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how do you decide if this is the right career

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by bart123, Dec 2, 2008.

  1. bart123

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    i need help deciding if i should become a doctor.
    first, let me tell you for the past 13 months, i have been so depressed because of not being able to make my decision. every day when i wake up, i wonder if this is the last day that i am undecided, but that day never comes.
    right now i was praying to the lord that he help me, and something in my head told me to post this on this forum.
    ok...
    i graduated from a university in the united states with a degree in math. i enjoy working with numbers, reading chart. i also enjoy statistics, calculating probabilities, risk, how to reduce risk. i think i enjoy stats more than math. during my undergrad years, i also took most of the med school prereqs becasue i was also considering medicine as a possible career.
    about 3 months ago i started shadowing this amazing doctor at a hospital. he is a surgeon, but he is unlike any surgeon i have ever seen, he is not nerdy, he is cool. he says the f word a lot. he is coooooool. he is just my hero. he is confident, i am not. he is socially skilled, i am socially inept. he is just everything that i want to be.

    one side of me tells me i should do what i enjoy, which is something like data analysis or actuary, because its so much easier, i dont have to deal with the mcat, and all the difficulty of med school, and the step 1....but this doctor's personality is so amazing, it just makes me want to be like him.

    the other side says medicine is so much more rewarding. when someone is ill and you make them better, that is so much more rewarding than working a 9-5 job analyzing some bull**** data.

    now let me say BASED ON MY SHADOWING EXPERIENCE SO FAR i don't hate medicine, but i also haven't found it enjoyable. i mean it doesn't turn me on. maybe i have the wrong impression about what a doctor does every day, but this is what i have seen while shadowing: how old are you ? (boring) when did you get your first period? (boring). has anyone in your family ever had cancer? (yawn) oh, you used to be an actor? (who cares). what is this bump on your leg? (boring)


    my cousin told me the reason why you dont enjoy it is because you are not getting paid, trust me if you got money for it, you would enjoy it.
    (sorry this isnt something i made up, this is what he said)

    so i dont know. thats all i have to say for now, if you have any questions just let me know. this decision is so hard for me to make i am seriously considering saying the hell with it and just going on welfare for the rest of my life.
     
    #1 bart123, Dec 2, 2008
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2008
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  3. Docere

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    I want to be a doctor because I enjoy science, I enjoy working with patients, and I want to make a difference in my community and in other people's lives.

    You shouldn't want to be a doctor simply because you admire the personality of one doctor (in fact, see this discussion about some of the uglier personalities a career in medicine can bring out). Just because you're not a doctor doesn't mean that, by default, you don't have admirable qualities.

    If you don't enjoy medicine, don't go into it. Because you will be practicing medicine 80 hours a week as a resident, and at least 40 hours a week afterwards. That's not including the hours you spend preparing in medical school for this career. That's a LOT of time dedicated to something you don't enjoy.

    And as a side note, I have a great respect for financial analysts and statisticians.
     
  4. dlouis

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    I'm guessing that you have not taken the required science classes needed for med school. Correct me if I am wrong.

    What I think would be a good idea (if i were you) would be to either start reading a lot online or go out and buy a textbook on anatomy and physio. That will at least give you a taste at what med school will be like. If you absolutely love reading about how the body works that's a great start. It is also great that you had a such a great physician to shadow. If you end up applying, you'll get a great recommendation and also a great reason why you want to be a doctor.

    You said that part of you is telling you to do what you enjoy. Practicing medicine and reading ochem/physio/bio SHOULD be fun to you. If it's not, than you probably shouldn't be a doctor. Now I don't find every class i have to be extremely exciting but I still love all of the subjects I am learning about. That is why i think you should by some textbooks and see how you feel about it.

    Also about being shy, I think you can work on it. Try having conversations with people you wouldn't normally have conversations with. You might be suprised at how much you get out of it!
     
  5. tmac11

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    If you won't enjoy the practice of medicine, going into it wouldn't be a wise decision. It doesn't take long when perusing these forums to realize that also. You may be aspiring to become more like the individual you've been shadowing rather than aspiring to his profession. However, if you think there may be something for you in medicine, I would recommend shadowing another physician or getting more clinical experience without the current physician you shadow. IMHO, the fact you enjoy financial analysis and not medicine (based on what you've said) should also be an indication.
     
  6. Docere

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    I just want to know: how do you know you want to be a financial analyst/advisor? Have you worked for one? You know exactly what doctors do based on your shadowing experience, but have you done something similar with a financial analyst? An internship perhaps?
     
  7. bart123

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    thats a very good question. i was actually thinking someone might wonder about this. no, i have never done that. how i know is from job descriptions friends gave me, it just seems like something that i would enjoy. but i have never been in the field, maybe i will hate it?

    oh, i just thought of something, my personality is a lot like Ben Stiller's character in Along Came Polly. remember how he was always concerned with risk? thats how i am so i didnt find the movie funny. all his actions made perfect sense to me
     
    #6 bart123, Dec 2, 2008
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2008
  8. kansaskid

    kansaskid too school for cool
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    Bart,
    If it's the doctor's personality you find intriguing and not medicine itself, maybe you could work on being a really cool, outgoing data analyst!

