don't intend having here since it'll just derail the OP's thread.) Other people that dropped out were people who were really just in it for the science. They hated patient interaction and went on to just get a PhD or an MD/PhD instead. They're all doing research right now and don't regret it.
  2. As an M1, every week has felt like I wasn't supposed to be here. It's challenging to say the least and NO - you're not the only one that feels that way. Every single person in my class - from the ones who've made straight A's on our exams to the ones barely passing - feels this dread of "what the hell am I doing here?"
  3. This needs to leave your head now. My roommate is an Asian medical student and he tells me of these parental pressures a lot. I don't understand your culture and past, but I can say that this is your life. I honestly think leaving medicine is a bad idea. You enjoy the patient care aspect. I honestly think EM is one of the more innovation friendly fields that would benefit from your unique angle on knowing code.
  4. It seems like if you can hold off on the business/sell it for the time being, it'd be the best option. I say this as someone who's done research for a while in my gap years and has no idea about running a software business. Currently, COVID is really throwing the entire world market for a huge loop and no one knows what will happen, given the circumstances. It seems like a foolish idea to leave a comfortable path like medicine right now to take such a huge leap like that. But I'm biased because I abhor uncertainty. If this were 10 years ago? I'd say move to silicon valley and take advantage of that booming economy in CA. Now? Stay in because you seem like you do like being a medical student.
 
Jan 18, 2019
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You worked very hard to get into med school and I’m sure have worked equally hard at your business.
An MD degree will give you far more clout and opportunities than if you drop out, both for medicine and your business. You don’t necessarily have to do a residency if you feel it’s not right, but the MD degree will help you and your business more In the future than you could probably imagine.
 

Dr G Oogle

2+ Year Member
Mar 8, 2017
436
692
Finish school. With an MD and (I’m assuming you have them) business acumen/coding skills you can get snagged by a VC firm or other business. Also you can get a lot of insight that people that are “just” Doctors or engineers or whatever don’t have by finishing up the md. I would reword your question as should a finish or even start a residency ? Leaving Med school now to work on a tech startup (With a 90% Failure rate) is strategy based on a very unfavorable risk to benefit ratio. You may not regret not being a doctor but you will almost for certain regret not finishing medical school.
 

Chemist0157

10+ Year Member
Aug 1, 2007
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Attending Physician
Hey everyone.

I'm an MS1. Worked really hard to get accepted to multiple MD schools and matriculated at my dream school.... Just to realize very quickly that medicine isn't for me.

Long story short I find myself working on a software business I started in college substantially more often than school. I feel more fulfillment in building something that can make a scalable impact, creating, and innovating. I do really enjoy patient interaction, but I'm starting to question if 4 more years of medical school + 3 more years of residency (for EM bc thats what I wanted to do) is worth it for me if it is not truly what I want to do. Additionally, it has been extremely difficult to manage both medical school and my business and I'm starting to feel the burnout. At first I was just trying to stick it out but I'm not sure if this is sustainable as I hear year 2 & 3 gets much more difficult. Also, being away from my family who I am close with has been really difficult. By just doing business I could be close with them again.

I am looking for some advice and I would greatly appreciate it as this is a really scary decision I'm about to make:

  1. Do you know anyone that has dropped out and regretted the decision?
  2. Is it common to feel this way in my first-year? I feel that I am the only one in my class who feels this way.
  3. I grew up in a typical Asian immigrant household and I'm really worried about disappointing my family. They keep telling me to finish the MD and then I can focus on my business after. Do they have a point? Is it worth it to just finish the MD knowing I may not practice? This is a question I have been pondering on for awhile now.
  4. On one hand, I am worried about regret and also the idea that staying in medicine could open more doors for me down the road in terms of innovation in Healthcare. On the other hand, I am worried about opportunity costs from not being able to focus on business and growing as an entrepreneur and innovator. Anyone have thoughts on this dilemma?

I really feel stuck and I would appreciate any guidance. I also feel sick to my stomach about all of the time and energy wasted trying to get into medical school and also how I took another applicants seat who would have stayed in medicine and helped patients in the future.
Honestly, I would just drop out if you feel this way just a few months in. Make sure you are making this decision because you do not want to do medicine, not because MS1 is just not particularly enjoyable or too hard (I imagine it is not too hard for you if you have gotten this far). It makes more sense to return to your business and focus on that rather than put in hundreds of thousands of dollars and years of opportunity to MAYBE open some different door in the future. Nobody operates like that. Do medical school if you want to have a career as a physician.

I may have felt differently if you were close to the end, but if you are sure medicine is not for you, the present is the best time to get out.
 
