SDN members see fewer ads and full resolution images. Join our non-profit community!

Constantly second-guessing why I'm doing this to myself...

Discussion in 'Nontraditional Students' started by Elizabeth89, May 19, 2014.

  1. Elizabeth89

    Elizabeth89 Banned Banned

    Nov 1, 2013
    Would you say it's a pretty clear-cut sign that I should figure out something else to do with my life when I'm constantly wondering why the heck I had to choose one of the longest educational tracks that exist?

    I do want to be a doctor. I do want to go to med school. But if I'm honest, I really, really don't want to spend another two or three years jumping through hoops to get there. I don't want to spend another year or longer taking freshman level undergraduate courses and stressing out over every grade because bad grades=no med school=I'm a failure. I mean, freaking general chemistry I kicked my butt this past semester. I got the A, but it cost me a lot of lost sleep and a lot of tears along the way; I studied for at least 40 hours for that final alone. I still don't feel like I know anything about chemistry. I just feel like I test well enough.

    It seems like it'll be forever before I can actually begin med school because of the nature of the prerequisite coursework and application timeline, not to mention I have to wait another semester to take Physics I because the class filled up too quickly at my school. My advisor told me to forget trying to get into the class and showed me the waiting list to get into it in the Fall; it's several hundred students long.

    I don't want to spend anymore time begging organizations to let me volunteer for them and begging doctors to let me shadow them. I figured it would be simple enough to find ECs and shadowing opportunities. I mean, every med school matriculate does it after all. It hasn't been easy for me. Organizations don't contact me back, and neither do doctors except occasionally to inform me they don't allow pre-meds to shadow them.

    I don't want to turn down anymore good jobs because I'm in class during the hours employers would need me to work. I'm struggling financially and finally started hearing back on job applications after months of applying. Every single employer informed me they would have to find someone else because they needed me to work X specific shift, and of course I had classes during that time.

    I don't want to spend another year or longer in a college town surrounded by people much younger than me who I have nothing in common with. I want to live where there are people my age and people who don't respond with, "You're *gasp* twenty-five?!" after asking me my age (this has happened on at least three occasions that I can think of off the top of my head).

    The other day, I misunderstood something on my student account and thought it was saying I didn't get the summer loan I thought I was getting. My first thought was, "Aw, what a shame. Guess I'll just have to drop my classes and find a new, less obnoxious life plan now."

    This entire process is just running me down. I've basically stayed with it 1) because I'm stubborn and don't like quitting things and 2) because I don't have any better plans.

    I dunno. It can't be normal to resent the process this much, can it?
  2. SDN Members don't see this ad. About the ads.
  3. Prettywoman0172

    Prettywoman0172 2+ Year Member

    Mar 18, 2011
    Sit back and enjoy the ride! I have loved every part of this process so far and I am excited to take the MCAT and finally apply this cycle. I have one more year of science classes to take (to complete a biology degree) and I am looking forward to it. It hasnt been easy for me either (Ive even had to repeat a couple of classes) but to me it is worth it.

    Good luck!
  4. theseeker4

    theseeker4 PGY 1 Physician 5+ Year Member

    Apr 20, 2011
    Suburban Detroit, MI
    If you are this resentful now, I can only imagine how miserable you will be during your actual med-school years, still facing residency after that before you are a "real" doctor.....

    I say sit out a semester or two, and really examine whether this is something you want to do. Get a job, shadow doctors and talk with them about the pros and cons of being a doctor. Really investigate all the good and bad things about being a doctor, and then ask, is it worth it to you to go through 8+ years of hell to get there? This process isn't unbearable to everyone, but since it seems to be to you, you need to take into account that you will be in your mid 30's before you are done pushing yourself though hell. You better be sure you like the job you will end up with on the other side before you commit to this.
    Leslie_Knope and victoriah like this.
  5. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting.... Administrator Physician PhD Faculty Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 10+ Year Member

    Oct 12, 2004
    There's wanting to be the fantasy of a doctor, and then there's wanting to actually be a doctor. Lots of people want to be a doctor in the sense that they like the idea of it. Who wouldn't want a job where you get a good salary, all for helping grateful people in need and going home feeling good about yourself every day? Especially when you get to do dramatic things like run codes and all these cool procedures.

    The problem is that being a doctor isn't anything like that. Well, it's true that the salary part is good. But the rest of it is not true, and that's why the salary is good. You don't get something for nothing; there's a reason why doctors get paid more than most other people. The job is extremely stressful; you are dealing with bureaucracy, obnoxious people (both your patients and your coworkers), and working long hours. You also spend a decade of your life training and wind up with six figure debt, demanding an extreme amount of delayed gratification not required by most other careers. Quite frankly, a large portion of medical training sucks.

