Engineer changing to Med School track... is it worthwhile?..HELP!

aznleo

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Ok. I am an Engineering female at a large engineering company. (technical females are a great asset to the company). I have been out of school almost two years (two years in May) and have been working for this great engineering company since. Recently, I've decided to switch and go the doctor route after my father had a heart condition and needed surgery. My family and boyfriend (soon to be fiance), has been very supportive of my decision in changing career tracks. The only person that has doubts, are myself. Am I doing the right thing? Is it worth it, all that time and money? Here are some reasons, pros and cons:

Pros of staying in engineering:
1). I'm working at a pretty good company with flexiblity and great benefits. I am a technical female, and so, the chances of layoffs are much lowere than my male counterparts.
2). I have completed my degree, have started working and now am getting paid.
3). I would probably being making a great chunk of money in about ten years. And am still making money now, as oopsed to no money and taking out loans if going to med school).

Cons of engineering:
1). I look around at my coworkers, and during certain times of the year, they work crazy hours (including evening and weekends). You could easily do 50-60 hrs in a week. (and other parts of the year, it's more laid back at 40-ish hours a week).
2). Right now, since I am new and at the bottom of the totem pole at work, my pay isn't so enticing.
3). This job would only be a job, nothing truly fulfilling about it. I wouldn't love what I do. (but of course, can always make the best of everything you have).
4). I am outgoing, sociable and love interacting with people (which engineering doesn't provide as much.)
5). Areas to find jobs are more limited. I'll need to follow where my job goes or only find places/locations that will use my skill.


Pros of Med school/ becoming a doctor:
1). Patient/people interactio.
2). Being able to diagnose someone and find a way to treat/ cure them to make their condition improved. Being able to clearly see the difference I made.
3). Financial security
4) Job security and being able to find a job in any region of the country (at least this used to be, not sure how itis now.)

Cons of Med school/becoming a doctor:
1) I'll be 34-35 when I completely finish Med scholl and 3/4 yrs of residency
2) I'll make no money in the next ten years (so I can't help out my fiance and family financailly- even though i'm sure they'll be ok.)
3) Lots of work



My engineering undergrad overall gpa is great - 3.53-ish, but the med prereqs (used for BCPM gpa) I took in undergrad are not that great 3.19-ish.
I have already started a post-bacc program at a local university two months ago and am doing great in the class (Chem 2). And this is after taking Chem 1 about 6 years ago. If I take all the prereqs and apply for Med school next year, my BPCPM will be around 3.52-ish and overall GPA at 3.6.

My job now is just ok, but not everyone loves their job 100%. Only thing is, I don't know if becoming a doctor will make me happy. I only hope/think it will now, but what if after years of stress, it's not all that cracked up to be. But I figure, every job will have it's stress, it's if you enjoy the job enough to take it. I'm also continuosly learning on the job in my engineering company. Even though the rate and level won't be as high as medical school, I figure, if I am gonna need to study and learn, might as well do it to come out and do something meaningful in the end... right?

What do you guys think? Can I make it into Med school with those grades? Am I wasting my time? Is it worth it at my age? (I'm 24 now) Is it worth it to give up a good career like engineering? Help!
 

tgp511

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I'll tell you what everyone else here will tell you:

The main question is,
Do you want to go to med school? Why? How do you know?

If you want to go because of money, prestige, etc., it's probably not a good idea.

If you haven't shadowed a doctor already, do so. You need to know what a typical day for a primary care doctor is, and maybe try to shadow some secondary care specialties you are interested in after that. If you're interest is only intensified, come back and post here with more questions.

The will needs to be there for you to go. "Can I" is a stupid question to ask. You got a 3.5 in an engineering school, of course you have the work ethic to go. And even if you didn't, if you really want to go, you can acquire the work ethic. If it turns out you have to go to a DO school or abroad, so be it. Age isn't an issue. Check out the nontrad forum, you'll see people in their 30's and possibly 40's applying to med school.

What it really boils down to is do you really want to go to medical school.
 

tissueeng84

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I think you've outlined the pro's and con's quite nicely. It really falls down to whether you want to do the change. I would look more at where you want to go than where you are coming from. People have come from all successful walks of life to medicine, the main motivation seems to be medicine itself. If you're unhappy about engineering, medicine is definitely not the only alternative.

Consider tgp's advice.

I'm currently an engineer who will attend med school in the fall. Engineering for me is more of a transition job / learning experience than a previous life though. I think you will find you have many transferable skills and attitudes that will be an asset to medicine.:thumbup:
 
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Let me say, OP, I feel your pain. I'm in almost the exact same situation as you and this is a really hard decision. Try to get some clinical exposure...
 

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Cons of Med school/becoming a doctor:
1) I'll be 34-35 when I completely finish Med scholl and 3/4 yrs of residency
2) I'll make no money in the next ten years (so I can't help out my fiance and family financailly- even though i'm sure they'll be ok.)

1. once you get your MD you're a doctor, Residency is more or less an intense apprentinceship, you're still doing doctor things and have doctor responsibilities. the last 2 years of med school are both clinical, so you get to play doctor then as well. in reality, you're going to be entering the field full time once you finish the second year of med school. the money and hours are the major changes as you climb the ladder.

2. You make money (~40k/yr) during residency. Not much, but its not like you're working for free (well you still sorta are:smuggrin: ) after you graduate.
 

Anka

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Hi,

Your list of pros and cons sounds very reasonable (with the possible exception of noting the hours as a con of engineering, given you'll work longer hours with less predictability as a doctor, at least in the early part of your career). Your grades will be fine if you do well in your postbac and your MCATs. Most likely, if you want, you can become a doctor. As far as whether you'll enjoy it, different people have different reactions. I'm in medical school now, and so far have had a great time (with the exception of my OB/Gyn rotation). Some of my classmates have contemplated dropping out on a weekly basis. While there are things you can do to get a sense of whether or not you'll be happy doing it (shadowing, etc.), there's really no way to tell until you're in it. You asked about your age -- not a big deal. Anyone who is doing an MD/PhD will be older than you on graduation, and there are plenty of nontrads who had a similar course to yours.

