If I leave medical school, what are my future options? Anyone here a drop-out?

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username2459871
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#1
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#1
I'm not really enjoying my course right now if I'm totally honest. I'm in second year, and if I could describe my experience so far, I'd call med school the albatross around my neck. It mostly feels like a chore, I've felt demotivated to get up and go to lectures, and the environment in my particular med school is toxic.

The people here are the kind that look down on others for not studying as hard as they do, they brag about all the work they've done or they pretend they do no work and secretly study all night in order to appear cool. People will look down on you for failing or needing to resit an exam, and behave like it's the end of the world if they have to resit anything. Fellow students in the year group can be quite snakey and unwilling to help each other out (ie not sharing notes or past papers) and it's very cliquey and gossipy.

I'm lucky that I've managed to make a few really close friends who I absolutely love, and they're pretty much my motivation to continue as they reassure me I will do well. But every year towards exam time, revision is a massive struggle and I enjoy the content less and less. Another reason why I'm continuing right now is because my parents have huge expectations of me (most of my siblings have very good careers) and they'd be absolutely devastated / mad if I dropped out.

It might be that I haven't had enough clinical exposure yet - I've enjoyed hospital a little bit I guess but we haven't spent much time there thus far into the course, and only experienced a limited range of specialities.

The problem is, if I do decide to drop out, what are my options outside of uni? Would SFE fund me if I decide to do another degree in something else? I have no idea what other degree or career I could work towards - medicine has brainwashed me.

Has anyone on this forum dropped out of medicine and able to share their experience?

Thanks in advance
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Mr Optimist
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#2
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I am not a medical student, but if you don't mind I'll share my thoughts. You sound like a very nice person. Like the type of person that would go out of their way to help other people e.g in their studies. And do you know what? people with your qualities are what we need in healthcare and not those who go around with their noxious attitude (those whom you described).

Medicine is not an easy course. What I can say to you is remember you may not like the university life, but you may love working as a doctor. Thus the main question is, are you happy with perusing a career in medicine or not because those are the long term factors.
I feel it is your environment that is the main thing giving you the bad taste for medicine. You worked very hard to get into medicine, I am sure of it. Never let bunch of immature, petty students dictate your life. Trust me, my course was full of them too.

When I started pharmacy school, one of the boys was a 3rd year dentistry student and he had dropped out to study pharmacy. He dropped out because he was not enjoying dentistry, but after two years of pharmacy, he dropped out again and from my understanding, he held regrets about leaving dentistry. If you're giving thoughts to leaving, make sure you're clear about what other paths you want to follow. Your parents wishes are important to some degree, but they're not the ones living your life. Parents should support their children and encourage their child to pursue a path of happiness not a path that makes the parents happy. I can't/ will not tell you what to do, but If I was in your situation, I would continue the course till I am in my clinical years and see how I feel at that time. For the time being, go on holiday, take some time off and give yourself some fresh air and see if your perspective changes.

Whatever decision you make, I wish you all the best.
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username2459871
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#3
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(Original post by Mr Optimist)
I am not a medical student, but if you don't mind I'll share my thoughts. You sound like a very nice person. Like the type of person that would go out of their way to help other people e.g in their studies. And do you know what? people with your qualities are what we need in healthcare and not those who go around with their noxious attitude (those whom you described).

Medicine is not an easy course. What I can say to you is remember you may not like the university life, but you may love working as a doctor. Thus the main question is, are you happy with perusing a career in medicine or not because those are the long term factors.
I feel it is your environment that is the main thing giving you the bad taste for medicine. You worked very hard to get into medicine, I am sure of it. Never let bunch of immature, petty students dictate your life. Trust me, my course was full of them too.

When I started pharmacy school, one of the boys was a 3rd year dentistry student and he had dropped out to study pharmacy. He dropped out because he was not enjoying dentistry, but after two years of pharmacy, he dropped out again and from my understanding, he held regrets about leaving dentistry. If you're giving thoughts to leaving, make sure you're clear about what other paths you want to follow. Your parents wishes are important to some degree, but they're not the ones living your life. Parents should support their children and encourage their child to pursue a path of happiness not a path that makes them happy. I can't/ will not tell you what to do, but If I was in your situation, I would continue the course till I am in my clinical years and see how I feel at that time. For the time being, go on holiday, take some time off and yourself some fresh air and see if your perspective changes.

Whatever decision you make, I wish you all the best.

