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Physics EXACT reasoning for loving physics so much

  1. Jan 11, 2010 #1
    hey guys!
    I'm hoping you can give me a little advice on my situation, let me begin.
    I'm a senior in high school who's been accepted into a major university, but I'm really not sure what career path I want. I'm so intrigued with physics, particle physics to be specific, but my parents are really pushing for me to go to med school. We finally compromised to have me declare Pre-Med, while majoring in Physics. I'm just unsure of what I really am passionate about. I want to help people, but being a doctor would almost be more of just "knowing how things work" which is my EXACT reasoning for loving physics so much.
    Any suggestions or advice would be awesome.

    thanks a lot.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 11, 2010 #2
    Re: Pre-Med/Physics

    In terms of practicality/job security, medical school is the way to go. In addition, since you are just starting out, you may change your mind about being interested in physics.

    On the other hand, you can't really go wrong with majoring in physics. Just be aware that a physics major is quite difficult; it's different from all the memorization courses you'll take as a pre-med.

    You may want to explore the field of medical physics, perhaps by finding a professor with whom to conduct research. If the field suits you, then you could further pursue it by doing an M.D./Ph.D.

    I'd say go for it, but whatever you do, don't get yourself in a situation where you're changing majors too late in your undergraduate studies.
  4. Jan 11, 2010 #3
    Re: Pre-Med/Physics

    I seem to be doing the same thing you are, a premed with physics; however I am only a freshman.
    Here is my schedule, which I know will not be appealing
    Undergraduate Physics Degree=>PhD Physics (uncertain about the field) =>Med School
    Leaving out residency that is ~18 years.
    If you really love physics and could really see yourself becoming successful or happy, it is worth dissuading your parents about med school. However, my parents make a good point about physicists which is that only a considerate few out of the many are successful. Although I like physics more so over biology, I am heavily considering med school for not only education, but also for secondary qualifications. I still consider physics as my "future" primary occupation.

    I can tell you right now that you do not need to discover your passions so quickly. Some would argue that is the goal of the undergraduate institution. Take a few courses in each, see how intriguing each is, do some research in both fields. In time you will realize which you prefer; of course as I said earlier, there is nothing wrong with a back up plan just in case you would like to switch. (besides money).

    If you would like to ask more specific questions, or even keep in touch as you attempt both tracks, feel free to pm me.
  5. Jan 12, 2010 #4
    Re: Pre-Med/Physics

    Even if this were necessarily true, it is certainly no reason to study medicine. Job prospects is but one of many factors that should be considered. The good thing about physicists here is that they're extremely employable. Whilst you might not get a job 'as a physicist' like you might imagine it just now, a physics major opens many doors - almost any graduate program for any type of industry will have a place for a physics student.

    Having a degree in physics says to people that you're a competent worker, and the training involved in physics tells them that you're good at solving problems. Couple that with the potential research experience and things like writing reports and you'll see that physicists are desriable in many fields.

    I'm a physics & astrophysics graduate myself, and I'm now a grad-student covering a bio crossover project, so if you have any questions about this route then feel free to PM me. Otherwise, from talking to the medics that I know, medical degrees are very tedious: if that's the route you choose, make sure you know it's what you want to do.
  6. Jan 14, 2010 #5
    Re: Pre-Med/Physics

    the fact that you are considering med school automatically means you aren't cut out to be a physicists. What person who enjoys thinking about physics can spend 14 hours a day memorizing text and pictures from a physiology book??

    Stick to med school...
  7. Jan 14, 2010 #6


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    Re: Pre-Med/Physics

    This is ridiculous. Lots of people go on to medical school after completing undergraduate and even advanced degrees in physics. Many medical specialites in fact require an understanding of university-level physics such as: radiation oncology, radiology, nuclear medicine, space medicine, etc.

    My advice to this original poster would be that first year science programs are pretty uniform anyway. Take the prerequisite courses you would need for medical school if you are in fact interested in that, and round out your year with the necessary first year physics courses. After a year or so of university you will have a better idea of what direction you want to pursue. And for what it's worth, keep in mind that your parents' advice is advice. You're the one who is responsible for choosing your education and career.
  8. Jan 14, 2010 #7
    Re: Pre-Med/Physics

    right, because i'm sure that biophysicists never consider med school whatsoever.

    nice irrational logic.
  9. Jan 14, 2010 #8


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    Re: Pre-Med/Physics

    As Choppy said, go with whichever one interests you the most after taking some courses in each one.

