3rd year Harvard Medical School student thinking about high finance transition- am I being realisitc?

sbel's picture
Rank: Monkey | banana points 52

Hello-

As the title states I am currently in medical school and have recently been seriously reconsidering my future as a doctor. I will make this as brief as possible as I know we both are very busy individuals.

Background- 24 y.o male
Biomedical engineer @ top 25 program
3.8 GPA, 95th percentile MCAT
Top 85th percentile med school class ranking

  • Went into med school strongly thinking neurosurg or orthopaedics. Just finished 3rd year clinical rotations and have not found a field of interest (seriously have looked into everything). I really do enjoy helping and connecting with patients, however I am heavily gravitated to learning the critical thinking and technical aspects of the profession, which I have learned are actually not what you spend the majority of your time doing as a doc. Much time is spent into rote memorization with little creative opportunities. I even looked into the more cerebral fields like radiology, which was very enjoyable from a academic standpoint, however I did not like the lack of human contact.
  • I started looking into high finance because of the strategic and technical aspect of the field that was combined with a highly social nature (Was in a fraternity and raged pretty hard back in the day). Money is not a major motive (give me ~100k and I'm good)! I am driven by intrinsic factors such as the need to succeed and compete to be the best.

*Investing and finance seem very interesting to me in that they remind me of my engineering days where lots of critical thinking and technical knowledge combined with creativity are need...much different and engaging than the stifling rote knowledge I learned in medical school.

  • If I make this transition into high finance I would want to do it right given my opportunity costs. First off, do you think I have the right motivations to make the switch and if so, what would be possible paths to break into high finance. I was thinking about ER in healthcare sector but am open to other options. I am currently getting a major in finance at HBX (Harvard business extension school) and am really enjoying the principles being taught.
  • Aside- I am very motivated, easy to work with, and eager to learn. My chops are well done and primed for some world class wso input.

Thanks everyone!

P.S. Planing to take a research year next year and will have time to network, then will finish degree afterwards.

Comments (44)

May 10, 2017

Assuming not a troll, finish your med degree, work for a health care company/startup for a bit, and then either network into a direct role or go to a top MBA school to easily get into a strong healthcare team

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May 10, 2017

Thanks for the response and not a troll- planing to finish the degree for sure. What role do you think I could leverage my medicine knowledge with?

May 10, 2017

All of the BBs have healthcare investment banking coverage teams, but you might want to be on the healthcare PE/VC side

May 10, 2017

Gotcha..thanks brotha

May 10, 2017

You could definitely get an ER role at a hedge fund with that background.

May 10, 2017

Awesome sounds good, I'll look more into it.

May 10, 2017

don't listen to this troll

May 10, 2017

I went to a top 15 undergrad and plenty of my classmates that wanted IB either graduated unemployed or working a BO job. It's not easy for anyone.

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Best Response
May 10, 2017

you are an idiot

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May 11, 2017

I can agree with goldstein on this statement! No lie your classmates may be terrible communicators, networkers or not creative enough to find themselves into that type of role.

The soft skills (primarily communicating & networking) a nontarget schooler has to pick is ridiculous in comparison to a target school candidate.

May 15, 2017

While I think goldstein could have made his points less crudely, I agree with the underlying point. don't get put off by the mounds of shit heaped on him.

You will be completing your degree at Harvard Med. Your old classmates at the Top 15 UG (the ones you say failed at IB recruiting) don't have the MD credentials (MD from the most prestigious med school in the world).

As others have said above, find a gig at a healthcare company and then plot your transition into ER.

Hell - if you spin a sufficiently compelling story and are technically sound - I don't see why you couldn't break directly into a front office finance role.

May 10, 2017
  1. Most of the people in high finance could have gotten an MD but chose not to (and probably were smart not to)
  2. An MD besides not being that impressive, adds a very niche set of knowledge.
  3. The fact it's Harvard Med school changes the above a bit because it's a prestigious school and program
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May 10, 2017

Thanks for the comments Predilection. Lucky I have a full ride scholarship here and do not have to rush and pay off debt like many of my colleagues.

May 11, 2017

You really underestimate the difficulty of getting into med school and finishing.

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May 11, 2017

I am not saying it is not difficult or impressive, but just as there's a reason a top Harvard Med Student is seeking (and unsure he can) make it into high finance - the caliber of people there will not be as impressed with just a plain old MD as the general population. I do think an Ivy MD is impressive though, and will be seen accordingly.

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May 11, 2017

You literally said "Most of the people in high finance could have gotten an MD but chose not to" - my experience with the average monkey is not the med school type at all

May 11, 2017

I personally believe they could have - they just put more of their energy into diverse pursuits than a narrow area of academic knowledge and books, but I understand where you are coming from

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May 15, 2017

If you're bored in the near future you should sign up for an MCAT and see how you do. I mean, you're a smart guy in finance so you'll probably do great right?

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May 15, 2017

This post gives me cancer.

