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is mental illness a good escuse to quit the journey of becoming a physician?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by qualityhealth, Mar 27, 2007.

  1. qualityhealth

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    I recently met with my therapist and psychiatrist again, (who has told me I have some bipolar with Schizoaffective symptoms, but refuses to label me as having X, because I don’t wholly fit the criteria of a specific disorder(s)) and the impression I got from them when I told them I want to become a physician was, “What the heck are you thinking?! You will not be able to handle the pressures/stress/academia of med school!”. So they pretty much want me to do something “easier” like become a social worker or something else medically related, that doesn’t involve major stress. My psych said she went to Cornell Med, and by the time she graduated half her class was gone from what they started with. I know, (gut feeling) that this is the only thing I want to become, maybe even a psychiatrist since I love it, and men are underrepresented in this field so I could definitely add. I’m not going to let anyone get in the way of my dream,( but I sometimes I have doubts because of them and what others think of me).

    I know there are many physicians with mental illness, and I told my psych that, but she still said it would be “too much “ for me (I highly respect her, and love her bc she’s great) but still.

    I had to take last semester off because of the illness (I’m a sophmore now, with 3.2 gpa), but now I’m back and ready for action. (I’m expecting a 4.0 , though I’m only taking 7 credits only for this semester) Anyhow, I need you guys to be HONEST (even brutal if you have to be, I really need the truth) if I’m being ‘hard headed’ about even thinking med school and the future after that is something within my reach ?

    Also, for those that have/had to live with this day to day, and have made it to med school, or are doing great as a pre-med or are already physicians, what are your pointers in beating all the odds? How do you study? Was mental illness way too much to handle in med school, that you wish you quit? How do you deal with all the negative people around you?

    Thanks.
    Peace.
     
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  3. sirus_virus

    sirus_virus nonsense poster

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    If the Psych says you shouldn't do it, then dont. Even regular folks go crazy during medical training. I can't imagine what will happen to you.
     
  4. notdeadyet

    notdeadyet Still in California
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    1. I'd be a little concerned if the two folks who know you mental state very well feel that the stress would be too much for you. It shouldn't be the decider, but it should definitely weigh in on your decision.

    2. Males are actually over-represented in psychiatry (75%), not under-represented. I think the only fields that men are under-represented would be OB-GYN and possibly pediatrics.

    3. I'd be suprised if Cornell Med had a 50% failure/drop-out rate. Most schools keep it to 96%. Not to say med school won't be a pressure cooker, but it's not a weed-out process.

    4. You have a long way to go. Study what you love to study and see what happens to your grades. You'll need to get your GPA up high and keep it there and do well on the MCAT. See how you deal with the stress and pressure of a pre-med curriculum. If you have a tough time handling that, med school probably isn't for you. If you do all right with it, give med school some more thought.

    Good luck...
     
  5. Droopy Snoopy

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    Regardless of the responses you get here, remember that this is an anonymous internet chatroom full of people who are in no way qualified to advise you on your mental health condition, and that you're weighing these opinions against the expert advice of a trained psychiatrist who knows you personally. That said, you've already had problems because of this thing . That's not the best prognostic indicator you know, and if you walk into an interview having to explain that the episodes of missed time and low grades on your transcript are due to a mental illness, well it's going to be tough for an adcom to take a risk on you.

    BTW, I agree that what your psych said about half her class not graduating just doesn't happen at a US allo school.
     
  6. GreenShirt

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    I have some mental health experience, so I'll share my point of view on it (of course I'm not a mental health professional nor do I know the severity of your illness.) You are going to have to make sure that your illness is under control and that you can function normally on a daily basis. Stress is a catalyst for many mood disorders. Obviously, Med. School is very stressful! You would be at risk for aggravating your bipolarism. When it comes time to apply, you need to sit down and realistically assess what your capabilities are. If you have your problems under control, have done well in school, and think you are emotionally stable/fortified enough to w/stand the pressure then go for it. You just don't want to risk ending up a mess down the road.

    That being said, there is so little understanding and sympathy about mental health in the public and in our health care system. Having experience with mental illness may make you a more compassionate practitioner. Just be realistic, if med school is too much but you still want to work in health care there are plenty of other jobs you can do in the field. Your still have plenty time to grow, mature and learn to control your illness before you decide what you want to do.
     
