Aug 20, 2017
7
2
Status
Pre-Medical
Hi guys. If you have a minute and enjoy opining on people's life choices, I'd appreciate your thoughts on whether I should go to medical school.

Personal background--my parents are academic scientists and I grew up in a town where the largest employer was a teaching hospital. I was around doctors and their families a lot, and always had it in mind as a potential path. I went to a good liberal arts college where I majored in things I liked but don't want to pursue and just finished my coursework at a top law school. In law school I experienced a shock that basically led me to collapse after my first year (bf left me--I know. Hey, I was upset). As I recovered and got more in touch with my values, I wanted to change paths. (It's also been quite difficult emotionally so I'm not sure how much that's distorted things or whether it's permanently changed my feelings about law.) I realized I was more driven by nurturing than prestige or money and missed science, which I had done a bit in college. My school was wonderful in a lot of ways but I am tired of not knowing what fork to use or how to talk about Israel like I got my Ph.D. in its history over the dinner table. I want to do something where it is enough to be humane, smart, competent, and you can be very successful as someone who gets good independent results and doesn't see rank.

Factors--
- I will be a bit old. Not super old, but a bit old. I'm about 29 now. I can take the MCAT and take the 3 courses I need this coming year, then apply, meaning I will start at about 31. Worried about having a social life in a new place, having kids in my 30s.
- Need to take 3 courses--Bio II + orgo sequence. My science GPA was about 3.8 if I'm remembering right, 3.8something. What is best way to do this, assuming I get a job doing something in a major city for next 2 years? Would there be a benefit to taking more classes than I need if I do well in them?
- What jobs should I be looking at? I was thinking health policy? Can I work at a firm for the money or will that look weird on apps?
- I'm already in huge debt. If I go to med school, I am thinking either state school or military scholarship. Any thoughts or other ideas? Honestly I still am kind of a prestige *****.
- Want to travel and work with ppl in need. What is the best way to do this as a doctor?
 
Last edited:

flasheroonie

Teddy Bear
7+ Year Member
May 24, 2010
41
31
TARDIS
Status
Attending Physician
You have to keep in mind that going to med school means at least 7 more years of work and increasing debt before you can start making any real money (4 years med school, minimum 3 years residency, plus god knows how many more years of fellowship for subspecialty training if that's what you end up wanting to do). Now, keeping that in mind, I've had older students in my med school class and they were able to go through it just fine. One member of my own med school class already had a JD. So, it's possible. Now, as to the commitment it takes to get through med school at a later age, that's all up to you and your sheer force of will.

Medicine is what many would call a "calling." The simplest way I can describe it is that you have to give up part of your soul and psyche to get through the training needed to practice independently. It takes sacrifice like you have never seen. You will miss out on friends, family, and the rest of the world for very long periods of time just to get through it all. You have to decide if that's worth it to you.
 

theonlytycrane

5+ Year Member
Mar 23, 2014
1,954
1,682
Status
Medical Student
You need service in your community and a breadth of clinical experiences before you apply so it's not as simple as classes + Mcat. The practical answer is "no" since you already have debt, you didn't mention service, and mention prestige being important to you.


Sent from my iPhone using SDN mobile app
 
  • Like
Reactions: Goro
OP
S
Aug 20, 2017
7
2
Status
Pre-Medical
You need service in your community and a breadth of clinical experiences before you apply so it's not as simple as classes + Mcat. The practical answer is "no" since you already have debt, you didn't mention service, and mention prestige being important to you.


Sent from my iPhone using SDN mobile app
Yes, I also need other things. I've been drawn to law-related service in school (refugee assistance and TRO help) but haven't looked into med related service yet as not sure where I'll be in the next 2 years.

Prestige is important to me. Otherwise it might make more sense to become a nurse anesthesiologist or PA if I shift into health--I'm guessing. But it's less important than helping people. Before things went downhill I was doing great on the track that I was on, but it didn't fully satisfy me. And in terms of a profession that emphasizes prestige and how things were going there was no going up at that point.
 

akuko2

2+ Year Member
Jul 16, 2015
220
689
Status
Medical Student
Is there nothing good you can do with your JD instead? I don't think anyone should go to medical school unless they absolutely can not see themselves doing anything else, especially when nursing is a much more flexible field that allows more lateral mobility (switching into different medical specialities) as well as more personal time with the few patients you have rather than jumping from room to room so you can knock out 30-45 pt visits a day.

