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Ayush

Transition from engineering to medicine

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Hi there! 

Here’s a little something about myself. I am currently a Masters (M.Eng) Chemical Engg student at University of Waterloo. I really dont know why I didn’t think of medicine as a career line way before but here I am, pondering over the very same thought. 

To be frank, I am quite clueless right now and i am just at the initial thinking/consideration  period.Having taken subjects like biochemistry and organic chemistry in my undergrad, I just dont know from where and how do I even start the transitioning process!!

I really look forward to hearing your thoughts and suggestions on this.

Cheers!

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I switched from engineering to medicine after about a year of working as an engineer. 

First thing you need to do is look at what schools require what courses so you know what ones you can apply for. 

As for if you should do it, I'm a community hospital staff in a surgical specialty now. I have advanced fellowship training in a specific area. To be honest, if I had my time back ,i probably would have stayed an engineer. There are a couple reasons for this:

1. Jobs. This is somewhat dependent on your specialty of choice, but certainly there are many specialties with a tight job market. Even in fairly open specialties, it can be hard to get a job in the location you want. I didn't appreciate this enough prior to medicine. Expect that you will not be able to live where you want. You will have to take a job in whatever location is avaliable. That may mean a rural location or thousands of km away from your home. It is extremely hard to leave a job and may take years to find a new one. The hospital you end up with the job in may be a hell hole, but if it's the only job you can get, well sucks to be you. If you want to have a family, being away from your support system is a MAJOR deal (I didnt realize this completely till I had children). You will likely be far away from your friend base and it can be hard to make new friends in a new location. If I could be an engineer again and work in my hometown (which I almost certainly could) I would do it in a heartbeat. 

2. Debt. This isn't a massive deal to pay off if you are smart with money but the problem is you will build a debt in med school that will essentially be almost impossible to pay off without working as an MD. That means you are committed to medicine before you ever know what it is like to be a doctor (or even a resident). There is no backing out, even if you realize in residency you hate it  

3. The System. You are probably used to private industry and its efficiency, safety focus and rewarding of competency. A system that is goal and outcome focused. Forget all that in healthcare. The system is a total disaster and infinitely frustrating. Administration is frequently completely incompetent at their jobs. Full blown incompetence with zero management skills. Many workers are extremely lazy and suffer no consequences for it due to extreme union protection. Moral is terrible. It takes forever to get anything done, if it gets done at all. You will be extremely overworked and nobody will care. You will be blamed for the failures of the system. Expect to have to fight administration on almost everything you need for your patients. As an MD, bureaucrats and administrators will frequently ignore your opinion, despite the fact you are the one who knows the data and provides frontline care. Admin is only concerned about keeping their little fiefdom intact and the gravy train going. They don't care about the patients. Expect issues of patient safety to be ignored. If you speak up to help your patients, expect administration to treat you as the problem and to publicly try to humiliate you and question your skills as an MD. You will go right under the bus as fast as they can get you there. 

4. Other MDs. People always think that engineers have social issues. Completely wrong. Medicine is the worst profession I have ever seen. So many doctors are completely socially incompetent. They backstab and badmouth each other all the time. They have no idea about how to act professionally. They have no empathy for others in the profession. They don't support each other. Bullying is rampant. Lying is rampant. There is zero accountability for this kind of behaviour. It is much more likely to be encouraged, tolerated or covered up than disciplined or addressed. It really is awful. You honestly can't understand the sad state of the profession until you live it. For someone who was another professional in a previous life, it will be shocking. 

If I had my time back, I never would have done medicine, despite the fact that I love working with my patients and performing surgery. Everything else is just so so so bad it doesn't make the sacrifice and practice of medicine worth it. I would go back to an engineer in a heartbeat if I didnt have my soul crushing debt to pay off. I wish someone had told me the truth of medicine before I applied. 

My advice: think very very very carefully before you commit to something you will never be able to back out of.

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34 minutes ago, NLengr said:

. Other MDs. People always think that engineers have social issues. Completely wrong. Medicine is the worst profession I have ever seen. So many doctors are completely socially incompetent. They backstab and badmouth each other all the time. They have no idea about how to act professionally. They have no empathy for others in the profession. They don't support each other. Bullying is rampant. Lying is rampant. There is zero accountability for this kind of behaviour. It is much more likely to be encouraged, tolerated or covered up than disciplined or addressed. It really is awful. You honestly can't understand the sad state of the profession until you live it. For someone who was another professional in a previous life, it will be shocking. 

The problem is, many of the people that become residents and attendings have never had real jobs before. They dont know to what magnitude of bad medicine actually is. In medicine I've had crucial emails just ignored repeatedly by various administration. Medicine is just so big and decentralized, there is often very little accountability to any one person.  Its a joke.

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