Doing what you want with medicine?

jalabert

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    Simple check ups? The one I saw last night, they did a thoracotomy in the ED, unfortunate outcome though.

    This is an interesting question as there have been a couple threads recently questioning the need to shadow and get volunteer hours. Some argue that anyone applying to med school is aware of all of the drawbacks to entering the profession.

    Did you not get any experience during the application process? Did it actually take an episode of Life in the ER (an interesting one in my opinion) to alert you to the fact that a vast majority of time spent as a physician is spent performing routine, often mundane tasks? Would you want someone poking around inside of you trying to satisfy their intellecual curiosity? No, the point is that medicine needs to be slow, methodical, and routine. That way people don't die because someone was trying to FIGURE out how to do something on them. Being trained on a procedure, and learning it is a different process than trying to FIGURE something out, and that's what you are describing. You want to be able to figure things out. Sorry dude, you made a career mistake.

    That being said, if you really want to spend some time figuring things out using your math and science, you're probably going to want to go into academia or industry once you're done. PM&R, Radiation Onc, Othopedics among other disciplines all have underlying elements of math and physics (everything is physics really), and you could probably get into some aspect of research. In fact, I would suspect with your background in engineering, you would be highly desirable to some academicians. For example, when I was doing my masters, I took an orthopedic biomechanics class that was team taught by an engineer and an orthopedic surgeon (although he usually sent his residents to teach). The engineer and the surgeon had collaborated on the design of some implants, had a couple of patents and were raking in the dough. So, all is not lost, but it sounds like you went into medicine for the wrong reason. If you don't like taking histories, you're going to be one unhappy camper for a few years.

    Sorry if the post sounded a bit harsh, but it sounds as if you may be embarking on a very unpleasant experience.
     
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    Stinger86

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      It sounds like you want people contact as well as intellectual stimulation. Frankly, no matter what field of medicine you go into, you're going to get the people contact. I do not necessarily mean PATIENT contact, but you will get PEOPLE contact. Medicine is a very interactive field, whether it's with sick people, or other doctors, or students, nurses, etc.

      So if just having contact with people is what you want along with the pure science, you should consider a field like radiology, pathology, etc.. Hell, you could even just do medical research once you're done. There's no law that states you have to go primary care once you finish medical school. There are many more options.
       

      JumpShot

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        Originally posted by wrigliarows
        I am currently a civil engineer and have been accepted to med school for next fall. I was working on a project yesterday and was really enjoying working through all the calculations and manipulating the equations. I then watched "Trauma: Life in the ER" on TLC and got discouraged as I saw the doctors running simple check-ups on patients.

        I want my life's work to revolve around science. The reason I am leaving engineering is that there is no contact with people in my profession, it is very bland. That is why I am going into medicine to be able to interact with my patients. However, I have trepidations that I will miss the math and physical side of science that I have in my profession. Is there a field of medicine that incorporates both areas I?m looking for? I would appreciate any advice.

        Thanks

        Don't give up on being a doc! I am in similar situation (although my degrees are in mechanical engineering and Japanese) in that I am moving from the "sterile" atmosphere of engineering to the more fluid, people oriented field of medicine. From the sound of your post I think I have probably spent more time in a hospital and more time shadowing though.

        Doing calculations and manipulating equations is the mundane side of engineering but I understand the enjoyment in doing it. For the most part it is "slow, methodical, and routine." Yet, there is certain beauty in the mathematics (as incredibly geeky as that sounds) and a satisfaction in seeing natural laws (physics) represented on paper. Simple checkups are perhaps the "mundane" side of medicine but I think they are also where we see the beauty of the human organism and watching it work correctly is satisfying. (at least it is to me)

        To me it seems (and those with experience beyond that of observer will be able speak better to this) the bonus you get with medicine is variability in patients and their personalities. A friend I went to school with is now in family practice and I have shadowed him several times. He is by no means a comedian or a "class clown" type personality but what struck me most the first time I shadowed was how much laughing took place during routine checkups. It was just plain fun to watch him work through a routine exam, joke a little bit and be joked with even more, then smile, confirm everything was OK and send the patient home happy. That is satisfying.

        In engineering we identify constraints and then design to meet goals within those constraints. Are we really solving NEW problems and FIGURING it out from scratch? No, not normally Usually in engineering we are just applying tried and true solutions with some adaptation for current situation. (I cuss at my young engineers all the time for not doing this.) As we gain experience and knowledge as an engineering community the tried and true solutions gradually improve and change. But the wheel isn't reinevented every day.

        From what I have observed (and again those with actual experience will be able to speak better to this), as a doctor you are usually just applying tried and true solutions with some adaptation for the current patient. And, as we gain experience and knowledge as a medical community, the tried and true solutions gradually improve and change. You stand on the shoulders of those who have come before and hopefully see a little bit farther. Is this boring? I don't think so.

        In the abstract, I don't think medicine will all that different than engineering. In the actual detail though I expect medicine to be much more rewarding because you get to interact with and help individual people with names and lives and hopes and .... I also expect that engineering experience will be an asset as a doctor. I just have become a good enough physician to figure out where it applies and how it can help.

        As an example, there is the newer procedure for total knee replacement. They haven't changed the hardware that is implanted or the cuts that are made in the bone. They have just made it much less invasive and, subsequently less traumatic. ( http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4481396/ ) The trick was new tools that let the surgeons involve less tissue by making a much smaller incision and working through it. New tools? Sounds like engineering to me. Perhaps someday I can help with something like that.
         

        nuclearrabbit77

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          Originally posted by wrigliarows
          I am currently a civil engineer and have been accepted to med school for next fall. I was working on a project yesterday and was really enjoying working through all the calculations and manipulating the equations. I then watched "Trauma: Life in the ER" on TLC and got discouraged as I saw the doctors running simple check-ups on patients.

          I want my life's work to revolve around science. The reason I am leaving engineering is that there is no contact with people in my profession, it is very bland. That is why I am going into medicine to be able to interact with my patients. However, I have trepidations that I will miss the math and physical side of science that I have in my profession. Is there a field of medicine that incorporates both areas I?m looking for? I would appreciate any advice.

          Thanks

          you should look into radiation oncology and radiology.
           

          lowbudget

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            While surgery and the high technology fields like rad and rad onc have a fair amount of physicis in it, look into anesthesia... there're SOOO many engineering principles behind it. When you study physiology and pharmacology during your 1st 2 years, see if you like it. There's plenty of medicine involved in anesthesia, there's patient contact, and you work in teams. A lot of people in anesthesia have engineering backgrounds.

            My brother got his masters in CE and hated primary care and hated surgery. Anesthesia with all the physiology involves lots of equations and relationships that makes it a fairly precise specialty. And it has its share of excitement in the OR and in critical care that you won't see behind the spreadsheet.
             
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