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Disagree with the above.
The first few months of anything new, be it hs, college, med school, a new job, etc. are always the most difficult. People take time to acclimate and find their comfort zone. Just because you ferl this way rn doesn’t mean it will still be the same in 6 months. Don’t give up too soon and regret it. Stick it out for at least a year. Realistically, there is nothing to be gained By quitting now, bless you are truly do miserable that you can’t see yourself continuing no matter what.
 
May 16, 2020
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Will your school allow you to take a year off? Or can you hang on for the rest of this academic year and spend the summer working on your software, and make a decision after that? If your school is P/F, can you put aside your desire to excel and just P this year, leaving more time for your software?
 

Icall

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Aug 1, 2018
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Will your school allow you to take a year off? Or can you hang on for the rest of this academic year and spend the summer working on your software, and make a decision after that? If your school is P/F, can you put aside your desire to excel and just P this year, leaving more time for your software?
My school wont let me take a year off unless its medical or personal unfortunately. Yes my school is P/F so I am currently just winging it and passing which is still really hard
 

Icall

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Aug 1, 2018
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Medical Student
I'm not sure what a software business entails, but if it's making you money, could you theoretically pay someone to handle most of the tasks that don't require software skills so you can try balancing both?
I don't think it's ever a wise idea to continue to pursue a path based on what other (your family) might think. Plenty of people make a living doing other things, however, being a doctor does have its perks as stated above.
I have been trying to automate it as much as possible but its still very difficult because in order for the product to improve I need to be managing and improving it. There is competition so if I'm not involved customers will just go somewhere else.
 

Icall

2+ Year Member
Aug 1, 2018
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Medical Student
  1. I do know a guy that burned out in medical school. He purposely failed out due to being in a bad headspace. Once he sought help, he realized that he was approaching medical school the wrong way and now he sincerely regrets sabotaging himself. I'm trying to convince him to apply to the school again (whether that's even possible is another discussion I don't intend having here since it'll just derail the OP's thread.) Other people that dropped out were people who were really just in it for the science. They hated patient interaction and went on to just get a PhD or an MD/PhD instead. They're all doing research right now and don't regret it.
  2. As an M1, every week has felt like I wasn't supposed to be here. It's challenging to say the least and NO - you're not the only one that feels that way. Every single person in my class - from the ones who've made straight A's on our exams to the ones barely passing - feels this dread of "what the hell am I doing here?"
  3. This needs to leave your head now. My roommate is an Asian medical student and he tells me of these parental pressures a lot. I don't understand your culture and past, but I can say that this is your life. I honestly think leaving medicine is a bad idea. You enjoy the patient care aspect. I honestly think EM is one of the more innovation friendly fields that would benefit from your unique angle on knowing code.
  4. It seems like if you can hold off on the business/sell it for the time being, it'd be the best option. I say this as someone who's done research for a while in my gap years and has no idea about running a software business. Currently, COVID is really throwing the entire world market for a huge loop and no one knows what will happen, given the circumstances. It seems like a foolish idea to leave a comfortable path like medicine right now to take such a huge leap like that. But I'm biased because I abhor uncertainty. If this were 10 years ago? I'd say move to silicon valley and take advantage of that booming economy in CA. Now? Stay in because you seem like you do like being a medical student.
Thank you for your advice.

I was close to selling it a few months ago but I feel this is a big opportunity for me to grow the business more.

I do like certain parts of being a medical student. But the opportunity cost for the next 4 years of just focusing on my business vs studying has been really hard for me to deal with.
 

Icall

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Aug 1, 2018
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You worked very hard to get into med school and I’m sure have worked equally hard at your business.
An MD degree will give you far more clout and opportunities than if you drop out, both for medicine and your business. You don’t necessarily have to do a residency if you feel it’s not right, but the MD degree will help you and your business more In the future than you could probably imagine.
Curious in what ways could the MD help me in the business world? I've heard this advice a few times and not sure exactly how it could help. I I know a lot of successful business owners who don't have an MD but not many MD's who are successful business owners. But thats just me and I'm really curious about how an MD could help if I feel that I may not practice clinical medicine
 

FutureSurgical

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Jul 2, 2014
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Thank you for your advice.

I was close to selling it a few months ago but I feel this is a big opportunity for me to grow the business more.

I do like certain parts of being a medical student. But the opportunity cost for the next 4 years of just focusing on my business vs studying has been really hard for me to deal with.
Curious in what ways could the MD help me in the business world? I've heard this advice a few times and not sure exactly how it could help. I I know a lot of successful business owners who don't have an MD but not many MD's who are successful business owners. But thats just me and I'm really curious about how an MD could help if I feel that I may not practice clinical medicine
May I ask - with staying as anonymous as possible - what your business venture is about? Does it have to do with healthcare?

