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Having Second Thoughts

jenberg23

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Feb 13, 2020
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Lately, I've been having second thoughts on pre-med. I'm not sure if its this quarantine that's got me thinking this much but I seem to be thinking about it too much. I'm only a freshman in college and I'm almost done. Just a few weeks ago I was stressing about keeping my grades up and sending out applications to any hospital/clinic I could find. But now that desire has changed, it's like I don't want it as bad as I thought. What stresses me out a lot is the time commitment. I'm afraid that I'm going to spend most of my 20s studying and as they say your 20s are the prime years of your life.

I know becoming a doctor is extremely stressful and difficult and I know this stress and difficulty don't leave after you become a doctor. There's so much more I want to do in my "youth years" and I just don't know if I can do those things if I go to medical school.

I have a friend in college and she's traveled so much for a teenager and continues to travel. I love traveling and its something I want to do in the future but I know my time will be limited. I'm afraid I will have to put everything on hold in order to become a doctor. Don't get me wrong, becoming a doctor after all that hard work is an amazing achievement and I respect anyone who goes through the process. I know I sound like a naive teenager, but for me, I feel like there's so much more to life than endless studying. I'm afraid after I get older I'll look back and realize that for most of my life all I did was study, I'll be proud to have become a doctor but I know there will still be that nagging feeling that I feel right now. And I know every job requires studying and putting some things on hold, but some are more than others.

I really like medicine, but when I look at my future situation, I don't want it as bad as those who do want to pursue medicine.
 
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drducky.

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Your 20s will be better if you don't go into medicine, but what about your 30s? 40s? 50s? etc.

Do you really want to be in a cubicle working a 9-5 job scraping by for the rest of your life instead of sacrificing a few more years and do what you want to do, while making a comfortable living?

Similar analogy is, your teenage/early 20s are probably even more precious, why are you even wasting your time studying in college then?
 
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deleted889094

I can only speak to medical school, but there is no one-size-fits-all for the experience. I have many classmates who are really struggling and miserable, but I know many who are anything but. Personally, going from a job to school, I don't think the time I spend on it has changed too much.

All that to say, don't let other people's negative experiences be the only thing affecting your consideration. You can always pick a specialty and job with better hours and a more relaxed environment. There is flexibility.

Do some shadowing when things reopen. You'll know pretty quickly where your level of interest is when you see what it's really like.
 
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Angus Avagadro

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Lately, I've been having second thoughts on pre-med. I'm not sure if its this quarantine that's got me thinking this much but I seem to be thinking about it too much. I'm only a freshman in college and I'm almost done. Just a few weeks ago I was stressing about keeping my grades up and sending out applications to any hospital/clinic I could find. But now that desire has changed, it's like I don't want it as bad as I thought. What stresses me out a lot is the time commitment. I'm afraid that I'm going to spend most of my 20s studying and as they say your 20s are the prime years of your life.

I know becoming a doctor is extremely stressful and difficult and I know this stress and difficulty don't leave after you become a doctor. There's so much more I want to do in my "youth years" and I just don't know if I can do those things if I go to medical school.

I have a friend in college and she's traveled so much for a teenager and continues to travel. I love traveling and its something I want to do in the future but I know my time will be limited. I'm afraid I will have to put everything on hold in order to become a doctor. Don't get me wrong, becoming a doctor after all that hard work is an amazing achievement and I respect anyone who goes through the process. I know I sound like a naive teenager, but for me, I feel like there's so much more to life than endless studying. I'm afraid after I get older I'll look back and realize that for most of my life all I did was study, I'll be proud to have become a doctor but I know there will still be that nagging feeling that I feel right now. And I know every job requires studying and putting some things on hold, but some are more than others.

I really like medicine, but when I look at my future situation, I don't want it as bad as those who do want to pursue medicine.
I often tell pre meds who are thinking about med school that if you need to think about it, do something else. It's way too much work for the mildly interested, unless you are an elite student. That said, you should do some shadowing when things open up and maybe your level of interest will change. Good luck and best wishes!
 
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KnightDoc

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I often tell pre meds who are thinking about med school that if you need to think about it, do something else. It's way too much work for the mildly interested, unless you are an elite student. That said, you should do some shadowing when things open up and maybe your level of interest will change. Good luck and best wishes!
This^^^^^. The people who do it work extremely hard and put up with a ton of crap because they just cannot see themselves doing anything else. Just check out these forums and read the posts from people jumping through incredible hoops and going through multiple application cycles, just to have the opportunity. There are way better and eaiser ways to make money, and way more fun ways to spend your 20s, 30s, etc.

Of course I don't know you, but just by making the post it sounds like you would be miserable if you give into whatever pressures and expectations have led you to premed, and you don't find something else that will not stress you out and that will not prevent you from pursuing your other interests in the prime years of your life.
 
