Advice Needed on Career Transistion, etc.

I’ve got a very stressful decision to make and I need some help from my oldpremed friends on this one.

I am moving in with my girlfriend of four years. We have a very serious relationship and we are looking to be engaged in the next month or so. I currently have law school applications out to several different schools, none of which are in the area (which is rural). Law school has been the plan for the past year but some recent experiences in my life have found me wanting to pursue a career in medicine. When I brought this up to my fiance-to-be, she reacted somewhat unexpectedly. She thinks I’m crazy to pursue this now and flip-flop on law school. If she wasn’t in the picture, I would do this in a heartbeat but I am also very excited to start a family and life with her -going to law school would move this along much more quickly than me spending the next 1-2 yrs taking my prereqs. I’m torn here because I don’t know if she will be able to support me in my return to undergrad. I would have to take out more loans and the closest post-bacc program is two hours away. Her father is a doctor and that really intimidates me. He did everything the traditional premed way and seeing his daughter with someone like me -someone who seemingly has no direction and is changing careers after only a year out of college- would probably make him very uneasy.

So there’s a lot of considerations that factor into the bigger picture and quite frankly I’m lost. I’m obssesed with pursuing this and I have full confidence in my ability to succeed but I just don’t want to enroll into law school as a default. The one thing I am very sure of is my desire to work as a healthcare professional. Even if it’s not necessarily medicine, which is of course my top choice, I want to have a career that centers around the healthcare services environment.

Thanks for listening. You are all an inspiration to me.

I am B1leper and I approved this message.

Your questions are things that many (if not most) of us have had to ponder at some point. While there are no “right” answers, there are some things you can ask yourself to try to find the answers for YOU.
Why did you apply to law school in the first place? You stated that it is a fall-back, but what is it about the profession that made you think law as opposed to, say, finance or marketing or any of the many other careers out there? Are they reasons that apply to medicine as well? Imagine receiving an acceptance letter to your top choice law school, how would you feel? Elated and proud, dreading the thought of attending… or just plain indifferent?
Also, why do you feel you have to do a specific post-bacc program? There are a lot of pros to these programs, but there can be a lot of pros to doing it on your own through a local university: oftentimes you can still get advising through the school’s pre-med committee, the costs may be cheaper, the schedules more flexible (i.e. you can fit work in around it or vice versa), etc. Is this a compromise that might work better in your situation?
You mention that your girlfriend’s father is a doctor and that intimidates you. I’m not sure what kind of a relationship you have with him, but hopefully it’s a good one. Could you sit down with him at some point, in a relaxed setting (i.e. don’t make an “appointment” to speak with him, but maybe have it come up some time when you happen to be together) and mention to him that you’re wondering whether law is really a good fit for you and that you are thinking of pursuing medicine and would like his thoughts on it. Hopefully he would enjoy being able to tell you about his experiences and offer some advice. That way he is a part of it and can see that you want to make an educated decision about your future.
Oftentimes we think that just because we know someone very well, they will understand what we’re thinking without having to explain, but that’s not always the case. Explain to your girlfriend what it is that is making you want to “flip-flop”. I’m sure she is concerned about your future as a family if you switch gears career-wise, so you need to tell her exactly what it is that’s making you want to pursue medicine. If the thought of attending law school sends a wave of dread through the pit of your stomach, let her know this. And be sure to listen to her concerns as well… why does she think you should stick with plan A? Does it have to do with what she experienced as the child of a doctor, her fears for your future together, or is it just something that took her by surprise and needs some getting used to? Open and ongoing communication is key, because you will be in this together!
I’m not sure how well-organized this response is, but I hope maybe there’s a little something in here that helps. If nothing else, at least know that you’re not the only one grappling with these sorts of questions!

Hi there,
There are plenty of things that you can do in healthcare with a law degree if you are truly interested in studying law. Only you can answer that fundamental question for yourself. Health policy is a wide-open field and is a great career if you love the law.
On the other hand, if medicine is your calling, then don’t go to law school as a “fall back”. You will wind up hating your career and not doing a very good job. If you want to pursue medicine, find a way to get your application in proper order (pre-med courses and MCAT)and get into the field.
Again, being a physician is not the only job in healthcare so investigate other opportunities that you might find fulfilling that do not take as long as going the medical school. You may find another health profession that meets your needs and that you can enjoy. You might enjoy healthcare administration or marketing. Both professions are high paying and in demand in today’s market. You could also do these with a JD or an MBA too.
Do some homework and see what’s out there. If nothing satisfies you like medicine, then pursue it. I can tell you from personal experience that medicine (specifically surgery for me) is the greatest.
Good luck!

Law is mildly interesting to me. Upon sitting through several lectures at law schools across the country, I feel that it is possible for me to be extremely engaged in the study of law. But the practice? I feel like I know myself well enough to honestly say that I would not find the practice of law interesting. It just doesn’t do if for me.

In my experience with healthcare professionals (MDs/PAs/MAs, etc.) I see the type of day-to-day career that resonates perfectly with who I am and where I want to be. Additionally, I much prefer the hospital work environment to any other.

Bottom line: I find law practice a bit mundane and specific healthcare professions enthralling. Unfortunately for myself and my SO, I have just discovered this.

My main challenge is to explain to my SO that I am committed to this end. I’m sure many of you have or do struggle with this situation and I’m very interested in your feedback.

Thanks for your insights, njbmd. I do feel that there’s always more homework to do when it comes to big life decisions

Thank you for the wonderful direction you’ve given me. I am finding the questions about law school you have asked me to consider very helpful.

Sometimes I wonder if medical schools think less of part-time prereqs taken around work, as opposed to a nontrad doing a formal postbacc. I’m still working on my roadmap for this process so I welcome your input.

