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Is it possible to pursue two careers at the same time?

I want to pursue a career both as a medical internist and a classical pianist. I am a classical trained and an experienced performing pianist, who has huge interests in aiding those who face adversity with their health. #medicine #science #music #career-choice #career-paths

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Suzanne’s Answer

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Hi David!

I understand your dilemma! For much of my life I've stuggled with with wanting to be a professional dancer and wanting to work in healthcare. During college I had the chance to speak one-on-one with the director of admissions for a high-quality medical school. His advice was to pursue dance first; "Medicine will always be there," he said. I followed his advice but ended up amending it some. After a professional dance career, I returned to school. But instead of going to medical school (as was my thought back in high school), I am attending nursing school. One of the main reasons was time... for me, I decided that pursing a career in medicine did not offer me enough time to pursue my art. Nurses have more flexible schedules which can allow for more time invested in the other aspects of life.

Are you familiar with music therapy? Check out the American Music Therapy Association at http://www.musictherapy.org/ . I bring this up because beyond being a doctor or a nurse, there are other options to be involved in healthcare. If you are interested in research, there is a need for further research regarding music therapy in the hospital setting (and elsewhere) and a corresponding need for the development of evidence-based practice relating to music therapy. Perhaps this could be of interest?

Also, you may want to research osteopathic medicine. I am not qualified to speak about it, but according to the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine, osteopathic physicians (DOs) take a holistic approach to health care. It could be worthwhile to investigate how this holistic mindset translates into the job realities of a DO.

Lastly, I think that it is far easier to quantify how a doctor aids those facing adversity relating to health than it is to quantify how art can improve quality of life. But remember, that doesn't mean that doctors are the only ones who can help people with health troubles!


I think this is a great answer for David, Suzanne. You really should look into music therapy. Mia Shipman BACKER

This sounds very interesting! Thank you Savera B.

Thanks for the great info! Andrea H.

This Sounds Awesome Thanks For Everything!! Skyler T.

Very good advice, thank you. Mellissa Lindsey

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Hannah’s Answer

While it might not be a "career" as a pianist, it is certainly possible to have this play a major role in your life. One of the (nice) things about creative work is that it can have more flexible scheduling than other positions. Evenings and weekends, for example. You might not be a full-time professional classical pianist, but I'd say it could certainly be more than a hobby. [For example, I have a 9-5 job at a non-profit, and on Saturdays I teach a college course. I'm not a full-time professor, but I am both a professor and a non-profit professional.]

Thanks Hanna Savera B.

Thanks for including your own experience! Andrea H.

thank you Hannah Mellissa Lindsey

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Conor’s Answer

Initially, you may be able to pursue both. But you will ultimately have to make a choice to choose one over the other, as some of the previous answers have alluded to.

Playing the piano as as "serious" hobby is certainly something I would consider doing if you want to have it play a big role in your life. (I played piano for 10 years when I was young, then called it quits.)

However, there are few musicians who make a full time living playing their instruments; most also supplement by teaching others, etc.

So timewise, you could have 2 fulfilling "careers" playing the piano in a lot of your spare time and being a medical internist during most of the day.

But a career to many people indicates that you make the majority your money from that job, and it's likely if you were to pursue both piano and the medical profession that 99% of your income would come from the medical side, rather than the musical side, so in that sense you wouldn't have two true careers.

Would you say that students should major in what they like most and get a minor on something else? Sofie C.

This is helpful, thank you! Savera B.

Thanks for the help! Andrea H.

Awesome insight, thank you Conor Mellissa Lindsey

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Gary’s Answer

In general, pursuing two careers is going to be pretty difficult if you try to do them at the same time. Some people have successfully accomplished two separate things, but they have usually done them sequentially, not in parallel. As an example, let's consider Bill Gates. After a successful career building Microsoft over a couple of decades, he went on to build a very successful career as a philanthropist and social change agent with the Gates Foundation. He would not have been able to accomplish both of these simultaneously.

But if you can make one of them your Major, you might be able to sustain another one as a minor.

Thanks for your input! Andrea H.

I love this answer, thank you Gary. Mellissa Lindsey

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Brooklyn’s Answer

This is a great question and one that I had asked myself for a long time. Thankfully I figured it out and your situation is a a perfect example of creating what I call a "Blended Career". I've seen it also identified as a hyphenated career such as Pianist-Music Therapist-Writer etc. The key is that if there is a way to blend both interests by all means do it. The response about music therapy is perfect since it combines both your passions. In my career I started a business as a professional event DJ because I love music and entertaining. I also have years of experience in training with a passion for helping people develop and grow their careers. So I blended both and now offer coaching for people in the special events industry to learn how to brand and grow their careers. It took a bit of soul searching and figuring out how to connect the two sides of my passion. You can do the same thing in your career. I can totally see that for you!

Thanks for the help :) Andrea H.