  7. psipsina

    psipsina Senior Member

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    I agree that you need to put the most weight upon what the people who know you and what you are struggling with the best have to say. There are vast differences in types of mental disorders and in the resiliance of individuals handling them. My mother suffers from severe mental ilness, similar to you she has never been labeled with a distinct diagnoisis but she suffers from delusions, paranoia, mood swings, depression and anxiety. For her just participating in life is a struggle, she can't hold a normal job and struggles with day to day things like grocery shopping. She has been in therapy and on meds for over 30 years. So there are instances that with a specific individual/disorder making it thru medschool and residency just might be out of the question.

    The premed weedout game, the massive volume of the preclinical years, the sleep deprivation of the clinical and residency years, constant examinations and interviewing are all alot for very balanced people to handel. It takes so much to not panic and not abuse yourself physically and mentally when you are coming in stable, so I can imagine the chances of just falling apart increases exponentially when you are coming in an already weakened state. Perhaps if you are completely stabilized on meds before hand (as in have been stable for a few years) it would be possible but I would defer to a proffessional's judgement of whether or not you are stable. Many people have cycles through stability and then destabilization throughout their entire lives, and there is no room for a bad month in medschool or residency. I wish you all the luck in life, whatever path you decide to take. :luck:
     
  8. sendwich

    sendwich you rock!

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    be honest with yourself. i think most pre-meds can agree that most of us like to "bite off more than a mouthful" when it comes to our ambitions becoming a doctor (true for most highly ambitious goals). i understand a little bit where you're coming from b/c i have a sibling who suffers from schizophrenia (altho i dont know how different that is from your condition). stress will DEFINITELY a catalyst that might aggravate any symptoms, mental or physical. take some time to think and weigh out what would be best for you. worst case scenario if you chose to go into medicine: stress out in medschool and drop out with major debt. but if you do pull through, you have the chance to identify with and support your patients. it's all about knowing yourself well enought to know how much you can take. good luck! :luck:
     
  9. TheRealDrDorian

    TheRealDrDorian Dr. Acula
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    Try and speak with current med school students / interns / residents to get the specifics, but in all honest, we're all in for a very bumpy road.
     
  10. lythande

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    I have bipolar disorder type I. That's right, the kind that can get psychotic. I am currently a graduate student and applying to medical school with the full support of my therapists/psychiatrists, past and present, with the caveat that I do spend some time with hard core therapy (my med regimen is stable) to get my issues under control and build coping techniques. That and to step into the Dean's office or whatever high position and talk about the ADA (American Disabilities Act) the moment I set foot on campus.

    Read An Unquiet Mind if you haven't already. Kay Jamison is not a physician but her story is quite inspiring. And it has this funny quote from the chairman of the Hopkins psychiatry department: "If we got rid of all the manic-depressives [bipolars] on the medical school faculty, not only would we have a much smaller faculty, it would also be a far more boring one."

    So take care and take heart. It CAN be done. Others have done it before. You just have to be honest with yourself whether or not you can learn and will invest the energy to learn about and control your illness. If you want to talk more, I'm open to it. I'm still young, but I've lived a good 10 years with bipolar disorder to know what I can and cannot do.
     
  11. lilzelda

    lilzelda Senior Member

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    Medical School is pretty tough. Its nothing like college or grad school, I think most pre-meds don't have a clue what their getting themselves into until the first wk of school and ur just like WTF. Residency is suppose to worst, and the on-call nights maybe something I would be weary of because it may trigger an episode. That being said no one is going to be able to tell u waht to do, you need to sit down with ur family and think about it.

    Just remeber the most important thing in life is your health compared to that your career really doesn't matter.

    :luck:
     
  12. jcs307

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    As an aside, social work is stressful. Perhaps the responsibility is less than that of a physician, but the burnout rate is pretty high, as with any field that involves caring about people on a daily basis. Certainly the schooling process is MUCH easier--not even comparable really--but the actual job can be major stress. Also (and this I know from experience) if you are working in the health field as a social worker (or something similar) but really want to be a doctor, you may get tired of your role and gaze longingly (so to speak!) at the physicians. I know I am finishing up an internship in the NICU this semester (my last of my MSW program) and I am really wishing I was a doctor. I spend a lot of time wishing I was intubating the baby and not just trying to console the parents. Okay, I'll get off my social work box now. :)

    Seriously, there are many people in many professions who have mental health issues. For you, it sounds like the most important thing is working through things as much as possible ahead of time, having a solid plan in place (in terms of therapy/treatment/etc.) during medical school, and recognizing that your mental health will impact your level of stress, ability to cope, etc.