You speak a lot of sense - thank you for this, you've actually calmed me down a little! You're right about the university environment being completely different to the actual job. I'll have a good think over the summer about what I actually want in life
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Mr Optimist
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#4
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(Original post by Bezoar)
You speak a lot of sense - thank you for this, you've actually calmed me down a little! You're right about the university environment being completely different to the actual job. I'll have a good think over the summer about what I actually want in life
You're more than welcome. University environment can be quite noxious at times. During my first year at pharmacy during a lab session, I could not read the volume of a substance in a measuring cylinder due to it being too dark and this senior lecturer turned around in front of like 80 students and loudly said ' you should not be studying pharmacy then'. I could tell you countless other examples of just how petty and ignorant people can be.

Absolutely, take your time off during summer and think with a clear head. Sometimes when we let the negative thoughts build up, it can skew our perspective.
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prospectivemed56
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#5
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(Original post by Bezoar)
...
That sounds really tough. I haven't been in that exact situation but I can empathise with not 'fitting in' at medical school.

First, it's really important to remember that any course will have its ups and downs, including anything that you might do outside of medicine. Think about whether your feelings are related to the course itself, or perhaps to 'non-medicine' factors (living away from home, not making friends, issues in your personal life, etc). If life in general is feeling a bit rubbish, it might be worth talking to your uni's counselling service or your GP, who can provide some perspective and give you tools to get on track. I found these services really helpful in dealing with emotional difficulties and depression during uni.

If you have weighed everything up and have decided that medicine is not for you after all, there are a few options. The most important thing to do is not quit your course outright; there is no going back from this if you change your mind, and you will not recoup the two years of 'lost' student financing. Lots of medical courses allow students to leave after the pre-clinical years with a BSc in 'Medical Science', and you could also make enquiries about transferring into first/second year of another degree like Biomedical Science or another science degree.

You are then in the position of being a new science graduate. Unlike medicine, there is no automatic career path for science grads, which can be very scary but also quite freeing! There is the option of doing a PhD and pursuing research, or working in industry, or teaching, or media, or entering a field (finance, accounting, insurance, sales) that doesn't require a science degree but likes bright, motivated, technically-minded graduates.

Good luck with whatever you choose to go for!
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Zorg
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#6
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#6
Preclinical years suck. Doesn't matter how you look at it, it just sucks. You're stuck in lecture or PBL rooms and reading from books or watching YouTube videos.
Even if you're lucky and your medical school affords some clinical experience early on, it's really not indicative of what clinical years are like let alone what practicing as a doctor is like.

To be blunt, your woes seem to resolve a lot around what others think or do. I'd suggest learning to let go of things like that. Don't even take notice of how others work or study, from personal experience I learn so differently to most that I struggled with the first few years of my higher education because I just did what everyone else did. It just doesn't matter what everyone else does.

Parents will always have an expectation for you to do well, they just care about you. I bet if you told them you could make the same amount of money and work half the amount of time in another role outside of medicine they would be happy for you.

You'll need to learn to ignore irrelevant views and opinions from others. These factors aren't going to disappear after medical school, it's just how people are. You just need to learn to ignore/deal with it better.

Try to get to the end of your first clinical year or if you are really considering leaving, take time out from the course. Take a year, do something else and decide after that. Or maybe even intercalate?
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username2459871
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#7
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(Original post by Zorg)
Preclinical years suck. Doesn't matter how you look at it, it just sucks. You're stuck in lecture or PBL rooms and reading from books or watching YouTube videos.
Even if you're lucky and your medical school affords some clinical experience early on, it's really not indicative of what clinical years are like let alone what practicing as a doctor is like.

To be blunt, your woes seem to resolve a lot around what others think or do. I'd suggest learning to let go of things like that. Don't even take notice of how others work or study, from personal experience I learn so differently to most that I struggled with the first few years of my higher education because I just did what everyone else did. It just doesn't matter what everyone else does.

Parents will always have an expectation for you to do well, they just care about you. I bet if you told them you could make the same amount of money and work half the amount of time in another role outside of medicine they would be happy for you.

You'll need to learn to ignore irrelevant views and opinions from others. These factors aren't going to disappear after medical school, it's just how people are. You just need to learn to ignore/deal with it better.

