Nov 24, 2010
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(reposting from pre-med forum. i figure that current med students might offer keener insights).

I am a 24 yo female, single, and thinking of going to medical school. The problem is that I never before thought of going to medical school and becoming a doctor (except for maybe when I was in middle school and I would tell people that I wanted to be a doctor because my parents were telling me to consider it).

I currently work in the nonprofit world as an associate and it's OK. There is honestly nothing about it that I love, except for our organization's mission- which I have decided is important for whatever work I decide to do- there must be a mission, a purpose, a point to it all, beyond $$$ (although that too is important).

In college, I interned in investment banking and didn't care for it. I have done 0 pre med requirements (not even sure what they are) as I stayed away from science and math courses in college. I did this mainly because I went to a well known specialized high schools in NYC where I took tons of math and science courses (some on the AP level) and had enough of it. I did alright in those courses, but I definitely was glad when it was all over. I ended up at an ivy league college and my mission there was to steer clear of math and science and take courses that were interesting. I thus ended up majoring in political science- interesting, though not as intellectually stimulating as I could have handled.

At 24 (about to turn 25 early next year), I feel incredibly unfulfilled career wise. I don't even know if what I have can be called a career. I thought about law school, but soon concluded that I loved my sanity too much and that I would rather do anything than read legal documents all day long (dramatic, I know). That conclusion was big for me because I am incredibly indecisive. Sickly so.

I am considering medical school. If I go to medical school I would only want to either be a pediatrician (love kids, and they love me back lol), an obstetrician, or some other speciality having to do with kids. If I decide on that, it will be a loong and arduous road I am sure. I would have to do 2 years of postbacc+4 years of med school+3 years of residency=a 33/34 year old me with a career I COULD possibly like/ or not, but feeling too afraid to do anything else because of the time invested in the process. Perhaps worse would be coming to the realization later that being a doctor is precisely what I would like to do after a number of years have passed.

I would like to be a doctor because I like kids, the prestige of the field, the money, the certainty of the field and how it a useful, recession proof skill to have no matter what part of the world one is in. I don't want to be a doctor because I don't want to spend the next 10 years going to school for something I am unsure about (even if I was certain, 10 years is daunting), the level of debt I would have to incur is equally daunting, the possible monotony of doing the same procedure (perhaps more so if I become an obstetrician is not something I look forward to), the impact that I would be making would be to the patient only (I dream of making an impact that is beyond person to person and more to a group if that makes any sense), and lastly, I feel like deep down, I would feel like I am pursuing the career because of it's stability and because I would enjoy being called "doctor" (judge that however you would like). It would also make my parents happy, and that matters to me a bit. When I look inside myself, there is nothing about my true desires that scream "medical."

Other graduate programs that I am considering include public administration (MPA) and an MBA. Besides being doctor, I am considering these careers: entrepreneur (would be my dream to found a mission based company and take it public), management consultant (McKinsey, Bain, BCG level), professor at a business school. These careers must sound all over the place, but trust me when I say that I have really focused in and narrowed my list down.

What is important to me in a career is the following: to feel like I am doing something purposeful and important; potential to have a large impact on the world; money (yeah I hate to admit it, but I care how much money I make- anything $200,000+ is fine with me); I like the notion of being my own boss and determining my work day (not a prerequisite though); but most importantly, I like change (that is meeting people, talking to people, even working in different settings) and actually seeing the result of my work (its gratification or failure).

Honestly, I am unsure what I am asking, if anything. Perhaps I just needed to write that. Any advice, wisdom, criticism or whatever that could help me through this process would be nice. Thanks.
 
Sep 5, 2010
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wall of text crits you....

i skimmed the 2nd half, too long sry ~_~, but hopefully i got the gist.

the 4 years of medical school is really the only part that really sucks.

once residency starts, if you went to a decent specialty in a decent place, your schedule won't be that bad, you can still have a life during it, and... you're making decent pay at the same time.

but you do have catching up to do before you can apply to med school - clinical experience, MCAT prep, completing all prereqs for med school if you haven't.

and what is your GPA? probably the most important thing to assess whether med school is feasible or not.

if you can get into an in-state school, the financial aspect will be alot easier.


do some clinical shadowing, it may help you decide whether you truly want to be in this profession or not. If it is your true passion... and your GPA is good, then it's worth it imo. i mean, when you are 55, or have to look after multiple kids/family, do you really want to be in business/entrepenuering constantly worrying about job stability? I personally would never want to be in a profession that though high paying feels like i'm fighting to have a job on a daily basis.
 
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CptCrunch

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the 4 years of medical school is really the only part that really sucks.

once residency starts, if you went to a decent specialty in a decent place, your schedule won't be that bad, you can still have a life during it, and... you're making decent pay at the same time.
A very wise resident once told me, "The suck never ends."
 
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Isoprop

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If I go to medical school I would only want to either be a pediatrician (love kids, and they love me back lol), an obstetrician, or some other speciality having to do with kids.
I've never heard anyone say they want to go into OB for the kids.
 
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Rollo

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If your reason for pursuing medicine doesn't include an innate love for medicine itself then stop considering medical school. The "suck" as previously mentioned won't be worth it if you don't love medicine.

Shadow some physicians to see what it is like.
 

WellWornLad

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If you're seriously considering medicine, start now. You won't be "locked in" until you start medical school. In the meantime, find someplace to start your pre-reqs asap, because those are going to be the limiting factor in how quick you can get this process started (and finished).

