sigma_108
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Hey..
I’m gonna try and be as concise as possible here. I’m a year 12 student studying Maths, Further maths, Physics, Chemistry and EPQ. Over the past 2 years I have really struggled to decide whether I want to do computer science or medicine at uni. In the summer on results day I thought I had made a good decision to choose computer science and thus didn’t take biology. When school started I had the option to change subjects and was advised to go with my ‘gut feeling’. At the time I didn’t have one. Now that my ability to change subjects is gone, I suddenly have a ‘gut feeling’ and I feel I want to do medicine. It’s not really an option. I knew this would happen and that there would be regret. I need you to tell me why choosing computer science was a better decision. My original reasoning was 1) it doesn’t take as long to graduate and get into a good career in CS compared to the long years in medicine. 2) I really enjoy maths and there’s barely any pure maths in medicine. 3) my aim in life is to help people and advance society for the better. Originally I though medicine would be the most satisfying and tangible way to do so but arguably with CS I can make an even bigger impact.

Unfortunately I seem to be disregarding these reasonable points and fantasise over the idea of being a doctor and helping people. My personality is such that I love talking to people and I communicate very very well with everyone I meet - which is why I think I’d love to be a doctor.

I’m a capable student- I got all 9s without working to my max capacity- so people have told me that I perhaps would excel in CS where I could apply my analytical thinking and logical reasoning rather than having to memorise and just grind work in medicine.

Any advice would be appreciated
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Isinglass
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https://www.medschools.ac.uk/news/en...-entry-in-2020

Not all medical schools require A level Biology.

However, your future patients deserve doctors who are doctors because they want to help them, not because they thought they ought to do medicine because they got good grades / are studying certain A levels / it's prestigious., although you do already seem to have thought about this.

So please think hard about what you really want to do. Nothing wrong with studying computer science. And as you say, it also has the power to do good.
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Oxford Mum
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Hi,

It sounds like you would be great at both, to be honest...

But I used to be a doctors wife and my son is a medical student, so here are the reasons why you should maybe steer clear of medicine

40 % of students, even ones with great grades, do not get a place at medical school. You will maybe have to do two tests, the ucat and the bmat, both of which you need to prep for alongside your school work. The tests are timed and quite stressful. You will also have to fit in other activities such as volunteering in nursing home etc. The people who apply as well are very high calibre, so you will have lots of competition.

I have heard many people say , if you have a choice between medicine and something else, do that something else. You will see a lot of pain and suffering, have to break bad news and witness the trauma of shocked, grieving relatives. The hours are draining and you will see a lot less of your loved ones. Your loved ones will also have to learn to cope without you. Burnout is not uncommon in junior doctors. Also if you wish for promotion you will have to keep passing many exams.

Plus there are also the lawsuits, which happen even if you are not remotely to blame. These cases can drag on for months and can be stressful for your family life.

So why should you study computer science?

The course is much shorter ie 3 years . You will have a better social life at uni. Computer graduates are in demand. You can be like my friend and form his own company doing project work. He can choose his working hours ( has decided to take Fridays off for work life balance) and you can earn good money.

Yes, you can help a lot of people with your projects. One oddments his first jobs was mending the runway lights at Heathrow. They have never broken since!!!

Maybe RogerOxon can tell you more about why computer science is a good call.
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Kindred
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Do you care about medical jobs? Do you think you would be able to pull things out of people's bums, clean blood off screaming children, watch people die etc day after day because it feels like you're doing good?
Not everyone can. Medicine is a really brutal thing and it's not something you should really be going into without that drive and passion for helping. It will destroy you and that's no good. Even if you want to help people there's a big difference between abstract/ distanced helping and literally being in the blood abs guts of it. You can help people in any number of ways. That's something about you and how you do things, not what job you get. You will always be able to make a difference.

It sounds like the reason you're thinking about medicine is because it's a high value job- one that's good on paper. It's got that air or smarts and success to it. But that doesn't mean its good for you. And if its not good for you there's no point in doing it.

Sounds like you enjoy maths and could get on well with computer science. That's what matters. There's no sense getting the perfect job if after a year it's going to drive you into a depression. Both can be really intense so it definitely makes sense to go for the one that you feel more connected to. That connection will help you get through any issues like annoying teachers, stressful workloads etc.

