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Medical How do I transition from Software Development Manager to MD?

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MusicDOc124

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I'm currently a software development manager considering pursuing an MD. I'm looking for some advice on suggested pathways to applying to med school.

Personal Story/Interest:
I'm 25 turning 26 first quarter. I've been disliking my current job for awhile (over 2 years) despite a generous salary, benefits, and PTO. It's primarily the industry (finance) that I think has turned me off, I'm not creating or truly helping anyone or anything with the work I do. However, I have gained a TON of experience and have delivered a couple multi-million dollar projects start to finish. I've been experimenting with different things over the past year to find something that I'm passionate about. I had a very bizarre neurological reaction to an OTC last year which had me, like most patients, scavenging the internet, and I've been maintained a strong interest in medicine since. I've personally been following multiple ML groups taking on medical challenges through technology and I'm a consistent reader of a few medical journals. I'm feeling strongly about the industry switch, possibly about the career switch. I'm currently most interested in pathology.

Education:
I went to a large university in 2012-2013 to knock out some gen eds, kept a 3.8, and dropped out to figure out what I wanted to do. I got into software a few years after, never finished my degree, and have been in the same career since.

I started going back this semester Winter 2020 and met with an advisor to plan accomplishing a clinical laboratory science major as a starting to point.

I am a PMP (Project Management Professional) and have 4 other IT related / framework specific certifications.

Volunteering:
In my teenage years I volunteered with an Alzheimer support group over the summers.
I've been an active participant and state judge in DECA for the past 3 years.
In the past year I've joined Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.

Questions:

1. With no clinical experience, I'm looking to gain some to see if this is really something I want to do. I have read articles recommending scribing, but I'm finding it difficult to land something after 5pm or on weekends that is part-time.

Q: Is volunteering the next best option?

A:

Q: Are there other methods to clinical experience that would fit in a full-time work and school schedule?

A:

2. While I'm currently attending university on campus, I'm having trouble finding many of the pre-professional classes before or after work.

Q: How important is it to medical schools to have a biological, chemical, or social degree?

A:

Q: I'm sure the more relevant the better, but I also hear a lot about schools seeking "diverse" candidates with rich backgrounds. What about health information systems or other computer related sciences majors?

A:

3.With being limited in taking classes before or after work, I know I would be able to take more classes if they were online.

Q: What is the general perception from med schools of regionally accredited online programs?

A:

Q: Specifically, what about the following programs:
Biological Sciences (BS) - Arizona State University
Biochemistry (BS) - Arizona State University
Health Information Management (BS) - Western Governors Univeristy
Business Management (BS) - Western Governors Univeristy
Health Informatics (BS) - Oregon Institute of Technology
Health Care Management (BS) - Oregon Institute of Technology
Health Administration (BS) - George Mason University
Information Technology (BS) - George Mason University

A:


4. I understand there are certain courses desired by medical schools. 1 year organic chemistry, 1 year biology, 1 year physics, psychology, sociology, etc.

Q: Are these generally ideal or required?

A:

Q: What if I were to complete an online program + complete these ideal/required classes at the on campus university as a time-save?

A:

Q: For some of the first chem and bio classes, I'm considering taking a CLEP exam for credit. What's the general perception of this?

A:

Lastly, any other recommendations on evaluating whether a career in medicine or getting there based on my current information is appreciated.

Thanks!



The work in your teenage years with Alzheimer's doesn't mean much in this application due to it's inconsistency being that it was long ago and only in a few summers - it would matter a great deal if you started in your teenage years and continued ever since and was still current or at least recent (i.e. this past summer if it was a summer thing).

Participating and being a judge in a competition isn't exactly "volunteering" as it's not something thats actually helping anyone or truly needed. This may just be my opinion on that. This is more in the area of being a hobby. Now if it were volunteering in a different aspect of DECA, then sure. I'm assuming a competition here since you mention "judge."




Questions:

1. With no clinical experience, I'm looking to gain some to see if this is really something I want to do. I have read articles recommending scribing, but I'm finding it difficult to land something after 5pm or on weekends that is part-time.

Q: Is volunteering the next best option?

