Wrong career

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    • #89076

      Hi everyone

      I am newly diagnosed. It has been a relief to find there are other people like me and there is a reason for some of my issues. However, I am kind of stuck at the moment. I am a trainee radiologist. I was pressured into medicine and have hated it since day 1. All the studying, horrible exams and stressful work requiring huge amounts of multitasking make it such a difficult job. I spend a lot of time studying at home to ensure I don’t make mistakes at work. Long story how it happened, but I ended up applying for radiology and getting it. I went into it because it was a good training program compared to other specialities. However it only hit me when I started (before my diagnosis) that I would not be able to handle it as a consultant. It requires so much concentration throughout the whole day without breaks. I am probably going to leave as I don’t think I can handle the stress of the job and the fact there are so many exams to do. I don’t find it interesting, and you do the same activities throughout the week for years and years. It is not possible to ask for a different role down the line because the role of a radiologist is quite specific. I was more of an artistic person, but have no time for any of that now.

      The main issue I have is I don’t know where to go. One of my most prominent ADHD traits is poor concentration and so to start a new career is hugely daunting, as I am back to square one, in my late twenties with very little motivation. Medicine has really made me so demoralized. Not sure where to start. My family have had some very horrible events happen to them recently so they can’t help me. I went to a careers councillor but things don’t seem much clearer. I feel pretty terrible at the moment. I have no other skills so would need to start from the beginning.

      Regarding my ADHD I havnt started treatment yet but was looking for good online CBT resources? My mind is completely overwhelmed and foggy at the moment. Any advice would be appreciated.

    • #89078

      You’ve talked about what you don’t like to do, now look at the opposite. What do you like to do? What interests you? That’s the place to start. During your Medical studies, were there ANY pieces that really interested you? It doesn’t matter what they were, it could be just interacting with patients, or some other detail.

      One thing that can help you with self criticism is paying attention to the ANTs. Automatic Negative Thoughts. This is objectifying the criticisms you level against yourself. So when you have the thought: “I’m a loser.“ You simply say to yourself: “I’m having the thought that I’m a loser.“ Then look at all the successes you’ve had and you see it’s not true.

      After a while you will be able to identify these instantly and dismiss them. It really helps you accept yourself as you are.

      You’re still very young so you should have no problem starting a new career.

      Be sure to find the right therapist. It really helps a lot.

      • This reply was modified 3 years, 6 months ago by ADDLobstah.
      • #98385

        Welcome. One of the things that are most helpful is to be able to vent.
        No one can choose the “”best” profession for you, but there are things you can do and change course into something more satisfying.
        Lists are invaluable. You could make one for like, on for dislike and one for intolerable.
        I cannot tell you what occupation is best for you, however if you are artistic, good at drawing and you enjoy it you have a solid start as an illustrator for medical materials from textbooks to articles in, for example, People magazine.
        There are other occupations you can follow and enjoy as long as you don’t close the door before you look inside.

    • #89099

      Hi Steve.

      I took a look at this post because the title struck a chord with me. I’m 33 and was diagnosed with ADHD Combined a couple weeks ago. My mind is also foggy and even more crowded now that I have a diagnoses than it was before (just an FYI – I’m on my phone so forgive autocorrect and the like)!

      I too have constantly felt like I’m in the wrong job. After a long string of jobs when I was younger (in order: electrician, ordering replacement debit cards for people for Natwest, checking high value cheques for fraud for Barclays, night shift shelf stacking for Asda (UK version of Walmart (actually owned by Walmart)), cutting rolls of sellotape in a tape factory, army infantry and a tour in Iraq (leading to PTSD, but WHOLE other story there!) and volunteering for a mental health charity shop), I gravitated towards IT (because I spent my childhood on a PC) because the army offered me a resettlement course of my choice (paid for) and i naturally picked IT. After a few more jobs in IT, I now work for the company that owns the emergency services networks fixing routers, switches etc.

      While I’ve always found ALL my previous jobs very easy (not including the army, that’s different. It’s a way of life, but if I had to say – I was a terrible soldier. Poor organisation and everything else that comes with undiagnosed, untreated ADHD) at the start, I eventually lost interest, performance started dropping (plummeting!) and I would start questioning my own capabilities. This job however is different.