The way I see it, you could potentially live with regret no matter what you do. So think of it like this: what would you regret more: staying in medical school and not chasing after this business idea? Or leave medical school and potentially never going back?

Can you live without working on your initial business idea until you've done residency? Can you live without having an MD?
 
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Icall

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May I ask - with staying as anonymous as possible - what your business venture is about? Does it have to do with healthcare?

The way I see it, you could potentially live with regret no matter what you do. So think of it like this: what would you regret more: staying in medical school and not chasing after this business idea? Or leave medical school and potentially never going back?

Can you live without working on your initial business idea until you've done residency? Can you live without having an MD?
It has nothing to do with healthcare. It is a B2B SaaS software. I wish I could give more info but it would break my anonymity.

Those are the exact questions I have been trying to figure out. Everytime I speak to my friends they convince me to leave medical school due to fear of regret for not going all in on business. Everytime I speak to my family they convince me to stay in medical school due to fear of regret for not getting the MD.

You laid it out perfectly for me. You're so right. I will likely live with regret either way.
 
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Aug 7, 2019
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If you’re going to regret it either way, sell the business and invest the funds. That way you’re guaranteed to have a solid paycheck and you’ll have a fairly heft retirement fund completely unrelated to medicine
 
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For what it's worth, it's your life and you need to make the best decision for yourself - not what others want you to do/family pressures. But it is difficult to have any other big efforts in life outside of medicine while in training. It really is a field that requires immersion and, while possible, it's going to be tough to have a significant side project. I have known some who dropped out and regret it and others who say it was the best decision they ever made. It really depends on their "why" and long-term goals. I have also known some people who got the MD and didn't do a residency, but went on to either be consultants (e.g., McKinsey), MPH, health admin, and 1 medical writer. Several got MD/PhD and really just do research. Lots of options. Good luck.
 
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PunkRockMD

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Dec 18, 2012
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Finish out MS1 and then take an LOA. The school will be much more amenable after you have had success. This sounds like something that will impact your mental health, which at most schools is a valid reason for an LOA. You could also approach your advisor and determine if there would be a way to frame this as a research year project. You're clearly smart, come up with ways that this project will help your future chances at competitive residencies and be proactive in giving the school reasons to give you a year off to figure yourself out.
 
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First, I don't think you're the only person who thinks about leaving. Med school is hard, and even people who don't necessarily have a concrete alternative like you do often will wonder why they're doing this to themselves. This is especially true in the pandemic, where you're trying to do MS1 under very sub-optimal conditions. I think giving med school a bit more time could be good.

I would try to get an LOA. I know you mentioned your school is kinda stingy about giving them out, but I'd try to see what strings can be pulled. I have a friend who was very similar to you. He was simultaneously trying to manage his own business venture while doing med school and ended up feeling very overwhelmed. He took an LOA after M2 to focus on the business. That year away helped him gain perspective about what full-time business would be like. Ultimately, he actually chose to pursue the business. He went on to get an MBA, and is doing really well now. I think having that "test-run" year from the LOA, however, was really critical to being able to make his decision without regrets.
 

IMGASMD

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Curious in what ways could the MD help me in the business world? I've heard this advice a few times and not sure exactly how it could help. I I know a lot of successful business owners who don't have an MD but not many MD's who are successful business owners. But thats just me and I'm really curious about how an MD could help if I feel that I may not practice clinical medicine
You’ve “proven” yourself that you have high capacity to learn, to adapt, possibly making hard decisions/choices. Possible.

If it’s your last day working, do you want to be a doctor or improving software? Or choose one thing that you’d rather do for the rest of your life. That’s it, day in day out. Sounds extreme, but try to lay out your worse case scenarios and see what you can stomach. No one can/will make that decision for you.

Lastly, find a way to ask for LOA. Anyone in your family sick, affected by Covid? You have a significant others who is far away? You stressed out? You can’t sleep? There are plenty of personal and medical reasons that may or may not meet the threshold for your school.

I left in the middle of my core rotation due to family emergency overseas. If I couldn’t/didn’t come back, not a whole lot they would have done. Just saying life still happens when you’re in Med school, even when you’re an attending.

Live for yourself not your parents. They will die one day, and you still have to live your own life.

Good luck, op.
 
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radsisrad

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What drew you to med school initially? Family pressures, scientific interest, or the "humanistic" element?

I'm going to break with the standard attitude and say that medicine really isn't worth it for original, intelligent people with the capability and passion to succeed in entrepreneurship, tech, finance, etc. 7+ years of school and training for a career with enormous uncertainty (assumptions that docs will continue to make several hundred thousand dollars/year in the face of exploding national debt are fundamentally unstable) comes with enormous opportunity cost.

If you do decide to leave and continue with software engineering, don't look backward. Medicine is a grind with stressors you don't even know about until you're an attending.
 