I think the best course of action for now is to keep taking your prereqs and give yourself permission to evaluate and re-evaluate the issues you brought up. As your father's illness was recent, it might be coloring your decision making process now in a way that it won't in six months or a year. If, on the other hand, you'll still wanting to be a doctor in a year, you'll have a year of prereqs under your belt.

Best,
Anka
 

sirus_virus

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Ok. I am an Engineering female at a large engineering company. (technical females are a great asset to the company). I have been out of school almost two years (two years in May) and have been working for this great engineering company since. Recently, I've decided to switch and go the doctor route after my father had a heart condition and needed surgery. My family and boyfriend (soon to be fiance), has been very supportive of my decision in changing career tracks. The only person that has doubts, are myself. Am I doing the right thing? Is it worth it, all that time and money? Here are some reasons, pros and cons:

Pros of staying in engineering:
1). I'm working at a pretty good company with flexiblity and great benefits. I am a technical female, and so, the chances of layoffs are much lowere than my male counterparts.
2). I have completed my degree, have started working and now am getting paid.
3). I would probably being making a great chunk of money in about ten years. And am still making money now, as oopsed to no money and taking out loans if going to med school).

Cons of engineering:
1). I look around at my coworkers, and during certain times of the year, they work crazy hours (including evening and weekends). You could easily do 50-60 hrs in a week. (and other parts of the year, it's more laid back at 40-ish hours a week).
2). Right now, since I am new and at the bottom of the totem pole at work, my pay isn't so enticing.
3). This job would only be a job, nothing truly fulfilling about it. I wouldn't love what I do. (but of course, can always make the best of everything you have).
4). I am outgoing, sociable and love interacting with people (which engineering doesn't provide as much.)
5). Areas to find jobs are more limited. I'll need to follow where my job goes or only find places/locations that will use my skill.


Pros of Med school/ becoming a doctor:
1). Patient/people interactio.
2). Being able to diagnose someone and find a way to treat/ cure them to make their condition improved. Being able to clearly see the difference I made.
3). Financial security
4) Job security and being able to find a job in any region of the country (at least this used to be, not sure how itis now.)

Cons of Med school/becoming a doctor:
1) I'll be 34-35 when I completely finish Med scholl and 3/4 yrs of residency
2) I'll make no money in the next ten years (so I can't help out my fiance and family financailly- even though i'm sure they'll be ok.)
3) Lots of work



My engineering undergrad overall gpa is great - 3.53-ish, but the med prereqs (used for BCPM gpa) I took in undergrad are not that great 3.19-ish.
I have already started a post-bacc program at a local university two months ago and am doing great in the class (Chem 2). And this is after taking Chem 1 about 6 years ago. If I take all the prereqs and apply for Med school next year, my BPCPM will be around 3.52-ish and overall GPA at 3.6.

My job now is just ok, but not everyone loves their job 100%. Only thing is, I don't know if becoming a doctor will make me happy. I only hope/think it will now, but what if after years of stress, it's not all that cracked up to be. But I figure, every job will have it's stress, it's if you enjoy the job enough to take it. I'm also continuosly learning on the job in my engineering company. Even though the rate and level won't be as high as medical school, I figure, if I am gonna need to study and learn, might as well do it to come out and do something meaningful in the end... right?

What do you guys think? Can I make it into Med school with those grades? Am I wasting my time? Is it worth it at my age? (I'm 24 now) Is it worth it to give up a good career like engineering? Help!

The fact that you are contemplating means it is probably not worth it IMO. BTW, if you think 60 hrs is crazy, remember that 60hrs/week is considered light work in medicine. Not to mention declining physician income.
 

MonkeyNuts!

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Ok. I am an Engineering female at a large engineering company. (technical females are a great asset to the company). I have been out of school almost two years (two years in May) and have been working for this great engineering company since. Recently, I've decided to switch and go the doctor route after my father had a heart condition and needed surgery. My family and boyfriend (soon to be fiance), has been very supportive of my decision in changing career tracks. The only person that has doubts, are myself. Am I doing the right thing? Is it worth it, all that time and money? Here are some reasons, pros and cons:
I was an engineer in college. I made the switch before graduating. You absolutely must get clinical volunteering to make sure you are making the right choice - you need to be working with patients, so close that you can smell them.

Pros of staying in engineering:
1). I'm working at a pretty good company with flexiblity and great benefits. I am a technical female, and so, the chances of layoffs are much lowere than my male counterparts.
2). I have completed my degree, have started working and now am getting paid.
3). I would probably being making a great chunk of money in about ten years. And am still making money now, as oopsed to no money and taking out loans if going to med school).
Very nice pro - you're looking at anywhere from 50k to 200k debt out of med school with 20k-30k a year as a resident.

Cons of engineering:
1). I look around at my coworkers, and during certain times of the year, they work crazy hours (including evening and weekends). You could easily do 50-60 hrs in a week. (and other parts of the year, it's more laid back at 40-ish hours a week).
HAH try 80 hrs as a 3rd yr/4th yr/resident

2). Right now, since I am new and at the bottom of the totem pole at work, my pay isn't so enticing.
20K-30K after you graduate med school.

3). This job would only be a job, nothing truly fulfilling about it. I wouldn't love what I do. (but of course, can always make the best of everything you have).
4). I am outgoing, sociable and love interacting with people (which engineering doesn't provide as much.)
This is why you need clinical volunteering. Some people don't find helping patients that are mean, frustrated, and ready to sue you as "fulfilling." Also, medicine might break you in terms of people. Volunteer so you know what you're getting into. I suggest a homeless clinic or an AIDS clinic or soemthing.
5). Areas to find jobs are more limited. I'll need to follow where my job goes or only find places/locations that will use my skill.
With medicine you may need to go places where malpractice insurance is less. Maryland saw a devastating migration back in 2004-2005...

