After spending most of August cramming for my second retake of the infamous MCAT, life as a grad student has been pretty. . . lazy? I know I have lots of stuff I could be working on for classes, but it’s hard maintaining a grip on time when each class only meets one a week. And considering that I already have difficulty with that as is, it’s probably fairly safe to say that grad school is totally throwing me for a loop.
I’ve only just realized that it’s time to start registering for spring classes, and that was because the administrative assistant of my grad program kindly sent out an email informing grad students of if, along with the necessary forms we’d need to fill out in order to register for classes next semester.
Safe to say I was completely surprised, and I’m still not sure I’ve accepted this information.
So I’ve been kinda MIA for a few months. My summer was pretty busy — graduation stuff, visiting home because we discovered that my dad had prostate cancer (luckily, we found it in the early stages, and he was able to have it surgically removed), and cramming (again) for the MCAT.
I’m sure you’ve noticed the title for this blog by now (if you hadn’t already — should’ve been the first thing you read, right?), and you might be wondering what that means. After all, didn’t I just say that I spent part of my summer cramming for the MCAT? The SOP for my application to the master’s program even said that I was planning on entering med school following completion of the program, so I obviously was pre-med and wanted to be a doctor. There it is. Was. I was pre-med, and I wanted to be a doctor. Past tense.
I briefly mentioned in my last vlog that I started working in a lab at the end of the spring semester. Maybe if my summer had been less busy (I was driving from Dallas to Brenham practically every week in June), I would’ve noticed sooner that I really enjoyed working in a lab. Well, that lab in particular, but working in that lab also made me realize exactly how much I love learning about neuroscience. Apparently I love it more than helping people. Or, at least, more than helping people in a career where I’d undoubtedly be full of self-doubt and always wondering if I could’ve done this, or should’ve done that. I wasn’t particularly fond of the idea of residency and working long hours. Yeah, the nuggets of happiness and fulfillment that come from seeing that you’ve made a difference in someone’s life are amazing, but I don’t think I have the type of personality that’s able to withstand the emotionally taxing aspects of being in medicine. I already make sure that my self-esteem stays kinda low, I don’t need all of that stress to make it even lower. I just know that I’d be the type of doctor who lets medicine completely take over her life, always stressing about her patients and being unable to maintain a healthy distance from it. As someone who intends to have a family at some point in the future, that’s not fair to anyone.
I guess the bottom line was that I couldn’t see myself as being truly happy if I were to pursue medicine as a career. I don’t think I would dislike it necessarily, but I too easily see myself being perpetually stressed about patients, or not being able to spend time with my family for a birthday or holiday because I was unable to request the day off. If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that I already have trouble maintaining a healthy balance between work and personal life, so I’m sure I would be much worse at it as a (medical) doctor. I know I’d burn myself out.
So I’ve spent a majority of this semester just hashing that whole thought-process out, making sure the idea of pursuing a PhD wasn’t attractive just because it was novel. I’m still trying to convince myself that I’m not “running” from medicine as a career, or that I’m too weak-willed to overcome the rigors of medical school. Part of the strategy for that is telling myself that it takes some degree of strength to face these faults and make the decision that’s right for you.
Anyway, if that all was a little tl;dr for you, here’s a nice, quick, bullet-point list giving the main reasons for me deciding to go for a PhD instead of an MD/DO.
Why I chose PhD over MD :
- I love neuroscience.
- Studies are more self-directed. (I learn what I want. Meaning neuroscience. Just neuroscience.)
- If I work as a TA/RA during my PhD studies, it covers my tuition and gives me some extra to live off of. (I can lessen the financial burden on my parents.)
- Work hours are more flexible. (I work when I want.)
- Medicine is still an option after finishing my PhD.
I will say that I’ve been pretty happy since making the decision to pursue a PhD, and that I’ve also been much more proactive in finding out what I need to do to apply to PhD programs than I ever was for the med school application process. Now I need to work on getting myself focused on classes again, as well as establishing a more healthy lifestyle and getting back up to a healthy weight. ‘Cause holy heeby-geebies, I’ve really lost a lot of weight since starting Adderall last fall. It didn’t hit me how big the amount was until I found myself spending consecutive days mainly in bed because I didn’t have the energy to do anything else. In fact, I missed my class last Monday because I got nauseous whenever I got up or even sat up for any length of time. Even lying in bed was getting tiresome. At one point I fell asleep on my bedroom floor. Using a 3-skein yarn pack as a pillow. Yep.
I’ve been alternating days off of Adderall this past week, and I’ve found myself eating so much/often that I’m thinking about adding a “mad-munchies” category to The Watch Glass where I document all the stuff I’ve eaten that day. (I’ve actually kinda been doing that already through the Android app for Blipfoto. Maybe I’ll just stick with that. Also, I have way too many different social website accounts.) I also started counseling again through my university’s counseling center (12 sessions/year are included in the tuition), so hopefully I’ll be able to get myself back on track. I’ve definitely seen an increase in motivation to do mundane things (like cook for myself lols) since my mad-munchies fest, so that’s a good sign.
Note to self: don’t ever vlog again while driving. What are you, stupid?