Jan 18, 2019
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Curious in what ways could the MD help me in the business world?
medical school will teach you discipline, time management skills, teamwork, multi-tasking, managing urgent/emergent problems, and building self-confidence, among many other things, which will be valuable in any profession, including business.
Finishing the degree will give you something tangible that most of your competitors won’t have.
 
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NicMouse64

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I've walked the fine line throughout medical school of doing both software stuff and passing. Ended up getting barely above pass for most exams and was ok with it. I would say 6 months before STEP 1 is the time that you need to drop the software stuff to less than 10 hours per week. I did this and ended up scoring the national average. I could've done better, but it wasn't worth the sanity or other things I would've had to sacrifice to get there. Until then you can do 20-30 hours. Keep your life balanced. I still have major stakes in some companies, and the medical software realm is actually pretty desperate for people who both understand tech and also understand medicine. It's crazy how many doctors think they know things about tech but have no idea. I plan on doing a residency, but even in the medical startups that I have worked at since starting medical school, the tech experience has gotten me some cush jobs which pay 60-80/hour doing 5-10 hours per week of work. It's great and making a huge dent in my loans while also preserving my sanity. I enjoy my clinical time with patients b/c I can envision what parts of the technology need work, what UI changes could be made, etc. I also actually enjoy clinical medicine, which is surprising coming from a computer geek like me.
 

emergencydancing

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Can I first ask how successful the business is? Everyone here seems to be getting ahead of themselves with suggestions to "sell the business." The act of "starting a software company" is as easy as spending a few hours programming on some project, it isn't necessarily as impressive as people make it out to be lol.
 

Goro

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Hey everyone.

I'm an MS1. Worked really hard to get accepted to multiple MD schools and matriculated at my dream school.... Just to realize very quickly that medicine isn't for me.

Long story short I find myself working on a software business I started in college substantially more often than school. I feel more fulfillment in building something that can make a scalable impact, creating, and innovating. I do really enjoy patient interaction, but I'm starting to question if 4 more years of medical school + 3 more years of residency (for EM bc thats what I wanted to do) is worth it for me if it is not truly what I want to do. Additionally, it has been extremely difficult to manage both medical school and my business and I'm starting to feel the burnout. At first I was just trying to stick it out but I'm not sure if this is sustainable as I hear year 2 & 3 gets much more difficult. Also, being away from my family who I am close with has been really difficult. By just doing business I could be close with them again.

I am looking for some advice and I would greatly appreciate it as this is a really scary decision I'm about to make:

  1. Do you know anyone that has dropped out and regretted the decision?
  2. Is it common to feel this way in my first-year? I feel that I am the only one in my class who feels this way.
  3. I grew up in a typical Asian immigrant household and I'm really worried about disappointing my family. They keep telling me to finish the MD and then I can focus on my business after. Do they have a point? Is it worth it to just finish the MD knowing I may not practice? This is a question I have been pondering on for awhile now.
  4. On one hand, I am worried about regret and also the idea that staying in medicine could open more doors for me down the road in terms of innovation in Healthcare. On the other hand, I am worried about opportunity costs from not being able to focus on business and growing as an entrepreneur and innovator. Anyone have thoughts on this dilemma?

I really feel stuck and I would appreciate any guidance. I also feel sick to my stomach about all of the time and energy wasted trying to get into medical school and also how I took another applicants seat who would have stayed in medicine and helped patients in the future.
It's time to go visit your schools counseling center, talk to a trusted faculty clinician, or talk to your family doctor.

My gut tells me that if you were one of my own students, I would advise you that it's time to leave, given your mindset. BUT I think a leave of absence would be better and safer.
 

SCmedstudent

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Jan 21, 2018
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Pre-Medical
Hey, I'm a third-year that also started a software business. I hope I can help give some perspective. I strongly disliked the first two years of medical school. I also constantly thought about dropping out. I felt unable to force myself to study, while ironically getting A's in all of my medical school classes. I was also convinced medicine was not for me. I am now in my third-year and love every minute of it. The only thing I dislike is the lack of free time to work on my interests outside of medicine, which are many. However, I am honestly sad to leave the hospital each day, because of how much I enjoy my time there.

This year, I have come to realize that medicine was the right choice for me; It was sitting at a desk studying 12 hours a day that did not fit me. The first two years of medical school are nothing like the rest of your medical career. If you drop out now, you will have dropped out without experiencing what a potential career in medicine will really look like. My business has not been as successful as it could have been thanks to the time I spend in school, but in the moments I get to deliver a baby, or sew someone up after a successful surgery, I know it is worth it. Other business owners I talk to often tell me how envious they are of the things I get to do every day in the hospital. The life of an entrepreneur isn't as exciting or glamorous as many imagine, and the grass always appears greener on the other side.

