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How do you feel about your previous career?

Discussion in 'Nontraditional Students' started by Pembleton, Feb 26, 2007.

  1. Pembleton

    Pembleton Senior Member
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    This question is directed moreso at those attending Medical/Dental school.

    I was just wondering how do you feel about your previous career before going back to school? Was it valuable? Was it a waste of time? Was it a 'necessary evil'?

    I've been struggling throughout medical school and sometimes it makes me wistful for my old job/ old life when things were a lot less challenging. I truly enjoy medical school and would not consider leaving it but I find that a lot of the skills that I cultivated in the past are of no use now. This kind of makes me sad. Honestly, I would never consider that the skills I acquired in negotiating an advertising deal would be helpful for studying pathology or any med school subject. However this makes me think that my previous life was a total waste of time and energy. The things I think I was good at: creative problem solving, being thorough and part of a team, are really not emphasized during the first two years of school. Furthermore, I've moved around a lot so I don't have the friends from those old jobs and places I used to have.

    Lately, I've been feeling like a stranger in a strange land. The tools in my toolbox just don't work here. I've come to the conclusion that maybe I've wasted a lot of time picking up those skills.
     
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  2. mshheaddoc

    mshheaddoc Howdy
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    Like with any switch in careers you have to remember that you are learning a whole new skill set. Medical school is no different unfortunately. Remember the first two years you might not get to use your previous skills as its just rote memorization of minute details (well - supposedly ;) ). But you will still use those skills later in life it also makes you a more confident person in the wide array of situations you can handle. While I'm not in school yet I realize all my previous background will not help me while I'm in med school but maybe it has helped me get to the point where I want to be and will help me with issues outside of medical school and later in residency.

    :luck: Time is never wasted. :D
     
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  3. southpawcannon

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    While your skills in particular may not be of use, your experiences and how you reacted (hopefully in a constructive way) definitely will.
     
  4. Doctor Bagel

    Doctor Bagel so cheap and juicy
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    I don't know. I can't say I gained any hard skills in my job that have helped me in the basic science classes that I've taken so far. However, I did learn a hell of a lot about working with people and providing pretty good customer service, which I think will be helpful in practice. So far, I can see that people at my school and doctors in general are just so [email protected] pathetic at this.
     
  5. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member
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    Agree. Medicine is first and foremost a service industry, and so skills from any other service industry will be transferable in some fashion. Patients, clients, customers -- it's all the same. They are people seeking advice for problems.
     
  6. Playmakur42

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    I don't think you realize how important the "skills" that you learned working in the real world are.

    You'll use the business basics you learned when you open a practice
    You'll use the negotiation skills if you join an existing practice
    You'll use the people skills every time you see a patient - (There are so many different types of people out there and the only way to practice reaching a good percentage of these people is to have practiced.)

    I'm sure by now you have a good understanding of what it takes to "make the customer (patient) happy", which as you'll soon see is very important to hospitals. There's more to being a good doctor than just giving the proper medical care, and based on your post, it seems as if you've had a career that allowed you to develop some of those intangibles.

    Good Luck!
     
  7. Scottish Chap

    Physician PhD Moderator Emeritus Verified Expert 15+ Year Member

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    Yes, medical school does occasionally make me think of the 'security that could have been'. I'd have a nice faculty position in a great location with >100K salary and zero debt.....but I would not get to be a medical doctor and I would miss out on all the wonderful experiences in medical school. Overall, I have no regrets.

    MSI year was grim, and I occsaionlly questioned my decision. I hated all the mindless memorization. MSII is WAY more interesting, and much more logical. Time will tell if I feel the same way in MSIII. I pick my clinical track in a few weeks. It's hard to believe that almost two years has passed.

    IMHO, medical school is a fun ride if you don't take yourself too seriously. I rarely worry about grades, and just focus on understanding. It is not the place for creativity. Creative doctors get into trouble- especially while they are still in training! Many nontraditional students are very accomplished but nobody really cares in medical school.

    Bottom line: a previous career is not a huge advantage academically (I have a graduate degree in pharmacology and I'm indistinguishable from most of my classmates), a previous career is not necessary for success in medical school, and medical school is a lot of work. The edge my previous career(s) gave me was an acute awareness of my strengths and weaknesses, but that's about it. That's something that money cannot buy.
     
  8. tiredmom

    tiredmom Senior Member
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    The skills mentioned by the OP are very helpful during your clinical years. I can't tell you how many times I've noticed on rounds that the resident or student who presents the patient well gets by so much better than the one who stumbles through the presentation. You've already figured out how to talk to people and convey information in a meaningful way. That only helps you.

    My former career was nursing, so it's helped in several ways - in the first two years, I had a leg up on terminology/remembering patients I had seen with different conditions and what we did for them. My clinical years were easier because I knew my way around the hospital and who to ask for what - where do you get the supplies for the dressing changes, who do you ask about diet orders, etc.

    Don't feel out of water - your maturity will only help you. It's so much easier to keep a cool head when all the 22-25 year olds are shaking with fear over some presentation... when you've done it in the real world, where your paycheck depended on your presentation (or in my case, when you've actually been coding people instead of just talking about it).
    Good luck!
     
  9. DrMidlife

    DrMidlife has an opinion
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    I wrote a lot of software, and managed a lot of engineers, and if I never have to leverage those "skills" again I'll die happy. I can't wait to present patients. Too bad I can't use a slide deck.

    I'm expecting to save a great deal of time and anguish that my fellow classmates will spend being baffled by the way the world works. We've seen it function, malfunction, drown in administrativia or in committee, and the world doesn't come to an end.

    My favorite thing about having a previous life is that I've made 20 years' worth of mistakes that my fellow classmates haven't made yet. There's very little that I'm afraid of now, but fear was all I had in my 20's.

