In the meantime

So I don’t think i’ll be able to start med school for about 4 years, due to the prereqs and mcat everything. I work in a bank, and as i’ve posted elsewhere, I really hate it. For that reason and because I think it would be good to get some clinical/healthcare experience, I’m kind of looking at allied health programs to see if there is something I could get through kind of quickly, which would be interesting and pay a decent wage.
I don’t want to go through nursing school, though I thought about that a lot. It seems like if I want to be a doctor than it would be somewhat disingenuous to go to nursing school. However, something like an ER tech, or an ultrasound tech seems like more of a means to an end. Respiratory therapy seems interesting and useful, and I’m really interested in Electroneurodiagnostic Technician, which I just found out about. I like neurology a lot so this might be a good fit.
So, all of you OPMers, what are your opinions of the various allied health fields? the programs would all cost me a decent chunk of money, but I think it might be worth it. 4 years is a long time to stay at a job I dislike, even with the medschool light at the end of the tunnel… and I’ve already worked there for 3.
Any thoughts?

Here’s my .02,
A job as an ER tech, Respiratory Therapist (RT), Phletbotomist, and Lab all require certifications. You can get an EMT certification and work as an ER tech. Some ERs stipulate that you are a paramedic. In order to work as a phlebotomist, you need a certificate from an accredited school. In order to work in a lab, you need to be ASCP certified. Our beloved leader-OMD-was an RT; so, he tell you more about RT certification.
Just my .02

Hey there … I’ve been thinking about something like this too. But not for the exact same reasons — I just think I’d like to get more knowledge of the healthcare profession while I’m working my way into it!!! Um-teen years ago I thought I really wanted to be an engineer - and I spent 6 years and lots of my parents money to get that education. Now, 15 yrs into this career, I KNOW it’s not what I want to do for the next 25+ yrs. I don’t want to make the same mistake again — thinking that I’d give my right LEG to be a surgeon, go down the education trail and find that there’s no way I’ll get a surgeon’s slot, so I’ll take the next best thing (that I can think of now) as an ER doc, only to find out then that that I’d would have been just as happy to be a surgical PA or RN. You probably get the “gist” of my thoughts …
Anyway … I have thought about getting into my CC’s allied health EMT program. A friend of mine did that - and is continuing with the paramedic program. He LOVES it! I have visited him at the fire houses (here, the paramedics and firemen are all housed together) and see that it might be something that would be fun for awhile – and the pay isn’t too bad. I don’t know if I’d actually suspend my pre-med coursework long enough to complete the paramedic program, but the EMT one is only one semester at my CC. And the schedule is very “full time employee” friendly, so you can work while getting that much completed!!!
I think I remember reading about how you (or someone) hated your job in banking. And, while hating your job can be a positive in that it gives you motivation to pursue your dream, it can be a real downer! IMHO, I don’t see how a short deviation in school would hurt. If it’s a program that’s only a year or so, it will get you out of something you hate on a daily basis, still give you healthcare education, and then get you into a job that you not only enjoy (hopefully), but give you exposure to medicine and also give you contacts to other healthcare professionals (for advising, LOR, recognition to other fields, etc). Hopefully your new “bosses” would be understanding of your future pursuits and aid you in your education — maybe even provide some cash benefits (via tuition reimbursement???).

I’m taking a different approach and just say “suck it up”. I’m in a job I can’t stand with scientists who know everything…including how to do my job. However I know exactly what I do, when, and can have 3 classes paid for per year…so I’m just gonna rough it.
While chucking it and getting into an allied health field may seem like the thing to do there are other things to look into. I was thinking about PA school and had actually begun the application process when it hit me like a ton of bricks…I want to be a physician…PERIOD While it might be different for you because you don’t seem to have been exposed to medicine I’m not moving.
I would love to work at a firehouse but my schedule is very set for taking my prereqs. I’m at work at 7am and out the door at 3pm, Mon-Fri.
I guess my reasoning is I’ve run into, worked with, and work with “I originally got into this to become a…” type of people. Those that I know who went on to medical school either quit work and did a post-bacc…worked for some…or plugged away a class or a few classes per semester. Never talked about their dream except to a chosen, trusted few. The paramedics I spoke to were split down the middle…half had plans to become physicians and the other half believed they should already be physicians because of experience and doctors don’t really know all that much more and…the split was also down the lines of age…those younger para’s were the MD wannabes.
It’s been my experience that this “see what I’m getting into” approach turns into “I got into this to do X but now I’m going Y”. I believe if you’re going to become a physician then become a physician. No sense wasting time on anything else. Even a semester taken away from your goal is still a semester. For every semester you take off it’s akin to taking a year off.
I would not switch but no one here knows exactly what you’re going thru because your experiences are your own. Based on what you’ve provided I would not switch and just keep plugging along. MD wannabes in allied health are a dime a dozen.
Take what is useful…discard the rest.

