Speech Pathology to Med Sc

Greetings forum,


This is my first post on the site. I have enjoyed reading the stories and gleaning from the wealth of wisdom and perspective from the members here.


Thank you.


I am here seeking more of that wisdom and perspective.


I am a speech pathology (SLP) student with a great interest in medicine. My main area of interest in SLP is Medical SLP (dysphagia, TBI, CNS, rehab, etc.)


In February of 2012 I will be applying for a PhD program in Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD).


Currently, I work as a research assistant for a professor at the university I attend. I am in the honors program with my college and am on the Dean’s List for academic achievement.


All of that said to say, I am a shoe-in for the PhD program. This is an opportunity which will take 6 years to complete, but will give me Clinical Certification and the credentials to teach in a professorship, as well as, possibly, hold a research/leadership position in a hospital (currently interested in Mayo, St. Jude’s, and Vanderbilt University Medical).


Anyway, my fiance is a family doctor (she is 1 year out of her residency), and, having spent lots of quality time with her, her doctor friends, and joining her (with HIPAA approval of course) on home visits and such, I have developed a strong interest in medicine.


I am 27 years old. I have already accepted the reality of being in school for 7 more years (final year before the PhD and then the 6 years in that program).


What I want the help of this community with is what everyone thinks about changing courses and pursuing medicine.


Keep in mind that, from the mouths of my professors, I have a guaranteed position in the doctoral program at my school; how wise is it, then, to shelve that certainty and put my focus on a very uncertain chance at getting into a medical school somewhere?


That’s the main concern here, I think.

  1. Certainty of PhD and a phenomenal career as a medical speech path and professor.

  2. Uncertainty of applying to and actually getting accepted to medical school, while adding 3-4 years of residency to my education, and finishing when I’m near 40.


    Now, the other difficulty for me with pursuing medicine is that I will have to, after this school year, go somewhere to complete pre med coursework (1 yr. chem, 1 semester physics, 1 yr. calculus, and 1 yr. bio].


    So before I can apply to med school, I have a 2 year commitment to pre med classes.


    Please give me any sort of perspective, insight, opinion, direction, and wisdom you have. I covet your feedback.


    [Side Note: I have spoken at length with my fiance. She has expressed unending support and affirmation. Her only concern was how grueling medical school was for everyone involved, saying she would not go back and do it again. She said, if I consider that and still want to do it, I should do it.]


    Thanks for all your help! I’m glad to join this community with all of you and be a small part of your journeys.


    -Cliff

Hi Cliff.


Welcome to OPM. I’m not sure what to tell you. I met an amazing speech pathologist last week at a nursing home; he was changing people’s lives and was incredibly bright.


Either career could be rewarding. Which do you think is the best use of your gifts? Where do you see yourself making the most impact? What’s your motivation, and how are your choices influenced by your partner? Do you feel a different dynamic as a PhD married to DO/MD than you would if you were both DO/MDs? Does that matter to you?


Med school will be tough, but a PhD will be tough also. Either way, it will be several years of living on loans and PB&Js


[May I also make a sweeping generalization and say that people who have just finished their residencies are probably exhausted and deserve to be less than gung-ho about medicine for awhile. Nevertheless, med students are notorious for saying that med school is the hardest thing in the world to get through----except that most med students have never had a full-time job, child, etc., and don’t have a whole lot to compare it to. My garbled point is that while med school may be hard, I’m imagining that it’s doable for humans. I haven’t started yet, but I don’t think you have to be one of the Super Friends to get through it. It’s like young military pilots who get their wings—sometimes they act like nobody’s ever done that before. The achievement is worth celebrating, but I don’t think it’s worth a Nobel Prize. Do you know what I mean? I think that putting med school on a pedestal can needlessly scare a lot of people away. I digress…]


I don’t know what your answer is. When I was in a similar position (the one before you jump off the bridge) I just had to dig deep and pray about it until I knew what to do. It sounds like you have two great options in mind, and that you feel capable of either path. This site is an amazing resource. I hope that other people’s stories help you to think yours through

overthemoon


Thanks for your quick response!


Your feedback was so helpful. Thank you so much for it. I am certainly taking to heart all you said, while, continually, praying about it myself.


Thank you very much


I guess I’m hoping to hear some people comment on whether I should relinquish a certain thing for a uncertain thing. Should I, at my age, knowing how much school I have left either way, take the direction that will see me finished sooner, or say To heck with it, and step out into the unknown for a chance at becoming a medical doctor?


I’m continually thinking about it, weighing the pros and cons, seeking counsel, and cultivating an open mind.


Again, thanks for your response!


I hope to hear from others on this board, facilitating well-roundness in my decision.


Peace,


-cliff

overthemoon


I just realized I didn’t answer your questions.


My bad


I’ll go point-by-point:

  1. I think both will be excellent uses of my strengths. I have considered this very question thoroughly. As an SLP, I intend on working in a medical setting, treating medical conditions (those listed in my OP, among others). If I transition to medicine, it will be a relatively seamless one, gifts/strengths/interest wise, obviously, because I will get to work in a medical setting as well.

