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Physics Career in Physics or Medicine

  1. Jun 8, 2015 #1
    this is going to be a slightly long question so please be patient with me. With that disclaimer out of the way, let me start. I have just finished high school and I can take up a career in Medicine (going to med school) or a career in Physics (going in for a BSc course). I am unable to decide which path to take and I'll now give you a little history on the situation.

    I love Physics very much. I find it very interesting and stimulating. Specifically the idea where you model some phenomena with mathematics and then use that model to make predictions gets me going.
    Now, like all wannabe physicists, I have also read the Brief History of Time and other pop sci books. The idea of time travel, multiverses, quantum entanglement and other sci fi sounding things have obviously fueled my thirst for learning Physics. I have a sketchy idea of these things and now that I have read them in a general sense, I really want to know more about them. (In the Mathematical and rigorous sense) All these ideas that sound as if they were conceived while on some hallucinogen really make me want to understand them better.

    Now I would like to mention that I am a keen follower of philosophy. Especially Metaphysics. I have on many occasions asked myself (as have countless others) questions such as, "Why are we here?", "Are we meant to go somewhere?", "What the hell is ALL of this?", "Does this universe have some agenda?" etc. From my observations, which may be incorrect or biased, I have also deduced that certain Physics concepts also force one to examine them from a Philosophical point of view. (Such as quantum physics etc.) This re enforces my reasons for wanting to do Physics. I must point out that I am very serious about these questions and I feel that the only correct way to move towards their answers is Physics. (I am aware that I will never really find the answers but I feel the journey should provide some insights into our universe.) It is for these reasons that I DO NOT want to go into a field which is human created like Law, Media, Finance etc. I may be successful there, but I would have wasted my life away living in our human bubble. I feel Physics is the only real thing as we have not created the field. We are merely studying what Nature has laid out for us.

    Please note that I am not some Philosopher trying to hide behind the science card. I do find not philosophical fields of Physics very interesting such as Fluid Mechanics. (Spent hours reading up on the Walter-Releigh Instability and Vortex rings)
    But my primary goal is to get a better and more macro understanding of the universe that satisfies my scientific and philosophical pursuits. Please don't chew me up on this. :P

    With the backstory out of the way lets zoom back to the present. I am afraid that if I take up Physics I may most probably end up working in an unrelated field that wont yield any answers or insights to me. (Such as Material Physics) I am aware that Academia is a difficult path and tenure isnt easy to get. I know that salaries are not too high. I know its difficult and that my ultimate goal will eventually never be reached in all that mayhem.

    Medicine, I am reluctant to take because I dont love it. (All doctors say you must love it to do it) I also know that it is just like Law, Economics and those other jobs where Ill slave away and eventually expire. I know it will pay better and will also give me better respect in society but Im not so sure.

    I am completely confused and am not moving in any direction. I feel very frustrated. I know I want to do Physics, but I just cant admit that to myself. I dont have the balls to take that road. Any help (especially ZapperZ, you're like the PF God here) would be appreciated.

  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 8, 2015 #2
  4. Jun 8, 2015 #3


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    Staff: Mentor

    IMO, enjoying patient contacts (even difficult patient contacts) is very important in medicine and EMS. Without that, you are left with doing medical research I suppose, which could be pretty rewarding depending on the projects that you get involved in. But you'll still have to go through medical school, etc., before you get to doing any research, so you will have lots of patient contacts. And if you don't enjoy those contacts, then those years could be unpleasant for you.

    How do you know that you don't like medicine? Have you done any volunteering at a local hospital or VA? Have you taken a First Aid / CPR / AED class? Have you taken your local CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) training from your local Fire Department, and learned basic Disaster Medicine? If you have a current First Aid certification, have you looked into volunteering on the Medical Team at some local outdoor athletic events (like triathlons)?

    There are a number of ways you can start to get some patient contacts -- maybe give it a try to see if you like it after all... :smile:
  5. Jun 9, 2015 #4
    IMO don't become a doctor if you're not passionate about it because it takes a certain mindset to make it through undergrad, med school, and as a doctor. Being a doctor isn't just a career; it's a way of life. I know people who are on call 24/7, have high stress, and do little else besides medicine. Nevertheless, they love their job and they would be restless doing anything else. It seems like you would rather study physics. Even though you don't have a clear-cut path to follow, take the risk and study what truly interests you. Plus, studying physics teaches you skills such as problem solving, so it's a worthwhile major that doesn't confine you to one area of study/profession.
  6. Dec 9, 2015 #5
    For all it's worth, here's my opinion (i'm still undecided about my career choice, like you, except for me it's between physics, chemistry and engineering)
    You should study physics, just by reading this you seem much more passionate about it than about medicine. Furthermore, I guess you won't have that philosophical aspect as much as in physics. Medicine doeanty raise as many questions as physics does. That's why I prefer physics.
    And about earning more or being more respected... I don't know, I respect physicists much more than physicians, but maybe that's just me :)
    I hope I could help a little at least
  7. Dec 9, 2015 #6


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    Staff: Mentor

    Please make note of the dates on a thread, the starter of this thread hasn't been here since June 14th.
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