Try to get to the end of your first clinical year or if you are really considering leaving, take time out from the course. Take a year, do something else and decide after that. Or maybe even intercalate?
Thanks for this. Yeah actually, you're completely right - if the people on my course were more pleasant I'd probably not be thinking of dropping out. I think I needed an outsider's view to help me gain some perspective.
I was thinking of intercalating actually - the only problem is that in my uni, we finish finals in fourth year so the best time to intercalate is between fourth and fifth rather than any other time. But I'll have the summer to refresh my mind - I think perhaps since I've found this year so tough, it's all sort of piled up in my head until I can get home for the summer and take a break from it all.

Thanks again
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username2459871
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#8
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#8
(Original post by prospectivemed56)
That sounds really tough. I haven't been in that exact situation but I can empathise with not 'fitting in' at medical school.

First, it's really important to remember that any course will have its ups and downs, including anything that you might do outside of medicine. Think about whether your feelings are related to the course itself, or perhaps to 'non-medicine' factors (living away from home, not making friends, issues in your personal life, etc). If life in general is feeling a bit rubbish, it might be worth talking to your uni's counselling service or your GP, who can provide some perspective and give you tools to get on track. I found these services really helpful in dealing with emotional difficulties and depression during uni.

If you have weighed everything up and have decided that medicine is not for you after all, there are a few options. The most important thing to do is not quit your course outright; there is no going back from this if you change your mind, and you will not recoup the two years of 'lost' student financing. Lots of medical courses allow students to leave after the pre-clinical years with a BSc in 'Medical Science', and you could also make enquiries about transferring into first/second year of another degree like Biomedical Science or another science degree.

You are then in the position of being a new science graduate. Unlike medicine, there is no automatic career path for science grads, which can be very scary but also quite freeing! There is the option of doing a PhD and pursuing research, or working in industry, or teaching, or media, or entering a field (finance, accounting, insurance, sales) that doesn't require a science degree but likes bright, motivated, technically-minded graduates.

Good luck with whatever you choose to go for!
I completely forgot about the option to leave after third year with a degree. You're completely right - if I do quit, I guess I might as well wait until I can get a BSc out of it. In relation to seeing GP / uni about struggling - I've already been doing this for a while, one thing I didn't mention in the OP is that I had to repeat my first year due to problems with depression etc. I think that experience probably tainted my view of med school too, although that's something that's my problem rather than med school actually being the cause of it.

Thanks for your help
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prospectivemed56
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#9
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(Original post by Bezoar)
I completely forgot about the option to leave after third year with a degree. You're completely right - if I do quit, I guess I might as well wait until I can get a BSc out of it. In relation to seeing GP / uni about struggling - I've already been doing this for a while, one thing I didn't mention in the OP is that I had to repeat my first year due to problems with depression etc. I think that experience probably tainted my view of med school too, although that's something that's my problem rather than med school actually being the cause of it.

Thanks for your help
The thing that medical students can find difficult to get their heads around is what employers in the 'real world' are looking for. Things like work experience, student societies, summer jobs, volunteering, internships, and so on are much more important than in medicine, and often 'required qualifications' are not really required. There is rarely a 'tickbox, points scoring' system for getting a job (not like in medicine where it's "3 points for an abstract at a national conference, 2 points for an abstract at a regional conference"....), instead you need to convince the interviewer that you'd be a good fit on their team and would get the job done using examples from your past. So if you haven't done things like that already, it might be worth getting involved with student council, a sports team, or medical or non-medical societies next year, especially in a leadership role.

You never know, the combination of a nice relaxing summer, getting to know non-medics through sports or a society, and knowing that you have an exit route/backup plan if you need it might make the course more bearable
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Anonymous #1
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Having the option helps. I am in the middle of a similar panic (might post up) but realising I do sort of have an exit took the pressure off. Not enough for it to stop being a problem but there we are.
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Omar_Little
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Your post sounds like the experience of pretty much everyone at medical school at the beginning. It gets better s the years go on. It virtually disappears when you qualify.
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jessjanellbhons1
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#12
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Yes, I dropped out of medical school and did law instead. Best decision ever, as I got a first!

Do what you are passionate about. If you hate medicine, just drop the subject. Medicine is actually really dull and not as intellectually stimulating as law. It's mostly memory work instead of vigorous intellectual engagement.
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username2459871
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#13
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(Original post by jessjanellbhons1)
Yes, I dropped out of medical school and did law instead. Best decision ever, as I got a first!

