I was haunting that OTHER doctor site(which I won't mention here) And I noted a lot of people in the computer science/engineering field(like myself) who were contemplating a career shift to medicine. I'm starting to see a trend, and I'm curious if this is related to the downshifting of computer sciene and engineering fields in general. So if you are/were in an engineering/CS field and have switch/are contemplating a switch to medicine, please post here, maybe with some brief background info, and if it was a direct decision you made in the midst of a career, or one made at an opportune moment, such as a layoff.
Myself, I'm still in IT, and will be through the completion of my undergrad, as it makes the most financial sense(tuition reimbursement is a godsend.) For me it was something I'd really decided quite a while ago, it was just the when, and the ending of my procrastination. Anyhow, all you computer/engineering geeks come out of the woodworks and share your story please!
I too am IT. I worked in the field for 20 years and have a masters in computer science. 10 of those years as an independent consultant, and 10 as an employee.
I really had none of the premed courses, except physics, so I left work for full time school over a year before my company bought out another and started layoffs. I thought the job market might get bad, but I made the jump anyway. I started making serious plans in 2001, and made the jump in Jan of 2002. Now here it is, the end of 2003 and I've applied!!! I can't beleive how time has flown by.
Good luck, and welcome to the board.
I started doing computer consulting in high school (mostly just troubleshooting) with a company my brother runs and on my own for various clients. I then did the same thing for the finance division of IBM (IBM Credit Corporation) for 4 years or so doing mostly troubleshooting, installation, and network management. I left IBM in 1992 to go find myself and managed to find myself in Fairbanks, Alaska. I did computer consulting first to some oil companies (mostly ARCO Alaska), then through Honeywell Corporation at Eielson Air Force Base and Fort Wainright, and then for some environmental engineering companies all the while finishing my degree in Physics at the U of Alaska. I kept trying to get away from the computer field but the money was always so tempting. I could pay for a semester of school by working a weekend or two. I then left all of that to join the Peace Corps (where I didn't even see a computer for over two years). It was there that I figured out that I wanted to do medicine. We'll see if I leave this computer stuff behind…It's been good to me but I'll let the young whipper snappers take it from here…
Engineer-turned-medical student here. For me, it turned out that engineering just wasn’t my thing. It took me a while to decide to change, but here I am!
Best of luck to you!
For me it was also a matter of finding myself. Luckily I didn’t have to go quite as far as Alaska! California helped me to work out the kinks. Your story reminds me of another one I read before finding oldpremeds. It was this site posted by a DO who went back to med school at 49. In this story he too mentioned serving in the peace corp, and even described an incident while there which later caused him to leave an excellent engineering job to return to school. I only mention it because it’s what truly moved me to get my butt in gear to start over. I even emailed him and he responded with encouragement. So whatever the fortunes of life hand you, you’re only limited by yourself. But I’ve rambled enough…
Great to know I’m part of the growing trend
I actually already have the biology degree, and worked in healthcare as a histotech for 5 years after graduation. While in school I worked as a phleb. and before that in my teens as a pharmacy tech back in the 80's. I left it all in 1998 to work in IT to get a better salary to help support my mother who is on disability. I also was trying to escape a psychotic boss.
Now here I am 5 years later, and can honestly say that I have missed the hospital environment since day 1. Of course in the early days of being in IT it was all new to me so there was a novelty. Now though it has become mundane and I am doing a lot of research to figure how I can make some transition back .
I have had some success in this field…starting as a contractor doing PC work to being a tier 2 network engineer and getting Cisco certified. Between me being honest with myself about what I want, the downsizing of the industry, and lack of interest in what I am doing, I have realized that I need to at least try to go to med school.
Several times I have talked myself out of it…too old. too much money…etc, and have decided to get a grad degree. However every time I log on here I see so many people who have a LOT more responsibility than me, or are older…etc. Yet they are going and it inspires me to try as well.
I started back taking classes this semester. I am retaking Calc 1 as an audit…so I can take Calc 2 next semester. This is in the eventuality that I end up having to go with plan B. Most of my grad programs require advanced math. I was shooting on starting a post bacc next fall at UPenn. I was also thinking of going to Rowan which is practically in the neighborhood. I don't think they have a formal post bacc but I could probably register non-matric to take classes. I think UPenn might be better though since they have the staff support…etc.
Anyway…in terms of being in IT and trying to shift out of IT…it's more of a philisophical decision for me. I think that maybe I was too burned out and too short-sighted and naive to realize what my path should have been 5-10 years ago. I think it is important to try to make a difference, and I don't think that what I do everyday at work really makes a difference…to me.
We are the few (many), the proud, the refugees from IT…
I quit my job last spring as a Web Developer/Graphics Design person… hated it from day one… can’t believe I did it for 10 years… what was I thinking?