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Talldoctor96

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All I will say: the only reason I am currently an accepted MD is because I never doubted/waive red once. I’m honestly psycho how bad I wannna be a doctor. If you are miserable, maybe it’s not worth it? I have worked so hard for this and it’s sucked a lot. Fighting for every grade, applying 2 cycles... ir sucks. But at the end of the day when I go to sleep I’m happy because it’s what I’ve always wanted. If it doesn’t make you happy, don’t do it. Do what makes you happy!!!
 
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clouds9

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Apr 1, 2020
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When you're in your teens and early 20s things look different. However, I'm not sure what you can do in your 20s "youth years" that you can't do later except maybe be a professional athlete. As you alluded to, most of the people I personally know who are in their 30s and successful (professors, well paid managers, and even one executive) spent their 20s working hard, getting advanced degrees, and starting families. This opinion may be controversial, but I believe if you want to be successful outside of medicine, you may find that the time you spend on leisure isn't much different from a medical student or resident. Although that life isn't for everyone.

If traveling is something you want to do, you can definitely find ways to do it as an undergrad, medical student, and physician.

If traveling is more of something you want to do outside of your work, you should eventually have enough financial security to travel more and better than most who are not doctors.

If this is something that is coming up with the added stress of the pandemic, I wouldn't let it derail your life. Many of us are finding ways to adapt with things this pandemic is causing, and hopefully you will too. I know I've wondered if I really want to go through with medicine. However, if I don't I'll always wonder about what could have happened. I'm sure many successful, happy doctors have gone through challenges and had to struggle with doubt. Like I say, if you're getting advice from someone who has never struggled, you're getting advice from someone who hasn't succeeded.

Best of luck to you!
 
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Rachapkis

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Your early college years are a wonderful time for exploration—to find out what your passions are and what you’re good at. I would not commit to a premed track without being sure that you want to become a doctor. Instead, take the opportunity to sample different opportunities and see if you can find your calling. If you ultimately determine that medicine is right for you, you can always complete the necessary prerequisites, even if you do so after graduation.
 
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Supahchungus

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Life is what you make it honestly. The premed grind, medical school, and residency require a lot of your early 20s time, but you can still be happy/have a life outside of medicine. I know plenty of people who had a great time in college and ended up in medical school on their first cycle. In fact there were a few people at every interview I attended that were living abroad in Europe during the cycle. I also know a lot of current students who are having a blast in medical school. Sure maybe if you need to be top of your class, go to Harvard Med, then match the most competitive surgical specialty, you’ll have to invest the time for that. Just because you want to have fun in your 20s doesn’t mean you shouldn’t apply to medical school.

Since you’re a freshman, I would take a look at some of the other great careers out there, in addition to shadowing a doctor. Being a nurse, NP, PA, or other allied health professional are all fulfilling career options in the medical field that require less overall training and better work life balance.
 
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stickgirl390

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I often tell pre meds who are thinking about med school that if you need to think about it, do something else. It's way too much work for the mildly interested, unless you are an elite student. That said, you should do some shadowing when things open up and maybe your level of interest will change. Good luck and best wishes!
This is good advice. ^^^
 
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A_Knowbody

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Feb 27, 2020
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Sounds like a typical case of "The grass if always greener." If you're serious about medicine, you could equally regret not spending your 20s working towards your dream.

I encourage you to reflect on your priorities and values. No matter what career you choose, try to live a balanced, fulfilling life (in the present and future). If you aren't enjoying your current path, explore other options.

For what it's worth, I was able to travel extensively and enjoy several hobbies as a pre-med. You make time for what you enjoy.
 
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rosegoldkitten

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Respectfully, I don't agree with some thought processes on this thread. I'm an accepted MD this cycle BECAUSE I was forced to think about it and worry and be afraid to make such a big commitment. I had to spend time thinking about it and worrying and examining it from every angle... shadow, watch videos online, talk to people you know who are premeds, etc. Ultimately, it was that thought process that made me absolutely certain that this is what I want in the end and I think I was able to accurately communicate that in my application and interviews. You have to do some SERIOUS work thinking though. I'll also add that from what I've seen, you CAN have a balance if that's what your prioritize later on.

I'm definitely not saying "go for it, full speed ahead regardless." Just don't let people saying "if you have to think, leave" freak you out as it did me. Sometimes, you have to consider leaving something to realize how badly you want it. I honestly wish you the best and you'll make the decision that's right for you.

