What would you do if you were me? (Medicine vs Business)

ConfusedGuru's picture
Rank: Chimp | 12

Hey guys,

I just want to preface this by saying its a long one, but any sort of advice would be greatly appreciated, because I am so very lost and scared for my future. For context, I just finished my sophomore year at UC San Diego as a Biology major originally intending to go for medical school. I come here as a last resort, because I have tried in vain to figure things out myself and even consulted with family and friends, but I'm left even more confused than I started.

For starters, my parents won't hear me out even if the world was gonna end tomorrow, and to be honest I sympathize with them. They're both overworked computer engineers that have seen their own relatives in medicine work just as hard as them but get quadruple the pay and respect. All they want is for me to have a good life, so when I told them that I was interested in finance instead of medicine, they were understandably distraught, because I think they believe business to be more "store manager of Dollar Tree" making 30k a year kind of thing. Now of course if I were to get into a top business school and get a IB/PE/VC/HF job of course they would completely support me...I mean what kind of parents wouldn't. But the problem is to them, jobs like that are completely out of the question, and do I really blame them? It's not like I'm gonna be working on Wall Street right when I graduate from UCSD, which is literally known for being geared towards biology and STEM majors in general. In fact, I don't even think that UCSD has an undergrad business program.

But I have to admit that it took me until now to realize that I may have been one of those "idealistic" premeds that didn't fully understand the extensive schooling (sometimes as much as 14 years) and stress the medicine path often requires, and that when I did try soul searching, as pathetic as it may sound, a large factor of my initial motivation to become a doctor/surgeon was for the money, not helping people or any other benevolent reason. And it doesn't take a genius to understand that going into medicine for the money is not a good choice, as there's so much potential earnings lost over the 10+ years of schooling, not to mention the debt that would be accrued.

Now I also want to mention that I don't want lots of money because I want a Lamborghini or 3 yachts or anything like that. I would just like to give back to my parents, maybe take them on some expensive vacation or get them a nice car because they've done so much for me. But the fact is, they're getting old and I don't have much time. I'm 20 right now, and they're 50 (they had me late). By the time I become a full-fledged doctor and actually start making money, I don't know if they'll even be alive or in good condition to travel.

I don't think going to medical school (even if I managed to get into a good one) would be a smart choice for me or my future patients if I'm not completely passionate about it unlike my other premed peers. On the other hand, I've always been much more interested (and naturally better) at math/statistics/econ compared to chemistry/biology. I've been investing in stocks since high school, and I feel like I've gotten pretty good at it. As I started researching jobs in finance, hedge funds really stood out, and that would be my ultimate dream career to work at one. I've always been a risk taker, so at least giving my shot at getting to work at one matters more to me than staying quiet and going down the medical school route which might make my parents happy but not me.

What makes things even more confusing is I start hearing about these "deferred admission" MBA programs like Harvard's 2+2 that apparently are interested in "non-traditional" applicants like STEM students. I will admit that my GPA took a hit this year (sophomore year) partially because of this confusion about what I wanted to do with my life and a lack of motivation to do well in my STEM classes, but I still have around a 3.6, so if I can maintain and maybe even bring this up to like a 3.8 GPA that should be fine. In terms of the GMAT, I have already looked at the material and I feel like I can do pretty well. I don't want to be that one guy who says "oh I'm getting an easy 780+" but I've always been pretty good at standardized testing; I was a tutor for Princeton Review last summer and I did get a perfect SAT score in high school. Now obviously the SAT is much easier than the GMAT, but I'm sure if I tried I could at least muster a score of 700.

So for those metrics I should be OK, but what worries me is that at the end of the day, I'm at a completely non-target school. Things like GMAT and GPA, as I understand, only get you in the foot of the door, but what really gets you accepted is all the "soft" stuff like EC's. That being said, there is absolutely no chance I can compete in terms of extra-curriculars with the other kids interested in business school at target schools who no doubt probably have some sort of IB internship lined up fro this summer while I'm still scratching my head wondering if I should even pursue the business route. Furthermore, the 2+2 program requires you to have a decent finance job for 2 years out of undergrad....the only place that would hire me based on my current credentials (editor of a biomedical journal, tutor, TA, some hospital volunteering) would be Burger King if I'm lucky.

So far, the only thing I can think of in terms of EC's would be to start a branch of a famous consulting club (don't want to give exact name for privacy issues) at my school, that is present in almost all the other UC's (but for some reason UCSD doesn't have one). Other than that, I have no connections, I doubt there are any resources at UCSD, and I have no direction. I just feel like I'm starting this process too late, and on top of that, its not like I'm at Upenn or HYP where I can just twiddle my thumbs, switch majors/direction and probably still get into a top MBA school just simply due to the undergrad name.

