thinking of dropping out of med school and reapplying for another course

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aaa120701
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hi,
so im a current first year med student at imperial college. however my time here has been scarred with loneliness and general depression, which i am going to see a gp about. i was pushed into doing medicine by my family and after doing what was essentially filing as my work experience i've been shaken by the reality of what medicine is like (i know theres still clinical years but my current placements at the GP have been stressful to say the least). i just don't really feel like medicine is for me and my motivation has been stripped to the point where im unable to study or even attend anymore and instead im just self-teaching myself further maths and undergrad chemistry as i just enjoy it a lot more.

i really enjoyed maths and chemistry at A level and at the beginning of the first term i felt ready to do this course but v quickly ive felt like theres no motivation for me to learn (partially as my parents made me do this and partially as i think i had the wrong idea of what medicine would be like).

im not really sure what to do but im v heavily in favour of dropping out and reapplying to unis for the course i would like to do - natural sciences. i like natural sciences due to its breadth and depth and also ive just really enjoyed chemistry, physics and maths but cant exactly chose between them just yet. also ive achieved A*A*A*A at A level so im thinking of applying to cambridge for natsci (as well as york, durham, bristol and manchester).

ive also considered a year in industry as part of the gap year so ive registered with them and sent my CV off to some companies already. im just worried about this 1 and a half gap year where all my friends will be in 3rd year by the time i enter again. has anyone else dropped out of medical school and reapplied to somewhere else? how did that work out?
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ecolier
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(Original post by aaa120701)
hi,
so im a current first year med student at imperial college. however my time here has been scarred with loneliness and general depression, which i am going to see a gp about. i was pushed into doing medicine by my family and after doing what was essentially filing as my work experience i've been shaken by the reality of what medicine is like (i know theres still clinical years but my current placements at the GP have been stressful to say the least). i just don't really feel like medicine is for me and my motivation has been stripped to the point where im unable to study or even attend anymore and instead im just self-teaching myself further maths and undergrad chemistry as i just enjoy it a lot more.

i really enjoyed maths and chemistry at A level and at the beginning of the first term i felt ready to do this course but v quickly ive felt like theres no motivation for me to learn (partially as my parents made me do this and partially as i think i had the wrong idea of what medicine would be like).

im not really sure what to do but im v heavily in favour of dropping out and reapplying to unis for the course i would like to do - natural sciences. i like natural sciences due to its breadth and depth and also ive just really enjoyed chemistry, physics and maths but cant exactly chose between them just yet. also ive achieved A*A*A*A at A level so im thinking of applying to cambridge for natsci (as well as york, durham, bristol and manchester).

ive also considered a year in industry as part of the gap year so ive registered with them and sent my CV off to some companies already. im just worried about this 1 and a half gap year where all my friends will be in 3rd year by the time i enter again. has anyone else dropped out of medical school and reapplied to somewhere else? how did that work out?
Plenty of threads about current med students thinking about dropping out in this forum (the "current medical students and doctors forum").

The advice is virtually always: think very very carefully.

(1) You are virtually guaranteed that you can't get in any UK medical school after dropping out (if you reapply).

(2) Things are very different in clinical years.

BUT in your situation, if you are "pushed" into doing medicine by family and your heart is not in it, then it is a valid option. Remember, it's your life and not your family's. You have to work and study hard in the next 20-30 years, it's not them. Ideally you should have considered this before application and doing the hard work to get in!
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(Original post by aaa120701)
hi,
so im a current first year med student at imperial college. however my time here has been scarred with loneliness and general depression, which i am going to see a gp about. i was pushed into doing medicine by my family and after doing what was essentially filing as my work experience i've been shaken by the reality of what medicine is like (i know theres still clinical years but my current placements at the GP have been stressful to say the least). i just don't really feel like medicine is for me and my motivation has been stripped to the point where im unable to study or even attend anymore and instead im just self-teaching myself further maths and undergrad chemistry as i just enjoy it a lot more.

i really enjoyed maths and chemistry at A level and at the beginning of the first term i felt ready to do this course but v quickly ive felt like theres no motivation for me to learn (partially as my parents made me do this and partially as i think i had the wrong idea of what medicine would be like).

