Like the great Odysseus, I too have embarked upon a ten year journey. After much thought, I made the decision to leave a lucrative career as a physicist in the aerospace industry and become a physician. If all goes according to plan, I’ll matriculate to medical school in the Fall of 2013, which adds another 4 years. Residency will be at least three more on top of that. Sum them all up and you can see that I have about the same amount of time in front of me as Odysseus did when he set out for Ithaca.

I’m taking a page out of another bloggers playbook and posting 7 random things about me which might help my readers understand me some.  Of course, since I also value my anonymity, I try not to give away any details which could potentially be used to identify me:

  1. If I’m accepted, I’ll be 35 when I start medical school and a few months shy of my 40th birthday when I finish.
  2. Studied physics and mathematics at a large western university in the United States.
  3. Worked for several years as a saucier in a high-end Italian restaurant and have spent significant time in other types of restaurants.  I’ve also worked four seasons as a bicycle mechanic.
  4. Currently working for a large aerospace contractor studying the effects of high energy particles and cosmic radiation on microelectronics.
  5. Academic interests include European literature, economics, history, and linguistics – one of my lifetime goals is to be able to sightread koine Greek.
  6. Non-academic interests include cycling, hiking, swimming, and cooking.
  7. I bought a CAT license last year and am hoping to do some road and cyclocross racing next season.  I’d like to get some racing under my belt before medical school consumes me for the better part of a decade.

Also, I can be reached at medschoolodyssey@gmail.com or on Twitter as MD_Odyssey.


19 Responses

  1. I’m a non-trad as well. I’m a bicycle mechanic, a CAT3 road cyclist, and do molecular biology in a research lab. Interested on reading all your posts.

  2. You were a saucier??? That is pretty awesome. You are my hero.

  3. I’m also a non-traditional, physics-trained premed student! Though I only got my bachelor’s before spending four years in Human Resources, I did a few years of research on high energy nuclear reaction studies. I’ll only be 27 when I start in the fall of 2012, but I look forward to reading your posts!

    • Nice! I’m currently working with the effects of high energy particles on electronics for space applications. Have you ever done any particle accelerator studies?

      • Sorry I never saw and responded to this, but yes, actually! For a while I was the youngest licensed operator in the U.S. on Notre Dame’s FN Tandem Van de Graaff particle accelerator. My research focused on high energy reaction studies of 6He incident on 209Bi near the Coulomb barrier. I built a neutron wall detector for use in our reaction studies (we focused on mechanisms of direct He projectile breakup) that is still in use there today. I’ve also collaborated on a number of other projects, including the modular neutron array (MoNA) at Michigan State’s National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory. I’ll make sure to check the box notifying me of replies this time…

      • Sounds really cool. I didn’t know that Michigan State had a cyclotron. How big is it?

        My work, largely industrial research, has involved investigations of commercial electronics and their response / survivability to ionizing radiation. Most of the actual accelerator testing I’ve done has all been with the 88-inch cyclotron out at Berkeley. It’s really cool to get a chance to work at a facility with such a heritage. It’s sort of funny – there is an old periodic table taped on the wall in one of the older sections of the labs which has the new elements that were discovered there, drawn in by hand. I remember the first time I went there and saw it – felt really privileged to participate there. Still can’t resist a cheeky little grin now and again when I’m out there.

        Still. Not as cool as medicine and, as rad as it sounds, particle accelerators do get old after a while.

  4. Do you include neutrino analysis on microelectronics? Rays from HREE?

    I’d be interested to learn more!

    • That’s a great question about the neutrinos – I’m surprised that no one at work has ever asked about them. It turns out that neutrinos aren’t really able to interact with matter very easily, so they can be neglected as far as their ability to damage or upset electronics. There are a tremendous number of neutrinos passing through you and I this very moment and we don’t notice them. In fact, one has to go to incredible length to observe neutrinos – check this out if you’re interested:


      If by HREE you are referring to Heavy Rare Earth Elements, then no – I suspect that you mean GCR, which are Galactic Cosmic Rays. These are a very serious concern to spacecraft avionics because they can cause, among other things, temporarily altered states in memory, processors, and other logic devices. The end result of this is that flight computers, sensors, and all manner of other flight-critical components can be reset, causing system crashes and often the loss of a machine. In fact, about half of all spacecraft failures are believed to be due to ionizing radiation from GCR or solar particles, usually due to a solar flare or a coronal mass ejection, the other half probably due to spacecraft charging and things of that nature.