    I look at someone like you and think, this kid loves the idea of being a doctor, but she doesn't actually want to be a doctor. Gen chem can be challenging if your math background isn't up to par, but it shouldn't be stressful to the point of tears. So yes, there is a problem here. Maybe it's just that you're burned out, and if so, taking a semester or two off like theseeker suggested might be just what you need. But if it's not just burnout, I don't see how you can expect to make it into, let alone through, medical school and residency if you're going to be this high strung about every hoop you have to jump through. Because the screw just keeps getting twisted tighter and tighter the further along you go, and all of your miseries get magnified. Except during the second half of the fourth year of med school. That is like a quiet oasis of paradise in the decade of medical training that comes but once and can never be recaptured.

    If I get any vote on the matter, I say you don't take any classes for the next couple of semesters and just work full time at any job that sounds appealing. Relax, enjoy your life, reflect on this whole thing. You can always start taking classes again next year if you decide you want to. But I bet you won't want to. And I wouldn't blame you one bit. Did I mention how much medical training sucks?
  6. CW 2010

    CW 2010 2+ Year Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Not going to med school doesn't mean you are a failure. This is wrong thinking. I'd suggest taking a break and going on a small vacation to think things over - do you really want to be a doctor for the right reasons? You do seem to have a lot of anxiety and self-esteem issues (that were evident from your previous posts as well). Perhaps, you should find an efficient way of dealing with them. Seeing a therapist might require paying a copay every visit (if you have insurance), so I don't know if you can afford doing it every week for a number of months... Taking a break from classes for right now also seems like a good idea. You are young (trust me!) and you can always go back to school when you get your mind in order.
  7. I don't know. My first couple of classes as a non-trad were like that - stress, tears, second-guessing. But then I started getting the hang of it, and suddenly I was halfway through, and then I was done with 46 credits of A's and feeling infinitely more confident in my ability to excel in the sciences. So what you're describing sounds very familiar to me, and my own experience makes me think that if you stick it out, things could start looking up for you. It is very daunting to be at the very beginning of such a long road. I would do whatever you have to do to ensure that you don't become overloaded and burnt out. Minimize your work schedule. Celebrate after exams and at the end of courses. Go on vacation. Remember why you are doing this. For me, reading books about people who do the work I'd like to do as a physician helped me push through some of the toughest parts of this process.

    Also, as others have suggested, it sounds like taking a temporary break could be valuable for your sanity and help you evaluate your commitment to this path.
  8. Pembleton

    Pembleton Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Jun 30, 2002
    I'm going to be direct and say you probably should think about another career. The process becomes more difficult as you go along- lots of time and money will be spent. Doubts and debts will accumulate. There is no shame in changing course and finding another vehicle for your talents!
    Jewels86 likes this.
  9. Elizabeth89

    Elizabeth89 Banned Banned

    Nov 1, 2013
    Thanks for the input, guys. Obviously I could be wrong, but I think med school would be a lot less miserable because there you get to focus solely on med school rather than juggling classes, work, money concerns (to a degree since loans cover your living expenses), volunteering, shadowing, developing relationships with professors to get LORs, and preparing for the MCAT. Plus, your future is a lot more certain at that point. From where I stand now, it seems like the premed/application process is where my problem lies, but yes, I could be wrong.

    I was planning on taking the fall semester off to just study for the MCAT, work, do some volunteering, and save up money, then decide whether I truly wanted to go back to school or liked not being in school just a little too much. Then the biology department offered me a position as an SI leader, so I signed up for fall classes because I figured the opportunity was too great to turn down considering it would allow me to essentially retake bio and refresh my knowledge of the subject for free, would look great on an application, and would allow me to get to know professors in the bio department who can write me LORs. Guess I have to hurry up and decide whether to contact the department and let them know I can't take the position any longer due to personal reasons. Too bad I can't just be an SI leader while otherwise taking that semester off.
  10. Jewels86

    Jewels86 2+ Year Member

    Apr 7, 2013
    Medical school, from what I see the students and eventually as a resident, could be an exciting experience indeed. I always talk with the MS2's that have to assess my patients and most are very positive about their experience. There really is no down time while the students or residents are there. Absolutely none. It's go, go, go. Even the MS2's have to the overnight shift with us in the ER. Then I get to see them in the AM as I'm leaving about two days later looking so tired.