    Good luck to you.:oops:
     
  13. PlayMeSomeMusic

    PlayMeSomeMusic Always waiting...
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  14. GreenShirt

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    I read an essay written by a med. student who suffered from OCD and Major Depression in her college and med. school years in "What I Learned in Medical School: Personal Stories of Young Doctors". She started off by thinking her coffee was poisoned, then she couldn't leave the house in the morning w/out watching the movie Clueless from start to finish, soon she also had to watch the movie when she got home and before bed, everyday. Then things got worse; she didn't get out of bed and started cutting herself. She manage to go to her med. school interview. She didn't even wear a suit but somehow mustered up enough enthusiasm during the interview to get in. She got on a good treatment plan w/ Meds that worked for her. However, during the first semester of med school she became guilty about taking the meds and stopped. Ended up in bed cutting again. Missed a month of classes, failed all the tests. Started taking the meds again and managed to pass all her classes in the final month of the semester.

    The story just shows you that there are med students out there w/ mental health problems. Obviously this one was talented and smart enough to get through med school even with her illness. It also shows the importance of staying on a good treatment plan.
     
  15. nobrainer

    nobrainer New Member

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    I don't think that should be the moral of the story. It doesn't matter if she was smart enough to get through med school. It's great that she can function on a good treatment plan. But, the number one priority has to be the patients. Would you trust her to be the on call trauma surgeon or even the on call intern during a code? If there is ever a question about your mental stability during critical times in patient care, you have to err on the side of safety for the patient.
     
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  17. nobrainer

    nobrainer New Member

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    .....and Bipolars absolutely MUST have sleep.
     
  18. BleepTastic

    BleepTastic Throbbing Member

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    I read that part again and he's saying that they didn't go into what they initially thought they were going into (right?) That's not a bad thing. No one I know who wanted to be a psychiatrist actually ended up doing it. They found specialties they liked more.

    OP- everyone thinks they have it rough. Give up being a doctor for the "easier w? That's delusional. Social work can be downright terrible. Your psychiatrist may understand how hard medicine is, but all too often, premeds and doctors don't understand that other fields can be very demanding as well. Do some more career exploration. If you're just interested in counseling, don't let the MD be your only choice. Maybe you can surprise yourself.
     
  19. FemalesCANTDriv

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    OP, as I read your post, I am trying to think like any physician. Now if you doctor told you that you had a terrible heart and you shouldn't compete in a triathalon which you have always dreamed of, would you do it? If your doctor (or in your case 2 doctors who know you well) gave you any sort of prognosis and their opinion on what you should do, would you follow it if it did NOT relate to medical school?

    I am just saying that they are the ones that know best. If you want a second or third opinion, go ahead and get it. All I am saying is, if it were anything else, you would most definitely follow the doctors' advice. Keep that in mind.
     
  20. FemalesCANTDriv

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    Whoa, whoa, whoa... so is this supposed to be encouraging the OP to go ahead to med school no matter what the crazy costs along the way???
     
  21. Acabee

    Acabee New Member

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    OP: I think you need to wait and see how the rest of college goes. Over time, your ability to cope with your illness may change and your awareness of your own limitations will almost certainly grow. I would strongly recommend taking a complete courseload at some point, because whether you are able to do so successfully will indicate to some degree whether or not you will be able to "survive" medical school. I would get a third and fourth opinion, as well, but I think it's most important to try to get the kinds of experiences that will help you figure out how you'll tolerate med school. I don't think the whole heart condition thing another poster alluded to is comparable to your situation, because the triathalon you're talking about is still a few years away and because the state of a person's psyche is so much more elusive, from an outsider's perspective, than that of his heart.
     
  22. lythande

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    Well said. Thank you.
     
  23. lythande

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    Yes, indeed, and that makes it difficult but not impossible. People with depression, anxiety, etc. also need sleep, albeit not with such necessity as bipolars. How many of those are in medical school and who become (good) doctors? There are doctors with bipolar disorder out there who have managed it. And like other doctors they span the range from bad to excellent.

    According to my psychiatrist every doctor who has a mental illness is required to be in treatment and report to the board on a regular basis, but otherwise practice like other doctors. There are checks in place to protect patients if necessary.

