confused, different career after med school?

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    I am a medical student currently taking a year out between 2nd and 3rd year for research. I am feeling very confused about my future at this point. I love the study of medicine but I am not very interested in patient care and dealing with the whole healthcare headache. I knew before I applied to medical school that i would never ever be an internist. I figured I would go into radiology or anesthesiology. In college I was deciding between medicine and vet. medicine. I love animals more than anything else. I decided not to apply to vet school because I didnt have enough vet.volunteer/work experience hours in order to apply and I knew as a NY resident i would only go to Cornell where my husband would have nothing to do. I have to admit the low vet salary also pushed me towards human medicine.
    So here I am in medical school. I have been thinking about specialities such as pathology and radiology although I find them somewhat lonely. I like the visual aspect of pathology but dread the idea of doing autopsies. I am a little worried radiology is all machines. I love interacting with other people on a professional level. I think I would enjoy derm and opto a lot because they have some people contact and also i can do surgery type procedures (i love doing things with my hands) but with my step 1 score i dont think i have ever have a chance of matching to the NYC area where my husband works in the financial world. He has suggested that I try business right after medical school in biotech consulting. It seems that I would spend my time thinking and discussing medicine with other intelligent people.
    Basically I dont know what I want in the future. I wish I had taken more time off after school to decide. It feels like once I started medical school and put so much time and money into it- it is too late to consider anything else. I am sure some of us secretly wanted to be a musician or photographer for the National Geographic, but that doesnt mean we all quit our jobs in pursuit of something that is unrealistic. My husband thinks I am just never satisfied and if I was in vet school right now I would be upset about the low salary. And if I was in business I would probably be complaining about something else. But at this point I just dont feel a real passion for any speciality and I think I am really going to hate the next few years without such a passion.
    Please feel free to share any comments or advice for me- career options, specialities, or even just to tell me to grow up and just accept the choice i have made.


    You ARE “grown up” and have been drawn to an amazingly exciting field full of knowledge – Medicine. Don’t forget that your degree is an academic Doctorate, opening many possibilities, only ONE of which is the practice of clinical medicine. Medical school seems like a vortex drawing you into the internship-residency-fellowship spiral, but in actuality this time of your career is the BEST time to step back, put on the brakes, listen to your head and your heart, and to consider how you can best combine your Medical Doctorate with other interests to develop a satisfying career that meets your lifestyle needs…For instance: journalism, broadcasting, public health policy development, NIH, law, consulting, MBA/administration, teaching, etc. Most are likely to require adding degrees or other training, but don’t look at it at this point as “starting over,” for, to quote the (overplayed) song “you’ve only just begun.” Maybe your passion lies in how you use your newfound knowledge of Medicine rather than just “what specialty to train in, where to match.” As 4 me, 4 years of “ivy league” residency, 1 yr fellowship, 3 years suffering in an inequitable male-dominated private practice, 2 years spent trying to keep my dream solo private practice alive desperately needing an MBA/JD and stroke of good luck to fight “the business of doing medicine” to do it, 2 lawsuits (frivolous ones, but I’m still heartwrenchingly defending them 2-3 years later while in danger of losing malpractice insurance because of them tho’ I’ve done no wrong), ulcers, marital stress and much premature aging later, I wish I had been enlightened to the possibilities beyond clinical medicine earlier in my career. Even with a “passion” for my chosen field, it is barely enough to sustain me these days. It’s the peace of living day-to-day, albeit on the edge of financial stability, being there for my 2 kids and enjoying them (ages 2 and 7) that keeps me going, not “medicine”. I find myself asking the same questions as you and wishing I had done it 10 years earlier – talk about starting over! Dont’ get me wrong – I’ve had many rewarding experiences and love my patients, but I’m convinced you can make equal or greater contributions to medicine and healing in our society through many “alternative pathways.” Besides, you may actually be happier, less stressed and feel more complete as a person by exploring these avenues and finding your unique “niche” in medicine. Don’t give up and don’t give in. Good Luck.


    Thank you very much for your reply. My husband and mother (a doctor) tell me that I am thinking too much and should just concentrate on the present. But you are right, now IS the time to think about the future. (thank you, it is nice to have support from others who understand my situation). I love medicine, I find it fascinating. That is why I went to medical school in the first place. However, I am starting to realize that I might love the study of medicine but not the actual practice of it. I dont want to fall into a residency that I am not excited about just because that is the next logical step after medical school. I guess I am trying to see how I can use medicine in another way and I love MomMD because many other people are doing the same. Please keep sharing your suggestions and experiences!!!


    Dont second guess yourself and let other people make you think that “you are never satisfied” and always complaining. If you have certain feelings and uneasiness about your future..LISTEN to yourself. I wish I did. I felt the same way you did and I just kept pushing those feelings away–but they keep coming back. All you have “wasted” is 2 years. That is really so little. If you don’t think this path feels right for you…I would say stop now before you really put in a lot of time and then come up with the same conclusion like me.


    I’m just a medical student right now, but just wanted to post because I feel like Pumpkin, you have been feeling in a very similar way to what I have/am feeling. I almost dropped out of med school last year, but am continuing, just because I find that I really do enjoy school itself, and learning all these amazing things. I am not sure how I will react to the realization of the learning process once I am done with the education part, but am hoping that there will be enough options out there for me to find one I’m happy with. So far, I’m really enjoying school. I presume that was the way you felt while you were in school? I hope that you find different options, and if you do, please share for those who feel the same way as you!!

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