If you're still sick of science, you probably won't make it through your pre-reqs. At a minimum, you'll need:

2 semesters (1 year) of inorganic chemistry
2 semesters (1 year) of organic chemistry
2 semesters (1 year) of physics
2 semesters (1 year) of biology

In addition, many schools require 1 year of English. Some schools require some amount of calculus-level mathematics, but most do not. And there are other minor exceptions that vary by school.

Above all, you need to do well in all of these courses, especially if your current GPA record is below 3.5. You cannot erase a bad grade, even if you repeat a class - it's all averaged together, and every F, incomplete, or withdrawal will be visible to admissions committees. The average GPA of matriculating med students is probably 3.6 or so by now, although I haven't checked in a while.

Broadly speaking, your two options are:

1) find a dedicated post-bacc program - can be expensive; most require 2 years, some can be done in 1 year if you're really on the ball and are able to attend full-time. Also, most of these you have to apply for, which means you probably wouldn't be able to start until next Fall.

2) just find the cheapest nearby university/community college and take the required courses a la carte

I highly recommend the Harvard Extension School. I finished my post-bacc courses there and it was cheap (~$800 per course), flexible (lectures at night, so you could actually hold a job), high-quality, and Boston isn't a bad place to spend your time. You can take courses a la carte, or apply to be included in the Health Sciences Career program, which entitles you to a committee letter and other services that are useful if you've been out of school for a while. Of course, you'll have to move to Boston/Cambridge if you don't already live there.

You'll also want to get some clinical experience to make sure that you actually like medicine. Again, Boston is probably the best place in the world for this. So, so many hospitals to choose from. However, if you're in an urban area, chances are that there's a hospital near you with a volunteer office you can contact.

I could write 30 pages on this, but your best bet is to head on over to pre-allo and read the FAQs, and to the Non-traditional student area for more specific info on your situation. Best of luck.
 
OP
L
Nov 24, 2010
10
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Status
wall of text crits you....

i skimmed the 2nd half, too long sry ~_~, but hopefully i got the gist.

the 4 years of medical school is really the only part that really sucks.

once residency starts, if you went to a decent specialty in a decent place, your schedule won't be that bad, you can still have a life during it, and... you're making decent pay at the same time.

but you do have catching up to do before you can apply to med school - clinical experience, MCAT prep, completing all prereqs for med school if you haven't.

and what is your GPA? probably the most important thing to assess whether med school is feasible or not.

if you can get into an in-state school, the financial aspect will be alot easier.


do some clinical shadowing, it may help you decide whether you truly want to be in this profession or not. If it is your true passion... and your GPA is good, then it's worth it imo. i mean, when you are 55, or have to look after multiple kids/family, do you really want to be in business/entrepenuering constantly worrying about job stability? I personally would never want to be in a profession that though high paying feels like i'm fighting to have a job on a daily basis.
my gpa is not great. it's decent at a 3.5, but no math or science courses. i did take one statistics class (but that was political statistics for my major). i also took one engineering class (something like engineering for humanities majors) and a human osteology class if that counts for anything. i took calculus and ap calculus while i was in hs. i also took like two years of bio, an entire year of chem and an entire year of physics while in hs if that counts for anything. i somewhat like bio and chem, altho physics took me for a ride :laugh:

i am hoping to never have to worry about job stability. i feel like entrepreneurship (if one is successful in it) is one field that takes the whole job security thing out of the equation and i find it really exciting.

how does one arrange a shadowing experience with a doctor?
 

SouthernSurgeon

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t.

the 4 years of medical school is really the only part that really sucks.

once residency starts, if you went to a decent specialty in a decent place, your schedule won't be that bad, you can still have a life during it, and... you're making decent pay at the same time.
This is one of the most inaccurate things I have read on this website.

And this is coming from someone who loves their job. But even at a non-malignant program, even in a non-malignant specialty - residency is very likely the hardest you will ever work in your life. Your hours are never your own, your schedule IS that bad, and you are NOT making decent pay given the level of education/training you have received and the hours you work.
 
OP
L
Nov 24, 2010
10
1
Status
If your reason for pursuing medicine doesn't include an innate love for medicine itself then stop considering medical school. The "suck" as previously mentioned won't be worth it if you don't love medicine.

Shadow some physicians to see what it is like.
i am not sure if i have an "innate love" of medicine. i do like helping people and i like seeing the result of my work. what is an innate love of medicine involve anyway?

If you're seriously considering medicine, start now. You won't be "locked in" until you start medical school. In the meantime, find someplace to start your pre-reqs asap, because those are going to be the limiting factor in how quick you can get this process started (and finished).

If you're still sick of science, you probably won't make it through your pre-reqs. At a minimum, you'll need:

2 semesters (1 year) of inorganic chemistry
2 semesters (1 year) of organic chemistry
2 semesters (1 year) of physics
2 semesters (1 year) of biology

In addition, many schools require 1 year of English. Some schools require some amount of calculus-level mathematics, but most do not. And there are other minor exceptions that vary by school.

Above all, you need to do well in all of these courses, especially if your current GPA record is below 3.5. You cannot erase a bad grade, even if you repeat a class - it's all averaged together, and every F, incomplete, or withdrawal will be visible to admissions committees. The average GPA of matriculating med students is probably 3.6 or so by now, although I haven't checked in a while.

