10 Useful Alternatives for Your Medical Education

Last week I’m sure I scared many of you with a gloomy prediction of a world without residency spots for every graduating medical student but that was irresponsible journalism, and for that I apologize.  The threat is real enough, especially if our Graduate Medical Education budget gets any additional trimming, but there is good news.  After much research and soul-searching, I’ve come up with the top ten things to do with your education (and matching mortgage-load of debt).

10. Cliff Notes Writer

Part of the “beauty” of being a medical student is the sheer amount of information we need to read, absorb, and synthesize into knowledge that we are expected to use to better the lives of our patients.  But in the absence of a residency, there’s no need to let these skills fall into disuse.  Haven’t you ever looked at Ulysses or Atlas Shrugged and thought “Isn’t there a better way?”  Why not leverage your ability to read and summarize to help millions of students avoid having to actually sit down and work their way through unnecessarily dense literature?  Think of it as saving their social lives.

9. Celebrity Fat-Flap Holder

If reading doesn’t seem like your cup of tea, then why not use those muscles you developed from long hours in the OR?  (If you’re an M1, M2, or clerk who hasn’t been on Surgery yet, sorry for ruining the magic).  I held so much fat during operations that I wished there was a way to get paid for it.  Think about it, you’d get to hang out with the Who’s Who in Hollywood, attend all of the major events, and provide self-esteem to the bastions of social change, the A-listers.  Of course, it might help to actually know the person before you run up behind them and start pulling on them…your call.

8. Professional Statue

(Warning- More Surgery Spoilers) Likewise, I lost track of the amount of time spent holding an instrument “exactly like that” for fear of an Attending screaming at me to get out of the OR, so I like to think I’ve gotten very good at standing completely still.  Maybe some billionaire has need of a human chess set, or at least a really interesting coat rack; in either case, make your skills work for you.

statue cut flickr eva rinaldi and live  music photographer

Flickr | Eva RInaldi and Live Music Photographer

7. Experimental Drug Subject 

If we learned anything in Pharmacology, it’s that new products need testers.  Be it early stages of drug development or commercial products, the scientists need to know just what their substance does.  Who better to show them than a medically-educated individual able to eloquently describe the paresthesias from a new perfume (Winter’s Kiss), or the blindness associated with a diet drug (Out of Sight, Out of Mind).  We’re perfect…at least until the dysphonia sets in.

6. Master Thief

I know what you’re thinking…I’ve been focusing on only a few of the many skills you picked up in training.  Well don’t worry, I didn’t forget about the instruments that are part of our craft.  We’ve all spent hours learning how to listen to bowel sounds, discern and differentiate heart murmurs (any of you who claim to have heard an I is a liar), all thanks to our trusty friend, the stethoscope.  But a career away from medicine doesn’t mean you need to retire him to the shelf.  Safe-crackers pride themselves on being able to feel the combination slide into place, but we’ve got a perfect tool to let you hear the exact same thing.  Travel the world (while on the run), get in great shape (while on the run), and potentially make some life long friends (after being on the run).

5. Construction Worker

Then there’s our good old reflex hammer.  We’ve been taught countless times how to hit those tendons (and then lie to the standardized patient when we don’t get a reaction), but did you know the reflex hammer is a hammer?  Why not consider a career in construction?  Granted, you’ll have to learn how to put a little more force behind the swing (hopefully), but why pass up a chance to work outdoors, and actually have physical proof of your labors?  Who cares that you extended a patient’s lifespan when you can point to a shed and say “All me”?

4. Tailor

I know every time I use my trauma shears to cut off someone’s clothes, or use a 4.0 Vicryl to put someone back together I think “What a waste.”  I’m destroying clothing, and spending time using sutures that are either going to be cut off in a few weeks, absorbed by a human body, or just hang around forever wiring someone’s sternum together.  Why did I even bother learning both the horizontal and vertical mattresses if my work won’t be appreciated for years to come?  Now clothing…clothing is something you can slap your name on, and the world will see!  That is, until some EMT or ER doc incorrectly uses his shears to destroy.

Flickr | Petesimon

Flickr | Petesimon

3. Street Diagnostician

If you love the sounds and speed of the city, than maybe a street diagnostician is the career for you.  Imagine it: stopping people as they walk by that they have boneitis, or trying to convince that savvy Wall Street broker that he looks like he needs help with ED.  You could change the lives of so many strangers and never have to leave your front box-flap.

2. Hawk “Legitimate” Medical Supplies on Television

Now if you loved the idea of being around celebrities, but didn’t want to deal with all of the fat, then there’s a great alternative.  A need will always exist for a doctor willing to slap his or her name onto some new product bearing the “These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA”.  You’d get to be on TV, have someone famous endorse your product, and you’d still be helping the millions of insomniacs who are awake watching tv when your ad will air.

1. Reapply for Residency Next Year

If none of these options sound attractive to you, well there’s something wrong with you, but there is one other option.  Applying to residencies isn’t a one time deal.  You can always apply the next year…along with everyone else in your year who didn’t match…and everyone in the new class of graduating medical students.

 

Featured image from Flickr | Eva Rinaldi and Live Music Photographer.
josh-lesko

Josh Lesko, "Almost" MD

Josh is a third year medical student at Eastern Virginia Medical School, Vice Chair for the Medical Society of Virginia Medical Student Section, and on the Committee on Legislation and Advocacy for the AMA-MSS.