Pros of Med school/ becoming a doctor:
1). Patient/people interactio.
2). Being able to diagnose someone and find a way to treat/ cure them to make their condition improved. Being able to clearly see the difference I made.
Again really need some experience to see if this is something that truly inspires you.

3). Financial security
4) Job security and being able to find a job in any region of the country (at least this used to be, not sure how itis now.)
Not if you get sued and loose your license.

Cons of Med school/becoming a doctor:
1) I'll be 34-35 when I completely finish Med scholl and 3/4 yrs of residency
2) I'll make no money in the next ten years (so I can't help out my fiance and family financailly- even though i'm sure they'll be ok.)
3) Lots of work
Add in
4.) Massive debt
5.) Harder time building a family
6.) Fear of getting sued
7.) Malpractice insurance making you go bankrupt

I'm not saying it's a bad idea. I'm saying its an idea that has alot of untrue glamour and myths behind it. I have a friend who dropped a 100k+ (1st yr out of college!) engineering position to go to medical school, and he is regretting it somewhat already.

I never went into the field, so the choice wasn't exactly the same for me. But I did get to work with patients during the switch. Patients that yelled at me, that hated me, that gave us all the finger and walked out when we had to say "I'm sorry all we can do for you is give you aspirin". It may sound cynical, but there's more ugliness to medicine than the media (especially ABC and FOX) will let you believe. Just make sure you KNOW what youre getting into.
 
8

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Ok. I am an Engineering female at a large engineering company. (technical females are a great asset to the company). I have been out of school almost two years (two years in May) and have been working for this great engineering company since. Recently, I've decided to switch and go the doctor route after my father had a heart condition and needed surgery. My family and boyfriend (soon to be fiance), has been very supportive of my decision in changing career tracks. The only person that has doubts, are myself. Am I doing the right thing? Is it worth it, all that time and money? Here are some reasons, pros and cons:

Pros of staying in engineering:
1). I'm working at a pretty good company with flexiblity and great benefits. I am a technical female, and so, the chances of layoffs are much lowere than my male counterparts.
2). I have completed my degree, have started working and now am getting paid.
3). I would probably being making a great chunk of money in about ten years. And am still making money now, as oopsed to no money and taking out loans if going to med school).

Cons of engineering:
1). I look around at my coworkers, and during certain times of the year, they work crazy hours (including evening and weekends). You could easily do 50-60 hrs in a week. (and other parts of the year, it's more laid back at 40-ish hours a week).
2). Right now, since I am new and at the bottom of the totem pole at work, my pay isn't so enticing.
3). This job would only be a job, nothing truly fulfilling about it. I wouldn't love what I do. (but of course, can always make the best of everything you have).
4). I am outgoing, sociable and love interacting with people (which engineering doesn't provide as much.)
5). Areas to find jobs are more limited. I'll need to follow where my job goes or only find places/locations that will use my skill.


Pros of Med school/ becoming a doctor:
1). Patient/people interactio.
2). Being able to diagnose someone and find a way to treat/ cure them to make their condition improved. Being able to clearly see the difference I made.
3). Financial security
4) Job security and being able to find a job in any region of the country (at least this used to be, not sure how itis now.)

Cons of Med school/becoming a doctor:
1) I'll be 34-35 when I completely finish Med scholl and 3/4 yrs of residency
2) I'll make no money in the next ten years (so I can't help out my fiance and family financailly- even though i'm sure they'll be ok.)
3) Lots of work



My engineering undergrad overall gpa is great - 3.53-ish, but the med prereqs (used for BCPM gpa) I took in undergrad are not that great 3.19-ish.
I have already started a post-bacc program at a local university two months ago and am doing great in the class (Chem 2). And this is after taking Chem 1 about 6 years ago. If I take all the prereqs and apply for Med school next year, my BPCPM will be around 3.52-ish and overall GPA at 3.6.

My job now is just ok, but not everyone loves their job 100%. Only thing is, I don't know if becoming a doctor will make me happy. I only hope/think it will now, but what if after years of stress, it's not all that cracked up to be. But I figure, every job will have it's stress, it's if you enjoy the job enough to take it. I'm also continuosly learning on the job in my engineering company. Even though the rate and level won't be as high as medical school, I figure, if I am gonna need to study and learn, might as well do it to come out and do something meaningful in the end... right?

What do you guys think? Can I make it into Med school with those grades? Am I wasting my time? Is it worth it at my age? (I'm 24 now) Is it worth it to give up a good career like engineering? Help!

No.
 

sirus_virus

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Eternalrage makes another good point, what profession do you go to work daily wondering who is going to sue the crap out of you today. To go into medicine these days, you almost have to be one of these two things which I don't think you are:

1)Have no other viable career choices.
2)Really can't see yourself doing any other thing.
 

aznleo

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Thanks for all the great inputs so far everyone.

A few things I forgot to mention in my original post.

I put 50-60hr workweeks as a con for engineering because orginally, I wanted to do healthcare and steered away from that thinking that, as a doctor, it was too much time commitment, too long of schooling, and was afraid that money was the prize in my eye. I switched to something that was also somewhat financially rewarding, also challening, but less schooling and great hrs (I was thinking 8-5, 40 hrs/week.) But since I see that people are working 60 hr weeks at the same pay, I say to myself, ok, it's almost up there in # hrs. (granted I know that life in MS and residency is way more than that, but don't doctors, coming out after a few years, only work around 50-60 hrs?)

I also steered away since I thought I wouldnt be able to have a family. But I see now that it is still possible to have a family.

You guys are right, I need to get clinical experience. I worked in a hospital before, but there wasn't a great deal of patient interaction.
 
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MonkeyNuts!

