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Should I go into the medical field or become a writer?

I've always loved writing, but I've also always loved helping people. One of my goals in life is to have a lot of free time and freedom with my money, but I know I would only get one of those by becoming a doctor. I wouldn't have a lot of free time as a medical student and I'd work long hours as a medical professional, and I'm not even that good at Biology. But on the other hand, I've always been good at writing, and I've already published a book at a young age.

Which is the best option for me?

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david’s Answer

Hi, Ella,
You have an interesting debacle, deciding between two such diverse careers. I admire that you're facing it head on. As an author myself of several books, I share your interest and the satisfaction of seeing your own words in print. My guess is your interest is in writing your own thoughts, not writing what is assigned to you? There are career options in both directions, but you might consider journalism. There is much more in journalism than the printed word, but you would enjoy finding your own answers to issues and then writing them, possibly for a newspaper column or TV media or other media to the public. Considering writing, I encourage also becoming fluent in the various social media platforms, as that is where many do their reading. For the medical side, there are many options besides being a doctor. For example, physicians' assistants and nurse practitioners are becoming more widely used, and their years of training is short in comparison to a full MD. Not that it's preferable, but an option that would allow more scheduling of free time, unlike a doctor who might be on call 24 hours a day. You have the world at your doorstep, Ella, so do take your time. You will find what is right for you. Thanks for asking and I hope the best for you.
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Liza’s Answer

You don't have to choose! You can explore both. But if going into medicine is motivated by money, you might deny yourself exploring a career that you are truly curious about. Ask yourself what you are most curious about. If it's writing, plant a flag there. And nothing is forever! You can change your mind. Nothing is a life sentence. :)
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Brianna’s Answer

Hi, Ella!

The other answers you've received have already been very helpful. I'd like to add my experience as someone who writes part time and works in health care part time. I had a similar debate when I was younger trying to decide what track to take in college. I ultimately minored in Creative Writing and took many elective arts/film classes while majoring in something more health-care related. I then went on to graduate school, which, granted, DID take up all my time and make writing very difficult. After graduating, however, I found a very happy medium where I work part time in health care (around 25 hours a week) and dedicate the rest of my time to writing. A health care degree is very helpful in terms of "getting paid what you're worth" and being able to work part time and still be able to support your needs.

I'd also like to point out that attending medical school/being a doctor isn't the only way to work in health care, especially if you don't see yourself doing well in biology classes, which make up a huge chunk of pre-med classes. Many have the added piece of taking significantly less time than attending medical school, giving you a bit more work/life balance you can dedicate to writing. Here are a few other options:

-medical speech language pathologist
-physical therapist
-occupational therapist
-medical social worker
-billing/coding specialist
-counselor/therapist
- many certification tracks: certified nurse tech, veterinary tech, xray tech, sonogram tech, lab tech, etc.
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Kelly’s Answer

Deciding what to do with your career is so challenging! There is a huge spectrum of what careers in writing and in medicine look like. There are plenty of ways to help people as a writer. There are also opportunities in medicine that allow reasonable hours (albeit after the grueling medical training process). It can be really helpful to seek out opportunities that let you test out different career options. For example, you might try out writing for a school paper or finding a physician to shadow. You can also reach out to people who have careers you think you would enjoy and ask them to talk you about their jobs (most people love to do this!). I also highly recommend the book "Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life" as a useful tool for thinking through what is important to you in a career.

Kelly recommends the following next steps:

Check out the book "Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life"
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Kaitlyn’s Answer

It can be hard to decide one way to spend the rest of your life, but you don't necessarily have to! It might be worth it to look into something like technical writing, where you can balance an understanding of medical terminology with the ability to write clearly. Successful technical writers can be very well paid, and there is often the option to be freelance, which means you have a lot of flexibility with your time.

Kaitlyn recommends the following next steps:

Look up more information about technical writing to see if it's a good fit for you. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics could be a good place to start.
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George’s Answer

At my University I majored in Biology and minored in inorganic chemistry. But, I chose English Literature as an unrelated minor because I was interested in writing. Life took me in the direction of becoming a Podiatrist. Throughout my career I found little ways of satisfying my need to try writing. For several years, I wrote short informational articles in a local paper primarily about medical and surgical conditions that can affect the lower extremities. This was more a hobby for me and I found the time in spite of two very busy Podiatry practices and a full surgical schedule. I have a friend, a Rheumatologist (arthritis specialist), who wrote and published two novels. I am sure you may have heard of Robin Cook, an Eye Specialist, who became a very successful American novelist. My point Ella is that several areas of medicine, including being a doctor, may give you the opportunity to work and also find the time to write. You may choose to write about medical subjects and/or fiction. I am not saying it will be easy but, perhaps, you will be the next Robin Cook! Best of luck in your future.
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