T Nation

Medical and Dental Careers

hey guys.

Are any of you guys planning careers in medicine or dentistry? Anybody already in med school or dentistry school? How are you liking it? What are you planning to specialize in? How about people completing pre-requirement classes?

im a high school senior right now. im extremely interested in the human body, i didnt just pick these two careers because theyre high paying.

im particularly interested in medicine. However, i have reservations about it because ive heard that today’s physicians have to deal with alot of business-related bullshit, and some med school students and residents ive heard from tell me they are not enjoying their experience. Hearing these things put me off for awhile, but the more i think about it the more i think i just wouldnt be happy unless i at least attempted to get into medicine. Medicine and the human body fascinate me. Dentistry is a close second…i think the field is related but honestly i dont know much about the procedures. From what i understand, the pre-reqs for dentistry and medicine are very similar, is this true?

anybody have anything to say? id appreciate it.

[quote]ZachDelDesert wrote:
hey guys.

Are any of you guys planning careers in medicine or dentistry? Anybody already in med school or dentistry school? How are you liking it? What are you planning to specialize in? How about people completing pre-requirement classes?

im a high school senior right now. im extremely interested in the human body, i didnt just pick these two careers because theyre high paying.

im particularly interested in medicine. However, i have reservations about it because ive heard that today’s physicians have to deal with alot of business-related bullshit, and some med school students and residents ive heard from tell me they are not enjoying their experience. Hearing these things put me off for awhile, but the more i think about it the more i think i just wouldnt be happy unless i at least attempted to get into medicine. Medicine and the human body fascinate me. Dentistry is a close second…i think the field is related but honestly i dont know much about the procedures. From what i understand, the pre-reqs for dentistry and medicine are very similar, is this true?

anybody have anything to say? id appreciate it.[/quote]

They are similar. Dental school students are generally in the same classes as the med school students the first two years. You are right that many general physicians are hating what that field is becoming. You can actually make more money as a dentist now than you can as a general physician in many cases. If you think dentistry is not highly business related, you are under the wrong assumption. It is all about business unless you are in the military. You are in high school now and have a whole lot to learn. The best advice is to talk with some people in those career fields face to face and visit those schools. Set up a relationship with some of the faculty if only showing your face. Getting into professional school now (dental or medical) is a very selective process. A major in biology will help you, but it is not an absolute requirement as that depends on the school you plan on going to.

Getting in is only the beginning. Many people who get in don’t even make it to their third year. It requires total focus that most people just won’t be able to put together. While your friends are going out, you will be studying. Lifting weights is the only thing that kept me sane and focused.

Look for summer programs that allow you to visit the schools. Do internships in college for medical research as this will look great on resume. That is what your next steps should be focused on regardless of which one you choose…making everything from this point on cause you to look good to an admissions commitee.

thank you for your input. are you a doctor? you say lifting weights is the only thing that kept you sane, so i take it you were in med school?

ive read alot on www.studentdoctor.com and it does indeed sound very hard, but im definitely willing to work. im even studying a little now (anatomy, i hear alot of students have trouble with it their first year), and im taking calculus this year to hopefully get the AP credit for college and make more time for the prereqs.

im currently trying to get volunteer work at the hospital and maybe shadow a doctor if theyll let me (i dont know if they only let premeds or med school students shadow doctors or what the policy is on that). i think this will be good for me to see if its really what i want to do.

thank you very much for your reply prof.x

Hey, hopefully I can add in my .02 :slight_smile: I am looking at professional school after I graduate (I am interested in medical sociology), and either an MPH or a medical degree may not be far in my future.

I’m a college junior, and from what I’ve seen, I agree with ProfX on a lot of this. He’s a doctor, too (right?), so trust his opinion more than mine.

Basically, my biggest word of advice is DO THE BEST YOU CAN IN COLLEGE. Bust ass all four years, don’t slack your first year cos you’ll be paying for it. Many med school/dentistry school applicants are biology majors, but providing you (a) go to a ‘good’ school and (b) do well, your major is almost negligable.

