The next step . . . play to my strengths instead of my interests?

I know that whenever I post to OPM, it usually means bad news; I’m sure that most OPMers are as tired of my frustrations as I am. So I’ll be brief: Another mediocre semester has come to a close and my efforts to improve my GPA had backfired once again. The changes that I made in study habits and to reduce anxiety (throuh have been unsuccessful at improving my ability to memorize and recall during tests. Today, my Microbiology professor remarked that given my academic abilities, “you probably should not go to medical school.”

On the other hand, I did write, in his words last week, “The best undergraduate term paper I have ever read.” Yes, writing has always been one of my strengths; and I’m told that one should play to their strengths – unfortunately, I am not interested in being a writer. I am interested in public health, international rural and urban medicine, social justice and the like; however, I just don’t have the intelligence and thinking processes that allow me to excel in this field as a health care provider. My original goal was to run health clinics and do medical work in the ‘Third World’; I’ve been doing similar things in the U.S. for the past 20 years.

Any suggestions for a career that combines health care, writing, and medical anthropology/sociology?

I am most interested in direct service healthwork in rural areas in Latin America or subSaharan Africa. If I can’ practice as a doctor, maybe I can do something similar?

I am sorry that things did not go as you planned. However I am a true believer in things happening for a reason.

One idea for you may be to get a Master’s degree in Medical Administration. With such as degree you will be able to understand how to properly run the clinics that you want to establish or work in. A lot goes into the proper administration of a clinic including Insurance, Medical supplies, personnel, licensing, etc.

If you want to go into Health Care Policy then you may be looking at Public Health.

But since you want to establish or run clinics, I think you best bet is Medical Administration.

Good Luck.

How about an Master in Public Health?

Thanks for your recommendations. My original plan was to get an MPH anyway during medical school (the MPH program that I was considering prefers doctoral level candidates), but that particular program is not the only one available, obviously.

I do feel frustrated that I am unable to do the direct clinical care that I would like to do. Having worked in and started several free clinics in the U.S., I realized that being a physician would have made doing my work a lot easier: I wouldn’t need to find or hire doctors, I could do the care myself to start. It was this realization that made me choose to go to medical school.

It is very frustrating and demoralizing when hard work fails to pay off. But there are lessons here, I suppose.

What’s crazy is that you are probably doing extremely well compared to other people. You don’t want to go to the Carribean or anything? I was complaining about my first science grade. It was icky. No extra credit, dinged for every little teeny wheeny mistake. It was so much better than the average person’s grade, but, not a grade I care to repeat. We are so skewed in our view of grades and we act like it’s all trashy if it’s not a 4.0… Best wishes on whatever you decide.

My problem is that I am just not that good at remembering lots of facts and connecting them together under timed pressure as in a test. But tests are, by far, the most common means by which grades are given out and entrance to medical schools are granted. The MCAT is a test. Matriculating into medical school (whether in the U.S. or the Caribbean) doesn’t mean the end of tests; medical students are tested all the time. No amount of practice or others means (e.g. ADHD meds) has helped. I have come to the belated conclusion that my problems are perhaps innate to the way I think and process information. I never imagined that my psychobiological make-up would limit my career choices, but that is “life” and as the adage goes, “Life isn’t fair.”

It’s probably for the better. Fast recall is definitely part of the job. Besides, there’s no need to be a doctor if you want to be involved opening and running clinics. In fact, physicians are notoriously poor at doing it (all that distraction seeing patients…) – they NEED people like you to tie it all together and keep it running smoothly. If you have skills in communication, some business savvy, and an operational mind you can do great things. Go for it.

  • Kimberly_h Said:
You don't want to go to the Carribean or anything?

Word of caution...while getting into Caribbean/off-shore schools is infinitely easier than American medical schools, being successful is not. And the USMLE boards are the same for both sets of students. As I understand it, off-shore schools have a MUCH higher dropout rate when compared to American medical schools, probably for a variety of reasons, but certainly included is their willingness to accept students whose gifts are found in areas other than medical studies.

Nahani it sounds like your real passion is in the development and administration of healthcare--go with that passion! I imagine much of these frustrations will go by the wayside and you will be able to focus your energies in much more positive (for you and the larger community) ways.

I like the treatment/clinical side of medicine, too. I worked as a lay health worker at a clinic, working side-by-side doctors “treating” patients. I was actually invited by those doctors to do the work, so I know what that sort of care involves. Being a doctor would make developing and running clinics much easier; I wouldn’t have to try to find doctors to start, I could do the work myself. Last month, a non-profit women’s health organization recruited me to start and run a mobile health clinic. Finding doctors and nurses to staff this clinic has been arduous; people are just too busy to work or volunteer. It is situations like these that spurred me to consider being a doctor.

Perhaps it is for the better. It’s just that clinics cannot run without medical people, and getting people to staff such clinics is difficult when more glamorous, better-paying options exist for medical professionals. Almost all premedical students do some sort of “good works” prior to applying to medical school, but I feel the majority of them do so just to make their applications look good as well as to show a commitment to a larger good. But once they get out of medical school, faced with hundreds of thousands of dollars of loans, perhaps a growing family, new job, other obligations, most just don’t have the time to do the sort of work that clinics (such as the ones I’ve started) need.

Could we assume that you’ve considered PA school and rejected that idea? Or NP?