Sorry just read more about your prestige problem, but if this is an issue then you'll sadly have to face many people calling you a nurse anyway since you are a female. Unfortunately my female colleagues are constantly called nurses and even after telling them they are in medical school pts will shake their heads and say, 'I know you will be such a great nurse :)"
 
  • Like
Reactions: Goro

Goro

7+ Year Member
Jun 10, 2010
51,829
74,498
Somewhere west of St. Louis
Status
Non-Student
Yes, I also need other things. I've been drawn to law-related service in school (refugee assistance and TRO help) but haven't looked into med related service yet as not sure where I'll be in the next 2 years.

Prestige is important to me. Otherwise it might make more sense to become a nurse anesthesiologist or PA if I shift into health--I'm guessing. But it's less important than helping people. Before things went downhill I was doing great on the track that I was on, but it didn't fully satisfy me. And in terms of a profession that emphasizes prestige and how things were going there was no going up at that point.
This is an absolutely lousy reason for wanting to be a doctor. You'll be miserable in med school and after if this is your primary motivation.

Go into politics if you want prestige.
 
OP
S
Aug 20, 2017
7
2
Status
Pre-Medical
This is an absolutely lousy reason for wanting to be a doctor. You'll be miserable in med school and after if this is your primary motivation.

Go into politics if you want prestige.
The point of that response was that prestige wasn't the primary motivation.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Hkhan

Ad2b

SDN Gold Donor
Gold Donor
2+ Year Member
Nov 3, 2014
2,880
2,683
Status
Pre-Medical
Honestly I still am kind of a prestige *****.
The point of that response was that prestige wasn't the primary motivation.
Do you write the answers for the AAMC Section Banks, by chance? They do the same thing with their answer explanations flip/flop, B is right because C is wrong and A is sort of right but B is a better
choice because B.

Prestige is your concern; medicine IS a calling.

I'm 53. Do not whine about age.
 
OP
S
Aug 20, 2017
7
2
Status
Pre-Medical
Not that post--my reply that was quoted by the poster I was responding to. It said prestige was important to me, but less than other things. Which was why when I had all the prestige I wanted, I still wasn't happy.

I am happy to hear that ppl think 29 is not too old to start. I would love to hear about anyone who started later and had children during med school/residency
 

Ad2b

SDN Gold Donor
Gold Donor
2+ Year Member
Nov 3, 2014
2,880
2,683
Status
Pre-Medical
Not that post--my reply that was quoted by the poster I was responding to. It said prestige was important to me, but less than other things. Which was why when I had all the prestige I wanted, I still wasn't happy.
One truth I can tell you about life (my first son would've been 31, my 2nd son is 25 almost 26):

Money, prestige, "things", more "things", houses, cars boats, airplanes, helos, bank accounts, etc will NEVER EVER make you happy unless you are already happy inside. Not ever. People who have all that hope the next big thing will be the ticket to make them happy and it's not. Never is.

Medicine does not seem to be your calling which is not necessarily a bad thing. Find what it is you love. Chase that with abandon. Do whatever it is that makes that passion come alive and don't let it die.

That's how I feel about becoming a doc. At 53.
 
OP
S
Aug 20, 2017
7
2
Status
Pre-Medical
One truth I can tell you about life (my first son would've been 31, my 2nd son is 25 almost 26):

Money, prestige, "things", more "things", houses, cars boats, airplanes, helos, bank accounts, etc will NEVER EVER make you happy unless you are already happy inside. Not ever. People who have all that hope the next big thing will be the ticket to make them happy and it's not. Never is.

Medicine does not seem to be your calling which is not necessarily a bad thing. Find what it is you love. Chase that with abandon. Do whatever it is that makes that passion come alive and don't let it die.

That's how I feel about becoming a doc. At 53.
I think we are in heated agreement here--I have my vices, shopping and prestige being two of them, but I agree that ultimately you have to focus your life on things you find meaningful.

