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M.D. For Life

Dear Sugar
I just turned 25 and decided to take a good look at my life and reevaluate my goals and the direction of my career. I am in my final year of medical school and after a few years of indecision about my chosen field, I decided that this might not be the job for me. It does not give me the thrill and adrenaline rush that it gives my friends and colleagues.

The deeper I get the more I realize this is too much of a time commitment and requires too many sacrifices unless it my true passion. To make matters worse, I am also second guessing my relationship with my fiancé. We love each other dearly, however our relationship has been strained for some time now and I am unsure if I am ready to follow through with this engagement.

My family is very supportive of my indecisiveness and my fiancé has offered me a financial and supportive safety net, but I am just not sure I want it. When I ponder what else I would do with my life if I wasn't a doctor I come up empty handed. I've wanted this career since I was a small child and I have spent so many years gearing towards this one career that I don't have any other skills.

Sometimes I think I'd be happiest watching daytime TV on my couch. What should I do about my career dilemma? Should I stay with this man and get married to him because he's offering me a way out of my job? M.D. Madeline

To see DEARSUGAR's answer

Dear M.D. Madeline
I am sorry you are going through such a confusing time in your life; it sounds as though you need a well deserved break. You are not alone in second guessing your career choice. The stress of medical school and the pressure of following your childhood dream can be quite overwhelming, not to mention the added confusion of upcoming nuptials.

Marrying someone as a way out is not only unfair to your fiance, but unfair to you as well. Running away from your problems and fears however, will not make them disappear. Are you going through the motions because you don't want to disappoint your loved ones or are you feeling burnt out and overwhelmed? It is important for you to live your life for you.

There is nothing wrong with changing your career choice, people do it all of the time. You just need to ask yourself if being a doctor is really your dream. If it ultimately is, then go for it. It's been a long road and you are almost there. Perhaps you just need to get re-focused and centered.

I know your classes are very time consuming but it is important to take care of yourself and do some necessary soul searching. Is there anyone you can talk to; a guidance counselor or a friend? Could your sudden life reevaluation be a mixture of feeling trapped and confused?

Not knowing exactly what you want to do is a normal feeling and can sometimes take years to discover. Your medical degree will not be wasted no matter what you end up doing. There are endless careers out there and I am sure, with time, you will find your niche. You should be very proud of yourself for coming this far.

Join The Conversation
calamityjen calamityjen 10 years
I agree with've worked hard and done something many people won't ever be able to do, why quit now? The beauty of a degree in medicine, whether it be MD, pharmacology, nursing, etc. is that you don't actually have to function as a practicing MD, RN, whatever. Think about could move to Hollywood and be a medical consultant for a hit TV show (like Grey's Anatomy! LOL). In all seriousness, though, there are so many things you can do with your education that you're not limited to just one traditional path. If I were you, I'd finish my education and then explore every option, conventional or not. As for your fiance', I wish I knew what to say that could help you - but I'm really not the best girl to give relationship advice! ;) My philosophy is if it doesn't feel quite right, don't. But I also know that stress has a lot to do with the way we feel about...well, everything. Maybe once your head is cleared and you really know what you want career-wise, things in your personal life will fall into place, and you'll be more sure of what (and who) you want romantically. :) I hope this helps...whatever you decide to do, I hope it works out for you! Keep us posted.
Daisy6264 Daisy6264 10 years
I totally agree with DearSugar.
gradschoolblues gradschoolblues 10 years
I want to echo redmed's sound advice. I am also 25 years old and am currently working toward a PhD in public health. There are many times when I look at my life and wonder why I've signed up to do this. I do agree that you should finish your program, because the knowledge you acquire as a medical student, including the study skills you develop, can be leveraged toward any field. Should you conclude that you really do not want to be a doctor, consider the qualities you possess that would make for a good doctor and think about how you may apply them in other settings. You could be a consultant for pharmaceutical companies, or even for non-profit and for-profit public health organizations. There are so many more options available than you know, but you do need to finish your program (in my humble opinion). As for your fiancee, it seems that you've given this some thought. The only thing I would caution you against is marrying him for financial security. Think about it: if it wasn't for his money, would you want to marry him? Are you only doing it for a way to be secure, or do you want some other kind of emotional stability as you question your life right now? I sincerely hope this helps!
redmed redmed 10 years
madeline, As a 25 year old medical student myself, I can sympathize with your doubts about your future. It may seem as though your classmates are more excited about their upcoming careers than you are- but they are probably just glad that the end of school is near! Getting an MD is ten times more demanding than I could have ever imagined- so if you have made it to your final year, then you MUST have drive and determination. I am not yet in my final year, and already I feel burned out, as I imagine you do- which could explain why you don't think that medicine is your true calling. Try to think back about why you chose medical school in the first place, whether it was to help people, wear a white coat, or make lots of money.... whatever there HAD to be a reason that you stuck with it- otherwise you would have already dropped out. I think you just need to find something within the medical world that you are passionate about, many doctors change fields several times, so don't worry about devoting your entire life to one speciality. Perhaps try an elective rotation far away from the place you currently live- a change of scenery might do you good. Remember that you are extremely fortunate to be in your position-many people would love to be in your shoes. Only one more year, stick it out! You will be glad that you did, you have nothing to lose except a year that could have been spent on a couch watching TV.
tinyspark tinyspark 10 years
Hey Madelaine...If you're almost finished the degree itself, I would suck it up and stick it out. You have obviously worked extremely hard, and there is nothing forcing you to go beyond this and work in the field. That's the beauty of're not stuck in any one career or with any one person. Good luck!
missnomi missnomi 10 years
dear is right: try to finish the degree anyway and then, afterwards see what other options you have (at least it gives you a better chance to support yourself). I totally recognize what you're going trough. If you are second-guessing your relationship right now, I think you will even more when you are just sitting at home watching TV, being totally dependent of your man: he has a life of his own, you left yours, although you do have a lot of things going for you (you're in medical college: you must have a brain!). Do you really want to be that kind of person? Sitting at home is the easy option out, but it won't make you happy. Finish the degree anyway, find out what you really want and then go for it. With or without your fiance's backup. You can do it!
angelbaby2 angelbaby2 10 years
someone had a similiar situation in the group therapy section of pop. Perhaps it was you. You need to see what other options you have for your career. Look at pharmaceutical companies for research or product manager positions. You would be great at that if you want to use your degrees and still keep a hand in the field without practicing medicine. As for your guy-maybe you are just so upset about your life-you need to step back and take some time to decide what you want that makes you happy.
cubadog cubadog 10 years
First off to marry someone so you can have a way out is so unfair to both of you. I have never used my college degree for its intended purpose. You are not the first people to realize that a decision you made as a child may be the wrong grown-up choice for you. Your young and there is nothing wrong with exploring a little and maybe taking an art class just because it sounds interesting. Furthermore, get your butt and the car and drive. You only live this life once so make the most of it!
ccsugar ccsugar 10 years
I feel the exact same way. I just turned 25, and I can't stand my job. I don't know what to do, I would love to go back to school and learn something totally different... But, that takes a lot of money, which is something I don't have a lot of right now. Part of me just wants to take some time off, and spend some time alone to figure out what I want to do with my life. I would love to just get in my car and start driving, to visit places in the US I have never been to before. That probably sounds crazy, but I think it would help clear my head. It's frustrating, I just entered the workfoce, now I want out!!
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