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switching to medical field?


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#1 Riceman

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Posted 18 July 2010 - 07:52 PM

I just graduated and working for an consulting firm. The pay sucks, I work 10+ hrs a day sometimes weekend. I'm not sure if this is something I want to do for the rest of my life. I'm a masters student, I'm thinking about taking a few chemistry classes and apply to dental or medical school. Please share if you know anyone has done that, or any advise.

#2 wilheldp_PE

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Posted 18 July 2010 - 09:59 PM

You must REALLY like school if you are planning on making that switch. You're talking about at least 3 years of med school (if you currently meet pre-reqs), plus several years of residency before you are ever a full-fledged doctor. Dentistry would be a little less than that, but not much.

Then, once you get out, you'll have to deal with the aftermath of Obama-care. I would advise against it unless you are really passionate about medicine. I absolutely advise against it just for the bump.gif in pay.

#3 Dleg

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Posted 19 July 2010 - 12:07 AM

A couple things to consider: Every fresh graduate needs to pay his dues. Engineers who don't work their ass off the first 4-5 years of their career are at a disadvantage compared to someone who finds a cushy job fresh out of school. If you work hard, get your PE, you should be able to get yourself into a better job eventually. Plus, every day of experience you gain makes you more efficient. Things that take you a week to accomplish now may take only a few hours later in your career. You need to just accept the fact that you are going to be working very hard for several years to get up to speed. That's the whole idea behind the P.E. licensing model, and why we don't spend 3 more years in school like Doctors do. We earn our credentials on the job.

Of course, the consulting business is not known for life-friendly working hours, so you will probably be facing more than 40 hour weeks for the rest of your career anyway if you stay in it, but if you do well and earn some experience, you may be able to find a cushier job in a related industry such as government.

On the other hand, if you have a deep desire to become a medical professional, now is the time to do it, while you're still young. But like wilheld said, don't do it just for the money. You will find yourself just as stressed out, if not more, and in a world of debt by the time you graduate. "Obama-care" is not all that bad, though, as it includes hundreds of new opportunities to pay off medical school loans through service in under-served populations, etc.

#4 Road Guy

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Posted 20 July 2010 - 06:58 PM

I think unless you had a "cool" medical job like surgery or coming up with new ways to fix stuff I think 85% of Doctors actually hate what they do, all day long little johnny with a cough coming in to see you, I imagine after 6 months of that I would go back to my cubicle....

My brother in law AND his wife are doctors, I beleive they actually hate their patients (clients) and what they do, but they do make a nice living and take lots and lots of time off so maybe its not all that bad, but I just wouldnt enjoy it..

#5 FLBuff PE

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Posted 20 July 2010 - 07:13 PM

QUOTE (Dleg @ Jul 18 2010, 06:07 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
A couple things to consider: Every fresh graduate needs to pay his dues. Engineers who don't work their ass off the first 4-5 years of their career are at a disadvantage compared to someone who finds a cushy job fresh out of school. If you work hard, get your PE, you should be able to get yourself into a better job eventually. Plus, every day of experience you gain makes you more efficient. Things that take you a week to accomplish now may take only a few hours later in your career. You need to just accept the fact that you are going to be working very hard for several years to get up to speed. That's the whole idea behind the P.E. licensing model, and why we don't spend 3 more years in school like Doctors do. We earn our credentials on the job.

Of course, the consulting business is not known for life-friendly working hours, so you will probably be facing more than 40 hour weeks for the rest of your career anyway if you stay in it, but if you do well and earn some experience, you may be able to find a cushier job in a related industry such as government.

On the other hand, if you have a deep desire to become a medical professional, now is the time to do it, while you're still young. But like wilheld said, don't do it just for the money. You will find yourself just as stressed out, if not more, and in a world of debt by the time you graduate. "Obama-care" is not all that bad, though, as it includes hundreds of new opportunities to pay off medical school loans through service in under-served populations, etc.



QUOTE (Road Guy @ Jul 20 2010, 12:58 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I think unless you had a "cool" medical job like surgery or coming up with new ways to fix stuff I think 85% of Doctors actually hate what they do, all day long little johnny with a cough coming in to see you, I imagine after 6 months of that I would go back to my cubicle....

My brother in law AND his wife are doctors, I beleive they actually hate their patients (clients) and what they do, but they do make a nice living and take lots and lots of time off so maybe its not all that bad, but I just wouldnt enjoy it..