A: Being that this is a career change and that you have no exposure, your best bet to start is to shadow. I'd seek out both MD and DO. There isn't really a difference and you're experience will likely be the same, but DO does emphasize shadowing a DO for their apps, and I'd suggest you consider DO as well if you go this route as theyre more forgiving of non-traditional students. Just keep options open.


Q: Are there other methods to clinical experience that would fit in a full-time work and school schedule?

A: Shadowing and volunteering to start.



2. While I'm currently attending university on campus, I'm having trouble finding many of the pre-professional classes before or after work.

Q: How important is it to medical schools to have a biological, chemical, or social degree?

A: It's not particularly important. I have numerous friends who are physicians/residents/med students with degrees in business, finance, engineering, psychology, music, literature, etc. What's important is that you have a strong GPA across the board, including your med school pre-reqs. Taking a few additional sciences as electives in a non-science degree may help, but it's not the most important factor if your GPA (c and s) are both strong otherwise.


Q: I'm sure the more relevant the better, but I also hear a lot about schools seeking "diverse" candidates with rich backgrounds. What about health information systems or other computer related sciences majors?

A: Diverse backgrounds isn't as much geared toward the degree they receive as much as it is cultural and social diversity - people who may have had another career - military veterans, peace corps volunteers, study and/or travel abroad. Varying degrees may certainly be included somewhere, but it's usually a reference to life background as opposed to school.




3.With being limited in taking classes before or after work, I know I would be able to take more classes if they were online.

Q: What is the general perception from med schools of regionally accredited online programs?

A: It's generally frowned upon, especially pre-reqs. DO NOT TAKE YOUR PRE-REQS ONLINE. There are few exceptions to that, and usually school-specific, as it's a limiting-factor. As for general courses/any other course - it's less important, but still not looked at as highly. Some courses, sure, but try not to get a degree online. Unless you're in the military or something where you will be in the field, deployed, stationed abroad, moving, etc, then get it in person if this is the route you wish to go.


Q: Specifically, what about the following programs:
Biological Sciences (BS) - Arizona State University
Biochemistry (BS) - Arizona State University
Health Information Management (BS) - Western Governors Univeristy
Business Management (BS) - Western Governors Univeristy
Health Informatics (BS) - Oregon Institute of Technology
Health Care Management (BS) - Oregon Institute of Technology
Health Administration (BS) - George Mason University
Information Technology (BS) - George Mason University

A: Get the degree you want where you want. The only factors that should truly be at play are 1) do you want to live there, 2) will you have support there to succeed, and 3) cost of attendance. Again, be weary of online degrees with med school apps - it is better to just get it in person. ESP THE PRE-REQS. Caps for emphasis.



4. I understand there are certain courses desired by medical schools. 1 year organic chemistry, 1 year biology, 1 year physics, psychology, sociology, etc.

Q: Are these generally ideal or required?

A: These are absolutely REQUIRED 99% of the time. Only a few schools "recommend" certain courses, but not taking them will limit what schools you can apply to as there are many where they are required. These are the pre-reqs. Add in 1 year general chemistry, which is required anyway to take organic chem.

The only edit here is that not too many schools require psychology or sociology, but they are tested on the MCAT along with the others lists + gen chem as I added here.


Q: What if I were to complete an online program + complete these ideal/required classes at the on campus university as a time-save?

A: Even if you complete a degree online, you MUST take these in-person. Many medical schools DO NOT allow pre-reqs online. Of those that do, there is often a cap (i.e. no more than 8 credits of pre-reqs online, which is 2 courses with their respective lab). Others may allow it only it based on circumstance (i.e. stationed abroad in the military, or took the classes online while in the peace corps or something).


Q: For some of the first chem and bio classes, I'm considering taking a CLEP exam for credit. What's the general perception of this?

A: CLEP does not cover you for the pre-reqs. It does not matter if you get the college credit for CLEP and thus do not need it for your program. For medical school applications, you must take the course in person even if you took a CLEP for it.



There are no short cuts for medical school, and prepping and applying are both incredibly inconvenient and expensive. Do not expect that a program will take pity on you because you worked a "normal" job stateside and you didnt want to leave it to finish your degree. They want to see dedication and consistent good performance.

