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Engineering vs. Medicine

Discussion in 'Nontraditional Students' started by DesignEngineer, Jul 17, 2006.

  1. DesignEngineer

    DesignEngineer Junior Member
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    Hi,

    I am new comer to this board. I read the thread about the salary many non-trads gave up for their career medicine and found so many engineers are making the switch to the medicine. I am myself are a engineer and am really interest what movitiates people to switch out of engineering. So, I want to start this thread.

    So, here is my story.

    I am a UCSD grad in electrical engineering. Working as IC design engineer in the silicon valley for a leading flash memory company while attending stanford for my M.S. in EE. I consider work to be fun, i mean, it is quite amazing to sqeeze 10 billion transistors into a tiny piece of silicon.

    I choose engineering back in undergrad was for the money. I came from a poor family and I want to help my family ASAP after graduation. Indeed, it pays off very well. But, now I am feeling miserable at work. Money is no longer a issue and I want to pursue something I trully enjoy.

    I want to make the switch because I am tired and bored of my life inside the cubicles. I like interactions with human being instead of with my unix terminal. IThe reason for chosing medicine is because medicine is the only field which I can make a tremedous improvement for people's life. Also, there is also the dream since child hood.
     
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  3. NewNick

    NewNick COMP 2010
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    Hi,

    Same here. You should change it. I'm a software eng from U of IL-Urbana Champaign. Writing code is really fun to me, but I felt useless. I chose engineering simply because of fun, challenge, and having decent salary for BS degree. I used to think about becoming a med doctor when I was young, but was too chicken to take it. If I didn't have a chance to translate for a family in the hospital for a month, I wouldn't see the beauty of medicine. Medicine is more meaningful to me. I like to help people and have some impact in people lives. After thinking for about a year, I decided to switch it. A lot of friends thought that I was crazy to change the career. I'm not sorry for it. However, quitting your job, sitting in the school for pre-med courses, getting beaten up for the MCAT and the application process is not fun. 2 years to prepare seems short for many people, but during that time, I felt like 2 centuries. Too much stress. :) In general, I still think that it's worth because I found the real me. Good luck.
     
  4. Sol Rosenberg

    Sol Rosenberg Long Live the New Flesh!
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    My story is almost exactly the same as yours (only differences are the school I graduated from, and where I went to work.)

    With any luck, a year from now, I'll be starting my MS1 year.

    Best of luck to you!
     
  5. MJB

    MJB Senior Member
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    I'm bored to tears, and unbelievably unmotivated to do the paperwork looming...
     
  6. calliMD

    calliMD Member
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    Hi there,

    Do you have any kind of doctor shadowing/volunteer/work experience that allows you to see what physicians do on a daily basis or allows you to interact with patients? The reason I ask is because based on your post alone, it sounds like you're deciding to switch into medicine based on a few things: 1) being bored at your current job and wanting a change, 2) a childhood dream, and 3) wanting to improve people's lives. While these reasons can be very strong motivators, they don't provide an accurate picture of the long road ahead to becoming a doctor.. and they don't predict whether or not you'd actually enjoy working with the sick/old/dying. Oftentimes people tend to go for the more well known & obvious jobs when making a career change, but there are a wide variety of jobs that can have just as profound an effect on people's lives -- just make sure that your decision to go into medicine is based on accurate first hand experience. :)

    Good luck,
    Calli
     
  7. kanwal

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    I am a MSEE looking for job. I am amazed with you guys being unhappy with what seems like good jobs. I worked 6 months in a very underpaying job but i never let it sink on me. Always smile guys when at work, you atleast have one.:)

    Why i am saying this - i have few doctors in family and the job is as stressfull if not more than engineering and YES it does get as boring as engineering. Ultimate satisfaction is as big a fantasy as you had with engineering.
    Showing love and compassion never needed a MD. So as long as you are working as a engineer bring that out as you rightly have pointed it out - you guys will need a lot of that when you do become a doctor. As as master pointed out you can only help other sick/poor people if you are happy first. So make yourself happy first, everything will follow. Good Luck.
     
    W116 likes this.
  8. Luxian

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    I went to Caltech for environmental engineering because I wanted to save the world. I thought, great! Knowledge and a moral compass! What can stop me now? Well, turns out that as an environmental engineer, you either work for corporations trying to skirt regulations or you work for the government trying to make the regulations. OR you work measuring the progressive crappiness of our planet.

    After 2 yrs working soullessly in financial consulting and another 7 working fruitlessly in government, I've decided to go to a place where I can at least impact positively a few people each day. Sure, we're on an uphill battle (mortality is still 100% eventually -- it's just a matter of when), but I still think I will be more rewarding to help individuals than writing more bureaucratic white papers that will never be read. No salary is enough for that kind of mindlessness.
     
  9. gtb

    gtb Member
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    I too started as an EE in 1987, worked designing ASICs for Fujitsu, Synopsys, and HP respectively. Then went to medical school. Like you, at least it seems so, I was bored to tears after a decade+ designing chips. I’d always had strong interest in developing medical devices, but honestly, I hated sitting in a cube, creating HDL and running simulations and synthesis. The money was great, although I truly felt my career was nothing more than designing future landfill after consumers replaced their gadgets in one or two years.

    I’m not sure that I ever intended to practice clinical medicine, but medical school seemed the most direct way to refocus my design skills from integrated circuits into medical devices. I was certainly much faster than getting a PhD in biomedical engineering, which as it turns out, is pretty useless as a career tool.

