If not Medicine… then what? #illumedati 1

Hey everyone, it’s Medicine Mondays again. I wasn’t sure what to write about for this week, but since last week I talked about “Why Radiology?, I’ve decided to do another “stream of consciousness” type post to ponder “If not Medicine… then what?”

If not Medicine... then what?

Stock Photo from: Pexels

So then… let’s think about it:

If I didn’t go to medical school, what would I have done?

Well, anything I say here will just be all speculation, but just let me talk for awhile…

Let’s go back to 2002…

So technically I graduated from Cal, December 2002, one semester early. I went to medical school in the Caribbean May 2003. That was that path I chose.

What if I chose another path? What if I decided not to go to medical school?

Well I guess it would kind of depend on when I made that decision, or if I had never planned to go to medical school in the first place. However, I think I probably would have gravitated toward computers and computer science. I think it’s unlikely that I would have gone to law school or got an engineering degree. Also, I think doing Electrical Engineer and Computer Science (EECS) was unlikely.

Wait, what about the other health-related professions? Dentist? Optometrist? Pharmacist?

While it’s possible that I would have considered them, I think it’s unlikely. If I didn’t end up going to medical school, I don’t think I would have chosen Dentistry or Optometry. Of course, I think they those are all great professions, but they wouldn’t have been for me.

So then, back to computer science…

While I did take an introductory computer course back at Cal, where I learned some basic HTML and Java, I didn’t delve much into computer science. I did briefly consider trying to get both a Computer Science (CS) and Molecular and Cell Biology (MCB) degree at the same time or get a computer science degree while fulfilling my medicine pre-reqs, it didn’t seem feasible. While some I could do it, I don’t think I could have done it without taking 5 years.

So then, let’s assume at some point in my college life I decided not to do MCB and decided to try to declare CS instead. This is no easy task by itself. The coursework itself is difficult and you have to maintain certain GPA in order to declare. I remember one of my fraternity brothers who was ecstatic when he was able to declare CS.

However, just the CS degree by itself doesn’t mean everything. One of the smartest guys I know was a Mass Communications Major without any degree in Computer Science at all. However, he was also a very quick study and was self-taught a lot of things when it came to the early days of data analytics and advertising. He’s done very well for himself in Silicon Valley, I think.

So, what would you have done?

If I finished with a Computer Science (CS) degree from Berkeley, I would gone to look for work with my other fraternity brothers in the Bay Area around 2003. Now, I don’t know if I’d have done as well as them, like I’ve stated above, they are very smart guys. However, I would like to think that I would have been given some good opportunities to work for some interesting start-ups, and meet more great people. Perhaps I would have been given the opportunity to work for Google or something. Who knows?

Of course, there is no way to tell whether I would have been successful or made the right decisions.

Another question is… after doing computer science and the start-up life for a few years, would I have done a post-bacc to go to medical school someday?

That’s a good question.

While in residency, I met a really smart guy who had been working in the business world for a few years after finishing college. He left a successful career to go to medical school. I asked him one day why he left. I can’t quote him exactly, but he said something to the effect of:

“Doing some good in this world is underrated. A job is a job and money is money. However, at the end of the day, you want to be able to look back at your life and your career and say with absolute confidence that you did your best to do some good in this world. That’s why I’m here in residency with you.”

He’s right.

Doing some good is underrated.

As much as I am concerned about Student Loan Debt and how the meta of medicine is changing, there is one thing that medicine gives me that I think few, if any other jobs could give me:

I go to work, I work hard for 10 hours, and I come home. Since I work evenings, I get home around 12:30 AM. I quietly come through the front door, hang my keys on its little hanger and go to my bedroom. My daughter is asleep on my pillow, next to my wife. I scoop her up and give her a kiss on the head and bring her to bed whispering to her that I love her. As I lay her down in her bed she rolls over and opens one eye for a second to see that it’s me before she falls asleep again. Then I get ready for bed and go to sleep.

I sleep well because I know that after 4 years of medical school, 5 years of residency, 1 year of fellowship, and 4 years of experience under my belt, I’ve gained a lot of knowledge. I also know that in the 10 hours of my last shift I’ve used all of that knowledge to provide the best possible care to many patients and help my colleagues to the best of my ability.

I’ve done some good.

While it’s interesting to speculate “what if”, the likelihood is that I probably still would have eventually found my way back to medicine, even if I fell off “The Track”.

Also, while my journey has had its share of speedbumps, I’ve been rewarded with a great job, a beautiful wife, and precious children.

Overall, I’m fulfilled, and I really can’t ask for much more. However, if someone wants to pay my student loans… I won’t say no.  😛


If I didn’t do medicine, I’d probably have a CS degree.

Maybe I’d be in Silicon Valley somewhere… who knows?

However, I think I would still make my way back to Medicine.

Doing some good is underrated.

Be fulfilled.

Medicine Mondays Sensei


Agree? Disagree? Questions, Comments and Suggestions are welcome.

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