I'd listen to them.,..they're pre-med.

#6 VTEnviro

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Posted 20 July 2010 - 07:17 PM

I thought they were pre-law?

#7 FLBuff PE

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Posted 20 July 2010 - 07:28 PM

Is there a difference?

#8 Chucktown PE

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Posted 20 July 2010 - 07:57 PM

Riceman,
I have been looking at doing this for the last year or so. I really don't like what I'm doing all that much anymore but I determined that ultimately, to get into a specialty in medicine that I would enjoy, I would be looking at an additional 4 years of medical school, plus 3 years of residency, plus 3 to 5 years of fellowship. Plus a year or two to get prereqs and get accepted into medical school. At that point I'd be 44, have a huge load of debt from not earning a decent income for 12 years, and my kids would be going to college by the time I had a decent schedule/income. Ultimately I concluded it wasn't worth it. I still find myself wishing I had followed through with my plan to go to medical school when I was in college.

That being said, don't do what I did and get stuck in a job you don't like and look back on it 8 years after you graduate college and find yourself in my position saying "I wish.." or "I should have...". I think from a career satisfaction standpoint, being a doctor would be far above anything I will ever experience in engineering. However, the hours suck, much worse than what you're doing right now, and the quality of life is pretty bad as a result. One of my best friends/fraternity brothers is in his cardiology fellowship right now. I find myself somewhat envious of him some times, but we don't get to hang out all that often because he works 70 hours a week.

I have a younger brother that is 12 years younger than me that is getting his chemical engineering degree right now. I told him to get his Chem E degree but go to medical school. I think that's the direction he's heading.

#9 Riceman

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Posted 22 July 2010 - 07:14 PM

Thank you everyone for the response. I look around in my firm, and see registered SE's with 10 years of experience making 70k a year, while putting in 50+ hrs a week, the principal nets 110k a year, and drives a camry. personally I have bigger aspirations than that. The work I do is moderately interesting(residential and industrial projects), but I also deal with bad building owners, architects a lot.

Chucktown PE, what you said really stroked home for me. I intend to study dentistry, maybe become a orthodontist. I'm 24 now, not a lot of commitment, I think it's the right time make a career change.

However, I'm a structural engineering grad student at a top university, should I finish my masters degree or completely forfeit that and take all the pre med/dental classes?


#10 picusld

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Posted 22 July 2010 - 07:23 PM

QUOTE (Riceman @ Jul 22 2010, 03:14 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Thank you everyone for the response. I look around in my firm, and see registered SE's with 10 years of experience making 70k a year, while putting in 50+ hrs a week, the principal nets 110k a year, and drives a camry. personally I have bigger aspirations than that. The work I do is moderately interesting(residential and industrial projects), but I also deal with bad building owners, architects a lot.

Chucktown PE, what you said really stroked home for me. I intend to study dentistry, maybe become a orthodontist. I'm 24 now, not a lot of commitment, I think it's the right time make a career change.

However, I'm a structural engineering grad student at a top university, should I finish my masters degree or completely forfeit that and take all the pre med/dental classes?


Structural Engineer making 70k with 10yrs experience?

Principal making 110k?

I do not believe that either you or we are getting acurate information. It may just be a matter of moving to a better area of the country. What are the benifits like? Do they get vacation time? There is much more to a compensation package than a yearly salary.

just sounds a little fishy...

#11 Riceman

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Posted 22 July 2010 - 08:04 PM

project engineers actually make 75k. no OT pay, 2 weeks off a year, we're a 23 man firm and only 2 of the assoiates are in the profit sharing plan. End of year bonus is usually a few thousand dollars. Please tell me, what should a PE with 5 years of experience make, what about SE with 10 yrs of experience in California?

#12 benbo

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Posted 22 July 2010 - 08:23 PM

QUOTE
Chucktown PE, what you said really stroked home for me. I intend to study dentistry, maybe become a orthodontist. I'm 24 now, not a lot of commitment, I think it's the right time make a career change.

However, I'm a structural engineering grad student at a top university, should I finish my masters degree or completely forfeit that and take all the pre med/dental classes?


Okay, let me just say this - it strikes me if you had a real desire to be a dentist, not just a notion, you wouldn't need to ask that question here. You'd quit the SE program and get started.

