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Discussion in 'Nontraditional Students' started by braxtozene, May 26, 2005.
Well, lots of people reach a point where they realize that their career does not meet all their needs. Some change careers. Some stay where they're at and work with it. Your problem is that you lack clarity.
Here's what you need to do:
1) Make a list of your top 3 new career choices.
2) Interview at least one person in each career. Ask them what they do every day at work.
3) If possible, shadow people for an entire day so you can see for yourself.
4) Choose the career where you enjoy the everyday activities.
5) If you cannot reach #4 with confidence, go back to #1.
Also, for medicine, volunteer in a clinical setting.
You might think, "I don't want to do all this. I've already chosen either C.S. or Med". Your mistake was to take premed classes before having clarity. And now you're stuck. If you commit to either without clarity, you won't have confidence in your decision. It's OK to take time, even a year, to straighten this out. The time won't matter 10 years from now. When you have clarity, you'll say, "I investigated this thoroughly. I chose this for these reasons and I accept these down sides."
I wasn't making quite as much money as you were.. only about $63K... I think the difference is that I detested my job....
If you do indeed enjoy your job, may I suggest the following.. stick with it... don't drop what you have now in order to attend medical school.. find some other outlet for your fulfillment... involve yourself in volunteer activities, work part time for a non-profit, move to a different company that supports your career and your beliefs where you might be more fulfilled...
sometimes as overachievers we lose sight of what we really want for the big prize.. whatever that is... money is definitely not everything...but if you enjoy your job and you do it well, you can find the fulfillment elsewhere...
Honestly, I can't believe I'm advising you NOT to quit... because in general I try to strongly support those that really want to go back to school and go through the grueling process that we're all going through.. but if you think there is ANY way that you might find fulfillment in your current situation, with some minor changes.. then I'd stick with what you have...
When I started down this road I met several other older students and they said one thing to me.... if there's ANYTHING else that you can think of that would bring you fulfillment or satisfy you other than going into medicine, then you should do it....I guess I'll give you that same advice...
If you're sure that sacrificing the pay and the satisfaction that you have with your job now in order to go into medicine is what you want, then you have my utmost support and admiration towards that endeavor.
I was in a similar situation as you. Computer Science major in undergrad. Worked for 2 years in tech consulting. I was probably one of the overpaid peons who worked underneath you.
I quit 2 years ago and I'm entering med school this fall. My reasoning was much the same as yours. At the end of a day at work, I returned to my posh apartment, and all I had accomplished was X number of scripts. I was in fact, spending my time making rich men richer, and they in turn were paying me for that. I had sold my soul for an apartment full of Pottery Barn furniture. That didn't sit well with me - and I knew I was on the fast-track to mid-life-crisis and becoming disgruntled middle management. After all, you only get one life, and I wanted to feel like I'd done something with it besides hoard large amounts of money and buy myself stuff.
I won't lie to you. Losing the salary is hard. Losing the Manhattan apartment is hard. It's even harder when you're woken up one morning by your cell phone going off, and its your old coworkers screaming about the 20k bonus this year. There were mornings when I'd wake up and stare at the ceiling and wonder what the hell I was doing here. But then again - where else do you find a job where even on the BAD days, you can say "I helped X number of people". Where else do you find a job that's so essential that its been filled by generations of people before you - shamans, medicine men, healers, and now doctors. You will never be a victim of the economy because people will always be getting sick and women will always be having babies. Where else do you find a job that gives you the fuzzies of being a do-gooder AND a comfortable salary? People may argue that doctors are making less these days than they were before, but I argue that they're still making more than the general population. Even a family physician (the lowest paid) make 6 figures. You can definitely live comfortably on that. Lastly - how often will you get a chance to go back and do things over? What prompted me to quit so suddenly was the realization that the longer I waited, the harder it would be - for exactly the reasons you stated. I would be too comfortable. I'd get promoted and it'd be harder to leave (incidentally, I got promoted a week before I gave my 2 week notice). I'd have a family and then would be trapped by a mortgage payment. If you're gonna do it, you should do it NOW. It may not be an ideal time, but the longer you wait - the less and less ideal it gets as "surprises" pop up (kids, house payments, etc.).
