getting scared of med school

Discussion in 'Medical Students - MD' started by punky, Oct 28, 2002.

  1. punky

    punky Junior Member

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    I have been reading the horror stories of med school. Now I am getting second thoughts. Here's the deal:

    - I am a non-trad, now making 80K a year in a job I don't like. It has always been my dream to be a doc. I can live with my current job, but I always fantasize about medicine. Maybe I have a "glorified" vision of medicine.

    - I have been accepted to med school already last year but defered. It was a private school that will cost me 200K when I get out. I am slated to start in 2003.

    - The cost of med school scares me. Will I be able to pay it back? I like my lifestyle now, making 80K a year.

    - Although I hate my current job, will it be any different from a stressed-out, lawyer-hassled, debt-burned, family-deprived, no-life doc?

    Please help. This choice is agonizing me. Thanks a lot in advance.

    Punky
     
  2. Hero

    Hero Senior Member
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    i'm sure that telling you to consider the drastic change in your life, investment of time, money, and etc would be an insult to your intelligence so i'll just say that I'm a first year and i'm loving medical school I can't wait to get out there and practice medicine :)
     
  3. Hero

    Hero Senior Member
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    WORD. :)
     
  4. Brandon

    Brandon Member
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    Hey there Punky.

    I'm in the exact same position as yourself. In fact, had to double check the post to make sure it wasn't me posting! I've deferred and will start med school in 2003 and am in a job making a little more than yourself. Also, I like my job as I travel alot and it's pretty cushy. But you know, I think overall I will be alot happier in medicine cause it's all I've really thought about for a while now.

    I know it's hard to give up that regular paycheck but for me, my fiance just graduated from Pharm school so she'll be taking care of me now for a change. It'll help blunt the trauma of going from $$$ to blah! Not sure what your situation is but I suggest looking for support from family, sig. other, etc. Good luck, everybody I would think after reading all these horror story posts gets a little nervous. Hang in there!
     
  5. vm26

    vm26 Member
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    I havent even been interviewed anywhere and I'm already having 2nd thoughts, maybe because I'm also a non-trad and in a way already have and would be giving up a bit more than your average 22, 23 y/o entering med school. I have been working as a PT and applying to med school has already cost me about 10K+-organic class, kaplan, amcas+secondaries, and lost wages from working part-time, not to menton hours of study time which I actual dont mind as much as the $ I sent. Unlike the other posters, I'm unhappy with my lifestyle and income potential. I attended PT school at the worst time, while it was still impossible to get into yet the job market/field was crumbling. I hear PT programs are now in competition to fill their seats. Anyway, PT school was hellish at times, people def cracked. Personally for me it was not that unbearable. Though I def did overstudy in hindsight, there were also aspects that I did really enjoy-constant learning, the people interaction etc. However the fact that there has been minimal payoff after graduating really bites (thank God, I went to a public school), I think PTs were making more money 10 years ago, pretty pathetic. Anyway, I'm concerned I'm setting myself up for a similiar situation. I dont mind busting my ass and sacrificing as long as there's good reason, last time I checked you cant pay the bills (such as your 75K+ loan) with your "feel good" account. I've been examining my potential career switch, reading previous threads, magazine articles, speaking with Dr's/residents, and depending on the source, the views/outlook vary from hopeful optimism to doom/gloom. I know what attracts me to medicine-intellectual stim, lifelong learning/challenges, making a positive difference in pt's lives , job security?, autonomy? ability to live comfortably? In my mind, if these aspects of the work are present/adequate then it's worth the sacrifice and hard work. On the other hand, if I'm going to have to deal with struggling to pay off my debt, afford my malpractice etc., have a hard time finding a decent paying job where I dont have to see 100 pts/day and spend hrs on paperwork to fight for reimbursement, constantly worry about getting sued for reasons outside my own negligence, be sleep deprived, then its probably not worth it. I wish I had a crystal ball because I'll be too old/burnt and broke to start over again. Maybe this is something I should have included on my personal statement? Anyway thanks for allowing me to vent and best of luck to all.
     
