can I think this way?

I’m not an analytical or diagnostic thinker. Rather I would say I’m an intuitive thinker, if I had to choose. I was a writer; I went to art school, and now I’m about to finish up my undergrad. I’m 42. And as someone who’s taken the premed courses (with varying success at best) and who’s taken the MCAT once (and did poorly), I’ve been asking myself is this right for me? A friend of mine put it to me this way: "You’re strengths are inter-personal skills, that’s where you get your “flow” from, your joy. Being a doctor is for the most part not about that. It’s about diagnosing, thinking analytically."
He went on to say that surely I could learn to think that way and take the MCAT, but–and he emphasised this next part-- would you be happy doing that, thinking that way, given that it doesn’t come naturally to you?
So, I ask you, is he corrrect in his analaysis of what it’s like to be a doc? (I should say that he’s about to enter med school).
I’m interested in working in the palliative care field, working to heal patients in that kind of enviornment.

There is lots of interpersonal stuff in medicine–but your main role is bringing that interpersonal stuff to bear within a relationship of being a technical consultant on highly personal matters. That doesn’t answer your question entirely but you may want to think about whether what you are thinking about doing actually requires an MD. I would think about it this way: is there any way you can avoid it? That is a question all of us should ask ourselves before starting med school–because it is a big big thing to do, and very hard, and wonderful if you love it, and pure torture if you don’t.

Hi there,
Most of my day-to-day work as a surgeon is about applying my “science” to the problems that my patients present. It really does not matter if I am operating and encounter a problem that I have never dealt with before or an unusual presentation of a common problem like acute cholecystitis, I evaluate the situation and come up with a solution. It is rather like hearing over the radio that the freeway is backed up. Since you have to get to work on time, you figure out an alternative route or you stick with the freeway if you know that it will not add significantly to your travel time. As your experience grows, you learn to approach problems and solve them no matter which area of medicine you enter i.e. you learn more alternative routes. I solve most of my patient’s problems with a scalpel but I also have to know when NOT to operate too.
I don’t use much analytical thinking as much as finding the problem and treating it. With each patient that you treat, your experience grows you become more adept at your craft. I do suppose that my colleages in medicine may weigh more different diagnoses but in the end, you solve the patient’s problem or at least alleviate it. You also come to realize that you don’t do much “healing” but more “treating”.

I don’t think that if you are an intuitive thinker it would preclude you from being a doctor, but I agree that doing medicine does require diagnostic and analytical skill moreso than intuitive inter-personal skills. Although I am still premed, I spent years volunteering as a lay health worker, where I was expected to come up with the diagnosis, treatment, and client management. Although I am a confirmed intuitive (at least according to the Myers Brigg test: INFP) as well as a former artist myself (I still paint occasionally), I learned how to use my intuition and feeling skills to enhance my diagnostic abilities and to work better with patients. It was not easy, but it can be done. As a diagnostician, one needs to come up with sound solutions and options and act on them without hesitation; you can’t hmmm and hawww about anything too long, for time and health are at stake. On the other hand, having good interpersonal skills has helped me with the patients I’ve worked with. Indeed, during my volunteer work, I developed quite a following of patients (mostly homeless) who refused to deal with anyone else but me, even the docs! So there is a plus side to being "soft."
You can blend your intuitive skills with “harder” clinical skills and get the some of the best of both.
Some doctors use their medical intuitive “powers” to aid their clinical skills. Their form of medical intuition is heavily diagnostic and less touchy-feely and so goes far beyond anything I have. To read of their exploits and abilities is very humblling. Consider checking out the book Awakening Intuition by Mona Lisa Schulz, MD PhD. or books by Judith Orloff, MD.

I agree totally. I’m an INTP with a long history in the arts and humanities, and when I went to nursing school, even though I made all Bs, my advisor came to me at graduation with the back-handed compliment of “congratulations, I’m surprised you made it” because I spent “too long” with patients and wasn’t “efficient”. In my 18 years of pediatric nursing however, my patients, families, and agency loved me. Being a doc is more than being a "hard scientist"

Thanks so much for your thoughts, everyone.
It’s difficult feeling as though at this stage of the game–going through the pre-reqs and prepping for the MCAT–what I consider to be my talents and strenghts aren’t being tapped, ie working and communicating with patients, and being “diagnostic” in that sense. Which isn’t to say I’m not enjoying physics, but rather I feel my strengths, and certainly my passions, lie in this other area.
And just as one of my good friends suggested to me: just because something doesn’t come as easily to you as other skills, doesn’t mean 1) you can’t learn it, and most importantly 2) you won’t enjoy it.
Thanks again.