Is pre-med a good idea for me?

any advice would be very helpful

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Is pre-med a good idea for me?

#1  Postby inkaStepa » Dec 30, 2010 7:02 am

I'm in a biology program right now and (though I haven't even started my real premed program yet) I'm wondering if being a doctor would be realistic for me. I tried talking to a career counseler but she kept telling me I'd be better as a nurse or a PA at best (probably because my grades so far haven't been the best). I'm retaking bio (I failed) but I really do like science. I can't imagine being in any other field to be honest (except art but that is something I'd rather do on the side). So I guess some questions I have are:

-Must one be a fast learner to be a doctor? I tend to take more time to understand things to be honest.

-is it possible to do more than volunteer work abroad (like work at an Indian hospital or example)? Someone told me I'd have to do a residency to practice anywhere outside the states.

-Will I be able to have a family? The counseler told me I would be too busy to manage a home life so I'm a bit worried. I'm not planning to think about kids until I'm 30-35 but I'm 20 now.
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Re: Is pre-med a good idea for me?

#2  Postby Areopagitican » Dec 30, 2010 7:14 am

My $.02

I haven't found that the ability to learn quickly has been the staple of high performers. I've known plenty of people who take years to read one page and they do excellently. Similarly, tons of brilliant people I know are barely making it through a light Junior College load (my ex-girlfriend being one of them!). Honestly, I doubt the low grades have to do with being a 'fast' or 'good' or even 'mediocre' learner. It more likely has to do with you just being a lazy ass about it. Work hard, get far. If you can't do that though, I'll be honest with you, you won't make it. Three of my cousins are going through various stages of medical school, and there's one universal aspect about the program: time. Time spent studying/working/not having any "fun."
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Re: Is pre-med a good idea for me?

#3  Postby inkaStepa » Dec 30, 2010 7:33 am

I've just about had it with "fun." After a party gone awry, I don't want to do anything but hit the books...and the sheets for that matter.
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Re: Is pre-med a good idea for me?

#4  Postby natselrox » Dec 30, 2010 7:34 am

inkaStepa wrote:-Must one be a fast learner to be a doctor? I tend to take more time to understand things to be honest.


Medicine is more of a combined discipline of a lot of different subjects. Some parts require analytical skills, others need practical wit while others need mindless cramming. As a result, you have a whole lot of different types of doctors, some pursuing research, others doing hands-on clinical medicine, some excel at surgery, some are good at emergency management etc. So it might be a tad difficult to say whether one has to be a fast learner or not. It might help in some parts while it is not essential in others.

From my experience, the people who take longer to grasp a concept, are usually the ones who get it best. Not that medicine has a lot of difficult concepts. TBH, most of medicine is pretty fucking easy.

-is it possible to do more than volunteer work abroad (like work at an Indian hospital or example)? Someone told me I'd have to do a residency to practice anywhere outside the states.


Until recently, India did not have a medical licensing exam like the USMLE but it has recently been introduced and you will need to pass it to get the licence to do medicine in India. The exam's an easy one and they ask pretty basic questions. And you need to do the one-year internship that comes compulsory with all med-schools to be eligible for that.

Indian hospitals are very hard to work at and they usually handle a lot more pressure than the western ones. But that can always be a good thing if you want to learn how to tackle practical situations. So it's always a good idea to come here for the experience.

If OTOH you want to do volunteer work for the sake of it, then I think, a better idea would be to be attached with Red Cross or DWB etc. That way, you can actually be where the need is.

-Will I be able to have a family? The counseler told me I would be too busy to manage a home life so I'm a bit worried. I'm not planning to think about kids until I'm 30-35 but I'm 20 now.


All the doctors I know have a very healthy family life. Things may get a little rough or busy at times but that's a part of every job, I guess.
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Re: Is pre-med a good idea for me?

#5  Postby Mike_L » Dec 30, 2010 7:47 am

Depends on whether or not you like the whiff of formaldehyde. :grin:

Okay, seriously....
I know quite a few docs, and just about all of them have said the same thing: medical study is not especially complex, but it does require assimilation of huge quantities of knowledge. In addition, it helps if you are good at recognising patterns, seeing the big picture and making connections.... e.g. seeing how anatomy governs physiology, and how physiology relates to disease processes, etc.