Try studying less, procrastinating more, not feeling guilty when you work on your business. Medicine is a long road and you have to find a way to do the things you enjoy now, instead of pushing them off in return for a better grade or a better step score. Do that long enough and you're bound to become bitter. Step 1 is now pass-fail, and many schools are beginning to make years 3&4 pass-fail as well. I'd recommend using that slack to work on your business, call your family, and work on medicine. Feel free to message me, happy to discuss further.
 
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Icall

2+ Year Member
Aug 1, 2018
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Medical Student
Hey, I'm a third-year that also started a software business. I hope I can help give some perspective. I strongly disliked the first two years of medical school. I also constantly thought about dropping out. I felt unable to force myself to study, while ironically getting A's in all of my medical school classes. I was also convinced medicine was not for me. I am now in my third-year and love every minute of it. The only thing I dislike is the lack of free time to work on my interests outside of medicine, which are many. However, I am honestly sad to leave the hospital each day, because of how much I enjoy my time there.

This year, I have come to realize that medicine was the right choice for me; It was sitting at a desk studying 12 hours a day that did not fit me. The first two years of medical school are nothing like the rest of your medical career. If you drop out now, you will have dropped out without experiencing what a potential career in medicine will really look like. My business has not been as successful as it could have been thanks to the time I spend in school, but in the moments I get to deliver a baby, or sew someone up after a successful surgery, I know it is worth it. Other business owners I talk to often tell me how envious they are of the things I get to do every day in the hospital. The life of an entrepreneur isn't as exciting or glamorous as many imagine, and the grass always appears greener on the other side.

Try studying less, procrastinating more, not feeling guilty when you work on your business. Medicine is a long road and you have to find a way to do the things you enjoy now, instead of pushing them off in return for a better grade or a better step score. Do that long enough and you're bound to become bitter. Step 1 is now pass-fail, and many schools are beginning to make years 3&4 pass-fail as well. I'd recommend using that slack to work on your business, call your family, and work on medicine. Feel free to message me, happy to discuss further.
Thank you for your insightful response. This is a great perspective that I needed to hear before making a big decision like this. It really sounds like you were in my position but muscled through the first couple years and then found enjoyment in year 3 even at the expense of not growing your business. Glad to hear you are happy
 
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Icall

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Aug 1, 2018
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It's time to go visit your schools counseling center, talk to a trusted faculty clinician, or talk to your family doctor.

My gut tells me that if you were one of my own students, I would advise you that it's time to leave, given your mindset. BUT I think a leave of absence would be better and safer.
Thanks Goro I'm definitely considering that
 

Icall

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Aug 1, 2018
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Can I first ask how successful the business is? Everyone here seems to be getting ahead of themselves with suggestions to "sell the business." The act of "starting a software company" is as easy as spending a few hours programming on some project, it isn't necessarily as impressive as people make it out to be lol.
Yea definitely that's an important point. It's currently doing around mid 6 figures/ year in revenue with a little less than 40% profit margin. We were growing at a decent rate this year but it has been extremely hard to continue that momentum once I started med school. I currently have two full time employees and that part is stressful because I can't just work on it passively since we need to be generating a certain amount of revenue for our current systems and processes. I did have someone try to buy the business but it was a just a lowball offer. I haven't gone out actively and tried to sell it - partly because its like my child and I find a lot of enjoyment in the creative, improving customer experience, innovating, etc...
 
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Icall

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I've walked the fine line throughout medical school of doing both software stuff and passing. Ended up getting barely above pass for most exams and was ok with it. I would say 6 months before STEP 1 is the time that you need to drop the software stuff to less than 10 hours per week. I did this and ended up scoring the national average. I could've done better, but it wasn't worth the sanity or other things I would've had to sacrifice to get there. Until then you can do 20-30 hours. Keep your life balanced. I still have major stakes in some companies, and the medical software realm is actually pretty desperate for people who both understand tech and also understand medicine. It's crazy how many doctors think they know things about tech but have no idea. I plan on doing a residency, but even in the medical startups that I have worked at since starting medical school, the tech experience has gotten me some cush jobs which pay 60-80/hour doing 5-10 hours per week of work. It's great and making a huge dent in my loans while also preserving my sanity. I enjoy my clinical time with patients b/c I can envision what parts of the technology need work, what UI changes could be made, etc. I also actually enjoy clinical medicine, which is surprising coming from a computer geek like me.
Thanks for your response and thats a great point. Ideally I was hoping I would be able to do both and enjoy the aspects of building a business and the amazing field of medicine. I'm just not sure if I'll be able to keep this up. Felt that I was starting to crash and burn last week. Someone told me today there a version of myself in the universe that sticks it out and does both. So maybe I just have to stick with the plan like you said and hopefully itll get better
 

Icall

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Aug 1, 2018
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What drew you to med school initially? Family pressures, scientific interest, or the "humanistic" element?