  6. punky

    punky Junior Member

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    Thank you for the replies.

    Come on, where are you other folks?! SomeFakeName, praying4MD, Katie, everyone ... please respond! My life is at stake here! I am at a crucial junction in my life! Here is what I am constantly thinking about:

    Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
    And sorry I could not travel both
    And be one traveler, long I stood
    And looked down one as far as I could
    To where it bent in the undergrowth;

    Then took the other, as just as fair,
    And having perhaps the better claim,
    Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
    Though as for that the passing there
    Had worn them really about the same,

    And both that morning equally lay
    In leaves no step had trodden black.
    Oh, I kept the first for another day!
    Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
    I doubted if I should ever come back.

    I shall be telling this with a sigh
    Somewhere ages and ages hence:
    Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
    I took the one less traveled by,
    And that has made all the difference.

    (Robert Frost)

    Please help me find that road not taken.

    Punky
     
  7. mpp

    mpp SDN Moderator
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    I did something similar. I left a well-paying jobs to come to medical school at age 31. I have two things going for me to make the debt more manageable. First, I got into an inexpensive school with great scholarship money available. Secondly, I worked for a year and a half making my $80,000 per year while living like a student -- $250/month rent, few "expensive" weekends and nights out, no toys, driving a 12-year old car, etc. In short, I saved over $50,000 in cash during that time. This money will take care of my tuition (and then some) for four years. I have a part-time job while in medical school (easily doable although I only earn about $500 per month) to help with expenses. I'll borrow some money and tap into previous savings to cover the rest.

    I'm loving medical school right now and wouldn't switch back to my old life for any monetary compensation (although I've never been much of a big spender...I agonize over throwing $35 down for a new pair of jeans and even worse over a $100 bar tab although I've had plenty of those too).

    I think you'd have a much worse time if you didn't go to medical school and were sitting around 10 years from now (albeit perhaps in the lap of luxury) regretting that you didn't go...wondering how different you life would be...what an opportunity missed. The opportunities for careers with an M.D. degree are near limitless. You don't have to be a bitter doctor trying begging clients to pay that $8.00 copay so that you can go out to lunch that day. Don't foresake the opportunity you have presented to you. Think of the thousands in this country that would take that medical school spot in a second...and the millions in other parts of the world that would never ever have an opportunity to do so.
     
  8. Kimya

    Kimya Senior Member
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    I was planning to do a similar thing to you, except my deferral got denied. I decided not to go for many of the reasons that you mentioned, and I didn't feel comfortable enough in the time frame to throw caution to the wind.

    When I was shadowing more docs in the specialty that I was interested in, to decide if I should reapply, I became increasingly concerned that my image of what I would be doing would not match with reality. There was less autonomy than I had envisioned and a lot more paperwork/insurance hassles. What really made the decision for me was debt. Not sure of your status, but I also am married and was concerned about long-term ramifications for family; it's harder for me to relocate/ look into loan repayment options through service. I was accepted to an expensive private school on the other side of the country, and was worried that even if I wanted to do something different afterwards I would be locked into high loan payments. I'm from a state where it is very difficult to get into a public school, so that isn't really an option for me at this point.

    So what I would recommend is to get involved if you aren't already shadowing some docs in your area of interest (that are practicing, not in school- very different lifestyles), and if possible, where you want to practice. Some areas have many more docs than others so it's harder to get a foothold, and some procedures that you might do in a smaller area might be the domain of a specialist. Also consider what speciality you are interested in- I was interested in primary care for underserved populations so there are alternate ways I can do some of what I wanted to do medical school for. If you are leaning more towards a particular specialization, than medical school might be the only way to really do what you love.

    Good luck with your decision- feel free to PM me if you have any questions.
     
