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Doubting Pre-Med Track. Need to know if there are other career options?

dib629dib629 Registered User Posts: 6 New Member
Hey everyone! So I've been faced with the very common dilemma of a student who has said their entire life that they wants to be a doctor but when they actually get to college begin to doubt everything.

Throughout high school (and the majority of my life) I had my heart and goals set on being a doctor. Overall, my academic record showed that I excelled in STEM courses and all of my extra-curriculars were either STEM/pre-med based (e.g. volunteering, shadowing, research, etc.) However, once I got to Cornell I found that I was struggling to keep up with the pre-med track. I was doing awfully in my freshman bio courses, getting a C in my physiology course (1st semester) and a B- in my lab course (2nd semester). I chalked up these bad results to being in the wrong major/college (Biomedical engineering in the College of Engineering) and not being as prioritizing and being as productive as I should have been. By sophomore year, I was able to internally transfer to the College of Agriculture and Life Science as Biology & Society major, a major that is better suited for the premed track. I even managed to shadow a doctor in the summer before my sophomore year to demonstrate my continued interest in medicine. While I am doing slightly better overall in terms of my GPA, I found that I am still struggling in my bio courses, despite how much I study and receive help. Worst of all, I am finding that I dread taking these courses and fear that maybe pre-med isn't for me.

I suppose what I am looking for is advice on what people who have faced a similar issue have done in the past and what other medically-related career fields are out for students who are no longer pre-med.
I know that this is a super long post but any advice would be great.

Replies to: Doubting Pre-Med Track. Need to know if there are other career options?

  • happymomof1happymomof1 Registered User Posts: 28,106 Senior Member

    There are too many medical-related jobs out there to list in one post. But here are a few:
    Pharmaceutical sales
    Physical therapy
    Medical equipment repair
    Drug discovery research
    Hospital administration
    Licensed dietician

    Take a deep breath, then schedule an appointment at the career center at Cornell. Chance are that you won't be the first "I don't want pre-med anymore" student they have seen that day :). They have lots of experience with helping students like you sort through their interests and talents and come up with good career goals.

    Wishing you all the best!
  • mikemacmikemac Registered User Posts: 9,989 Senior Member
    Doesn't Cornell have a career center?
  • Jamrock411Jamrock411 Registered User Posts: 496 Member
    Physician Assistant
    Anesthesiology Assistant
    Physical Therapist
    Occupational Therapist
    Nurse Anesthetist (a BSN required; many do an accelerated BSN after undergraduate degree)
    Nurse Practitioner (a BSN required; many do an accelerated BSN after undergraduate degree)

  • monydadmonydad Registered User Posts: 7,718 Senior Member
    edited January 11
    Counseling Center might help.
    Lack of success in bio: is it ability, or is it study habits/ method?
    If latter is there still time to rectify? Or too late?

    You may have to face you're just not that good in something. I did.

    Bio is foundation for all medical related areas, no ??
    Maybe your best shot lies outside of the medical field altogether.
    Maybe your strongest talents are elsewhere.

    Then the question becomes: What are you good at?
    What things do you like to do? Or think you'd like to do?
    What kind of jobs, or tasks within jobs, have you enjoyed, and were good at?
    What courses have you done relatively well in?

    I'm not saying tell me, just think about this. maybe with some external help.

  • dib629dib629 Registered User Posts: 6 New Member
    Thank you for all your responses. I'm already planning on meeting with career services once the semester begins. I was hoping someone who has gone through a similar feeling had some advice and your suggestions were all very helpful. Thank you so much!
  • fivesagesfivesages Registered User Posts: 228 Junior Member
    edited January 11
    @dib629 First of all, I commend your candor. As others have said it, there is nothing new or odd about people (or their parents:)) wanting to be a doctor whole life changing their mind once in a college. It happens all the time. In addition to what others have suggested, here a few thoughts:
    (1) You could pursue a graduate degree like Master of Public Health, JD, MBA or MS to help achieve your long-term professional success. Some of them only make sense after working for a few years (e.g. MBA), while others you could go directly after your undergrad.
    (2) Research or teaching are some of the other avenues (e.g. research analyst), whether it is in the short-term (for a few years after your undergrad) or for the long-term
    (3) Another option people tend to overlook, while it may not be the right option for your interests...technology field. It is never too late to enter into the technology space. One of the few industries that focus more on skills/experience than education. I have seen many undergrads, including some former pre-meds, attending a bootcamp and getting a job in the technology field.

    BTW, your Cornell brand and education can definitely help in any of these avenues.

    Edit: Technology field comes in many forms and shapes...from information technology to engineering to product management to product marketing to business development to client services
  • mikemacmikemac Registered User Posts: 9,989 Senior Member
    edited January 11
    Doctors are far from the only ones in the health field that help people. Physical therapists, radiology techs, nurses, speech pathologists, physician assistants, to name but just a few. Spend a few hours browsing on http://explorehealthcareers.org This is assuming you decide to stay in the health field with direct care involvement.

    Given that every 5th college frosh you meet seems to to be premed and that only 50K apply out of the about 2 million college graduates each year, it seems that you have a lot of company. So one or two anecdotes about what someone else did aren't going to give you direction IMHO. Many kids are following the herd as frosh with plans of becoming doctors or computer programmers (10 years ago they were going to work on Wall Street or head to law school). It's time to stop looking at what others have done and figure out what is right for you.
  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 Registered User Posts: 5,509 Senior Member
    Also, on a completely different note, Cornell has a terrific stress management class that is free for all students- look it up. They teach a bunch of different stress management techniques, and you just use the ones that make sense for you. Cornell is *intense*, and managing the intensity can be challenging, so use the support mechanisms available :-)
  • compmomcompmom Registered User Posts: 9,699 Senior Member
    You can major in anything and go to med school, or train for many of the other professions listed (not all). Prerequisites can be done after graduation and there are even special programs for that, if you can afford it.

    I think that goals formed too early can be premature and limiting. Try to free yourself from preconceptions. If you were to follow your interests and talents, what courses would you take regardless of career outcome?
  • suzyQ7suzyQ7 Registered User Posts: 3,618 Senior Member
    "I think that goals formed too early can be premature and limiting. Try to free yourself from preconceptions"

    Yes, totally agree!

    There are many careers in industry if you are interested - pharmaceutical companies, etc.
  • MandalorianMandalorian Registered User Posts: 1,754 Senior Member
    Certainly be sure to look into grad school of some sort, a bachelor's degree in biology by itself isn't very useful.
  • suzyQ7suzyQ7 Registered User Posts: 3,618 Senior Member
    According to the CC experts, major doesn't matter.. just major in something you are interested in.
  • AndorvwAndorvw Registered User Posts: 222 Junior Member
    Post this in pre-med topics and you'll get more help from other experienced posters.

    Let's see, you pretty much hit a lot of the common mistakes
    - pick an engineering major (known as GPA trasher), and a harder one Biomed Eng.
    - Cornell pre-med weeder classes are known as "harsh"
    - pick a top college that have way too many smarter pre-meds
    - if you want to stick to pre-med, need to distance yourself from those C's and B's, probably need post-bac/SMP.
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