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the family thing too want to emphasize... since it looks like you are about to get married (congrats) and probably want to punch out some kids

you can do it med school, many people have done it, and there are some schools more sympathetic to it than others

BUT you will have a much easier time when you don't have to study and are not in debt. Remember, that biological clock won't tick forever!
 

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I boil your post down to ... the engineering work is boring, lack of people interaction, and the pay is not that great. You are looking for something more interesting, with better pay, and something that involves working with people.

My thought is that there are many unappealing things about medicine and the pay usually doesn't make up for them. Keep in mind that you could go from being bored to feeling stressed out (not exactly better). Medicine also involves a lot of boring, repetitive paperwork (not getting out of that by making the switch). On top of that, getting paid is sometimes tougher (dealing with insurance companies who try to squeeze you). Responsibility can be greater in that if you make a mistake, you could lose your license and you're back to doing engineering after having spent $120K+ and 7 years of your life ... back to square one. In engineering, more people have a chance to catch your errors and more of the responsibility is on your company (and managers) rather than just you. Also, in terms of raising a family, medicine poses many more challenges than engineering. In your case I would say, no, it doesn't look like medicine would be a good choice at this point in your thinking (I would put the idea on the back burner a little while longer ... take it really slow). Maybe look into getting an MBA or finding a more interesting engineering job would be alternatives to explore.

By the way, I'm a Ph.D. engineer. I had an enjoyable engineering and business career (~15 years). I'm going into medicine now (start this fall). I would not be doing this except for the idea of giving something back to society because it is going to involve some major sacrifices in terms of spending time with my family, for example. Also, I'm one of those people that thrives on brutal challenges & stress (just how I'm wired). I'm going into this to give rather than get. If I could help one patient a month or maybe a year (and the rest totally ignored my direction, were lost causes, etc.), I would still think it was worth it, although I'm looking to help more. I look at medicine as a better fit for me to serve than than say, teaching high school in an challenged inner city (just not as good a fit for who I am).
 

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To the OP: I was a software engineer for a couple for a couple of years (does that count? :D) so I'm hoping to bring some perspective to you.

I'm also a female and I was 25 when I felt that premed itch. Like you, I took my prereqs in college (although I finished them all before I graduated) and I wasn't sure about med school so I went into IT for a couple of years.

I'll echo what others have said and ask that you shadow doctors, get some clinical experience before making a decision.

I work in an IT field that is tangentially related to healthcare (we hire a lot of programmers who have a bio background) and I do see plenty of engineers who regret not doing medicine when they were younger. However, I also see engineers who are happy with their job. I really don't believe that engineering is a 'better' field than medicine. It's different than medicine with it's own set of headaches.

There are plenty of good reasons to change jobs. For me, it was deep regret for not doing medicine as well as boredom/hatred for my current engineering job. I never realized what a bad fit it was for me. Also, my mind kept on wandering back to medicine and I felt my current job was not meeting all my potential. I was premed back in the day, so it wasn't out of the blue that I decided on medicine, nor was there a lack of clinical experience for me. I actually had plenty of volunteering etc under my belt so I knew (somewhat) what was expected.

And that's what you need to be if you want to do medicine. You need to have that *drive*for it. It can't be a whim. You need to research it, and figure out if this is what you really want to do. And if you feel this need to go towards medicine, make sure it's tempered with the reality of the field.

Like any other jobs, there are good and bad stuff to go with it. You'll probably work more hours (on avg) as a doctor but you'll also experience more financial security and probably make more (on avg). But you'll also have more responsibility and have to deal with things like malpractice and insurance crap.

So you need to make sure that there is a real drive to do medicine before quitting your job. And once you are in med school, it's very had to drop off. The amount of debt etc accumulated will force you to do medicine if only to pay it back. It's not a decision to be taken lightly. Good luck.
 

sirus_virus

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I am waiting for the day the government will switch to some healthcare system where medschool tuition is free, so I can see the massive medschool dropout rates that will ensue. I am guessing a good solid half of medstudents, residents and practicing doctors will probably walk the **** out if they were not owing the mafia(sallie mae, etc) money.
 

OncoCaP

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I am waiting for the day the government will switch to some healthcare system where medschool tuition is free, so I can see the massive medschool dropout rates that will ensue. I am guessing a good solid half of medstudents, residents and practicing doctors will probably walk the **** out if they were not owing the mafia(sallie mae, etc) money.

I suppose in some ways it would similar to engineering UG then, where many students drop out of the program during Physics, Calculus, etc. and switch to business (out of my freshman class of ~185, there were ~ 15 of us graduating in 4 years (plus ~15 from the previous years class), at least with my particular major).
 

NonTradMed

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I am waiting for the day the government will switch to some healthcare system where medschool tuition is free, so I can see the massive medschool dropout rates that will ensue. I am guessing a good solid half of medstudents, residents and practicing doctors will probably walk the **** out if they were not owing the mafia(sallie mae, etc) money.

I never got the impression that most doctors were doing medicine b/c they have to pay back their loans so much as the fact that they have 'other' expenses that prevent them from a drop in income that would come from switching fields. The higher expenses that can accumulate for some people as physicians means they are perpetually in debt, forcing them to stay in medicine. Moral of the story is to minimize debt, especially debt that do not appreciate in value (cars, furnitures etc).
 
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tgp511

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You mentioned working hours for engineering looking like ~60 hours a week.

My father is an electrical engineer for a defense contractor, and I was interested in becoming an engineer at one point, so I'll share some of the information he shared with me:

The employees at his workplace usually work 35-40 hours a week. Every other week they get Fridays off. Even at the busiest time of the year (when the company is making lots of proposals on contracts), he usually doesn't work more than 50-55 hours a week, and he gets to bill those extra 10-15 hours as overtime hours, essentially giving himself a huge bonus.