Why do you think you want to be an orthodontist? What is it about being an orthodontist that appeals to you? Having had braces as a kid, having a kid with braces, numerous dentist friends and a sister who is a dental hygenist, I can't imagine a worse job. Why a dentist and not a doctor or pharmacist or college professor?

Nobody should change to a career merely because they have some vague ideea that it is prestigious and well paid, and certainly not merely because they don't like what they are doing. Dentistry is a major commitment. You'll be around 30 and probably in big debt by the time you're done. You should want to be a dentist for a real reason, and you should know you have an aptitude for it.

#13 benbo

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Posted 22 July 2010 - 08:47 PM

QUOTE (Riceman @ Jul 20 2010, 07:04 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
project engineers actually make 75k. no OT pay, 2 weeks off a year, we're a 23 man firm and only 2 of the assoiates are in the profit sharing plan. End of year bonus is usually a few thousand dollars. Please tell me, what should a PE with 5 years of experience make, what about SE with 10 yrs of experience in California?

If you're living in a town near a top university, the only places I can think of would be LA or SF (maybe SLO), and yes that's really low for that many years experience. I work for the state and licensed engineers make around 105K after five years. And that's based on pay parity tables, so it's probably low.

I suppose if you were going to Davis that might be a reasonable salary for that area, but still pretty low after 10 years.

#14 Riceman

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Posted 22 July 2010 - 10:22 PM

Thanks Benbo, most of my work consists of designing seismic anchorages for large equipments and residential buildings, I find very little satisfaction in doing that, the "design" are done by soSucks!ares, I find the work quite tedious and not challenging. I go to Stanford, the job market is too volatile, only 5 of my classmates graduated from Berkeley last year got job offers, many of whom are looking for jobs in New Zealand. the firm I'm at fired 8 people this past year. I do enjoy classroom settings and some of the advance topics in structural engineering, but teaching jobs are very competitive, it's all about who brings in the research money. I've had braces before, and I like working with kids, there's a reason why medical field continued to grow despite the recession. Thanks everyone for your inputs, I respect all of your opinions, I'll finish my degree and continue practicing while taking pre-dental/med classes, I'll re evaluate my options again in a year or two.

#15 benbo

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Posted 22 July 2010 - 10:28 PM

QUOTE (Riceman @ Jul 20 2010, 08:22 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Thanks Benbo, most of my work consists of designing seismic anchorages for large equipments and residential buildings, I find very little satisfaction in doing that, the "design" are done by soSucks!ares, I find the work quite tedious and not challenging. I go to Stanford, the job market is too volatile, only 5 of my classmates graduated from Berkeley last year got job offers, many of whom are looking for jobs in New Zealand. the firm I'm at fired 8 people this past year. I do enjoy classroom settings and some of the advance topics in structural engineering, but teaching jobs are very competitive, it's all about who brings in the research money. I've had braces before, and I like working with kids, there's a reason why medical field continued to grow despite the recession. Thanks everyone for your inputs, I respect all of your opinions, I'll finish my degree and continue practicing while taking pre-dental/med classes, I'll re evaluate my options again in a year or two.

That sounds like a good plan.
Frankly, with degrees from Berkeley and Stanford, if the economy starts turning around at all, you should be able to get a good job.

Of course, I hope you're not taking out loans to finance all of that Stanford education.

#16 picusld

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Posted 23 July 2010 - 11:35 AM

http://finance.yahoo...422139.html?x=0

interesting article.

#17 Supe

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Posted 23 July 2010 - 12:11 PM

Those numbers must have really gone up over the years, because I knew several aerospace and petroleum engineers who didn't make anywhere near those numbers as a recent grad.

#18 VTEnviro

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Posted 23 July 2010 - 01:24 PM

I don't buy those numbers for an instant. Colleges really overinflate their grads' starting salaries to make themselves look attractive.

My college swore students in our dept would start out making $50k. In reality, we were lucky to get $40k.

#19 Chucktown PE

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Posted 23 July 2010 - 01:45 PM

QUOTE (Riceman @ Jul 22 2010, 04:04 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
project engineers actually make 75k. no OT pay, 2 weeks off a year, we're a 23 man firm and only 2 of the assoiates are in the profit sharing plan. End of year bonus is usually a few thousand dollars. Please tell me, what should a PE with 5 years of experience make, what about SE with 10 yrs of experience in California?