    At my medical school interviews, I admitted that I wanted to get involved in the technical aspects of medicine, and work toward developing the next generations of medical devices. Whether that occurred through cardiology, radiology, or just as a research scientist, I expressed strong interest in combining my engineering background with medicine. You’ll find that most physicians greatly value people who give up pure engineering careers to enter medicine with goals of developing new medical technology. And, candidly, who better to do that than an experienced engineer-physician.

    I was totally unclear what specialty to choose during my 4th year of medical school. I loved nearly all of my rotations, but did not enjoy interacting with people that had no interest in fixing themselves and instead wanted the magic pill to fix their obesity, COPD, etc. I completed an intern year so I could get a license, and then went to work as a research scientist for a medical device manufacturer. There were two other physicians working in my group, one an engineer-MD, the other a PhD/MD (PhD in mechanical engineering through the MSTP program). Neither of them even bothered with an intern year. Both are contributing to advancing medical treatment in pain patients. Their efforts affect many more patients than any single clinician will ever benefit. After just a little while working as a research scientist, I missed the clinical interactions, and also felt the best path for me to one day start my own medical device company, was to finish a residency and get board certified. Which, is what I’m now doing.

    Hospitals, and Physicians rely on unbelievably sophisticated technology for absolutely ever aspect of our work. Right down to writing orders for our patients, we use technology. Even stethoscopes are designed with CAD and simulation for better acoustics. Your experience, and your way of thinking about problems, will be a huge asset to medicine; even if you choose to never touch a patient after completing medical school. Medical school is a great path for anyone interested in contributing to the future of medicine clinically, or technically.

    Good luck with getting out of the cubical ☺
     
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  10. notdeadyet

    notdeadyet Still in California
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    You hear a lot of physicians saying exactly this, only substitute "medicine" for "engineering."

    There are many unhappy physicians, just like there are many unhappy engineers. The reason you see a one way flow is that medical education is so prohibitively expensive that it's almost impossible to quit until after many years.

    Medicine is a terrible solution to a career you're bored with. Look hard at your motivations. If your main motivation is because you don't like your current career, medicine is not a good solution. Only pursue medicine because you have a passion for the subject and just can't realistically see being happy studying anything else.
     
  11. shadowfox87

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    Hello,

    This is a very interesting thread and I registered just to give my input. I think I will add a unique perspective. I am a student studying Electrical and Biomedical Engineering (dual major). The purpose of this program is to integrate engineering with medicine. Someone on this thread said that PhD in Biomedical Engineering is useless; I wonder if that was the case then or now. I have done much research and I have come to realize that careers in medicine will generally have a higher salary than careers in engineers. While, engineers can beat the pants off some doctors, the percentages are very low i.e. CEOs, inventors, Bill Gates, etc. I know many engineers who are at the top of their field and have over 50 patents, but they themselves tell me that an avg. doctor earns more than they do. These days, all I see in doctors, are people who operate technology to measure and give a diagnosis. This technology is created by engineers, yet doctors still earn much more. The reason for this is: doctors and engineers are both in high demand, but while the supply of engineers can keep going up, the supply of doctors is restricted. The people who decide the supply are policitical associations that limit the # of seats in each university. This is the main reason why engineers convert to medicine, in short to earn more. However, if the engineering societies were to limit the # of seats of engineers, salaries would go up drastically. Then again, as more and more technologies are developing, doctors are becoming less in demand.

    Surgeries are now being operated by robotic arms, all bodily measurements can be performed by simple machines that normal people can buy, a diagnosis can easily be computed by MRIs. This is the upcoming age, but it is reaaaaaaaaaaaalllly far away. Eventually, the demand of doctors will reduce and the salaries of doctors and engineers will be balanced.

    Today, people are trying to combine their passion for engineering with the rewards of medicine. There are joint programs like MD/PhD, DDS/PhD, etc. that gives a person the opportunity of research as well as live a good life. However, it's not always as rosy as it looks. All these career paths are immensily difficult. In the end, sometimes it is just "right place at the right time" stuff that gets those lucky few people to where they want to be.
     
  12. gman33

    Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

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    It is really far away, like in fantasy land.
    The advances in technology are amazing, but most still require human assistance. There is a still a person guiding that robot arm, and a radiologist is interpreting the MRI.

    If anything, the technology is making possible more treatment options, which increases the demand for docs.

    Engineering is a great field, but its salaries have little relationship to medicine. Even if you reduce the number of US grads, you are still not controlling supply. Many engineers come from other countries and the work can easily be outsourced (at least parts of it). It's really a different animal.
     
  13. overthebars

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    The premises of these ideas are all fundamentally wrong. First, this is just not how diagnoses are made safely. It is very much the outside looking in view of medicine (ie. look up pre-test probability). Diagnoses are based on astute (learned) judgment of the patient based on their history and course of illness. The machines you are talking about are a poor substitute for physical exam findings that generally only confirm what you, as a clinician, should already suspect or fear based on reasonable history taking skills. To boot you almost never treat a finding solely based on radiological findings (treat the patient not the number). Otherwise you are wasting scarce money and practicing recklessly with peoples lives. The idea of "diagnosing machines" is essentially science fiction claptrap, it won't extend past some image analysis and maybe automated ECG analysis.

    A doctor's salary is much more than the typical engineering gig for two BIG reasons, the assumption of risk and the level of training required to safely handle it. In my previous life I sat in a bullpen writing code in MATLAB (or whatever packaged products my company bought), using AutoCAD/ProE or doing bench experiments. No risk whatsoever, "tight" deadlines, but never a workday over ~12hrs. If the device hurt people the company might get in some hot water, but I could stay or move on to greener pastures with ease. In engineering decisions play out slowly, with little acute consequence and can generally be undone if addressed within a reasonable time (days to weeks). If you have an off day, you can probably catch it tomorrow.

