Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Journey of exploration

I took a trip over the weekend to explore some career options. I received an invitation from NavAir, a civilian branch of the Navy that develops weapons and defense systems, to check out their facilities and have an on-site interview. About that same time, I also received an invitation to visit the Navy hospital in San Diego (those recruiters are everywhere!). So, I set out to California to check out some options.

Well, I'll just address the hospital visit by saying it was a big let down. After landing in LA and driving to San Diego, the doctor who said he would meet us there was a no show, he wouldn't answer his phone, and we couldn't get past the security gate. 5 hours of driving and a tank of gas later, we were back up in LA where we started. This provides, perhaps, stronger motivation to pursue a civilian route through medical school. Financially it is more difficult, and you may not have as many interesting experiences, but you do have more options and people tend to show up when you travel a thousand miles to meet them...

Anyhow, the visit to NavAir was interesting. The town is in the middle of a desert where the natural vegetation is basically limited to sage brush and an occasional joshua tree. The only natural wildlife I spotted consisted of 3 crows and a cockroach. Additionally, the town was small and less than picturesque. All and all, it wasn't our ideal destination.

They work on many important projects included F-18's and other jets, radar systems, and a number of different missiles. My tour guide was the head of the sidewinder division, and was very open. Some of the projects were interesting, but in the end, it seemed like everyone spent all day in a cubicle staring at a computer screen.

Strike one for the Navy, strike one for engineering. Now I just need to get into some decent medical job shadows.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The process begins...

The first step in making a huge decision that will dramatically alter the course of your life is considering it. The second step is (or ought to be) getting more knowledge so that can make an informed decision. After weighing my priorities and doing some research, here is what I have found:

Medical careers that don't completely absorb your life (in other words, you can still have a family and sleep, etc):

Pediatrics: I love kids. This could be fun!
Pathology: The study of diseases could be fun, but I'm not so sure how much I would enjoy doing autopsies everyday. Really, I would like to be able to help people who haven't died yet, but I could consider it.
Ophthalmology: I think the eye is very fascinating, yet very small...
Dermatology: I think there is more in this field than most people realize.
Emergency Medicine: This would be cool and probably very rewarding at times, but also probably highly stressful.
Psychiatry: I could further hone my soul-reading skills... Excellent!

Now, in the engineering sector, I spoke with a company recently that will be flying me out early in February for a tour of their facilities. They are closely tied with the military, and they do a lot of research on weapon systems and defense. It could be interesting and I'm sure they will be working many fascinating projects. The key will be to get a good understanding of the life and daily schedule of the engineers rather than to be awed by the fighter jets and explosions. (I like explosions. Don't believe me? Ask my microwave.)

Of course, medicine also provides a potentially different course. Each branch of the military is constantly seeking for doctors and is willing to provide financial support throughout school. By agreeing to spend a few years in the Navy or Air Force, I could get all my tuition/books covered, as well as receive a monthly wage on top. Then during residency I would make an extra 20-40k more per year than civilian doctors would, but more importantly, I would be able to get trained for deep sea diving or get a pilot's license and spend some time living abroad in Greece, Italy, the UK, Japan, or maybe spend some time back east or in Hawaii. (I like Hawaii. Don't believe me? Ask my microwave.)

Oh the options! Next step - shadowing!

Friday, February 12, 2010


The blog is back, but I'm starting over and taking a new approach. Life is going to be changing a lot in the near future, and this will be the start of a new journey.

Looking back, I remember going over a list of things I needed to do in my life before I could finally take a deep breath and just relax. I had to finish high school, serve a mission, get married, finish college, and so forth. Now I find myself approaching the end of my list and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

The problem is that sometimes the light plays tricks on your eyes, and I don't really know if I want to take a deep breath and relax. Perhaps it's ambition, maybe it's just some form of stealthy anxiety, but I don't feel like I've reached the end. I find some of my classes extremely boring and I worry that accepting an engineering job will be accepting a prison sentence with cold carpeted modular walls, steel bars forged in my mind, and a 9 to 6 sentence term.

Now I'm standing at a crossroad. I can go on and get a job that pays pretty well, I can get a higher degree without too much effort, or I can reconsider one of my earlier decisions and prepare for medical school.

The first thing on my list is to get more experience and taste the lifestyles before I commit. A company that works on defense systems (missiles, radar, aerospace technologies, etc) wants to fly me out to visit their site in California (which means a 90% chance of a job offer), and I intend to shadow a few doctors and see if the lifestyle is livable.

I just want to be happy, be a good father, enjoy life, and do all kinds of unbelievably amazing things. Is that too much? As always, incredible insights and inspired words of guidance are appreciated!