I think having an informal chat with my SO’s father is the prudent thing to do. Your suggestions for approaching this issue are wonderful. I never thought of something so integral as making him a part of it. I think this will make the whole pursuit more comfortable for everyone.

“Why does she think you should stick with plan A?” Now there’s the question of the year. I think, quite honestly, that she is tired of me waffling so much. Let me give you some context.

She graduated a year earlier from college than myself. After college, the unofficial plan was that I would move down to this rural area where she dances in the ballet and find work or do graduate school (the whole arrangement was poorly planned and spur-of-the-moment). So when I got down there, I freaked and took a job offer from a Fortune 100 company 500 miles away. Needless to say, she didn’t take this well. I’ve been out here ever since (about nine months) and have resolved never to return to this sector of corporate America -marketing. In fact, I have become disenchanted with corporate America in general having worked in it for nearly a year. This is what spurred law school. My interest in practicing law was truly secondary.

So now you have my life story since college. I have come full-circle and really tried to examine what I want to do with my one life. I tried to recall the times in college and beyond that I felt most fulfilled and interested and all I can think about is my clinical and research experiences in undergrad.

This is where I want to be and I haven’t the slightest idea of how to get there.

In the third Raiders of the Lost Ark movie, the grail knight tells Harrison Ford, “choose wisely.” I’d tell you the same thing.
Interpersonal relationships are a complicated beast. While it’s unfair for me to say that losing my previous career was the only reason my first marriage ended in divorce, it was a contributing factor. While my ex-wife was used to the idea of me as an airline pilot…she wasn’t used to me as anything else and when the layoff hit, so did the divorce.
Your girlfriend may have gotten used to the idea of you going forward to law school, graduating, getting a job, and going on with married life. She may or may not be willing to adjust to you going back to college, then medical school, then on to residency (8+ years!). She, like my ex, may chose not to deal with this change in career path and it may end up costing you your relationship.
Whether or not that is a sacrifice you wish to make is up to you. But whatever you decide I would certainly sit down and discuss these issues in depth before marrying her. For that matter, I’d probably sit down and do that before you two even move in together.
Good luck!

Wow, you sound like my brother!
We’re definetly going to sit down and have a long talk.
Just curious. How did things work out with your career transition?

Just an observation from the female point of view:
Perhaps she saw your move taking that job as a lack of commitment to her and reneging on the plans you had made together. That usually makes any woman uneasy. There seem to be possible relationship issues as well as career, but just work your way through them and include those who are important to you. That will make it easier to focus on your priorities and head in the direction that is best for you. Good luck in your pursuit.

Your inference is dead on. She is a little uneasy with me and my goals because I so readily left for this job. That’s something I think we are going to have to get over before we can have a more serious discussion about medical school, post-bacc, etc.
Thanks for your insight.

I don’t understand why this would seen as flip-flopping or having no direction. You haven’t even applied to law school, much less graduated. I am an disenchanted attorney. I actually wanted to go to law school and I really loved the study of it. I love the American legal system on paper, but I hate the practice. If you’re having doubts now, and the doubts are related to the practice of law, I strongly suggest you take some time to reconsider. Law school is very nice but it’s only 3 years. Practicing law is an entirely different beast and it lasts much longer than 3 years (or at least it supposed to). If you despise it, it honestly can seem like a life sentence.
I would just have a heart to heart with your girlfriend. Explain to her that although you’re considering chaning your plans regarding law school, you are not considering changing any plans regarding your relationship. That even if you are in post-bacc or med school, you intend to marry/have kids and do all the other things you planned to do (but with a lot less money). Well, I guess you first must ask yourself if this is true, but if you plan on taking this long road but want to wait until it’s all done (like many traditionals having the luxury of doing), then I do think she has a right to know bc that wouldn’t be fair to her. But if you’re planning on going this road as a couple (engaged, married, parents, whatever) then let her know that too.


Actually, I have applied to about 20 law schools as of January.

I have a strong feeling that I have a deeper attraction to law school than the law. If I were to practice law, I’d want it to be in a position where I could have a large amount of client interaction. Transactional law would kill me, I believe. Even if I eventually ended up practicing in a legal profession where I could interact on a daily basis with clients, I think I would be more satisfied working day-to-day in a clinical setting. To be honest, clinical pharmacy actually appeals to me as much as most medical fields, so I feel I can’t go wrong, career-wise, with getting my prereqs squared away. Law school is far more of a default for me than a passion. Do you think someone who knows this about themselves can find fulfillment in law?

Also, I’d like to know why you have become so disenchanted with the practice of law. What type of law do you practice? Do you get much client interaction? Do you feel like you are helping your clients on a personal level? I’m always interested in hearing from lawyers about their careers, though I must admit I’m yet to hear anything positive, unfortunately.

Thanks for the advice about my girlfriend. We definetly have a lot to talk about. Quite honestly, I would just be happy working in higher ed. in an administrative capacity while taking my prereqs. I believe I could make enough money for us to get things started while getting my prereqs out of the way. It will be a long road, but I know that giving it a shot is all I can be satisfied with at this point in my life. Can I say the same about law? Not at the moment.

Thanks for your advice and I wish you luck on your career transition.

Seriously man if you are having doubts about law school now then maybe you should wait and see if medicine is for you. I am a first year law student and let me tell you its not all that great. Really think hard as to why you want to be a lawyer!
I have doubts everyday that i want to do this. And sometimes I want to quit. Just ask your self why you want to practice law. And why you want to practice medicine. They are not the only two careers in life! Goodluck, if you have any questions feel free to message me