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Physics Compare and contrast: career in medicine or physics

  1. May 21, 2012 #1
    I am currently graduating high school (this weekend) and I will be attending UC Irvine for undergraduate. My question here is to compare and contrast the careers of being a doctor or a physicist.

    I have always been interested in science but I am not completly sure what to major in. Through out high school I got straight C's in all my english/history courses and straight A's in all my AP math/AP science courses.

    For a long time I have wanted to be a neurologist, however, I am recently becoming more and more interested in physics. This has left me not sure of what to major in as an undergraduate. My question for you guys is to discuss the differences between studying medicine (I am specifically interested in the neuroscience major at UCI) and studying physics. In terms of pay, I am seeking a job that will provide financial stability. That is, I am not looking to make big bucks but I want to be able to own a small house and a decent car (probably around 50-60k) without being in debt or having to worry about how I am going to pay the bills.

    ~Thanks for any opinions
  2. jcsd
  3. May 22, 2012 #2
    You can always earn your degree in physics and fulfill the pre-med coursework as electives and see which path, if either, you still have passion for after four years of study. In the meantime, why not try to shadow some physicians from a few specialties and speak with them about what their typical day is like and what exactly they do? Specialty physicians tend to be very busy people but surely you could find a few willing to share their time with you.

    And of course you can always get involved with physics research as an undergraduate to get a small taste of what being a physicist entails.

    There is also some overlap between the fields of neuroscience and physics, both on the research side and the clinical side. Medical physicists are involved in the therapeutic application of radiation for the treatment of cancerous lesions in the brain using equipment such as the Gamma Knife, or they can also specialize in the clinical use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for imaging the human body, the brain in particular. Some physicists perform research developing the next generation of diagnostic imaging techniques or perform research using existing techniques such as functional MRI that allows us to learn more about the workings of the human brain based on how it responds to stimuli of various sorts.
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