It's totally normal to question your choice. It's a big decision about your life that you have to make at a time where you probably have no idea what you want to do and our bodies are literally designed to think "what if?" all the time. That "what if" voice doesn't always have any meaning to it though and eventhough this is a big choice it sounds like you made it well and even if you end up not feeling great about it is not the end of the world. There is always a plan b. Keep on going and if you do reach a point where you realise it isn't right you will be able to work something out. There's so much pressure out there to get things right first time and to do what's best on paper etc, but that isn't a huge deal in the grand scheme of things. You can be happy and successful even with 12 false starts. What's going to matter most in your life is being happy and being able to keep going and sometimes people get there by realising what doesn't make them happy.

Sounds like you could really get on well in CS. But if you don't thats fine too. Tell that nagging voice inside you to go away cos whatever happens you'll be fine.
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sigma_108
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(Original post by Isinglass)
https://www.medschools.ac.uk/news/en...-entry-in-2020

Not all medical schools require A level Biology.

However, your future patients deserve doctors who are doctors because they want to help them, not because they thought they ought to do medicine because they got good grades / are studying certain A levels / it's prestigious., although you do already seem to have thought about this.

So please think hard about what you really want to do. Nothing wrong with studying computer science. And as you say, it also has the power to do good.
Thanks for the reply..

I know that not all universities require A level Biology to study them but my aim is Imperial College London/ UCL/ Cambridge and of those only Cambridge allows entry without biology. I feel that it might be too risky to place my bets on going to Cambridge as, although I know I am capable, I feel that when there is an element of luck with these sorts of things (eg. i just perform badly on interview, or they just don't like me on that one day etc.) it's always best to go for something safer. I suppose I could study Biology outside of school and I have been seriously considering that but I want to ensure that doing so is exactly what I want to do because it's a big commitment to study externally with less support and then in the end realise that it wasn't the right thing.

Thanks for the advice
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sigma_108
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(Original post by Oxford Mum)
Hi,

It sounds like you would be great at both, to be honest...

But I used to be a doctors wife and my son is a medical student, so here are the reasons why you should maybe steer clear of medicine

40 % of students, even ones with great grades, do not get a place at medical school. You will maybe have to do two tests, the ucat and the bmat, both of which you need to prep for alongside your school work. The tests are timed and quite stressful. You will also have to fit in other activities such as volunteering in nursing home etc. The people who apply as well are very high calibre, so you will have lots of competition.

I have heard many people say , if you have a choice between medicine and something else, do that something else. You will see a lot of pain and suffering, have to break bad news and witness the trauma of shocked, grieving relatives. The hours are draining and you will see a lot less of your loved ones. Your loved ones will also have to learn to cope without you. Burnout is not uncommon in junior doctors. Also if you wish for promotion you will have to keep passing many exams.

Plus there are also the lawsuits, which happen even if you are not remotely to blame. These cases can drag on for months and can be stressful for your family life.

So why should you study computer science?

The course is much shorter ie 3 years . You will have a better social life at uni. Computer graduates are in demand. You can be like my friend and form his own company doing project work. He can choose his working hours ( has decided to take Fridays off for work life balance) and you can earn good money.

Yes, you can help a lot of people with your projects. One oddments his first jobs was mending the runway lights at Heathrow. They have never broken since!!!

Maybe RogerOxon can tell you more about why computer science is a good call.
Thanks for the reply - really appreciate it.

I know that the life of a medical student and medical professional can be and is usually very stressful but I feel like that is a challenge that I'd enjoy taking on. However, having chosen the path of CS, I can see the benefits to CS too and I know that I will do well and enjoy either of them in the end. I guess I'm over thinking it a little but you kind of have to with these kind of things..

Thanks
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sigma_108
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(Original post by Kindred)
Do you care about medical jobs? Do you think you would be able to pull things out of people's bums, clean blood off screaming children, watch people die etc day after day because it feels like you're doing good?
Not everyone can. Medicine is a really brutal thing and it's not something you should really be going into without that drive and passion for helping. It will destroy you and that's no good. Even if you want to help people there's a big difference between abstract/ distanced helping and literally being in the blood abs guts of it. You can help people in any number of ways. That's something about you and how you do things, not what job you get. You will always be able to make a difference.

It sounds like the reason you're thinking about medicine is because it's a high value job- one that's good on paper. It's got that air or smarts and success to it. But that doesn't mean its good for you. And if its not good for you there's no point in doing it.

Sounds like you enjoy maths and could get on well with computer science. That's what matters. There's no sense getting the perfect job if after a year it's going to drive you into a depression. Both can be really intense so it definitely makes sense to go for the one that you feel more connected to. That connection will help you get through any issues like annoying teachers, stressful workloads etc.