May 15, 2017
<span itemprop=name>Predilection</span>:
  1. Most of the people in high finance could have gotten an MD but chose not to (and probably were smart not to)
  2. An MD besides not being that impressive, adds a very niche set of knowledge.
  3. The fact it's Harvard Med school changes the above a bit because it's a prestigious school and program

1) You must be joking

    • 1
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May 11, 2017

I was in your shoes around 15 years ago. From just about the start of med school I knew I didn't want to spend 30+ years practicing medicine. But, due to family/friends peer pressure I went ahead and did it. "Medicine is the most noble degree" is what I was they said, and being young I drank it up. To best answer your question(s) I'm going to go line by line and give you my thoughts but take it with a grain of salt- after all I'm an anonymous poster on the internet.

Q: Went into med school strongly thinking neurosurg or orthopaedics.
A: Think about it- med students are smart and highly driven. Very rarely do people say "I want to take care of a smelly, gangrenous diabetic foot". You would be surprised at some of the experiences that are not very flattering but needed to be done. This SNL skit below rings true unfortunately. And no, it usually isn't a can of axe body spray but usually a "toy". I'm a new user and can't post links so google:

APPALACHIAN EMERGENCY ROOM: FERRET ON A DING DONG

Just watch...

There are research articles floating around looking at how specialty decisions are made/changed through med school. The number I recall is around 2/3 of students change their mind throughout the process. Look it up. You have another year to figure it out.

Q: I am heavily gravitated to learning the critical thinking and technical aspects of the profession, which I have learned are actually not what you spend the majority of your time doing as a doc
A: No Sht dip sht (sorry, tough love). You shouldn't have to be thinking about this stuff once you do it hundreds of times. That's what residencies are for. Only ~ 2-3% of my cases stump me and yes, I figure it out. Guess what- after you get out of residency you then learn how to do it "private practice style". Yes, there can be a big difference, especially in surgical fields. Also, you're going to have to deal with idiots regardless of what field you go into, and, dealing with insurance is a b*tch but other people in different fields can be just as difficult.

Q: Much time is spent into rote memorization with little creative opportunities
A: I felt the same way when I was in your shoes. Listen, this is med school. You might have heard this before but a common expression about med school is "trying to catch all the water out of a fire hydrant in your mouth". Heard it multiple times from multiple people. They are there to expose you to as much science, information and experience as possible in the time allotted.

Q: Investing and finance seem very interesting to me in that they remind me of my engineering days where lots of critical thinking and technical knowledge combined with creativity are need...much different and engaging than the stifling rote knowledge I learned in medical school
A: See above. BTW, if you stick it out a little longer you'll find there are "styles" or "schools of thought" on certain issues. Especially if you're interested in the surgical specialties. Your training can vary, dependant on what region of the country/residency you go to. If you do it long enough you'll develop your own style and you'll look like a rock star if you're any good.

Deep thoughts by Jack Handy: I won't make any comments on your finance thoughts/experience except this- "I am currently getting a major in finance at HBX (Harvard business extension school)". Are you out of your F*cking mind! Don't allow them to drag you into another year(s) of schooling. It's expensive. Talk about opportunity cost...

Final thoughts: Here's what I would suggest.
1) Finish school in 4 years- no research. You'll be doing what a monkey could do in a lab setting.
2) Complete an internship through the match- it doesn't matter if it's transitional or general surgery.Yes, this is a VERY important part of your training. You won't be able to start to put all the pieces of the puzzle together unless you do this step.
3) Pass your USMLE step 3.
4) Okay, now you're a "real" doctor that can be licensed (but not likely to get malpractice insurance without finishing a residency). Now you have some options: 1) Research, 2) Business (healthcare sector or something unrelated), 3) Go ape sh*t crazy- a trip around the word- heck, join doctors without borders for fun. Either way this buys you time to figure it out.

As for me, I'm now ready for the career transition over to commodities and starting the process. Did it take longer than expected? You bet your ass, but looking back I don't think I would have the wherewithal/experience/maturity to do it if I had done it years ago. I wouldn't trade my experiences looking back.

Hope this helps and good luck!

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May 11, 2017

At my H/S/W MBA program, we had several people who were either finishing up their MD or already had completed an MD in the past. Have you considered applying to HBS?

May 11, 2017

I have and am planing to take the GMAT during my gap year (solid study time next year between my third/fourth year) in order to have back up options, however I am a little hesitant to immediately jump into the post mba market without significant premba finance experience. Do you think my concerns are well warranted?

May 11, 2017

Hope it wasn't my posts on the student doctor network forum that convinced you to leave med school; your plan isn't a bad one, but it would have helped if you didn't start med school to begin with for IB. You'd be a better fit in ER or something directly related to pharmaceutical development; you should finish your degree and then consult or work for a biotech startup and then transition into something else

May 11, 2017

Thanks for the insight. I don't quite understand why going through med school would make me less of a fit for healthcare related ER. I understand the "cohort" mentality and that I'd be ~3-4 years older, however couldn't I leverage my M.D. knowledge? I understand that I may have missed the boat on BB IB and the exit ops associated with that.