      I was told about this job by a buddy of mine who’s worked there all his life. He knows the place inside out. It’s a VERY well paid position (as I’m aware I am too open and trusting with details, let’s just say it is more than double what I was on). He told me there was a position going on his team and he knew I’d always wanted to work with one of the technologies they specialise in.
      Anyway, got the job. Been there nearly four years and I know just about as much as I did on day one. Nobody believes me when I tell them this, they just say “well you must be doing something right!” Nobody considers that I’m a good bullsh***er. Good at hiding my poor performance after years of experience.

      The problem is, this place has never been as interesting or as easy as my other IT jobs. They were just extensions of the interest I already had with computers, so it was easy. This is much more in-depth, dealing with the science behind routing protocols etc. It pays more because it expects more. The job description asks for degrees etc and I have LITERALLY no qualifications in anything (anything relevant today). Now that me and my partner have built a life and bills etc around my wages, it’s just about impossible for me to change jobs. I, like you, would be starting from scratch wherever I went, and that would include the pay. There’s something called ‘Imposter Syndrome’ Which I’m aware is comorbid with ADHD. But like the tag line ‘it’s not paranoia when they’re really after you’; it’s not ‘Imposter Sydrome’ when you really are an imposter.

      I wanted to offer some advice. But I can’t remember what it was. Since I’m in the same position as you, with no obvious way out, I’m clearly not the person to be giving advice. I tend to ‘go off on one’ when I type. Only when I type though because people stop listening when I talk because I’m difficult to keep up with and never get to the point I originally wanted to make. Usually because i forget what the original topic of discussion was, let alone the point I wanted to make.

      Sorry. Genuinely thought I had something for you. Probably not.

    • #89117
      Penny Williams

      The first thing to choosing a career that’s a good fit for you is to understand the way the ADHD brain works. It’s motivated by urgency and interest. It is NOT also motivated by importance like neurotypical brains. So a field where you are very interested or where there’s some sense of urgency is a good place to start.

      Secrets of Your ADHD Brain

      Then, add in the layer of what you feel like you’re good at and like to do.

      Here’s more on finding a career that works for you:

      How to Align Your Career with Your Passions

      ADDitude Community Moderator, Parenting ADHD Trainer & Author, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

    • #89155

      The issue is that I have been frustrated and quite depressed for so long in my medical career that I have forgotten what I like to do. The stuff I do for leisure at the moment is not something I would be paid for e.g. surfing the internet, travel.

    • #89639

      ADHD and Radiology is not a good fit, for somebody choosing a ADHD friendly career. The reasons for downside of Radiology is 1) Being accurate with attention to details 2) working alone in a dark room, 3) no stimulating patient exchange.4) boredom of routine 5) fulfilling deadlines with very little chance for procrastination 6) threat of Law suits for missed diagnosis requiring attention to detail.
      Best careers with this disorder
      1) Psychiatry specializing in ADHD. There is big need for specialization in ADHD for both adults and children. you can feel rewarded by helping fellow ADHD patients, dispelling many myths and misconceptions with this disorder. Some of the most successful Physicians in the ADHD field themselves suffer from ADHD.
      There is a big need for a specialists in this area.
      good luck
      Dr.Mukund Sargur, MD

    • #89817

      Before you have any negative thoughts about yourself, I’m sure its hard enough to make through medical school w/o ADD. I know little to nothing about the field. You are still young enough to make changes. There is so much you can do with a medical degree. Maybe ask yourself what type of people you want to help, i.e people with mental illness. Maybe you can go into psychiatry. God knows the medical field could use some more professionals who can feel actual empathy with those they are trying to help. Don’t know if this helps. Best of luck to you in your career.

    • #90273

      medic, travel, varied experiences, people, adrenalin = Médecine sans frontiers
      or Red Cross
      or Paramedic
      or Emergency Medicine

      • This reply was modified 3 years, 5 months ago by J3n.
      • This reply was modified 3 years, 5 months ago by J3n.
    • #90285

      Yes in hindsight radiology was a very poor choice. I only found out my personality matches ADHD after getting in and finishing most of the first year. I went into it because the training is good and you get results instantly. However for the reasons you have said, I really struggle with it and have become bored already. I have actually just accepted people get bored in their careers, and to just appreciate having the job, however the boredom may lead to lawsuits, as you have mentioned and therefore I don’t feel particularly safe. I am quite protected as a trainee so for now I am fine but I don’t see myself being a consultant.