1st you need to shadow and maybe some clinical volunteering to see if it's a good fit for you as your only exposure seems to be reading online and an adverse reaction to an OTC med. After this, if you decide to proceed, you need to go back to school - even if it's not full time to complete a degree and the pre-reqs (in person) - again no short cuts.


Might I ask what specifically you meant by "It's primarily the industry (finance) that I think has turned me off?" I know you mention something, but the reason I ask is because medicine often turns people off as they go through the process due to the length of time, debt, stress, battling with insurance companies down the line, hours works especially during residency, etc. I just want to ensure you have a fair enough warning before heading down this path since the path you currently are not liking was also once one with which you proceeded.
 

Goro

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1. With no clinical experience, I'm looking to gain some to see if this is really something I want to do. I have read articles recommending scribing, but I'm finding it difficult to land something after 5pm or on weekends that is part-time.

Q: Is volunteering the next best option?

A: Clinical exposure is what you need; whether it is via employment or volunteering doesn't matter.

Q: Are there other methods to clinical experience that would fit in a full-time work and school schedule?

You might be better off just working and volunteering until you save up enough money to go to school full time. But here are some venues where you can get clinical exposure:

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

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

2. While I'm currently attending university on campus, I'm having trouble finding many of the pre-professional classes before or after work.

Q: How important is it to medical schools to have a biological, chemical, or social degree?

These don't matter; what is important is that you do well, whatever the subject is.

Q: I'm sure the more relevant the better, but I also hear a lot about schools seeking "diverse" candidates with rich backgrounds. What about health information systems or other computer related sciences majors?

A: See above.

3.With being limited in taking classes before or after work, I know I would be able to take more classes if they were online.

Q: What is the general perception from med schools of regionally accredited online programs?

This will be 100% school specific. Invest in MSAR Online to see what MD schools think of online coursework. As an example, Albany have five different required subjects; none of them can be online. For DO schools, you'll need to look at each school's admissions website.

4. I understand there are certain courses desired by medical schools. 1 year organic chemistry, 1 year biology, 1 year physics, psychology, sociology, etc.

Q: Are these generally ideal or required?

A: 100% school specific. See my example for Albany above. Also note that when schools simply say that course is "recommended", they're not saying that for the fun of it. You WILL need these courses for the MCAT!

Q: What if I were to complete an online program + complete these ideal/required classes at the on campus university as a time-save?

A: I can't recommend this course of action. You're in a marathon now, not a sprint.

Q: For some of the first chem and bio classes, I'm considering taking a CLEP exam for credit. What's the general perception of this?

A: Don't know.

Lastly, any other recommendations on evaluating whether a career in medicine or getting there based on my current information is appreciated.

You will need to get in about 50 hours of shadowing a clinician. Get > 150 hours clinical exposure (this is NOT shadowing), and > 150 hours of nonclinical volunteering.

Also, you will need to articulate why you are running to Medicine and not merely running away from tech.

And read this:
Med School Rx: Getting In, Getting Through, and Getting On with Doctoring Original Edition by Walter Hartwig
ISBN-13: 978-1607140627

ISBN-10: 1607140624
 

lord999

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1. With no clinical experience, I'm looking to gain some to see if this is really something I want to do. I have read articles recommending scribing, but I'm finding it difficult to land something after 5pm or on weekends that is part-time.


I take a third option as my colleagues have followed your Q&A format, why not shadow a physician or two? I also recommend that you work a direct health care customer service job (ward clerk, pharmacy tech, etc.), because dealing with sick patients is a rapid reality check on any healthcare ambitions. If you can tolerate and even thrive, you have a chance. If you are turned off by it, the days only get more trying as a physician.

One other matter, your time will never be your own. One of the challenges as a PMP professional that does apply to medicine is that you're going to have to work within your time limitations.
 

lord999

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Thanks all for the feedback. Appreciate it.

After the numerous recommendations of shadowing, I'll reach out to my university, a couple local hospitals, and some family primary care facilities and see what I can land. If this is something some doctors are actually open to, I agree this is a great approach to get rapid exposure.