He makes the same salary as a family doctor or internist, but probably works about 20 hours less per week, and only has a masters in engineering. He has full benefits. His job is very low stress.

However, the important thing to consider, is that he LOVES his job, which only makes the above benefits 50x better. And since he loves his job, he has no trouble putting in the work required to do extremely well in it, while others who don't like the job have trouble being successful.

The bottom line here is do what you like and you'll go far :)

To go far in medicine i think you REALLY have to like it :D
 

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Op, you are not going to get a lot of positive encouragement to go into medicine on SDN, mainly because medicine itself does not have too many positives to offer these days. It used to be that medicine was a secure job, with flexible options, and good compensation, but those things are rapidly eroding. I am an engineer starting medschool in the fall and the only reason I am even messing with it is because I have great love for medicine coupled with a good financial aid package. BTW, SDN is not a good career advice source, as things get twisted out here a lot.
 

TheRealDrDorian

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I am currently an engineering student, graduating this May, and (hopefully) attending medical school this fall. I think some of the thought processes I had can be similar to yours.

I had an internship with an engineering firm the summer after my sophomore year, and although it was a great experience, I came to the conclusion that if this is what I was doing for the rest of my life, I would not be happy. The job did not allow me to help people at the direct, personal level I wanted too, and thus I decided to pursue medicine in addition to my engineering degree.

If you can say now that you will not be happy in your current work, a change is needed. Whether it has to be a doctor is not necessarily the answer. If the medical field interests you too, there are many jobs that you may like (nurse, PA, tech, etc.). The main thing you need to ask yourself though, again, is if what you do now makes you happy, and if it doesn't (or won't), then I would recommend pursuing other careers, no matter what the time/life commitment.
 
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8744

I am currently an engineering student, graduating this May, and (hopefully) attending medical school this fall. I think some of the thought processes I had can be similar to yours.

I had an internship with an engineering firm the summer after my sophomore year, and although it was a great experience, I came to the conclusion that if this is what I was doing for the rest of my life, I would not be happy. The job did not allow me to help people at the direct, personal level I wanted too, and thus I decided to pursue medicine in addition to my engineering degree.

If you can say now that you will not be happy in your current work, a change is needed. Whether it has to be a doctor is not necessarily the answer. If the medical field interests you too, there are many jobs that you may like (nurse, PA, tech, etc.). The main thing you need to ask yourself though, again, is if what you do now makes you happy, and if it doesn't (or won't), then I would recommend pursuing other careers, no matter what the time/life commitment.


Do not abandon an engineering career to be a mid-level providor. That's like deciding on a career in porn and then settling for "fluffer."
 

Sol Rosenberg

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I've been an Electrical Engineer for 11 years, and will be starting Medical School in the Summer of 2008 (long story, but the bottom line is that I have decided to attend Medical School, and have been accepted.) My reasons are different and less noble than those of others (quite honestly, I'm not doing this because I want to help people, or to serve others, per se, but because I think I would enjoy the day-to-day jobs of certain types of physicians, and I find the science behind medicine, as well as the opportunity to directly impact people's lives appealing.)

Your pros and cons are good, but like others have said, the hours in engineering are generally less numerous and more predictable than those of your typical doctor. Also, along those lines, the person who suggested that it is typical for an engineer to work 35-40 hours a week inadvertantly pointed out one CON of engineering that you missed: You are likely to get sh!t-canned without a moment's notice (as someone who works only 35-40 hours -- even for a defense contractor will eventually be.) As you said, you can be seriously geographically limited as an engineer (there are really only 3 states that I can live in and work in my current field.) Layoffs are common, especially when you reach the age of 40 (or above.) In my field, it's rare to encounter an engineer over the age of 50. That puts tremendous pressure to retire by 50 (or find another career.) This has recently become more difficult because companies are currently becoming less likely to grant stock options (the real cash cow of engineering) because of tightened regulations regarding their accounting (in response to widespread abuses by companies/executives.)

My hours range from 40-90 hours a week, depending upon which phase of the project we are in. One thing that I don't like about engineering that is not a weakness of medicine (as far as I can tell) is something that I call the "snowball effect." Engineering project work tends to be like a snowball rolling down a snow-covered hill. It builds, and builds, and builds, and builds almost constantly. You may find yourself changing jobs to get away from project "ghosts from your past" that keep coming back to haunt you. Near the end of projects, there are still days that I simply don't go home. The nature of my work is that we have hard deadlines, at which the work MUST be done. In this way, working hours tend to snowball (i.e. grow larger, larger, and larger as the project progresses.)

Engineering, being a field that combines science with business, is not an ethical profession, IMHO. In my field, IP theft is rampant, as is legal bullying over [sometimes nonexistant] IP issues. Companies are looking to pay employees as little as possible, and loyalty is not necessarily rewarded. The most successful engineers (in terms of compensation) switch jobs A LOT (I believe the average length of employment in Silicon Valley is 1.5 years) and if you want to be fairly compensated, you need to be willing to play "stick-em-up" (threaten to leave in the middle of a project unless they pay you more money.) One of the most well-paid engineers that I knew played stick-em-up once a year. Moving around a lot also makes you a "moving target" (less likely to be laid off -- I've never been laid off.) Needless to say, I've been very successful as an engineer (in part because I think I know how to play the game,) but I'm sick of playing these little games.

I'm interested in medicine because I want to work at a career that involves applied science and problem-solving (like engineering) but also involves dealing with people as an integral part of the job. I also think that medicine is more ethical than engineering (not hard -- IMHO, pretty much every career besides business and law can claim to be) and, despite the pessimists here on SDN, is still a pretty good gig in terms of pay and job security. While the days of opulence are over, physician salaries are still some of the best. They are certainly way better than those of engineering when you look at the objective data (I think EE avg. salaries are approx. 80k vs. FP average salaries of approx. 150k -- almost double.) I'm fortunate that I don't think that I will have to shoulder a lot of debt to get my M.D. but I don't think that would discourage me.