It's totally normal to question your choice. It's a big decision about your life that you have to make at a time where you probably have no idea what you want to do and our bodies are literally designed to think "what if?" all the time. That "what if" voice doesn't always have any meaning to it though and eventhough this is a big choice it sounds like you made it well and even if you end up not feeling great about it is not the end of the world. There is always a plan b. Keep on going and if you do reach a point where you realise it isn't right you will be able to work something out. There's so much pressure out there to get things right first time and to do what's best on paper etc, but that isn't a huge deal in the grand scheme of things. You can be happy and successful even with 12 false starts. What's going to matter most in your life is being happy and being able to keep going and sometimes people get there by realising what doesn't make them happy.

Sounds like you could really get on well in CS. But if you don't thats fine too. Tell that nagging voice inside you to go away cos whatever happens you'll be fine.
Thanks for the well though out reply

I think that the challenges that come with medicine are something that I'd be able to cope with but I appreciate that you recognised that most people don't really think about the specifics when they want to be a doctor.

I think you're right with the fact that everything will work out in the end. As you said, it's really irritating that my mind keeps questioning my decision as it seems to be a very important one for me but I guess I need to just let this phase pass.

Thank you so much
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Oxford Mum
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Yes that’s right op it is a very important decision. If you go with medicine though it is the tougher path and that stress will carry on for the rest of your professional life. Most medics desperately want to get into medicine, do you feel that way too?
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sigma_108
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(Original post by Oxford Mum)
Yes that’s right op it is a very important decision. If you go with medicine though it is the tougher path and that stress will carry on for the rest of your professional life. Most medics desperately want to get into medicine, do you feel that way too?
It's hard to say. Don't get me wrong I'd love to do medicine and I am very passionate about it.. but when there is another viable option, one has to think which one is most sensible to pursue. The issue I'm having now is, if I don't get over the fact that I can't do medicine I'll struggle to give my all into CS and conversely, if I decide that medicine is what is best for me, then I need to act ASAP and start figuring out options - ie. externally taking bio or applying only to places that need chem.
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Democracy
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(Original post by sigma_108)
Hey..
I’m gonna try and be as concise as possible here. I’m a year 12 student studying Maths, Further maths, Physics, Chemistry and EPQ. Over the past 2 years I have really struggled to decide whether I want to do computer science or medicine at uni. In the summer on results day I thought I had made a good decision to choose computer science and thus didn’t take biology. When school started I had the option to change subjects and was advised to go with my ‘gut feeling’. At the time I didn’t have one. Now that my ability to change subjects is gone, I suddenly have a ‘gut feeling’ and I feel I want to do medicine. It’s not really an option. I knew this would happen and that there would be regret. I need you to tell me why choosing computer science was a better decision. My original reasoning was 1) it doesn’t take as long to graduate and get into a good career in CS compared to the long years in medicine. 2) I really enjoy maths and there’s barely any pure maths in medicine. 3) my aim in life is to help people and advance society for the better. Originally I though medicine would be the most satisfying and tangible way to do so but arguably with CS I can make an even bigger impact.

Unfortunately I seem to be disregarding these reasonable points and fantasise over the idea of being a doctor and helping people. My personality is such that I love talking to people and I communicate very very well with everyone I meet - which is why I think I’d love to be a doctor.

I’m a capable student- I got all 9s without working to my max capacity- so people have told me that I perhaps would excel in CS where I could apply my analytical thinking and logical reasoning rather than having to memorise and just grind work in medicine.

Any advice would be appreciated
Have you done any medical work experience?

Gut feeling is important but it shouldn't be your only motivating factor. I think its important to think about medicine outside of tropes about 'helping people' and 'talking to people' - there are a lot of jobs which involve doing that e.g. teaching or being a hairdresser.

I'd suggest doing some medical shadowing so you have some direct experience to go on rather than speculative ideas.

Reasons not to do medicine include having a think about what doctors do outside of the obvious patient care (and whether that sounds interesting to you), the geographic instability associated with medical training, and whether you want to work for a massive, put upon organisation like the NHS where you're mostly treated like a disposable number rather than a valued professional

I would also disagree with the suggestion that medicine is just about memorisation.
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cheerIeader
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It's really hard and has a low starting salary, hunny.
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Ghotay
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Strongly agree you should do some medical work experience to get a real experience of what medicine is like
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2500_2
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(Original post by sigma_108)
Thanks for the reply..

