Help Deciding University Course Watch
The time is nearing for me to decide on my university course. The obvious choice would be to do either physics or engineering, as I am fairly interested in these fields and my mathematical ability would help me with them.
However, I was also thinking about studying Medicine at university. This is also something that interests me a lot and the prospects after graduation seem much better than with physics or engineering. I don't know if I would want to do engineering for the rest of my life, but medicine seems like something I would enjoy doing. However, my dilemna is that I feel like my mathematical ability would be completely wasted by going into medicine, whereas courses like engineering/physics would be something that I am naturally better at.
I'm looking for any advice from people who have had a similar experience, or just anyone who feels they could give valuable advice on my issue. How could I follow an engineering/physics-related career that would be as interesting and financially admirable as a career in medicine?
Apologies if I come across as arrogant in this post, but I couldn't convey my dilemna without giving full details.
But have you considered maybe something like (biochemical) Engineering then graduate entry medicine later in life?
Firstly, you're realistically too late to apply for Medicine this year unless you have some doctor contacts who could get you work experience over the next few weeks. You really need to spend some time shadowing a doctor, and maybe also do some volunteering, to have a chance of a place. There are also a bunch of other factors which would make it difficult to create a successful application in time.
I would also note that medicine is a long trek which can go seriously wrong if you find you don't like it or if you can't get a job, the employment prospects and pay of medicine are really not what they're cracked up to be. The number of F2s remaining in medicine is already quite bad, and it's dropping every year. For the pay, bear in mind that half of doctors are GPs, which have a max pay of ~£85k, and it takes quite a while to reach this amount, even then many senior GPs will earn less. You also have quite a long stretch before you get to consultant level let alone this level, a starting level consultant will be about 35 and someone on or close to the max salaries will be in their 50s, potentially about to retire.
Honestly, career-wise I would take nursing over medicine. If you're the kind of person who can do medicine, then nursing will give you a very good career with a lot of options and opportunities and without as much of a fight for it. The pay for academic nursing and nursing management is also very good too, you would have a similar salary to GPs though the progression wouldn't make this a constant.
On the engineering side, you really need a passion for engineering to push through an engineering degree and get a good grade. I've seen it be done by people who haven't had that passion, but they needed a lot of help and hand-holding to get through. Have a go at playing with an arduino, maybe even building an RC car or drone, see if it's something you like.
As other people will tell you, the connection between good maths skills and engineering is a bit of a red herring. The maths involved in engineering is a means to an end, and unless you're working on things which are more computer science oriented you won't really use anything more exotic than what's covered in Maths A level, with a couple of FM topics thrown in and maybe a handful of other things which could easily have been taught to an A level maths student, but weren't in the syllabus. Engineering is much more focused on the research and problem solving aspect, though arguably patience for troubleshooting is the more important skill.
In terms of finances, your standard more prestigious professional jobs which you can do from any degree e.g. finance can pay similarly to a GP, Law is also becoming more of an option for non-Law grads which will pay substantially more and a lot of Legal companies are really pushing to hire Engineering graduates now and not just for patent Law. For engineering jobs, a recently chartered engineer will earn in the low 40s though bear in mind you're in your mid 20s at this point, a more senior engineer will earn in the 50s and 60s, a bit more if we're talking Chemical Engineering, particularly Petroleum, or Computer Science (which chartership isn't as necessary for). Academic engineering can also pay quite well and comes with very good benefits, similar to a non-GP consultant (probably better on the benefits side actually), though of course you shouldn't really get into academic engineering just for the money.
For Physics you will generally be entering those more prestigious professional jobs as jobs in Physics tend to be very competitive to get, it's really just academia and academia adjacent roles.
If I was in your position, I would say that Maths and Physics would be the safer subjects to consider, with a lenience towards Physics as University Maths is a whole different ball game to A level maths. That said, Medicine and Engineering could well be good options for you, but you would need some more time to look at them and decide. If a gap year is an option, I would say that's the route you should take. Work a healthcare or maybe a technical or generic office job for a year, pick up some new interests, learn a language, polish your application, go travelling, make yourself some savings.