    In medicine the possibility of mortal decisions are basically everywhere. Sometimes I wonder if only sociopaths sleep well in the hospital. Even the low acuity FP and outpatient people see scary stuff occasionally. Grandma gets too much Coumadin and hits her head, junior's asthma isn't well controlled, is that rectal bleed hemorrhoids or cancer? Don't get me started on critical care, airway, chest pain, ALOC or real sick babies. Bodies are imperfect chaotic machines to begin with, make them real sick and they follow fewer and fewer of the rules we really understand. It takes an engineer about ~5 years out to be good enough to manage a small group, for surgeon we are talking 10-15 years before their training is essentially done (after undergrad), IM & EM ~8-10, anesthesia ~10. This isn't even taking into consideration the physical demands (much greater in medicine), intellect, sacrifice and straight up guts it takes to willingly manage very ill people.

    So to summarize my response, no offense intended but you are wrong & don't understand medicine.
     
  14. shadowfox87

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    I've had this debate with too many people now. Both engineers and doctors face difficulties, not one is harder than the other. Giving one example about MATLAB is not enough to say that engineers take less or no risks. You don't think engineers have to make mortal decisions? Look up engineering ethics, there's a whole course on it. There are many different types of engineers and different types of doctors. Each type has its own risks, some more than others, but we cannot say that the entire field has lesser or no risk.

    No offense, but maybe it is not that I am not understanding medicine, but maybe you are not understanding life. Many people face difficulties in various careers. Medicine is not the only one.

    I am fully aware of the flaws of current technology. I do not need something to pointed out which I already have in the previous post. I KNOW that we are far away. Just read the post. I am saying as the future evolves, engineering and medicine are fusing. Also, who says we were talking about reducing US grads? I'm talking about reducing in general for engineers or increasing for doctors. I didn't say that machines will replace humans lol; I am saying that there will soon be other careers who can do the same job that doctors can do. Do you think an engineer cannot learn how to "guide" a robot or "interpret" an MRI? It's not in fantasy land btw. I am NOT saying that engineers will replace doctors, but that the careers are fusing and that knowledge in both fields is essential.
     
    #13 shadowfox87, Jun 6, 2008
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2008
  15. tbo

    tbo MS-4
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    Thumbs up :thumbup: on the interesting story, gtb. There are a boatload of ways these abruptly-ended prior career paths can still be folded into medicine. As those of us who had "prior lives" can attest to, it's often a passion for that previous life that got us there and a stirring to adapt that passion towards medicine. I have a similar background and have found the world of medical informatics pretty interesting, timely, and useful. How one might utilize the boatloads of data in a healthcare system certainly does need people versed in both medicine and information science to get useful EMRs and telemedicine systems out into the real world.

    I also have to agree with what notdeadyet said a few posts before. Just like it's a bad idea to accept a crummy job to escape an old one, so too is it a bad idea to change career paths because you detest your current one. Get into medicine because that's what you want to do. There is tedium and nonsense in all fields - fulfillment simply requires you to not sweat the BS and enjoy the rest of what you do.
     
  16. engineeredout

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    Same with me. I just finished junior year undergrad of ChemE, and I gotta say I can't stand it anymore. I'm working an internship that involves sitting at a desk analyzing flow through refinery equipment, and I start looking around my office for places that I could hang a noose. Fortionately my grades have gone up significantly since I first started college, so I figure I have a definite shot.
     
  17. CuriousJ

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    I am thrilled to find this interesting thread, and would love to learn any of your insightful advice on career choices. I am an engineer (dual major) B.S. Mechanical Engineer & Welding Metallurgy from Texas A&M University.
    I literally chose my career with the following thoughts "I have a natural mechanical ability, I like to work hands-on, my father is an engineer, so I'll try engineering." I loved school and was at the top of all of my classes.

    Upon graduating, the job market was horrendous and I did not get to work in my direct field, instead working in oil & gas, field engineer doing seismic logging, then working project management in high tech (Compaq & Dell Computer) and being really disappointed that doing what I loved to do, (developing-organizing and bringing to life the most advanced personal computer technology) also had to include the ugly side of being a political player. The reward system in high technology (that I have experienced) is that if you can take down one of your co-workers, by setting them up for a fall, you can actually get promoted! Since I refused to participate and only wished to "focus on the task at hand" (my favorite geeky saying), I was the favorite patsy.

    13 years later after running my own specialty coffee business (still in operation) I find that I miss my technical roots AND due to my Mother's illness I have been practically living at The Texas Medical Center, where I have now witnessed her life being saved for a 2nd time; I am very touched and inspired. Here is my epiphany....I love to fix things and it never occurred to me that I could help fix people. I love interacting with and helping people and am now very interested in the possibility of medicine.

    Because I am the practical engineer that I am, it would be preferable to perhaps work at the hospital in some capacity, where (hopefully) they would pay me to attend school to pursue some medical specialty. I am not necessarily driven to become a doctor, but also I am not ruling it out.
    Areas of interest Heart Transplant Coordinator, Cardiology, Opthamology, Orthopedics, maybe anesthesia.

    Pay is not a good reason to choose a career as no amount of money can replace feeling connected and truly enjoying what you do.

    I appreciate any help and direction you can offer.

    CuriousJ
     
  18. niranjan162

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    To all of you guys who are thinking about switching careers, you should def do alot of research into medicine. My father is a practicing doc and everyday I get a speech about how hard it is. I can see it takes a big toll on him and on the family. My only real memories of him growing up was my mom telling me to say goodbye to him before he goes to work.