im not really sure what to do but im v heavily in favour of dropping out and reapplying to unis for the course i would like to do - natural sciences. i like natural sciences due to its breadth and depth and also ive just really enjoyed chemistry, physics and maths but cant exactly chose between them just yet. also ive achieved A*A*A*A at A level so im thinking of applying to cambridge for natsci (as well as york, durham, bristol and manchester).

ive also considered a year in industry as part of the gap year so ive registered with them and sent my CV off to some companies already. im just worried about this 1 and a half gap year where all my friends will be in 3rd year by the time i enter again. has anyone else dropped out of medical school and reapplied to somewhere else? how did that work out?
Speak to your university’s career service so that you can get an idea of job prospects with other degrees. They may even help you come to a decision about which degree might be most suitable to you. If you are interested in natural sciences, get in touch with that department at your university (could be a lecturer for example, or some students) and have a chat with them. Good luck and dont worry about your age/comparison with other people. Only worry about finding out what it is that would make you happy and things that are in your control to change things. You may even decide to stay in med school at the end!
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eisb
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Can you pin down exactly what it is about medicine that makes you feel like its not for you? Is it just something that you were never really interested in? Is it the clinical, patient contact side of it (based on your GP experience) that is making you stressed? Is it because there's too little pure science, which seems to be your true passsion? I suppose my advice would differ slightly depending on the reason.

If you feel the clinical, patient facing work is not really your thing, remember there are specialties which have less direct patient contact than others (e.g. radiology, pathology, public health). Maybe research possible medical careers, and see if there is a specialty you can see yourself fitting in to. If there is a goal that you are excited about, it might make motivating yourself easier. Also, there is always the possibility of a career in research. On the one hand, I think motivating yourself through medical school can be really hard at the best of times, even without the doubts that you are experiencing so early on.

It's a big decision, and whatever you decide in the end I wish you all the best!
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aaa120701
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(Original post by eisb)
Can you pin down exactly what it is about medicine that makes you feel like its not for you? Is it just something that you were never really interested in? Is it the clinical, patient contact side of it (based on your GP experience) that is making you stressed? Is it because there's too little pure science, which seems to be your true passsion? I suppose my advice would differ slightly depending on the reason.

If you feel the clinical, patient facing work is not really your thing, remember there are specialties which have less direct patient contact than others (e.g. radiology, pathology, public health). Maybe research possible medical careers, and see if there is a specialty you can see yourself fitting in to. If there is a goal that you are excited about, it might make motivating yourself easier. Also, there is always the possibility of a career in research. On the one hand, I think motivating yourself through medical school can be really hard at the best of times, even without the doubts that you are experiencing so early on.