I see a good "engineering analysis" of the pros and cons by you, but don't see an answer to "why." You owe it to yourself to know, deep-down why you are doing something before you seriously upend your life and take 7+ years "off" to train to be a doctor. Honestly, I have encountered some engineers that changed careers to become doctors, but I don't know any that did the opposite. Figure out why you want to make the change and if you're convinced, go for it. Good Luck.
 

TheRealDrDorian

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Medicine pays a lot more than engineering. It would be silly to quit your job as a doctor to pursue your life-long dream of being an engineer.

It's not all about money...

If you're happy making less, and can still make a living at a given wage, you should take less money in a career. Plus, some engineers can easily make more than doctors.
 
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TheRealDrDorian

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I've been an Electrical Engineer for 11 years, and will be starting Medical School in the Summer of 2008 (long story, but the bottom line is that I have decided to attend Medical School, and have been accepted.) My reasons are different and less noble than those of others (quite honestly, I'm not doing this because I want to help people, or to serve others, per se, but because I think I would enjoy the day-to-day jobs of certain types of physicians, and I find the science behind medicine, as well as the opportunity to directly impact people's lives appealing.)

Your pros and cons are good, but like others have said, the hours in engineering are generally less numerous and more predictable than those of your typical doctor. Also, along those lines, the person who suggested that it is typical for an engineer to work 35-40 hours a week inadvertantly pointed out one CON of engineering that you missed: You are likely to get sh!t-canned without a moment's notice (as someone who works only 35-40 hours -- even for a defense contractor will eventually be.) As you said, you can be seriously geographically limited as an engineer (there are really only 3 states that I can live in and work in my current field.) Layoffs are common, especially when you reach the age of 40 (or above.) In my field, it's rare to encounter an engineer over the age of 50. That puts tremendous pressure to retire by 50 (or find another career.) This has recently become more difficult because companies are currently becoming less likely to grant stock options (the real cash cow of engineering) because of tightened regulations regarding their accounting (in response to widespread abuses by companies/executives.)

My hours range from 40-90 hours a week, depending upon which phase of the project we are in. One thing that I don't like about engineering that is not a weakness of medicine (as far as I can tell) is something that I call the "snowball effect." Engineering project work tends to be like a snowball rolling down a snow-covered hill. It builds, and builds, and builds, and builds almost constantly. You may find yourself changing jobs to get away from project "ghosts from your past" that keep coming back to haunt you. Near the end of projects, there are still days that I simply don't go home. The nature of my work is that we have hard deadlines, at which the work MUST be done. In this way, working hours tend to snowball (i.e. grow larger, larger, and larger as the project progresses.)

Engineering, being a field that combines science with business, is not an ethical profession, IMHO. In my field, IP theft is rampant, as is legal bullying over [sometimes nonexistant] IP issues. Companies are looking to pay employees as little as possible, and loyalty is not necessarily rewarded. The most successful engineers (in terms of compensation) switch jobs A LOT (I believe the average length of employment in Silicon Valley is 1.5 years) and if you want to be fairly compensated, you need to be willing to play "stick-em-up" (threaten to leave in the middle of a project unless they pay you more money.) One of the most well-paid engineers that I knew played stick-em-up once a year. Moving around a lot also makes you a "moving target" (less likely to be laid off -- I've never been laid off.) Needless to say, I've been very successful as an engineer (in part because I think I know how to play the game,) but I'm sick of playing these little games.

I'm interested in medicine because I want to work at a career that involves applied science and problem-solving (like engineering) but also involves dealing with people as an integral part of the job. I also think that medicine is more ethical than engineering (not hard -- IMHO, pretty much every career besides business and law can claim to be) and, despite the pessimists here on SDN, is still a pretty good gig in terms of pay and job security. While the days of opulence are over, physician salaries are still some of the best. They are certainly way better than those of engineering when you look at the objective data (I think EE avg. salaries are approx. 80k vs. FP average salaries of approx. 150k -- almost double.) I'm fortunate that I don't think that I will have to shoulder a lot of debt to get my M.D. but I don't think that would discourage me.

I see a good "engineering analysis" of the pros and cons by you, but don't see an answer to "why." You owe it to yourself to know, deep-down why you are doing something before you seriously upend your life and take 7+ years "off" to train to be a doctor. Honestly, I have encountered some engineers that changed careers to become doctors, but I don't know any that did the opposite. Figure out why you want to make the change and if you're convinced, go for it. Good Luck.

Great post. Best of luck to you becoming a great doctor.
 

PDsquash83

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Lol......

This is an interesting question because I totally went through the same predicament between engineering and medicine. I listened to a podcast where they basically broke down your career into a venn diagram. First is your passion, second is your skill set and the third is the market place. Your ideal career would be at the intersection of all three of these things. Anyway, maybe a different way to thing about this issue.

-PD
 

gary5

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You need to shadow different types of physicians and focus on what they do every day, all day. If you find these things to be much more enjoyable for you than your current occupation, then make the change. Try not to be so logical, weighing the 10 pros/cons of one occupation against 10 pros/cons of another. Instead, do whatever you'll enjoy most.
 

Blanket

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I have BS in Electrical Engn; worked for three years and right now, i am in first year of medical school.

AND i am very happy with my decision. I had shadowed before starting school to know what i was getting into. And it is even better than what I had expected.

Good luck
 
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8744

It's not all about money...
If you're happy making less, and can still make a living at a given wage, you should take less money in a career. Plus, some engineers can easily make more than doctors.

True. But money is a lot more important than most people want to admit. I think if medicine didn't pay pretty well most people would look around at all of the crappy aspects of medical training and say, "You know, it just ain't worth it."

I think a self-employed engineer, if he worked as many hours as a doctor, could easly make more than a typical family medicine doctor or a pediatrician. I billed around 60 bucks an hour as a structural and foundation engineer so for a 2000 hour year (which is 40 hours per week) that's already $120K. (And I had minimal overhead, most of which I could write off.)

