The Career Doctor™

by Dr. Jacqueline Hornor Plumez

Looking for a first job? Thinking of changing careers? Facing a lay-off? The Career Doctor™ is a Larchmont psychologist specializing in career counseling. If you'd like to ask a question of your own, use the anonymous form below, and she might answer you here. Read more about the Career Doctor here. Contact information is here.

BEFORE YOU GO TO MEDICAL SCHOOL...

Dear Career Doctor:

I am 24 years old. I had a interest in the medical field when I graduated in '99. Since then, I married and had 4 kids. All of a sudden I have a passion to become a pediatrician. My husband and I have talked about it and we both agreed it would be a great career move, and we are fully aware of the struggle that comes with it. However, my question is where do I start, meaning my undergrad major and the specific program I need in order to be a successful pediatrician. I don't feel I'm too old, but what's the doctors advice?

Shan

Dear Shan:

You are definitely not too old, but I would never advise anyone with four kids and only a high school diploma to jump into a pre-med college degree without first investigating the medical field very carefully. You can get paid to investigate by getting an entry level job.

Contact your local hospital and find out what kind of jobs they offer to people with high school diplomas. (These are usually jobs like unit secreteries, medical records technicians, nurses aides and service representatives in registration and billing departments.) Since these jobs are hard to fill, hospitals will often take well-spoken, personalble applicatiants and train them. By taking a job at a hospital, you can not only discover what it is like to be a physician, you can also explore all the many other jobs in the medical field that require far less training. You will also find out how you like being away from your children for extended periods of time. (It is also possible to try to get a job in a pediatrician's office and get similar, but far more limited exposure to the field.)

After seeing the life of a pediatrician/physician, you may decide that you are willing to commit 8-10 years and hundreds of thousands of dollars to fulfill this dream. You will have gained practical experience that will help convince colleges to let you into their competitive pre-med programs, plus you will probably have met some professionals who will write letters of recommendation for you. On the other hand, you may discover that one of the many other jobs in the medical field will better meet your needs.

Whatever you choose to do, I wish you the best of luck and congratulate you and your husband for being such supportive life partners!

The Career Doctor

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The Career Doctor™ is Larchmont psychologist and career counselor, Dr. Jacqueline Hornor Plumez.

Her office is at 90 Beechtree Drive in Larchmont, 914-834-1982.