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Should I go to med school?

Discussion in 'What Are My Chances?' started by Unhappy Lawyer, 09.30.14.

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  1. Unhappy Lawyer

    Unhappy Lawyer

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    I am 29 years old. An attorney at a big law firm making 250k+ a year. Incredibly unhappy as a lawyer. A fact that arises not from the long hours I work, but rather the type of work I do-- I find the legal profession to be a drain on society (especially the area of law I practice) and find it harder and harder each day to pull myself out of bed and continue this pointless endeavor.

    Should I quit my job and go to med school? If I was five years younger, the answer would be simple: a resounding yes. But at my age, is the decision to go to med school prudent? Does it make financial sense? Why or why not?

    Two other noteworthy facts. First, I obtained my undergraduate degree in electrical engineering, so I have some but not all of the prerequisites completed (I suspect it would take me at least a year to complete them). Second, I have been informed by some that a viable med schools candidate will have performed a great deal of volunteer work and research within the relevant field. I have, to date, performed none of these. Does this significantly undermine my candidacy? To the extent it makes a difference, I am good at standardized testing and have a strong academic background-- graduated top ten percent from top ten schools for engineering and law.
     
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  3. xffan624

    xffan624 2+ Year Member

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    Why do you want to go to medical school? Because you're unhappy as a lawyer is not a good enough reason. There's lot of other jobs out there, why medicine? Answer that first before you decide to abandon your career.
     
  4. Afford

    Afford

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    Why medical school? There are plenty of professions out there that don't require med school+residency and you might be just as happy with.
     
  5. radkat101

    radkat101 2+ Year Member

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    Many physicians feel similar about their careers (minus the drain on society part). First you should get exposure to medicine and be 100% sure it's something you want to do before taking any further steps. Why not look at some other areas of law?
     
  6. Catalystik

    Catalystik Providing herd protection SDN Advisor 10+ Year Member

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    1) Your age is not a bar to consideration. But look before you leap. Medicine has its negative face as well. Shadowing a physician and/or volunteering at a hospital, hospice, rehab center, free-, family-planning or VA clinic will get the the information you need to make a better informed choice. Hanging out on SDN and reading the threads is a good source of information, too, (particularly the Nontraditional Forum where other law-to-doc members post).

    2) Have you been socking away your high income or using it to live the good life? Did you pay off any previous educational debt? Can you bear to live like a student again? If you can afford to pay cash for a medical education you're in a good position. If you are debt free and have a good credit rating, that bodes well also. Of course you won't have a similar income again for 8+ years, but if you're happier with life it's a good trade off. Obviously, opinions on this point will vary.

    3)&4) Nontraditional candidates often don't have a research experience, but their rich life experience can be an adequate compensation. As an Engineering student, you may have had a major project that can be used as a substitution.

    Every med school won't ding you for a lack of volunteerism, but most will be looking for it. Don't you ever do pro bono work? Or is there a student law clinic nearby where you can mentor or offer your services while you sort things out?
     
  7. civic4982

    civic4982 FM => Geri 10+ Year Member

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    Ask yourself if you would practice medicine for $150k a year and owe $200k in student loans that you would begin paying back in 7 to 10 years after you begin medical school

    If the financial calculations do not nullify your interest then ask yourself if you would work 6A to 8P day in and day out to take care of others. Most will appreciate you, some will be indifferent, and some, but very few, will see you as an opportunity to abuse your training for their financial benefit or their addiction.

    It's a long journey. So talk to your loved ones and get them on board before you begin. If you have a family already it will strain those relationships from time to time.

    No one here can answer the question in the title for you.

    I enjoy my work thoroughly and never dread going into work. I have very high work satisfaction and enjoy the company of my colleagues. I feel that they are quality people who want to do the best for others. However, even in medicine there are those who are a drain on society and practice only to enrich themselves with no regard in the aftermath of suffering they leave behind.

    An alternative may be to find a field in law that is why you went to law school to begin with.

    You're probably very capable and can achieve at whatever you set your mind to. Just make sure that if you do change paths in your career that you won't be asking the same questions at 39 years of age after completing thousands of hours of medical school and residency training.


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  8. Goro

    Goro 5+ Year Member

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    Medicine is a calling, like being a fireman, a soldier, or a priest. What does your heart tell you, other than you're not happy with what you're doing now?
     
