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is the university training in medicine really so brutal? watch

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    Hi, my daughter has been willing to do Medicine for ages, doing all the right things: being naturally intelligent, studious, hard worker, all the GCSEs with A* and having several work experience and voluntary activities, too...now she is in Year 12 and, with her classmates, feeling unsure. The problem is that people tell the Sixth Formers that applying to Medicine is SO difficult and that the training at the university is SO brutal, that rather than vocation it looks like martyrdom.
    What do you think? Did it happen to you? What is your experience as students in the 1st, 2nd or 3rd year of training?
    Many thanks
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    (Original post by HelenCP)
    Hi, my daughter has been willing to do Medicine for ages, doing all the right things: being naturally intelligent, studious, hard worker, all the GCSEs with A* and having several work experience and voluntary activities, too...now she is in Year 12 and, with her classmates, feeling unsure. The problem is that people tell the Sixth Formers that applying to Medicine is SO difficult and that the training at the university is SO brutal, that rather than vocation it looks like martyrdom.
    What do you think? Did it happen to you? What is your experience as students in the 1st, 2nd or 3rd year of training?
    Many thanks
    Both getting into medical school and passing medical school are difficult and need planning and hard work, but neither are impossible since approximately 8000 students similar to your daughter start medical school each year, and the vast majority of them (we're talking 95%+) pass the course and become doctors. It's not necessary to be exceptional or a genius, just to work hard and meet the requirements - which is what it sounds like your daughter is doing at the moment anyway.

    I wouldn't say medical school is particularly brutal. Again, it's hard work for sure but I wouldn't say it requires anyone to be a martyr, just to put in the work, persevere, and be organised. And your daughter would have five or six years to develop those skills. I think non-medical people exaggerate the difficulty of the course - the teaching is really only a bit more advanced than A levels and you certainly don't need to be a genius to understand it and get decent marks. You do definitely have to work consistently though as there is a lot of content to learn, but there is still enough time to have a social life, relationships, fun, etc.

    On the other hand, being a junior doctor can be a pretty rough experience at times. But even that doesn't last forever and most of the time when my job is being difficult I still find it rewarding rather than downright unpleasant (again, most of the time - there are exceptions!).
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    (Original post by HelenCP)
    Hi, my daughter has been willing to do Medicine for ages, doing all the right things: being naturally intelligent, studious, hard worker, all the GCSEs with A* and having several work experience and voluntary activities, too...now she is in Year 12 and, with her classmates, feeling unsure. The problem is that people tell the Sixth Formers that applying to Medicine is SO difficult and that the training at the university is SO brutal, that rather than vocation it looks like martyrdom.
    What do you think? Did it happen to you? What is your experience as students in the 1st, 2nd or 3rd year of training?
    Many thanks
    It's not really significantly more brutal than any other university course. Years 1-3 tend to be pretty comparable in terms of academic workload to other courses. After this, it doesn't necessarily get academically hard, but you have lots of placement-based learning which means longer contact hours and some motivation as a lot of it is self-directed.

    In general, compared to other courses, there is more rote-learning for exams (treatment guidelines, drug side effects etc) which often means it can seem like a lot to study but it's not difficult to get your head round. There's also greater expectations with regards to professionalism - attendance is taken more seriously, professional behaviour is expected and assessed on placement, and you have to inform the medical school of any criminal charges and the like.

    If you're daughter is naturally intelligent, getting good grades and is motivated to become a doctor, she will do well and it's unlikely that she will run into any problems at medical school.
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    I wouldn't describe Uni as brutal at all! But of course it is a personal experience for everyone. Adjusting to Uni can be tough for some people, but the actual work is okay. You mainly do a mix of lectures, seminars and workshop type things, often with a bit of placement from early - I think as long as you work sensibly, maintain a good work-life balance, and seek help and guidance when you feel things going awry, most people would be absolutely fine.

    I can only speak for my med school (which incidentally is the least examined...) but I've never felt truly snowed under, except on the run up to exams, which I think is probably universal across all courses. 1st, 2nd and 3rd year were the easiest, 4th year was tough with busy placement and hard exams, then so far 5th year has been pretty manageable.

    As for applying, it can be quite stressful, and rejection can be tough, but worth it!

    The consensus seems it's worse when you're a doctor, but I can't speak for that yet.
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    I think medicine is about the same degree of difficulty as any other reasonably rigorous course to a student that takes it seriously. I have friends who went on to get 1sts in English, Physics, Law, Material Science etc. and they generally seemed to put in a similar amount of work to me.

    I think the difference is that there are a good chunk of uni students who take courses with low numbers of hours and don't take them very seriously and kind of skate through. Sometimes is they are quite intelligent/gifted these people even get very good grades. But in medicine this simply isn't possible (mostly due to the number of hours, which increases year on year, and the quantity of information and rote-learning required). It's in comparison to those courses/that approach that medicine seems brutal. That and the fact that it takes 2-3 years longer

    This is meant in no way as an attack on other courses or to imply that they're 'easy' - simply that the demands are different.
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    I think it is harder than other subjects, especially arts subjects, but not by that much, and that the overall workload is lower than perceived by the general public. There is some evidence to back this up - this survey of students suggests that on average med students work among the hardest of any course, but only 6 hours more per week than average (36 hours vs 30 hours). That is of course less raw hours than many checkout workers at Tesco or other low paid manual jobs (although obviously there are arguments to be had in terms of intensity of work, and many students also work part-time jobs).

    It will also heavily depend on the individual. I worked a course that had a mean total work time of >45 hours according to that survey, but in reality did probably less than 30. That was a trend continued from sixth form, so I'd suggest that if your daughter works long hours currently, that will only increase at med school. If she gets by with a fair amount of free time, that will probably continue too.

    Where it can get tough and different to other careers is after graduation. Remember that doctor's jobs rotate between cities normally every year (sometimes more often) during your 8-10 year training (shorter if a GP), meaning people either stay nomadic until their mid 30s or face very long constantly changing commutes. Depending on the circumstance you might not even be able to get a job within 100 miles of where you currently live. The idea of 'settling down' as a doctor is fraught with challenges you don't face in other fields. That's in addition to the constant rapidly-rotating night shifts weekend shifts mandatory training in your own time etc. Med school is just the start! :p:
 
 
 
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