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I have found a lot of problems finding direction in my life and career. I know this is foolish, but I got a Master's degree in something that I thought I wanted to do (social work) but now I'm not sure. An expensive Master's degree :(

I love health care and am passionate about working with patients. I've already interned at a hospital and I love this setting. However, it's terrifying to think that I might need to get another degree if I want to stay in this setting but make a decent living.

I've thought about PT or OT. They pay better than social work but get to work with a lot of the same patients.

The thing I'm having a hard time getting over is feeling bad about my own foolishness for not fully evaluating my choice to get this degree in the first place. I did do a lot of research, but it turned out the choice that I made now seems like a bad one. This feels pretty rotten as I feel like I'm still without a career, but now I owe a lot of money on top of things.

Has anyone managed to get themselves out of this kind of a problem? It's not an ADD problem per se, but I do think that ADD played a role in my decision making style in the first place, so I wonder if other ADDers can relate and perhaps offer encouraging advice or thoughts?

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Greetings and sympathies janinaP,

Answer broken up in two parts.

Part I: sharing general thoughts about ADHD and frustrations. I didn't know I had ADHD until five months ago (January 2008). Not sure how old you are now, or when you were first diagnosed, but I am in my fifth decade of life with years. we are talking decades of bad and enduring life choices. These decades also include paying down six figures in consumer debt over these decades... which does not include a mortgage.

I share this in the spirit of saying
(1) you aren't the only one to feel you've made missteps (that *might* be attributable in part to ADHD) and
(2) struggling with how to deal with the past mistakes and wondering about your direction from here, now.

Otherwise I have literally met people with multiple masters and one or more doctorates who eventually felt that much of it was meaningless or for naught. Others who went down the path of cross-country moves and transitions, personal relationships, marriages, often even children, could say the same from a different direction. No matter where *you* are (or I am), if you're (I'm) frustrated by it, it feels like terrible missteps from where you are (I am) standing, now. It's not only a ADHD thing, btw.

Part II: Suggestion/idea (a little crazy perhaps). You may laugh at me or think I am telling you something incredibly stupid or even insulting, but I hope you'll give it a moment or two of consideration as to *why* I think it's a possible (if laughable/stupid) idea. Would you consider becoming an Emergency Medical Technician - Basic (EMT-B)? The occupation exposes you not just to emergency* patient situations but also to many other social dynamics in a soundbite.

My suggestion is meant mostly as a *short-term* idea for many reasons (lousy pay, high stress, etc.), but also a possible perfect fit for many with ADHD (think of the job etc.: other than being an E.R. doctor, it is one of the virtually perfect occupations for ADHD in the health care professions). Also there are *many* trained and certified EMTB (and if you choose you can go on to the Paramedic level) who actually often have active careers in other parts of the field at some stage, or non-health care fields even. Some young people who get into this early on later go into other health care careers (not limited to becoming doctors and RNs); some moderately older people use this training and experiences to facilitate their lifetime training or experiences in some fashion, if not as a full time job. I believe in most areas you can become a volunteer EMTB, though you can also certainly get a paid position in many areas (local hospitals, ambulance companies, etc.).

I confess I know nothing about what social work entails in all ways and if you are specializing, but if you do want to work with patients, you will have tremendous amount of exposure especially if you are in a big city.

* I define "emergency" as a true Basic Life Support call depending on your region, average possibly less than 25% of your runs, often much less.
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