It's a big decision, and whatever you decide in the end I wish you all the best!
I think there is a lack of pure science. I've always been interested in chemistry, physics and maths (the interest really developed during sixth form) and I never really liked biology at A level. I wanted to do surgery when I applied as it would mean I would avoid patients - now the reality has hit me that I will need to speak to patients in pretty much every specialty. I think I wasn't ready for how stressful the job really is - how long the hours are, and how on top you have got to be constantly as the responsibility is so massive. it feels like just a vast memorization rather than a derivation or understanding of why things happen the way they happen - which I think the pure sciences do a lot better.
on top of this my parents did say I've got to do medicine, I wanted to do chemeng in yr12 but they said 'I'm not an engineer'. I only really stuck with medicine as I felt that other degrees like chemistry didn't have the job stability, pay etc. than medicine does - and I didn't want to be a teacher which is what I thought a chem degree would lead me into at the time.
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eisb
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You have a lot of insight in to what a career in medicine involves!
I absolutely agree with you regarding the amount of memorisation, I found medical school a huge exercise in memorisation and regurgitating the appropriate facts in exams, not really gainign a deep scientific understanding (there really isn't the time!), and there wasn't really much on the curriculum that was conceptually difficult to grasp. Anatomy was always my weak spot because I found it the most tedious to memorise. In my experience the complexity occurs in later years, in terms of applying all those facts you have learned to clinical practice, because there often isn't a right/wrong answer - you will often find one consultant manages a condition somewhat differently to another, and both with their own good reasons - deciding what is right for that particular patient in that circumstance is where the deeper thought and clinical judgement comes in. I felt that's when things got much more interesting.
You are also absolutely right about a career in surgery, the operating side of it is only one part of the job, you will spend at least as much time doing non-operating work, fo example ward rounds reviewing your patients pre- and post- op and looking after emergency admissions who will not require surgery, and there are a lot of outpatient clinics. There's lots of tough conversations to have in surgery, e.g. making the decision with a patient and family whether to operate or provide palliative care. Remember though, if you did stick with medicine, you would be trained to do this- it does not come naturally to most people.
On the other hand, medicine can also open doors into other careers, for example pharmaceutical reserach, which may be more aligned to your interests. Remember also that there are options to do a year out of medicine to do an intercalated BSc (I did mine between 3rd and 4th year which is quite common), so during your medical school journey you could incorporate some more scientific training.
It's a really hard decision to make, because once you leave medicine, it's very difficult to get back in if you ever regret the decision. On the other hand, I personally would probably not stick with something that I am thoroughly unhappy with - after all the rest of a career is a very long time! A medical degree could however open other doors for you down a non-traditional career route, for example a research career, so it's worth exploring those potential options before you make your decision. I do feel bad that your parents pushed you so hard down the medicine route. It may well come from a good place - from the outside, medicine looks like a very secure career (people are always going to need a doctor regardless of the economic conditions etc!), it comes with a good salary compared to many other graduate jobs, and if they are not from a medical background, they may not understand the emotional toll that it can place on you. Have you discussed your feelings about medicine with them?
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aaa120701
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(Original post by eisb)
You have a lot of insight in to what a career in medicine involves!
I absolutely agree with you regarding the amount of memorisation, I found medical school a huge exercise in memorisation and regurgitating the appropriate facts in exams, not really gainign a deep scientific understanding (there really isn't the time!), and there wasn't really much on the curriculum that was conceptually difficult to grasp. Anatomy was always my weak spot because I found it the most tedious to memorise. In my experience the complexity occurs in later years, in terms of applying all those facts you have learned to clinical practice, because there often isn't a right/wrong answer - you will often find one consultant manages a condition somewhat differently to another, and both with their own good reasons - deciding what is right for that particular patient in that circumstance is where the deeper thought and clinical judgement comes in. I felt that's when things got much more interesting.
You are also absolutely right about a career in surgery, the operating side of it is only one part of the job, you will spend at least as much time doing non-operating work, fo example ward rounds reviewing your patients pre- and post- op and looking after emergency admissions who will not require surgery, and there are a lot of outpatient clinics. There's lots of tough conversations to have in surgery, e.g. making the decision with a patient and family whether to operate or provide palliative care. Remember though, if you did stick with medicine, you would be trained to do this- it does not come naturally to most people.
On the other hand, medicine can also open doors into other careers, for example pharmaceutical reserach, which may be more aligned to your interests. Remember also that there are options to do a year out of medicine to do an intercalated BSc (I did mine between 3rd and 4th year which is quite common), so during your medical school journey you could incorporate some more scientific training.
It's a really hard decision to make, because once you leave medicine, it's very difficult to get back in if you ever regret the decision. On the other hand, I personally would probably not stick with something that I am thoroughly unhappy with - after all the rest of a career is a very long time! A medical degree could however open other doors for you down a non-traditional career route, for example a research career, so it's worth exploring those potential options before you make your decision. I do feel bad that your parents pushed you so hard down the medicine route. It may well come from a good place - from the outside, medicine looks like a very secure career (people are always going to need a doctor regardless of the economic conditions etc!), it comes with a good salary compared to many other graduate jobs, and if they are not from a medical background, they may not understand the emotional toll that it can place on you. Have you discussed your feelings about medicine with them?
thank you for the detailed reply. I have discussed it with them but it took a lot of fighting for them to realise that pushing me into something I don't really want to do was not a good idea. thankfully they're a bit more understanding now, but still quite disappointed in me. I've heard that medicine *becomes* your life - having not done any proper work experience I figured it would just be my daily job whilst I focus on my actual interests. having been at a few GP placements however, I realise the amount of emotional commitment a doctor has to make for every patient - each story was unique and required it's own approach by the doctor, and it felt so stressful after just 2 hours! wasn't really sure if I could've ever developed a career in what I was interested in, like chemistry or astrophysics - but now looking at my friends doing those subjects at uni (and having been to a few chemistry lectures at imperial myself) I felt so much more engaged and ready to learn than I ever did at the medical school. I was considering a research career but I'm not sure how well an MBBS degree bodes for research beyond biomedical sciences (but I know medicinal chemistry is a viable option).
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(Original post by aaa120701)
hi,
so im a current first year med student at imperial college. however my time here has been scarred with loneliness and general depression, which i am going to see a gp about. i was pushed into doing medicine by my family and after doing what was essentially filing as my work experience i've been shaken by the reality of what medicine is like (i know theres still clinical years but my current placements at the GP have been stressful to say the least). i just don't really feel like medicine is for me and my motivation has been stripped to the point where im unable to study or even attend anymore and instead im just self-teaching myself further maths and undergrad chemistry as i just enjoy it a lot more.