The main thing with any career choice is to ask three questions:

* Does the career fit my personality? (E.g. introverts are not especially well suited to careers that require "people skills". Equally, people-loving folk are not suited to solitary pursuits.)
* Does the career tally with my abilities? (E.g. engineering would probably not be a good choice for people who struggle with math).
* Is the career in line with my interests? The greater one's interest in a subject, the better one's motivation. And the more motivated one is, the better one's performance.

That said, don't be too afraid of setting out on the wrong path. You can always change direction after the first year... for instance, if you start medical studies and decide it's not for you (but you're still interested in biology), you could switch to biochemistry, or pharmacy, or microbiology, or whatever....

You're young. Still plenty of time to find your niche.
Good luck! :thumbup:
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Re: Is pre-med a good idea for me?

#6  Postby z8000783 » Dec 30, 2010 9:07 am

inkaStepa wrote:I'm in a biology program right now and (though I haven't even started my real premed program yet) I'm wondering if being a doctor would be realistic for me. I tried talking to a career counseler but she kept telling me I'd be better as a nurse or a PA at best (probably because my grades so far haven't been the best). I'm retaking bio (I failed) but I really do like science. I can't imagine being in any other field to be honest (except art but that is something I'd rather do on the side). So I guess some questions I have are:

-Must one be a fast learner to be a doctor? I tend to take more time to understand things to be honest.

-is it possible to do more than volunteer work abroad (like work at an Indian hospital or example)? Someone told me I'd have to do a residency to practice anywhere outside the states.

-Will I be able to have a family? The counseler told me I would be too busy to manage a home life so I'm a bit worried. I'm not planning to think about kids until I'm 30-35 but I'm 20 now.

Point one: Stop using this career counsellor, she is useless at her job.

Question one: Have you set you heart on becoming a Doctor?

John
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Re: Is pre-med a good idea for me?

#7  Postby jaydot » Jan 02, 2011 2:32 am

if you can learn the stuff you need to know, go the whole hog and become a doctor. you don't need to practise beyond your training requirements.

a number of doctors in britain have gone on to become comedians, writers, actors and telly doctors. first the education feeds your mind, then you can look around and see what else you'd like to do.
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Re: Is pre-med a good idea for me?

#8  Postby james1v » Jan 02, 2011 2:43 am

If you enjoy the subject you are studying, you will learn quick. ;)
"When humans yield up the privilege of thinking, the last shadow of liberty quits the horizon". Thomas Paine.
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Re: Is pre-med a good idea for me?

#9  Postby CherryBomb » Jan 02, 2011 8:55 am

My friend is a doctor. She did a nursing degree prior to studying as a doctor because her high school grades weren't so great. Meeting her casually you'd never think for a second she was smart enough to be a doctor and yet she ultimately graduated top of her class. She really isn't very academic but she had a passion for medicine and that makes all the difference. Can't have a family? My friend was already a mother when she began her medical degree and has gone on to have three more children. You never hear of career counsellors tell male prospective med students that they won't be able to have a family do you? What archaic nonsense.
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Re: Is pre-med a good idea for me?

#10  Postby Mazille » Jan 02, 2011 9:02 am

CherryBomb wrote:You never hear of career counsellors tell male prospective med students that they won't be able to have a family do you? What archaic nonsense.

:this:
That counsellor is clearly a prick.

My girlfriend is a doctor (a psychiatrist to be exact) and I can tell you that medicine in general isn't particularly hard, it's just shitloads of stuff to learn. It's time consuming, but if you are determined it's absolutely possible, even if you aren't the brightest candle in the room. (Thinking about some of my gf's colleagues there... Besides, I doubt that you are as slow as you make yourself out to be.)

I say give it a shot. Better to try and fail than to never try and hate yourself for it for the rest of your life.
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Re: Is pre-med a good idea for me?

#11  Postby inkaStepa » Jan 04, 2011 2:34 am

Thanks everyone...I just don't know what to do with myself. I like to help people and the human body has always been a big interest to me and so has the world...but that doesn't really narrow things down. I'm not really a people person (I like my space). The counseler is pretty annpying but she's the only one whose ever in the office. I haven't set my heart on being a doctor but it's the only career that I'm somewhat interested in. I'll figure it out eventually.