I'm going to break with the standard attitude and say that medicine really isn't worth it for original, intelligent people with the capability and passion to succeed in entrepreneurship, tech, finance, etc. 7+ years of school and training for a career with enormous uncertainty (assumptions that docs will continue to make several hundred thousand dollars/year in the face of exploding national debt are fundamentally unstable) comes with enormous opportunity cost.

If you do decide to leave and continue with software engineering, don't look backward. Medicine is a grind with stressors you don't even know about until you're an attending.
It's multifactorial but the humanistic element was by far the most compelling reason. There are so many factors and its hard for me to decide clearly what the right path is so I'm just sticking with it currently. I feel that the humanistic part of medicine would give me fulfillment that no other career could. I keep thinking back to all those patient encounters that led me to choose medicine and its hard to throw that away. However, business challenges me creatively where I can help on a larger scale. There's also financial and family considerations. And yes family did pressure me but they never overdid it.

And I agree If I leave I will have to remind myself to not look back. Just like an ex
 

Osteosaur

I eat the whole patient
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Sep 9, 2018
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Hey, I'm a third-year that also started a software business. I hope I can help give some perspective. I strongly disliked the first two years of medical school. I also constantly thought about dropping out. I felt unable to force myself to study, while ironically getting A's in all of my medical school classes. I was also convinced medicine was not for me. I am now in my third-year and love every minute of it. The only thing I dislike is the lack of free time to work on my interests outside of medicine, which are many. However, I am honestly sad to leave the hospital each day, because of how much I enjoy my time there.

This year, I have come to realize that medicine was the right choice for me; It was sitting at a desk studying 12 hours a day that did not fit me. The first two years of medical school are nothing like the rest of your medical career. If you drop out now, you will have dropped out without experiencing what a potential career in medicine will really look like. My business has not been as successful as it could have been thanks to the time I spend in school, but in the moments I get to deliver a baby, or sew someone up after a successful surgery, I know it is worth it. Other business owners I talk to often tell me how envious they are of the things I get to do every day in the hospital. The life of an entrepreneur isn't as exciting or glamorous as many imagine, and the grass always appears greener on the other side.

Try studying less, procrastinating more, not feeling guilty when you work on your business. Medicine is a long road and you have to find a way to do the things you enjoy now, instead of pushing them off in return for a better grade or a better step score. Do that long enough and you're bound to become bitter. Step 1 is now pass-fail, and many schools are beginning to make years 3&4 pass-fail as well. I'd recommend using that slack to work on your business, call your family, and work on medicine. Feel free to message me, happy to discuss further.
100% agree

Years 1-2 is not at all representative of your career. I was miserable and hated everything about it. Its just college again.

Clinical years are so different. You're still learning, obviously, but you can find ways to be useful or at least get a sense of what you'll be doing the rest of your life.
 
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Aug 17, 2020
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Pre-Medical
For the OP, there is no perfect answer. You have opportunities millions of people will never even contemplate having. Something drew you to medicine enough that you got in—no easy feat. But you also created a business in college and there is something drawing you to that. Concentrate on what kind of environment you want to be in. What kind of work/life balance do you want? What do you think you are actually good at?

You say you were interested in emergency medicine. Why? Do you crave action and a fast-paced work environment on your feet? Do you need to do something with immediate feedback and achievement? Are you going to enjoy working overnights in an ER? Are you going to enjoy doing a 24-hour shift because you crave offering continuous care for patients of all backgrounds?

Or do you like the idea of a calmer day in an office. Free time to hit the gym. You can sip a coffee and answer emails. You're in charge of your day. The day is not in charge of you.

If you find that the former fast-paced go, go, go of the ER is actually not something you're looking forward to, think hard about why you would want to stay in medicine if the actual day-to-day environment and demand isn't something you can see yourself in.

This world is divided into two types of jobs: sitting or standing. Figure out if you want to sit for work or stand for work.

Also, I'm just going to say this for the people who are struggling to earn a spot in a medical program they actually want to be in, no questions asked:

This is why medical schools shouldn't be so damn obsessed with 23-year-olds.

The idea that there is even one student taking up a spot in medical school, who has answered interview questions about why they want to be a doctor, who gave answers about their dream to do X and Y in the medical field, and they have barely got started on their education and now think a side business they've built since college is more interesting ... this is hard for a lot of people to see.
 
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emergencydancing

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Aug 31, 2018
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I'm just going to say this for the people who are struggling to earn a spot in a medical program they actually want to be in, no questions asked...