      Its hard to change career, especially away from a medical career, when you have such poor concentration, and that is my main struggle. To realistically find something else, you need to be committed and be able to work very hard. But I find that very difficult. I did use to work very hard but I became quite demoralised after realising I did all this work for a job I hate and after a few very stressful family related events (some very horrible stuff happened). And now don’t see the point anymore.

    • #92474

      I can relate to this alot, I´m currently not working at all because of extreme fatique that impact my work. Also, I didn´t really felt it was “my thing”, but now it´s too late to start all over. That know any solution but I think a job that´s more free would suit better.

    • #98066

      Some of the most ADHD people I know are doctors; either emergency medicine or plastic surgery. You didn’t say if you want to get out of medicine entirely, but if you don’t these could be good options. I imagine that plastic surgery can be very creative.

      Also, when you look at a whole life, your 20s are only a very small part of it. You have way more time ahead of you than behind you. 40 or 50 years is way too long to spend doing something that you hate and don’t feel that you’re good at. When you look back at the time in your life it took to learn something new, it will seem like a blip in time. You’ll laugh that you thought you were too old to start over. People change careers in their 30s, 40s, 50s, 60, and beyond!

    • #98094

      Hi, Before I talk about you I’m going to talk about me.
      I am a veterinarian with late diagnosed ADHD. (45 yr old when I asked my Dr if she thought maybe I had ADHD…and she said Oh hell yes!)
      I flunked out of college once, transferred twice, and had a very unregulated undergraduate college career.
      I got great test scores though, and was admitted to vet school. Got through vet school by surrounding myself with insecure geeks with flashcards, bless them. They always knew what exams were coming up and when it was time to panic. If one of us overslept on exam days, the others would phone.
      My first few years in practice were ok, but regular vet medicine was a repetitious drag: vaccinate, vaccinate, spay, spay, fleas, more fleas, rinse and repeat.
      Emergency medicine turned out to be a lot of fun for me, and a good fit for a good long while, because I’d never know what was going to walk in the door,and I was always making things up as I went along, drawing from book-learning, previous experience and instinct. It was fast paced, rarely dull, very superficial as my goal was not to keep anyone alive forever, just for 12 hours when I could turf them to their regular doctors or the specialists. And if it was slow, I’d catnap or plan my next adventure. Full salary for 3 shifts a week, so there was time for an actual life: skiing, raising a family, volunteer biologist on a whale watching boat.

      I am now retired at 55, have a service dog who keeps me on track, am currently on 3 meds, have tried 7 total, and I work in a zen center part time, tutor highschool kids with ADHD part time, run an air Bnb, raise tomatoes and am a low-budget debt-free homeowner.
      I tell you these things to establish myself as a muddling-through-it non expert, in hopes that you’ll take heart in my tale and see that whatever you are doing is just what you are doing right now, it’s not what you will do forever.

      Here’s what I’m seeing other folks recommending, and I will add to it at the end.
      1) don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. So your specialty isn’t your dream job. It is A job, pays better than flipping burgers, and might be worth hanging onto until any student debt is cleared. Free time is scary. Debt is scary.
      2) Recognize your accomplishments. Dude.
      2.5) Get outside and help somebody every day. It helps with depression.
      2.75a) If the meds you are on are leaving you in a hole, get new meds.
      2.75b) they can do genetic screening now to help predict which psych drugs will work better for which people, at least in terms of absorption and metabolism rates. It’s a start.
      2.9-ish) Talk therapy with a psychologist who works with adolescents with ADHD may be better than working with an “adult” Dr who doesn’t ‘get’ the ADHD brain and the anxious, self deprecating spinning top that lives between your shoulders. Don’t be shy about shopping around. You may have to tell your story a few times before you get the right vibe back.
      3) EVERYone is in a fake-it-til-you-make-it situation until the moment they know their job fully, and that’s the moment they get bored or cocky or stop going in. Imposter schmimposter. (that looks dopey in print, sorry)
      4) self-paced rad reading alone in the dark etc sounds like an inappropriate lifestyle for a person with ADHD in the long run (although those folks have the BEST complexions). If you stay in radiology, can you practice within a team? Can you work in a teaching-setting, where there is discussion and banter and backup? Can you teach rad- technicians, ultrasound, physics? Can you work with companies selling imaging machines and demo them to docs in a large sales territory? Work with the breast cancer people on early detection, etc etc?
      5) Don’t get stuck in an all-or-nothing loop. Radiology or nothing. Perfect or nothing. Brilliant or nothing. Excited to go to work every day or nothing. Don’t go there…it’s stupid and it’s wrong and you know better.