Broadly speaking, your two options are:

1) find a dedicated post-bacc program - can be expensive; most require 2 years, some can be done in 1 year if you're really on the ball and are able to attend full-time. Also, most of these you have to apply for, which means you probably wouldn't be able to start until next Fall.

2) just find the cheapest nearby university/community college and take the required courses a la carte

I highly recommend the Harvard Extension School. I finished my post-bacc courses there and it was cheap (~$800 per course), flexible (lectures at night, so you could actually hold a job), high-quality, and Boston isn't a bad place to spend your time. You can take courses a la carte, or apply to be included in the Health Sciences Career program, which entitles you to a committee letter and other services that are useful if you've been out of school for a while. Of course, you'll have to move to Boston/Cambridge if you don't already live there.

You'll also want to get some clinical experience to make sure that you actually like medicine. Again, Boston is probably the best place in the world for this. So, so many hospitals to choose from. However, if you're in an urban area, chances are that there's a hospital near you with a volunteer office you can contact.

I could write 30 pages on this, but your best bet is to head on over to pre-allo and read the FAQs, and to the Non-traditional student area for more specific info on your situation. Best of luck.
thanks. such an incredibly helpful post. i am in nyc, and i wont be moving to cambridge unless i can get work in the boston area. if i decide to take night classes on my own, does the level of the institution matter or can i take my classes at a local community college?
 
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And this is coming from someone who loves their job. But even at a non-malignant program, even in a non-malignant specialty - residency is very likely the hardest you will ever work in your life. Your hours are never your own, your schedule IS that bad
just to confirm what specialty are you in? - yes i did read your name.

I'm on interview trails right now, so it's not personal experience but from alot of residents that I've talked to, they think R1 was easier than M3... and this is for IM at that. It could only get better with more lifestyle specialties like derm/optho?

and also with the new ACGME work hour limitations for R1 coming up, it should be better than what you went through. Max 16 hour shifts with no overnight call.

how long you stay also depends on how efficiently you work, while in M3 no matter how good you are, you generally have to stay around. I guess I personally have much easier time if i'm doing something I enjoy, most of the M3 year makes me want to shoot myself...I'm actually very much looking forward to residency
 

SouthernSurgeon

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just to confirm what specialty are you in? - yes i did read your name.
I am actually a surgery resident; my handle has nothing to do with specialty though in retrospect was probably a poor choice as it can be confusing.

I recognize that surgery residencies are harder than most, however I would still suggest that anyone telling you that their intern year is "easier" than M3 is blowing smoke up your a**. More educational, more focused, more interesting perhaps, but certainly not easier.

There are very few residencies where you get to just leave when you want. If you are counting on that as an advantage over M3 year and being at the beck and call of your residents, you are bound to be disappointed.

I am familiar with the new duty hour requirements, and am actually a part of my program's planning committee on how to restructure our schedules to meet them. i think it is very unlikely that the new hours will result in less work for interns; rather they will result in a redistribution of work - much more night float at the expense of traditional call but the same total number of hours or close to it.
 
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I am familiar with the new duty hour requirements, and am actually a part of my program's planning committee on how to restructure our schedules to meet them. i think it is very unlikely that the new hours will result in less work for interns; rather they will result in a redistribution of work - much more night float at the expense of traditional call but the same total number of hours or close to it.
well, personally night float is the same as day shifts, doesn't matter to me when the work is, as long as I get to sleep regularly and stay on the same schedule every day. 30 hour shifts q4 days to completely throw off your sleep schedule and put you in a mode where you run off of caffeine and stress hormones would simply make me miserable and not learn anything.

matter of personal opinion of course but the new system makes a WORLD of difference to me even if the total # of hours do not change.
 

jilliumm

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Have you considered PA school or nursing school? It's a shorter road and you would still be a healthcare professional and "help people". I think you definitely need to do some shadowing a more research before you decide to start down such a long road. It's also important to consider that even if you do your post-bacc work, it's no guarantee that you'll be accepted to medical school. I have a friend who finished her post-bacc last year and then didn't get into med school on her first attempt. Good luck working through the process.
 

WellWornLad

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i am not sure if i have an "innate love" of medicine. i do like helping people and i like seeing the result of my work. what is an innate love of medicine involve anyway?
That's an honest answer to an inherently pretentious question. There's no such thing as an "innate love" of medicine, it's a term thrown around to somehow suggest that medicine is a magical field and we doctors are the chosen ones, hand-picked by Asclepius himself at birth and therefore unambiguously belong in medical school and have no regrets. It's nonsense. Medicine has good points and bad points. The good & bad may be more exaggerated than more traditional jobs, but it's still a trade-off in the end and you'll have to make your best decision of whether medicine is right for you after getting some experience in the field.

i am in nyc, and i wont be moving to cambridge unless i can get work in the boston area. if i decide to take night classes on my own, does the level of the institution matter or can i take my classes at a local community college?
NYC is also a great place to be for post-bacc. I ended up moving to Boston from NYC because I liked Harvard so much, but there's plenty of options in NYC. I would recommend you look into courses at Hunter College. I can't speak for every community college - just make sure that wherever you do your courses, it's accredited somehow and teaches college-level material. For example, all those science pre-reqs I listed require a lab component - if your CC just has biology lectures without a graded lab component, you're wasting your time & money.