So my question is: If you were in my position what would you do? Should I just suck it up and stick to the med school route? As hard as medical school is, really all it takes is some volunteering (which is easy to get), service, maybe some research....and I'm not saying I would get into Johns Hopkins Med school but I'm sure I would get into something. Or should I go down this uncertain path and possibly end up getting my dream job even though there's like a 1% chance?? Any sort of clarity on the matter would help, because quite frankly I'm running out of time....I'm halfway done with college and I need to know what to do :(.

Comments (21)

Jun 10, 2019

Med School

    • 1
Jun 10, 2019

First. Take a deep breath. You're in a good position. Young, in school, good gpa, sunny city, great waves etc. Deep breath. Exhale.

If you're not 110% sure you want to be a doctor then don't plan for med school. Sounds like you've considered the time commitment now consider the financial commitment. What happens if you're 1-2 years into med school and decide it's not for you? Now you're another $100k+ in debt and are stuck with a background that isn't necessarily conducive to your goal of getting into finance.

I always liked finance because it's applicable to all industries whereas when you're a doctor you're a doctor in a very specific niche applicable to very specific situations.

You can get into medical/pharma/bio industry with a business background.

Don't do anything to appease your parents too. Your success and happiness is all they want.

"Out the garage is how you end up in charge
It's how you end up in penthouses, end up in cars, it's how you
Start off a curb servin', end up a boss"

    • 2
Jun 11, 2019

I second the "if you're not 110% sure you want to be a doctor..." notion - I would say that most medical students have had a desire to do medicine beginning early on. They truly want to be physicians. You will always hear of the medical student who did 5 years of IB/PE before switching, but they are the outliers. In my opinion, I wouldn't choose medicine unless you absolutely had a genuine interest in it given the amount of time you give up going through school, debt you'll pick up and opportunity cost of having a relatively low salary in residency+fellowship (assuming you go those routes in your specific specialty).

    • 2
Jun 11, 2019

I'm a surgical resident. Don't do it.

PM me if you'd like a more thorough discussion.

Jun 11, 2019

Why do you say this?

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Aug 24, 2019

more color on this would be helpful

Jun 11, 2019

Wow this is a lot. You need to calm down and use the summer to think. I wanted to be a doctor before switching into finance. Thankfully for me that was during the summer before I started college. I'd say 1/3 of all recruiting is finished and I think most diversity recruiting is done. When I wanted to be a doctor I'd plan my life out 15 years in advance (college, med school, internship/residency, maybe fellowship, and then finally have a real life). That works well for medicine but right now you have to think short term.

An MBA is nice and if you were a rising senior I'd say consider 2+2 or and MBA. But you're a rising junior (I am too). Focus on getting an analyst position at an IB, don't focus on doing something you don't want to do for 2-4 years, applying for an MBA and then getting into IB as an associate.

Next thing you need to do is figure out what career fields interest you and why. Again, use the summer. Read books about IB, PE, medicine, law, whatever. More importantly, start networking and reach out to people and have an honest conversation with them about what they do. Alumni, in my experience, tend to be very honest. A lot of successful analysts do IB for the money and leave after 2 years into PE, HF, VC, Corp Dev, whatever. It sucks, and you'll probably hate work every day, but you make money and you can leave after 2 years. I wouldn't encourage it but I wouldn't discourage it either. I would never encourage going into medicine for the money. When I wanted to do medicine I thought I would enjoy it and even though I disliked my science classes I justified it as they weren't applied enough, and being a real doctor is different than learning all of the foundational knowledge. I was always good at STEM classes, but I never really enjoyed the subjects, though I lied to myself about that. Then I did an internship at a hospital and loathed it, hence finance.

Now let's say you decide you want to pursue IB (maybe in and of itself, maybe to lead you to HF, PE, VC, Corp Dev). You're behind the game because recruiting is early, not as early as last year or you'd be screwed, but still pretty early. A lot of BB applications are online now or will be by July. Some EB applications have been online since Spring and I'm not sure if they're still online. I'm not sure how much of a target UCSD is, but online applications don't do anything. You need to start networking immediately. Since you got to a UC school, West Coast banks are probably your best option. I made a list of 300 people to reach out to to get an internship. I made a trip to NY. You need to contact as many people as possible, alumni are the friendliest, and get them to vouch for you. Start speaking to analyst and have them connect you with other analysts. Once you get confident about your networking skills and you know you want to do IB, contact VPs, they can get you an interview (I've been focusing on EBs so not sure if that's true for BBs).