      Here is what I want you to do: If at all possible, don’t quit your day job but PLAN a transition. Shadow folks in different specialties. Spend some time in an ER. Spend some time with Ski patrol. Hang out in a residential treatment house for ADHD teens in Utah. Think about a volunteer stint with doctors without borders. The inherent ingenuity of an ADHD brain can be a lifesaver when you have to McGuyver an IV bag from the bladder of a shot-up goat (OK, don’t do that).
      Find a niche, for now. It is unlikely to be traditional.
      And please know there are others of us out here. We don’t follow straight career paths. We engage in self-defeating behaviors. We know we suck. But we suck less than most other people, so it’s ok!
      Best wishes for an engaging rollercoaster ride through life,

      • This reply was modified 3 years, 4 months ago by Drjudyo. Reason: didn't hit "notify me of follow-ups" button
      • This reply was modified 3 years, 4 months ago by Penny Williams.
    • #98095

      PS that was a combined answer to you and the computer-guy.

    • #98098

      Have you thought about being a Radiologic Technologist instead? one that performs all the exams? I’ve been a technologist for 30 years and love it! Clearly the pay is different but its a lot less responsibility. You still get to help & interact with people.

    • #98120

      Hey Steve,

      Oh my gosh. I was so sad to read your post. So sad that I had to write my first ever comment. It may feel like the end of the road, but you are at the beginning of another.

      My journey with ADHD started when I was diagnosed at 43. All those failures, all that avoidance, the social anxiety, the epiphanies learnt and forgotten… My first day on meds was like coming out of a fog, the clouds lifted, I realised that this was the way others saw the world and that made me sad. All these years I had been failing at life had made me avoid life. I had a useless degree, a husband and two beautiful kids who lived with a chaotic, disorganised, scatty and emotionally unbalanced mother and wife who ate to fill her pain. But, I am at a new chapter in my life and I feel so encouraged.

      Firstly, congratulations for achieving what you have. You have put some serious hard work into that and you should look with pride on that achievement. Regardless of what you do with it, you have worked incredibly hard and all of us here know what that would have taken.

      Secondly, life doesn’t need to have a timetable. It has been normal in western culture that we will stay in our chosen careers from university till retirement but our world is in such a state of change with AI and robotic technology, the word ‘re-train’ will be heard by a lot of people in their lifetimes.

      Thirdly, you are not old and you have lots of time left. My father still travels the world at 81. Myself, at the tender age of 45, am going to ‘re-train’ in something I NEVER imagined I would do. This will take me about 6 years but I am happy. I have finally distilled my interests, natural abilities and what I enjoy after years of wondering and day dreaming.

      This happened because I took a part time reception job for a lady who works in the field I have finally chosen. I love what she does and I see the results which inspired me to make this adjustment to my life, so it is never too late.

      My advice to you is ‘There is always light after darkness’ meaning that things might be bad right now, but there is something out there for you. You just need to look and look more than I did. I was stuck in my home for 10 years, depressed and lonely and unsupported. I still have major issues but now I have a reason why I have those issues and I don’t need to beat myself up anymore. Now, I just humour myself. I am not ‘normal’ and that’s OK with me.