    If I didn't want to be a family physician in rural Texas, I wouldn't do it. I'd just get my PhD in something that I enjoy and go teach it.

    Please, if you're having doubts, dig deeper into the why behind the doubts. As I always say, patients are not compliant little people that do everything you say. They're interesting "cats". For example, we were walking by a pt and said hello, only to be met with an "F-you!!" IDK...
  11. Goro

    Goro Faculty 7+ Year Member

    Jun 10, 2010
    Somewhere west of St. Louis
    You are engaging in magic thinking. Med school is a furnace and the cliche of "drinking from the fire hose" is NOT a cliche. My students stress out about exams, boards, and residencies. In many ways, what you're going through now is mirrored in medical school.

    Strongly suggest you take some time off to reconsider this path.

    And not being a doctor is NOT being a failure.

    Obviously I could be wrong, but I think med school would be a lot less miserable because there you get to focus solely on med school rather than juggling classes, work, money concerns (to a degree since loans cover your living expenses), volunteering, shadowing, developing relationships with professors to get LORs, and preparing for the MCAT. Plus, your future is a lot more certain at that point. From where I stand now, it seems like the premed/application process is where my problem lies, but yes, I could be wrong.
  12. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting.... Administrator Physician PhD Faculty Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 10+ Year Member

    Oct 12, 2004
    You are absolutely, incontrovertibly, unquestionably, indisputably, undoubtedly, incontestably, undeniably, and completely wrong. Again, every misery you have now as a premed will only be magnified during med school. Especially if you decide you want to gun for derm.
    DrMidlife likes this.
  13. gonnif

    gonnif Only 1021 Days Until Next Presidential Election Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 7+ Year Member

    Jul 26, 2009
    The Big Bad Apple
    Dont hold back, tells us what you really think.

    I often suggest nontrads go thru the torture of a postbacc for just this reason. It is as much as proving to yourself you want it as much as it is proving to medical schools you can do it. If you can get through a few years of hard classes, volunteering, lack of sleep, tough schedules, do well on the MCAT and you still want to go, then you should do it. I want students to spend a little time and money in postbacc to decide there before they commit to 7, 8, 9 more years of their life and over a half million dollars (yes I said a half million) is debt, lost income, reduced income for residency, retirement savings, and the rest.

    Medical school and medicine in many ways falls to the luck of the draw. A student is lucky to get more than 1 or 2 acceptances, maybe interstate move to do, living on next to nothing, long hours, constant exams, studying many hours a day, moving to clinical rotations that may be hundreds of miles from the campus for 12 weeks, trying to get a specialty, which you may not, in a residency location, which you may not get, to moving again to find a permanent position.

    The founder of OldPreMeds, now a dual board certified doc and ICU director, spent 20 years from premed thru this final career position. It included 10 interstate moves. He now has position in Upstate NY yet his wife and kids live in Arkansas in a medium city. Which means he has 3 flights ever other week to get home. He cant get a spot there in his home town until possibly some other doctor retires. This is his life.

    If you were to ask many of the successful OldPreMeds would they do it again, you would get a long hard silence while they think. As one doc who struggled to get into her dream residency and finally made it say in her 2nd of 5 years "residency has sucked the out of me and put in a blender at full speed." I cant think of anyone who has said something like to me during residency.

    This is why commitment, motivation and dedication are so important. If you do not have the internal drive to overcome all the obstacles this long, long, long marathon, then you will be a bitterly disappointed doctor
  14. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting.... Administrator Physician PhD Faculty Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 10+ Year Member

    Oct 12, 2004
    I *was* a little bit worried that my point might not be crystal clear. :D
    cdistel likes this.
  15. chiberian husky

    chiberian husky zzz

    May 12, 2014
    i need to start "the perpetual panic thread" for OP and also EngtoMedHopeful, but i think maybe they are the same person, *shrug* i donno.
  16. clairephillips

    clairephillips 2+ Year Member

    Aug 24, 2013

    As a 31 year old non-trad, I want to tell you something that might surprise you. College is a luxury. College is a time that you get to try to find your niche, explore, discover who you are. Your job during this is to keep your grades up and keep going, but what if you took a semester and enrolled in film classes, or psychology, or women's/gender studies or anything else you'd like to explore? Try something else you've always wondered about, take care of some basics, and BREATHE. Medical schools won't close in the next five years, or the next 20, so if you aren't sure, keep looking for something else. The beast known as the MCAT will be there (in some form), and you can return to this.