    So if you guys are really interested in medicine beyond just being bored at work. I suggest you goto websites like www.medschoolhell.com and read what people say about med school.

    Secondly definitely learn about the climate of medicine. Since I want to go into the field, I have been reading what a lot of drs are writing and listening to my dad. Pretty much all the reasons he got into medicine are gone. He listed 3 reasons to me. 1. Autonomy, you decide whats best for the patient. Gone thanks to insurance screwing people over. 2. Money it used to be drs made good money. Now the hospital administrators make around a million a year, while physician salaries are decreasing. 3. Respect. Drs used to be well respected but now you come of out of med school with a target on your back, and lawsuit around every corner.

    So right now the way medicine is going in this country, there will be lots of problems, especially if there is gonna have to be a switch to socialized medicine (the current infrastructure and economy is just not set up for it in this country). Medicine is becoming more and more like any other business as I see it.

    Why am I going into medicine? My undergrad degree is basically useless (neuroscience), so its either medicine or research and I hate research. I also do like to help people. I am still young (22) so I can handle the long nights, I have insomnia, and also my girlfriend of six years is becoming an accountant, so If i have to marry her, our combined income (through wise investing) will allow me to retire earlier than than my father (who still works 72 hours a week) and is well past the age of retirement.

    Not trying to dissuade anybody from their dream, but consider this a crash course in medicine they don't show you on TV. Of course I am not a dr but I have read what they say on medschoolhell.com (and other blogs/sites) and bascially medicine is the only thing I can talk about with my dad, so that is often the topic of conversation.
     
  19. zed350

    zed350 I want my superapple
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    You will see a lot of politics in any healthcare setting too. If anything its much more personal because people spend a ton of time there. I would strongly suggest you to *really* get a good feel about how the life is for people in healthcare system. In engineering you can do certain amount of your own stuff but in medicine almost everything is intertwined so you have to be politically correct almost all the time.
     
  20. OncoCaP

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    I would recommend looking at other options for a few years. Maybe open another coffee business. Maybe look into hospital administration. Maybe consider some aspect of the oil & gas production business that is doing well right now. Read this www.pandabearmd.com. If it still makes sense then go for it.
     
  21. Shinken

    Shinken Family Medicine
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    I'm an engineer that became a doctor.

    Just for the record, medschoolhell.com is -in my opinion- meant to be mainly humorous. Trust me, if it was that bad, nobody would stay in medicine. It's a fun read, but mostly exaggerated to make it funny/interesting.

    Also, Panda Bear has interesting opinions, but he's very negative and pessimistic. It appears to me that he doesn't really want to be in medicine but has to because of loan debt or ?. I don't know. Everyone I know loves medicine and Panda's stories are just his stories and nothing more.

    People that love medicine just go on with the career. People that hate it are more compelled to write about it (similar to the "satisfaction surveys" you get. People that are happy just go on with their lives. People that are pissed and dissatisfied will fill out the card, so in the end all you get is unhappy people's feedback).

    I love medicine, I've had a great time so far, and I'm really looking forward to the next three years in Family Medicine.

    If medicine was truly so horrible, most doctors that have paid their loans would go into something else (they don't). Also, if medicine was truly so horrible, med schools would have trouble filling, but instead not only do they fill but there are enough applicants around to fill overseas schools.
     
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  22. Nasem

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    I graduated in 2004 with a BS in computer science and a minors in math...

    make story short, I been working in I.T (software engineer) for the past 3 years, main job is algorithm design, job pays well, but sorta boring for me... the main reason I went back to school as a postbacc student back in spring 2007 is to get out of this I.T bussiness and get into medicine...

    My reason is very similar to yours.... I love working with people esspecially one-on-one and medicine is one of those jobs... you sorta become the health consultant of your town (depending on where you work of course) but, this is the main reason why Internal medicine is sooooo for me...

    I am not applying this year, but will next year for starting class of 2010.

    I've talked to some people who tell me how medical school is hard, how its stressfull, and how residency years are basically living in hell for minimum of 3 years (depending on specialty of course)... but I think its totally worth it, I'd rather spend 7 years in hell and then work in a job I love than spending the next 40 years of my life sitting infront of a computer screen
     
  23. lightfire22000

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    I'm not sure if I want to go into engineering or medicine like most people here. The biggest fear is that I'll get stuck in an "office space" type job as an engineer. The salary contrast is not as big a difference for a number of options(people seem to forget about other lucrative business options for engineers such as securities analysis, consulting, patent law.) Medicine is very rewarding sometimes, but sometimes I want to do engineering because I think it is more flexible.
    I have just finished my Freshman year and only got a 3.3 GPA but I'm working to get that up and become a straight A student. I think I want to do both. Many people dismiss automating medicine and having robots do doctors' jobs as a dream, but engineers' job is to turn dreams from paper and think tanks into reality. Yes, that is a long way from now, but that is a good thing. If it wasn't a long ways away, then there wouldn't be much for an engineer to invent.


    Now hold on, I'm not talking about doctors ever becoming unemployed. I'm talking about fields converging. Shows like House create a false impression about medicine(from what I've observed) because it shows doctors using creativity frequently. Rarely, if ever, do most doctors show any creativity--not that I can blame them due to our healthcare structure. Heck, some practicing doctors forget the Organic Chem and Physics they learned to get into med school anyways. Doctors basically are masters at following intense, precise algorithms. I think robots, brought about by advances in cybernetics, should do this ultimately and human doctors should use their creative talents. If the fields do merge 100 years from now or maybe longer than that, doctors would emerge as premier biomedical engineers and vice versa.

