Qutting medicine to teach private school?

Discussion in 'Private School Teachers' started by jli4, Aug 13, 2014.

  1. jli4

    jli4 Rookie

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    Aug 13, 2014

    Hi everyone,

    Long time lurker. First time poster.

    I am currently a 4th year medical student. I want to quit medical school to teach high school science - preferably in a private school. I would prefer a private school simply because I have heard - from classmates who have been to private high schools - that they can hire teachers without formal teaching education. Given my age (30) and my financial situation ($300k in loans), I would like to start working and repaying my loans as soon as possible (and thus avoid having to spend 2+ years and additional tuition to get a Masters in Education).

    My story is as follows:

    I had originally planned to become a CT surgeon. However, experiencing medicine from the point of view of a physician (in training) has shown me that this is not what I want to do with my life. There are numerous reasons for the change in my views on medicine, but those would be best for another forum.

    The major factor pulling me toward education is my love of teaching. I recently finished teaching a year-long clinical medicine course to first year med students. It's hard to describe in words the satisfaction when I hear my students tell me that I was able to explain something that their professors couldn't explain well. I'm sure the teachers out there understand.

    My background is likely not going to impress anyone responsible for hiring new teachers. I graduated in 07 with a degree in Molecular Genetics. I worked in biotech as a technician for about three years after that. I taught an undergrad microbiology lab for 1 semester. I tutored middle and high school children in math and science while in med school. I recently finished teaching the year-long clinical medicine course to M1's.

    So my goal is teach high school science - including biology, chemistry, physics, anatomy, physiology, and any medicine-related topic. Does anyone have any idea as to how I should proceed?

    The city I am in has a few private high schools, but per their websites, they are not currently hiring. I've heard about teaching internships (also from my classmates who have been to private schools). Are they generally paid or unpaid? Are they worth pursuing? Can I send unsolicited messages to the schools regarding internships?


    I apologize for any naivete in my post. I am just very anxious (but also excited) about starting a new chapter of my life.

    Thank you in advance!
     
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  3. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    Aug 13, 2014

    One of the main things that I would be concerned about is the amount of money you need to repay. I made $24k my first year (2011) at a private school :(

    I only had practicum experience and student teaching. None of it was paid unfortunately. In fact, I had to pay tuition to take the credits. Internships at private schools may be different. Many private schools do still prefer to hire certified teachers. My alma mater only hires credentialed teachers, in fact.

    If it's your passion though, I'd say find a way to make it work. Could you teach college? That might be an option.
     
  4. jli4

    jli4 Rookie

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    Aug 13, 2014

    Hi dgpiaffeteach,

    Thank you so much for the reply!

    I have met with the school of education at the undergraduate campus (attached to school of medicine). I was told that I'd need to complete a phD to be able to teach college (and a Masters to be able to teach in public school).

    Thanks for the information about your private school. It would be disappointing if that is the trend, but I can understand if that is the case. Do you know where I can find information about private school internships?

    The loans will likely stay with me forever. It's the price I have to pay for a career change for the better. I want to be able to go to work each day feeling good about what I will do. And as cliche as it sounds, I want to be able to inspire people to be their best. I didn't get those kinds of feelings in medicine. I did get them when I taught my M1's. Maybe it's due to my turning 30, but I finally understand what "life is too short" means.
     
  5. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    Aug 13, 2014

    If you get certified, you may want to look into teaching at public schools with high risk students and Title ! funding. I do believe that if the job works for you, there is a way to get loan forgiveness at an accelerated rate, but not sure how that works with the loans for medical school. It would be looking into, because you are going to remain in debt for a very long time if you can't find a way to get forgiveness or teach at a much higher level than you are currently talking about. Just a thought.
     
  6. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Aug 13, 2014

    The private schools don't care if youre certified myth is just that...a myth. Many many public private and charter schools across the nation are inundated with many many resumes of licensed and experienced educators. It's COMPETITIVE.
     
    readingrules12 likes this.
  7. jli4

    jli4 Rookie

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    Aug 15, 2014

    Iynettstoy,

    Thanks for the reply. The financial aid folks at my school informed me that the 10 year forgiveness for public service (all loans forgiven after making 120 monthly income-based - 10 to 15 % - payments) applies even if I leave medicine. This applies to anything under the government, which covers some of my other possible paths if I leave medicine: working in research at a federally funded school / research facility or joining the military.

    Of course, teaching is still at the top of my list of options. You may be right. Teaching in a high risk area while earning credentials may be the best idea.



    czacza,

    Thanks for the reply. I was afraid that that would be a myth. In the past, were private school teachers able to work without a formal education degree?