Anyway… you’re not alone.
My choice wasn’t due to the layoffs or anything… although I’d been laid off twice… I actually quit this last time… so that was a plus… The environment nor the work did nothing to fill my soul… life sucking drain actually (can you tell I LOVED my job?
anyway… the healing profession suits me… I’m in the throws of the remainder of my undergrad career (well, 4 semesters counting this one left)…
To quote a line from Sting: "you’re not alone… you’re never alone… not here… "
welcome to the group.
I sort of fell into the computer field by accident. My plans after high school were to go college and then to med school. Well, to make a very long story short, it didn’t happen that way. I basically taught myself programming and landed some low paying jobs because I had no formal training. I decided to get some formal training and attended a local technical school that basically took alot of my money(which i’m still paying), but I had something on paper to show for it.
I currently work for the federal government as a management information specialist and I HATE it. I know this is not my calling. I knew from the time I was in high school I wanted to be a doctor. I finished my undergrad degree in May of this year and now working on my prereqs. I think I became attracted to computers because I am an analytical person and like to figure out how things work(If that makes sense). Anyway, I still have a job and I’m thankful, but I know there is a higher calling for me.
I feel your pain guys(and girls). I never intended to do IT, but I fell into an entry level computer job early on, and I saw the upward trend in technology in the mid 90’s, so I thought it would make for a sucessful career. So I got some certs, a few breaks, and 7 years later I’ve done everything on the IT side from help desk to 3rd tier network engineer. And I’m completely burned out. I also feel like I too, am not contributing to society. I’ve wanted to be a doctor since I was 12, and so better late than never
I'm a mechanical engineer myself. After high school I spent 10 years in the navy on submarines as a nuclear mechanical technician. I left the military in '96 and started on a bachelor's in Mechanical Engineering (at the age of 27). And although I did very well in school (GPA 3.9 and I graduated as the top mech engineer in my class) I started feeling during my senior year that engineering wasn't a very good fit for me. I contemplated postponing my graduation at the time so that I could get some med school prereq's but I decided to go ahead and graduate and then if I still wanted to go to med school I could always take classes at night.
Here I am 3 years later sitting in my cube bored out of my mind. I guess I was right, engineering isn't for me. There really is nothing more boring to me than geometrical tolerancing.
Anyway, I've been taking the pre-reqs for awhile now at night. I'm in OChem now (I really like going to school, beats working anyday) and I'm planning on taking the MCAT's in April, the sooner the better in my opinion.
I'm a systems librarian, so sort of pseudo-IT. I wandered into it from cataloging, as the puzzles you get in system support are more satisfying than the puzzles you get in deciphering and interpreting cataloging rules, which is more of a self-made problem (since librarians made the rules to begin with). My job is very secure, but I could no longer pretend it was fulfilling. I could no longer pretend that was fine with me. I decided to see if I could do this, the thing I was always afraid I couldn't do.
What surprised me was that chemistry has turned out to be fun. FUN! Who knew?
Me too – I've got a BS in Computer Science and have worked as a software developer for 8 years. I'm so excited about moving into a field that is alive. I think the worst for me was that we would work long and hard on a program, only to watch the program become obsolete 6 months later! I expect medicine to be much more rewarding.
oops, baby is crying…
I started out mixed up and confused in College (the Viet Nam war didn’t help things any, either.) Got kicked out and started again. Ended up with 2 degrees: from the first school,
psychology; from the second, Microbiology. I went from there to EMT school and then Paramedic school. Discovered that working with unsupportive partners (and a few other things) was not really conducive to my doing well as a paramedic, so left, looking for a new occupation. I happened to be just north of Silicon Valley, so it wasn’t a hard choice.
I started out in “IT” before “IT’” was even a term. I was fortunate to “fall into” a top networking company (before the internet was public, and before TCP/IP took over the world)–starting out in computer ops. I did a lot of assembly language development, before high-level languages (especially C) took over the world for folks doing real-time and embedded stuff. Spent 20+ years in Silicon Valley doing development (which I was too slow at) software QA (which I was very very good at, which is why I was too slow for
development–took too much time getting ALL the bugs out , and finally, software release.
Had some excellent times, excellent experiences (loved my first programming job, where I owned all the bytes in the machine; working at Apple was a blast!)–but also had no other life. Lots of things I didn’t like about doing software–like lack of people contact. I loved working on network nodes (something approximating today’s routers)–because they were more like biological beings–they reacted to their environment.
But, as the computer industry expanded, jobs became more focused. Software developers would know a lot about a little. That was one of the reasons I went into software release–because I knew a little about a lot! (I also got to use all the software that was used in development and got really really fast machines!) Learning the “language of the week” (Pascal, C, C++, then the various frameworks, Java…) also got to be very old, and not so interesting.