    I like the medical profession because most jobs for engineers involve products that no one really cares about much. I'd practice medicine today for free. But for a corporation, I'd always demand pay for engineering.
     
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  24. TacoStand

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    Hello there fellow Aggie - I was also a Mechanical Engineering major. I spent 8 years working as an engineer in various design roles before kicking over the cubicle, smashing the Pro E desktop, cutting up my gold frequent flyer card, and going into some wonderful debt financed by government loans.

    I am currently a 3rd year med student and am loving it. I finished my surgery rotation a few weeks ago and yes, the hours were really long, but man it was worth it. In my experience, the 1st and 2nd year were surprisingly not "hard" as compared to an undergrad engineering curriculum. You are not sitting for hours contemplating how to solve a finite number of problems. It is "hard" only in the sense that you have a ton of information to get into your head and you cannot let yourself totally freak out because, of course, that is very counterproductive.

    It is awesome seeing patients everyday and to be a part of improving their quality of life. I love medicine simply because it is challenging and you see everyday the meaningful effects of your effort. There is never the question of purpose when I am interacting with patients.

    I made this change not because I "hated" my job, but because it was totally unsatisfying. It was hard to enjoy even the big successes because I did not see much purpose in the overall goal, which was to increase profits. The consumer, which benefited in some way, was just too far removed. Yes, profits are a fact of life even in medicine, but it is SO much different compared to working for company x, making product y, and repeating z times until retirement.

    You may have already done a fair amount of shadowing or volunteering in the medical field. For me, this solidified my "dream" and convinced me to go after making it a reality.

    I have never heard of a hospital or company for that matter paying for medical school, but I would not let that deter you from going for it if you decide medicine is for you. My philosophy has been to research thoroughly, but not to become an old man saying "I wish I would have ... "

    Good luck...
     
  25. pdlaw2000

    pdlaw2000 P.P.P.P.P.P
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    Ok, so all those considering a career change to medicine, meet me at the edge of the grand canyon, we can all jump at the same time. Life is just to darn hard and expensive.
     
  26. thoffen

    thoffen Member
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    I'll meet you there, but don't be upset if I push you over since you've already stated your desire to jump.
     
  27. CuriousJ

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    Fellow Aggie, so glad you made the move to medicine.
    It must agree with you! Great idea to shadow or volunteer and I will check this out.

    I too felt no purpose working in high tech as I was too far removed from enjoying the sense of accomplishment with the customer or even seeing the final product.
    I too want to interract directly with my customer and know that I am making a difference.

    How did you decide what exact major to pursue?

    CuriousJ
     
  28. atomi

    atomi Member
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    For those who keep saying "engineering pays well" or stressing that engineering was a well-paying job, can you please qualify that with how much money you were making and your level of experience.

    I know of very few EEs who make more than 80k/year without having 30+ years of experience. Most EEs I work with are relatively secure financially, but live very frugal lives.

    Doctors that I know (including chiropractors, dentists, and the like) that I know earn way, way more and live much more extravagant lifestyles.

    Even pharmacists make $150k/yr out of school at age 24 now. The average 24 year old EE makes about $60k/yr.

    So, I want to know what your definition of well-paid as an engineer is, and I want to know where/what that job is!
     
  29. chr123

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    Got up to 61K after 3 years. I wouldn't get too much more in the way of raises until after I get another promotion which is atleast 5 years away.

    You can do very well if you're a contractor in certain industries. They get hired on when a program needs lots of workers for a short time and they get high hourly wages and work 60-80 hour weeks with time and a half for over time. You have to move around a lot and there isn't much job security.
     
  30. AliveNkickin

    AliveNkickin somewhere in california
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    130k as a computer engineer in CA. Contract position. I'm about to drop it like a ton of bricks and never look back.
     
  31. atomi

    atomi Member
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    Wow, I guess that must just be CA. Was this a TS cleared job? Senior engineering management doesn't even clear that much here.
     
  32. wedogogirl

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    .
     
    #31 wedogogirl, Jun 25, 2008
    Last edited: May 23, 2010
  33. AliveNkickin

    AliveNkickin somewhere in california
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    Yeah it's mostly just CA, I made half that in the mid-west. No TS clearance. I should clarify I am a Computer Systems Engineer who happens to have a Computer and Electrical Engineering degree. So, I work in systems architecture for an international bank. Totally unfulfilling.. I was never cut out for cube work.
     
  34. Sol Rosenberg

    Sol Rosenberg Long Live the New Flesh!
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    I am currently an EE (a design engineer with an MS degree) and I don't feel comfortable revealing my current salary, but it is significantly more than that (NOT counting stock/stock options.) But, to give you some "mile markers," I started at $50k, and topped $100k after ~5.5 years of experience. This is base salary, not including bonuses, stock, and/or stock options.

    I have only ever worked in TX (i.e. low cost of living.) Salaries in CA are higher (~20%) to compensate (NOTE: Not fully -- cost of living is ~100% higher) for the higher cost of living there.
     
  35. atomi

    atomi Member
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    How did you double your salary in 5.5 years? I started at $59k and make $63k now after 1 year. The 5% raise I got last year was almost unheard of here - 2-3% is more typical. Bonuses are tiny if they are given at all.

    Did you move around to different companies? Did you get an MS degree to boost your salary? Supposedly getting an MS here just bumps you up one pay level (~$5k). Hardly seems worth it.

    People I know here with about 15 years experience are making $80k-90k, which seems about right based on the raise structure. Any tips on how to get my compensation to where you got yours? Should I get my MS or PhD? My field is RF and I am a design engineer (with only 1-2 years of experience). I was told that this was a lucrative and highly-desirable niche to be in in EE, but I'm not seeing it.

