Musician thinking about medicine

Hello. I’m currently a senior undergrad music major (Music Theory) trying to figure out what I want to do with my life professionally. I’ve known for about six months now that I don’t want to continue graduate studies in music or have a music-related career, and I had been considering getting into nonprofit or ESL work, but lately I’ve developed something of an interest in medicine/anatomy, so I’m juggling that around in my head as well.

Essentially, the practical aspect of my situation is that I will graduate in 2009 with a degree in music and no premedical coursework (I will have a fairly high GPA, though, 3.8-3.9-ish). Furthermore, I will be working with the Peace Corps for two years after I graduate (I’ll be 24 when I finish that). I’m not wealthy and after I graduate I’ll be financially independent. My question is: is it feasible for someone in my situation to pursue the MD track? How expensive would it be to take all the premed coursework necessary for med school acceptance?

Thanks for your help. This interest in medicine is something that has really only cropped up in the past few months, largely due to a health course I’m taking now, so it may just be a phase, but I’ve always been interested in (and good at) science and math. Whatever the case, I’ll have two years in the Peace Corps to feel it out.

In terms of time, it is very feasible for you to pursue your interest in medicine. You are still quite young and would have many years of practice ahead of you if you started the premed coursework at 24.

Your question about expenses is more likely to be answered best by yourself after you have determined where your finances are. Everyone here has different circumstances (family, previous debt, etc.) If you are like most people, you will have to take money out to finance this quest. If you don’t have a lot of existing liabilities, I wouldn’t try to worry too much about the money thing. If you are financially responsible now, there is no reason to think that you won’t be once you get to MD or DO.

I’d say that if your interest level is still very high after your work in the Peace Corps (which is awesome) then go for it. The forum will be here to provide their support and input.

What instruments do you play? I took piano lessons as a kid and learned a few things on the guitar during my first undergrad.

Sounds like you’ve got the perfect scenario to me. Medical schools love well rounded students. A degree in something like art, literature, or music; along with 4.0 in the science core is absolutely perfect. You still have the opportunity to make this, or close to it, happen - the slate is clean. After your two years in the peace core (the perfect volunteering experience) you could find a post-bac program designed for pre-med students. There are many of these around the country (check out the one at Harvard: its open to anyone and is actually inexpensive). If you get A’s in these classes and a good MCAT, you will be the perfect applicant.

As far as money goes: get loans. Start as soon as you get back, before you aquire too much debt/bills or start a family. Your probably going to need loans for med school anyway, so you might as well tack on a little to complete the post-bac. Don’t let the financial part stand in your way, if it’s what you really want to do there are ways to make it happen.

And don’t minimize your recent inspiration as being insignificant. Every idea, change or new direction in life has an origin, and it doesn’t have to begin with some dramatic experience. Nor is it necessarily best to make the decision to become a doctor when one is 8 years old. Personally, I believe the major decisions in life are best made after slow, careful consideration and investigation as a fully-aware adult. Just because it never occurred to you until now that you have an interest in medicine, doesn’t mean it is erroneous or insincere, but rather the opposite.

I would try to find a doctor to job shadow as soon as possible. Don’t brush off your inspiration before you really explore it. You defiantly could do it – I would kill to be in your position. Good luck.

Thank you both for your input; it’s much appreciated. I wasn’t too aware of post-bacc programs but I’m very encouraged looking at the Harvard one as an example.

I was determined when I began undergrad to treat it as an end in itself rather than purely as a means to a professional end, so I picked a major I love without regard for where it would take me. I didn’t really have any professional ambitions and just figured I’d end up doing whatever and that’d be okay, but as I’m getting closer to the ‘real world’ that’s changing and now I really want to find my professional niche. I’m still glad I majored in music, though; I’ll always love music and my undergrad education has profoundly affected the way I interact with music.

As for what instruments I play, I play guitar, piano, and I sing. I started guitar at 14 and piano at 17. Piano’s my favorite but I’m better at guitar. Also, in the course of my undergrad coursework I’ve done a little with organ, clarinet, violin, and French horn.