But I did go some months with hardly any billable hours at all.
 

jae9970

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My engineering undergrad overall gpa is great - 3.53-ish, but the med prereqs (used for BCPM gpa) I took in undergrad are not that great 3.19-ish.
I have already started a post-bacc program at a local university two months ago and am doing great in the class (Chem 2). And this is after taking Chem 1 about 6 years ago. If I take all the prereqs and apply for Med school next year, my BPCPM will be around 3.52-ish and overall GPA at 3.6.

My job now is just ok, but not everyone loves their job 100%. Only thing is, I don't know if becoming a doctor will make me happy. I only hope/think it will now, but what if after years of stress, it's not all that cracked up to be. But I figure, every job will have it's stress, it's if you enjoy the job enough to take it. I'm also continuosly learning on the job in my engineering company. Even though the rate and level won't be as high as medical school, I figure, if I am gonna need to study and learn, might as well do it to come out and do something meaningful in the end... right?

What do you guys think? Can I make it into Med school with those grades? Am I wasting my time? Is it worth it at my age? (I'm 24 now) Is it worth it to give up a good career like engineering? Help!

Hey fellow engineer, I'm a graduating engineering major planning to go into medicine right now :D

Yea, 3.53 might be considered great in undergraduate, but.. I don't mean to discourage you, but if you take a look at the average GPA of students getting into med schools, 3.53 is like a minimum GPA recommended to applicants.

Could you make it? Of course. Is it a waste of time? I don't know, haha. It will be all worth it even at your age if you really think this is your way. You are only one year older than me, and I'm graduating out of college right now.. I don't think you need to worry about your age at all

I'd say, if you think you would hate to work as an engineer for the rest of your career, then go for medicine.
 

TheRealDrDorian

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Hey fellow engineer, I'm a graduating engineering major planning to go into medicine right now :D

Yea, 3.53 might be considered great in undergraduate, but.. I don't mean to discourage you, but if you take a look at the average GPA of students getting into med schools, 3.53 is like a minimum GPA recommended to applicants.

Could you make it? Of course. Is it a waste of time? I don't know, haha. It will be all worth it even at your age if you really think this is your way. You are only one year older than me, and I'm graduating out of college right now.. I don't think you need to worry about your age at all

I'd say, if you think you would hate to work as an engineer for the rest of your career, then go for medicine.

As far as the GPA is concerned, I think it depends on the school. I know some schools do look at major, and thus will be lenient with a lower GPA (i.e. 3.4 GPA engineering ~ 3.6 other major). I know this from talking to my premed counselor. Also, the fact that you are unique definitely makes you an asset.
 
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Hey fellow engineer, I'm a graduating engineering major planning to go into medicine right now :D

Yea, 3.53 might be considered great in undergraduate, but.. I don't mean to discourage you, but if you take a look at the average GPA of students getting into med schools, 3.53 is like a minimum GPA recommended to applicants.
Could you make it? Of course. Is it a waste of time? I don't know, haha. It will be all worth it even at your age if you really think this is your way. You are only one year older than me, and I'm graduating out of college right now.. I don't think you need to worry about your age at all

I'd say, if you think you would hate to work as an engineer for the rest of your career, then go for medicine.

Not so fast. While they won't necessarily submissively urinate, if there's one profession universally respected in the medical profession it's engineering. Not only that but everybody knows that the typical engineering curriculum (especially Electrical and Chemical) is an order of magnitude more rigorous than the typical pre-med-type degree.

I had a 2.9 GPA (but with a very interesting CV, I'll grant you) and got into both medical schools where I applied.

Most medical schools will probably look at your GPA as acceptable because it is. A 3.53 means that you have a low "A" average in one of the few academic degrees where grade inflation doesn't exist and where most people attempting it are weeded out early to pursue psychology, sociology, and other party degrees.

Do well on the MCAT and you wil be an impressive applicant. Maybe not for places like Harvard or other Canadian medical schools which have large sticks wedged into their sigmoid colons but you know what I mean.

On a personal note, if I were on an admission comittee engineering majors would go to the top of the pile because you, at least, have demonstrated the ability to study and handle rigorous coursework, something most of your peers have not.

As to whether it's going to be worth it, that's a different story. But you are worth it, whatever you decide.
 

juleswinfield

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To the OP -

Yes, you can do it. The question is "do you really want to?" Everyone's advice on here is great and true. The basic fact has to be your desire to pursue medicine. I am a degreed chemical engineer who did IT consulting for two years and then came back to chemical engineering for the last four years. I'm 28 now and just got into Tulane C/O 2011.

I am on the track that you've laid out +/- a year. I rationalized the long years of school and residency by saying that if it was something I truly loved, the time would fly by. The thought of sitting at my engineering desk, surfing the internet for 50% of my day for the next 20 years makes want to off myself ASAP.

So do a lot of soul searching and get out there and volunteer. I recommend a busy OR if you can find one. I did Sunday nights from 6-11p at a level one trauma center OR for a year and loved it. Plus, I got to figure out pretty quickly that I could handle the blood.

Good luck.

Oh yeah, and my undergrad GPA was horrible by med school app standards. See the signature for more of my story.
 

MikeShanahan

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I graduated college with a B.S. in EE and worked for a year and a half as an engineer before going back to med school and as I approach graduation, I am completely happy that I made the decision. I agree with other people in that you just need to figure out what will make you the happiest and that exploring medicine through things like shadowing is a great way to get to know the field.

One thing about medicine (and the reason there is some debate on this forum)is that there is great variability in your choices of work. You could have a $100,000 salary or a $1 million, interact with a lot of patients or none at all, work 40 hrs/wk or 100, just sit and talk all day or just work with your hands.

