Choosing a Career Path: Math or Medicine?

In summary, the individual is a Master's student in math at a Canadian university and is struggling to decide between pursuing a research-based career in mathematics or computer science, or attending medical school. They have a strong interest in both fields but are unsure about dedicating their life to research and making a meaningful contribution. They have also considered an MD/PhD program in bioinformatics as a potential option. They are seeking advice and considering the pros and cons of each path.
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unsureaboutcareer
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I’m a Master’s student in math at a Canadian university. I am in a dilemma where I cannot decide which career path to choose. I have a very deep interest in math and computer science, but I am not sure if I want to dedicate my life to a research based job in that field. I have participated in research programs during my undergrad, and I found it very enjoyable. However, there are a couple of things putting me off from it. One of them is being able to make a meaningful contribution. The main reason I initially became interested in this career path was the possibility of contributing to the advancement of science (as naive as that sounds). But I soon discovered that there are very smart people working in academia, and any contributions that I am able to make will no doubt be minor.

In terms of other options, one of them is medical school. I have already taken the MCAT and completed the prerequisite courses, so this could be another great option for me. If anyone has any advice, it would be appreciated.
 
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  • #2
Realizing that you're not likely to make an earth-shattering advance in science is all a part of maturing, I think. But that doesn't mean that it's not worth trying. For what it's worth, sometimes the reason someone else is able to make a major advancement is because hundreds of other people have made small ones. It's not exclusively the giants we stand on, but the intricate towers of people.

It's also important to remember that you're not deciding on a career at this point, rather, you're deciding how to educate yourself. Once you have that education, you then start making career choices. And I realized the two are strongly correlated. But if you were to pursue mathematics or computer science at a PhD level, there's still a good chance that you'll end up doing something unrelated to those as a career. But you'll have some very useful tools in your toolbox.

With respect to medicine, because it's a professional degree there's a much higher chance that you'll end up working in the same field you sought education in. it's also important to remember that physicians can have opportunities to do research. Most often its a lot more along the lines of comparing one treatment with another, but there's no reason you couldn't draw on your interests in mathematics and computer science to do something along those lines - maybe something like computer assisted diagnosis, or some kind of biological modelling. A lot can come down to your particular field and your skills in the art of collaboration. One of the main advantages to this path is that there is always a demand for physicians. It's one of the rare professions these days that can still be considered a meal ticket. And though it's a long road, there is gold at the end of it. (Not sure the same is true for a PhD.)

On the "cons" side remember that physicians have a lot of demands on their time and their bread and butter comes from treating patients. This means the clinical hours can be very long, especially at first. And research is almost never their primary function.
 
  • #3
Choppy said:
Realizing that you're not likely to make an earth-shattering advance in science is all a part of maturing, I think. But that doesn't mean that it's not worth trying. For what it's worth, sometimes the reason someone else is able to make a major advancement is because hundreds of other people have made small ones. It's not exclusively the giants we stand on, but the intricate towers of people.

It's also important to remember that you're not deciding on a career at this point, rather, you're deciding how to educate yourself. Once you have that education, you then start making career choices. And I realized the two are strongly correlated. But if you were to pursue mathematics or computer science at a PhD level, there's still a good chance that you'll end up doing something unrelated to those as a career. But you'll have some very useful tools in your toolbox.

With respect to medicine, because it's a professional degree there's a much higher chance that you'll end up working in the same field you sought education in. it's also important to remember that physicians can have opportunities to do research. Most often its a lot more along the lines of comparing one treatment with another, but there's no reason you couldn't draw on your interests in mathematics and computer science to do something along those lines - maybe something like computer assisted diagnosis, or some kind of biological modelling. A lot can come down to your particular field and your skills in the art of collaboration. One of the main advantages to this path is that there is always a demand for physicians. It's one of the rare professions these days that can still be considered a meal ticket. And though it's a long road, there is gold at the end of it. (Not sure the same is true for a PhD.)

On the "cons" side remember that physicians have a lot of demands on their time and their bread and butter comes from treating patients. This means the clinical hours can be very long, especially at first. And research is almost never their primary function.

Thanks for that. One of the options I am considering are an MD/PhD program, perhaps in a field like bioinformatics, in which case research would be the primary job.
 

Related to Choosing a Career Path: Math or Medicine?

1. What are the main differences between a career in math and a career in medicine?

A career in math typically involves working with numbers, equations, and algorithms to solve complex problems and make predictions. On the other hand, a career in medicine involves working with patients to diagnose and treat illnesses and injuries.

2. Which career path offers more job opportunities and stability?

Both math and medicine offer plenty of job opportunities and stability. However, the demand for healthcare professionals, such as doctors and nurses, is expected to continue to grow in the coming years.

3. What skills and education are needed for a career in math?

A career in math requires strong analytical and problem-solving skills, as well as a solid understanding of mathematical concepts and theories. Most math-related careers also require at least a bachelor's degree in mathematics, statistics, or a related field.

4. What skills and education are needed for a career in medicine?

A career in medicine requires strong critical thinking and communication skills, as well as a deep understanding of human anatomy, biology, and medical procedures. Most medical careers require at least a bachelor's degree in a science-related field, followed by medical school and residency training.

5. Is it possible to combine math and medicine in a career?

Yes, there are several career paths that combine math and medicine, such as medical research, healthcare data analysis, and medical technology development. However, these roles typically require a strong background in both fields, such as a degree in biomedical engineering or a medical informatics specialization.

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