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Engineering vs. Medicine

paki786paki786 Posts: 862Registered User Member
edited May 2013 in Pre-Med Topics
okay so im in high school thinking about career choices and i have narrowed down to my top 2 interests which are medicine and engineering

becoming a doctor is a long haul as it will require 8 years of schooling plus 4 years of residency and only then will you start to make big bucks while paying off that hugeee loan. you will have to work long hours and study like no other. then there are chances of not passing the USMLEs or passing with low grade meaning you cant get a good residency or a residency anwhere in the states. but then again there are pros, once you dedicate those 8-10 years of your life, you will make big bucks, help people along the way ( i think that if i should do something with my life it should be worth it and helping ppl will be worth it) , and live a comfortable life.

then comes engineering. it requires only 4-5 years of schooling in which GPA is not as big as pre-med. there are many many opportunities for you. you get to travel, life becomes pretty interesting not having to keep your nose in the books all the time, and you can live pretty comfortably and have time to do many other things that doctors will not be able to and you also think out of the box more often. You also have time to start side businesses. then there are cons which is not making the big bucks right at the start. you have to work your way up, and then there are limited jobs which pay good. you are always in the risk of being fired since you have a boss and your life doesnt exactly devote to a good cause such as helping other pepople.

so i am interested in both
what is your opinion on this?
Post edited by paki786 on
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Replies to: Engineering vs. Medicine

  • madamebovarymadamebovary Posts: 1,640Registered User Senior Member
    you know what your third option is - start a dot com.

    but seriously, it depends what type of engineering you talking about- like mech engineering or bio engineering or electrical engineering?
    since you arent sure now, i think starting off by majoring bioengineering would be better since you will be able to see which part you are more interested in- engineering or medicine.
  • BigredmedBigredmed Posts: 3,677Registered User Senior Member
    You explained a lot of stuff, most of it true, but what you failed to discuss is what you prefer. What things about each do you like, which things are you worried about?

    The biggest difference in my world view is the people factor. Medicine (most fields at least) is dependent upon you interacting with patients - people who might not be happy to see, people who don't follow your directions, people who view you as an adversary, people that flat out lie to you about things. You are also privy to the innermost details of a person's life - people tell their doctors things they won't even tell their spouse or best friend. Are you comfortable with that? Or more important, do you think you'll enjoy a job that requires you do deal with these things?

    Now, as an engineer, you will have to interact with clients and your co-workers, but this is a very different interaction than the ones doctors have multiple times a day. As a physician, you have to deal with laypeople, translate your knowledge into language they can understand, and even if you give them the best possible explanation, assume that they aren't going to follow a word you say. As an engineer, your clients and co-workers will largely be on the same page as you.

    So for me, if I was in your position (assuming I was good at math), that people factor would push me towards medicine. I mean it's easy to deal with nice, cordial patients, but even when I have a patient like my COPDer Vet (that's vague enough not to be a HIPAA violation) who this morning told my intern to go to hell, I enjoy the challenge. If I was engineer, I'd seriously crave interacting with new people all the time.
  • bluedevilmikebluedevilmike Posts: 11,964Registered User Senior Member
    A few minor corrections.

    1.) Residency and fellowship is anywhere from three to nine years, sometimes even more. So where you say "8 to 10 years," you really mean "11 to 17."

    2.) You skip the difficult odds during the premed phase itself. Only 25% of the kids who take the MCAT will ever become medical students -- half won't even apply (usually due to too low of a score) and of the remaining half, half of them won't get in. So a very real proportion of students has just taken very difficult coursework, often doing rather poorly, for no benefit.

    3.) However, there is good news for you, and that's that the odds are better than you portray once you're admitted to medical school. Basically everybody passes USMLE on the first try, and then basically all the rest will pass on a second try. The proportion who never pass USMLE is very, very small. Similarly tiny is the proportion who can't get a residency in the states. Very, very tiny. Very tiny. (Of course, your odds at a "good" residency are entirely dependent on how picky you're being.)
  • paki786paki786 Posts: 862Registered User Member
    yeah actually just the pre-med part seems like a long haul if you know what i am saying. i dont want to, in the end, not make it to medical school and end up messing up. i want to get a solid start and make a bright future for myself.

    bigredmed- i actually like medicine but have not gotten much experience in the field. i guess i have just been grown up thinking it is a sweet job since many people in my family are doctors. my cuzin is an engineer and i see that he is working and living a nice life. he finds time for other stuff and he does not completely go crazy. and i have another cuzin doing premed, not sure about his future.
  • ginnyvereginnyvere Posts: 929Registered User Member
    This might be a stupid suggestion as I know nothing about engineering (or the undergrad schools you're looking at), but it's theoretically possible to major in engineering and still complete the premed requirements. It might be more difficult from the premed side because engineering gpas tend to be lower than most other gpas, but it would provide a method of delaying the decision until you're more certain what you want to do.
  • BigredmedBigredmed Posts: 3,677Registered User Senior Member
    Paki, you really didn't explain why you like medicine.