You can spin your background in pre-med, but not liking it (give a better reason than the time commitment because IB has a time commitment), but still finding it interesting and that's why you like Healthcare IB. That's what I say in every interview. I've only focused on NY, not the West Coast, so I have no idea which banks are represented there or anything like that, but I'd look through linkedin and check out alumni in SF, LA, and NY.

To summarize:
1. Calm down
2. Look into careers and decide what you want to do
If IB:
3. Network immediately, you're not too late, but you've missed some opportunities
4. If you can, make trips to have coffee chats with these connection
5. Ask them for a referral

If you need to know anything else PM me and we can have a phone call or something

Array

    • 1
Aug 24, 2019

another advantage of the internship in IBD is that you can really test out your thesis that you're interested in ibanking / finance.
You may find that the inside is quite different than how things look on the outside.

Jun 11, 2019

At Accepted some consultants advise med school applicants and others advise b-school (and other grad) applicants. So I've seen the full range.

Do not go to medical school or continue down the med school path because you started down that path even though you have since concluded it's not for you. It's demanding and requires commitment. You don't have it.

So, go do something you like that could make you as much or more money than becoming a doctor.

The idea that just because you didn't start as a business major, you can't work in finance or consulting is just not true. If UCSD doesn't have business courses for undergrads, consider switching schools or getting a masters in finance or a masters in management.

Do the research to determine which career will give you the life you most want to lead. Then figure out how to pursue that career. But your professional options are much more flexible than you believe. Your life's just beginning. Not over.

Linda Abraham
President, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting

    • 1
Aug 24, 2019

Totally agree with this advice as a premed in undergrad now at a BB.

Aug 25, 2019

I have met a few UCSD students who did a minor(?) in Accounting.

No pain no game.

Jun 15, 2019

You can have both. I know of some people who did MD, then later went into finance. Mostly these did Equity Research. Focus was on biotech or healthcare industries. Getting an MBA will also help.

But this is a long road: 4 years college + 4 years med school + residency + MBA.

    • 1
Aug 24, 2019

If OP is not into it he might just fail out of med school.

Currently applying to medical school.

Jun 19, 2019

Hey guys,

I just wanted to thank everyone for their wonderful insight and advice; it has helped me immensely in deciding what I want to do for my future. As many have said, there is no point in pursuing medicine if I am not wholeheartedly interested or passionate about it, despite possible familial pressure.

Although I am late in the finance game, I'm just going to try my best to network with local investment banks and hedge funds to see if they can offer me any sort of internship or anything to help me get my feet wet. I can always go to business school down the road, but I will now just focus on trying to get an internship which will eventually lead me to a good job after graduation.

I have reached out and pm'ed some of you for more advice in regards to specifics about how to go about networking, and possibly leveraging my "premed" background as interest in Healthcare IB. Again, I just want to thank you for all you help!

Jul 3, 2019

I didn't read the whole post because you wrote the next chapter of War & Peace, but as someone who has many MD friends, if you're not 100% sure you want to be a doctor for reasons OTHER THAN MONEY, do NOT do it. I have multiple MD friends who had absolute freakouts about going into medicine once they got through a couple of years of med school or residency. It's a very long, tough and expensive path to take that is hard to put up with if you don't have some degree of intrinsic motivation.

Most Helpful
Aug 23, 2019

Stop thinking about what your parents will think of your path. Seriously, stop it.
Doing something for the sole purpose of fulfilling your parents' ambitions will prevent your future success and will make you a bitter person who resents your parents. Your parents have your best at heart. But they are NOT you. They don't know your thinking or deeper interests. To be really successful you have to have at least significant interest in something - and ideally a burning passion for it. If you go into medicine you will be a mediocre or lousy doctor, and you will resent your parents. I was pre-med (my science grades sucked, so I'm in finance) and I know a handful of doctors who went into medicine for parental reasons. To a one, they resent their parents, feel trapped in the field, and wish that had done something else.
It's a dis-service to your patients, it's a dis-service to your parents, and it's a dis-service to yourself. You would in a sense be forcing your parents' wishes onto patients, and you will be depriving someone who really belongs in medical school a seat.

    • 3
Aug 24, 2019

Beyond interest, it is also probably about risk-aversion. Medicine is safer and well-paid. Finance has a higher ceiling but a lower floor.

Aug 24, 2019

Not so sure I completely agree.
Medicine also has risks at several steps - getting into med school, getting thru med school, matching to a good residency, and then building a successful practice.

Aug 24, 2019

Bussiness. If you are even asking this you dont want to go into medicine.

Currently applying to medical school.

Aug 25, 2019
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    • 3
Aug 25, 2019
Comment

No pain no game.