That's why, when I was in your shoes, I found it reassuring to pick up a book called "How to Choose a Medical Specialty" by Anita Taylor. There's lots of sources like this (books, websites, etc) but this one really helped me get an idea of which specialty I might go into,
1. to have a better visualization of what my life would be like if I changed career paths
2. to make sure there are some things I feel like I could develop a passion for
3. to help guide my search for doctors to shadow

And I know that when you have a job, it's hard to take off an afternoon or morning to go shadow, but I found it nearly just as useful to set up little informational interviews (basically set up a time to sit down with a physician, maybe have lunch and talk about what they do and don't like about their job).

There's plenty of physicians out there who sympathize with your situation and wouldn't mind talking to you about these things (plus it massages their ego a little). Having contacts or friends in medicine will help you find them, maybe even some kind SDN people can help you out.

Your pro/con list sounds almost exactly like mine! You seem to have a good overall picture of your options. When it comes to big decisions like this, I have always found that understanding your choices is much easier than understanding what it is you truly want in life (your priorities, how it affects family/personal goals, what is it that makes you most happy). And don't be afraid of researching the details and "overanalyzing," I truly believe that's a big part of how us engineer-types listen to our heart. Best wishes!
 
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what score would you say is 'good', panda?

It depends. For my Alma Mater (where the mean MCAT score was 27 when I matriculated) an MCAT score of 30 is good and won't close any doors. At Yale or Dartmouth they might put you in the reject pile automatically (unless you won the Nobel Prize or mediated the cease-fire in the Angolan civil war) for anything less than a 35.

But generally speaking, generally speaking, generally speaking, speaking generally, generally, I say, I am speaking...generally you understand, 30 or higher is great and nobody is going to hold their nose until you start dropping into the mid-twenties. I know...I know...SDN is full of 40+ MCATers but if you look at the average MCAT score for matriculants, 30 is not way, way, remote from the mean.

The key is to apply to enough schools to get a good parcel of interviews. Medical schools only interview people they would accept so if you get enough interviews, you will "match" (I know, it's not the match but it kind of is a match when you think about it) somewhere. It doesn't really matter where you go to medical school or do your residency unless you burn with the passion to rise to the highest ranks of academic medicine.
 

OncoCaP

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Just because MD's are not going back to get engineering degrees doesn't mean that they are all happy with their jobs and that engineering is necessarily a worse job. While I have never heard of an MD going back to school to take a BS engineering job, I have met several MDs and read about a number of others who are doing something besides typical clinical physician work. Most of the non-clinical types I have run into do academic research or teaching. It wouldn't surprise me if there were a fair number in pharma research as well. Others are in business or politics. Several have designed medical devices or written medical software. They don't need to get another degree to do that; they can just learn the essentials of the science or engineering task and do it (or hire others for the parts they don't want to do). Engineering licensing is very weak compared to medical or even dental licensing. There are many people doing engineering work without a license and some who don't have a degree in engineering. You may find a person with a 4-year history degree in an engineering job, but you'll never find a physician in this country who never went to medical school.

An engineer with a great design for a dialysis machine or robot to do prostate cancer surgery can't just open a dialysis center or surgical center and treat patients. Even just designing and marketing such a product requires dealing with the regulatory agencies and can be very difficult wrt getting approval. Even if you learn to diagnose certain diseases, you can't just open a retail diagnosis center and start writing prescriptions. In engineering the deal is often, if you can do it, few are going to stop you. In medicine, no matter how capable and well trained you are, you can't do surgery or write prescriptions without that license. There is a 'trade barrier,' namely the licensing, which almost all people agree is a good thing. The only way to overcome that barrier is to go through medical education. Without this trade barrier, I'm not sure that physician salaries would be as high as they are today in the U.S. Midlevels (like PA's) are playing into this area, and we will see if they become more of a factor in medicine in the future than they are today. Some medical students are also very worried that if we get significant universal healthcare reforms that U.S. physician salaries might drop to those of our European counterparts (35K to 80K in U.S. dollars.). Physician pay is going down (55% Texas physicians reported a decrease in pay in 2006). However, I'm guessing it will remain about where it is today. It might just not go up with inflation or come down somewhat in my expected worst-case scenario. My guess is that I would still do the physician work even if it was only paying $80K, but for most people, it would be hard to justify 7 or 10 years of education compared to say, getting an advanced science or engineering degree and (2 to 6 years) and doing research with pharmaceuticals or medical devices (or just sticking with BS level engineering which pays $50K - $100K typically).
 

sirus_virus

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What is up with all these engineers becoming doctors? Cant you guys just mind your own business? :)
 

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youall need to understand that the popularity of medicine is historical. Back in the day (30 years ago) docs took wednesdays off, worked their own hours, slowed down a little when they wanted to, got paid well, they were their own bosses. It really is a totally different arena now. I dont know any physicians who come in with a smile on their faces. The threat of lawsuits and losing everything you haveis very real,I feel it. The lack of autonomy is becoming the norm. When you graduatemedschool nobody can open up their small office and treat patients. You wouldnt survive financially. And that is pretty much the appeal in medicine. Your independence. Now most physicians in the future will be employed by somebody. YOu will be punching a clock. How appealing is that? I can be a teacher or an engineer if I wanted to be employed, The working conditions are not very good the pay is not what it used to be and they are cutting medicare some more this year. And the work is not that exciting. You dont excited when you diagnose pneumonia or you do a rectal or you tell someone they have high blood pressure. The work becomes totally mundane. When i was pre med i had this job at a health club at a luxury real estate development. and i was in the gym.. and one of the members brought his girlfriend who was a either a hand surgery resident or .. i cant remember. I told her I was pre med.. she begged and pleaded with me to consider something else.... this was in the early nineties.. I thought man this chick is crazy.. turns out she was right and I feel pretty much the same way.

Im not saying its the worse thing ever., Im saying many many things have to change for it to become a nice job again.
 
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