    Like others have said, going into medicine without being interested in practicing medicine is probably not such a great idea.

    Good luck in whatever you decide to do!
     
  9. Docere

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    Hee, yeah, there may be a chance that you won't like it. You'll never really know until you find out for yourself. I don't know how detailed a job description you got from your friend, but I really suggest you look into getting an internship or at least "shadow" someone for just one day. Anything to give you a good idea of what your future career would entail.
     
  10. takeittothetop

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    I find these questions and answers at least somewhat interesting. Especially when they could give you insight into what might be wrong with the patient.

    But back to your question... You can definitely be inspired by someone but the career they are in may not be right for you. The career you choose should be something that interests YOU. That being said you might want to get some more volunteer or work experience in health care before you make your decision.
     
  11. Wylde

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    I do not think medicine is for you.

    Personally, I am looking at medicine because I think I would enjoy going to work everyday more than I would enjoy going to work in other professions that have crossed my mind.

    It does not sound like you would enjoy working as a physician.

    It sounds like you are only really interested in medicine because of the surgeon you shadowed. However, medicine isn't going to make you cool or socially savvy; my bet is that this surgeon has always been "coooool" and medicine did not effect this. There are also many cool/entertaining people in any profession or social group. This guy sounds very influential, but he is the worst reason to go into medicine.

    Also, there are many careers that seem more suited for you (as you mentioned: actuary, analyst, etc.). These careers can be equally high-paying and have easier education paths. They may not have some of the social prestige of medicine, but I think it is obvious (from the information provided in your post) that a number-based analyst career would make you more happy.

    Unless there is something significant that you didnt mention, I would not consider medicine anymore. I think engineering, math/stats research, actuary, analyst, etc. would suite you better.
     
  12. Law2Doc

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    If being a data analyst or actuary is what you think you'd enjoy the most, then do that. The adage on here, which is think is pretty true, is that if you can picture yourself being happy doing something other than medicine, you probably should do that other thing, because medicine is too long and hard a road to go into unless you are pretty confident it's what will rock your boat. Sounds like your shadowing gave you insight on EXACTLY what a lot of physicians do all day, particularly those in the primary care setting. Taking a good history is a huge part of many physicians' jobs; what you miss in all these questions that you find "boring" is the thought process going on in the physicians head where he is trying to put together the answers the patient gives into a diagnosis. So yeah, if you don't enjoy talking to patients and getting lots of details, you probably will hate a lot of medicine. I'd say for some physicians, what you describe is the bulk of their day, with a mess of paperwork to top it off, for 60-80 hours/week.

    Your cousin is a fool -- any career changer on here will tell you that money is pretty meaningless in terms of what you enjoy -- if you enjoy it, the money is icing on the cake, not the driving force. Money doesn't create enjoyment, particularly not in a long houred career such as medicine where your time to get out and enjoy the money is somewhat limited. If you are going to spend 60-80 hours/week at your job, that is going to be the bulk of your awake hours. So you'd better enjoy it, because it is your life, and you don't get it back. No amount of money in the bank is worth selling your life to do something you dislike or find boring. If you only worked 30-40 hours /week (ie a non-professional job), then sure, you can tolerate it for the money because you have plenty of time outside of work to "live". But not really so in medicine where the bulk of your time you are awake each day is going to be spent at your job, so you really really have to like it. Otherwise you are doing time, in a prison of your own creation.
     
  13. CarrieBad

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    My grandfather is a doctor. He said, "If you can be happy doing ANYTHING else, do it." The life of a physician is not an easy one, and there are so many hoops you have to jump through and crap you have to deal with, it's honestly not worth it unless you couldn't be happy doing anything else.
     
  14. teddybear

    teddybear "Teddy"
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    Good advice. The type of people who impress me are the ones who obviously love what they do and excel at it. They're driven to be the best in that field. The actual job itself seems secondary to that.
     
  15. cubssox2000

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    I completely agree.

    Bart, take a look at this paper:
    Festinger, L., & Carlsmith, J. M. (1959). Cognitive consequences of forced compliance.The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 58(2), 203-210.

    It will explain why money is only a driving force when you don't like the work.
     
  16. sarahl86

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    I wouldn't say it sounds like the only reason, but it is definitely something the OP is tightly holding on to either for motivation or because he wants to imitate that in his own life...regardless, using this surgeon should NOT be your primary reason for wanting to pursue medicine. I'd say your impressions thus far of medicine are accurate: that most of your time will be sent assessing patients and asking what you currently perceive as stupid questions that in all actuality are necessary to successfully treat them. It can be repetitive, but you are getting to know someone - how can you help them if you don't know them or their needs? Every career has its ups and downs, its fun and boring times.