I'm going to go out on a limb here and disagree with what a previous poster said. I think you DO have clarity. What it sounds like to me is this: You've decided you want to go to med school and you're willing to make the financial sacrifice for it. The thing holding you back is this vague notion of "Am I being impractical? Everyone else thinks I'm stupid for giving up a perfectly comfortable job" and a sense of guilt towards your wife. And you're scared, because quitting your job means going into the unknown with no assurance of success (i know the feeling). You can either stay practical and remain with the status quo - which you're right, includes a nice job, a future house, etc. But don't forget that this status quo also contains discontent. Will this discontent grow over the years like your mortgage payment? Or are you relatively sure it will stay small and you can handle it? Even more importantly - will your decision to NOT pursue medicine due to a sense of obligation towards your wife lead to resentment? Hopefully not. Venturing out into the unknown is scary - but it potentially also holds the reward you want. Like most things in life - there are no promises, but there are people who've walked this road before you and made it. So take heart in that at least.
The older students I met were infinitely more satisfied with their med school choice than the fresh grads from college are. The reason for this is because they've usually explored medicine much more deeply, heavily contemplated the sacrifices needed, and mostly - because they have perspective. It's important that you do this also. Medicine isn't going to be the answer to everything, you're not going to love it every single minute of every single day. Let's face it - a job is a job. It pays the bills. But if you're going to have to spend 2/3 of your life at a job making money, it may as well be one that will bring you a little bit of personal satisfaction.
My suggestion is this: talk to your wife. Because there's two of you, she'll have to be supportive of this as well. I wouldn't sacrifice my marriage for medicine, just like I wouldn't sacrifice my marriage to ANY job. Then, do what you feel is best. Screw practicality - it shouldn't even be a factor in this decision. You can spend your entire life being practical and be utterly miserable. You're the one who has to live with your life, so you should do what you think is best - whether that means pursuing medicine or staying in your job.
This is easy for me to say because I just walked this road and I made it to the other side when I got into school a few months ago. For me, it paid off, and it was worth it. But, it doesn't mean I forgot how frightening the uncertainty was, I didn't forget my parents disapproving deeply of my decision (why forgo security and go into debt for something you're not even assured of?), I didn't forget all the advisors doubting me, and my friends thinking i'm crazy. There's a thread around here called IT to Med School . Look for it. Think long and carefully - because this road is long and hard. And Good luck.
Almost 30 and earning 92k per year. That sounds like a great deal. When you look at medicine, you must see beyond the hype. Four years of medical school sucks (except for the 4th year). You will have countless hoops to jump through and be amazed that there will actually be a graduation day. Your choices out of school depends on how well you do. If you don't do well, your choices will be limited to (heaven help you) primary care, spending your days running from patient to patient to hopefully break even for the day and get home at a decent hour. Also, all the while praying that you did not miss something and end up getting sued. Your home life is not yours either. If you are in primary care, the beeper can go off at any time. This is all while praciticing! I did not even tell you how miserable residency can be. Primary care residencies are usually 3 years while all others are 5 or greater. I don't know, I am not trying to discourage you, I am just letting you know that you have no financial need to go into medicine (92k without 4 years of medical school debt + deferred payments through residency is not bad at all!).
In the end, it is all up to you. If you do go, do WELL so that the awesome specialties are within your reach (rads, rad onc, derm, ER, gas).
My point here is to think about what kind of doctor you want to be. Yes, you won't really know until 3rd year but that is no reason to not at least begin to think about it. I was so excited when I was accepted that I didn't think about what kind of doctor I wanted to be. So, I bought a book on medical specialties and researched the options. Now, 4 years later, I am where I wanted to be after reading that book.
I can understand your feeling caught in a meaningless job, but if you want to make a difference, the workplace isn't the only place you can do it. You can donate a portion of that 92K salary to charity, volunteer for organizations of interest, and join organizations whose mission matters to you.
You can also make a difference in your workplace as well. Organize a golf-outing among co-workers to benefit a charity. Organize a toy drive, food drive, or clothing drive aroung the holidays. See if your employer can match funds raised by employees for donations to charities.
While I can relate to your need to make a difference, it just seems a little impractical to give up such a great salary to spend years training for a career that will only pay a little more than that provided you go into primary care. With the high cost of malpractice insurance, you may be netting even less.
This decision is one that definitely requires much thought and consideration. Do not do it unless you are absolutely sure. Remember also, that a big dramatic life change like becoming a doctor is not necessary if what you want to do is make a difference. There are many other ways to make a difference...things you can do right now instead of going through years of training first.
However, if you search your soul and your true passion is to become a doctor, than pursue it with your full heart. Good luck to you!
I can feel your pain, I went from making six figures to now just finishing my second year of med school. When I started school my wife was still driving a little Audi TT which we no longer own. I worked for the past two years which has been helpful and I still did well in school. I knew that being the poor student again wouldn't be that bad for me, but I did feel bad for my wife. I think that actually things are better now than when I was working full time. You will find a way to get out and have some fun. What I have really come to know is that money really doesn't give you any kind of real happiness or fullfilment, if medicine is your thing and your wife is the independent type who is on for the ride then go for it! Good Luck.