    Unfortunately, you don't hear much about doctors with mental illnesses because stigma and discrimination silences them. Those are the doctors who I worry about. I find it courageous of OP to acknowledge his illness to himself and to others and also to reflect upon his abilities.
     
  24. lythande

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    I think it simply says people with mental illness can be in medical school and function (and function well) provided that they are on a good and solid treatment plan. I don't think it says no matter what the costs.
     
  25. lythande

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    Knowing all that I know about the instabilities of someone with bipolar disorder and that all that can be kept in check with proper treatment, I would say yes.

    Especially since the hypomanic one would be the most alert one out of all the hospital. :laugh: I kid, but I'm allowed to because I have the illness.
     
  26. DropkickMurphy

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    Serious psych pathology (example: you believe that the president of the AMA is using your penis as a radio transmitter to send out secrets about the plans to stamp out the DOs) is right up there on the list of reasons you should not be allowed to become a physician. Following close behind are:
    1. You post long diatribes about how great genetic counseling is as a career on premed forums
    2. You no speak-uh the good English.
    3. If after 3 or more attempts you haven't been able to crack a 26 on the MCAT.
    4. If you don't like the sight or smell of blood, vomit, ****, phlegm or urine.
    5. If you can't take a ****ing joke
    6. If you seriously think you can save the world
    7. If you spent more than $300 on any of your ECs and didn't get laid, blown, and/or drunk in the process.
    8. If you consider being a lab bitch "research"
    9. If you have ever seriously asked "What are my chances?" on SDN
    10. There is no #10
    11. If you have seriously considered investing in kneepads before approaching a professor for an LOR
    12. If you've ever found yourself contemplating climbing a clock tower with a high power rifle because you didn't set the curve in a class (the "They want to see 'gunner'.....I'll show 'em who's a 'gunner'!" attitude)
    13. If you've ever turned down sex in order to study
    14. If you (or a "friend") have ever been involved in a criminal offense involving any of the following: Colombians, crack pipes, whores, public nudity, driving while drunk, stoned or high on anything other than 'life', stolen cars, interstate transportation of stolen goods, anything that might give the guys from 'Jackass' pause, or an appearance by Chris Hansen.
     
  27. lythande

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    Ok, now that I've gotten off my soapbox with other replies, I'll give a more pointed reply with your last questions. I'm a non-traditional premed (though not too old--I'm 25). I am currently in grad school in the biomedical sciences (Fie to any who say grad school is "easy" compared to med school. It's different, but not easy), and applying now.

    Life is not easy, but having bipolar is one of the greatest and worst things that has happened to me for it showed me compassion and empathy and is what partly drives my desire to become a doctor (unfortunately will not be able to put that into my personal statement due to stigma :mad:)

    How do you beat the odds and study? TAKE YOUR MEDS! is the number one thing. Stay in treatment, both medication management and therapy. Study ahead, DO NOT procrastinate. Exercise, which is arguably the best "mood stabilizer" out there. Eat right, sleep right. It'll be difficult.

    I don't know your exact symptoms, but I can guess, and they are perhaps more severe than mine with the schizoaffective part. Talk to your therapist and psychiatrist. Ask them more specifically for why they don't think you can handle medical school.

    If they truly think you can't get through because of specific symptoms, maybe you should listen. But reevaluate when you get to that point of applying.

    If it's simply because medical school will be harder, then you just have to ask yourself if you'll go through that hell for your dreams because it will be hell or worse at times. Your control will be taxed and your symptoms perhaps exacerbated, and you always have to be on top it and work with the administration so that you're always in check in regards to patients. Is it worth it? For me, I think so because I know once I get through, I can become a great doctor to my patients and give them greater understanding, and also perhaps do something about the mental illness stigma.

    Whatever you decide, you've got a bit to go. Right now, work as hard as you can to get yourself stable, your grades up, etc. Work with your therapist and psychiatrist and be proactive one with them about your goals. So that if you do decide to go down the path, you'll be sorta prepared. Never can be really prepared for either medicine or bipolar disorder. Oh, and enjoy your time in college.
     