i really enjoyed maths and chemistry at A level and at the beginning of the first term i felt ready to do this course but v quickly ive felt like theres no motivation for me to learn (partially as my parents made me do this and partially as i think i had the wrong idea of what medicine would be like).

im not really sure what to do but im v heavily in favour of dropping out and reapplying to unis for the course i would like to do - natural sciences. i like natural sciences due to its breadth and depth and also ive just really enjoyed chemistry, physics and maths but cant exactly chose between them just yet. also ive achieved A*A*A*A at A level so im thinking of applying to cambridge for natsci (as well as york, durham, bristol and manchester).

ive also considered a year in industry as part of the gap year so ive registered with them and sent my CV off to some companies already. im just worried about this 1 and a half gap year where all my friends will be in 3rd year by the time i enter again. has anyone else dropped out of medical school and reapplied to somewhere else? how did that work out?
From what I see, it looks like it's going to be a 3 year gap between your levels and your new course start date. Most unis don't want that and require only a a two year gap so keep that in mind as your first year of medicine is void since no qualification was achieved.
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aaa120701
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(Original post by Shish_bish)
From what I see, it looks like it's going to be a 3 year gap between your levels and your new course start date. Most unis don't want that and require only a a two year gap so keep that in mind as your first year of medicine is void since no qualification was achieved.
I got my A levels in August 2019, and I'll be applying this October (October 2020). I'll be entering in October 2021. isn't that a two year gap? (and a 1 year gap between applying and entering the first course?)
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999tigger
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(Original post by aaa120701)
hi,
so im a current first year med student at imperial college. however my time here has been scarred with loneliness and general depression, which i am going to see a gp about. i was pushed into doing medicine by my family and after doing what was essentially filing as my work experience i've been shaken by the reality of what medicine is like (i know theres still clinical years but my current placements at the GP have been stressful to say the least). i just don't really feel like medicine is for me and my motivation has been stripped to the point where im unable to study or even attend anymore and instead im just self-teaching myself further maths and undergrad chemistry as i just enjoy it a lot more.

i really enjoyed maths and chemistry at A level and at the beginning of the first term i felt ready to do this course but v quickly ive felt like theres no motivation for me to learn (partially as my parents made me do this and partially as i think i had the wrong idea of what medicine would be like).

im not really sure what to do but im v heavily in favour of dropping out and reapplying to unis for the course i would like to do - natural sciences. i like natural sciences due to its breadth and depth and also ive just really enjoyed chemistry, physics and maths but cant exactly chose between them just yet. also ive achieved A*A*A*A at A level so im thinking of applying to cambridge for natsci (as well as york, durham, bristol and manchester).

ive also considered a year in industry as part of the gap year so ive registered with them and sent my CV off to some companies already. im just worried about this 1 and a half gap year where all my friends will be in 3rd year by the time i enter again. has anyone else dropped out of medical school and reapplied to somewhere else? how did that work out?
What ecolier said is a good starting point. If you make the decision carefully, then check with your target unis about your plans and my hunch is for you to take a gap year. The reason being to get experience, earn a bit of money but also get the trauma of leaving out of the way and then having clear space to take your one choice f getting the next decision correct. the year in industry is a good choice.

The real thing I would pay attention to is the loneliness and depression, either of which can destroy your uni career. You need to understand how you got there, what went wrong and what you need to do to put it right, so it doesnt sink you in your next degree.
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aaa120701
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(Original post by 999tigger)
What ecolier said is a good starting point. If you make the decision carefully, then check with your target unis about your plans and my hunch is for you to take a gap year. The reason being to get experience, earn a bit of money but also get the trauma of leaving out of the way and then having clear space to take your one choice f getting the next decision correct. the year in industry is a good choice.