I am not as emphatic in how I express my feelings but I've been thinking about this for several years and think there is a good chance it is right for me. Though I am not at the point of launching into it yet. I am happy to hear you have reached the point where you know your passion and you're following it
 

Goro

7+ Year Member
Jun 10, 2010
51,829
74,498
Somewhere west of St. Louis
Status
Non-Student
Hi guys. If you have a minute and enjoy opining on people's life choices, I'd appreciate your thoughts on whether I should go to medical school.

Personal background--my parents are academic scientists and I grew up in a town where the largest employer was a teaching hospital. I was around doctors and their families a lot, and always had it in mind as a potential path. I went to a good liberal arts college where I majored in things I liked but don't want to pursue and just finished my coursework at a top law school. In law school I experienced a shock that basically led me to collapse after my first year (bf left me--I know. Hey, I was upset). As I recovered and got more in touch with my values, I wanted to change paths. (It's also been quite difficult emotionally so I'm not sure how much that's distorted things or whether it's permanently changed my feelings about law.) I realized I was more driven by nurturing than prestige or money and missed science, which I had done a bit in college. My school was wonderful in a lot of ways but I am tired of not knowing what fork to use or how to talk about Israel like I got my Ph.D. in its history over the dinner table. I want to do something where it is enough to be humane, smart, competent, and you can be very successful as someone who gets good independent results and doesn't see rank.

Factors--
- I will be a bit old. Not super old, but a bit old. I'm about 29 now. I can take the MCAT and take the 3 courses I need this coming year, then apply, meaning I will start at about 31. Worried about having a social life in a new place, having kids in my 30s.
- Need to take 3 courses--Bio II + orgo sequence. My science GPA was about 3.8 if I'm remembering right, 3.8something. What is best way to do this, assuming I get a job doing something in a major city for next 2 years? Would there be a benefit to taking more classes than I need if I do well in them?
- What jobs should I be looking at? I was thinking health policy? Can I work at a firm for the money or will that look weird on apps?
- I'm already in huge debt. If I go to med school, I am thinking either state school or military scholarship. Any thoughts or other ideas? Honestly I still am kind of a prestige *****.
- Want to travel and work with ppl in need. What is the best way to do this as a doctor?
My apologies for not reading your 2nd post more carefully.

1) Some of my all time best students have been in their 30s and 40s.
2) This is a marathon now, not a sprint.
3) Suggest taking the pre-reqs either in a post-bac program for career changers, or as DIY. This will take about another 1-2 years.
4) Dump the prestige issue right now. if you do poorly on your MCAT, you're looking at either a Drexel/Albany class MD school or a DO school. Beggars can't be choosy.
5) It's OK to be employed in this process, but you will need to get the required ECs in. Shadowing, clincal contact, and nonclinical volunteering.
6) Make sure your mental health issues have resolved completely. Medical school is a furnace, and I've seen it break even healthy students. The #1 reason my school loses students to withdrawal, dismissal or LOA is to unresolved mental health issues.
7) You will need to make a case as to why you're running TO Medicine, and not merely running away from a bad job market in the Law.
8) You can help people in many other professions,without the aggravation of med school and residency.
 
  • Like
Reactions: akuko2 and mistafab

Ad2b

SDN Gold Donor
Gold Donor
2+ Year Member
Nov 3, 2014
2,880
2,683
Status
Pre-Medical
I think we are in heated agreement here

LOL - I'm not heated at all. But what you describe doesn't lead me to think being a physician is for you. I work with a
multi specialty clinic and while there is a lot of autonomy between docs there is a lot more... of "us" to administer them. They do as we want, they see as many patients as we expect or they get put on performance plans, and ousted (sad but true). We have regular code reviews and if the docs aren't coding appropriately (over/under), we write them up after so many times.

With a law degree, I see so many ways you can work MORE autonomously to help people than as a physician (focus on autonomous).

And finally, if every point I make forces your brain to say, "NO, I want this!!!" then maybe I'm wrong :)

Did you ever see the FRIENDS episode where Rachel is unsure if she wants to be pregnant or not and Phoebe says, "Sorry, Rach, you're not." Rachel goes into the stall, audience can hear her quietly weeping... and then we find out Phoebe lied to her and Rach is ecstatic?

