Thursday, September 13, 2007

I'd like to poll the audience, Regis

I'm just going to put it out there and, in the parlance of reality shows, let America decide. (Although in this case I know there are some international votes out there, too.) I know most of you don't know me personally, but that shouldn't stop you from making a snap judgment about my life. So here goes:

I have a choice to make. I want to go back to school and I am trying to decide between two paths: Library Science and Sonographer.

Before I was diagnosed I had just started a Master's in Library and Information Science. I was doing school part-time, working full time and then, Bam! Cancer. It was going to take me about 3.5-4 years to complete my masters this way, but I don't hate my job or anything so that was fine. I had dreams of being an academic librarian - helping with research and getting to learn cool, new stuff in the process, getting on the tenure track, going to some gorgeous, old, gothic library in the middle of an ivy-covered campus for work everyday. This is, like all fantasies, an idealized version, but you get the gist. In the end, I'm a nerd -- science, books, films. You name it, I nerd in it.

Then cancer happened and I realized a few things. About 10 years ago I had gone back to school to take a whole bunch of pre-med classes in the hopes of becoming a doctor. It's a long story, but eventually I decided not to, mostly because the thought of working in the crazy, f^&%ed up American healthcare system and going $100, 000 into debt from student loans sounded too unappealing. I still don't think getting an MD is for me, but while cruising the internet one day in my chemo haze I came across the idea of being an ultrasound technician or "sonographer" as they prefer to be called. This was appealing for a few reasons. First, it was still in the patient care field that had appealed to me as a pre-med, second it was intellectually stimulating (it's a bit like solving a 3-D puzzle to get the image right) and third it pays reaaalllllly well. Which, b.c., never was that important to me but one heinous year and thousands of dollars in co-pays n' crap later (which, I have to thank my dad for paying for -- I would have been in massive debt at this point without him) is something that seems more important.

So, what to do? I have decided that either way I think I will take some time off work to be a full-time student. If I do, the Sonography program will take about 1 to 1.5 years and the Library Science about 2.5 years. So, obviously, I can start to make some money sooner with the Sonography and replace my cancer-demolished war chest sooner. Both are cheap programs through state schools. (Go publicly funded education! Woo woo!) The Library Science would offer me more diversity in career options. The Sonography would allow me to travel much like nurses can. Really, there are pros and cons for both.

So, friends and random strangers reading my blog, what should I do? I have put up a poll on the top left side of the blog. It'll be there for a week. Go ahead -- you make the call! The power is in your hands, America!

What... should... I... do?


Sid said...

I can see you in some kind of career as a healer, having done hard time as a patient. You certainly understand the credo "Physician, heal thyself."

But sonography? Lucrative though it may be, it doesn't sound challenging enough for your brilliant self.

How about something holistic? BodyTalk will keep you on your toes for the rest of your life. Because every patient is unique, you'll never work with the same formula twice.

You'd rock.

love you,

Ed said...

I am REALLY struggling with my vote here... mainly because my experience is that nothing every really turns out according to plans. The "lucrative" nature of sonography may be fleeting... what if there's a new technology in the next "x" years that makes ultrasound passe? Libraries can be spiteful places, with a small group of bureaucrats undermining all the joy you may find...

Then there are the sarcasto-cynical options, and I don't think you really want an election outcome like that (kinda like voting for Ralph Nader again and again, even though you know he's unelectable)...

Be curious. Fins a new crowd to hang with for a bit. Don't see this as a choice-A/choice-B thing. I listened to E. O. Wilson last night (big-time evolution biologist from Harvard), and he encouraged all the new biology students to consider studying slime (since it is an organism about which we know practically nothing). I think you should find something like that, something that will consume your curiosity for years/decades. The bills will get paid...

Still thinking about my vote, but sending you all the good thoughts and energy I can muster.

Ed said...

Feeling great pressure (first from the lack of global participation, and second from my obligation to participate in a free and general process), I cast my vote for Library Science. I just think it'd be more generalized training and leave you open to greater possibilities and options in the future... though I am certain that whichever educational path you choose will ultimately be worthwhile. You never lose by investing in yourself!

Good luck, and I hope the audience poll somehow helps you to choose!

Kate said...

go library science!! you can also explore sonography info in that field if it interests you.....maybe i'm projecting, i'd love to be working in that field!!

Spencer Douglas said...

I say let go of your old path. Just because you began down that road doesn't make it right for you and who you are now. Follow your heart at this moment, whatever that may be.

Anonymous said...

This makes it almost unanimous. I'm voting library science too. It's your dream. Right now, dreams are very important in the whole scheme of things. So what if you don't land the job at Harvard or Yale? That's just part of the dream. Besides, reading your piece today, it's clear you have the gift needed in the field. I really think it's the choice which will float your boat.

Anonymous said...

Hi :). I'm a stranger but I can completely identify with you. I was a biology major Dentist wannabe. Ended up teaching high school biology past 8 years, tried nursing school for a semester somewhere in there. Then...I jumped head first into a sonography certificate program. I've always thought I would love being a librarian...theres so much to love about it. But like an earlier post said, theres alot of pros and cons to every job. One thing I've noticed...the grass does really always seem to look greener...something I'm trying to learn. I did want to tell you what I've learned about sonography...and I would do the same for library science, but I don't know anything about it. So this is definitely not a vote for or against sonography...I'm just telling you what I've learned from classes and clinicals over the past 6 mos, in hopes that it will help in your decision in some small way. Pros of Sonography...I'm not with 170 teenagers a day. There is alot of flexibility to the job. I get to look at a patient and then look INSIDE the patient, something that really satisfies my curious side. I am in a somewhat peaceful environment most of the time.
Cons...who told you the pay is great? I thought it would be also, but definitely not here in FL. In a bigger city it's better, but really not that much better. I thought I'd make more than teaching, but now I've come to find out that even if I move back to Atl anta I'd still be making about as much as I was teaching. Big disappointment there. Some more cons...extremely technical in nature and you have to be very focused which can be tiring on a long shift day after day. You don't get paid for what you are basically the radiologist's right hand man...his eyes...even writing reports and diagnosing (don't let them tell you you can't diagnose because on the job in the real world if your not able to diagnose then your fired for not being able to do your job)...what he goes on depends on what you tell him...alot of pressure on you and pressure you don't get paid for. One more con...weekend shifts, on call, graveyard hours are highly likely starting out. I'm really beginning to question if I've chosen the right field to change to, but I know that in the end there will be better options then what I was doing. I hope this helps you.


Anonymous said... me at toLindaK on Yahoo if you want to discuss Sonography programs, registries, and such...I know it helps to have a sounding board in a decision such as this. Take care.


Anonymous said...

What matchless topic

Anonymous said...

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