The level of institution will matter if it seems to adcoms that you're looking for an easy A by taking CC classes. However, institutions such as Columbia or NYU are 1) freaking expensive, and 2) are dedicated post-bacc programs that pretty much require you to do school full-time. These programs offer a lot more support to help with the application process itself, and offer structure that helps keep you on track and taking the right courses. However, if you can pull off taking the courses while still working a real job and living a real life, that can be impressive to adcoms too, even if those courses come from a community college. Unfortunately, your high school science courses will probably not count towards the pre-req requirements - most schools will accept AP scores IF you go on to take more advanced courses in the subject, but that isn't the case with you. Plus, you'll want to learn the core courses to prepare for the MCAT. It's a standardized test you'll have to take before applying to med schools - do well and you'll dispel any doubts about the quality of your education, wherever you received it.

Also, a tip: if you're thinking about getting a new job, see if you can't get a research job (or any job) at a university. They tend to offer tuition remission as part of their benefits, which can save you a lot of money on post-bacc courses, and if you do any research it can go right on your med school application.
 
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pingouin

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This thread is more appropriate for our Non-Traditional pre-med forum. Moving.
 

texahn

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i think it takes a little bit of crazy for people to go into medicine
 

Prncssbuttercup

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innate love of medicine: the eternal or non-ending love to deal with other people's health and well-being as if it was your own and love it, almost all the time... In my life I have wanted to be only two things ever: a physician, or a veterinarian... that's it. I have never, since I was a kid, wanted to be anything else. Some people have thoughts all through childhood of being a ballerina, an astronaut, the president, etc, I have never had these thoughts. I have only ever wanted to practice medicine of some form. I have an overwhelming urge to help people, especially people who have trouble helping themselves, or need the help the most, people who are "the underdog," "the little guy," etc...

While not everyone has this dream, and I don't put myself as "better" because I have, I am trying to give a sense of the "innate love of medicine" asked for... What my heart tells me, and that is I love helping people with their health, trying to make people feel better, be healthier, have less pain, etc...

Oh, and I am a little bit crazy too ;)
 

mspeedwagon

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If you don't love medicine, the "sucking" will never end. I have had more than a few people from my undergraduate institution [Brown University] go to medical school, complete residency and realize that they have no real interest in being a doctor (but are stuck with so much debt that they have absolutely no choice but to continue in medicine).

You're never too old to start the path, but as a few people here will say, if there is absolutely anything else you are considering and will make you happy (and it sounds like there is) then pursue that first. Medicine is a long commitment with no guarantees of happiness at the end. Just because you can get a job, that doesn't automatically mean you want it.

You are in your mid-20s, you still have a little ways to go before your career is fully shaped. I'm going to guess that working at a non-profit, the reason you feel unfilled has a bit to do with pay (seeing how you are aiming at 200k). Realize that while doctors do make 200k, you'll spend at least the next 2 years making $0 or close to it [if you decide to pursue your pre-reqs full-time which I advise], followed by a four more years of not only making $0, but actually going into debt that averages between $200k (state schools) - $400k (private schools). And then anywhere from three to seven years making about $40k.

Let's contrast this with a few other options. Let's say you became a police officer in SF. The starting pay is $70k and with overtime and night pay etc. most make about $100k per year. So in the 10 years it has taken you to become a physician the police officer made 1 million in pay (in the meantime after 10 years you still have negative money, but lets assume by some miracle you paid off your debt and are at zero and are now an attending making 200k [high for peds]). So after another 10 years you have now made 2 million dollars and the police officer has made 2 million dollars. However, after 20 yrs of service the police officer can now retire and live off a pension (with 20 years of service in CA I believe it's a fairly large percentage... actually equivalent of having 4 million in the bank). You on the other hand have to keep on working because you have no pension and need to save for retirement. For a career, the police officer is better off financially.

Now, let's take a top tier MBA. Friends of mine that graduated from Harvard (with an MBA) had a starting salary of $125k (on average) and were making well over 200k by year two or three. There is almost no comparison here. The Harvard MBA out earns you every year from the day you graduate till the end of your career. Not true of very high paying doctors (neurosurgery, plastic surgery etc.) but almost every one else.

Being a doctor is only worthwhile if a) it's a lifelong dream and you don't see yourself doing anything else OR b) it's a pre-req for another field you want to work in (biotech, running a hospital etc.).
 
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Rollo

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If you don't love medicine, the "sucking" will never end. I have had more than a few people from my undergraduate institution [Brown University] go to medical school, complete residency and realize that they have no real interest in being a doctor (but are stuck with so much debt that they have absolutely no choice but to continue in medicine).

You're never too old to start the path, but as a few people here will say, if there is absolutely anything else you are considering and will make you happy (and it sounds like there is) then pursue that first. Medicine is a long commitment with no guarantees of happiness at the end. Just because you can get a job, that doesn't automatically mean you want it.

You are in your mid-20s, you still have a little ways to go before your career is fully shaped. I'm going to guess that working at a non-profit, the reason you feel unfilled has a bit to do with pay (seeing how you are aiming at 200k). Realize that while doctors do make 200k, you'll spend at least the next 2 years making $0 or close to it [if you decide to pursue your pre-reqs full-time which I advise], followed by a four more years of not only making $0, but actually going into debt that averages between $200k (state schools) - $400k (private schools). And then anywhere from three to seven years making about $40k.

