How do you Know this is what you want?

Hi everyone. I am new to this site, but I am so glad that I have found you!

I work a full time and part time job and over the past several years, I have taken classes to meet pre-reqs for ‘something medical.’ I’ve been afraid to admit it to myself and to anyone, but I really want to go to med school. I still have five remaining courses to go, which seems like forever away, but I’m doing them, one semester at a time. I’ve tried to talk to my family about it, but they don’t understand. I get the feeling that they think that I’m too old for this daydreaming, or that I should go to nursing school and not try to think that I am ‘better’ than my sister and sister-in-law, both are nurses.

I’m 33 and have a ‘good job’ but I’m not passionate about it. I was the first person in my family to graduate college, which was a big deal. I know that I will have to borrow money to go to med school. I understand that. I would rather borrow money to pursue my dreams and pay for it the rest of my life than to spend the rest of my life doing something just to get by and always wonder, what if?

I guess the hardest part of all of this is for me to admit to myself that this is what I want to do. My reasons are to help people, because I love studying how the body works and disease states, I love to learn and teach, I desire to have a career, not a job, and for whatever reason, when I think about it, I get this warm sensation in my chest…it’s hard to explain, but it’s something that I just know.

Anyone get that?

Dvance - you ask “how do you know this is what you want”.

I think you have laid it out very well. The “when I think about it, I get this warm sensation in my chest” shows that it appeals to you on an emotional level (or those non-material rewards), which is probably MORE important than the excellent intellectual reasons you give - having a career, etc.

I also think that for SOME people the desire to treat and be involved in helping and healing is enough to carry them thru medical school, but that it is also REALLY helpful if you actually WANT to learn this stuff. I heard that in your statement that “I love studying how the body works and disease states”.

If you want the profession, enjoy acquiring the knowledge, AND have a visceral satisfaction with contemplating being a doctor, that sounds like pretty strong evidence to me!

I would suggest shadowing one or several docs to see their day to day life to be sure that what attracts you is actually medicine, and not an idealized mental picture of what it will be all about. That would be a good next step.


My answer probably won’t help, but I will say it anyway.

I liken this question to the question “How do you know you are in love?”

You just do. Each of us has a different “evidence procedure”.

So how one person may “know” is now how another person may “know”.

Definitely job shadow what you think you might want to do as a physician. If it’s the career for you it will light a fire under you. When I shadowed I went in with the nurse and then the doctor. It was nice to see what their parts of care were. It felt like the nurse spent more one on one care with the patient. However, I was more attracted to the mystery a patient presented and the plan of care involved.

I think you will know as you keep researching what the job of a physician actually IS. IMHO it is good to see what non-trads actually end up specializing in. After 4 years of medical school, a surgeon might have another 6 years of training before becoming an attending. Those years are likely to involve 80 hours a week while doing your residency (correct me if I am wrong). Are you interested in that? (BTW, that is not wrote in a discouraging tone. I am just curious).

One of the physicians I shadowed wrote a huge book list for me that would help me put my desire into words. So, read and see if that strenthens or weakens your interest. Best wishes!

Thanks for the reply. I agree, I need to shadow a few doctors. I think that will seal the deal.

I appreciate your advice. As far as what I would like to specialize in, I have thought about family or internal medicine. And, I think (now) I would like to go into cardiology. The heart amazes me.

  • Kimberly_h Said:
One of the physicians I shadowed wrote a huge book list for me that would help me put my desire into words. So, read and see if that strengthens or weakens your interest. Best wishes!

Kimberly: Did you mean the doc gave you a reading list? If so, can you possibly share? Thanks! If not, then I misunderstood somehow.