    The point is that if you've had such negative experiences shadowing and find this process painful, medicine just is not the thing for you. I can't say exactly when I made the conscious decision to pursue medicine because science and helping people has always been "my thing"...it felt natural and even when I was having slow or "boring" days working or volunteering, I still loved it because of my appreciation for the art of medicine. I'm of the belief that medicine truly is a calling and once an individual is lucky enough to be aware of it, life then becomes an opportunity to prove to yourself that it is where you belong and solidify yourself as a candidate for medical education. If you can't find that motivation it is going to be VERY VERY difficult for you to survive medical school and residency, let alone practice medicine for the rest of your life.

    I really hope that you find what you're looking for.
     
  17. Narmerguy

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    Give me a break.
     
  18. Made of Dreams

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    i hate to be one of these people but..... i think you know that medicine is for you when you no longer find the need to ask yourself that very question. i used to bounce law and teaching around in my head, but once i discovered my passion for medicine everything took a back seat. im still interested but now rather than alternatives, law and education are going to be incorporated into my medical career(hopefully). for example, academic medicine and policy work. you cant control where your heart leads you, but you can use your mind to satisfy every direction it wants to go.
     
    #17 Made of Dreams, Dec 3, 2008
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2008
  19. teddybear

    teddybear "Teddy"
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    What are you smoking?
     
  20. MadEvans

    MadEvans is a warm gun
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    I was about to say this in a much sloppier and indirect way. :) This is the answer.
     
  21. mbe36

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    Get out of your comfort zone.
     
  22. chewsnuffles

    chewsnuffles is a series of tubes
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    I don't think you are the only one who feels the patient interview is boring as hell when you are just watching what is going on. I would seriously question a pre-med who says they actually enjoy just sitting there while the doctor is forming their differential.

    This doesn't mean you shouldn't be a doctor, but it does mean you should explore more before you decide. As I learned more about how a differential is formed, it became far more interesting to observe a physician doing this, but I, like you, was bored out of my mind at first.
     
  23. chewsnuffles

    chewsnuffles is a series of tubes
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    Money stops being much of a motivator as long as you can pay rent and put food on the table. After that, you will wonder why you are letting your work creep into you free time unless you really like your job.

    The ideal money aspect for a doctor should be something along the lines of "oh, and I'm getting paid for this too, awesome" - otherwise, it will be hard to get through residency when taco bell employee's make more per hour than you

    Oh, and if you think analyst is good, go shadow one. I was one, it is pretty cool, and the money is good, but I guarantee that there are plenty of really boring parts to it too (you love excel? ya, I didn't think so...)
     
  24. 8744

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    No, your impression is absolutely correct. While it has its moments, much of the work of any medical specialty is as you describe it and you have achieved a rare insight into your future, one which you should not discount. If people and their largely mundane problems bore you then you are a poor fit for this profession and will be extremely unhappy in it.
     
  25. 8744

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    That is exactly it. You just have to like medicine. I saw a "sandpaper rash" on the chest and back of a seven-year-old the other day who had a one week prodrome of upper respiratory symptoms and easily diagnosed him with a strep infection ("Scarlet Fever") even though this was the first one I had ever seen present like. I thought it was pretty cool even though it was not that serious a problem, the peds nurses laughed at me because I thought it was so interesting, and nobody's life was at stake.

    Alternatively, a few months ago I almost instantly diagnosed a real life-threatening case of Superior Vena Cava Syndrome with no labs, no studies, and no imaging (although we got them, they just confirmed my five-minute diagnosis by history and physical exam).

    Yes, This Mother****er is a grind but only because of all the crap you have to put up with that is totally unrelated to medicine. The science and art of diagnosis and treatment is very fulfilling professionally and the constant freakshow that is my specialty is amusing too.
     
  26. mp1106

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    While you are young, explore your options before you get stuck in a career that you hate. Find you passion and follow it or else your career will feel like a job. I bet you that that surgeon does not feel like he is going to work everyday because he is doing something he loves. People who are successful in their career tend to be passionate about their work. The signs are already here that medicine is not for you so take it dont waste time following a career path for the wrong reasons. The people on here have given you some pretty wise advice. You already know that you are passionate about math. Well explore careers that are related to math. Like some people says do internships in that area then get your MBA and make your money. Hey when you are flying high in the ski in your private jet remember us miserable resident.

    Good luck!!!
     
  27. gl0baltrader

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    Dear Bart123,

    I do think that you need to explore your other career options before pursuing medical school or a medical career. I for one pursued many different career options before deciding to go to medical school. I've worked in the public service sector helping the homeless, a civil engineering intern, a public notary, academic research, and also process engineering for a pharmaceutical company. I realized after all this jobs that medicine is the right path for me to follow and I have no regret turning down lucrative job opportunities and advancements for more years at school.

    PS: I've worked with MD/PHDs before and met with many surgeons & physicians, not all of them are polite, friendly, or cool as the one your shadowed. A lot of them are miserable, rude, and obnoxious ~ due to years of service and family problem.

    Sincerely,
    D
     

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