    That being said, I let my fear (and it was fear) keep me away from the thing I want and have continued wanting for my entire life. I NEED to be a doctor. I can't NOT be a doctor, and I've tried. I majored in something easy after I struggled my first semester in college. I took the easy way out and majored in Human Development and Family Studies while doing the last of my prerequisites. I never studied more than three days for an exam in any one of those classes and scored at the top of each. Therefore, I was invited to apply for their grad program, and got in with full funding. This was in 2007. By 2008, I dropped out of the program because I knew I had to study science. I worked for a year in a pharmacy to pay back some loans and get my footing, then I got back in school, back at the University and got a second degree, this time in microbiology while I took teaching classes. All this time I ached to do medicine, but I thought I was too old and I knew I was too scared, so I didn't. My mom got sick with cancer and I became her primary caregiver, while working part time, while being in school full time. I got multiple B's in my coursework and still didn't have time to do research, which is what I had hoped from the first semester to do during my second degree. I graduated with teaching as my "fall-back plan" and I fell hard, teaching for two years before I admitted to myself that the ache was still there - the need to become a doctor. Just like I did with HDFS, I have a perfect pedigree in education, teaching at prestigious schools, earning major scholarships, holding multiple certifications, participating in well-respected programs.

    Still, I can't be okay without being a doctor. I feel it to my core. I love medicine. I got in trouble in the pharmacy for taking too long to read information for each medication and learn what it was for. Though I wasn't a pharmacist and couldn't answer questions for patients, I knew the answers to nearly all their questions about their meds. I got to run health screenings and found myself caring deeply for each person who asked me to check their numbers. I now watch my students and grieve for those who don't have access to adequate healthcare. For some, the school nurse is their only source for questions and there is little she can do. I love microbes - I got excited and spent several days researching all I could about MERS and Coronaviruses and Chikungunya. I read everything I can about the people who spend their lives developing vaccines, studying and classifying microbes, fighting disease. I've seen Outbreak, Contagion, Grey's Anatomy, Gross Anatomy, And the Band Played On, Dallas Buyers Club, etc. more times than I watched princess movies growing up. Medicine is inside me and as much as I've tried to kill it, it won't die.

    I'll be 40+ years old before I finish residency. I don't know if I'll even be able to have kids by then. If I teach one more year, I can go to grad school in education and end up making 100K a year as a biotechnology educator. I teach full time while studying for the MCAT while volunteering for both a hospital and a hospice while looking for a new teaching job for next year and almost never take a break. I have tried multiple careers, multiple fields, and always the ache remains. None of this, absolutely none, can compare with that feeling I get when I walk into the patients' rooms in the hospital, just to bring them water, or hold the hand of a dying patient at the hospice. If you cannot say that you feel similarly, if your passion is not real (though of course your experience is different than mine), then stop for a while and look for that thing that lights you up inside the same way this lights me up.

    There is a story that says that famous Russian author Vladimir Nabokov believed so much in the power of writing that, through the Russian Revolution, he continued to write, even through the sounds of gunshots. When you find that thing that you believe in enough to continue through gunshots, you will have found your calling. Forgive yourself if you aren't ready for that. The best piece of advice I've ever seen pertaining to medicine is that people shouldn't go into medicine because they "can see themselves doing it," but rather that they go into medicine because they "can't stand not doing it." Medicine will be here, if you decide that's still your path. Good luck.
  17. worfndata

    worfndata Banned Banned Account on Hold

    Jan 25, 2014
    “There are two types of pain you will go through in life, the pain of discipline and the pain of regret. Discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tonnes.”

    Jim Rohn
    seattle0212, NyWood, EMDO2018 and 4 others like this.
  18. StIGMA

    StIGMA Doctor Professor PhD 7+ Year Member

    Jul 6, 2008
    Regret does not carry this much weight to everyone. It is a mark of maturity to make it out from under the burden of regret. If someone's goal is a false ideal (I am worthless as a person if I do not accomplish ____), or if the goal is simply not feasible for ANY reason (family, money, time, circumstances either social or personal), why let yourself be burdened with regret? Moreover, discipline is not the antonym of regret; infinite discipline will not eliminate regret, nor will it give you unlimited potential for accomplishment. Regret is often due to someone being unhappy with themselves for whatever reason- being a doctor, or whatever else, won't "fix" that.
    Last edited: May 23, 2014
    milski likes this.
  19. Major

    Major SDN Gold Donor Gold Donor Classifieds Approved 2+ Year Member

    Jun 10, 2013
    "The path that leads to what we truly desire is long and difficult, but by only following that path do we achieve our goal"

    -Master Splinter

    Have patience OP and best of luck!
    NyWood and Eccesignum like this.
  20. petyr_baelish

    petyr_baelish 5+ Year Member

    Nov 15, 2009
    I love these kinds of responses. I'll bite.