There are a few courses that are required for admission to medical/dental (I’m just going to type ‘medical’ now, but you’ll get the drift) school … I believe they’re Chemistry, Physics, Physical Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, and a couple math courses (Calc 1 and Calc 2, IIRC). Again, do the BEST you can.

When you get to college, see if there’s a local hospital or dental office where you can work. Even if it’s just being an orderly, it’ll give you an idea of the environment you’ll be inhabiting. Plus, schools smile upon those who took initiative in their undergrad to go out and explore the medical profession.

I’m in a dual degree oral/maxillofacial surgery residency. This allows you to have both a medical and dental degree, but requires a significant time commitment. You do 3-4 years of undergrad then 4 years of dental school, then 6 years of OMFS residency. You attend an accelerated version of med school during 2 of those 6 years.

Dental school is getting very difficult to get into now. I was on the admissions panel at my dental school and many applicants had 4.0 GPAs along with great test scores. It’s not like the 70’s where they’d let anyone in. It is a very tightly regulated profession.

I recommend that you show some interest by shadowing in the dental/medical field and see which one you enjoy more.
When you enter college shoot for the highest GPA possible.
I think you would be very happy as a dentist/specialist. The hours are great, the pay is unbeatable and the work is challenging.

Good luck, I’d be happy to answer any other specific questions you may have.

If you have an opportunity to shadow and/or volunteer in your field of interest, be sure to take advantage of it, even if only for a limited amount of time. The different perspective that you can obtain from the experience will help you make alot of decisions in your direction of schooling.

It probably motivate you to hit the books quite a bit too, though it sounds like you are doing that already. The connections you make can prove very valuable down the road as well, you will need some quality references.

[quote]ZachDelDesert wrote:
thank you for your input. are you a doctor? you say lifting weights is the only thing that kept you sane, so i take it you were in med school?

ive read alot on www.studentdoctor.com and it does indeed sound very hard, but im definitely willing to work. im even studying a little now (anatomy, i hear alot of students have trouble with it their first year), and im taking calculus this year to hopefully get the AP credit for college and make more time for the prereqs.

im currently trying to get volunteer work at the hospital and maybe shadow a doctor if theyll let me (i dont know if they only let premeds or med school students shadow doctors or what the policy is on that). i think this will be good for me to see if its really what i want to do.

thank you very much for your reply prof.x[/quote]

Yes. I am a DDS considering a oral surgery residency. The advice you’ve received in this thread is pretty good. I will only add that it isn’t JUST about grades anymore. The profession as a whole seems to be upgrading who it lets in, and that means even more focus on WHO you are as a whole. That includes extra curricular activities.

The android who gets a 4.0 but was never involved in any community service or extra curricular activities will be overlooked sometimes by the guy with a 3.8GPA but started programs and was involved in activities that showed leadership skills.

It doesn’t have to be tonnes of business-related activity it depends where you work, if you set up a private practice then of course there is all that business side of things. If you work in a hospital that isn’t the case. If you locum then you can run around freelancing medicine for big bucks and no business side of things apart from doing your tax.

In my opinion medicine is far more related to your interest in the human body, AND in staying away from the business side of things, than dentistry.

I would say go for medicine. There are going to be enormous developments over your career life that will have us all scratching our heads in 40 years trying to convince kids that robotic limbs didn’t exist when we were young, and that people sufferred from infections. Well, maybe.

Thing is, medicine should give you more scope to choose a path to your liking, more scope than dentistry. There will always be developments in dentistry but lets face it, we can already do just about anything when it comes to teeth.

Make no mistake though, it is hard work, but rewarding, and at times very underpaid especially compared to some fields (although obviously it is also very well paid at times, it can vary a LOT).

I’m a military Physician Assistant and very happy with my career.

