Teacher to Doctor: Anyone making the transition?

Wondering if there are any teacher-cum-medical students out there who would be willing to share their insights about differences between the two fields, quality of experience, intellectual atmosphere, etc. Certainly, there are many differences, but I would love to hear from someone who has made, or is making, the transition from teaching to medicine and what his/her reflections are, so far, about the new field as compared with the old one. Does it fulfill in areas where, I often found, public school teaching can sometimes be lacking: intellectual rigor, stimulating atmosphere, precision of thought? What are the stress levels like, and do the attractions compensate for them? Any thoughts shared, about both the upsides and downsides, are most welcome.
H Shepard

I would have thought that teaching would have to be stimulating, but then, I’m not a teacher. I think your brain is nothing less than over-stimulated during medical school, and like nursing (where I came from) you are constantly continuing your education in order to remain competant. If I remember correctly, most of our career changers have come from computer fields, military, law, and other medically related jobs, but they all desire the same thing: to be a doc. Sorry this is rambling, but I’m 2 weeks from finals for first semester medical school myself and should get off OPM and study. Take care and best of luck,

Holly, I think teaching will be a GREAT background for medicine. Good doctors ARE teachers - teaching themselves, their colleagues, their students and most of all their patients. I think you’re going to find medicine a great fit with your background. Good luck!


Hi Holly,
I was a teacher (college professor) before attending medical school. I actually find that I am missing teaching and I have rountinely set up study sessions for my intern colleagues who have struggled with Board preparation. It is just a natural extension of my former life.
Medicine and teaching have many things in common and skills for both overlap. Medicine also has an element of applied science involved too. It really is a mixture of teaching and applied science. Teaching is great preparation for medicine and you already have the study skills at hand.
Good luck!

I taught HS Spanish for 10 years before quitting in 2003 to return to school to take med school pre-reqs. I will be starting medical school this fall.
For me, I found I was tired of teaching students who didn’t want to learn and didn’t see any value in education. I still enjoy teaching people who actually want to learn, and I look forward to that part of the medical profession (although I realize some/many patients will not want to learn).
Many interviewers have commented that my teaching background will be a great benefit to me in medicine.
good luck!

I am also a teacher (HS AP Bio for five years) who will be starting med school this August. I think our teaching background will be an incredible asset in anything we do.

While never formally trained or employed as a teacher, one of my favorite components of being a respiratory therapist (my profession prior to becoming a physician) was teaching RT students. Now, as a resident, again I find myself very much enjoying the teaching component (med students & other residents) of my day.
As pointed out above - there is significant overlap & I think you will find teaching as a physician to be esp gratifying as your students will tend to be more focused, receptive & motivated.

I was a professor (in addition to other things) and I hope to see what the difference is! In my reality, everything I get into, I eventually teach, so I do see myself getting into teaching at some future point, maybe as a teacher to med students. I have never taught fulltime successfully, cause I just can’t stand not getting my hands dirty. At work, we have physicians who are experts in their field come in to give presentations. Perhaps you will find yourself gravitating to that type of work.

I left teaching public high school science after 8 years to begin medical school the Summer of 2003. What I miss most is my interactions with my students. I actually miss my freshmen. However, with rotations that loss has been tempered by other interactions.
Aside for the students, I don’t miss the lack of “knowledge” challenge in the public high school setting. Unfortunately, I found that medical schools are not immune from the politics of education. I just am more aware of them than some of my classmates.


Unfortunately, I found that medical schools are not immune from the politics of education. I just am more aware of them than some of my classmates.

I’d be interested in hearing more about this, if you have time.