    I would encourage you to really push for doing what you love. When I first went to school, I went for my parents and studied what they said I should study. I did not end up making it very far. I know it's hard to go against your parent's wishes, but do your best in setting healthy boundaries with regards to deciding your future.
  10. Jan 14, 2010 #9
    Re: Pre-Med/Physics

    One of my buddies dropped out of his Physics PhD for medicine. He's just as unhappy now, and hes doing his MD/MBA with me now to focus on entrepreneurship. Don't do medicine for the money... its not there anymore (a simple NPV will show this). And if you love physics, you are going to hate medicine for a lot of reasons. I'll save writing a manifesto, but PM me or check out studentdoctor if you want some detailed reasons why not to do medicine.

    My parents pushed me into pre-med as well, and I regret every minute of medical school. What I would not give to be back in engineering without a mountain of debt. Just my intuition, your parents are a)asian/indian, b)poor, or c)already doctors.

    Seriously though, do what you love, the money will come just fine within reason. There are dozens of ex-bankers, consultants, and lawyers who went through the grind for years making the money but really hating life. The same for medicine, but you don't get any money out of it. You really won't understand the definition of suck until you're working 80-100+ hours for weeks on end at a job you don't care about.
  11. Jan 15, 2010 #10
    Re: Pre-Med/Physics

    I still don't get everyone's reasoning about this. I love anatomy and observing exactly how things work in the body, getting down to the complete basics of it all. But as for physics I love knowing why things occur and how everything interacts with each other in the universe.
    Why is it so impossible to like both?
    My friend's Professor of Surgery, Molecular Biology and Genetics is a NASA reasearcher as well. I've met with him a few times and he loves physics and astrophysics just as much as anyone I've met in the physics field, and was going to be an astrophysicist until he decided he'd rather practice medicine.

    I'd just like some elaboration on why it's so unheard of to enjoy both.
  12. Jan 15, 2010 #11
    Re: Pre-Med/Physics

    I should have probably phrased it as "you will not like healthcare." Medical science is absolutely fascinating, and the two first years of medical school were quite interesting. However, what ruins it is spending years memorizing it down to the last detail. If you're into physics you like thinking and figuring out problems based on first principles. This is not medicine at all. It's memorizing every problem in your text book, and then when presented with real life problems, trying to recognize the pattern on which problem you should apply. It will drive you bat ****. Also, medicine is now "evidenced based," which means for a lot of things looking for primary research to guide your diagnosis/treatment. Now this sounds great and is definitely improving medical outcomes. However, as a practitioner in our litigious society, you would, for example, have to know that in this patient you should use this statin/beta blocker/diuretic because in a randomized controlled trial of X patients statin Y was % better than statins 1,2,3,4. Then, you spend your day seeing your 24+ patients, most of which have some form of metabolic syndrome and something else. Also, half your day is spent writing progress notes and filling out paperwork. I could go on, but its just not what you would expect like House. If you're still into it, do an MD/PhD, take the free MSTP ride, and be a primary researcher.
  13. Jan 15, 2010 #12


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    Re: Pre-Med/Physics

    I teach at a med school. As Choppy pointed out, there are definitely medical specialties that require a good knowledge of physics, so there are options to combine both. For example, you can't pass radiology board exams without knowing the physics of how the machines work.

    On the other hand, to be a good physician requires MORE than understanding the science. You really need to like people...and I'm not talking about just enjoying socializing. Physicians see people at their worst moments, and really need to have a special personality to deal with that.

    So, it sounds like for now, you've reached a decent compromise with your parents that lets you pursue your interests while keeping them happy. Though, at some point, you're going to need to decide for yourself what path to follow. It's hard to break away from parental expectations, but if your true interests aren't what they want for you, remember that it's your life, your livelihood, and your happiness at stake. They may temporarily be disappointed if you don't do what they expect, but in the long term, they will be happy to see you do something you are passionate about.
  14. Jan 15, 2010 #13
    Re: Pre-Med/Physics

    alright, thanks for clearing that up.. I understand now.
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