  28. GreenShirt

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    It takes time, maturity, proper treament, and a lot of self-assesment to overcome/learn to cope with a mental illness. The OP is still young and has plenty of time to go through this process. If I had listened to all the school advisors and social workers that told me I wouldn't get into medical school, I would have never applied and I wouldn't be going now. Their "advice" caused me unecessary anxiety and heart ache. I think the OP should take things one day at a time, keep his options open, and like everyone else has said work on doing well in school and getting proper treatment. I just don't think he should take the therapist's word as the final verdict on the matter.
     
  29. GreenShirt

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    The story I quoted was a little bit shocking to me too b/c she faced an incredible amount of obstacles to go about her daily life. I brought up the fact that she did well in school as an indicator of the fact that she could function normally, even excel, on a daily basis in her profession. The story also shows that it may take a little maturity to learn to deal w/ a mental illness. She was foolish and irresponsible for going off her meds, but a lot of the reason she did was b/c she felt their was a stigma attached to taking psych meds (societal problem).

    Obviously there are people who are severely disabled by mental illness and can't function normally. They can't hold down a job or go to school or do most of the things required for daily living. I agree that these people wouldn't make it through med shool or be able to work physicians. But there are plenty of people w/ milder cases who can function normally and handle all the resposibilities of becoming a doctor.
     
  30. riceman04

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    :thumbup: :thumbup:
     
  31. AmoryBlaine

    AmoryBlaine the last tycoon

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    :thumbup:

    The key question: Would you want the OP standing in the ICU room when Grandma tanks? Or do you just want to rah-rah-rah on SDN?

    I think someone should re-name SDN Pre-Allo "The Official You-Can-Do-It! Cheerleader Forums." If you think your mental illness is going to interfere with your medical education/practice, it is.

    I am always a bit confused by the whole Mental Illness awareness movement. On the one hand, there seems to be a push to recognize such things as serious health problems just like diabetes, MI, CHF etc (with which I totally agree). But on the other you seem to get the cheerleader crowd which says, "you can do anything!" The way I see it you can't really have it both ways. If you claim a disability, you can't simultaneously claim that it doesn't affect you.

    Seriously, what would happen on SDN if someone posted that they were a blind, paraplegic, schizophrenic, narcoleptic dude who needed 10 hours of sleep each night so as not to wig out. I would bet anyone $20 that within 1 hr there would be a "follow your dreams!" post.
     
  32. odrade1

    odrade1 UASOM alum

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    Dear OP,

    I am not surprised that your psychiatrist is concerned about your decision to pursue medicine as a career, since stress can have seriously adverse affects on the management of the mental disorders you suffer from, and med school is a concentrated series of stressful events and abuse.

    If you are really serious about med school, get a couple of second opinions from specialists about your exact situation. You may find that your initial psychiatrist/physician was being too conservative (or you may find that he/she is dead on). If your bipolar symptoms include truly debiliating depressive episodes that are precipitated by stress, then I would only consider med school if I had brilliant results from medicine & therapy. I say this only because you can be guaranteed stress in med school and ANYTHING that puts you out of commission for a week or weeks at a time WILL put you behind and triple your stress; it could also cost you a failing grade and a year repeat (a 50,000 dollar mistake/misfortune); thank the gods that I haven't cought a cold or the flu my first year.

    Having said that, it is worth saying that people can succeed in med school even as they cope with mental illness. I have a resident friend whose classmate had to drop out of med school for two years for treatment and time off before he was healed sufficiently to cope with med school; the good news is that he is graduating this year. Also, I have a sibling in healthcare who is schizophrenic. Fully/truly/terrifyingly schizophrenic. She manages quite well on her medication however, has excellent social and family support, and is doing well in nursing school. She earns her RN at the end of this summer. I have seen the effects of stress on her schizophrenia, and so am personally aware of how school stress can literally drive you crazy. Still, she wanted to continue with school and is doing quite well. Med school is hazardous to your health even if you start it perfectly healthy.

    Finally, keep in mind that there are less stressful ways than becoming a physician if you want to find a job caring for others.

    Best of luck to you as you learn to manage your disease & as you choose your career, whatever it ends up being.
     
  33. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member
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    I tend to agree with much of what has been written above. People who are prone to depression and mental illness often see those conditions manifest themselves in spades in med school. Med students have relatively high rates of depression and substance abuse. You are under a lot of stress, sleep deprived, very isolated at times, often verbally abused/pimped, and dealing with death and disease on a regular basis. If your psychiatrist thinks it's a bad idea for you I wouldn't totally ignore that. A second opinion sounds like a decent idea. But it's certainly a better career for the more grounded folks.
     