After getting laid off from a company where nearly everyone I worked for was a millionaire (they went public 6 mos before I started there, and they had a very successful IPO), I re-thought what I wanted to do. For a while I was a (very unsuccessful) daytrader–and my father passed away a few months after I got laid off.
But, then, medicine started worming its way back into my life. That’s why I had studied Microbiology (since I got to take all kinds of cool medically-related classes – from medical mycology to immunohematology), after all. My passion for anatomy re-surfaced–and for science. And also, my desire to be of service to others. I started taking classes to get into nursing school – until I discovered that it might not be too late to go to medical school–even at age 53!
So, here I am…ex-IT person going after medicine (yet again!)
waves to everyone
So much of what all of you have posted rings true for me as well. So don’t be surprised if some of my story sounds familiar.
Growing up I wanted to be many things, but the only thing that was always on my list was medicine. I’ve been intrigued by it for a very long time. I taught myself how to read in Spanish (at like 7) because Dad had bought some interested medical books and I wanted to understand them. Though I hated getting a shot, I still loved going to my Pediatrician’s just to be able to look at all the cool gadgets in his office.
I did well in school and everything seemed to be in place. I went to Columbia undergrad (92-96). Pre-med is not a major there but a concentration that you add on to a regular major. I had taken a liking to Physics in high school and so I majored in Physics with a concentration in Pre-med. My first year curriculum was exactly like that of an Engineering student (calculus, gen. chem., physics) so I got to meet a lot of them. I did quite well first year considering that college was a major culture shock for many reasons. Then came Organic Chemistry the next year. It’s definitely the big weed out course at Columbia. By the end of my first semester of Orgo I doubted whether or not I had what it takes to be a doctor. By then the Computer industry was starting to get really exciting so I decided that since I really liked Math better than Science anyway, that I may as well get into computers instead. I was so naive back then. I really thought that I’d be working as a “scientist” upon graduation. And so I ended up with my CS degree (and a Music double major) and have been working as a Systems Analyst at the same company ever since (well, except for the year I took off to teach).
The job was exciting at first when I didn’t know anything. But I quickly realized that I was no scientist. I was more of a data entry clerk or something. There was very little real programming to be done. My job was way too “business-y” for me. Eventually I transferred to a different division where I actually do code, but its in a proprietary language ($0 market value). At this point I am beyond bored. I spent every minute at work thinking about how I wasn’t supposed to end up like this. What happened to all my academic potential? I want to go back and prove to myself that I can do Orgo well. What happened to all of my ideals? My current position helps no one. I feel that every hour I spend at work is an utter waste of time. I can’t bring myself to get into this stuff. It’s just not what I was meant to be doing. I want to do something I actually care about.
Despite knowing that this is not the right career for me, I can’t seem to take the plunge into medicine either. Part of it is that I have grown very comfortable here. The money is pretty good and I am used to my lifestyle. I love everything about my life right now except my career. I am deathly afraid that medicine, while offering me what I’ve been missing in some areas, will unbalance my life in such a way that I will lose the other things I currently enjoy. I am afraid it will cause havoc in my personal life. I am afraid that the grueling training process will turn me into a bitter, cynical, non-goofy person. I am not sure if I could put up with prolonged sleep deprivation. For each wonderful thing I can think of regarding being a doctor, I can think of one or two scary things. And so I’m in a holding pattern. Stuck to the evil I am already familiar with and unwilling to take a risk to find my true love.
Good luck to all of you who are already in the process. And good luck to those others who are still undecided. I hope your decision making is not painful like mine!
Halcyon… I hear ya. I'm not in IT but was a math major (liberal arts college, though, lots of music and dance in there, too) and now work for large mutual fund company in their corporate finance dept. My current position… well, it's a good cure for insomnia, let's put it that way. But our company is fairly large and I've made enough connections in the three years I've been there that I could find another position more to my liking. I have to say the benefits (both tangible and intangible) are very appealing and even though I really want to be a doctor and have wanted to since I was about 4 years old, the idea of giving up what I have now or could have in the near future makes me question whether or not medicine is a realistic goal for me. Luckily for me, I only just started chipping away at the sciences this semester, seeing how it goes (so far I love it), which gives me plenty of time to hem and haw. Probably too much time. Sometimes the more we think the less clear things become.
