thisisvj89

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Jul 23, 2016
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I suppose above all I'm looking for someone to tell me I'm not crazy for wanting to make this change. I have a master's in mechanical engineering and have been in the aerospace field for about two years now. While I truly do enjoy my job and enjoy going to work, I can't help but think that I may be more poised to help people directly oppose to indirectly as I currently do.

We live such emotional lives, feeling off or on about this that and then some. The truth is that we're all so lucky, lucky to have the basics--food, water, safety, that which some never have. Saying this and not going to the poorest parts of the country and working tirelessly is of course hypocritical. The point here is that I'm very thankful for the life I stumbled into and becoming a doctor, if I'm permissed, would be an honorable way to live.

There are of course endless types of doctor to become, but what I'm interested is in emergent medicine. Working in the emergency room, or as a surgeon, or any other type of time sensitive MD seems to me the most interesting. I'm not playing down the importance of non-emergent MD's, I just know that for me, being able to help someone on the spot would be the type of payback I'm interested in. This is likely because my current job requires months of work to culminate one extremely important presentation in front of endless client and government officials.
 

eteshoe

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Have you shadowed any physicians yet?
 
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thisisvj89

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Have you shadowed any physicians yet?
I don't have any contacts leading to the ability to physician shadow but I would in an instant if the opportunity presented its self. I checked in to the local hospital: "are you with a college?" I said I was a non-traditional trying to see if medicine was the career for me. She was great, giving me the contact which could lead to exposure but I definitely got the sense I was out of my depth.

I'm not saying this was the end of the road. I'm just saying there isn't a standard route for someone like me and the local hospital reaffirmed it. There isn't anything wrong with checking out someone like me but I just wish there was a way to know gaining experience was normal for someone like me and it would lead to something. Big deal this didn't transact, I can deal but jeez, is it even possible for someone like me?
 
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eteshoe

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I don't have any contacts leading to the ability to physician shadow but I would in an instant if the opportunity presented its self. I checked in to the local hospital: "are you with a college?" I said I was a non-traditional trying to see if medicine was the career for me. She was great, giving me the contact which could lead to exposure but I definitely got the sense I was out of my depth.

I'm not saying this was the end of the road. I'm just saying there isn't a standard route for someone like me and the local hospital reaffirmed it. There isn't anything wrong with checking out someone like me but I just wish there was a way to know gaining experience was normal for someone like me and it would lead to something. Big deal this didn't transact, I can deal but jeez, is it even possible for someone like me?
- It is possible to transition (I'd worked as an engineer in industry before going back to school)

- Instead of going straight for shadowing opportunities, which may be difficult if you have no contacts, start by joining a hospital volunteer program (there's usually a good selection of these that are always looking for help). This would allow you to get some clinical exposure and make some physician contacts (who you could then shadow down the line) to see if this path is really something you want to commit to. The medical path is a long one and not one to be rushed so take the time to do this right.
 

DrMidlife

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about 35,000 US people apply to
med school every year. plus, what, 40,000 nursing students? all are in hospitals & clinics getting experience.

if the way you think a thing is to be done turns out to not be the way, the next question is "what do the premeds do?"

volunteering usually means applying with recommendation letters and sitting through orientation. do it.

best of luck to you.


Sent from my iPhone using SDN mobile
 
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thisisvj89

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You're both right, I haven't looked into volunteering enough. There is a chance local volunteering opportunities may include direct patient exposure, which would be invaluable. This could obviously lead to several secondary contacts and experiences. I will check into any of these opportunities and see where I stand with the next post. Hopefully that is some time from now.

Thank you both again!
 

esob

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The general adage is, "if your not miserable and unfulfilled simply because you're not a doctor, don't be a doctor because you will be miserable." Basically, you're life will be miserable for at least 8 years during med school and residency, and maybe for the rest of your career depending on your specialty, so unless the only that will bring you peace is being a physician, you shouldn't do it. Have a look at the medscape survey's each year and look at the staggering amount of doctors who spent no less than 12 years in training and say they wouldn't choose medicine again. It's close to 50 % in some specialties.
 
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Ad2b

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The general adage is, "if you're not miserable and unfulfilled simply because you're not a doctor, don't be a doctor because you will be miserable."
This. If you are happy in your job, stay there. This path is long (just to get to med school), the path through med school is long, and I've heard PGY-1 sucks... so it's long as well.
 
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thisisvj89

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Just an update, I formally applied as a volunteer to 1 of 2 of the local hospitals and the response was that they would love the help but only during regular working hours. I plan to apply to the other hospital soon. There are also other ways to volunteer and help people outside of the hospital setting.

As far as whether medicine is the future path for me, I feel more like it must be every day. Why spend your time doing something all day (current job) when during that time, all you're thinking about is doing something else (medicine)? Today, I use all my education to help sell a product that's ultimately used to keep the peace by any means.