I know that not all universities require A level Biology to study them but my aim is Imperial College London/ UCL/ Cambridge and of those only Cambridge allows entry without biology. I feel that it might be too risky to place my bets on going to Cambridge as, although I know I am capable, I feel that when there is an element of luck with these sorts of things (eg. i just perform badly on interview, or they just don't like me on that one day etc.) it's always best to go for something safer. I suppose I could study Biology outside of school and I have been seriously considering that but I want to ensure that doing so is exactly what I want to do because it's a big commitment to study externally with less support and then in the end realise that it wasn't the right thing.

Thanks for the advice
Is there a reason why you want to study at one of these three?
If it's their prestige, CS is probably a better bet than medicine.
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RogerOxon
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(Original post by Oxford Mum)
Maybe RogerOxon can tell you more about why computer science is a good call.
Thanks for the tag.

(Original post by sigma_108)
I know that the life of a medical student and medical professional can be and is usually very stressful but I feel like that is a challenge that I'd enjoy taking on. However, having chosen the path of CS, I can see the benefits to CS too and I know that I will do well and enjoy either of them in the end. I guess I'm over thinking it a little but you kind of have to with these kind of things..
(Original post by sigma_108)
Over the past 2 years I have really struggled to decide whether I want to do computer science or medicine at uni. In the summer on results day I thought I had made a good decision to choose computer science and thus didn’t take biology.
It's hard to know what you want to do as a career without any experience of what working in an area is really like - I certainly didn't know, even after graduating! I read Engineering and Computing Science at Oxford, and assumed that I would do Engineering for the day job, and keep computing as a hobby, as I expected that working in it would kill the enjoyment. I've now been working in computing for almost 30 years ..

It's too late now, but it seems odd that you didn't take one of CS and Biology. Your subject choices are still good for CS though.

(Original post by sigma_108)
I suddenly have a ‘gut feeling’ and I feel I want to do medicine.
It's a massive commitment in time and lifestyle, so more than a "gut feeling" would be wise, IMO.

(Original post by sigma_108)
I need you to tell me why choosing computer science was a better decision. My original reasoning was 1) it doesn’t take as long to graduate and get into a good career in CS compared to the long years in medicine. 2) I really enjoy maths and there’s barely any pure maths in medicine. 3) my aim in life is to help people and advance society for the better. Originally I though medicine would be the most satisfying and tangible way to do so but arguably with CS I can make an even bigger impact.
I can't tell you which option is best for you, but you make some valid points.

How about specialising in medical computing? There are places like Cambridge Medical Robotics that are making large advances in the medical field. IMO, most medical innovation, that has anything to do with electronics, comes from the non-medical side. There is huge scope for improvement - medicine, for good reason, is very conservative. A good kick of progress from the computing side is helping it advance, IMO. I've been considering doing a medical devices start-up for a few years - it's a good area to be in, IMO.

Otherwise, you could consider your options for doing a second degree (e.g. Biomedical Science), or graduate entry medicine, should the urge not subside. Unfortunately, I don't know how that might work in the UK. Good luck - it sounds like you'll do well whatever you choose.
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sigma_108
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(Original post by Democracy)
Have you done any medical work experience?

Gut feeling is important but it shouldn't be your only motivating factor. I think its important to think about medicine outside of tropes about 'helping people' and 'talking to people' - there are a lot of jobs which involve doing that e.g. teaching or being a hairdresser.

I'd suggest doing some medical shadowing so you have some direct experience to go on rather than speculative ideas.

Reasons not to do medicine include having a think about what doctors do outside of the obvious patient care (and whether that sounds interesting to you), the geographic instability associated with medical training, and whether you want to work for a massive, put upon organisation like the NHS where you're mostly treated like a disposable number rather than a valued professional

I would also disagree with the suggestion that medicine is just about memorisation.
Thanks for the reply...
Unfortunately I have not done any work experience related to medicine. I think it's too late now as there is no way I'll be able to secure a work placement and see if it's exactly what I want to do and then take biology - or shift my entire focus on applying for medicine at universities that don't require it.

I must admit that my statement that medicine is just memorisation is pretty much false. But it must be noted that a lot of it is just sitting down and learning the information. I feel with CS and maths it's a lot more experimental almost in the methods that you adapt to learn new things.