  34. GreenShirt

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    This is the frightening sentiment I've seen among many health care practitioners: "People suffering from mental health problems are just taking resourse away from the "real" patients". Medicine is about compassion. People who are suffering, whether it originates in the mind or the body, deserve the same compassion.

    As to the other point: It's all about severity. If someone were blind or paraplegic, obiviously they couldn't practice medicine. If, on the other hand, they see with corrective lenses or get about on a prosthetic leg, they probably can practice medicine despite their health problems. Same thing goes for mental health problems. There's a spectrum. There's ones that are so debilitating, the individual can't function, but there's also milder cases that shouldn't be an obstacle to pursing a normal life.

    Nobody here is saying "Go for it no matter what, you'll be as superstar! Rah Rah!" They're saying be realistic, know your stregnths and weakness, and see how things go.
     
  35. DropkickMurphy

    Banned

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    You missed the part where he said he agreed with that right? Or were you too busy getting up on a soapbox?

    The OP is an admitted schizoid and could be one message from the neighbor's dog away from blowing away people in parked cars. How's that for realistic? In no way is someone like that qualified to be responsible for the lives of others- not as a bus driver, pilot, and certainly not as a doctor.
     
  36. GreenShirt

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    If that were the case, then it wouldn't be realistic for him to go to medical school, would it? Which would be in line with the point I was making.

    (BTW, schizoid and schizoaffective are different disorders...look it up)
     
  37. Droopy Snoopy

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    :laugh: I have to comment here so I can find and post this list at some point in the future (with due citation of course). Put these into practice and the applicant pool shrinks from 40,000 to like 8.
     
  38. t-funk

    t-funk The Road Less Traveled

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    To the OP,

    I know that someone has already posted who also has bipolar with schizoaffective disorder and that is much more relevant, but I grew up with a mother who also had severe bipolar disorder with schizoaffective disorder who was in and out of mental institutions, delusional, and could not even recognize me without her medicine. She was also pretty amazing with computers. She ended up losing her job while I was in high school due to going to the hospital which resulted in a lawsuit. Anyway, she finally just realized that she was going to have a lifetime of taking medication and became OK with that and has been perfectly fine since she no longer tries to wean herself off of her medications. She has a great job and makes relatively great money now and I would just say to do what you feel is right. If you want to be a physician, then go for it. I think that someone would have to be pretty shallow to say that they would not want a physician who has bipolar disorder if the person is in control of their disorder.
     
  39. NickRiviera

    NickRiviera MS-Never

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    :laugh:

    I don't know about that...
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harold_Shipman
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Kevorkian
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dr._Nick_Riviera

    If they let ME be responsible for other's lives, anyone can. Better hope you don't show up in my ER as I could "accidentally" miss a decimal point when drawing up a drug. :scared:
     
  40. AmoryBlaine

    AmoryBlaine the last tycoon

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    Why did you neglect to bold the very next few words of my post? At least DKM stood up for me. If you will read it again you will notice that I agree that mental illness = real illness. I have just seen alot of gamesmanship where people want to be considered disabled when it suits their purpose and then balk at the suggestion that their disease could affect them when they don't want it to. I'm not trying to suggest that the OP is guilty of this, just pointing out a trend.
     
  41. nibrocli

    nibrocli Senior Member

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    i second this.
    i also don't like that your doc lied to you about the 50% not making it. the real number is like 4-5%. there's no reason for her to lie to her patient in this situation.
     
  42. ghip

    ghip Member

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    Obviously you haven't done your psych rotation yet. Oh wait. This is preallo. Of COURSE you haven't done your psych rotation yet.
     
  43. nibrocli

    nibrocli Senior Member

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    i'm an M1, so no, i haven't done any rotations yet. but i said, "in THIS situation" intentionally.
     
  44. ghip

    ghip Member

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    OP-

    A second opinion is not likely to be helpful. Something as stresfull as medical school could cause you significant problems. Even a very good psychiatrist is not likely to get to know you well enough during a single visit to say otherwise.

    Many (many!) mental health patients of varying functional levels and baseline abilities decide they want to become a psychiatrist. The initial response of many mental health providers is to discourage this desire. This is probably appropriate since much of the time this desire represents some pathalogical response to the psychiatrist-patient power dynamic. Some of the time the gut reaction of the psychiatrist is to deny the patients desire because it makes them uncomfortable. Many psychiatrists have mental health problems themselves and some of those psychiatrists have a particularly difficult time whenever a patient interaction reminds them of their own instability.