    But I hear you. It's not about comparing yourself to 20 year olds. It's about feeling good about your talents and feeling appreciated and that you're in the right place. Come rotations and residency, your life skills will start to pay off again.

    And thanks for speaking up. I'll be in your shoes in a year or two, and I'm already worried about isolation and regret in MS1 and MS2. Just when I've had it up to here with SDN, there's always a great, relevant post.

    Hang in there.
     
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  10. soonereng

    soonereng Double Trouble
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    Not in school yet (start in the fall), but I hope that I don't feel the same way as the OP for the 1st two years. I am good at my job (engineer), but I want to be in medicine for many different reasons. One of the foremost IS the different skillset which I will get to use. I want to interact with people, to help them in a one-on-one basis, to get semi-immediate gratification out of my work, all things which my current career lacks. I am sure that the first two years will probably suck, but its the 20 years after that which will motivate me onward.

    I also hope that my skills as an engineer can be put to use in the medical field in identifying areas for improvement in equipment, etc. through hands-on, personal experience. It is hard for engineers to improve products many times without this type of experience, and I hope that I can aid both professions this way.
     
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  11. MeowMix

    MeowMix Explaining "Post-Call"
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    the saddest part is how much stuff I learned in MS1 and MS2 and now I can't remember more than about 5% of it (and most of that is the obscure weird stuff)...but I have near-perfect retention for lots of stuff from my former life...and I'm an MS3!
     
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  12. Bitsy3221

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    I think that one of the best things about having once been a "grown up" before I went back to medical school was the ability to talk to people you really don't know. You will be amazed at how talking to patients, families, other physicians, nurses, staff, etc will trip up some of your traditional classmates. Plus, having a former life and career will make your residency interviews so much easier. I was discussing why I went back to medical school and such, while my classmates were hit with "what is the last interesting book you read," "name 3 people from history you'd have dinner with," etc etc. I definitely think I had a better interview experience than most of my colleagues for that reason.

    It's very hard to see the advantage in the first two years, but I can virtually guarantee that you will refine your skills at being a professional in the coming years. Be patient, then reap the rewards! :)
     
  13. magiceye

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    The best life experiences are found outside of the classroom with real people and real life situations.

    I think you will do a spectacular job in Residency. Patients like Doctors who listen well and understand life outside a hospital, too. Patients like Doctors who can talk about baseball and crack a good lawyer joke.

    Continue to have confidence and courage and you can fight through any problem. Best wishes.
     
  14. Kateb4

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    Having been a Lifeguard/WSI, Waitress, Flight Attendant Instructor, Dance Instructor, Fitness Instructor, Personal Trainer, Nursing Assistant, Surgical Assistant, Office Manager, Stay at Home Mom, and Student (all since high school, not in that order, and sometimes more than one at a time) I have learned a myriad of skills that are completely dormant and sometimes it feels like they were wasted. However, having this background knowledge in alot of different things has afforded me a certain insight into alot more than someone that went from high school, thru college and straight into med school without any of these life experiences. I like to think that I have taken a little out of each stage of my life and can apply these all to the way that I live now, and the way that I will practice medicine.

    I completely anticipate being as ignorant and confused as most of the incoming MI's when I start, but I also think that having been thru the process before, I will be able to convert the knowledge that we attain in the first two years more readily into practice than someone who has never been in the real world before. For you, the skills that you mentioned as strengths (creative problem solving and teamwork) will be essential in a successful medical career. I really feel where you are coming from right now, but store those skills away for now. They will be of use for you in places you never thought, and you will develop these new medical skills just as proficiently in time.
     
  15. novawildcat

    novawildcat Senior Member
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    currently my job is doing medicinal chemistry so I feel like it will help me a little bit in med school. the 1000s of hours i have in the lab and my experience working with multi million dollar pieces of equipment may be useful if i ever go to a research oriented school. also i already feel like i know a lot of phd level pharmacology and pharmacokinetics which at some point I will probably take in med school. my company gives everyone a list of goals for the year, and to meet one of my goals I basically taught myself nuclear magnetic resonance and all the physics behind it. knowing how a MRI works on a theoretical level might be useful some day. I will hate to leave my job though since everyone at the company is awesome. I still haven't told anyone my plans yet since I am trying to keep them on the DL but it is going to be really hard when I will have to break the news to my boss. It is going to take me a week to mentally for that.

    the other skill that I have learned from my job is paying attention to detail. chemists, by their very nature, tend to be the most anal people on earth especially if your places uses GLP procedures. i know paying attention to the fine details of a patient's complaints will be of use.
     
  16. oldpro

    oldpro MS IV
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    RN for last 18 years..........Dives me on through medschool........I shudder evertime I think about going back to Nursing, I want to write the orders not transcribe them...............No more Nursing Diagnosis "Personal Care Deficit, of course he has one his arms are in Casts for crying out loud"
     
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  17. Febrifuge

    Febrifuge Grizzled Old Newcomer
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    It's funny, I was thinking about this earlier today... as I was walking to buy groceries on my credit card. Maybe it's because as I'm writing this now, in my little studio apartment, I can see the highrise building downtown where I worked for seven years. When I was there, I could look out my window and see the hospital complex, where I would volunteer and later work part-time. It's because I now work at that hospital full-time that I need to put groceries on the credit card.

    It was all time well-spent, to be sure. There's no way I'd have put up with the uncertainty, the crappy pay, the weird hours of taking on an ER Tech job if I hadn't had the time to develop a thorough and considered idea of what I wanted to do, and what I wanted NOT to do. It's a little embarrassing to think of now, but I gave about 75% at that other job, before I realized I was unsatisfied and needed the change.

    I'm very grateful for the chance I had to do decent work at that other place, although in the end it was not my life's mission.
     
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