Starting down the long lonely road

Or not so lonely by the looks of it

Long story very, very short: after getting my undergrad degree (3.23 GPA), and deciding I don’t want to be a manager at the place where I work, I start thinking about my job, how comfortable it is (it is fairly so at the moment), and just what it means. And I had a very enlightening experience.

I have figured out that the job I have, while fairly well paying, and is good in very many respects, does not help people the way I want to help people. I have discovered that I am too smart to resign myself to a life in a career like this. I am not proclaiming by any stretch that I am a genius, just that I know deep down inside myself that I can do better with the mind I have been given.

And why did it take me 35 years to figure that one out?

I can’t say for sure, but I know that these things contributed to my enlightenment:

  • learning that money != happiness, the hard way.

  • learning that happiness really is doing what matters.

  • looking back over my life, and noticing this common thread of helping others, over and over and over (and this is why I’m really good at what I do during my day job).

    I’ve found out that I can be the best I can at my current job, and it will not save one life, or give a dying patient a few more weeks to say goodbye. It will not alleviate chronic sufffering, or cause people to walk straight and tall again. It will not give a guiding hand to someone in the throes of depression, or dealing with bipolar mania. In short, it will not address what truly matters in life - helping others to the best of my ability.

    And with the mind I have been given, it would be an utter shame to not use it to help other people.

    I have a wife & 2 kids, 7 & 4. I lay next to my wife tonight, tears streaming down my face, telling her all of this. Knowing that if I decide to enter medical school, it will be a very long, tough journey. Even with my wife’s support, something, somewhere will suffer.

    Then I croak: “What better way to raise your kids, than to live a life that matters, and show them what matters?”

    I may well look back on this posting, and regret it (have one of those “wincing” moments in life, as I like to call them). Some may think I’m some sort of egomaniac. That’s fine. I expect I’ll get lots of stares, incredulous gazes, whispers of “doesn’t he think of those children!!” at Christmas.

    Those people cannot keep me from using my gifts to better this world, even in some small way. I’ve stopped letting them do that, as of tonight.

    I am still reading, researching as I post this. I have no intention of packing up for Dartmouth in the morning I still have mouths to feed, and a job to tend to, and a marriage to keep on the path. My wife and I are beginning (JUST beginning) to discuss this. We’ve been together for 13 years now, and I need to make sure we will be 13 years from now

    You guys & gals are a realistic, caring, sympathetic bunch - even if our paths do not cross again, I’ll remember this place. Anyone else looking past the bridge leading down this path, I’ll send them this way.

I can’t think of a better reason to go for it than that!

I am contemplating the same thing, and have similar thoughts…And while it might be long, I don’t think it will be all that lonely.

Congrats & good luck! I know that you are concerned re: your children & wife…but with love and support they will be find. You will need to be organized so that you can maximize time with your family, but be able to do well in your pre-reqs & med school…It can be done!

Does your wife work or are you the primary bread-winner? Is she planning on working? Are you planning on working during this process?

These are things you will need to think about. I was able to work during the pre-req time, plus during vacations during med school. The first 2 years of med school was difficult for me to work, but during my 3rd & 4th year I worked a lot.

I am sure you have done the research re: debt. Even with my working I still had $150k. I would guess that 90% of my classmates had $200k (based on a lecture we had to go to about loans). It will take most people anywhere from 10-15 years to pay it off.

Good luck & keep us posted on your decision.


Emergency Medicine

Pittsburgh, PA

Hello Long and Lonely,

Have you ever considered a career in something that is “med-like”?

For instance, Optometry, Dentistry?

This would require a bit less time and you will still have the reward of helping people. It is also a very challenging path but not as rigorous and long-term as medical school.

Just a thought. I’m going to be an optometrist. One day.