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Medical School vs Computer Science

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PietroG99

New Contributor
Sep 2, 2020
5
4
11
Brazil
Hi people. I'm currently creating a decision matrix about my college degree options and would appreciate it if you identify any points I missed or got wrong. My current situation as follows:

19yo Brazilian male
Last year, I enrolled in medical school at my local university and did a few weeks before I had the opportunity to study computer science at a great university 600 miles from home. Since the classes were online and the end of the pandemic seemed years away, I decided to do it and am currently enrolled in the first semester of the program.

I'm really close to my family and friends in my home town and certainly would miss it. Plus, I was able to save mid 4-figures helping neighbors and my father during high school.
I enjoyed both programs: loved the logic behind the functioning of the human body (physiology) and the idea of helping people and saving lives; and liked programming (in C and Python) and calculus so far. My main factors right now are distance from family and future indebtedness if I stay in CompSci (rent, food, transportation, etc in a more expensive city).

Both programs are in public schools, which in Brazil means no tuition. Next month I'm going to apply again to Med School and think I've a reasonable chance of being accepted (at least 50%) as the only factor considered is our equivalent of the SAT/MCAT. The Brazilian health system has many flaws and room for improvement and I'm going to help it through entrepreneurship.

Medical school is a 6-year undergraduate program, 2 miles from home in a good public university, close to family and friends, and with minimal costs (no debt).
CompSci is the default 4 years, 600 miles from home in a great public university, with possible debt entrapment, but more broad opportunities and the experience of living on my own.

Also, there is a lot of content in books and on the internet regarding programming and computer science in general, while the medical field is highly regulated and has high entry barriers.
I'm afraid to take family and friends advice too seriously as 100% of them told me to change back to medical school, but none actually went there.

I know some people here have chosen the MD path, while others adopted the CompSci one. What influenced your choice? Do you regret it? What points am I missing here for a more informed decision? Thanks in advance.
 

Nurul

New Contributor
Dec 2, 2018
4
2
13
Singapore
19yo Brazilian male
Last year, I enrolled in medical school at my local university and did a few weeks before I had the opportunity to study computer science at a great university 600 miles from home. Since the classes were online and the end of the pandemic seemed years away, I decided to do it and am currently enrolled in the first semester of the program.

I'm really close to my family and friends in my home town and certainly would miss it. Plus, I was able to save mid 4-figures helping neighbors and my father during high school.
I enjoyed both programs: loved the logic behind the functioning of the human body (physiology) and the idea of helping people and saving lives; and liked programming (in C and Python) and calculus so far. My main factors right now are distance from family and future indebtedness if I stay in CompSci (rent, food, transportation, etc in a more expensive city).

Both programs are in public schools, which in Brazil means no tuition. Next month I'm going to apply again to Med School and think I've a reasonable chance of being accepted (at least 50%) as the only factor considered is our equivalent of the SAT/MCAT. The Brazilian health system has many flaws and room for improvement and I'm going to help it through entrepreneurship.

Medical school is a 6-year undergraduate program, 2 miles from home in a good public university, close to family and friends, and with minimal costs (no debt).
CompSci is the default 4 years, 600 miles from home in a great public university, with possible debt entrapment, but more broad opportunities and the experience of living on my own.

Also, there is a lot of content in books and on the internet regarding programming and computer science in general, while the medical field is highly regulated and has high entry barriers.
I'm afraid to take family and friends advice too seriously as 100% of them told me to change back to medical school, but none actually went there.

I know some people here have chosen the MD path, while others adopted the CompSci one. What influenced your choice? Do you regret it? What points am I missing here for a more informed decision? Thanks in advance.
What do you see yourself doing in 5 years time?

If you choose to study medicine, you should probably take into account a few more years for residency, depending on the specialty. Even if you were to choose this path, you can still practice your programming skills on the side or even participate in hackathons which will be a valuable experience for you.

I graduated with a computer science degree last year. I personally find that there's a huge gap between what is taught in a typical CS curriculum and the practical skills you need for the workforce. I learn a lot more from self-studying and doing online courses at a pace that I'm comfortable with.

I would say that studying CS will help you develop a broad understanding of foundational subjects like operating systems, computer architecture, database management, and so on. If you wish to pursue a career in tech, I would advise you to get a good grasp of data structures and algorithms. Another reason to do a CS degree is if you see yourself doing academic research in the future.

Perhaps the only thing I regret is not networking aggressively. Whether you decide to study medicine or computer science, surround yourself with ambitious people, ask a lot of questions from your professors, join competitions, and connect with your college alumni. All the best!
 

Vinmanslim

New Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Jun 13, 2021
4
9
15
Ohio
Don’t know the system in Brazil, but I can tell you about the U.S. healthcare system and maybe this will help your decision.

When I left the engineering field to become a chiropractor, I did so for two reasons. The first reason is that I had a great experience at the hands of a chiropractor, and I avoided back surgery. The second reason is that I wanted to be my own boss. Little did I know that the government and the insurance industry were going to step in and take control of healthcare and limit the doctor’s ability to make a decision regarding path of care (as well as level of reimbursement for services).

One of the doctors I know was the top neurologist at one of the huge hospital systems in my area. After 20 years of practicing, he is now doing telemedicine from home on his computer. He is happy because he is no longer working 80-90 hours per week.

No matter how you look at it, healthcare is not a fastlane approach to wealth. It’s just a faster slowlane.

Hope that helps.
 

Kak

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I know an absolute world class doctor. Like one at the very head of his field. He absolutely loves what he does, but the bureaucracy of the whole medical industry, and all the nonsense that comes with, really does sour it for him.