I've read exhaustively on how difficult medical school is but as I understand it, you can make it through if you simply maintain the discipline it took to get in. It's a long road, too long maybe. But correct me if I'm wrong, you're more likely to be happy with medicine if you view life as the journey not the destination. As long as I have the money to eventually pay it back, it's looking like I'm all in.
 

atomi

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I suppose above all I'm looking for someone to tell me I'm not crazy for wanting to make this change. I have a master's in mechanical engineering and have been in the aerospace field for about two years now. While I truly do enjoy my job and enjoy going to work, I can't help but think that I may be more poised to help people directly oppose to indirectly as I currently do.

We live such emotional lives, feeling off or on about this that and then some. The truth is that we're all so lucky, lucky to have the basics--food, water, safety, that which some never have. Saying this and not going to the poorest parts of the country and working tirelessly is of course hypocritical. The point here is that I'm very thankful for the life I stumbled into and becoming a doctor, if I'm permissed, would be an honorable way to live.

There are of course endless types of doctor to become, but what I'm interested is in emergent medicine. Working in the emergency room, or as a surgeon, or any other type of time sensitive MD seems to me the most interesting. I'm not playing down the importance of non-emergent MD's, I just know that for me, being able to help someone on the spot would be the type of payback I'm interested in. This is likely because my current job requires months of work to culminate one extremely important presentation in front of endless client and government officials.
If you are doing this because you are seeing people who are only 5 years older from you graduating from residency and taking $300k/year jobs while you're only making $100k/year, please keep a few things in mind:
1. It will take you a minimum of 10 years from where you are right now to the point where you make your first cent out of residency. 12 years is more realistic.
2. After 12 years in engineering, you will have either moved into a management position or become a highly qualified engineer. Either way if you are proactive about your career you should be making around $200k/year. If you just do the bare minimum at your giant aerospace corporation, then yes, you probably won't be making much more than you are now and may find yourself getting laid off pretty soon. Don't do this and don't think that this is the only path for you as an engineer because IT'S NOT. You have to be proactive.
3. Over those 12 years you will have earned around $1 to 1.5 million dollars. If you choose to go to medical school, over those 12 years you will have amassed around $300k in debt. You will earn around $250k while in residency, but nearly all of this will consumed by living expenses. At the end of those 12 years, you will be down approximately 1.5 to 2 million dollars compared to as if you had continued your engineering career.
4. You will most likely get your first job out of residency earning around $200-300k/year for MOST specialties. It may take 5 years or more before you become a partner and are able to make double that amount. That said, it's very reasonable to be able to pay off your total debt within 5 years of finishing residency while living modestly.
5. So, after approximately 17 years of very modest and frugal living, you are now debt free and can rapidly start making up lost ground compared to your prior career. You may make up to 5 million dollars over the next 10 years and surpass the total lifetime earnings as an engineer. The cost of doing this is approximately 15 years of your life working about twice as many hours as you otherwise would have as an engineer.
6. As a physician, you very likely will have a boss who is stupider than you, you will have stupid corporate requirements, training videos, endless paperwork, spreadsheets, and other asinine things that waste your time. Sound familiar?

So, bottom line, you need to think REALLY hard about it.
Many a young engineer has looked with envy at the young doctors earning quadruple their salary and thought, "hey, that's not fair -- I'm just as smart as them." Not all are able to see that these are not comparable situations. There is a very big price to pay to become a physician. And at the end, you're probably just going to wind up an expendable corporate employee. If you like engineering, it's a very good life. If you want to make more money as an engineer, that's fine. You can. But it's going to require work and patience. Not like medicine requires these things or anything...
 

Goro

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Not all volunteering needs to be in a hospital. Think hospice, Planned Parenthood, nursing homes, rehab facilities, crisis hotlines, camps for sick children, or clinics.

Some types of volunteer activities are more appealing than others. Volunteering in a nice suburban hospital is all very well and good and all, but doesn't show that you're willing to dig in and get your hands dirty in the same way that working with the developmentally disabled (or homeless, the dying, or Alzheimers or mentally ill or elderly or ESL or domestic, rural impoverished) does. The uncomfortable situations are the ones that really demonstrate your altruism and get you 'brownie points'. Plus, they frankly teach you more -- they develop your compassion and humanity in ways comfortable situations can't.

EDIT: Can the mods please sticky atomi's post!!!!!?????



Just an update, I formally applied as a volunteer to 1 of 2 of the local hospitals and the response was that they would love the help but only during regular working hours. I plan to apply to the other hospital soon. There are also other ways to volunteer and help people outside of the hospital setting.

As far as whether medicine is the future path for me, I feel more like it must be every day. Why spend your time doing something all day (current job) when during that time, all you're thinking about is doing something else (medicine)? Today, I use all my education to help sell a product that's ultimately used to keep the peace by any means.

I've read exhaustively on how difficult medical school is but as I understand it, you can make it through if you simply maintain the discipline it took to get in. It's a long road, too long maybe. But correct me if I'm wrong, you're more likely to be happy with medicine if you view life as the journey not the destination. As long as I have the money to eventually pay it back, it's looking like I'm all in.
 