The real thing I would pay attention to is the loneliness and depression, either of which can destroy your uni career. You need to understand how you got there, what went wrong and what you need to do to put it right, so it doesnt sink you in your next degree.
I've contacted york, Manchester, Cambridge and Bristol about my situation. York Manchester and Bristol are all happy to receive my application for 2021 entry ; Cambridge also say they 'welcome' the application but having spoken to an admissions tutor they said it's best to explain more in the SAQ (I'm giving a short line in my PS for the other unis).
I think I expected a bit too much from the social side of uni so I think this time I'll be a bit more outgoing and join more societies than I already have done, especially ones out of my comfort zone. I think I was quite unlucky with my flat as noone really talks or does anything. plus I think my general disdain for the course made me less approachable.
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If you know what you want degree-wise, I would advise against a gap year actually. You might as well get stuck in and do something you like!
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aaa120701
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If you know what you want degree-wise, I would advise against a gap year actually. You might as well get stuck in and do something you like!
ah yes - I'm applying in October 2020, but I'll enter in October 2021 - so there's essentially a 'gap year' where I need something to fill the time. as well as this I'm sure I need something like YINI to demonstrate that I'm committed to this subject, so I want to do that and earn money, experience etc. looking back now, I should've really taken a gap year.
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hey

you dont have to be a doctor after med school, why not go into teaching after?
3 years of med school = medical sciences degree and it seems like your very worn down from all the hard work in your alevels so congrats on those grades and going to imperial!!!
have you been on holiday and really had time to relax and unwind?? if not then please go somwhere with your friends/ family for a few days so you come back more fresh

hope it works out x
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Why don't you look into transferring to research-based biomedical sciences?
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999tigger
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(Original post by aaa120701)
I've contacted york, Manchester, Cambridge and Bristol about my situation. York Manchester and Bristol are all happy to receive my application for 2021 entry ; Cambridge also say they 'welcome' the application but having spoken to an admissions tutor they said it's best to explain more in the SAQ (I'm giving a short line in my PS for the other unis).
I think I expected a bit too much from the social side of uni so I think this time I'll be a bit more outgoing and join more societies than I already have done, especially ones out of my comfort zone. I think I was quite unlucky with my flat as noone really talks or does anything. plus I think my general disdain for the course made me less approachable.
You see the point though, you have to decide whether its the course/ vocation or just the social situation which can possibly be remedied.
You will just havc to do a detailed pros and cons plus check you have analysed it and asked all the right questions to make sure its an informed decision.

How are your studies going?

You definitely feel you want to be away from London and or Imperial?

You dont fancy or think you could stick another 4.5 years and qualify?

Ultimately its your life and its not uncommon to change your mind. On the positive its much better you do it in year 1 as everything is under your control v year 2 when everything is very difficult to extricate yourself from.

If you feel theres an aspect of mental health issues forcing you off the course then consider seeing the GP , getting a letter and leaving on that basis. You have one gift year which you are using for a fresh start but leaving for MH could give you a chance to save it. Alternatively get this next one right. I like the year in industry as it gives you space to get a real grip on the situation rather than repeat past mistakes.
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aaa120701
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I'm not really a fan of biomedical sciences as a research field. if I had to do research, I would want to get into quantum chemistry/organic chemistry/quantum physics/astrophysics. in essence, more of a physical and chemical field rather than a biomedical one as I prefer it. imperial is really research heavy which is great but given how it is like that, I feel like I could be at the forefront of other research than biomedical sciences (but then again I don't think I'll stay at imperial).
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aaa120701
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(Original post by 999tigger)
You see the point though, you have to decide whether its the course/ vocation or just the social situation which can possibly be remedied.
You will just havc to do a detailed pros and cons plus check you have analysed it and asked all the right questions to make sure its an informed decision.

How are your studies going?

You definitely feel you want to be away from London and or Imperial?

You dont fancy or think you could stick another 4.5 years and qualify?

Ultimately its your life and its not uncommon to change your mind. On the positive its much better you do it in year 1 as everything is under your control v year 2 when everything is very difficult to extricate yourself from.