That is extremely low. You need to find a new place to work ASAP. I work for a multinational and we have an office in Walnut Creek. I farmed some structural work out on one of my projects to a guy out there and his salary is about $125k. He might have 10 years of experience. That salary doesn't include bonuses or additional benefits like profit sharing.

#20 VTEnviro

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Posted 23 July 2010 - 01:49 PM

I was thinking $75k for someone at a small firm with ~10 years experience sounded about right.

#21 picusld

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Posted 23 July 2010 - 02:06 PM

QUOTE (VTEnviro @ Jul 23 2010, 09:49 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I was thinking $75k for someone at a small firm with ~10 years experience sounded about right.


No way that is right for Cali or anywhere in the northeast.

#22 benbo

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Posted 23 July 2010 - 02:40 PM

QUOTE (picusld @ Jul 21 2010, 01:06 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QUOTE (VTEnviro @ Jul 23 2010, 09:49 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I was thinking $75k for someone at a small firm with ~10 years experience sounded about right.


No way that is right for Cali or anywhere in the northeast.

THe California engineers union conducted pay parity salary surveys to determine the median salary for pay parity raises. This was a serious survey based on real data across public and private industry because real wages are based on it.

http://www.pecg.org/...OU/salaries.htm

As of now, Associate Struc Engineers (basically means you have a license - you could technically earn this much 2 years out of school, certainly at 5 years) earn $8379 a month. After 10 years, a lot of Struc Engs will become seniors or principals. Seniors top at 10, 379 a month, principals at $10,826. THe salaries are similar for every type of engineer.

Entry level, often called "Range A" is $5334 a month.

So this is about the median in CA. If you live in Sacramento it's pretty good pay. In SF it's subsistence level.

#23 ironman

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Posted 09 August 2010 - 05:15 AM

Dang I need to move to cali, problem is you have to watch out for the cost of living. I desperatly need a new job but even though thoes wages look good im simply not seeing very many openings, of course im not in touch with the cali market only Alaska and there is not much going on up here, I hope things pick up. I make 4k a month with 5 years and a PE in chemcial engineering after taxes, so I guess are we talking before or after taxes.

#24 Dark Knight

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Posted 09 August 2010 - 12:34 PM

QUOTE (ironman @ Aug 9 2010, 01:15 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I make 4k a month with 5 years and a PE in chemcial engineering after taxes, so I guess are we talking before or after taxes.


Interesting. Your profile discipline says Civil Enigeering. Tell us more about that crossover.

#25 Chucktown PE

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Posted 09 August 2010 - 02:07 PM

Wow, I never expected ironman to return after we discovered his true identity.

#26 Dark Knight

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Posted 09 August 2010 - 03:43 PM

QUOTE (Chucktown PE @ Aug 9 2010, 10:07 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Wow, I never expected ironman to return after we discovered his true identity.


Is that him? The guy from Alaska? What was the name?...What was the name?...What was the name?...Ahhh....


Sarah Palin???????????

#27 new_injuneer

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Posted 10 January 2011 - 06:35 PM

QUOTE (Riceman @ Jul 22 2010, 08:14 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Thank you everyone for the response. I look around in my firm, and see registered SE's with 10 years of experience making 70k a year, while putting in 50+ hrs a week, the principal nets 110k a year, and drives a camry. personally I have bigger aspirations than that. The work I do is moderately interesting(residential and industrial projects), but I also deal with bad building owners, architects a lot.

Chucktown PE, what you said really stroked home for me. I intend to study dentistry, maybe become a orthodontist. I'm 24 now, not a lot of commitment, I think it's the right time make a career change.

However, I'm a structural engineering grad student at a top university, should I finish my masters degree or completely forfeit that and take all the pre med/dental classes?


This makes me laugh a little. $110K a year is a lot of $ and a Camry is a pretty good car. $70K is nothing to sneeze at either, even for the NYC area or Bay Area.

If you're really looking to make $150K+, the only sure way I know to do that is to be a doctor or dentist. So you should look into that. But...

Another thing about doctors and making $ in general. I'm 35 years old and I know lots of doctors, including immediate members of my family. Money and prestige will never be good enough. Dentists look down on pharmacists, doctors look down on dentists, and radiologists look down at primary care physicians. Among doctors, there are those who laugh at other doctors who make $125K a year and work in 'crappy' hospitals.

So just keep that in mind. All the $ and prestige will never be enough...