    Also, after being here nearly 2 years, I still don't feel like I know anything. I just run tests in the lab and watch the senior engineers do everything and doubt I could design anything. My time is spent between writing data in a notebook and surfing sdn. I feel like I've forgotten everything I learned in school and have no real skills to market myself if I were ever let go. I mean, other than that my job is pretty sweet and my pay, while maybe low compared to someone like yourself, is not bad at all considering what I actually do.
     
  36. atomi

    atomi Member
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    Ah, you said the magic word...SYSTEMS. I was stuck there in another job too.

    As soon as I see or hear that word on a job description or interview, I shut off automatically. ...The world of high level 'design' aka spreadsheets and flow charts and a lot web surfing to pass the time.
     
  37. tbo

    tbo MS-4
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    I can't speak for Sol, but there's likely a lot of factors. Industry vs non-profit/govt/academia makes a pretty big difference. Even within industry, there are vastly different career ladders (financial engineers can make a boatload of money on Wall St, for example). Also, there WAS a time when the technology industry was booming. Anyone who could program Java not many years back could see some ridiculous raises (now it seems like Flex or Ajax skills come with a premium salary). I'm a bit older and used to work in industry and my first year raise in a solid-but-dwindling market was 13%.

    One other variable is promotions or job-switching. I suspect Sol had his share of promotions and might have switched companies, thus giving himself more chances to re-negotiate (read: increase) a salary.
     
    #36 tbo, Jun 26, 2008
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2008
  38. engineeredout

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    Any engineers/premed hopefuls in the pharmaceutical industry? What do you think of it?
     
  39. tbo

    tbo MS-4
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    I used to. There's a vast spectrum of roles to play in pharma. Do a search in the MBA forum (or business forum, I forget) and you'll pull up some threads on pharma, on opportunities as an MD in pharma, etc. Anyhow, you can clearly do basic research (biology, biochem, or organic chemistry), animal/pre-clinical research, and clinical research, along with all the "support" functions needed to make a huge company run, like IT, marketing, systems engineering, manufacturing/industrial engineering, blah blah blah.

    I loved it. Pharma is the perfect place to see how large-scale for-profit science is run, how efficiencies are found and put in place, and how science with monstrous pockets is run. It's a great education. I should point out for balance, the above stuff comes with its pluses and minuses. Sure you can play around with million-dollar machinery and get someone else to run your Mass Spec, but your intellectual autonomy is severely limited, particularly as a non-MD. Good salary, great benefits, but check your brain at the door.
     
  40. Sol Rosenberg

    Sol Rosenberg Long Live the New Flesh!
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    I started my career with an MS degree. I never received less than a 6% raise, and that was my first year. However, as you rise up in pay, the raises get smaller. Nowadays, I usually get ~3% until I play stick-em-up. But, it sounds like you work for a sh!tty company, pardon my French.

    OK, I will be blunt, but it is for your own good. You MUST get your MS degree. Without an MS degree you are, frankly, lucky to have a job as a design engineer, and your pay will reflect that. I maintain that a PhD is pretty much worthless for EEs.

    The way you get paid lots of money is to make yourself THAT valuable to have around. You need to innovate (file patents) and get yourself involved in so many projects that the company can't afford to see you leave. Then you get another job offer elsewhere and either 1) Take it if it is THAT good or 2) Play stick-em-up (Tell your employer that you have another offer and ask them to beat it. Otherwise, you will leave.) You WON'T make 6 figures that quickly by just accepting the raises that they give you by default. If it makes you feel better, you can just ask your employer nicely for the raise (and present reasons why, etc) but that is usually lke talking to a brick wall. Everybody moves faster when there is a sense of urgency attached.

    There is no doubt now, you work for a sh!tty company, and they are lying to you. Honestly, that is all someone with a BS degree would be allowed to do at any of the companies for whom I have worked, but they wouldn't call you a design engineer (applications engineer or validation engineer or something like that.) I started designing from day 1, and there is no excuse for them to have hired you as a design engineer and not have you doing design.

    Best of luck to you...

    EDIT: I just saw this:

    Correct on both counts.
     
  41. Hochries

    Hochries Junior Member
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    This is a great thread, and i just read every single post. One individual said something like ~"med school was no harder than undergraduate engineering curriculum". This hit a note, and i MUST reply. My background: I spent 4 year in undergread studying ME at a top 5 (us news) school. I Worked for 2 years for peanuts at a hospital as a research engineer, had a funded MS degree (free education is the best kind!), and worked for another 4 years in the med device industry. I just spent the last 2 years working full time, taking night courses, MCAT, applying, traveling for work and interviewing. I will start DO school in August and couldn't be more excited!!

    First, i do enjoy engineering (good days and bad just like everything else). The technical challenges we face and the creativity we can bring to the table, I think make this discipline unique. Engineers are Professional Problem Solvers! We are the addressers of challenges. Other disciplines are trained to bring write knowledge and methodologies to the table to address today's questions. Engineers bring new, fresh ideas to arrive at creative solutions. There is NO MANUAL.

    I do agree with the comments on 'getting stuck in a cubicle'. Based on my time in industry, Smart Dynamic people end up in cubicleville all too frequently, and i still can't figure it out! Unfortunately, engineers were not meant for cubicles anymore than goldfish for bowls! I do think that avoidance of cubicles is a great reason (as long as there are others) to choose to study medicine. I can tell you that in my engineering job, i work 9 to 5, less actually :), get paid well, have opportunity to travel all over the world, and develope medical devices that have a much more broad impact on medicine than any one doc could have by just seeing patients.