      So I am hoping you will be able to let go of your burden and regret. They will not help you. Try some meds, they may or may not work for you or you may use them in another way, for example, I heard of a guy who uses SA Ritalin in the morning to focus in meetings and nothing in the afternoon to allow his creative juices to flow. And I am hoping you will be able to see your experiences for the great successes that they are. It doesn’t mean you have to be a radiologist. Maybe an orthopaedic surgeon, or a first responder like a firefighter or paramedic or something totally different like a web designer or teach something you are passionate about. Start a blog about your journey…? I know, too hard, same reason I haven’t. Ahhhhhgh, I can feel the avoidance and procrastination knocking…

    • #98122

      Hi Steve,

      Kudos to you for recognizing early that radiology might not be the best career for you and seeking insight. That is a huge accomplishment!

      I am a career changer too and an adult diagnosed with ADHD, inattentive type, in my 50s after my two kids were diagnosed. My 50’s! The diagnosis came after I was burnt out from 20+ years as design executive expected to produce new collections on time, run a staff and keep my department organized which I did but what stress!

      I am soon graduating with my MSW and hope to do family therapy with children and families with developmental disorders (such as ADHD, ASD). Three years of graduate study and the investment but I hope to have another 20+ of rewarding work to go.

      Dr.Mukund Sargur, MD, who commented above gives some very sound advice – the field needs more people who have empathy for what you are going through combined with the insight to help them understand their challenges. You might look into coaching programs which do not have a huge price tag or long course of study and specialize in working with folks who have ADHD.

      Best of luck!


    • #98123

      Starting over is tough. I had to do it at 47. When you have to do it, it helps, b/c you have no choice. If you really hate what you’re doing, think of it as now having the opportunity you wanted before. You can go any direction you want. Consider your choices, decide what you want to do, and go for it.

      There’s a famous story about a woman who wanted to go back to school and finish her degree. She went to talk to the dean at her local college and told him, “I want to finish my degree, but I need 36 more hours, and I can attend only part-time, and it will take me 4 years, and in 4 years I’ll be 42 years old!” The dean said to her, “Let me ask you–how old will you be in 4 years if you *don’t* go back to school?”

      So you see, it doesn’t matter that you’ve had a false start. What matters is what you do from this point forward.

    • #98136

      The irony of your post is that I’m a radiologic technologist and my job is perfect for someone with ADHD. I’m always moving around and interacting with patients and it’s always something new. I work in a hospital, mainly in the ED at night. People have asked me if I wanted to become a radiologist but I couldn’t do it. It’s not the school. It’s the sitting in a dark room staring at a computer screen all day.
      There are sub specialties in the field like interventional radiology or maybe you could teach. Your best bet would be to find another field of medicine that’s more interactive. That’s a lot of school you’ve accomplished so far. One radiologist I worked with also did emergency medicine and worked in an urgent care in his off time. Come to think of it he probably had ADHD. He would always fidget with a click pen. Drove everyone nuts but it worked for him.
      Try getting the right medication and see if you can find a good adult ADHD group. I went through one actually twice and it was great to get Ideas from other people in the same boat. The instructor had a lot of really good mindfulness practices and organization techniques that have helped me a lot.
      I was diagnosed in the middle of my MHA program so I sort of understand your position. I couldn’t focus on the massive amount of textbook reading necessary in grad school. Apparently I was generally smart enough to sail through my undergrad work with no major issues. It’s kinda funny that I’m still working as an X-ray tech even though I have a masters degree but I really enjoy my work and the pay is decent. I have a union job and get amazing benefits and it’s relatively low stress (exactly why I chose to work night shift). In the end, you should find something that you enjoy. No amount of money is worth being stuck in a miserable job. I’m sure you aren’t the first med student to switch specialties. Best of luck. You will find the right career and you’ll be amazing at it. ADHD people think outside the box and that’s what the medical field needs.