  9. Mossjoh

    Mossjoh Mayo Clinic-PGY2
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    punky-

    Med school is an enormous time committment. Its not as glorious as some think. The stress can certainly wear and both your body and soul. Is it worth it? Definetely. You just need to ask yourself if you really want this....... its a fact that once you make this choice you have decided to devote about 8 years of your life to the process of becoming a physician. (med school + residency)

    There are days I'm tired....days I'm stressed, and days I'm certainly not in the best mood. But sometimes when you learn the clinical applications you get motivated again. For instance, I learned that inversion sprains of the ankle often are dangerous because the tendon of peroneus brevis is stretched so far that it causes an avulsion fracture of the tuberosity of the 5th metatarsal. When I learn information that I can actually apply to my practice someday, that makes it seem worth it.

    Good luck with your decision

    Mossjoh
     
  10. hihihi

    hihihi Member
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    Well, I am one of the VERY lucky ones that has parents who are going to support me through medical school, and if you've read any of my past posts, you would know that I am having a hard time thinking that all of this is going to be worth it...even without the $80k loans. So, if I would have had to taken out that much money, my attitude would be even worse right now. So, I am amazed (and grateful) when I hear of people who have had to pay for every dime since highschool. I just don't know how you all do it. That level of determination is amazing, and I envy one who has it.

    It is a tough, tough decision, and frankly, no one can give you any great advice. I know I bitch about the fact that medical school is life-encompassing. However, the fact is, that I could manage my time a lot better, and be a lot more happy. Believe me, being happy in medical school is all about TIME MANAGEMENT and being happy with AVERAGE. That is, in my opinion, one can treat medical school like a 50 hour a week job, and take lots of weekends off, if you manage your time well. Little 30 minute study sessions, getting up a little earlier and studying before class, studying during your lunch break, and staying ahead of the lectures by outlining (not reading the details of) the chapter for the next day's lecture are all ways that you can manage your time well. And, lastly, being happy with being average is key...there is nothing bad about being average in a group of well-educated, highly motivated, future experts and physicians. Those are my thoughts.
     
  11. hotbovie

    hotbovie Member
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    I left a $60,000/year job to go to medical school in my late 30's. I graduate in May, and am just weeks away from going to my first interview for general surgery.

    I have never had a moment's regret about my decision. I always wanted to be a doctor and I felt that I had settled for less than what I really wanted to do. That's also why I am going into surgery, even though I am much older than my fellow applicatants. I won't settle again.

    Medical school is challanging, but doable. It will take you the first couple months to figure out how to make it work for you and how to balance your study time with personal/family time. The debt can be managed as well. There are many options. You can defer payment while in residency, or consolodate loans into one loan that stretches payments out for up to 30 years (thus making them managable during residency). Residency is 3-5 years, fellowships if desired are 1-3 years. You make decent (not great) money during your residency. Once done with training, your salary will jump and if you stay within a budget for just a few more years, you could knock out remaining debt pretty easily. I"m finding that I can still live reasonably well if I'm careful (read: I'm not eating Ramen noodles daily). My experience has been that the limitations on my lifestyle have been more due to time constraints rather than money (however, I never was a big spender)

    Those of you with jobs and deferrals...I'd bust ass this year to make extra money and pay off credit cards, cars, etc. You aren't allowed loans to cover that (though you can budget the amount you get to cover whatever you want, you just can't request extra to cover car loan, etc). Also contact your finianical aid departments and ask for assistance in searching for scholarships. And, if you are of the mindset, the various branches of the military offer scholarships (they recruit heavily after you've started school, too). You only have to do 4 years after residency. I'd do that in a hearbeat, but I don't quailfy.

    Furthermore, there are still loan repayments availabe for some fields in some areas. Also, I've had some of the surgery residents tell me that they've been getting job offers in the mail (sometimes several years before finishing) which include loan repayment offers from private practice. (sugery is a field that is short handed right now)

    Some schools offer an extended program in which you do the first 2 years of medical school over 3 years. That could give you more time to work part time if you need to. I've had a very part time job (designed for medical students) while on a standard schedule.