    Also, just in general - how competitive is teaching high school science - particularly for someone who is older than your typical college grad? If it's too much trouble, I may be better off finding another line of work and offering private tutoring services on the side.
     
  8. wldywall

    wldywall Connoisseur

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    Aug 15, 2014

    There are alternative routes to certification in some states, and science is always a high need area. I would look into those areas.
     
  9. Myrisophilist

    Myrisophilist Habitué

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    Aug 15, 2014

    Physics and chemistry are in higher demand than biology. If you want to ensure employment, go with physical (not life) sciences. Of course, you also have to factor in which subjects you would be happy teaching. If you truly want to teach bio and not physical science, then I don't think anyone is going to stop you since you're already making a huge career switch.

    Now, how much "older" are we talking? If you have life experience in a science field, I think that can work for you if your potential employer values it.

    By the way, welcome to the forum! I hope we can help answer some important questions. :)
     
  10. jli4

    jli4 Rookie

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    Aug 15, 2014

    Hi. Thanks for helping out.

    By older, I mean 30 yo, which means I'm no 22 yo recent college grad.

    I would prefer to teach life sciences as well. I don't just mean Biology. I can go as far as Physiology (which I deal with every single day with every single patient), Basic Anatomy, Neurology / Neuroanatomy, psychology / Behavioral Sciences, and anything related to medicine. Maybe some of these are not high school level, but I would assume that some of the high-caliber students in private school would have the interest and / or aptitude to learn some of the topics above. Ie. it wouldn't hurt for high school students to learn what happens to food after entering the mouth as well as the dangers of obesity.

    I have tutored chem and physics (both were at the AP level), and I've taken enough chem and physics in college to prepare for med school (the MCAT covers both). I believe that with a little brushing up, I should be able to teach those again.

    Are you currently teaching biology in a private school? If so, could you please share where you began your journey?
     
  11. katerinaver

    katerinaver Rookie

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    Aug 15, 2014

    Hi,
    I'm glad I came across your post because I am kind of in a similar situation and perhaps can offer some info I have found out.
    First of all about college teaching. Yes you do need at last an MA to teach in college and PhD to teach as a professor. If you want to go this route you could, but your primary goal will be research not teaching.
    So if teaching is your passion I think independent schools is a good option. It is true that many indep. schools like like certifications, however in my research if you have experience they may consider you without one.
    There are alternate certification routes you may look into in your state, especially in the sciences.
    I don't know if you will walk away with any kind of advanced degree from your medical program, if you will this can potentially be a big advantage for jobs in private school.
    As far as jobs go, if you do not have much experience you can apply for fellowships. Many private schools actually offer fellowships with lower salaries 20-25 K, some even offer combined programs to get M. ED along the way. You can research this by googling fellowship indep. schools.
    Also you can apply for private agencies that work with you to find jobs for you.
     
  12. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Aug 15, 2014

    jli4, have you looked into teaching at the community-college level? Some community colleges run programs to educate LVNs, phlebotomists, and the like, and many such programs find it difficult to locate teachers: you might want to ask to see whether any such programs in your area might accept an MD even without residency to teach, say, basic bio courses or medical-terminology courses.
     
  13. Geauxtee

    Geauxtee Comrade

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    Aug 15, 2014

    I'm not sure private school teacher's salary would cover your loans. I know someone with 80k in debt and her monthly payment is $800 monthly. Have you calculated if a 40k salary will be able to cover 300k in loans? Because if you divided 300,000 by a 10 year period and by a 12 month year, your monthly payment would be $2500. That's your entire monthly take home pay :(

    I'm in a private school and they offered such a costly health insurance package, I had to go and pay for my own individual payment plan. The benefits for private school are not that great. What state are you located in? I got an alternative certification in Texas for $2000. Getting your certification doesn't have to be a great expense and then you can teach public which would mean a few thousand more.
     
  14. katerinaver

    katerinaver Rookie

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    Aug 15, 2014

    Some corrections on other things mentioned here.
    Community college pays you very low salaries as an adjunct, and that's pretty much only kind of position you can get without much experience. In humanities they only pay 1,000Xcredit, maybe it's a it more for sciences.

    As far as your loans go yes it will be tough, but you can request loan payments based on your salary so they will be lower as well.