    My goal is to apply engineering principles and problem solving abilities to medical challenges. I aspire to work with patients foremost, as well as interact with the FDA and other bodies of standardization on important medical issues of our times as well.

    My one concern (impending regret) is that this career path will take time from my wife, kids, and family. It is a trade i am willing to make.

    I love this thread, lets keep it going all you technologically competent enginerds .
     
  42. DrJosephKim

    DrJosephKim Advisor
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    something else to consider: I know several engineers who went to medical school and then pursued non-clinical ventures. Think about the possibilities. Healthcare IT is a huge area right now with a strong push on EMRs (electronic medical record) and even PHRs (personal health records) for consumers.

    Have you seen Google Health? Think of all the things that will be popping up over the next few years.

    There are many opportunities for engineers who also have an MD in the non-clinical world of healthcare.
     
  43. kanwal

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    It was a rainy day in 1998 when my doctor uncle(on vacation to india from USA) told me to study medicine and become doctor as he calculated I would come to USA by 2005 on immigration visa(he had sponsored for me).
    In 1999 i had to make an important decision as in india you have to decide either medical or engineering in your 11th grade. I started medicine , but after 2 months(just in time), i decided the i loved maths and made the switch to non-medical(engineering).

    Fast forward to 2005 i graduated with a BSEE from india, came to USA as predicted by doctor uncle , did six months internship and now in MAY 2008 i have a MSEE from Cal State University.

    Right now i got my first job in a medium size defense company in Irvine,CA.

    I love the job working with all logic analyzer,network analyzer,spectrum analyzer,oscilloscope etc to study wireless signals from radars putting into practice what i learned all these years. I am aware that even all this will become mundane work after some time, all works do.

    But that is the human condition. We do all the same things again and again, we sleep,eat,breath,go to bathroom etc again and again. Why do we expect our jobs to not become tedious/boring/mundane etc. It has to be that way. So we just need to live with that.

    I don't mind doing tedious repetitive jobs so engineering will never be a problem for me.

    I have never regretted leaving medicine. I love maths, always did(800/800 on GRE maths,i had to bring this up:)).

    Medicine is just not my cup of tea. I like low responsibility jobs, to do my bit and come home and forget about work and relax, enjoy life as i know the job is not my life but just only one part of life.

    As for salary , let me tell you my doctor uncle just paid 300K for taxes in 2006. He made upwards of $1 million that year. I don't need to say more about the salary difference.

    Money was never a problem for me and never will be. People who are not satisfied with their salary are the most disappointed people and nothing can satisfy them as they always have higher bar to compare with.

    I am 24, single and i don't think i will ever marry. May be i don't want stress and responsibility here too. So as long as i don't have to take care of someone but just me, i think i will be ok.

    People want to become doctor as they want to make other people happy, i didn't become a doctor make myself happy. Everyone should work towards one's own happiness and it will flow for others you come in contact with.

    As for higher studies, i am not in a good shape as a near fatal accident during my msee studies just destroyed all my academic record and i ended up with a GPA of 3.31 in graduate work and 3.54 in my 30 credit major(electrical engineering) in MSEE.
    SO i guess PHD doors are closed for me after my C's in multiple courses(the transcript looks real bad with repeat etc, no pun intended). I will do some advanced engineering certificate courses form UC irvine extension to further career prospects. I am also writing a book on communication design engineering.

    But as i had said before in the forum, medicine is a very stressful and responsible job, practicing doctors will know best. Good luck to all the SWITCHERS.
     
    #42 kanwal, Jun 29, 2008
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2008
  44. AliveNkickin

    AliveNkickin somewhere in california
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    For me I see the essence of life as the continual struggle until the day I die. It seems that the challenge is the true substance of existance. The best story to explain this would be the fable of Sysiphus in greek mythology. When I get comfortable, that's when I become bored and complacent. The idea of retiring sounds horrible to me. I guess that's why I'm attracted to a lifetime of learning and helping people along the way. The way I see it, the context of helping people is the next most important footprint we leave in this life. I'm 28 years old, am I too young to be thinking about death? To me it all seems relative; evidentally the experience is different for everybody. Thanks for sharing your viewpoint. Every person is so different.
     
  45. atomi

    atomi Member
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    Thanks for your advice. FWIW, I graduated with a 4.0 in EE and had every door open to me. I don't know why I couldn't have gone down a path like yours. I started off at a big-3 defense firm and hated it because they had me doing nothing and were paying me jack. So now here I am considering medical school.

    Suppose I do get the MS degree, should I continue working my current job and get them to pay for it (would involve taking tele-courses at night), or go back full-time (I could get a T/A position and full stipend), or pay it out of my own pocket and do a non-thesis MS at a state school and knock it out in a year?

    How would I negotiate a significantly higher salary increase (more than the $5k they promise) once I got it? Because from where I'm sitting right now (and as I've been told by management), the effort to get the MS degree is NOT worth a measly $5k salary increase.
     
  46. Sol Rosenberg

    Sol Rosenberg Long Live the New Flesh!
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    The purpose of the MS degree is to make you more employable. Once you are a more valuable commodity, employers will bid higher for your services. So, once you have an MS degree, go looking for another job. Don't tell them your current salary -- tell them what you are looking to get. Once you have the offer, either take it or use it to leverage a better raise from your current employer. You are free to try to do this now, but if you are a design engineer who, after 2 years, hasn't really done any design, your career isn't going anywhere. Make sure that you are considering medicine for the right reasons. You can make a lot more money than you are currently making (I am inferring your current salary range from your posts and your reaction to my posts) in engineering, and can probably work on stuff that is a lot more interesting than you describe. But, obviously, this might not be what you are after either (hey, I'm not -- I'm here about to give up my successful career in EE to go to medical school, but it is not for those reasons.)