    There are a number of nontraditonals in my class. Many have families, some spouses work, some don't .

    There are lots of ways to take care of the debt. Don't give up your dream based on fear of that. Make sure your families, if applicable, are fully supportive, and go for it.
     
  12. pcl

    pcl Senior Member
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    Hey punky,

    Good Luck with your decision! I left a successful enginerding career to start over again, and I can say, most days, I'm glad. Some days, however, I am stressed, crabby, lonely, and generally exhausted. Do I want to go back? Not really. Do I wish I still had a paycheck? Yes.

    can't wait for this year to be done to hit the wards...

    Things to consider:
    Are you willing to go back to the student lifestyle?
    Do you have the means to pay off consumer debt including credit cards and car payments so you can live on the peanuts they budget for you? Could you work part time to help subsidize the loans?
    Will you be relocating? Does renting or buying make the most sense for you? If you want to buy, do it before you resign.
    How does the administration support the older students?
    If you have a family, that becomes a large consideration also.

    Good Luck.

    I still think it's worth it, but ask me in three more years...

    :)

    PCL
     
  13. hey, I am very flattered to be personally asked to post on here, thank you! anyway, I think all the issues you have raised are legitimate concerns and definitely need to be considered. But, I can definitely join the others on here in saying how glad I am to be in med school. There were many things I was not happy with first year; long days of class, much of it lecture time, the high-schoolish behavior I observed (and still observe) in a number of my classmates, and I had a tough time with anatomy. This year I am much happier b/c we switched to the block system this year and are done by 12 at least 2 days a week, and never have class or lab later than 3 pm. If medicine is what you really want to do with your life but financial and lifestyle issues are becoming an emotional burden to you, here are some things you can do to make the situation better and get through the tough times of med school:

    1)Make sure you develop a support system in or near the city in which you are attending med school. This could be friends you make in class, friends from college who live in the area, a significant other, parents, or other relatives. Dogs are great too, but they take up a lot of time.. Judging by what I've observed in my classmates and in myself, you do NOT want to be in the type of situation where your girlfriend lives in another state and you see her once a month and use pornography as your only other sexual outlet without telling her, or have a fiancee cross-country that you never see, or feel extremely lonely b/c your parents are living overseas and you have no friends in class.. Trust me, these situations tend to lead to a lot of unhappiness and even academic failure; it is hard to be a diligent student and perform at your best when your personal life is virtually non-existent.

    2) Try to save as much money as you can now so that debt repayment won't be so awful in a few years. Also look into options such as Primary Care Loans and military service; people of all ages do these types of things.

    3) Be sure to pick a school that you will be happy at; consider the type of students the school tends to attract, the location of the school, the amount of clinical experience you get in the first 2 years (a lot of times this will be what keeps you going), and the living situation around the school (i.e. dorms, low-cost apartments, shared houses, etc.). Nothing is worse than being miserable or uncomfortable with where you're at.

    good luck!
     
  14. MeganRose

    MeganRose Senior Member
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    I'm looking to get some advice from current med students, esp MSI's on what type of preparation they wish they had done before school started. There are 9 short months left-- and I'm getting nervous, I want to be as ready as possible to hit the ground running
    Thanks,
    M
     
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  15. shag

    shag Supreme Procrastinator
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    Megan,

    My best advice for you is to relax and enjoy life! You will have plenty of time to study when school starts. If you scored well enough on the MCAT, and had sufficient grades to be accepted to medical school, you will do fine.

    As a pseudo-non-trad, adjusting to cramming large amounts of material in short periods of time and developing and maintaining a rigorous study were the greatest challenges I faced. Thinking about time management, and maintaing a life outside of medicine might be useful.
     