      There are other sources of ionizing radiation and they can affect electronics in scores of ways – particularly for spacecraft in a low Earth orbit like the Hubble, the space shuttle or the ISS. It turns out that, at the altitude and inclination that these exist(ed) at, there is a large region of trapped radiation, primarily low energy protons, known as the Van Allen belts. Spacecraft that are designed for these trajectories (or for interplanetary missions to planets with radiation belts, like the recently launched Juno) long term degradation of electronics can place a huge restriction on mission life. Designing these systems to handle that sort of exposure is a big part of what people in my field do.

      Hope this enlightens you a bit. If you want more information, PM me and I’ll see if I can dig up a few papers for you to peruse. It’s a very niche field – only a few thousand people across the world work in my field.

      Thanks for linking me, by the way! Explained why my traffic had shot up.

  5. As you know, I’ve been otherwise preoccupied with finals (like you).

    We had a guest lecturer a few years ago that we could get extra credit points for attending the lecture and writing a paper. The lecturer is one of the premier scientists at the South Pole doing neutrino research. I found it fascinating… albeit, I kept my nerdy side hidden.

    Is it that we just don’t have the technology to know what to do with neutrinos at this point? Maybe at some point we could use them? I think broad, and long-term, probably akin to sci-fi.

    What if we were able to capture that energy – would that almost be like anti-matter? If it can get from the sun to here, and through the earth without us knowing or feeling it, seems like there must be a lot of energy associated with the particle.

    If you send me an email to my Ad2b addy, that’d be awesome. I’d love to read more. Space has always been an interest of me, since I grew up watching the original Star Trek on a B&W Motorola set. When Apollo launched, my parents made me watch. It has been a lifelong interest!

    Glad linking helped – good blogs are hard to find!



  6. Another non-traditional here! It’s never too late to go pre-med!

  7. I just discovered your site from adoc2be’s blogroll. I’ve perused through each headline and read the most interesting posts. Good stuff. I’m a biomedical engineer (loving your conclusion on the MCAT by undergrad degree article 🙂 and working in R&D in the in vitro diagnostics industry. With your physics background, have you thought about developing medical devices or working as an MD consult to a company?

    I’ve just completed my first semester back in school with Bio and Chem I and hope to read about more of your experiences.

    • Glad you found me. Thanks for reading.

      It’s tough to know which parts of medicine I will be drawn to – I would absolutely be open to working as an MD consult or in the world of developing medical devices or technologies. Any path I choose to walk in medicine will need to have a significant teaching component in it though; that is definitely a priority for me.

  8. Hi, do you have an email I can send a question to?



  9. From Physics to Physician! Now that is one journey I’d like to follow. Found your blog off WordPress Reader page, promptly liked it and subscribed. Look forwards to read more from you!


    • Thanks for the comment. It’s nice to know that I’m not alone on this road and that others are watching. Hope you enjoy reading!

  10. You have a secret identity, too?? AND you want to go to medical school? Lol, that makes two of us! 🙂

  11. Just came across here and wanted say that I’m a current junior (’15) studying physics and also in the same kind of journey you’d initially undertaken! However, since I love academia/research/STEM/education and I’d like to explore more before I apply to med-school, I will be applying to two 3/2 engineering programs that my small liberal-arts eastern school is affiliated with. I’m incredibly excited to apply. I’m struggling a bit deciding between applied physics and bio(medical) engineering for my second school’s BS degree. I came upon your blog but haven’t yet read much. But upon knowing that a fellow physicist is on a journey to contribute to the medical field, I am excited to follow your journal!

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