Edited by jobaba, 10 January 2011 - 06:45 PM.


#28 Dleg

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Posted 10 January 2011 - 11:32 PM

Plus, from my observations, doctors and dentists have pretty crappy jobs. Would you really want to spend all day just dealing with people walking in your office, in an endless stream, with problems that are 99% minor and the same shit you see every day? Poking around in their mouths, looking into their other orifices. TV shows like House, MD, don't portray reality, except for maybe a very, very small percentage of docs who are good enough to earn a more privileged position. But think about it, even the high paid specialists are really no more than jsut glorified mechanics. The only difference is if you fix people's hearts every day, or implant larger breasts. To me, it seems like that stuff would get old, very fast.


#29 navyasw02

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Posted 11 January 2011 - 01:10 AM

QUOTE (Dleg @ Jan 10 2011, 03:32 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Plus, from my observations, doctors and dentists have pretty crappy jobs. Would you really want to spend all day just dealing with people walking in your office, in an endless stream, with problems that are 99% minor and the same shit you see every day? Poking around in their mouths, looking into their other orifices. TV shows like House, MD, don't portray reality, except for maybe a very, very small percentage of docs who are good enough to earn a more privileged position. But think about it, even the high paid specialists are really no more than jsut glorified mechanics. The only difference is if you fix people's hearts every day, or implant larger breasts. To me, it seems like that stuff would get old, very fast.


Is there ever a tv show (aside from documentaries) that presented a profession accurately? I'm sure there's a lot of lawyers and doctors out there who thought it was cool on TV and are now kicking themselves, but are too deeply in debt from student loans to change careers. The only medical thing I'd ever want to do is one of those doctors without borders gigs where they fix up people in jacked up countries. At least you know every day that you did something good in the world instead of just making a payment towards a loan or a BMW.

#30 Dleg

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Posted 11 January 2011 - 01:38 AM

^Yeah, I suppose those would be perhaps more "rewarding" jobs, but it's still the same basic thing - and endless procession of patients with mostly the same, minor problems that could probably be handled by a good nurse or even pharmacist (and in those countries, a good engineer - most of their health problems are related to poor sanitary infrastructure).

#31 HornTootinEE

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Posted 11 January 2011 - 02:06 PM

This is an interesting discussion. I have a sister-in-law on the other side of the coin. She's a PA, does orthopedic surgeries and the like. She started in EE in College, then changed to zoology and went to PA school. Now she scopes knees, replaces joints, etc. and wants to go get an ME masters or something to design implements. HA

#32 navyasw02

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Posted 11 January 2011 - 03:50 PM

QUOTE (djohnson.ee @ Jan 11 2011, 06:06 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
This is an interesting discussion. I have a sister-in-law on the other side of the coin. She's a PA, does orthopedic surgeries and the like. She started in EE in College, then changed to zoology and went to PA school. Now she scopes knees, replaces joints, etc. and wants to go get an ME masters or something to design implements. HA


Biomedical engineering could be cool and certainly would give you a break from the mundane stuff like Dleg was talking about. Penn State has a joint Biomechanical PhD and MD program that you can do in a whopping 7 years, but that's probably overkill.


#33 Dleg

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Posted 12 January 2011 - 12:36 AM

Biomedical engineering was one of my focuses in my ME program. I really enjoyed it. A combination of anatomy and instrumentation. Learning how things like CT scans and MRIs work was fascinating. We got to build circuits in class that took electrical signals from our bicep muscles and cleaned them up, rectified & amplifed them and used them to switch a motor off and on. I still regret not pursuing jobs in that field, although I believe most jobs in that field are essentially in the role of maintaining equipment in big hospitals, and overseeing new purchases, repairs, etc.

#34 XOXOXO

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Posted 17 May 2011 - 09:27 PM

QUOTE (Riceman @ Jul 18 2010, 03:52 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I just graduated and working for an consulting firm. The pay sucks, I work 10+ hrs a day sometimes weekend. I'm not sure if this is something I want to do for the rest of my life. I'm a masters student, I'm thinking about taking a few chemistry classes and apply to dental or medical school. Please share if you know anyone has done that, or any advise.


If I could do it all over again, I'd be an orthopedic surgeon. You're a structural engineer...should fit right in. They have to go to school for a LONG time, but many here in NY make a half-million dollars a year...and they have their own practices and make their own hours. If only I were 10 years younger...




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