    If you are able to make an honest self-assessment, and believe you have the intellectual, emotional, and coping skills to go to medical school, I think it is completely appropriate to disregard what this particular psychiatrist is telling you. Many psychiatrists use deception as part of their bag of tricks to manipulate patient behavior. Your psychiatrist clearly falls into this category. Personally, I think this is unethical, but I am just a naive medical student. If I had an unethical psychiatrist, I think I would look for an ethcial one.

    As for myself, I have some mental health problems. I am on medication and in therapy. This has made medical school more difficult for me, but not impossible. I find posting on sdn so that I can feel superior to pre-allos to be a very good coping mechanism.
     
  45. univscience

    univscience Member

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    i don't see the point in a second opinion. we all know that these mental disorders are rough. the OP should be respected and admired for considering medical school. can he/she handle the "rigors" of school and residency, then continue to live a life of stress and responsibility? only he/she can decide.

    my opinion: medicine isn't worth doubting. don't settle for anything less, but do what makes you happy.

    my best wishes!!
     
  46. SunshineNYC

    SunshineNYC SunshineNYC

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    If your desire is to be a good physician, then you clearly wish to have sick people get better and to save lives. I think that your mental illness could be a liability for you and for your patients, and that the medical field is already so stressful and so crazy, that if your doctors believe that it would be bad for you, and most likely, bad for your patients too, then you should give it up, because at that point, becoming a doctor is only your goal for personal, and maybe selfish reasons. If you are not the best equipped person to help save someone's life because under stressful circumstances your behavior is unpredictable, even to yourself, then you need to step back and realize that you wouldn't be fit for this job.

    Also, being a social worker is not easier. Talk about STRESS and long hours and being over worked! If you are in undergraduate school right now, just focus on getting through it successfully, focus on your mental health and keeping that in check, and then worry about your career path... but personally, I think you should forget about medicine. Sorry.
     
  47. scrubsaresexy

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    What's wrong with public nudity? ;)

    And OP, I think that this is a decision better made by sitting down and taking a good hard look at yourself. Like a whole bunch of people said, we don't know you or know your history or any of that. The only person who knows if you can do this is you. I know that I wouldn't hold a psychological disorder against a doctor, but I think he or she would have to prove himself or herself to me to show me that it doesn't affect their work as a physician.

    Good luck!
     
  48. t-funk

    t-funk The Road Less Traveled

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    Great post Ghip! I agree completely!
     
  49. twohearted

    twohearted The whistle go . . .

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    :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:
     
  50. tivski

    tivski Junior Member

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    I've read dropkick's offensive posts in several forums and never felt compelled to reply but I have to apologize for this insensitive comment. No one should describe anyone's illness in such a crude fashion, certainly not a doctor-to-be.

    That said, i agree with others that we cannot provide the kind of decision-making adivce you need, that your doctor should not have lied to you about the drop-out rate and that second opinions are not always helpful with mental health issues but you should get more information from other professionals and other Bipolar patients.

    If you do decide to go to medical school, make sure that you research which ones are more supportive than others. I have a physical disability so I did a little research to find out about how they handle taking time off and emergencies. You want to do this on the sly because it can hurt your chances getting in. In fact, you'll want to talk to people about what you disclose during your application.

    Good luck and make sure you have fun in college
     
  51. Schaden Freud

    Schaden Freud MiSanthrope II

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    What may be comforting/reassuring is that the admissions process is so grueling, that if you are able to get through it and matriculate, you should have what it takes both intellectually and emotionally to make it in medical school. I think you should continue to pursue medicine if you are genuinely interested in it. Have a back-up plan, of course, but make sure it's indeed a back-up and not an easy way out.

     
  52. Droopy Snoopy

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    I don't accept this premise. Of course it appears to you guys as if the application process is the toughest part of the game, but ask a new M3 and they'll say gearing up for Step I is the toughest thus far. An M4 will tell you surviving surgery means you can survive anything, and a resident may say nothing will ever top the stress level of your first solo night of intern call. Of course these are just examples that you can agree or disagree with, but the point is it doesn't get any easier. Harder maybe, but none of us will be able to say "the worst is behind me" anytime soon.
     

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