Do what you are passionate about. If you hate medicine, just drop the subject. Medicine is actually really dull and not as intellectually stimulating as law. It's mostly memory work instead of vigorous intellectual engagement.
I was considering intercalating in LLM medical law actually
It's the only way I'd be able to study law as I don't have any A-Levels or much experience appropriate for a law degree. If you don't mind me asking, how far into the course did you drop out? And how different did you find the law degree compared to medicine in terms of difficulty & the type of teaching?
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jessjanellbhons1
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(Original post by Bezoar)
I was considering intercalating in LLM medical law actually
It's the only way I'd be able to study law as I don't have any A-Levels or much experience appropriate for a law degree. If you don't mind me asking, how far into the course did you drop out? And how different did you find the law degree compared to medicine in terms of difficulty & the type of teaching?
I studied 2 years of medicine. Law is much more difficult in terms of intellectual rigour, but medicine is much more difficult in terms of memory work (which is boring as heck, so I understand where you're coming from).

Medical lecturers just recite medical facts and explain a bit of the science behind the facts. Law lecturers engage with the content and explain complicated law cases with ease.

Of course, I may be biased because I hated medicine and only did it because my parents wanted me to!
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username2459871
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(Original post by jessjanellbhons1)
I studied 2 years of medicine. Law is much more difficult in terms of intellectual rigour, but medicine is much more difficult in terms of memory work (which is boring as heck, so I understand where you're coming from).

Medical lecturers just recite medical facts and explain a bit of the science behind the facts. Law lecturers engage with the content and explain complicated law cases with ease.

Of course, I may be biased because I hated medicine and only did it because my parents wanted me to!
That's exactly why I find revising for medicine such a struggle, the memorisation is so boring :lol:

Congrats on the 1st btw! What's your choice of career path? I'm guessing solicitor / barrister?
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jessjanellbhons1
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#16
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(Original post by Bezoar)
That's exactly why I find revising for medicine such a struggle, the memorisation is so boring :lol:

Congrats on the 1st btw! What's your choice of career path? I'm guessing solicitor / barrister?
I'm a solicitor at a top law firm. I deal with corporate and commercial cases.
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username2459871
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(Original post by jessjanellbhons1)
I'm a solicitor at a top law firm. I deal with corporate and commercial cases.
Awesome. I'm so glad to hear you've done great - gives me hope if I do choose to drop out!
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*pitseleh*
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I absolutely loathed pre-clinical years. I don't learn well from lectures (never have - am much better off sitting quietly with a book and making notes), and my medical school forced us (via an attendance register) to go to them. I stuck with it more out of habit and the fact that I didn't know what else to do.

Lots of people will say 'wait for clinical years, it's loads better'... which is true to an extent, just don't go into third year (or fourth, if that's when your clinical years start) expecting that everything will be wildly different. Clinical years were definitely more interesting and easy to engage with than pre-clinical for me, but I didn't suddenly find untapped wells of motivation - it just got a bit less onerous.

But... I'm now at the end of FY1, and although some of this year has been rough, I can honestly say I'm happy (most days, anyway) that I stuck with it. Lots of the things I felt were missing from medical school (job satisfaction, making decisions, feeling like those decisions are making a difference, being part of a team instead of feeling in the way etc) are starting to appear now - and most of my senior colleagues say that in general they've found themselves enjoying Medicine more year by year.

If you want to drop out, drop out. It used to really annoy me when people said 'it will get better, so you should stick at it' - just because that is true for some people, it doesn't mean it applies to everyone. A good friend of mine made it all the way to the end of FY2 and then left because she still hadn't hit that point where she was enjoying it, and wanted to do something that actually made her happy instead. But I did want to let you know that the flip side of the above is that just because you're not enjoying it now, doesn't automatically mean you won't ever enjoy it. It is possible to be a miserable medical student but a happy doctor. If you don't want to find out whether you fit into that category, though, you don't owe it to anyone to force yourself to try.

If you do decide to stay - maybe try joining some societies/sports teams etc that aren't medic-orientated. It can be really isolating being in medical school - depending on where you are, it can be really easy to end up in a situation where you only ever see other medics, and you have to make a proper effort if you want to socialise with people who are doing other subjects (because of different timetables, different holidays, different campuses/lecture locations etc). So if you're not enjoying the company of people on your course, you could always try that?

I hope you manage to make the right decision for you.
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Anonymous #2
#19
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#19
Hello. I'm finding myself in a similar situation and have read these posts. I was just wondering if you could give some insight into what you decided to do and how it worked out. It would be really helpful!
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