The idea that there is even one student taking up a spot in medical school, who has answered interview questions about why they want to be a doctor, who gave answers about their dream to do X and Y in the medical field, and they have barely got started on their education and actually think this side business they've built since college is more interesting now?

This is why medical schools shouldn't be so damn obsessed with 23-year-olds.
No offense to OP, but I was thinking the same. And in their defense, they did mention this guilt.

However, this actually happens to older non-trads as well, and I hate to see it when it does. I saw a post the other day of someone from engineering or business thinking of quitting school and going back and I was thinking oh crap this is going to add to the statistic that schools look at when evaluating career changers.

But regardless of age, please do not factor in parental expectations when making this decision. It's your life, not your parents. If they're disappointed in you because you're not going into one of the most competitive and desirable fields, that in the grand scheme of things is a trivial matter.
 
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Aug 17, 2020
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No offense to OP, but I was thinking the same. And in their defense, they did mention this guilt.

However, this actually happens to older non-trads as well, and I hate to see it when it does. I saw a post the other day of someone from engineering or business thinking of quitting school and going back and I was thinking oh crap this is going to add to the statistic that schools look at when evaluating career changers.

But regardless of age, please do not factor in parental expectations when making this decision. It's your life, not your parents. If they're disappointed in you because you're not going into one of the most competitive and desirable fields, that in the grand scheme of things is a trivial matter.
I amended some of my phrasing because I don't want to be too harsh on OP. I've gone through the process of questioning my choices, too, and it's not easy.

I'd wager the struggle for many non-trads is you get more applicants who made money already and have gotten bored, so they pursue medicine, then freak out because they're not making six figures anymore. It's similar but they're nostalgic for what they gave up and a sense of security and finality in work rather than uncertain from the start about what they really want.

I've seen plenty of "I made six figures, why did I give it up?" posts in the non-traditional boards. I'm a non-traditional but my story isn't that I peaked in a field and decided to go looking for a new challenge to master. I've had a lot of struggle in roles that showed the dark side of people and the wastefulness of work that isn't meaningful. For me, it's time I used my potential and focused on what I wanted to be when I was young rather than what I settled for when I was 22. If I do so, I can do something meaningful to others when there is so much meaninglessness elsewhere in this world.

And as for parents, hell yeah. Ignore them. They're not you. My first thought when reading OP is that medicine was a parental influence.
 
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Oct 5, 2020
5
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I think that, nothing in life comes easy. I don't have the perfect answer, but I honestly do not believe you should give up something that really makes you feel fulfilled. I think you should keep trying to do both things. Sure, the burnout is real, but MS1 is very difficult as you're not used to the medical school structure. You need to find a strategy that works for you, things that promote active learning rather than grinding out rote memorization, and over time I feel like as you learn to refine these study strategies you'll have a better time balancing studying and working on your other goals.
 
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Lovely Tooth

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Oct 19, 2018
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Fort Worth, TX
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Hey everyone.

I'm an MS1. Worked really hard to get accepted to multiple MD schools and matriculated at my dream school.... Just to realize very quickly that medicine isn't for me.

Long story short I find myself working on a software business I started in college substantially more often than school. I feel more fulfillment in building something that can make a scalable impact, creating, and innovating. I do really enjoy patient interaction, but I'm starting to question if 4 more years of medical school + 3 more years of residency (for EM bc thats what I wanted to do) is worth it for me if it is not truly what I want to do. Additionally, it has been extremely difficult to manage both medical school and my business and I'm starting to feel the burnout. At first I was just trying to stick it out but I'm not sure if this is sustainable as I hear year 2 & 3 gets much more difficult. Also, being away from my family who I am close with has been really difficult. By just doing business I could be close with them again.

I am looking for some advice and I would greatly appreciate it as this is a really scary decision I'm about to make:

  1. Do you know anyone that has dropped out and regretted the decision?
  2. Is it common to feel this way in my first-year? I feel that I am the only one in my class who feels this way.
  3. I grew up in a typical Asian immigrant household and I'm really worried about disappointing my family. They keep telling me to finish the MD and then I can focus on my business after. Do they have a point? Is it worth it to just finish the MD knowing I may not practice? This is a question I have been pondering on for awhile now.
  4. On one hand, I am worried about regret and also the idea that staying in medicine could open more doors for me down the road in terms of innovation in Healthcare. On the other hand, I am worried about opportunity costs from not being able to focus on business and growing as an entrepreneur and innovator. Anyone have thoughts on this dilemma?

I really feel stuck and I would appreciate any guidance. I also feel sick to my stomach about all of the time and energy wasted trying to get into medical school and also how I took another applicants seat who would have stayed in medicine and helped patients in the future.
According to your descriptions, I think focusing on your business would be better for you since clearly, that's what you want to do. So I suggest you seize the moment. You do not want to spend years of time and energy on something you do not want that much.