As for my angst towards my current career, it's definitely not towards tech specifically, but to the finance industry. I'm scientifically breaking down the best way to produce the most profit with the lowest risk and it has become extremely monotonous. It's possible I get a career in medical data science and then I've found the perfect hybrid. I've been trying to make a job switch to get into a hospital in a development capacity, but the positions are few and far between. I do know this much, I'd much rather be banging my head trying to figure out some sort of medical problem than why single sign on for android is down in the northeast. Do I want to be around sick patients, or in a hospital, or a doctor, I am not sure... would I rather solve medical problems and optimize healthcare, I'm positive of that.

Currently my employer is paying my tuition so I'm trying to play the balancing act through undergrad to keep everything paid for.

There are weeks I put in 90 hours in and am consistently on call in my current role, so I'm not too concerned about the hours required in residency.

If you are not an incompetent programmer or PM (and I mean competence in the development sense), why not transition to medical device or clinical systems development? You wouldn't need to transition all that much, and while the pay is going to be lower than in finance, the work is genuinely good and you'll learn regulatory affairs on the side.
 

MusicDOc124

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I'm scientifically breaking down the best way to produce the most profit with the lowest risk and it has become extremely monotonous.
Wait until you work with insurance companies.

Do I want to be around sick patients, or in a hospital, or a doctor, I am not sure... would I rather solve medical problems and optimize healthcare, I'm positive of that.
This is what the volunteering and shadowing should answer, hopefully. But, for your information, solving medical problems and optimizing healthcare can be done through MANY other avenues that take less time, stress, and money to get there if those are your goals. For instance an MBA focus in healthcare or MHA, an MPH, medical researchers (plenty of PhDs) who focus on very particular things to solve them, etc, or even politics for the optimization. MD/DO are among the longest and hardest routes to get to that goal. Many PhDs are longer with school, but add in residency/fellowship, and the years tack on quickly.

There are weeks I put in 90 hours in and am consistently on call in my current role, so I'm not too concerned about the hours required in residency.
A 90-hour occasional work-week in tech/finance is VERY unlikely to compare to a consistent 80-hour average work-week in medicine for years on end. You will be tired, you will be exhausted. Rotating call consistently. In some cases switching from days to night to days aside from if call is 24 hours. Now I'm not exactly sure what you do within tech/finance, but if you make a mistake, I'm sure the results are not as potentially bad as in medicine. In most cases, the stress doesn't immediately stop when you get off either. Especially early on, you may go home wondering if you gave the right med, wondering if you put in the orders, if the dose was correct, if you responded appropriately and quickly enough, etc. I don't even compare my deployments in the military to it. It's simply a different beast, for better or worse.
 

Goro

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Thanks all for the feedback. Appreciate it.

After the numerous recommendations of shadowing, I'll reach out to my university, a couple local hospitals, and some family primary care facilities and see what I can land. If this is something some doctors are actually open to, I agree this is a great approach to get rapid exposure.

As for my angst towards my current career, it's definitely not towards tech specifically, but to the finance industry. I'm scientifically breaking down the best way to produce the most profit with the lowest risk and it has become extremely monotonous. It's possible I get a career in medical data science and then I've found the perfect hybrid. I've been trying to make a job switch to get into a hospital in a development capacity, but the positions are few and far between. I do know this much, I'd much rather be banging my head trying to figure out some sort of medical problem than why single sign on for android is down in the northeast. Do I want to be around sick patients, or in a hospital, or a doctor, I am not sure... would I rather solve medical problems and optimize healthcare, I'm positive of that.

Currently my employer is paying my tuition so I'm trying to play the balancing act through undergrad to keep everything paid for.

There are weeks I put in 90 hours in and am consistently on call in my current role, so I'm not too concerned about the hours required in residency.
If you don't want to be around patients, I can't recommend a medical career. You can do what you wish to do without attending medical school. BUT, shadow and do patient contact and then decide.

There are weeks I put in 90 hours in and am consistently on call in my current role, so I'm not too concerned about the hours required in residency.

In addition, in your work, you don't have patient's lives at stake.
 
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