So, you're not the only one. However, if I've learned nothing else from being in the OPM community, I understand that it'll never be too late to pursue this dream, and that's pretty comforting…
I’m a former chemical engineer. I never liked studying it in college, but when I started my career I really hated it. I didn’t like how homogenous the corporate environment was. Everyone thinks, acts, dresses the same, etc. The amount of diversity in medicine (especially in EMS) is awesome. Also, it didn’t seem like there was much significance to a lot of my work, and what significance there was often got overshadowed by the harm it could do. I spent a couple years working on a pharmaceutical plant that was being built in mainland China. Unfortunately, that plant has all the right types of equipment to make chemical and biological weapons. Not a good feeling. I had a pretty good career going, but I couldn’t stand it. I resigned after three years. I was a caretaker at an assisted living house for a year, and I’ve been an EMT for the past two years. I love medicine, I think it’s much more fascinating than engineering, and it sure is more fun to practice. I took a picture of my old cubicle before I resigned, so that if I ever felt I made a mistake I could remind myself what it felt like. I’ve never looked at the picture. What really cracks me up is what the HR guy said when I resigned. He said “what are you going to work at McDonald’s…are you going to be a ho-hum person the rest of your life?” I used to remember that as I was driving emergent thru rush hour on I-25 in Denver. I showed him. Of course, I’d make more money if I did work at McD’s. Anyhow, I don’t miss very much about engineering. Have you watched Office Space? It’s only funny when it’s not happening to you…every day.
I am also an ex-IT drone. Drone is the keyword here because that is how I felt about my work and the IT industry. My last job was as a security engineer contracted to the Air Force Pentagon. Good salary, and great co-workers, but the commute was killing me – I commuted from Harrisburg, PA to Rosslyn, Va (just across the river form Wash. DC), approximately 123 miles, one way. Also, I just did not care about staying abreast of the latest technology in security or security best practices. I knew it was time for me to go.
I quit my job in the midst of the IT bust and, subsequently, enrolled in school full-time to satisfy taking premed-requirements. With the help and support of my wife and family, my dream of being a physician just may now become a realityl However, the IS degree that I have, coupled with my exeperience in a multitude of areas in IT, is a very valuable part of my skill-set, of which I am fortunate to have.
|"I used to remember that as I was driving emergent thru rush hour on I-25 in Denver."|
I left Denver in 2000, after residing there for six years. We got tired of dealing with the growth and all of the traffic and conjestion that comes with it. Must say, though, that I do miss those cool, crisp, fall mornings and blue skies and snow-capped mountains.
Mechanical Engineer by education, 5 yrs pure engineering work then 10 yrs sales and management of engineered products. My interest has been medicine since HS, but I couldn’t stand being broke any longer…so after ugrad, off to work. Then wife, kids, time warp and “where did those years go?” The final straw was work related and allowed introspection. Looking at past and future made me realize that I really wasn’t impacting any lives (or very few). So 10% more widgets were sold. So what! I want more, so I am now in the current application cycle.
Kudos to all of you similarly following your dreams. Good luck.
Good luck to you Ortho and everyone else who’s posted so far!
A little story:
So yesterday everything is all fine and dandy. My husband and I are playing on our computers. The take-out we ordered arrives promptly at 9PM. Suddenly the hubby start complaining about his eye and lies down in bed. Takes me a few minutes to realize he might be about to get another migraine. He suffers from terrible ones. At that point I ask him if he wants one of the pills he brought with him from Dominican Republic. He’s tried several American migraine treatments but none of them can stop the migraine. However, those funky little yellow pills almost always do the trick.
So then I decided to do some research on the web to try to find out what “Migra Dorixina” (manufactured by Roemmers) is all about. I was afraid that maybe it had some adverse side effects which contributed to the decision to not market it in the US. Before I knew it I spent the next two hours reading up on its active ingredients (lysine clonixinate and ergotamine), on various studies regarding its efficacy and safety (some were NIH funded), and on similar drugs that ARE marketed here in the US (he will look into those with his doctor). I didn’t even notice when I had logged out of my game. That’s how engrossed I got into all this stuff. Well, apparently the drug is safe for him(he doesn’t have an ulcer or arteriosclerosis). I think it was never marketed here because it had only average efficacy. But hey, it works great on him! I guess all this is not exactly “medicine” per se, but this little event made me see that maybe there IS room for a medical career in my life. As I watched him sleep peacefully while I “studied”, I had a vision of myself years from now engrossed in some medical textbook.
So today I filled out an application to Columbia’s post-bacc program (it’s my Alma Mater and my husband is an employee there so I get tuition benefits). I haven’t sent it in, but I will once I finish a little essay they want.
I don’t know exactly what this means. For some reason even that stupid little application seemed like an insurmountable obstacle before. I guess that during my moment of lucidity I realized that starting the pre-reqs doesn’t bind me to anything. It doesn’t hurt. I can start part-time while I continue to figure this out and at least I won’t lose any more time. The same pre-reqs will prepare me for medical school, dental school, or graduate school in the sciences. Or they will simply serve as great educational experiences.
Every journey starts with a step. gulp Let’s see where things go now.
Have a nice weekend!