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Taking a year out of of Medical school watch

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    Hi all,

    Though this is better placed in the 'Current Medical Students' sub-forum, I am posting it here as I wish to remain anonymous, hope that is OK with the moderators.

    I have recently started my 3rd year of medical school, after a busy summer doing university work. I am currently feeling very burned out and I have my preclinical exams in January, which I have to pass in order to progress onto the second half ( full-time clinical work) of the course. However, I am not feeling ready to even begin preparation for this preclinical exam.

    Since this year began, my mental health has gone very downhill. I have Generalised Anxiety Disorder, and now I am sure all this constant anxiety is leading to my depression, though my therapist isn't really aware of this as I don't see her very often. Both the anxiety and depression are really giving me a hard time now, and I feel so demotivated to study. I feel as though this has all become too much for me to handle at the moment, and I just don't feel confident about this preclinical exam. Also, the last thing I want to do is continue with my course half-heartedly and then fail my preclinical exams, which would put me at risk of being kicked out.

    Because of all this, over the past few days( when I've been feeling particularly low) I have been contemplating whether I should take this year out( as this is the only time out I could take with this course) and return next year to re-start 3rd year. I have always wanted to take a gap year, during which I would take up a full-time job and I would really want to work in Canada full-time for an extended period of time. However, this prospect does seem daunting at the same time, and I feel that one year is quite some time to take out. Then my mind swings to the other view, as I didn't take a gap year after leaving college. There are many people I know who have had to resit a year, or also took a year out and worked/travelled etc.

    I don't know what I should do, and don't know whether it is too late to even take this year out now? My personal tutor is aware that I have been having mental health problems, though she has not been made aware of all these recent deteriorations. On the one hand, I feel it will be beneficial for me to take some time out and regain a fresh perspective, whilst also learning new things and treating myself better. On the other, I think that one year is too much time to 'waste' from medicine and essentially, I would have lost a year. I think harshly and say to myself " I wouldn't even be considering this if I wasn't so weak inside!"

    What advice do you guys and girls have? What do you think is the best option for me to take? Bear in mind, I haven't told my parents about any of this, so I don't really know what their reactions would be like yet. Though I'm hoping they would understand.

    To be honest, the thing that is causing me all the difficulties is the anxiety and depression. I would say these are the root cause of me having to think about taking a year out. It's just that anxiety and depression can be so vicious, for some time you're going steadily and then you go downhill etc. It's this sort of cycle which puts me off from sitting my preclinical exams in January. To succeed, I think there should be no obstacles to your personal motivation, determination and mental health. Or you think that one can still succeed despite having these issues?

    Thanks
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    Well....

    Been in your situation mate. Burnt out, needing therapy etc by the end of my 3rd year (which was my first clinical year), also GAD (though refused medication) and apparently moderate depression.

    Anyway, what this basically meant was I was I ****ed up exams and scraped through them until my final one in 4th year which I failed meaning I had to retake a semester. I also managed to get myself into trouble which is what prompted my medical school to suggest I get help and start giving me extra help.

    Following that semester retake I essentially had a year off. Now, there are good points and bad points to this

    Good:
    - I do actually feel quite refreshed and not as mentally burnt out as I was
    - My confidence in myself has improved quite a lot and the majority of the depressive symptoms are now gone (the anxiety is a whole other story)
    - I got to do a lot of things me medic friends are rather jealous of

    Bad
    - All the knowledge and skills I used to have are now buried so far back in my head that I struggle more on the wards than I used to which makes me feel thick and lose confidence in my ability to eventually become a Dr
    - Due to my massive break, motivation is hard to find. I now struggle to do the book work that I know needs to be done, being unable to really concentrate and focus on it

    So, to recap
    A year out might be a good thing for you, and at least you're not gonna be doing finals 5 months after you get back, but be aware that it may well cause big problems for you in terms of knowledge and skills base when you come back to medicine. Talk to your tutor, therapist, parents, whoever about it but ultimately if you feel you need a break for your own mental health and sanity then take one if you're allowed

    Feel free to ask me **** but I come on here infrequently so don't be suprised if you get replies 2/3 weeks later
    • #1
    • Thread Starter
    #1

    (Original post by Tsoert)
    Well....

    Been in your situation mate. Burnt out, needing therapy etc by the end of my 3rd year (which was my first clinical year), also GAD (though refused medication) and apparently moderate depression.

