Could use some real advice and insight...

Hey all. I’d like to share my story with you guys and get some honest advice because I’m at a very confusing and tumultuous time in my life. Many thanks in advance to those of you with enough patience to read through my post;) First of all, my Father is a retired ENT physician. My entire childhood, high school and college life I wanted to be a doctor. Some of this was the natural desire to follow in my father’s footsteps, and the rest was an honest desire for the profession based on my love of science and desire to help people. I have also had an intense interest in computer technology for most of my life and have always surrounded myself with technology and delved into computer programming, etc… I was in college working on pre-med courses when I was struck with a debilitating illness that required me to move home with my family for 3 years. I finally improved to the point where I could enroll back into school, but medicine was not so important to me at that point due to anxiety about my health and the fact that I was engaged to a girl who felt very strongly about me not going to medical school. I also had many doubts due to the fact that I had always been interested in computers and figured that it would be only natural for me to pick a profession that was based around such a big hobby. To make a long story short… I broke up with the girl after 6 years and a stressful engagement, and went back to school for a masters in management information systems. My health has also improved to normalcy and many of the health issues are behind me. I will finish this degree in 2 weeks, and have been working as a network engineer for the past 3 years. I have been plagued with periods of intense doubt about my current profession and the dreams of going to med school. However, I promised myself that I would get my degree in IT first before I made any decision to pursue medicine. I am 29 years old, and for the majority of my graduate degree I’ve honestly just tried not to think about it very much though every few months I would have severe depression revolving around these “doubts”. Technology satisfies my “brain fix” most of the time. The things that I enjoy about it are that it’s never boring, and there are many new “puzzles” to solve on a day to day basis. However, being innundated with technology on a day to day basis has all but killed my desire to pursue it outside work. I used to spend a great deal of my free time on technology websites, etc… and I find myself just sick of technology at the end of the day. Also, the biggest reason I’m disillusioned with this field is that I find it so very unfulfilling. I’m a very analystical person and enjoy fixing problems, but I have such a strong desire to help people. I’m not necessarily a strong extrovert, but I have a great deal of empathy for people that are suffering and I feel that I contribute nothing to society as a whole, and do nothing to make a real difference in a person’s life. At times, I wonder if a certain degree of boredom and unfulfillment is a part of any career. Sure, some days in my job I’m interested in what I am doing and very active and gaining a sense of enjoyment, but I never really feel fulfilled, and medicine is always nagging in the back of my head. I’ve attributed the “nag” to the fact that my Father is a physician and that it would go away in time, yet as I near 30 and have worked through all the issues that go with choosing a career different from your Father’s that I really could care less about any of those issues at this point. All of these reasons have made me reconsider IT as my primary career, and pursue medical school again. I am single with no children and supportive parents who have encouraged me to do whatever makes me happy. My friends have encouraged it due to the fact that I’m always trying to diagnose them when they have illnesses and telling them what they need to do. It really struck home to me other day when I was in the car doing just this to a friend of mine and he said “Why don’t you just become a doctor?! You really get off on this diagnosis s***!” One of my biggest hesitancies has always been my intense interest in computers and the assumption that the presence of that interest was a very good reason to pursue a field in technology, but as I’ve gotten older I’m rather skeptical about this natural assumption. I mean, my other big hobby is skydiving, yet I don’t have any desire to pursue say… professional skydiving. I realize that it is a tad different, but some comparisons remain. My undergraduate degree was in Chemistry and I’ve always been very good with sciences and chemistry classes and always found the human body fascinating. So… at this point I’m studying for the MCAT to take in August and considering taking some more pre-med classes during the summer to improve my chances of gaining entrance. I would be willing to go to an overseas school if need be. ( A close friend of mine did this.) My undergraduate GPA was around a 3.0 and my sciences was probably a 3.5 or so. My graduate GPA is around a 3.7, but most of those classes have been business and technology based. Finally, I realize what a long road is ahead of me if I intend to continue pursuit of this “dream”, and I’m perfectly o.k. with that, but I’m finding it difficult to muster up the “passion” as I’m so very tired of school at this point. However, I think this is only natural and I’m fully capable of mustering up the reserves of motivation that it would take for me to travel this route.
Does anyone have any encouragement or insight for me? Criticisms are welcome also. Can anyone relate to changing careers from a career that they don’t necessarily “hate” at all, but based on feeling “unfulfilled”? We only life our lives once, and I don’t want to always look back on mine wondering what my life would have been like as a doctor, and I’m so very afraid that I will always feel this way. Also, do you know firsthand of any “technology” geeks who have forsaken the tech field to pursue medicine? Do any of my thoughts seem unreasonable? I realize that there isn’t a great deal of structure or form to my post. It has been more a stream of consciousness;) Thanks for reading, and good luck to the rest of you who are already in your pursuit of medicine.
Yikes! I just previewed and saw the size of my post. Sorry!