Once again thanks and I'll be sure to think carefully about your advice.
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sigma_108
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(Original post by 2500_2)
Is there a reason why you want to study at one of these three?
If it's their prestige, CS is probably a better bet than medicine.
I suppose to some extent yes.. I feel that I am capable enough to study such prestigious universities and I want to work hard to go there. I think they'll provide me with the best chances to go out into the world and really make an impact to people and society rather than being just another person who lived and passed passively.
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sigma_108
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(Original post by RogerOxon)
Thanks for the tag.




It's hard to know what you want to do as a career without any experience of what working in an area is really like - I certainly didn't know, even after graduating! I read Engineering and Computing Science at Oxford, and assumed that I would do Engineering for the day job, and keep computing as a hobby, as I expected that working in it would kill the enjoyment. I've now been working in computing for almost 30 years ..

It's too late now, but it seems odd that you didn't take one of CS and Biology. Your subject choices are still good for CS though.


It's a massive commitment in time and lifestyle, so more than a "gut feeling" would be wise, IMO.


I can't tell you which option is best for you, but you make some valid points.

How about specialising in medical computing? There are places like Cambridge Medical Robotics that are making large advances in the medical field. IMO, most medical innovation, that has anything to do with electronics, comes from the non-medical side. There is huge scope for improvement - medicine, for good reason, is very conservative. A good kick of progress from the computing side is helping it advance, IMO. I've been considering doing a medical devices start-up for a few years - it's a good area to be in, IMO.

Otherwise, you could consider your options for doing a second degree (e.g. Biomedical Science), or graduate entry medicine, should the urge not subside. Unfortunately, I don't know how that might work in the UK. Good luck - it sounds like you'll do well whatever you choose.
Firstly thank you so much for the reply - means a lot to get some serious advice from someone who seems to have experience to share (no offence to any others on this discussion - everything offered here is greatly appreciated )

I can see what you mean by my 'gut feeling' not being the most important factor in this decision. I suspect one of the reasons I even have such a feeling is that it was a very heavy decision to make and either way I was going to have regrets so I think my mind was pre-programmed to overthink and second guess any choice from the get go. It's something that will pass with time.

Medical computing is an area that a lot of people have advised me on -something where I can fuse the two and have the best of both worlds. To have you telling me that it's a field of large scope is reassuring and thus I'll definitely keep it as a serious thought.

As you said, I could do a second degree in graduate medicine (I suppose I'll work out the technical details if and when I get to that stage as things will be very different). In a way I'm quite lucky that I have 2 very reliable careers to choose from when most people my age are struggling to pinpoint what they want to do - and I'm grateful for that.

Once again thanks
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sigma_108
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(Original post by cheerIeader)
It's really hard and has a low starting salary, hunny.
Lol thanks for the blunt and succinct response.. I completely understand medicine is very physically and mentally taxing. It's a challenge I think I'd enjoy but I feel like everyone says that until they're actually in the midst of things and are really struggling.
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(Original post by sigma_108)
Thanks for the reply...
Unfortunately I have not done any work experience related to medicine. I think it's too late now as there is no way I'll be able to secure a work placement and see if it's exactly what I want to do and then take biology - or shift my entire focus on applying for medicine at universities that don't require it.

I must admit that my statement that medicine is just memorisation is pretty much false. But it must be noted that a lot of it is just sitting down and learning the information. I feel with CS and maths it's a lot more experimental almost in the methods that you adapt to learn new things.

Once again thanks and I'll be sure to think carefully about your advice.
You need to do some work experience and volunteering for your application - medical schools expect this. It's not optional.

You're in year 12 so now is the time to start looking into work experience for summer 2020. If you can't secure anything for 2020 then you should take a gap year and use the time to improve your application.

It's not too late but you will need to show the medical schools that your desire to do medicine is based on something other than "fantasies" (your word!).
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sigma_108
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(Original post by Democracy)
You need to do some work experience and volunteering for your application - medical schools expect this. It's not optional.

You're in year 12 so now is the time to start looking into work experience for summer 2020. If you can't secure anything for 2020 then you should take a gap year and use the time to improve your application.

It's not too late but you will need to show the medical schools that your desire to do medicine is based on something other than "fantasies" (your word!).
Yeah.. I realise work placement is a major part of my medical application and I will look to do that in due course should I decide in the coming weeks to switch focus to medicine (fortunately the majority of our family friends are in the medical profession so I'm very lucky that securing such an experience will not be of great difficulty).

It's just quite hard to decide really... But I know I need to make a well-educated decision soon so that I can, as you've advised, work on my application in order to showcase my genuine interest in the subject.

Thanks
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