You have already in the medical field. You can definitely develop software or other technological support for health care. You do not have to be a doctor to improve patients' health. Especially now with the pandemic of Covid-19, virtual medicine is getting more and more notice. I believe medicine can be so different from now with the development of software.

I also come from a traditional Asian family. They always value the profession of health care providers. They may not understand your choice but eventually, I think they will understand. So do not worry too much about your family. Focus on your business.

Good luck!
 
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Nov 13, 2018
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Yea definitely that's an important point. It's currently doing around mid 6 figures/ year in revenue with a little less than 40% profit margin. We were growing at a decent rate this year but it has been extremely hard to continue that momentum once I started med school. I currently have two full time employees and that part is stressful because I can't just work on it passively since we need to be generating a certain amount of revenue for our current systems and processes. I did have someone try to buy the business but it was a just a lowball offer. I haven't gone out actively and tried to sell it - partly because its like my child and I find a lot of enjoyment in the creative, improving customer experience, innovating, etc...
Sounds like you’re doing really well financially already and you’re more passionate about your business too. I would stick to your business in this case. Like everyone said, growing a business is hard, but if everyone puts the hours med students put into their business, im sure it’ll succeed.

Passionate about your business + good income + lots of free time. I’d pick that too even after years in med school for me.
 

SCmedstudent

2+ Year Member
Jan 21, 2018
9
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Pre-Medical
[/QUOTE]
Thank you for your insightful response. This is a great perspective that I needed to hear before making a big decision like this. It really sounds like you were in my position but muscled through the first couple years and then found enjoyment in year 3 even at the expense of not growing your business. Glad to hear you are happy
Yes, the disadvantage of a leave of absence is that you will prolong the uncertainty and discomfort of the first two years, but after reading that your business is already at the mid-six figures, it could certainly be worth it to focus on the business. If things don't grow or improve, you'll know what to focus on afterward. If your business continues to be so successful, you'll likely end up significantly better off financially by going that route.

Nothing has challenged me to the degree that medicine has. I think that if I had left I would constantly be searching for that challenge elsewhere in life.
 

IsleyOfTheNorth

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The world is changing. Unlike many professions, physicians will always be in demand.

If your business wouldn't still be viable to restart after you graduate, it's not worth leaving medicine for it now.

Everyone plays the "what if" game with their choices. You chose to pursue medicine. If your reasons for choosing medicine were bad, it's reasonable to assume that your reasons for leaving medicine now might also be bad. Think hard and choose wisely.
 
Mar 7, 2020
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If I were you (which I am not) I would get a MD degree for sure. It is tangible and in demand. I am far from home, as an OMS-1 but I will be back home in 4 years if I get a residency close to home- and I miss them even now. I would not waste my time getting to med school just to fail or drop out. I will die sometime- and I want to be as useful as possible with my life. Success in starting and raising a family, helping my first family I was born into, and making money is more important to me than happiness. I will find happiness in my family- work is just work- it is tiring and you want to have day offs, yet we work for our entire lives until we die anyway lol.

My parents are Asian (actually came to USA as adults with an okay grasp of english language and brought me here), and one parent even told me not to be a doctor and settle for nursing school due to the quicker money and less struggle for less amount of time. If I drop out- they will be disappointed for sure- but my happiness is what matters more than parental approval.

That said, I am cautious and look before I leap. Finishing med school leads to certainty and stability- owning a business will NOT certainly do that - that is my strong practical/low-income Asian immigrant childhood side speaking.

Yet if your business picks up- then you may be richer than doctors- but how often do people experience that success? I do not know.

Please pick what helps you mentally- and steers you away from depression and suicide- that is my weak American idealistic side talking.

My Asian side wins for me- I am willing to bear sadness and stress and a more difficult mental state than to be willing to risk it all for the sake of being happier. I also want a family and kids and don't want to raise them on a meager paycheck like my parents did. My childhood was comfortable- but looking back- only now do I realize that my family lived frugally and still lived paycheck to paycheck for most of my life.

Don't think about your happiness only- consider the future family you may struggle to raise. If you don't want a family- I still would just do the more stable MD degree.
 
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aafisahar

5+ Year Member
Oct 22, 2015
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I'm not sure what a software business entails, but if it's making you money, could you theoretically pay someone to handle most of the tasks that don't require software skills so you can try balancing both?
I don't think it's ever a wise idea to continue to pursue a path based on what other (your family) might think. Plenty of people make a living doing other things, however, being a doctor does have its perks as stated above.
by the time you pay for all the hardware, software, and people, you end up not making any money. The reason early businesses survive is that you can get away from paying people.
 
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