Let's contrast this with a few other options. Let's say you became a police officer in SF. The starting pay is $70k and with overtime and night pay etc. most make about $100k per year. So in the 10 years it has taken you to become a physician the police officer made 1 million in pay (in the meantime after 10 years you still have negative money, but lets assume by some miracle you paid off your debt and are at zero and are now an attending making 200k [high for peds]). So after another 10 years you have now made 2 million dollars and the police officer has made 2 million dollars. However, after 20 yrs of service the police officer can now retire and live off a pension (with 20 years of service in CA I believe it's a fairly large percentage... actually equivalent of having 4 million in the bank). You on the other hand have to keep on working because you have no pension and need to save for retirement. For a career, the police officer is better off financially.

Now, let's take a top tier MBA. Friends of mine that graduated from Harvard (with an MBA) had a starting salary of $125k (on average) and were making well over 200k by year two or three. There is almost no comparison here. The Harvard MBA out earns you every year from the day you graduate till the end of your career. Not true of very high paying doctors (neurosurgery, plastic surgery etc.) but almost every one else.

Being a doctor is only worthwhile if a) it's a lifelong dream and you don't see yourself doing anything else OR b) it's a pre-req for another field you want to work in (biotech, running a hospital etc.).
I agree with everything in your post except trying to compare how other jobs pay just as well or more than a physician...

See the problem is that not every one can be a SF cop and make that much money. Neither do many people want to be a police officer!

And Ivy League MBA is extremely competitive to get.

Now contrast that with every single medical student in this country. Acceptance to medical school is pretty much a guaranteed ticket (unless of course you fail out or quit) to making 6 figures and becoming "well-off" money wise.

However, it isn't correct to say that every single medical student has a fair chance of being a SF cop or Ivy League MBA grad.

You see what I mean? I'm saying that it's almost easier to get into medical school and be in the top tax bracket income earners than it is to pursue MBA at an Ivy League or try to be a SF cop.
 

mspeedwagon

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Couldn't agree more with you. I was just giving a few examples of other careers with an equal pay scale (didn't mean to imply any medical student could OR would want to do them). I just randomly picked SF cop and Ivy League MBA (as they were things I personally considered). Lawyer would have been another option, but the OP eliminated that. Consulting, Investment banking, upper management, running a successful business all are options. Hell, you could even make 200k driving a bus: http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/driver-salaries-fueling-deficit. But, again, not every one can be the highest paid bus driver in SF.

However, I completely agree with you that medical school is an easier career where making 200k after 10 yrs of sacrifice OR learning (former if you don't like it, latter if you enjoy it) is almost guaranteed for a large segment of the population (anyone that graduates med school). That said, if medicine isn't your passion, every year after your first 10 yrs will suck and, unlike most professions, you can't just quit (because of debt).

I'm not trying discourage anyone from pursuing medicine. My girlfriend (soon to be fiance is a 3rd year med student) and I'm clearly thinking about it (hence I'm here). I'm just saying that before you do make sure you are passionate about it and eliminate other things you think may interest you (I'm personally doing the latter while completing my last pre-reqs).


I agree with everything in your post except trying to compare how other jobs pay just as well or more than a physician...

See the problem is that not every one can be a SF cop and make that much money. Neither do many people want to be a police officer!

And Ivy League MBA is extremely competitive to get.

Now contrast that with every single medical student in this country. Acceptance to medical school is pretty much a guaranteed ticket (unless of course you fail out or quit) to making 6 figures and becoming "well-off" money wise.

However, it isn't correct to say that every single medical student has a fair chance of being a SF cop or Ivy League MBA grad.

You see what I mean? I'm saying that it's almost easier to get into medical school and be in the top tax bracket income earners than it is to pursue MBA at an Ivy League or try to be a SF cop.
 
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OP
L
Nov 24, 2010
10
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If you don't love medicine, the "sucking" will never end. I have had more than a few people from my undergraduate institution [Brown University] go to medical school, complete residency and realize that they have no real interest in being a doctor (but are stuck with so much debt that they have absolutely no choice but to continue in medicine).

You're never too old to start the path, but as a few people here will say, if there is absolutely anything else you are considering and will make you happy (and it sounds like there is) then pursue that first. Medicine is a long commitment with no guarantees of happiness at the end. Just because you can get a job, that doesn't automatically mean you want it.

You are in your mid-20s, you still have a little ways to go before your career is fully shaped. I'm going to guess that working at a non-profit, the reason you feel unfilled has a bit to do with pay (seeing how you are aiming at 200k). Realize that while doctors do make 200k, you'll spend at least the next 2 years making $0 or close to it [if you decide to pursue your pre-reqs full-time which I advise], followed by a four more years of not only making $0, but actually going into debt that averages between $200k (state schools) - $400k (private schools). And then anywhere from three to seven years making about $40k.

Let's contrast this with a few other options. Let's say you became a police officer in SF. The starting pay is $70k and with overtime and night pay etc. most make about $100k per year. So in the 10 years it has taken you to become a physician the police officer made 1 million in pay (in the meantime after 10 years you still have negative money, but lets assume by some miracle you paid off your debt and are at zero and are now an attending making 200k [high for peds]). So after another 10 years you have now made 2 million dollars and the police officer has made 2 million dollars. However, after 20 yrs of service the police officer can now retire and live off a pension (with 20 years of service in CA I believe it's a fairly large percentage... actually equivalent of having 4 million in the bank). You on the other hand have to keep on working because you have no pension and need to save for retirement. For a career, the police officer is better off financially.