    If you're primary concern is simply having a "nice" life, then there are plenty of jobs out there that can give you that, engineering being just one of them.

    What I'm trying to get you to look at is how your personality meshes with what you know about medicine as a career path. Does it fit your talents? Do the major activities of the job (ie talking to patients for hours a day or solving complex equations to design a power plant) sound like things you'd enjoy doing? There are plenty of people who look at being a doctor and think "uggh, I don't want people telling me about their problems all day" or others who hear about the long hours (as a third year medical student I'm usually at the hospital by 6:30am every day), the working on weekends, the nights on call, and missed holidays and thing "no way, not for me". I mean, they had to institute nationwide RULES to prevent resident physicians from working more than 80 hours a week! Think how ridiculous that sounds!

    Again, what I'm asking you to do is look beyond just the superficial things about each career field and really look at yourself honestly and objectively and assess what really drives you, what really makes you tick, and what you enjoy doing. You may find that neither engineering nor medicine is really right for you.
  • DeadMonkey321DeadMonkey321 Posts: 90Registered User Junior Member
    I'm digging this topic back up the dead, because I'm going through the exact same thing right now. I would love to be a doctor (helping people, satisfaction, money), but I'm conflicted on whether the massive amounts of schooling make it worth it in the long run. Then there's Computer Science which leads to an equally profitable life of Engineering, albeit without the immense satisfaction of saving people's lives. At the moment, my goal is to do the Computer Science track, but throw in the Pre-Med science classes for kicks and giggles to see if I would even succeed at them, otherwise it could end up being a nonissue.
    What are your thoughts on Engineering v. Medicine?
  • MolSysBioMolSysBio Posts: 428Registered User Member
    are you, like the OP, south asian? if so, why do your parents want you to choose between engineering and medicine?
  • Princess'DadPrincess'Dad Posts: 1,123Registered User Senior Member
    sounds like eng is for you. no big bucks in med. you will be in dept until you are 50 and never see your kids or 3 wives.
  • pmrlcommpmrlcomm Posts: 2,235- Senior Member
    I agree with an ealier poster. Major in engineering and fulfill the premed requirements. My daughter is in ChemE and she has to just take a couple of additional classes to be premed (no desire to be a doctor).
  • ShrafShraf Posts: 2,403Registered User Senior Member
    My daughter is in ChemE and she has to just take a couple of additional classes to be premed (no desire to be a doctor).

    there is a HUGE difference in the number of extra classes you would have to take to be premed when your ChemE as opposed to Comp Sci as DeadMonkey stated he wanted to be.
  • DeadMonkey321DeadMonkey321 Posts: 90Registered User Junior Member
    "are you, like the OP, south asian? if so, why do your parents want you to choose between engineering and medicine?"

    haha yeah, im not asian. my parents are nice and give me the whole generic "do what you think you'll enjoy" ideas. i've just always liked the idea of being doctor and have been good at math and science. just now i'm thinking it could be damn near impossible to actually get into med school, let alone be interested enough to go through 6+ years of schooling/residency. i mean, im a good student, but a 3.6 minimum GPA while doing engineering and premed classes seems like quite a stretch, so im thinking of just sticking with engineering.
  • MolSysBioMolSysBio Posts: 428Registered User Member
    i was just joking anyway so it's all good. if you're good at math/compsci/engineering and like the idea of research then look into working in computational biology. it's pretty quantitative and it'll give you a good idea of whether you like medical research. from my experience, it'll also help you with deciding whether or not you like medicine itself.
  • ShrafShraf Posts: 2,403Registered User Senior Member
    a 3.6 minimum GPA while doing engineering and premed classes seems like quite a stretch

    there is no "minimum GPA" for med school and they routinely give engineers the benefit of the doubt in terms of GPA. Also, the only reason 3.6 is thrown around is because it is the median which means that half of the people going to med school have less than a 3.6
  • pmrlcommpmrlcomm Posts: 2,235- Senior Member
    Shraf, I prefaced that by suggesting he do an engineering major. Of course if he is doing a non-engineering or science major it would be much, much harder.
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