    Yes of course you will get paid way more as a doctor, but if you really do not want to do this..i think education is definitely possible
     
  15. jli4

    jli4 Rookie

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    Aug 16, 2014

    Hi everyone.
    Just a quick reply to let you know that I saw all the new posts. Sorry I can't reply at this time. My shift ends at ~ 8 PM tonight. I'll post more at that time.

    Just to clear up one thing:
    If I finish this year (which includes retaking several mentally painful exams that I've failed in the past), I will earn my MD degree and will then have the right to go through Residency. If I quit, I leave with no degree. I'm leaning toward quitting at this time.

    Thanks again.
     
  16. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Aug 16, 2014

    I think it would be more beneficial to go ahead and finish out your degree. That will make it easier to go through an alternative certification for teaching and/or to teach at the community college level.
     
  17. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    Aug 16, 2014

    One little comment as a parent, not a teacher. We all have failures and hard times. If I read your post correctly, you can quit without giving everything you have, to try to salvage your $300,000 education, OR, you can retake the challenging exams after committing to them 100%, and if you fail, you will be right where you are now, with no degree. If by some chance you do pass the exams, however, you will once again be captain of your own fate. As a mom, I am quite opposed to not knuckling down and giving everything you have to try to end with success. I personally believe that once you start giving up and running from the hard knocks in life that it can become a habit that is hard to break. Life will knock you down in almost any profession, and the strong get up and try again. Teaching can be tedious, but challenging and stimulating. Sometimes you have to deal with persons and events that are not easy or even fair. If you were my child, I would support your decision, but warn you about learning to give up. That is the 20/20 hindsight of age. :huh:
     
  18. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

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    Aug 16, 2014

    This was my first thought. And I think that is on a 25 year repayment plan. Based on what my real loan payments would be (if I weren't doing IBR/public service forgiveness), I would estimate you'd be shelling out upwards of $4k a month on a 10 year plan with that much debt. :eek: That's definitely more than I bring home as a third year teacher.

    So, with the loans, public service loan forgiveness and IBR would be an option if you were working in public service, which means NO private school. Around here, private schools notoriously pay FAR less than public anyway.

    The thing about med school loans is that you have to have a high paying job to pay them back. Teaching is NOT a high paying job. Unless you went the loan forgiveness route, which requires teaching in public schools, I don't think you would be able to do this. You just wouldn't be able to afford the loan payments on a teacher's salary, especially a private school salary.
     
  19. jli4

    jli4 Rookie

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    Aug 17, 2014

    Hi all.

    lynettstoy,

    Thanks for the words of encouragement. If I do decide to get the MD, I'll think of what you said. However, I'm afraid it's not that simple. I have given everything I could with the exams. They took a lot out of me.

    Medical licensing exams are a different animal. Questions are half a page long with multiple right answers. They ask 2 to 3 step questions that require a lot of thoughts. There are no more questions like "obese patient with frequent urination, dark patches of skin under armpits, and A1c of 9 % ... answer: Diabetes!!"

    An easy question on the licensing exam would be "45 yo female presents with left sided chest discomfort, shortness of breath, orthopnea, and edema in her legs. On physical exam, S3 and S4 heart sounds are present, and she has jugular venous distension that appears to increase with inhalation. Patient also complains of recent weight loss and some loss of appetite as well as pain in the MCP joint of her left toe. There is discoloration on her arms, which she thinks are related to her being out in the sun more often than usual lately. Treatment is started following identification of falsely normal ejection fractions on Transthoracic Echocardiogram. Patient is given Furosemide, Lisinopril, and Ondansetron. Phlebotomy is also given. 4 hours later, the patient's temperature becomes 105 F and her shortness of breath worsens. Physical exam reveals worsening edema in the lungs. What is the reason for her destabilization?" To answer this question, you'd need to first recognize the signs of Congestive Heart Failure. Given her history (arm discoloration / loss of appetite / weight loss), she likely has Hemochromatosis (too much Iron in body), which leads to Constrictive Pericarditis, which leads to CHF. Immediate treatment for Hemochromatosis is phlebotomy (drain the Iron out). The destabilization is due to TRALI (transfusion related acute lung injury), which is having donor antibodies damage lung blood vessels, leading to fluid leaking out of lungs.

    I just made this example up. A real question would add in other details to throw you off. Notice how this question covers multiple fields of medicine - Gastroenterology, Cardiology, Hematology. All the questions are like this. You have roughly 1 minute to read and answer these questions. Then repeat the process 350 times over the course of a day.

    Anyway, I hope I didn't bore any of you to sleep. If so, I totally understand :)


    Anyway, if I decide to take the exams again, I'll need at least 4-6 months to prepare. Given my history of failing it, I'll likely need time off from clinical / hospital duties to study as though it were a full time job, which would mean extending my stay in med school some more, leading to increased costs (in terms of finances, time, and energy).