Now, let's take a top tier MBA. Friends of mine that graduated from Harvard (with an MBA) had a starting salary of $125k (on average) and were making well over 200k by year two or three. There is almost no comparison here. The Harvard MBA out earns you every year from the day you graduate till the end of your career. Not true of very high paying doctors (neurosurgery, plastic surgery etc.) but almost every one else.

Being a doctor is only worthwhile if a) it's a lifelong dream and you don't see yourself doing anything else OR b) it's a pre-req for another field you want to work in (biotech, running a hospital etc.).
thanks. your post gave me some things to think about. the reason i dont love my nonprofit job isn't so much salary as it is the nature of the job being a desk one. i want variation in my role where my day isn't always so predictable, where i am certain that i will be doing other things beside sitting at my desk and working (for the most part :laugh:). also, while i know i am contributing in my role to the mission of the organization, i sometimes wish my contribution was more direct and in some ways hands on. there is no better place to make a hands on contribution that through medicine imo.

while all of the reasons i might want to be a doctor are valid, there are other professions that i listed above that really are attractive to me as well. med school is not a means for me to pursue a lifelong dream of being a doctor nor is going to med school a way of fulfilling a pre-req to work in biotech or run a hospital (i've never had such desires).

mspeedwagon, you mentioned your interest in going to med school. what has your journey been like and how are you eliminating other professions you've thought of?
 

TriagePreMed

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OP, you are all over the place and it sounds that you're most interested in being thought of as important. No judgment on that part from me, but I think you could potentially trap yourself into something that you'll hate. I recommend you do some shadowing or volunteering to see if medicine is anywhere near what you want in life.
 

mspeedwagon

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I'm glad you found my post informative. Don't underestimate how much of being a doctor is sitting at a desk and talking to patients and insurance companies. When I was working at Stanford one of the physicians helped develop a treatment regimen for pediatric Hodgkins called Stanford V, which is now standard care for a certain population of pediatric Hodgkin's patients. He was on the phone with an insurance company and the agent on the phone insisted that the therapy was not standard of care and was refusing to pay for the treatment. The doctor responded "Do you know who I am... I invented the standard of care." The insurance company still gave him a hard time. One example of many. A lot of being a doctor is sitting at a desk (dictating patient notes, calling insurance companies, calling patients, researching how to treat patients etc.)

But, of course there will be some seeing patients (both grateful and ungrateful) in between. Granted, this depends on speciality to some extent. You could do research or work in biotech and completely eliminate patient contact.

For a non-predictable day as a physician, I'd have to say you should consider the ER. A lot of other roles are routine surgeries or just seeing routine patients. General peds is a lot of seeing the same condition (ear infection, sore throat, infection) over and over. I should mention that I'm interested in peds myself and that I find this routine care interesting.

I personally would like to do military medicine [and work with kids on base] and then work in a biotech firm. If I go to medical school, this would likely be my track. However, I'm not certain yet. I've done a few things to help eliminate careers. I took the LSAT (scored in the 80th percentile) and sat in on a number of law school classes at Stanford. I couldn't stay awake through class and didn't find law that interesting. I rode along with a police officer and I loved it. However, I'm not a U.S. citizen at the moment (3 yrs away), so that isn't an option for me. I sat through a few MBA classes at Stanford and actually found it fascinating. However, I'm not that interested in the careers out of an MBA (banking or consulting would be the most likely choices to make any money and I worked at an investment bank and didn't like it, and I could get into the health care consulting field currently (but I don't want to travel a ton any more)). Also, I could start my own company without an MBA (whether or not it would be successful is another matter (but I don't think the MBA would make me any more likely to succeed).

I looked into the U.S. Air Force and, honestly, the job I'd want is a physician (I'll get US citizenship during medical school and can then enlist as an officer in the US Air Force). I don't find many of the other enlisted positions very interesting. I've talked to a number of military police and they said the job in the military is not great and nothing like the civilian police. I looked into becoming a pilot, and worked on my private pilot license, but can't see a career where I'm away from home that much. I currently work as a clinical research monitor (great money, but again, constant travel). I also tried teaching and really didn't like it.

I've basically narrowed it down to potentially pursuing medicine along with an MBA OR becoming a police officer (it's very competitive and hard to get into the role in CA and I'm not a US citizen. Given the latter I can't become a police officer until 3 years from now when I am a citizen). I am leaning toward a physician. My wife will be a doctor so it might be boring to have two doctors (doctor and police officer might be cooler), but it might be kind of cool to have two doctors as well... I guess we shall find out soon.


thanks. your post gave me some things to think about. the reason i dont love my nonprofit job isn't so much salary as it is the nature of the job being a desk one. i want variation in my role where my day isn't always so predictable, where i am certain that i will be doing other things beside sitting at my desk and working (for the most part :laugh:). also, while i know i am contributing in my role to the mission of the organization, i sometimes wish my contribution was more direct and in some ways hands on. there is no better place to make a hands on contribution that through medicine imo.

while all of the reasons i might want to be a doctor are valid, there are other professions that i listed above that really are attractive to me as well. med school is not a means for me to pursue a lifelong dream of being a doctor nor is going to med school a way of fulfilling a pre-req to work in biotech or run a hospital (i've never had such desires).

mspeedwagon, you mentioned your interest in going to med school. what has your journey been like and how are you eliminating other professions you've thought of?
 