Welcome Brobertson. I can’t really tell you much about leaving a career I don’t mind, because I really do dislike my work. I suppose I didn’t always feel this way. In the beginning, it was alright and I think I was caught up in learning the ropes. I suppose I didn’t allow myself to feel or make much of any negative feelings bc I assumed it was that I was still in that learning stage. But as I time went it on, it only got harder for me to get up and go to work every morning. It got to the point where on my good days I’m apathetic, and on my worst days I’m on the verge of tears. I think the dramatic shift from not really allowing myself to feel any negative feelings about the profession to just letting it all out and coming to the conclusion that I was wrong - law is not for me was after shadowing physicians. It made me realize how unhappy I am in my job and how it does not have to be that way.
Anyhow, I realize you’re situation is different. But I would say that the fact that your doubts are recurring and so strong, I’m inclined to believe that you can’t quell them. I think you’ll be battling them every so often unless you take to take steps to really pursue/explore whether medicine might be right for you. It may turn out that it is not, but I think you need to take a closer look.
Also, you asked about other computer geeks…and well, I’m not calling him a computer geek but check out Mike Grasso’s site ( Mike Grasso’s Story and Web Site ). He has a Ph.D. and worked in computer science before deciding on medicine. His web site is so informative and his story is inspiring. There is a link on the web site to his email and I’m sure he’d be glad to discuss your common background and address some of your concerns.
If you haven’t already, all non-traditional premeds and medical students should take a look, even if you know nothing about computer science.

I really thought that your post made quite a bit of sense. I have to say that I identify with the need to help people, maybe serve a greater purpose in your work. I know that is one of the biggest draws for me. My other competing work interests are all business/entrepreneurial, but I always come back to the need to help others/mankind (I tend toward goofy but heartfelt) or I do not feel like I am doing the right kind of work.
I was also going to tell you something that you probably already know…but our healthcare system needs desperate help with IT/technology issues. There is nothing that says you will have to abandon your interests in these areas completely. Your skills and talent in these areas could be immeasurably helpful and productive. Bioinformatics and Electronic Medical Records, to name a few…If you can get through the remaining pre-med path…think about the ways your other interests can be an asset to medicine/healthcare.
Hope this made some sense. Good luck.

Thanks for the posts. I’ve decided that this is the right road for me, and that this desire to become a doctor will not go away in time. I’m finishing my MS in a couple weeks, and am starting to study for the August MCAT right away. That only gives me about 3 months to study, so I hope that’s adequate time to prepare. Meanwhile, my parents have been gracious enough to let me move into their upstairs while I pay off my graduate school debt and save up some money. I’ve got a professional job in IT that pays relatively well, so I’m hoping that I’ll be able to pay off quite a bit over the course of this year. I’m not excited about being 30 and living with mom & dad, but traveling this road demands having to make some sacrifices, right? I’m trying not to jump too far ahead of myself. We’ll see how I do on the MCAT and I’m going to volunteer some over the summer on Fridays, and we’ll go from there next fall. God willing, I’ll have a better idea of things come fall. Good luck to everyone else, and thanks again for your thoughts.