May 11, 2017

You'd be a great fit for healthcare ER, but pharm is more exciting, IMO. For ref, I'm doing an MSc in pharmaceutical science remotely from Oxford, and live in longwood next to harvard medical school. You really should finish your degree there

May 11, 2017

Interesting input, I have never thought about pharm. Any recommendations of communities such as this one that focus on career paths within pharm?

May 11, 2017

Mostly this one and the business and physician scientist sub forums on the student doctor network. Over there I'm OxToCA. Fwiw I have an offer at an NY bank for biotech stock sales/trading, a second round interview for biotech ER, a healthcare analyst interview I turned down, an offer at Prudential for sales, etc and I've only been applying for a few weeks.

May 11, 2017

Interesting- I'll be pming you about specifics when my account is enabled!

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May 11, 2017

I hope you aren't looking to leave medicine and get into finance because of the long hours and the bullshit assignments, because I have some news for you...

May 11, 2017

No, I understand that the "scut and shit" will still be there. Looking mainly for greater career flexibility down the line.

May 12, 2017

bump!

May 12, 2017

It sounds like you're not wavering too much on this, but definitely agree with others here: finish your degree. I'm in a somewhat analogous situation (emphasis on somewhat), as I finished at a top Ivy law school and am now gearing up to transition into IB. My situation is different because I'm now a mid-level M&A attorney and have deal experience under my belt, but as others have pointed out, I think you'll find that your HMS degree will turn out to be an experience strength for you - particularly in healthcare IB groups or PE groups that focus on healthcare/biotech/pharma. Maybe your first step should be to decide whether you really want to gun for IB or try to go directly into PE/HF - just make sure you have an answer as to why (for yourself first, then for others - i.e. interviewers).

One potential way to get M&A/deal experience would be to setup an internship (I know your schedule is already demanding) with a non-IB M&A advisory firm or even an internal deal/business strategy team at a major hospital or healthcare group - even if it's just a part time/once or twice a week internship, which you could probably not swing at an actual IB at the moment given your time commitments. It would give you deal experience for your resume, if nothing else.

Feel free to PM me if you want to bounce ideas at some point.

May 15, 2017

My own brother was doing a pre-med/ pharmacy program. Didn't do well and also complained that he didn't want to be a doctor. Asked him to transfer to a Master degree in pharmacy. Helped him secured an advisory internship with Big Four focused on pharma sector. Coached him on networking and preparing on job interviews. Was never exposed to IBD/Finance/Consulting prior to this. Now doing full time management consulting role at a boutique pharma focused shop. Happy to answer any questions if you have. PM me.

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May 15, 2017

LOL at any of the clowns who seriously think the average person in IBD could've gone to med school.

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May 15, 2017

And not just any med school, fucking Harvard med.

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May 15, 2017

Your biggest challenge will probably be convincing people that you actually want to go into business. Express interest in a concentration like Healthcare Management or something like that

May 15, 2017

Try starting a hedge fund and shorting subprimes

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May 15, 2017

Honestly, I would just concentrate on the MD. If after couple years in the field you realize that it is not for you, then go do an MBA. I know a doctor who did his MD at an Ivy, worked a number of years and then did his MBA at HBS. He now is involved with running the hospital. Very successful man and incredibly intelligent. He has the best of both worlds, involved with management and can see patients as well.

Also, I have a brother that used to work with cardio surgeons and they would trade on the side. If you have an itch for finance that could be a way to help you scratch it.

Only two sources I trust, Glenn Beck and singing woodland creatures.

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May 15, 2017

Anyone who thinks a FO gig at a bank is harder to get into than Harvard fucking med is delusional. You go to THE most prestigious med school in the world and these days, no Ivy League grad even wants to do banking.. They do HF/PE/VC/Software Engineering. You could probably break directly into banking without any prior experience simply because you have already proven your intelligence and discipline. Just be careful what you're getting yourself into. 100 hour weeks making $120K is a pitiful life.

May 15, 2017

Ex M&A here, did a lot of healthcare. I've always wanted to become a doctor, ever since I was a little girl. Had good grades throughout school and everyone said I should get into medicine. Did a scholarship during high school and realized I had ZERO interest in it. How did I realize that? I just felt very misplaced around people that had genuine interest in the field. I felt like an outsider, simply didn't share the passion for it. Decided to completely rewind there and then and started searching online for the most demanding jobs out there for people with top grades, I also spoke to classmates with straight A's or equivalent and some of them mentioned IB, that's how I discovered it initially. But HAD I studied medicine and THEN decided to make a career move then I would probably have looked at:

  • medical consultancy roles
  • research at Hedge Funds covering Healthcare
  • VC covering healthcare/healthtec

All those three have lots of ex doctors. Don't join banking.

Sep 5, 2017

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