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Alwyn’s Answer


I can’t offer any advice that will help you formulate a decision but do have a real-life anecdotal story that might help.

I have a friend who like you was classically trained as a pianist from childhood, he was considered a progeny. He struggled with a profession decision between being a full-time concert pianist or be a doctor. He eventually became a doctor thinking that he could do both well, but found no time to practice, no time to perform and that his excellence in playing te piano was suffering from a full-time practice in medicine.

Being a doctor is an all consuming profession, too many hours working, too much to keep current on, perpetual learning come to mind. This by no mean is meant to dissuade you or discourage you from pursuing your passions but think clearly on being one person devoting yourself to crafts that require undivided and merciless attention to perfecting and absolute devotion.

As to my friend, he gave up medicine completely and after years in Boston at the New England Conservatory of Music mastering his skills playing the piano he went back to his homeland to be a performing classical pianist. The road to success has not been easy for him, he was a brilliant doctor but also an equally gifted pianist. He is happy with his decision and ultimately that is most important. Good luck.

Thanks for answering! Andrea H.

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Akshat’s Answer

Not at all. You only have 24 hours in a day. Being a Medical Internist would eat up 8-10 hours of your day and being a great classical pianist would eat another 8-10 hours of your day. When are you going to sleep and eat? You can still be a Medical Internist and play the piano as a hobby. You wouldn't be able to do a vice versa though.

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Michelle’s Answer

It definitely is going to be a challenge but it is definitely possible and a major asset when medical schools look at past successes, achievements, and being an all rounded candidate. Many of my classmates and colleagues in medicine are classically trained in music . I went to medical school in Ireland and had a classmate who continued to do piano competitions while in medical school and worked as a phelbetomist . So busy life.others during medical school continued to perform with university/community related music groups on a weekly basis . However med school and residency are busy busy times where you really devote yourself to being the best doctor that you can be and eventually you might have to push music as a hobby whilepursuing the dream and spending time practicing as a doctor. Perhaps it may be better to consider a career in medical research by doing a masters in science, etc where there may be more flexibility in also continuing your professional music career.

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Elizabeth’s Answer

Go to medical school and become a doctor! You will have financial security, help people who need you, and you can play the piano as a hobby. I know many medical professionals who are very talented pianists. You don't have to choose between the two - you can do both. But I think you would be better off making medicine your profession. Best of luck!

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Anon’s Answer

I am in a similar situation to yourself. Although I'm presently paying my way through my studies by running my own small business, this business is not my career but a way to pay for my studies and life in the meantime.

I myself am interested in having a career in both medicine and another very different field which is in the liberal arts but has connections to the sciences. I've been researching the possibilities (since I've always loved both fields). For me, since my other field has connections in both the arts and sciences, there are ways that I can combine the fields into one career after finishing an MD degree. I have also read that these days it is possible to work part-time as a medical doctor, and I have read other advice about the same two careers (mine, although now they are only on the academic level), in which both careers can be done part-time. So for me I can do them either as a combined career or as two separate careers, in which I spend more time on medicine than on my other career, at least at the outset. It could be that later I may need to make a choice as my liberal arts related career becomes more established. Like you, my "artistic" career does not pay so well or offer so much work at the beginning, unless I'm lucky.

I've just spoken to a couple of professionals in my "arts" career that I am preparing for, and they both support my idea and believe also that getting the MD would give a boost to my other career.

Although my arts career is different from yours (music) I can see how you would be able to do both in the same way. If you really want to become an MD, it would also be possible for you to do this first before getting into a career in music therapy. And the MD would also give a boost to this second career.

In terms of my own situation, I forgot to mention that I know a couple of MD's who are doing both of my planned careers by combining them and are happy this way. Maybe you could try to find someone in music therapy who is an MD to ask them about it.

Also, I knew an MD once who had a second smaller career (a bit more than a hobby) as a professional singer in a professional choir, since he was also very talented at music. Additionally, I knew a medical student (who is probably a doctor now) who also did a diploma in acting because of her second great love for acting, and wanted to do both, so she would have most of her income from the MD but do acting as a smaller career/larger hobby at least at first since acting is also difficult to get into at the beginning.

Also, in the country where I grew up (Canada) since you first need to do "pre-med" with an undergraduate university degree, many people do it with a non-science degree (I did both in fact), and this is actually encouraged by many universities who don't want doctors who are only focused on medicine and cant relate to people as more than lab specimens. Therefore they have people applying to Medicine with liberal arts, law or music degrees, to name a few. They like the diversity in people's backgrounds. You still need to do the "pre-med" coursework along with your undergraduate degree whatever it is. They focus on "well rounded" applicants. Since Medicine is so hard to get into there, many people also make these undergraduate degrees their "Plan B's", so that if they don't get into Medicine, or don't get in immediately, they can still focus on the other degree/career as their backup. That way they do end up admitting people into Medicine who have been preparing for or doing something else meanwhile, so long as they were just as interested in Medicine (as seen in the interview).