  16. dermatome S5

    dermatome S5 Junior Member
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    Punky---

    This is just my opinion so take it for what its worth (I'm a M-1).
    There are several non-traditional students in my class who are leaving relatively high paying jobs. A 45 year old fireman is leaving a couple of years before he could make retirement benefits, and a 33 year old lawyer who is sick of being the bad guy (his words). As another poster said, make sure you like practicing medicine. A lot of people in my class have never been around sick people before---it is not like most people's dreams of being the well-respected, "in control" doctor. Also, if you were accepted by a private school, you probably got into your home state school. In your situation, a less prestigious school could save you $100,000. If you work hard enough, you can easily pay off your loans in a decent amount of time.
     
  17. MeganRose

    MeganRose Senior Member
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    Hey Shag,
    I guess I've always been kind of a nervous person. I went to undergrad at Duke and spent the first month or so fretting that the admission committees had accidently let me in. Weird and dorky but true. I guess I'm worried more than anything bc with a 3.2/27 (10V9B8P) I don't have the strongest numbers. I'll be going to a DO school where those numbers are avrg, but still... When I found out I got in, I had those scared feelings again. Anywho-- thanks for the advice!
    M
     
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  18. adamant

    adamant Senior Member
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    I'm an older MS1 left a sweet job for a European Chemical company to go back to school. For me it has been totally worth it.
    First year isn't as hard as most people make it out to be. I have more free time now then I did when I was working in New York an commuting from Connecticut, all those wasted hours sitting in traffic...

    Advise for first year. Take a Biochem course before if you haven't already. This class is really hard for people that never took it before but usually pretty easy if you've already had it.

    Study Anatomy a lot. I would say that about 60% of my study time goes to this class.

    Another piece of advise that some people will disagree with but that has helped me is blowing off a lot of the lectures. I find that I learn 10X more staying at home and reading than sitting in a big lecture class.

    Follow your dreams and everything else will fall into place.
     
  19. Delvonik

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    I'm wondering if I should even apply to med school when I get my BA.I've heard some med schools look for diversity and will be enthusiastic about having someone with a BA as a student,provided they do very well in school.I'm considering,after getting my degree to go for a Master's in English instead of go to med school because I really love to write.


    Then I thought why can't I just go to med school and develop my writing skills? I mean,can't I be a physician and a writer?People have told me that I'm very good at writing and were rather suprised that I was thinking about going into medicine which,although has social sides,isn't involved in art.But what if I don't go to med school and I turn out to be an awful writer?And then what if I get through med school and find it all boring and stressful,and find myself not wanting to be a physician.I'd like to do both but how would I ever find the time,huh?
     
  20. IlianaSedai

    IlianaSedai Senior Member
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    You can always get your Masters in English and then apply for med school. Or if you're lucky, request for a 1-2 year leave to get your Masters before starting med school. Or do your first two years of med school, take time off to do your Masters, then return to do your last two clinical years.

    :clap:
     
  21. Excellent advice! I never thought I was great at Biochem, but after taking it in undergrad I had absolutely no trouble passing the course as an MS I last year. Anatomy is definitely the most time-consuming class of first year; second year Pharmacology requires a LOT of memorization but is easier to follow b/c it's more clinically relevant and many schools try to correlate it with other classes. I am also an on-and-off lecture person; for our first major exam block I went to nearly every class, while I went to very few classes for the second exam block, and my exam average was a bit higher for the second block!
     
  22. jlb102

    jlb102 Member
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    I wish I had done more drinking, a lot more...really, drink more, enjoy life as a non-medical student/senior in college or whatever you are.

    Seriously though, something to consider would be learning spanish or another popular language, but really spanish would be best almost anywhere. Otherwise, med school will teach you what you need to know, that is why it exists. And always remember P=MD, a simple formula for success.

    As far as leaving a job to go to med school, I am not so qualified as I've never really had a job, but I can say that the opportunity to lead a fulfilling life doing something that I love day in and day out, no matter what time it is, is irresistable. It is a long road and certainly less travelled, but that has made all the difference.
    JB,
    MS IV, currently without a care, except for the Match ;)
     

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