Considering a significant career change is always challenging. Quitting a job you’ve had for a long time and embarking on a new venture is not easy. It can create risks, lead to friction, and have a lot of uncertainties. But sometimes, it also leads to exciting new opportunities. Although it can be challenging, pursuing meaningful work that fulfills, excites, and energizes you can also be incredibly rewarding. For many, the career that captures all of those facets is a career in medicine. If you love the idea of helping people and making a difference, then a career shift to medicine may be for you.
According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, there were 22,239 matriculants at medical school programs across the United States in 2020, a two-decade high figure. Of that figure, around 1,143 students are 40 or above. Though this is a relatively small number, it shows that it’s never too late to pursue a career in medicine. Everyone has their reasons for shifting their career at a late stage, and their own path to medicine. If you think that path may be for you, be sure to think it through thoroughly.
Does Medical Training Fit Into My Life?
If you want to study medicine, you have to make sure you are ready for the long haul. The entire process takes upwards of eight years, from preparation for the MCAT to the successful completion of a residency. Expect shorter holidays and longer hours of study and work. You will need to become knowledgeable about a range of health-related fields like anatomy, biochemistry, pharmacology, physiology, microbiology, and genetics.
As you progress in your training, you will move from classroom to practical learning, and begin clinical rotations and assist more experienced doctors of different medical specializations. You will also learn how to write up the patient’s medical history and have the opportunity to perform physical exams under medical experts’ guidance. You have to do rotations and spend long hours in hospitals and clinics. But at the same time, find time to study for examinations and presentations.
Consider whether you will be happy with less time for recreation. The schedule of a doctor-in-training is full of work, but you must also find time for your personal life, even if it’s a challenge. Work-life balance is essential to avoiding burnout. In other words, the journey to becoming a medical doctor is filled with a lot of work, surprises, and rewards. It’s not easy to be a medical student, and you need to stay committed and ready to do hard work.
Could I Get Into Medical School?
Changing careers and going to medical school will require a lot of planning and preparation. There is usually a set of general requirements for your medical school application, but specific programs have their own requirements as well. You have to make sure you are organized early and find out the school’s requirements.
Applicants generally need the following prerequisite requirements :
- Prerequisite courses:
- Biological Science
- Other courses specific by your program
- At least three years or 90 semester hours of college or university education, verified by American Medical College Application Service.
- Medical College Admission Test score from an exam administered within 36 months of the application.
MCAT scores are essential when considering an applicant for admission. Applicants should prepare before the examination using high-quality professional study resources. There is also an extensive interview process for all medical school applicants, and essays to complete.
What Kind of Medical Speciality Interests Me?
Although all doctors begin with roughly the same foundations (although there are some differences between MD and DO programs), they will further specialize. If you’re interested in a career in medicine, you should also consider what specialty you’d like to pursue. There are about 135 specialties and subspecialties to consider.
Perhaps you can consider pediatrics, specializing in the prevention, early detection, and management of various functional, behavioral, developmental problems that affect infants, children, and young adults.
Cardiology is another popular specialty, and it involves treating heart disease. Cardiologists treat abnormalities through medications and many technical procedures. Obstetrics and gynecology are specialties focused on the health of the reproductive system for people with uteruses and vaginas.
Why Do I Want a Career In Medicine?
Medicine offers a rare opportunity to help many people heal and live happier, more comfortable lives. Whether they are dealing with physical, emotional, or mental ailments, being able to help your patients is very rewarding. Medicine is also a fascinating opportunity to learn about the complex functions of the human body, and innovative new technologies. Being a doctor also means gaining the trust and confidence of people, especially your patients. Being entrusted with your patient’s health is a great honor.
Why Do I Want To Leave My Previous Career?
Each person’s journey in changing careers is unique. Your previous career was likely the right choice for you at one point in time, and leaving it can feel overwhelming. However, if you have come to feel unhappy with it, you should feel free to find a career that can make you happy. If you are looking for a better paying or more secure field, you should also consider how your current work measures against medicine in those regards. Medicine is known for being high-paying and relatively secure, if high-stress, something you should keep in mind.
It’s Not Too Late
Although you may face challenges, it is never too late to switch to a career in medicine. Do not be afraid to take a leap of faith and do something you love. The road ahead may be challenging, but getting your medical degree will be worth it.