I want to be a physician…PERIOD
That’s what I think 99% of the time too. But, I am somewhat humbled when I talk to a doctor who says that I should explore all alternatives. Coming from the horses mouth (lots of horses — guess that’s a herd?)… I used to make very confident statements (esp one I’ve said at least five times in my life: “This is Mr. Right — he’s definately The One”). I’m a wee bit less “resolved” these days. I’ve been put in my place enough times to realize that there are often alternatives. Heck - that’s why we’re all OPM’s!!!
For the OP, it’s going to be a very personal decision. If you’ve got a good situation (other than your job just not being fulfilling or challenging enough), you could probably “suck it up” for awhile. But, if I’m remembering the right previous post, if going to work each day is misery - it might just affect your entire attitude. I was hating my job till just a few weeks ago - when I was aggressively recruited by another contractor. Though I’m not really into engineering or the space business right now, the new contractor did offer me a 15% salary increase, ability to telecomute, and knows of my future career/school intentions. Though they won’t pay my tuition (like my current empolyer), they will allow me to have a very flexible work schedule - VERY. So, just do what’s right for you. I’ve never heard someone say that taking off a semester (or two) will be devastating. Some students need time off for family issues, burn-out, etc … Just don’t loose sight of your goal. It doesn’t appear as though you are intending to go into Allied Health as an alternative to being a physician — but more as an alternative to being a banker.

Right. And like you mentioned, I would like the experience as well. It seems that it might be a low-risk way to explore the world of healthcare before taking the big plunge. I would still be taking prereqs-i don’t plan on taking any time off from that - so the EMT class would be in addition to, not instead of. I do think that this might be the way to go, since the other allied health programs seem very expensive and time-intensive. Still have to get a good grade in Inorganic, after all…

If your desire is to practise medicine then there are alternatives, however if your desire is to become a physician your only alternatives are MD, DO, carribbean MD, or foreign MD.


. . . thought about getting into my CC’s allied health EMT program. A friend of mine did that - and is continuing with the paramedic program. He LOVES it! I have visited him at the fire houses (here, the paramedics and firemen are all housed together) and see that it might be something that would be fun for awhile – and the pay isn’t too bad.

I caution you on this point. EMT pay is HIGHLY variable. In many places, the only EMT’s that get paid well are those that work for public services - and the competition for those jobs can be fierce. Private service pay and benefits can be seriously lacking. If you decide to pursue EMT certification, check into the job market first.

two of my friends from school wanted to get some more hands-on experience, than just volunteering in a hospital. They just looked around and one of them found a job as a technician at the private practice of his mom’s dermatologist who also does minor plastic surgieries…the doctor trained him and my friend loves the job. He only does it part time - two days a week…
The other friend of mine is starting on Monday. She’s going to be traind to be a tech in surgical unit…
So I would say ‘try to look around’. You can really find a great job if you’re lucky without investing any money without a guarantee of finding a paid position afterward.

Wow - she’s going to be trained on the job? that would be ideal. I’ve been looking for something like that and coming up with nothing. probably i’m not looking in the right places… Your friend’s experience gives me hope, though… I’ll just try to be really lucky!

I know here there are some tech positions that require CNA certification, so you might want to look into that. Also, what about working as a unit secretary in a hospital? You might not get as much hands-on experience, but it might be up your alley. Good luck!