Maybe you guys can help? My only interests I've studied academically are art, some literature, and science. I'm introverted but can be extroverted and I like to travel...but I also like to have a steady home life. I've taken those tests that tell you what type of feild your personality would suit and they always say investigator, physician, or art director. Everytime I think about my future it just makes me want to pull my face off to be honest. I love school don't get me wrong but I can't see myself in any job. I've searched all types of careers but I just can't picture myself in the future.
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Re: Is pre-med a good idea for me?

#12  Postby natselrox » Jan 04, 2011 5:03 am

Another small advice: A career in medicine usually takes a looooooong time to start. So if you're of the impatient-type, I'd advice against it.
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Re: Is pre-med a good idea for me?

#13  Postby Mike_L » Jan 04, 2011 7:32 am

Hmmm. You're interested in both art and medicine. Perhaps a career in medical illustration might be an idea? :think:
It's maybe worth having a look at the Careers Page of the Association of Medical Illustrators. Gives information on career opportunities, what skills are required, what education is required, where to study, etc.
Link...
http://www.ami.org/medical-illustration/careers.html
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Re: Is pre-med a good idea for me?

#14  Postby Darwinsbulldog » Jan 04, 2011 7:47 am

inkaStepa wrote:I'm in a biology program right now and (though I haven't even started my real premed program yet) I'm wondering if being a doctor would be realistic for me. I tried talking to a career counseler but she kept telling me I'd be better as a nurse or a PA at best (probably because my grades so far haven't been the best). I'm retaking bio (I failed) but I really do like science. I can't imagine being in any other field to be honest (except art but that is something I'd rather do on the side). So I guess some questions I have are:

-Must one be a fast learner to be a doctor? I tend to take more time to understand things to be honest.

-is it possible to do more than volunteer work abroad (like work at an Indian hospital or example)? Someone told me I'd have to do a residency to practice anywhere outside the states.

-Will I be able to have a family? The counseler told me I would be too busy to manage a home life so I'm a bit worried. I'm not planning to think about kids until I'm 30-35 but I'm 20 now.

My two cents worth. Don't be a doc. Lots of intense learning and pressure, and you need good people skills [either that, or be a surgeon]! A scientific artist or illustrator might suit you more. Or be a biologist. Getting a PhD in biology is mostly doggedness, hard work, and enthusiasm. You can think outside the square, so originality should be no problem. If you screw up an experiment, then there is no problem, just do it again. I am only guessing based on what you have posted, but I don't think you would relish the prospect of being responsible for so many people and their health.
But, as with many things, competition is tight and jobs are scarce, but that may change when you qualify.
Do something which most feels right to you.
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Re: Is pre-med a good idea for me?

#15  Postby natselrox » Jan 04, 2011 7:49 am

Mike_L wrote:Hmmm. You're interested in both art and medicine. Perhaps a career in medical illustration might be an idea? :think:
It's maybe worth having a look at the Careers Page of the Association of Medical Illustrators. Gives information on career opportunities, what skills are required, what education is required, where to study, etc.
Link...
http://www.ami.org/medical-illustration/careers.html


EYUP! :cheers:

Two of my favourite sites:

http://multimedia.mcb.harvard.edu/

http://creaturecast.org/
When in perplexity, read on.

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Re: Is pre-med a good idea for me?

#16  Postby Pebble » Jan 04, 2011 8:05 am

[quote="Darwinsbulldog";p="654081]My two cents worth. Don't be a doc. Lots of intense learning and pressure, and you need good people skills [either that, or be a surgeon]! A scientific artist or illustrator might suit you more. Or be a biologist. Getting a PhD in biology is mostly doggedness, hard work, and enthusiasm. You can think outside the square, so originality should be no problem. If you screw up an experiment, then there is no problem, just do it again. I am only guessing based on what you have posted, but I don't think you would relish the prospect of being responsible for so many people and their health.
But, as with many things, competition is tight and jobs are scarce, but that may change when you qualify.
Do something which most feels right to you.[/quote]

Most docs I know have pretty awful peoples skills, oddly a little dispassionate distance is a huge help when the odd patient dies possibly unnecessarily. It is such a huge field that there is room for the idealists, the odd balls, the technically skilled and the geniuses.