Well, med school is going to take time away from your wife. And your future kids. And everything else you enjoy. People say it's like having kids, that until you do it you really have no idea how much it's going to change your life, you just have vague ideas but you assume it'll all be balanced out by the wonder and the mystery.
I've just finished first year. Those of us who came into my med school class from well-paying jobs had a hard time. You think, I am paying X thousand per year, burning through my savings, and my life is not much fun at all. Our med school is poorly run, the administration is massively unhelpful, the faculty teaching our classes are not very good teachers, I'm learning a pile of irrelevant crap, and I'm not learning anything about healing. At least when I had a job, I could go skiing on the weekends, I had a nice life, and I got to spend a lot of time with my significant other. I liked my work, and it was fulfilling. On top of that, the three oldest students in my class (all aged about 40) have done OK but not great in class, which is somewhat discouraging. We are smart as hell, but we overthink the multiple-choice questions and we don't do particularly well on exams. Which sucks even more.
To get through that, it really helps to be convinced that you made a good decision based on as much information as you could gather. Otherwise you just question your decision every minute of every day, and it's exhausting and unproductive to do so. gary5's suggestions are excellent.
I was right where you were last year but 2 worse, I have 2 small kids. The thought of losing a good salary and going back to school is really scary. Financially I will be lucky to break even in 10 or 12 years and I am going into Dentistry so I won't even have a residency afterwards. But my current job is lacking a certain sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. Now I have 19 shifts left of work before I start dental school. That is only 228 hours of work in a job that I enjoy but I don't love. Hopefully the sacrafices that my wife and more importantly my kids are going to make for the next few years will pay off with a better family life in 10 years. Good luck with your decisions.
I would suggest to pay attention to those that have written their experiences after some years of medical school, internship, residences and professional practice. I do not think that the point of view of premed students or medical students that have not entered in a hospital enviroment or are at the beginning other clinicals are based in a total experience.. They can share with you your feelings, but you need to know the experiences of those that have gone that road to the end, and tell you if it worked or not.
I suggest to read another threads here as "Would you do everything again" and so, from the point of view of those that are residents or have been working as physicians for some years. The fullfillment feeling does not depend of the career, I think. You will be surprised of the lack of fulfillment that some of them have, complaining about HMO using them for making money, more time devoted to fill documents than to see patients, etc.
I think that some of the advices that you have received here are very good, about knowing what is medicine in a practical way before deciding this route.
My best wishes for you.
I was in exactly the same boat as you - working in IT middle management, making good money and enjoying my job. Only problem was, as others have felt, there was a serious lack of meaning and fulfillment. And yes, one can certainly find other areas of their life outside work to seek meaning (my family is the most important to me); however, when you spend 50+ hours a week doing something - it ultimately should fulfill you and add meaning to your life!!
I made the transition and am now in med school in Australia. My wife is HUGELY supportive and I owe everything to her and our daughter. The best advice I can provide is, considering the sacrifices involved, you need to make the decision together. Collectively, do your homework and create a good picture of what the next 10 years will look like in both scenarios - status quo and med school. Then make your decision and commit. And once you commit, don't look back and second guess.
My personal experience thus far is incredibly positive. After spending 15 years in the work force, I absolutely LOVE learning again. I am inspired by both my classmates and professors; and I am inspired most by so many patients that have such extraordinary stories and incredible inner strength! You must admit - we are incredibly privledged and lucky to have as our most significant challenge - trying to decide between a good paying and "enjoyable" job or going to med school. Some people I've met (who are younger than I) aspire to survive the day without a life-threatening asthma attack. They aspire to live to see tomorrow.
It is truly an honour and a privledge to take care of some absolutely wonderful people (of course, there are the drug overdoses and alcholics that come with the territory - certainly less inspiring but they need help too). Would I make the leap again - in a second! And I don't miss the pay cheque one bit It's amazing, you don't need a house and a nice car to find happiness!! We used to have that, now we drive a car with a bumper sticker that says "Stand back, I fart" Yeah, we've had to swallow some pride when we drive, but we're happy!
braxtozene, I really sense from your post that you really want this. Just make certain your wife is committed too, then don't let fear drive your decision. If you let fear drive a decision that seeks out short-term comfort, when you're 50 and look back with regret -> you won't be comfortable at all, especially with the realization that it's to late to change.
You and your wife have a tough choice ahead and I wish you the best of luck in finding the path that's best for you both!
"Life is an adventure, or it is nothing" unkown