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fizzgig

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I feel like deep down, I would feel like I am pursuing the career because of it's stability and because I would enjoy being called "doctor" (judge that however you would like). It would also make my parents happy, and that matters to me a bit. When I look inside myself, there is nothing about my true desires that scream "medical."
i'm older too, it took me a LOT of time and thought to decide this was the decision i was going to make (some of the same reasons, as with all of us - money, time), so don't let that stop you. it's ok to have those things give you pause. what i quoted above seems like something that you should reflect on more though. it's a long expensive and difficult road, but it's VERY long expensive and difficult if you kinda only want it because it's a good name to have and it's stable. and while you don't have to feel a deep down yearning and longing for 10 years to qualify as a good potential doctor, if you don't have a pretty strong interest in 1)people and service to people (which is sounds like you have) and 2) the science of medicine (which you say you don't, or don't know if you do because you haven't taken any coursework in it), then you probably have more work to do to make a decision. get a volunteering gig in a hospital and try to shadow some doctors. some people cold call, some use personal connections to get a name and then contact directly. some hospitals might have formal programs for shadowing.
 
Nov 23, 2010
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OP - I can relate to pieces of what you're saying. I'll share my story in case it helps.

I'm 26, male, graduated from a prestigious liberal arts college 3.5 years ago with a BA in...drum roll please... Comparative Religious Studies. Can you tell I didn't exactly have career-tracks in mind at the time? I LOVED college - I loved the classes and the academics and throwing myself full-force into what I was studying. I was so focused that I completed my major faster than it had ever been done before (ps. this turned out to be a mistake because i burnt out on the subject matter).

At first I wanted to be an academic and pursue my PhD to teach college. But when I began talking to my professors they ALL told me to stay away from academia - talked about the direction things were moving (majority 2-year teaching jobs with less and less tenure, constant moves, etc. etc.). So when I graduated I didn't know what I wanted to do at all. I decided to try a series of jobs and see what interested me. I worked in an environmental marketing company (i also majored in environmental studies) (read: office), I worked for a solo software engineer (read: from-home), I worked at a zoo, I worked as a community organizer (minored in comparative american studies), I worked (and am still working) as the executive director of a non-profit children's theater, and I became a massage therapist.

I love running my children's theater - but I love it because I happen to love the theater (I grew up there as a kid myself). I enjoy many aspects of the job, but when I think of applying them to some other random theater I'm not as inspired. It's also not very easy to become the ED of a theater since its such a specialized thing.

When I became a massage therapist and I sat in on my first anatomy class I was blown away. I was giddy. I couldn't stop talking about what I had learned - about the circulatory system and the lymph system, about the utter genius of the body's design and the unfathomable complexity that lets us live. I was hooked. I love massage but I love it for its healing capabilities and whenever I work with a client I always want to do MORE - I want to know more about their body and what they're complaining about, and I want to know what to DO to help them. That's how I became interested in medicine - through massage and anatomy. The skills I've gained from my ED job will roll nicely into this process I think (especially if I choose to open my own practice some day since much of the ED work is business-related).

With massage culture comes a big introduction to all sorts of alternative healing therapies. Some are evidence-based and makes lots of sense like massage and others....well, others don't (even if I still enjoy them personally). With my background I think Osteopathy is a natural direction for me, though I need to do lots of research about the negatives of that degree vs. the MD in our current culture (but that's another topic).

Anyway - I share all that just to give you an idea of my process when I was in shoes similar to yours. Like MSSpeedWagon, I've ruled out many other fields and have found myself naturally wind up in front of Medicine. It's daunting to start this process at 26 (3 years postbac/glide, 4 years med school, 3 years residency). But I'm committed to spending my life being inspired by my work and I think medicine offers a lot of possibility in that regard.

aaaaanyway. I think, as others have said, your best bet would be to do a LOT of shadowing. I'll be beginning my shadowing this month and I plan to spend half my week for the next 2 months shadowing various healthcare professionals (PA's, NP's, doctors, etc.).

And if you need to realize that you just don't know what you want to do and that is just where you are - then great. It's a challenging thing to admit, but for me I know I needed the time to explore other options before I even realized how inspired and interested I was in/by medicine.

Best,
 
OP
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Nov 24, 2010
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@mspeedwagon, @fizzgig and @TheNewGuy8 thanks so much for all of your thoughtful replies. i am off to look for shadowing and volunteer opportunities to get a better sense of the profession and if it is the right field for me. wish me luck!
 

Meridian32

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Jan 4, 2008
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Hi laffable,

I am late to this thread, but I thought I would share a summary of my story - I was in a somewhat similar place to where you were a few years ago.

I also started thinking seriously about medicine as a future career at 24 (though it had been in the back of my mind for a couple of years before then). I too went to a highly selective university, then worked in the technology industry for several years after graduation. I enjoyed many aspects of my work, and my colleagues and management were fantastic, but over the years I started to feel that I would be more fulfilled and satisfied as a doctor, for a few reasons. I also went through a period of angst at age 24 (in late 2007) where I wasn't that happy at work and felt like I wanted out.

I decided to give myself a year to seriously investigate whether I should become a doctor. So in 2008, I tried to learn all I could about medicine - I talked to friends who were in med school/residency, reached out through my college alumni network to find doctors in various specialties who were willing to talk to me, read a lot about medicine, etc. I also shadowed a couple of doctors. At the end of the year, I was feeling good enough about medicine that I left my job in March 2009 and started a postbac program at the large public university in my city.

In 2009, I started taking pre-med classes, doing research, volunteering and learning more about medicine. I shadowed several more doctors, which was tremendously helpful for learning more about different medical specialties and practice settings, and confirming that medicine seemed like a good career fit.