If you feel theres an aspect of mental health issues forcing you off the course then consider seeing the GP , getting a letter and leaving on that basis. You have one gift year which you are using for a fresh start but leaving for MH could give you a chance to save it. Alternatively get this next one right. I like the year in industry as it gives you space to get a real grip on the situation rather than repeat past mistakes.
thanks for the reply. I'll definitely consider a pros and cons list.
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Democracy
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(Original post by aaa120701)
thank you for the detailed reply. I have discussed it with them but it took a lot of fighting for them to realise that pushing me into something I don't really want to do was not a good idea. thankfully they're a bit more understanding now, but still quite disappointed in me. I've heard that medicine *becomes* your life - having not done any proper work experience I figured it would just be my daily job whilst I focus on my actual interests. having been at a few GP placements however, I realise the amount of emotional commitment a doctor has to make for every patient - each story was unique and required it's own approach by the doctor, and it felt so stressful after just 2 hours! wasn't really sure if I could've ever developed a career in what I was interested in, like chemistry or astrophysics - but now looking at my friends doing those subjects at uni (and having been to a few chemistry lectures at imperial myself) I felt so much more engaged and ready to learn than I ever did at the medical school. I was considering a research career but I'm not sure how well an MBBS degree bodes for research beyond biomedical sciences (but I know medicinal chemistry is a viable option).
I mean, you have to care and have an approach that works for different kinds of people but it's not like you need to become emotionally invested in each patient the same way as if it were your mum.

Anyway, I remember your thread from a few months ago and it's clear that you're unhappy with how things have worked out. It's been useful to read more about how you got into medicine and the role your parents have played in influencing this decision. I think you've arrived at some good, factual conclusions: medicine is not, and will never be, pure science. The amount of maths and chemistry is minimal to non-existent. There is a lot of responsibility attached to the job and you need to be interested in what you're learning in order to stay on top of this. If these conclusions sound unappealing then I don't see what you'll gain by continuing with the degree (especially clinical medicine in years 4-6, which resembles a workplace apprenticeship compared with the applied science learning of years 1-3).

You need to study something that fits your interests and personality whether that's natural sciences or chemical engineering or whatever else. You can't study something to please your parents.

Have you talked to anyone at your university about all of this?

I'm sure some of the universities you've listed have participated in Clearing - maybe you won't need to wait until 2021?
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aaa120701
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(Original post by Democracy)
I mean, you have to care and have an approach that works for different kinds of people but it's not like you need to become emotionally invested in each patient the same way as if it were your mum.

Anyway, I remember your thread from a few months ago and it's clear that you're unhappy with how things have worked out. It's been useful to read more about how you got into medicine and the role your parents have played in influencing this decision. I think you've arrived at some good, factual conclusions: medicine is not, and will never be, pure science. The amount of maths and chemistry is minimal to non-existent. There is a lot of responsibility attached to the job and you need to be interested in what you're learning in order to stay on top of this. If these conclusions sound unappealing then I don't see what you'll gain by continuing with the degree (especially clinical medicine in years 4-6, which resembles a workplace apprenticeship compared with the applied science learning of years 1-3).

You need to study something that fits your interests and personality whether that's natural sciences or chemical engineering or whatever else. You can't study something to please your parents.

Have you talked to anyone at your university about all of this?

I'm sure some of the universities you've listed have participated in Clearing - maybe you won't need to wait until 2021?
I've spoken to my academic tutor and my senior tutor about this as well as my teaching group. they were supportive - I also emailed imperial about the possibility of a transfer to the chemistry course but they got back to me within a week of the deadline. it made it difficult for me to contact school, get a reference and everything (it was also during the Christmas holidays when school was closed) (didn't even tell school at that point as I was still figuring stuff out - have emailed them since). also, Cambridge to me is more appealing bc of the courses flexibility and independence of each subject compared to the more integrated approach imperial had (and I also prefer the college system, city etc. having visited my gf there multiple times). this is also why I'm considering 2021 instead of 2020 too (also as I think I definitely need a bit more time to recover myself, gain some more maturity etc.)

it has been extremely difficult for me to even make myself attend - and I figured if I can't even find this easy, then I don't think I have the capacity to e.g. break bad news/work night shifts as a junior doctor etc. imperials course also suited me as I figured it would be science heavy but clearly as you said pure science is not what medicine is about.
Last edited by aaa120701; 1 month ago
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