    • #98139

      Hi Steve, I was touched by your story and so I want to respond. In particular to give you some hope….things will get much better for you, I am sure. I am now 62 and a coach, specialized in (re)orientation of careers. Have switched careers 6 times myself, and only 4 years ago I found out that the symptoms of ADHD really correspond to a lot of my behavior and my issues. This was after my daughter had a diagnosis of High Potential (gifted and super sensitive to lots of things), and as it turned out so did her father and myself…. And so I am lucky enough to be HP as well as ADHD. And I would not be surprised if the same was true for you 🙂 One of the ‘symptoms’ is a very low self esteem, and from there imposter syndrome : finding it very difficult to value your own qualities and achievements. However, having succeeded so far in very demanding studies is a clear sign that you are capable of much more than you think. But the main thing is to now find something that motivates you, and when you are motivated, focus usually follows. I think there have been some very interesting ideas put forward by other responders, how do you feel about those? I will also be happy to send you a test from YouScience which will give you a lot of info about strengths, interests, career options etc. If that would be of interest to me you can send me your email at harriet@blueberryhill.be. No strings attached, promise 🙂 Just want to see you having the best options to move forward to something other than radiologist. Life’s too short to be unhappy at work, and the days are way too long if you hate what you do , and good pay does not make up for it (been there, done that, not a good plan) best of luck !

    • #98150

      I can totally relate to this.
      @Pinstryp Soldier or anyone else in the UK:
      How/Where did you get diagnosed??
      The NHS does not seem to recognise ADHD in adults. I am nearly 100% certain I have ADHD but there doesn’t seem to be anyone who can help me or take me seriously!!
      Did you have to go private?

    • #98328

      Hi, Steve,

      You’ve gotten a lot of good advice here; I particularly like what Judy the vet had to say.

      The ADHD brain really isn’t well-suited to what you’re trained for, but there are other areas of medicine you might find very rewarding.

      As an artistic person, have you considered switching to plastic surgery? You don’t have to do face lifts and the like, you could specialize in reconstruction for people with massive burns or other injuries. That requires even more creativity, and you might find it a lot more rewarding.

      Emergency medicine (and critical care) is tailor made for people with ADHD. I was a paramedic for a long time, until a back injury on the job put me out of commission. I had just happened to fall into it when I was still in college, but it was *perfect* for me. Every day is different, things change minute to minute, you often have to make important decisions with very little information, you don’t have to deal with a long term relationship with patients (or their long term care and the problems inherent in that), etc. Over and above being an ER doc, the opportunity exists for an MD or DO to be a flight doctor, where you would fly with the medical helicopter teams and treat patients in the field and en route back to the hospital.

      Someone already mentioned interventional radiology. That could take you in a number of different directions.

      If you really want out of medicine altogether, do consider going to a good career counselor who will administer a range of psychological and aptitude tests to come up with some suggestions.

      But start by sitting down and making a few fairly detailed lists – exactly what you don’t like about medicine/radiology, what you *do* like, what the ideal job would look like if neither money nor time nor education were considerations, and what your skills are, as well as your interests. With skills, I don’t mean how to read an x-ray or perform an appendectomy; I mean things like analytical skills, problem-solving, working calmly under pressure, manual dexterity, the ability to learn massive amounts of complicated information quickly and put it to use right away, research skills, being a people-pleaser, goal-directed, and so on. I can guarantee you have many more than you probably think you do!

      Focus a *lot* on what the ideal job would look like qualitatively. What skills and interests would you most prefer to be using? Where would you like to work – both geographically and in terms of workplace environment? Indoors/outdoors? What does your place of business look like? What do you most want to get out of a job? Is it money, helping people, being active, getting to travel, responsibility, authority, lots of variety, freedom to do your own thing, working closely with a team, a high degree of creativity, high salary, benefits, etc.? What kind of schedule would you like to have? Obviously this is only a very short list of ideas just to help you get thinking in this direction.

      Finally, which of all of these are essential and non-negotiable, and which are more “nice to have”? You need to understand what your priorities are.

      The more detail and specificity you can come up with on these lists, the better prepared you will be to start to evaluate different possibilities.

      Deciding what you want to do with your life is not always an easy task, even for people without ADHD, and unfortunately, our educational system forces people to make major career decisions too early, without enough information about what they are getting into. When family and/or friends pressure you in a particular direction, that just makes it all the harder. And you are far from old, so please don’t feel like you are stuck because of your age. It’s not as true in medicine, for obvious reasons, but a high percentage of people go through a couple of career changes during their lives.

      Good luck!

      • This reply was modified 3 years, 4 months ago by wendyannh.
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