First, let me just say I breathed a sigh of relief when I found this community. To see that there are so many people of all ages who are doing, have done, or considering what I’m thinking of undertaking…this is encouraging.
About me. I’m in my mid 20s, and decided a couple of years ago (after graduating with a degree to a technical career I was underwhelmed by) that I wanted to become a mental health specialist of some kind, be it a psychologist, social worker, or a counselor. I dismissed the idea of medicine, thinking (as I’m sure many others have at one time or another) that there was no way I could get through medical school.
To achieve my goal, I returned to college to seek a second bachelor’s degree (this time in psychology). This was necessary no matter what route I chose to take, because my UGPA was in need of repair. I’ve completed a psychology major now (maintaining a 4.0 GPA, a sign that I have improved as a student) and have been looking at clinical psychology graduate programs. The application process hasn’t worked out exactly as I would have liked. As someone who favors hands-on patient interaction over research, it’s difficult to find a good match. I’m beginning to feel that a Ph.D. program may not be right for me after all. Psy.D. programs are not right for me either, but for different reasons.
And so lately I’ve been sort of kicking myself, saying “I should have gone to medical school, but it’s too late now.” Yesterday I realized that maybe it’s not. It’s occurred to me that a medical degree with a psychiatric specialty may suit me perfectly. I will be able to treat patients (and write prescriptions as needed, an advantage over being a psychologist), enjoy some level of job security and financial stability (money clearly isn’t everything, but it is a consideration), and hopefully, job satisfaction. Medicine is a noble profession.
By my calculation, it would take me 10 years or so to prepare,attend medical school, and complete my residency. I am not afraid of doing the work, but this is not a decision I want to make lightly. I understand the enormity of the commitment I would be making. Time, money, energy, and anything else I’m forgetting as I write this. But I want to be sure I’m making the right decision.
I’m wondering if anyone else has tread a path similar to mine, and whether someone entering medical school with their heart set on a particular specialty (psychiatry in my case) is going to struggle more due to the amount of material covered in medical school that will have little consequence relative to what that person ultimately wants to do in his or her job.
From a personal perspective, I am married, and my wife has a good, stable job. She is supportive of my interest in medical school, so I don’t foresee a problem there.
Thank you for slogging through this, and I welcome any thoughts.
I can’t speak for the psychology vs psychiatry debate, but as for med school in general, I say go for it. I’m like you - I have a strong idea about what I want to do. I figure as a pre-med, it’s okay to have those thoughts, but not to be too rigid about it. Plus, with a little “life experience” under our belts, why wouldn’t we have some firm interests? I just keep it in my head that I could find something that’s even more interesting than I imagined my [secretly desired for specialty] could be.
FWIW, I’ve also heard adcoms prefer someone flexible and open-minded. . .
Welcome to the site. I too am “pre-determined” in a certain speciality, however, I am not too naive in my own personal situation to realize that maybe, once in med. school I could have a change of heart and really find something else that intrigues me just as much as my original desires.
That being said, I am around your age as well. I would humbly suggest that you contact some mental health professionals or even your states psych. hospital and see if you could get some shadowing done.
Do you have any medical experience? Albeit, volunteering, shadowing, EMT or paramedic coursework/i.e., license?
I read that you have a technical degree, if you have not been able to do any shadowing or volunteering I would really strongly suggest trying those ideas, and get into your states mental health system and see it first hand. Of course, these are just my suggestions.
One last thing, when you are able, call one of the medical schools that you are interested in and set up an appointment to meet with an adviser. They tend to be very informative, and in my opinion undergrad “pre-med” advisors are not worth the ink their cards are printed on…Just my honest opinion…
Being in your mid twenties before you realized you should have gone to med school does not put you behind the 8 ball. I think the average age of a U.S. medical school admit is about 25. I kick myself for not realizing my potential a lot earlier (Iâ€™d be done by now if I had started in my middle twenties) but it couldnâ€™t have happened any other way for me.
You sound like you have the proper insight and self-awareness to properly assess what you are getting into. I didnâ€™t make the commitment overnight, but in small incremental steps, each time testing myself, investigating, and thinking it through, until some sort of tipping point was reached and it not only seemed realistic but I was certain it was the right path. Sounds like your already half way there.
I donâ€™t know for sure about this, but I wouldnâ€™t worry about struggling through topics in med school that might not apply to your particular interest. Any thinking person has to appreciate how perfectly the body operates. And I think the intensity of med school might overwhelm, or even redirect, any innate interests anyway.
You are in your mid-twenties and by all means, finishing in your 30’s shouldn’t be a problem for you. You’ll find this community full to 20-somethings, 30-somethings, 40 and 50 somethings, who have decided to find their place in the world of medicine. I will be 45 next month and am completing a rigorous post bac (while working full-time). I don’t believe you’re crazy - besides, if you are, you are definitely among friends here! Welcome!