How computer science relates to med school

In this article, Lewis Ryan discusses non-traditional path to medicine.

Growing up, I did not have any interest in medicine or the health sciences. I was drawn to computer science because of the problem-solving nature of the discipline and the creativity that this entailed. It was not until a friend of mine graduated from medical school that I began to take notice of medicine as a career path. On talking with many doctors about their careers, I was struck by three common themes. One, that no two days are the same; on each and every day you will see something new. Two, doctors are very rarely bored. And lastly that they have the opportunity to solve problems that directly affect the lives of their patients. When I enrolled in medical school, I had feared that my undergraduate degree in computer science would be wasted. This fear turned out to be unfounded. In fact, many of the techniques and algorithmic approaches that I had acquired were very applicable. Medicine is much more than having an encyclopedic knowledge. The real challenge is in how to apply that knowledge in a sensible and scientifically sound manner.

Medical school was an eye opening experience that broadened my view of the world. Though I was sad to see an end to my time as a student, I was feeling ready for more hands-on experiences by the time I graduated. And for everything I learned at medical school, there were ten things that I learned during my internship. Practical things about the way hospitals work, the way health professionals interact with each other within specialties and between them. I saw unprofessional behavior and bullying. But in the majority of cases, I saw a team of dedicated people trying their best to achieve good outcomes for their patients in the face of inadequate funding and an ever growing demand on their services.

The most rewarding patients, for me, were those patients that I got to know over a long stay, whose families I knew by first name and who I missed when they left. And, as amazing as the care can be in a tertiary hospital, I have firmed my opinion that prevention is better than cure. For those reasons, I am intending to pursue a career in family medicine, or general practice as it is known in some countries. I am excited to embark on the next stage of my medical training in the community.