This year, I finished my pre-med classes, took the MCAT and am currently applying. I've been extremely fortunate in that earlier this week, I got accepted into two excellent medical schools, including my current top choice.

My advice is the same as others - don't rush into the decision to become a doctor. I sense some angst in your original posting, but take time to learn as much as you can about medicine, to ensure you are making a fully informed decision either to become a doctor or not. If you went to an Ivy League school, your college alumni network is an excellent tool for finding doctors to talk to/shadow. I found the doctors I contacted this way were incredibly friendly and helpful. I also contacted my state's medical specialty associations to see if any of their members would let me shadow them. I found two shadowing opportunities that way and both doctors were also incredibly helpful. Also, talk to friends - I am sure you know folks who are med students/residents and can give you their perspective.

Best of luck!
 
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Jdubiety

5+ Year Member
Jul 19, 2010
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laffable, what struck me more about your post than anything else was the statement "I dream of making an impact that is beyond person to person and more to a group..." If you pursue a career in medicine, you will ultimately be benefiting your community. Nonetheless, your primary concern will be serving individual patients. While I commend your desire to test the waters by taking some pre-med courses and shadowing a physician, I also recommend you continue to "feel out" other areas where you might be able to help address healthcare challenges at the macro level. For example, due to uncontrolled costs associated with delivering patient care, the U.S.'s healthcare system is in dire straits. We need savvy leaders (not just those with MDs but with MPHs and MBAs as well) to create solutions. Perhaps that's another path you might want to consider.
 
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Jan 11, 2016
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(reposting from pre-med forum. i figure that current med students might offer keener insights).

I am a 24 yo female, single, and thinking of going to medical school. The problem is that I never before thought of going to medical school and becoming a doctor (except for maybe when I was in middle school and I would tell people that I wanted to be a doctor because my parents were telling me to consider it).

I currently work in the nonprofit world as an associate and it's OK. There is honestly nothing about it that I love, except for our organization's mission- which I have decided is important for whatever work I decide to do- there must be a mission, a purpose, a point to it all, beyond $$$ (although that too is important).

In college, I interned in investment banking and didn't care for it. I have done 0 pre med requirements (not even sure what they are) as I stayed away from science and math courses in college. I did this mainly because I went to a well known specialized high schools in NYC where I took tons of math and science courses (some on the AP level) and had enough of it. I did alright in those courses, but I definitely was glad when it was all over. I ended up at an ivy league college and my mission there was to steer clear of math and science and take courses that were interesting. I thus ended up majoring in political science- interesting, though not as intellectually stimulating as I could have handled.

At 24 (about to turn 25 early next year), I feel incredibly unfulfilled career wise. I don't even know if what I have can be called a career. I thought about law school, but soon concluded that I loved my sanity too much and that I would rather do anything than read legal documents all day long (dramatic, I know). That conclusion was big for me because I am incredibly indecisive. Sickly so.

I am considering medical school. If I go to medical school I would only want to either be a pediatrician (love kids, and they love me back lol), an obstetrician, or some other speciality having to do with kids. If I decide on that, it will be a loong and arduous road I am sure. I would have to do 2 years of postbacc+4 years of med school+3 years of residency=a 33/34 year old me with a career I COULD possibly like/ or not, but feeling too afraid to do anything else because of the time invested in the process. Perhaps worse would be coming to the realization later that being a doctor is precisely what I would like to do after a number of years have passed.

I would like to be a doctor because I like kids, the prestige of the field, the money, the certainty of the field and how it a useful, recession proof skill to have no matter what part of the world one is in. I don't want to be a doctor because I don't want to spend the next 10 years going to school for something I am unsure about (even if I was certain, 10 years is daunting), the level of debt I would have to incur is equally daunting, the possible monotony of doing the same procedure (perhaps more so if I become an obstetrician is not something I look forward to), the impact that I would be making would be to the patient only (I dream of making an impact that is beyond person to person and more to a group if that makes any sense), and lastly, I feel like deep down, I would feel like I am pursuing the career because of it's stability and because I would enjoy being called "doctor" (judge that however you would like). It would also make my parents happy, and that matters to me a bit. When I look inside myself, there is nothing about my true desires that scream "medical."

Other graduate programs that I am considering include public administration (MPA) and an MBA. Besides being doctor, I am considering these careers: entrepreneur (would be my dream to found a mission based company and take it public), management consultant (McKinsey, Bain, BCG level), professor at a business school. These careers must sound all over the place, but trust me when I say that I have really focused in and narrowed my list down.

What is important to me in a career is the following: to feel like I am doing something purposeful and important; potential to have a large impact on the world; money (yeah I hate to admit it, but I care how much money I make- anything $200,000+ is fine with me)...
Honestly, I am unsure what I am asking, if anything. Perhaps I just needed to write that. Any advice, wisdom, criticism or whatever that could help me through this process would be nice. Thanks.
Have you ever considered opening a daycare center chain? I heard of a lady in Chicago that opened an elite daycare service. She makes bank, helps people, fosters early child development, works with kids, is her own boss. Think about it ;)
 

Moko

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Have you ever considered opening a daycare center chain? I heard of a lady in Chicago that opened an elite daycare service. She makes bank, helps people, fosters early child development, works with kids, is her own boss. Think about it ;)
5 year necrobump. The OP's quarter-life crisis is likely resolved now, one way or the other :p.