Also note that "quarantine feels" are strong so just take a minute and breathe and think <3
 
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Captain_Falcon

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As someone in their late 20s who is finishing up M1, I would say this last year has been the best of my life let alone 20s. Safe to say, I reject the notion that your 20s are your peak years or prime years. They are your 20s. Ones goals should correspond to how they want their life to unfold, but make no mistake - nobody wants or even plans on peaking in their 20s. That would suck, and that view makes looking into your 30s 40s and beyond seem like crap and never "as good"

Each age range or decade of ones life has it's own benefits and responsibilities and struggles.
 
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Angus Avagadro

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Respectfully, I don't agree with some thought processes on this thread. I'm an accepted MD this cycle BECAUSE I was forced to think about it and worry and be afraid to make such a big commitment. I had to spend time thinking about it and worrying and examining it from every angle... shadow, watch videos online, talk to people you know who are premeds, etc. Ultimately, it was that thought process that made me absolutely certain that this is what I want in the end and I think I was able to accurately communicate that in my application and interviews. You have to do some SERIOUS work thinking though. I'll also add that from what I've seen, you CAN have a balance if that's what your prioritize later on.

I'm definitely not saying "go for it, full speed ahead regardless." Just don't let people saying "if you have to think, leave" freak you out as it did me. Sometimes, you have to consider leaving something to realize how badly you want it. I honestly wish you the best and you'll make the decision that's right for you.

Also note that "quarantine feels" are strong so just take a minute and breathe and think <3
Nobody said do not perform due diligence for a major decision, cost benefit, lifestyle, etc. I said medicine is not for the mildly interested, and it isnt. There has to be some degree of passion involved, otherwise the first 2 yrs of pre clinical can be miserable. So a good student in math and science who " Thinks" they want to be a doctor, I recommend they look for another career. It's too much work. I have seen classmates and med students drop out , not because of grades, but because they lacked the passion. I have had students who SHOULD have dropped out, because of grades, go on to score in the 90+ percentile on COMLEX
Because they had passion. But it's an anonymous network and the advice is worth what you pay for it. Just my opinion.
 
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rosegoldkitten

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Nobody said do not perform due diligence for a major decision, cost benefit, lifestyle, etc. I said medicine is not for the mildly interested, and it isnt. There has to be some degree of passion involved, otherwise the first 2 yrs of pre clinical can be miserable. So a good student in math and science who " Thinks" they want to be a doctor, I recommend they look for another career. It's too much work. I have seen classmates and med students drop out , not because of grades, but because they lacked the passion. I have had students who SHOULD have dropped out, because of grades, go on to score in the 90+ percentile on COMLEX
Because they had passion. But it's an anonymous network and the advice is worth what you pay for it. Just my opinion.

Do I think there's plenty of people without the passion who for it that shouldn't pursue medicine? Absolutely and I wholeheartedly agree with you there. Grades are only a part of it and due diligence is necessary.

Personally, I disagree with the statement: "I often tell pre meds who are thinking about med school that if you need to think about it, do something else." I think it's hitting with too blunt of an instrument to say that if someone has gone through a period of doubt or uncertainty, they shouldn't pursue medicine or that you're not suited for the career. It's more nuanced than that.

My purpose in replying was just to give the OP some perspective or someone who had doubts about the hours, the commitment, etc and thought about leaving years ago as a junior, only to come to the realization that is my passion. Will that be the OPs outcome? Not necessarily but there's my two cents. Or four cents.
 
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Angus Avagadro

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All fair points. I dont necessarily sugar coat things. After decades in medicine and med ed, my opinions are usually very direct. After training on the East, coast, teaching and practicing nearby, I have found medicine and the training can be a harsh reality. It's not for the timid and undecided as you will see people at some of the worst points in their life, and a few at their best. Hours can be grueling. As an upcoming M1, you can only have a very limited appreciation of a career in medicine at this point. We were all there once. Medicine is seductive and can absorb all you have to give. Be cautious of this. You have a great career ahead of you. Congratulations on your admission! Good luck and best wishes!
 
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swoopy

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M0 here.

Be encouraged by the fact that you are asking these difficult questions and aren't approaching medicine with rose-tinted glasses. Whatever decision you ultimately make will be that much better informed because of this.

My recommendation is to undertake some medicine-related activities and periodically perform a "pulse check." Such experiences are valuable because they can influence our attitudes--sometimes in ways that aren't entirely intuitive.

For e.g., there are quite a few people who end up greatly liking what they do --in medicine and elsewhere -- even though they might have had reservations about their career arc at the outset. One reason for this is "justification of effort"--the more effort one spends on a certain endeavor, the more they tend to like it, in general.

That's not to say that one should count solely on such dissonance reduction to keep one going, but I offer that example to suggest that "love at first sight" is not necessarily an absolute precondition to experiencing a rewarding and fulfilling career.

Best wishes.
 
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