    I would argue that an abundance of discipline can eliminate, or at least prevent, regret in this context of becoming a doctor. If someone has above average intelligence (like, 110+), getting into and succeeding at medical school requires discipline. You have to spend hours studying when you could be enjoying downtime or working toward a career that is more lucrative in the short-term. Those who are disciplined are rewarded particularly well in situations where there is a lot of material to be learned and standardized tests to beat. So if succeeding in medical school is just a question of getting the work done for those of us in the top 25% of intelligence, you either do it or you don't. And if you don't do the work and cannot rationalize it, regret is an appropriate response.

    That said, I'm all for turning regret into something positive, like motivation to fix the problem.
    Last edited: May 23, 2014
    clairephillips likes this.
  21. EMDO2018

    EMDO2018 Banned Banned

    Oct 8, 2013
    I don't know
  22. StIGMA

    StIGMA Doctor Professor PhD 7+ Year Member

    Jul 6, 2008
    We generally agree. However, you suggest ideal assumptions, which do not reflect the reality of medical admissions. ~50%+ of applicants each year fail to matriculate. The majority of these people would make excellent physicians. We simply do not have the medical school capacity to train them. Not all of these people can spend years applying for an acceptance, nor can everyone gamble large loan amounts for a shot.

    Being a "borderline" applicant (eg: still qualified) is an issue of current competitiveness- if one person worked even harder for that acceptance to outcompete another still qualified applicant, then a qualified candidate would still be eliminated (hence "more discipline" is still limiting in many cases). It is a systematic issue where there is competition, and qualified persons will not make it (not at all due to personal shortcomings but due to actual training constraints). More discipline is a good thing, but it is an inadequate blanket statement/solution because it implies personal failure is the reason for shortcoming (and hence regret). If you work reasonably hard and it doesn't happen for you, why be mired in regret? If you are undisciplined, one will undoubtedly benefit from gaining discipline- but it will not necessarily eliminate regret. Regret is more of an issue of the heart; why keep yourself tied to an anchor if you can find peace/happiness doing something else?
    victoriah likes this.
  23. dxu

    dxu the great one 10+ Year Member

    Mar 7, 2006
    You want to see if it is worth it?

    Go shadow an EM physician.

    You see it all in EM. Really, all of it. From birth to death, happiness to sadness, thank you to screw you.

    They deal with every type of patient, every class and culture. Wealthy to welfare. Take your pick.

    You'll see procedures of all types. Some mild, some pretty freaking gross (I still hate thoracotomies).

    I have been in EMS and a Level II Trauma Ctr for ten years. I have seen and been a part of more patient care experiences than I can count. Even on the worst days, the days with fifty patients in the waiting room and critical patients in the hallways, I still love what I do and what these patients trust me to do. The best days, you know you made a difference. The worst days, you think you made a difference. Did you see on the news the school stabbing about a month or so ago? Twenty students injured. Guess who got to be part of that terrible event. That's right, yours truly. You want to talk about something that made you know you chose the right career path, that is it.
  24. Elizabeth89

    Elizabeth89 Banned Banned

    Nov 1, 2013
    College WAS a luxury the first time around, I agree. It's almost creepy that you mention film, psychology, and gender studies. I minored in film studies and psychology and became quite passionate about gender studies near the end of my undergrad career. I had a lot more fun learning psychological and sociological theories and about different communication styles than I have learning about colligative properties and quantum atomic theory, that's undeniable. Although, I do quite enjoy biology; I would be pretty elated if I could substitute some of these chemistry and physics courses with biology courses. None of that really lends itself to a secure career future, though. Approximately zero employers give a damn about my knowledge of various psychological models or the fact that I spent many hours digesting feminist film theory. Just about the only thing you can do with most of those topics is teach, and I don't want to teach at all. There's mental health with the psychology, but I also can't see myself as any form of mental health professional.

    If I found a career path outside of medicine that filled me with intense passion and that I actually thought I stood a shot at making it in, then that is what I would pursue. I don't know of a single career path like that, though. Part of the appeal of the medicine path is/was the emphasis on academics. Even though school is making me pretty miserable at the moment for various reasons, school is the only thing I know that I'm good at (or have at least proven capable of doing well in). Outside of medicine (or at least the pursuit of med school), I don't know of too many careers where academic performance means anything.
    victoriah likes this.

Share This Page