    As far as how to get the degree, go to the best school for what you'd like to do. Names do matter in EE (not just school names, but also specific professor names too.) Read journal articles (JSSCC if you want to do circuit design, for example) and find big names, and then try to become one of their students. Employers will recognize the name, and say "Oh, he's one of <blank>'s students..." and that will be a plus. I don't see how you can do an online MSEE degree, since some of the most valuable EE graduate courses are the project courses, and I don't see how you can do those online.

    Best of luck to you!
     
  47. lexrageorge

    lexrageorge Member
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    First question: do you want to stay in engineering, or do you want to do medicine? And why? If going into medicine is really want you want to do, and you'd much rather do that then engineering, then go ahead and start the process of making the jump.

    However, don't do it simply because you're bored with your current job. And, on that topic, I would suggest you either (a) try to find a group with more interesting work; or (b) switch companies. Seriously, in this early part of your engineering career, you should be getting new skills, not writing data in a notebook. Sure, you could play good soldier with your current company and hope that the interesting work will come your way. What will probably happen instead is that you'll keep getting the crap, along with the 2% annual raises, until you finally end up getting let go because you're too expensive and you still do not have the design engineering skills your current company needs.

    Also, in a fairly short time in your career, you're marketability will be based on what you have worked on and what skills you've obtained doing so, not on your undergrad grades. Filling out pages in a notebook is not a marketable skill.

    Getting an MS will help, but you should not use the pursuit of an MS as a substitute for picking up marketable skills and knowledge on your job, but instead to augment those skills. Otherwise, all it will be worth will be $5K.

    As for salaries, I assume you work for a larger company. Usually, the only way to get good raises in engineering (aka, beyond the standard 3%) is to change jobs, get a promotion, or go into consulting. Each requires marketable skills (again). You should not have to wait 15 years to make $80K.
     
  48. CuriousJ

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    Does it make sense for a 48 year old engineer to switch to medical school?
    Paying for medical school is also a worry...how available are grants?

    CuriousJ
     
  49. 8744

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    No. It makes no sense. Unless you are financially secure and are going to medical school as a mid-life crisis hobby you will come to regret your decision. There are very few days when I don't regret undertaking the long slog through this annoying mother****er. I am starting to get more optimistic as the end of residency looms and the prospect of finally getting clear of this environment and making some real money comes into view but I have really liked almost none it, been ambivalent to the majority of it, and have cordially detested enough of it where it still makes me bitter thinking about it (and which was one of the reasons I stopped blogging).

    The toll on my family has been immense and these last seven years of poverty have been especially hard on my wife, compounded by my frequent absence from the home. My wife detests my patients (who she has never met) and despises all of the little things about residency that add up to keep me from ever getting home on time (like after a shift) or entail long stretches of days when I may be home but it's only to sleep and go back to work.

    A pre-emptive "**** you" to anyone who thinks medicine or any career is more important than family.

    But 48? Are you crazy? You'll matriculate at 50 and be done with your residency only a few years shy of being eligable for Medicare. Are you really prepared to put up with this crap between the ages of fifty and sixty. It's bad enough when you're in your thirties and forties pulling 30-hour call and eighty hour weeks not to mention dealing with the egos and petty personal problems of your attendings and senior residents.

    Maybe when you're twenty you can look a decade of this crap in the face with impunity but is this how you really want to spend the last decade of your life before you start to deteriorate and things stop working?

    Take my advice, stay in engineering and devote the energy you will expend on applying to medical school to your engineering business. You will come out way ahead in happiness, wealth, well-being, and sanity.

    Sincerely,

    P. Bear, MD
    Former Registered Professional Civil (Structural) Engineer
     
    #48 8744, Jul 24, 2008
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2008
  50. 8744

    8744 Guest

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    Now hang on a second. Everything on my former blog (which is soon to be hosted on SDN) was true. Even the articles that weren't true (the spoofs and satires) were true, if you get my meaning. Some people love the medical profession but many don't. Most of us can tolerate it but this is not the same as loving it.

    As for the proof of people loving this mother****er being revealed by the paucity of career changers and the glut of prospective medical students, first, it ain't that easy to switch careers. I was an engineer and a successfuly one but for me to go back now after almost eight years would be virtually impossible, not to mention that I will be making a large multiple of what I made in engineering in less than a year. Second, pre-meds, with respect, generally don't know jack about medicine. You can shadow or volunteer but until you've worked Q3 call for three weeks in a row with no days off you have no idea what you are getting into. In other words, I despised my intern year(s) for no other reason than I hate being tired all the time, don't like to skip sleep every third or fourth day, and like to have more than six full weekends off every year, not to mention taking a weekend off without The Man making it out to be some kind of rare treat or exotic privilege that they grant to you.

    It isn't that complicated.
     
    #49 8744, Jul 24, 2008
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2008
  51. AliveNkickin

    AliveNkickin somewhere in california
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    Panda Bear,

    I've read most of your threads and spent a day at the office reading your blog in entirety. However witty and quite entertaining, it seems to me that you are an incurably negative and pessimistic person. The "cup is half empty" type. I think it is perfectly justified for you to doubt your reasons for doing what you do.

    Before you attack whatever credential I don't have, you should know that I have sufficient life experience to make my observations accurately. I also know that, as an optimist with an existentialist viewpoint, I am going to wake up tomorrow and have a great day. No matter what happens.

    Thanks for wearing your heart on your sleeve. It helps me understand that this kind of attitude transcends all walks of life.
     

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