Esquire

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7+ Year Member
Feb 10, 2009
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I suppose above all I'm looking for someone to tell me I'm not crazy for wanting to make this change. I have a master's in mechanical engineering and have been in the aerospace field for about two years now. While I truly do enjoy my job and enjoy going to work, I can't help but think that I may be more poised to help people directly oppose to indirectly as I currently do.

We live such emotional lives, feeling off or on about this that and then some. The truth is that we're all so lucky, lucky to have the basics--food, water, safety, that which some never have. Saying this and not going to the poorest parts of the country and working tirelessly is of course hypocritical. The point here is that I'm very thankful for the life I stumbled into and becoming a doctor, if I'm permissed, would be an honorable way to live.
What's wrong with being an engineer? The engineer at the water treatment plant that makes sure we have clean water does more for healthcare and saves more lives than most docs. The engineer that works on drones that send terrorists in a blaze to the afterlife is doing good for society too.
And it's not luck that some communities have their basic needs met. It's collective hard work and an intolerance for laziness, corruption, crime, etc. It's like saying luck is why some diabetes patients let their sugars run rampant and lose their foot and some don't.
 
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thisisvj89

2+ Year Member
Jul 23, 2016
135
31
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Pre-Medical
If you are doing this because you are seeing people who are only 5 years older from you graduating from residency and taking $300k/year jobs while you're only making $100k/year, please keep a few things in mind:
1. It will take you a minimum of 10 years from where you are right now to the point where you make your first cent out of residency. 12 years is more realistic.
2. After 12 years in engineering, you will have either moved into a management position or become a highly qualified engineer. Either way if you are proactive about your career you should be making around $200k/year. If you just do the bare minimum at your giant aerospace corporation, then yes, you probably won't be making much more than you are now and may find yourself getting laid off pretty soon. Don't do this and don't think that this is the only path for you as an engineer because IT'S NOT. You have to be proactive.
3. Over those 12 years you will have earned around $1 to 1.5 million dollars. If you choose to go to medical school, over those 12 years you will have amassed around $300k in debt. You will earn around $250k while in residency, but nearly all of this will consumed by living expenses. At the end of those 12 years, you will be down approximately 1.5 to 2 million dollars compared to as if you had continued your engineering career.
4. You will most likely get your first job out of residency earning around $200-300k/year for MOST specialties. It may take 5 years or more before you become a partner and are able to make double that amount. That said, it's very reasonable to be able to pay off your total debt within 5 years of finishing residency while living modestly.
5. So, after approximately 17 years of very modest and frugal living, you are now debt free and can rapidly start making up lost ground compared to your prior career. You may make up to 5 million dollars over the next 10 years and surpass the total lifetime earnings as an engineer. The cost of doing this is approximately 15 years of your life working about twice as many hours as you otherwise would have as an engineer.
6. As a physician, you very likely will have a boss who is stupider than you, you will have stupid corporate requirements, training videos, endless paperwork, spreadsheets, and other asinine things that waste your time. Sound familiar?

So, bottom line, you need to think REALLY hard about it.
Many a young engineer has looked with envy at the young doctors earning quadruple their salary and thought, "hey, that's not fair -- I'm just as smart as them." Not all are able to see that these are not comparable situations. There is a very big price to pay to become a physician. And at the end, you're probably just going to wind up an expendable corporate employee. If you like engineering, it's a very good life. If you want to make more money as an engineer, that's fine. You can. But it's going to require work and patience. Not like medicine requires these things or anything...
Thank you for the input, this is not an easy decision by any means. Money is definitely not the motivation although I did the due diligence and found what you're saying. Worst case scenario, the portfolio should be a bit stronger than where I would be with engineering after about age 60, give or take. Anything better than worst case is a plus but those long hours working to help people (bureaucracy aside) are why I want to switch, not the money. It actually annoys me at work when I figure something out that no one else can. Ultimately I saved or made the company more money, awesome. The outcome may be the same in a lot of situations with medicine but solving an analogous problem tends to change a life every now and again. That's exciting!
 
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thisisvj89

2+ Year Member
Jul 23, 2016
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What's wrong with being an engineer? The engineer at the water treatment plant that makes sure we have clean water does more for healthcare and saves more lives than most docs. The engineer that works on drones that send terrorists in a blaze to the afterlife is doing good for society too.
And it's not luck that some communities have their basic needs met. It's collective hard work and an intolerance for laziness, corruption, crime, etc. It's like saying luck is why some diabetes patients let their sugars run rampant and lose their foot and some don't.
I'm not taking anything away from any engineer, or anyone else for that matter. I recognize the connectedness we all share and do see how my current job inevitably 'saves lives' by helping build helicopters that eventually carry soldiers who defend our country. It's complicated, detail oriented, and interesting work to say the least, that's why I got into it to begin with. My perspective has shifted since starting working is all. I'd say I want to be a doctor for the reason most others on this route would agree on, one that I never really understood until recently: I just want to help people, and can't imagine doing anything else unless I have to.