I hope all of this helps. I think it depends on how much you want to do Medicine but I do believe you can find a way to do something if you really want to. Btw my father trained as both a surgeon and in another career (more liberal arts related); he began practicing as a surgeon but after a little while switched to the other career. (he had also trained in law but never used it except for the knowledge it provided). His career training made him quite impressive. The father of one of my friends is also trained btw as a lawyer and a doctor, and he practices medicine. I've heard of another person in the same category who then left Medicine for Law and made a career out of medical malpractice lawsuits. :)

Forgot to add: as for doctors being part-time, this is very possible these days. My own family doctor became a part-time doctor near the beginning of her profession since it suited her better. I'd like also to add on the field of dual careers that one very famous actor was both a lawyer and an actor, and he worked at both concurrently, and in at least one case I know of, he worked as both the lawyer and one of the principal actors for a particular film. I think it just depends on how much they both mean to you. I'm a very stick with it person myself :)

Forgot to add: as for doctors being part-time, this is very possible these days. My own family doctor became a part-time doctor near the beginning of her profession since it suited her better. I'd like also to add on the field of dual careers that one very famous actor was both a lawyer and an actor, and he worked at both concurrently, and in at least one case I know of, he worked as both the lawyer and one of the principal actors for a particular film. I think it just depends on how much they both mean to you. Anon Anon

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Rachel’s Answer

You will need to focus on stress and time management. In order to manage stress you have to manage your time wisely. <span style="background-color: transparent;">You have to set a routine for yourself and stick to it for the most part. Once you get into the groove of a routine it will be much easier for you to manage your time and have enough time for everything you need to do (including relaxing). Make yourself to-do lists on a weekly basis, use Google calendar or a planner to keep track of events, deadlines, and due dates. In addition to setting a routine and sticking to it, plan out relaxing activities into your day. Or set aside a time, after everything is done for the day, that you can have "me" time. I have also personally found it essential to not only find time for myself but also make use of that time in a way that is best for me and my holistic wellness. I have found the HeadSpace app to be an essential tool in helping me relax and generally feel more relaxed throughout the day, Guided meditation, even if you have a busy schedule, will make you feel more at ease and relaxed throughout the day as a whole (not just when you have the time to relax and focus on that "me" time).</span>

<span style="background-color: transparent;">Set a routine.Use Google Calendar.Set aside Me TimeWrite weekly to-do lists and use a planner.Find a peaceful and restful activity that will help you feel relaxed.</span>

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Denny’s Answer

When I started college, that is exactly what I wanted to do with my life - two things at once! I wanted to continue to play piano and learn so much more about music. That was one thing, so I signed up for a lot of music classes in my first year. I took Music Theory 1, Music History, and Music Arranging, as well as many music performing classes like Jazz Big Band (actually a stage band consisted of five saxophones, four trombones, four trumpets, and a rhythm section of piano, string bass, guitar, drums, and lastly a vibraphone or vibes for short. I also played piano and accompanied the large vocal choir, which was 70 voices.
I also accompanied on piano, the the smaller vocal group of about 23 to 28 singers who sang at performances all around the county and music festivals around the state, performing more Pop oriented
music. I also performed with a vocal quintet on piano. There were three other instrumentalists - Bass, drums, and guitar, who performed with the quintet and we all toured around and played little concerts for assemblies in schools, at church groups, old folks homes like retirement centers, etc.
Of course, all of this performing came awhile after we had rehearsed together at school for a couple of months and had developed a repitoire of material, and would constantly change it throughout the calander year. The performances would get pretty thick around Christmas time, but remember, we had to keep our grades up also.
Besides the music I was involved with, I was also registered as a pre-med major and had to fulfill those requirements also. So, I was taking Biology 101, Chemistry 101, both of which required laboratory
experience and attendance, as well as basic college requirements like English, Math, Psychology, and some kind of other social sciences. The main big classes of sciences lasted all three quarters of the year , as well as the Music Theory, Music History, and to look ahead they also lasted all through the second year of college too. And if all of that doesn't sound like enough, I got elected as Sophmore class president. Whew ! I don't think I remember them, but ther were other classes I also was required to take for a major in music, a major in biochemistry, and to fulfill the basic college requirements of at least knowing a little about a lot of things. However, I pulled off the classes and the music performance
and still managed to make the president's honor-roll (above a 3.5) in my Sophmore year - and still took piano lessons every week.

Writing all of that tired me out and I need some sleep. I'll try to write some more tomorrow or Wednesday. Hope this helped answer some questions. Denny Gore

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Matias’s Answer


You can try doing both at the same time, I know people who have done two carriers at the same time. It all depends on your motivation. Eventually if one of them takes up all of your interest and time, your choice will be done. Some other people find new ways to combine both interests and create/develop new alternatives.

best of luck