Think of me like Phoebe :) (more like Rachel but for this purpose think of me like Phoebs)
 

DV-T

2+ Year Member
Nov 11, 2015
1,424
2,169
Status
Medical Student
From someone who was in your shoes, first and foremost, you have to get over this romanticized image of medicine that you seem to have right now in your head.

Since you mentioned you have not deviated yet from your law career course, stay the course until you find a volunteer position in an ER, clinic, hospice facility, etc during your free time where you will interact with patients when they are uncooperative, have bodily fluids coming out of their bodies, when they are not at their best (odor-wise, temperamental-wise, etc ), when you see them pass away and their family members are bawling, etc.

After these experiences for a lengthy amount of time, you still are able to see yourself treating patients for the rest of your life, and you still feel that medicine is your true calling, then follow what Goro and others have wisely advised you to do.
 
OP
S
Aug 20, 2017
7
2
Status
Pre-Medical
Thanks for the input. I think this is a good check. I'll see how I feel about it after having tried things out more this coming year

Heh. It's a good Friends episode
 
  • Like
Reactions: Ad2b

flasheroonie

Teddy Bear
7+ Year Member
May 24, 2010
41
31
TARDIS
Status
Attending Physician
I wholeheartedly agree with my colleagues above—medicine is a marathon, not a sprint. You will need something that you can always depend on as your reason for doing medicine or you will fail. Going into medicine is like paying enormous amounts of money to an olympic-class boxer to punch you once squarely in the face as soon as you wake up every single day for the next decade and then immediately ask you, "Are you sure you want me to come back tomorrow and punch you again?" If you even once say, "No," you've failed. You need to find the strength to say, "Yes" every single time.
 

Med Ed

2+ Year Member
Sep 13, 2015
2,732
8,997
Status
Attending Physician
Hi guys. If you have a minute and enjoy opining on people's life choices, I'd appreciate your thoughts on whether I should go to medical school.
@DV-T has the best advice on this thread. Lots of people get disillusioned during graduate/professional studies, that doesn't mean it's time to hop on a longer and even more expensive train.

I will, however, add that I have known a few JD -> MD's over the years, and if you are pondering this path it will help to understand that prestige and rankings are not nearly as important in medicine as they are in law. That's not so say these elements are meaningless, but for a regular MD who wants to match and practice the hierarchy is relatively flat. Whereas it may be reasonable to choose a law school based on rank, you should be happy gaining an acceptance to any MD-granting school in the US.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Goro and mistafab

mellie0

2+ Year Member
Apr 23, 2015
386
445
Status
Medical Student
I don't think you should go into medicine. There's a TON you need to do to even be considered an applicant, and even then, 60% of applicants who have poured their hearts and souls into the process don't make it each year.

As someone who also considered law school at some point, med school is a lot harder to get into. Moreover, with 2-3 years getting the experience, classes, and MCAT, plus 4 years in med school and a minimum of 3 years in residency, you're looking at 10 years before becoming a fully licensed physician.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Goro

mistafab

2+ Year Member
Oct 20, 2015
1,567
3,186
Status
Medical Student
I'm a med student currently and I wish you the best on the road you choose. So far medicine isn't just peaches and cream. So just a heads up to make sure you are positive that this is what you want to do. I am sure this is what I want, and for that reason, I feel good when I wake up and feel good when I am working at school. Just make sure you want to really do this or you may just find that this is something that promises a lot but doesn't deliver as much as you thought it would. I could not imaging spending my day from monday to saturday studying this stuff if I didn't care about it - so make sure that you really care before you jump on the boat. Coming from law school, the work won't be the problem. You just gotta make sure you feel it in your bones that this is the right move, or it will just be a big drain.

I second some thoughts in this thread to get some shadowing experience, either in a hospital or office or both, just for your own sake to see what the day to day is like. Hopefully, this might help you make your decision.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Goro

AttemptingScholar

2+ Year Member
Apr 1, 2016
607
531
Status
Pre-Medical
Are you intending to only go to schools that don't require biochemistry? Are you planning on taking the MCAT without first taking biochemistry?
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Goro