I would certainly agree that the career advice Inka has had to date sucks. There is only one question in medicine - are you committed? If you are then you should be able to put up with the discomfort of learning stuff that you will probably never use and dealing with the shitty parts of the job, such as failing some patients.
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Re: Is pre-med a good idea for me?

#17  Postby z8000783 » Jan 04, 2011 8:06 am

Can I suggest based on what you’ve posted already, that you put the question of your career to one side for a few years. You seem to be at the early stages of planning but you only have limited information to input to that plan for example, you have identified a few things you enjoy doing but what about those hundreds of things that you will enjoy doing that you haven’t discovered yet.

You have been involved in education but it doesn’t stop in your mid twenties, in other words you may not have hit upon the subject you really want to study yet. AFAIK there is no FUA for life that you have to sign up to. You can make it whatever you want and you may not yet be best placed to decide what to make it.

Imagine if you never stated work in your chosen career until you were thirty, that still leaves you with a working life of 40 years or so and at least three different careers the last of which, probably doesn’t even exist yet.

Take you time, you are twenty, there is no rush. Have some fun, bum around, do lots of different jobs and travel if you want to but – OUTSIDE OF AMERICA – there is a whole world out there full of great people to meet. And the purpose of doing all this? To provide you with the information about the world and yourself you currently lack, that will assist you in starting a career but only when you are ready and not before.

BTW sack your counsellor and use this forum, I am sure the posters here will provide better counselling than the current waste of space you are using. Don’t use her just because she is there, that is the worse thing you could do.

John
Last edited by z8000783 on Jan 04, 2011 9:53 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Is pre-med a good idea for me?

#18  Postby Darwinsbulldog » Jan 04, 2011 8:30 am

Pebble wrote:[quote="Darwinsbulldog";p="654081]My two cents worth. Don't be a doc. Lots of intense learning and pressure, and you need good people skills [either that, or be a surgeon]! A scientific artist or illustrator might suit you more. Or be a biologist. Getting a PhD in biology is mostly doggedness, hard work, and enthusiasm. You can think outside the square, so originality should be no problem. If you screw up an experiment, then there is no problem, just do it again. I am only guessing based on what you have posted, but I don't think you would relish the prospect of being responsible for so many people and their health.
But, as with many things, competition is tight and jobs are scarce, but that may change when you qualify.
Do something which most feels right to you.[/quote]

Most docs I know have pretty awful peoples skills, oddly a little dispassionate distance is a huge help when the odd patient dies possibly unnecessarily. It is such a huge field that there is room for the idealists, the odd balls, the technically skilled and the geniuses.

I would certainly agree that the career advice Inka has had to date sucks. There is only one question in medicine - are you committed? If you are then you should be able to put up with the discomfort of learning stuff that you will probably never use and dealing with the shitty parts of the job, such as failing some patients.[/quote]


Most docs I know who have bad people skills are bad docs. Most good docs I know have much compassion, and can distance themselves when they need to. Doctoring is a lot more than just medical skills or knowledge. I suggest you change you doc.
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Re: Is pre-med a good idea for me?

#19  Postby Pebble » Jan 04, 2011 12:06 pm

The comment comes from self analysis and observation of my colleagues. So I suppose it depends on what is meant by people skills. Career advisors thisk this is something to do with the introvert-extrovert scale, on which basis I was advised to seek a career that invovled no human contact.

In reality a genuine lack of compassion or disinterest in the wellbeing of others is remarkably rare, however, learning to show empathy is a skill that is fairly easily aquired in the right setting.
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Re: Is pre-med a good idea for me?

#20  Postby inkaStepa » Jan 22, 2011 2:11 am

I really don't want to be responsible for so many people and their health...I don't know how I'd feel about being in a hospital all of the time either.

I'd like to be able to travel the world. I don't want to join the military, and working for the embassy would mean that I don't always have a choice in where I live. I don't want to teach english...so I thought if I became a doctor I could volunteer and travel that way.

I need to get a degree in something soon so that I can get a stable job and afford to move out of my mom's house. I'm interested in everything (I LOVE philosophy) and the only thing I struggle with is math (I'm doing much better in bio this semester thanks to "Idiot's guide" books!!) I did another career/personality test and the things that come up are all art related, but I'm afraid that having a "creative" type of career won't be enough to realistically support myself. I don't know what I should do.
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