  2. Where I see myself making the most impact is such a great question. This is another question I have been asking myself with regularity.


    You see, when I listen to the stories my fiance tells, as well as the stories of her friends who are doctors/attendings, I hear how broad of scope their impact is.


    My fiance visits people in their homes and is able to administer very tangible, real-time care, for very immediate, tactile needs. The same is true for her friends and colleagues. She has friends who travel the globe serving in the third world and in worn torn, disaster affected, and/or under-served populations.


    I love this!


    Quite honestly, this is the main draw for me to medicine.


    As an SLP I struggle to see a wide ranging skill set. Granted, being trained in medical speech path, I will gain skills to help in some ways (feeding treatment is a great example), but I won’t really get skills that translate and apply cross-linguistically, culturally, or across a spectrum of need.


    Everyone here knows this. Doctors are able to go anywhere in the world at anytime and provide tangible care. It’s what I call the Currency of Medicine. Regardless of circumstance, doctors have measurable value. They always will.


    I don’t know that I can say with the same confidence that SLP’s have the same currency.

  3. This understanding applies to your third question. What’s my motivation?


    My motivation is to be able to go to Joplin, MO after the devastating tornado, and ask How can I help, being, then, directed to an area of great need and having skills to truly help. I want to be able to go into a worn-torn area of the world at the drop of a hat, knowing with confidence I can help people in need there.


    I want to be able to, like my fiance has, enter someone’s home, the home of a person who, literally, has not left that house in over a year, and administer care, and function as a conduit of hope and resource to, hopefully, help that person to change their life.


    My motivation is to have training that will stand the test of time and circumstance. That if tomorrow global economies fail, governments collapse, and our country, or the world, enters a dramatic state of uncertainty and unrest, I will retain training and skills that can still be applied in tangible ways to offer help and relief.

  4. I don’t recognize or foresee a difference in dynamic that will or would effect my marriage in ways that I can measure or would necessarily matter.


    Thanks for all your genuine and thought-provoking questions. You have been a true help!


    -cliff

Most of us here on OPM have left something “certain” for the realm of the unknown. In my opinion, whether you do that all depends on how much you want to be a physician. My suggestion is to get extensive clinical experience - shadowing, working in a free clinic or hospital, etc. to get a better idea of whether you really do want to be a doctor. Is this something you can’t live without? If so, then go for it.


Best wishes to you. And keep us posted on your progress and decision-making process.



Cliff -


I just read your reply to overthemoon, and really identified with you points under “2” and “3”. Even though I have a viable skill as a certified nurse-midwife, the desire to have the wider set of skills for either needs overseas or after disasters at home was a huge motivator for myself to go into medicine. It does sound like that is a passion for you.


I concur with the idea of doing some shadowing to help gain certainty.


Best of luck!


Kate

terra_incognita and Kate429


Thank you both so much.


You’re both right on. Clinical experience. Shadowing, volunteering, experience, experience, experience.


I’m going to do it.


My fiance said I can shadow her at her clinic, and she will get me in contact with some of her former attendings to setup opportunities to shadow them during their respective hospital shifts.


I’m currently working as a research assistant, but will email some places around town seeking volunteer opportunities (i.e. a local, mobile medical unit that treats the under-served).


Thank you for your input and advice.


I promise to keep everyone updated as time progresses.


Peace,


Cliff

Cliff,


From your posts you seem bright and passionate. Don’t you wish there were a clear answer for everything? I wish you much luck as you figure it all out.

It seems like you have given the idea of becoming a physiciam much consideration, and that you have deep concern about scope of practice and or versatility a carrer in medicine can afford. Further, you mention that accademic wise you are sound, this implies that your grades are competitive for medical school admission thus far. The missing part, might just be to have medical experience/exposure, to solidify your choice. Voluntaring and shadowing might help in that respect. Life is sometimes that way - filled with hard choices. Ether way pathology/PHD or medicine, you will invest many years in your education, so go with your guts feeling and do whatever you think will be more fulfilling.

  • Idalyn Said:
It seems like you have given the idea of becoming a physiciam much consideration, and that you have deep concern about scope of practice and or versatility a carrer in medicine can afford. Further, you mention that accademic wise you are sound, this implies that your grades are competitive for medical school admission thus far. The missing part, might just be to have medical experience/exposure, to solidify your choice. Voluntaring and shadowing might help in that respect. Life is sometimes that way - filled with hard choices. Ether way pathology/PHD or medicine, you will invest many years in your education, so go with your guts feeling and do whatever you think will be more fulfilling.



I think voluntaring and shadowing is a great way to get some hands on experience with commiting to any long term responsibilities.

You never know, you may try it and not like it!

Hey Cliff,
I stumbled upon this discussion as I have recently finished my masters program in speech-language pathology, yet find myself longing for more. After having read your opinions on the matter, I truly relate to your dilemma. I was wondering what path you have decided to follow. Thank you for any insight you have to offer.