  9. Unhappy Lawyer

    Unhappy Lawyer

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    Why med school?

    I think the profession has substance. I think the ability to see the work I do positively impact someone will be rewarding and make work enjoyable. Of course, there are plenty of other professions (including in the legal profession) that I would also find rewarding, but those professions generally do not pay well. Medicine appears to be one of the few professions that would allow me to take pride in what I do and not be financially strained.

    Have you been socking away your high income or using it to live the good life? Did you pay off any previous educational debt? Can you bear to live like a student again?

    I have managed to pay off my law school debt and have enough money to pay for med school in cash, if needed. I can bear to live like a student again, at least for the next 8 years, but I could not do so forever. Indeed, second to my age, my biggest concern with going to med school is whether the investment will be sufficiently rewarding, from a financial perspective. I do not need to be rich (and am willing to take a hit from where I would be if I continued to chug along in my current nightmare), but I would like to afford to dine out, travel, drive a nice car, and live in a nice house. To this end, does anyone have any insight on what the average ROADS doctor can expect to make in a major market like LA. I have received conflicting facts. Some have said 150k while others say 400k+.

    Don't you ever do pro bono work?

    I have worked on a few pro bono projects here and there, but have had difficulty fitting much in given the high hour expectation of our firm. This is an interesting idea though-- I had not realized that medical schools would consider volunteer work outside of the medical field.

    I enjoy my work thoroughly and never dread going into work. I have very high work satisfaction and enjoy the company of my colleagues. I feel that they are quality people who want to do the best for others. However, even in medicine there are those who are a drain on society and practice only to enrich themselves with no regard in the aftermath of suffering they leave behind.

    Civic4982, you sound like a great doctor. What you describe is precisely what I desire-- i.e., satisfaction in the work that I do and confidence that I am making a difference. However, I also desire a salary that would allow me to enjoy my life outside of work. I don't think 150k would do the trick. Is that really how much doctors make after 8+ years of schooling? Is this true of doctors who specialize, as well?

    What does your heart tell you, other than you're not happy with what you're doing now?

    My heart says medicine--indeed, several years ago, when I was a second year associate, I tried to sign-up for a few night time biology classes to complete my prerequisites and start the jump-- I was wait listed for the classes, ended-up not getting in, got very busy and did not end up trying again. Unfortunately, I am risk averse and scared to take a leap into the unknown. I cannot afford to go with my gut and make another wrong career choice.
     
  10. Catalystik

    Catalystik Providing herd protection SDN Advisor 10+ Year Member

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    Some other ideas for nonmedical community service, if you find their mission more appealing, might include Meals on Wheels, homeless or women's shelter, soup kitchen, food pantry, crisis hotline, after school tutoring of kids or ESL for adults, Big Brother/Big Sister, Special Olympics or coaching athletic programs for the physically disabled, helping with a scout troop or other youth group, providing enrichment classes in a poor school (eg, science demonstrations or health topics), Habitat for Humanity, or Humane Society. Try to give an hour or two of your time on a regular basis, ideally weekly or twice monthly.

    Of course, this would be in addition to interacting with patients in a medical environment.

    And, BTW, longevity counts for both the above types of experiences, though it does not for physician shadowing.
     
    Last edited: 10.03.14
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  11. AlbinoHawk DO

    AlbinoHawk DO Student Osteopath 2+ Year Member

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    I would definitely say no. Trust me, it's not worth the stress, time and money unless this is the only thing you can ever see yourself doing. I think you should explore other areas in law and even consider non profit work. Money is important, but only as much as you'd happiness isn't compromised.
     
  12. oldman

    oldman Senior Citizen 10+ Year Member

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    LA is a tough market to work in as a physician. If you're in private practice the referral patterns are hard to get into. Young doctors who have referral based practices had a hard time getting enough patients to make a good living, the established ones on the other hand were making killings without spreading the wealth. Plus the LA cost of living makes for tougher times when you're income is on the lower end. The highest incomes for doctors tends to be in the midwest where there is also a lower cost of living.

    Your decision should also be affected by what you wanna do. If you plan on being a neurosurgeon you'll be training until you're old and it will be grueling. If you are thinking of being an internist you're looking at 7 years of school + residency.
     
  13. Goro

    Goro 5+ Year Member

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    Your local houses of worship will have plenty of volunteer opportunities.

     

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