PA’s are medically trained providers (trained like physicians) but usually with only 2-3 years of medical training beyond an undergraduate degree instead of the 7-9 years physicians have to train after getting a 4 year degree. It’s usually near the top of any list of “jobs to get into” based on education requirements, pay and job satisfaction. It’s #5 on this year’s Money Magazine “Best Jobs In America List” (linked below)

http://www.salary.com/aboutcompany/layoutscripts/abcl_display.asp?tab=abc&cat=Cat27&ser=Ser341∂=Par619

PAs are required to work under the supervision of a physician, but with varying degrees of supervision. Some are required to have their supervising physician in the same building, some are required to have the supervising physician within 1 hour travel time of where the PA is practicing (such as rural communities). The military grants PAs much more autonomy than the civilian workplace.

Most PAs I know are making six figures, which is decent considering the number of years of education that goes into the training. And the jobs market for PA’s is growing. Specialty PAs can make twice the mean salary of all PAs. One PA I trained under was working in an ER for two 12-hour shifts (Sat/Sun) a week and making over $100K with full benefits.

“The Bureau of Labor Statistics has predicted a 53 percent increase in jobs for PAs from 2000-2010. The median salary, according to the 2004 census, is $74,264; the mean salary was $78,257.” from…

http://www.kcma.edu/Academics/paMain.shtml

The biggest downside is limited autonomy if you were a person who wanted to be the boss. If you choose the right job with a decent physician to work with/for, this is less of an issue.

Also, most PAs don’t have to deal too much with the business end of medicine. Rather, they come in, see patients, and go home. Family Medicine physicians’ mean income is approx $150K/yr, but that often has to cover overhead for running a business/practice and school loans, etc.

Check it out.

Another to consider would be physical therapist. But a lot of those patients are very long term care, and I prefer instant gratification of healing someone rather quickly.

I hope you wind up with something you are happy doing.

I’m aussie, so not sure if everything will relate to you, but hey another opinion can’t hurt too much (unless its way off of everything you heard… that’s another story)

Here, both are good. Medicine has 2 main problems. Firstly, it takes many more years: you have to either do a 3 year bachelor course, or get ultra good grade and do 1 year course, and then the 4 year med degree, 1 year intern, and then average 3 years specialization (including GP, that’s a specialization!). Secondly, insurance costs an arm, leg and both arse cheeks. I sense america would be no different in either.

Dentistry is predominantly straight from school. 5 years. ANd I tell you what. It rapes. It rapes hard, fast, and it doesn’t use lube. None. Not even oil based lube. It really, really hurts.

Personally I do the Dentistry route. Dont worry about not knowing about procedures; before entering the course, i didn’t really know what a dentist was, except he was scary, wielded needles and make a thing that went ‘VRRRRRRRRR’ really high (which i later learnt is a high speed air turbine drill :O).

Believe me, either choice, when you get there, you’ll realise you didn’t know 3/8 of anything at all about the course (dentistry OR med).

Neither is for the faint of heart. But both are more than worth it. I’d say flip a coin and see how it runs with you. In the end, dentistry is basically just a medicine specialist anyway; you just skip the MBBS. The amount of medical knowledge you need to gain is phenomenal.

If you still can’t decide, ask yourself: Do You have OCD? If you don’t, maybe choose another career :stuck_out_tongue:

[quote]AKA wrote:

If you still can’t decide, ask yourself: Do You have OCD? If you don’t, maybe choose another career :P[/quote]

This right here is probably the most truthful statement written. I am a perfectionist. The MODs here could tell you that considering how many times I may send a post through just to correct my ‘ahve’ to ‘have’. I have tried to cut down on that, but to tell the truth, that is what helped me through school. If you are the type who gets hit, falls down and never picks himself back up, don’t go this route.

thank you very much for all your replies.

im going to volunteer/shadow to see if i can come to some sort of decision.

if anybody has anything more to add, im all ears. appreciate it.