You are 100% correct about the healthcare industry needing an entrepreneurial spirit.

It’s all your choice man. School, even when free, still carries an opportunity cost as well. I have a business degree from a well respected university… It cost me 4 years on top of the money it cost.
 
Last edited:

PietroG99

New Contributor
Sep 2, 2020
5
4
11
Brazil
What do you see yourself doing in 5 years time?

If you choose to study medicine, you should probably take into account a few more years for residency, depending on the specialty. Even if you were to choose this path, you can still practice your programming skills on the side or even participate in hackathons which will be a valuable experience for you.
Actually, I don't know what a typical day in life of a computer scientist looks like. All YT videos about this subject show images of coffee and computer typing, but none explains how debugging and code reviews are done.

My main concern with programming is the low entry barrier and the quality of the classes at the university, which may be great but with a quickly outdated curriculum. So far I'm finishing CS50x and planning on starting Princeton's algorithms course soon. Never been to a hackathon but the idea attracts me a lot.

Residency is a possibility and the extra time should be considered. Thanks for the reminder. The main advantages I see in medicine are the inside view of the problems in the health sector and the ability to dedicate more time to start a business, as the hourly wage is higher and I won't have to work as long just to pay the bills.
I graduated with a computer science degree last year. I personally find that there's a huge gap between what is taught in a typical CS curriculum and the practical skills you need for the workforce. I learn a lot more from self-studying and doing online courses at a pace that I'm comfortable with.

I would say that studying CS will help you develop a broad understanding of foundational subjects like operating systems, computer architecture, database management, and so on. If you wish to pursue a career in tech, I would advise you to get a good grasp of data structures and algorithms. Another reason to do a CS degree is if you see yourself doing academic research in the future.
I know universities won't be able to stay up to date with new technologies, frameworks, etc, so I expect to learn a broader view about the CS concepts and learn on my own the rest. Academic research is important, but not my thing.
It's easy to find introductory programming courses, but the complex and very specific topics are somewhat rare to find. Where do you learn these practical skills used in the workforce?
Perhaps the only thing I regret is not networking aggressively. Whether you decide to study medicine or computer science, surround yourself with ambitious people, ask a lot of questions from your professors, join competitions, and connect with your college alumni. All the best!
I also regret a lot not networking in high school. Back then, I thought it was OK not doing it, as I labeled myself as the shy nerd guy, but it was a huge mistake. The best memories I have are from the moments I did the exact opposite and got the initiative, while the worst are when I just accepted orders (studied in a military school during middle and high school). Never gonna let these chances slip away again.

No idea how much time I spent in computer games during school, but it's certainly more than 5000 hours. Thankfully, I managed to control it after a lot of fighting. Now, I just not feel attracted to gaming anymore. Sometimes start thinking about everything I could've done in that time, but it's pointless.
Iron Maiden has a good quote about it:
So understand
Don't waste your time always searching for those wasted years
Face up... make your stand
And realize you're living in the golden years

Thank you for all the useful advice! All the best!
 
Last edited:

PietroG99

New Contributor
Sep 2, 2020
5
4
11
Brazil
Don’t know the system in Brazil, but I can tell you about the U.S. healthcare system and maybe this will help your decision.

When I left the engineering field to become a chiropractor, I did so for two reasons. The first reason is that I had a great experience at the hands of a chiropractor, and I avoided back surgery. The second reason is that I wanted to be my own boss. Little did I know that the government and the insurance industry were going to step in and take control of healthcare and limit the doctor’s ability to make a decision regarding path of care (as well as level of reimbursement for services).

One of the doctors I know was the top neurologist at one of the huge hospital systems in my area. After 20 years of practicing, he is now doing telemedicine from home on his computer. He is happy because he is no longer working 80-90 hours per week.

No matter how you look at it, healthcare is not a fastlane approach to wealth. It’s just a faster slowlane.

Hope that helps.
I really understand your point about healthcare's approach to wealth. Don't know many MDs, but most of them are risk averse and do everything as stated in the book because they fear law suits.
C0VlD changed this a bit. Since hospitals were full and people were dying waiting treatment, they had to innovative and take risks. I know some hospitals hired engineers as interns to fix ventilators, oxygen supply systems and even electricity shortages with whatever it took.

Do doctors work this crazy hours due to work contract with the hospital or just because they are paid according to time worked?
What's the government and insurance industry relation with healthcare startups? Do they cooperate for a better health system?

My plan to wealth is to start a company in the health industry. Just wondering between the advantages of a CS degree against the MD path.
Thanks for the help!
 

PietroG99

New Contributor
Sep 2, 2020
5
4
11
Brazil
You are 100% correct about the healthcare industry needing an entrepreneurial spirit.
Good to know it's a problem not only in Brazil. Thinking about the amount of lives lost due to over regulation and unnecessary treatment to avoid lawsuits really makes me sad.
It’s all your choice man. School, even when free, still carries an opportunity cost as well. I have a business degree from a well respected university… It cost me 4 years on top of the money it cost.
I thought about business school, but just couldn't find the value it promised. The only business class I took had me memorize a lot of concepts about industrial revolution, SWOT analysis, Kano model, Porter's 5 five forces model, etc. Every time I tried to talk about real life examples and applications, I got censured for leaving the topic of the class and I barely passed it.

Sure there is a huge opportunity cost. In the other hand, I think that the cost would be bigger if I just forgot about college and started living with no clear direction in life, like last year.
I currently don't have any useful habilities to the market and am afraid to seek escape routes when things get though down the road. Probably don't have the maturity yet to do all on my own.
If there was a tuition, sure I would think real deep about the usefulness of college, but thanks for the reminder. Will take a look into that. All the best!
 

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