    Anyway, what this basically meant was I was I ****ed up exams and scraped through them until my final one in 4th year which I failed meaning I had to retake a semester. I also managed to get myself into trouble which is what prompted my medical school to suggest I get help and start giving me extra help.

    Following that semester retake I essentially had a year off. Now, there are good points and bad points to this

    Good:
    - I do actually feel quite refreshed and not as mentally burnt out as I was
    - My confidence in myself has improved quite a lot and the majority of the depressive symptoms are now gone (the anxiety is a whole other story)
    - I got to do a lot of things me medic friends are rather jealous of

    Bad
    - All the knowledge and skills I used to have are now buried so far back in my head that I struggle more on the wards than I used to which makes me feel thick and lose confidence in my ability to eventually become a Dr
    - Due to my massive break, motivation is hard to find. I now struggle to do the book work that I know needs to be done, being unable to really concentrate and focus on it

    So, to recap
    A year out might be a good thing for you, and at least you're not gonna be doing finals 5 months after you get back, but be aware that it may well cause big problems for you in terms of knowledge and skills base when you come back to medicine. Talk to your tutor, therapist, parents, whoever about it but ultimately if you feel you need a break for your own mental health and sanity then take one if you're allowed

    Feel free to ask me **** but I come on here infrequently so don't be suprised if you get replies 2/3 weeks later
    Hmm thanks for your reply. Well I hadn't done any actual work since a few hours ago, and this time I actually got cracking with the work and made myself sit there and write! Surprisingly it wasn't that bad and I found some enjoyment in it, like previously. It's just that at the same time, I often feel like crap because of these issues and I fear that would come at the most inopportune times e.g. right in the middle of intense revision period. Then I wonder, how am I going to cope should this occur? I know it's all about stopping yourself from getting to that stage in the first place, and yet it's harder than you anticipate. I think I should give myself another week or slightly longer, because maybe I'm just going through a particularly rough patch atm. However, I also wouldn't want to leave any issues like this too late, because then the medical school might not let me take some time out. I think I'm going to speak to a close friend tomorrow, see what perspectives and advice they can offer me.

    At this point, the most difficult challenge I face is simply being able to maintain any high levels of productivity in my work and not allowing these issues to overcome me. This time last year, I was so motivated and working so hard and was really enjoying it. I need to find that same motivation now when I REALLY need it!

    Can I ask what you got up to during your year off? Thanks
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    People are different, so whilst some may become demotivated, others may miss the learning and classrooms and the buying new equipment [like me right now!].
    I was in the same situation as you this year. Studying my final year at college, for grades that needed to get me into university, but I was so stressed, confused and just generally sick and tired of everything and like you burnt out. I was so happy when my last exam came round!
    Anyway, part of me wished I didn't get my grades because to be honest, more than anything I just wanted a year out to myself and just relax or go abroad.
    Then my wish came trueot, and so began the unplanned gap year. Although its not as fun as I thought because I'm retaking, so I can't au pair in another country as I don't have the time, nor do I have the money to volunteer abroad [aargh money woes :/]. Everything is coming along slower than I thought!
    But you probably will have the time [...but perhaps not the money], so yeah, I think you should take a year out purely for mental health reasons. I feel a million times better than I did last june
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    (Original post by Anonymous)
    Hmm thanks for your reply. Well I hadn't done any actual work since a few hours ago, and this time I actually got cracking with the work and made myself sit there and write! Surprisingly it wasn't that bad and I found some enjoyment in it, like previously. It's just that at the same time, I often feel like crap because of these issues and I fear that would come at the most inopportune times e.g. right in the middle of intense revision period. Then I wonder, how am I going to cope should this occur? I know it's all about stopping yourself from getting to that stage in the first place, and yet it's harder than you anticipate. I think I should give myself another week or slightly longer, because maybe I'm just going through a particularly rough patch atm. However, I also wouldn't want to leave any issues like this too late, because then the medical school might not let me take some time out. I think I'm going to speak to a close friend tomorrow, see what perspectives and advice they can offer me.

    At this point, the most difficult challenge I face is simply being able to maintain any high levels of productivity in my work and not allowing these issues to overcome me. This time last year, I was so motivated and working so hard and was really enjoying it. I need to find that same motivation now when I REALLY need it!

    Can I ask what you got up to during your year off? Thanks
    Went to Nepal to work in a hospital
    Worked in a homeless shelter
    Went to Disneyworld
 
 
 
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