    Also, in my first post, I mentioned that I am not happy in medicine. I think much of the reason I failed was because of that. The school admin is also not very supportive about my situation - most likely due to my bringing their stats down. I've been insulted too many times to count. "We see you as a disappointment." "It's pretty clear to me that you don't belong here." "The door is right there. Walk out now. Save yourself the embarrassment of graduating later than your peers. 99 % of people graduate on time."

    Maybe there's a little PTSD mixed in there as well.

    ----

    Geauxtee,

    I had a good conversation with our financial aid person about the loans. Since med school loans are all federal loans, the best way for someone who is not a physician to go about this is to do the Pay As You Earn plan. Under this plan, I would pay about 15 % of my salary per month for 20 years. After that, the remaining balance would be forgiven. I calculated that, with an estimated $40k salary (my salary before med school - this was around 2007-2009), my monthly payments would be ~$170. This was a huge relief, as the loans would only cripple me until I turn 50. I had estimated much worse.

    The Public Service Forgiveness Program is a bit more interesting. Under current plans, if I work in the public sector (ie teaching public school), I can still do PAYE and have the loans forgiven in 10 years (after making 120 monthly payments). Since I took out my loans prior to 2015, I still qualify for this.

    A note of caution to anyone reading this who will be taking out loans into 2015:
    The government wants to cap the Public Service Forgiveness at ~ $58000. This may or may not pass. But even if it does, I assume that it should cover most undergrad loans.


    Bottom line: I am not worried about getting a relatively low paying job. I don't crave luxury. I have had the same phone and computer for 4 years. I love my "banged up" car (while the majority of my classmates have cars that even those who don't know about cars would label as Ostentatious).

    ----

    TeacherGroupie and smalltowngal,

    I had never considered community college. I called a friend who had taught at community college. He confirmed that I would have no trouble getting a position at our local CC. However, the position would only be part time. According to him, a lot of CC's in recent years have been restricting new hiring to part time only (for obvious cost-cutting).


    ----

    My options at this time are as follows:

    1. finish school and get MD (cons: time, money, energy costs + not really what I want to do in life)

    2. quit school and enter 2 year Masters Program (available at my local state school) (cons: time, money, energy costs + not sure of labor market, especially 2 years down the road)

    3. quit school and do 3 year teaching program where I would teach in a high need area while earning cert (available at my local state school) (cons: none)

    4. quit school and teach private school (cons: per the info I got from this thread - lower pay, and still need teaching cert to be competitive) (also, there are no schools that offer fellowships in my state)

    5. quit school and teach community college (cons: very low pay, likely part time only)

    6. quit school and work as lab tech (cons: will bore me eventually, but I will be tutoring in my spare time, so maybe that will counter the boredom)

    7. quit school and go to Army OCS (the only branch where the upper age limit is 34 yo) (cons: none)

    ----

    Thanks again for all your help.
     
  20. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    Aug 17, 2014

    Actually, my hubby is a vet and I have some medical training myself, so your example made perfect sense to me, but your point is well taken. I can even understand that you might graduate and choose not to practice, but the option of using that degree might be financially valuable to you in the future. I didn't start teaching out of college, but much later when my self-employed husband was disabled and we needed a bread-winner. I had planned to go alternate route 10 years earlier when my father -in-law was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, and I had to become a full time caregiver, leaving education behind. Life is complicated, unpredictable, and still very interesting. Lots of issues in life are not clear cut. If I was going to walk out the door on my degree, it would only be after a fight, but that is who I am. You missed a possibility on your list - finish your MD and teach at a high school or college, and probably not just CC or part time. You could probably get a full time job teaching at technical school for med techs, doctor's assistant, pre-nursing. Just a thought - much better money, less need for more specific college courses.

    Good luck.
     
  21. jli4

    jli4 Rookie

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    Aug 17, 2014

    lynettstoy,

    Thanks for the reply. I completely understand what you mean by fighting for things. I wasn't the model student that med schools would typically want. I got into trouble as a kid. I had a sub 3.5 GPA in college (where med school typically wants 3.7+). I was your typical average student. But I worked hard enough to graduate college with only $6k in loans. I busted my butt to pass the MCAT and do all the things necessary to compete with people with much better scores than I had.

    ----

    Anyway, while at the gym today, I ran into someone who works at a local private school as an administrative person. Hoping it will be of some help.
     

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