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To be a physician,

  1. Aug 14, 2014 #1
    I have a good dream of becoming a physician or a doctor to help people o:) , but I am pretty old now (35), I can't imagine myself that I have to take an entrance exam to a medical school to be a freshman again. I guess it will probably be in my middle 40s before I can start working as one. My mind is always segmented into different small loves to donate for random fields that come to me. I can't change myself to be involved in a single area. Time won't be able to change me either. Help please.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 14, 2014 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    Its good to have dreams but I am puzzled that you feel that you are perhaps too old. If you work at it you can become what you want which then approaches the real problem.

    When you say you have many small loves do you mean that your mind is distracted to other topics and that you can't stay focused on your original goal?

    If so then that's what you need to fix to become a doctor. You must be totally focused on learning what you need to know to get into med school and then when you're there completely focused on graduating and then getting a residency and finally a job as a doctor. If you waver or get distracted then perhaps becoming a doctor isn't the right thing to do.

    Some related fields to consider would be becoming an EMT or medical technician or physical therapist...
  4. Aug 14, 2014 #3
    Thank you a lot, I am excited and happy to read your advice.
    I am working as a computer engineer. But no matter how much I read and experience the field I always forget what I have been through sooner or later. And all things in all project are almost the same(analysis,code,test,delivery,maintenance), I don't find any that really attracts me or advises me to stay focused, like say, this job is practical and helpful to any single person I know except end-users. I find e.g curing a disease, helping people stop coughing is more practical and abrupt. Suppose I am now a doctor on my shift duty (I have to come to the hospital at 4-5AM to start working) and until 9:00 AM, I can help and check up for at least 20 people (in my local hospital). That is more real a profession I actually need.
  5. Aug 14, 2014 #4


    Staff: Mentor

    I too do programming and follow all the same steps and its true you seldom get to help real people except your endusers.

    Medical training is quite memory intensive. Its rather like trying to become a car mechanic for people that is you have to know how to diagnose illnesses (ie know the symptoms of many illnesses) make a judgement based on what you observe, and then prescribe a solution. Doctors follow established protocols and don't invent new ones as they practice medicine so it may get monotonous after awhile.

    Another path to consider is Physician's assistant, you are trained as a doctor and work under a doctor's supervision but don't have the responsibilities of a doctor. Many people here opt for this path in healthcare. You get to work with patients and free the doctor for more serious problems.
  6. Aug 14, 2014 #5
    Awesome! yes that is true but I find laparascopy and pharmaceutical research are fascinating, I sure will not get bored with any.

    That sounds good. I actually don't want to be an assistant; I'll be already old enough at the age of 45 after I graduate from the med school; I have not much med experience, less prospective med job opportunity, so being able to land one as an assistant is too good, hix.
    By the way, your sound advice really inspires me to learn more. Thank you a lot for your insights.
  7. Aug 14, 2014 #6


    Staff: Mentor

    Here's some info on the physician's assistant in case you reconsider.

    Its more than being an assistant, you don't walk around holding the doctors clipboard or stethoscope :-) instead you really practice medicine just under a doctor's direction as part of a team.

    Its a popular option in the US right now, especially for those students in similar circumstances like yours late twenties early thirties.

  8. Aug 14, 2014 #7


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    Here's what you're looking at:

    First there's the question of getting in. Medical school is extremely competative. Applications are generally due in the fall and most applicants will be writing the MCAT around now (if they haven't already) and that will be for admission in 2015. If you have to upgrade or get in those prerequisite courses or write the MCAT, then you won't even be able to apply until next year for admission in 2016. In addition to a high GPA and MCAT score, admission committeess will generally look for extra-curriculars that will be indicative of a successful career in medicine as well - this includes volunteer work and practical demonstrations of soft skills such as leadership, communication, compassion, etc.

    Once you're in you then have the training. Consider 4 years of a medical degree - you would likely be graduating in 2020. After this, you decide on a specialty and enter a residency. Even familiy medicine has a 2 year residency program these days and more specialised fields set it at 5 years. As a resident you're earning (a little) money though, so maybe you'd be happy with that. Don't expect much of a social life though.

    Finally there's the reality of what being a physician actually entails. While it's nice to imagine that you'll be able to sit down with every patient, wrap your mind around their problems and cure whatever disease they come up with and then go home, relax and enjoy your hard-earned paycheque, I think the reality is a lot more like being trained to be a gourmet chet who is then forced to work at a fast food stand for 12 hours a day, every day. You get minimal time with patients, have to make judgement calls based on data that is limited, conflicting, or sometimes doesn't even exist. You face constant critique from colleagues (that's meant to be constructive, but you're decisions still come under the microscope). And bad calls can result in extremely serious consequences for your patients and potentially law suits for you.

    If you're okay with all of that, then go for it.
  9. Aug 14, 2014 #8


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    Staff: Mentor

    Do you have any experience in the medical field? I mean, real patient contacts?

    I would recommend that you spend some time either volunteering at your local hospital, or earn your introductory EMT-equivalent certification, and start working part-time shifts either on an ambulance or at a medical facility. It's very important for you to find out how you feel about real patient contacts, IMO, before you start spending major time and money to pursue becoming a doctor.

    I work part-time shifts as an EMT (I got my certification 7 years ago), and I've found that I really enjoy the patient contacts (even the contacts with difficult patients). If I'd known back in undergrad that I would enjoy patient contacts so much, I probably would have decided to go to medical school, and probably would have worked in emergency medicine.

    But if you work part-time for a year or two, and discover that you aren't really enjoying the patient contacts (or if you have trouble dealing with blood and guts and other slimey medical stuff), then you can walk away from it early, before you've spent years and $$ becoming a doctor and finding it out then.


    My two cents... :smile:
  10. Aug 15, 2014 #9
    Thank you Choppy and berkeman for your details, I am definitely no allergic to humanure or blood and I know working as a doctor in a public hospital is a serious challenge almost without rest during working hours (I visited some hospitals for my health checkup). Today I visited some's websites and found in their job ads information that they need to hire experienced doctors graduated with good GPA and of less than 30 or 35 only, which really distracted me. I am all at a real loss.
  11. Aug 15, 2014 #10


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    The stated age requirement should put the organization trying to recruit in trouble. Decide what you want to do or become and set self forth to do it. The stated age restrictions should be nonsense.
  12. Aug 15, 2014 #11


    Staff: Mentor

    Pursue your dream and tell us how you're doing. Good luck...
  13. Aug 15, 2014 #12


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    While a lot can depend on your specialty, in general I don't think physicians face age discrimination to any great degree. One exception might include the military, for example. Although, I wouldn't really call that discrimination. Military physicians are recruited at a specific age because they are also expected to execute the duties of a military officer.
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