pepsiu
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I've been really conflicted the past few weeks. Since about year 11 I've been very set on medicine, maybe wavering once or twice to consider something else, but for the most part I was pretty committed. Now that it's come to actually doing UCAS, and writing my personal statement, revising for the UCAT, I'm really unsure.

I think my main reasons for it are: 1) the long length of study. It's not specifically that 5 years of study is too much, but 5 years of uni I suppose. I'm a bit scared of feeling trapped/stuck where I am, even if I were enjoying it. If that makes sense. If I were doing a 3 year degree, and find I'm not enjoying it in second year, it's much easier to push through. If I'm not enjoying it in a 5/6 year degree, I either have to push through for many years, or drop out with a BMedSci (?).

2) Life-long study. I can't honestly say if I would hate this or not. I don't particularly hate studying and exams now, but it's all I've ever done. I'm not sure I want to be constantly sitting exams for my life.

3) There's a lot of negativity around medicine. It's hard not to be disillusioned when all I hear from medical professionals is negativity. My mum is a nurse, her best friend is a doctor. All the doctors in my hospital volunteering too, few nice words to say about it from any of them. Constant pay erosion, over working.

Those are the main reasons. Tbh I don't think I want a career in science unless it's in medicine. I don't actually think I'd enjoy research type jobs at all. So I've been considering other options, Foreign Languages, Law, Anthropology. I even wrote a personal statement for law in the spur of the moment one night last week.

I want a career that is meaningful, with the potential to help people, and will fulfil me, but is also intellectually stimulating. When I look at prospects those careers seem few and far between.

I think my main issue is I don't want to not do it and then regret it. I know people say if you want to do medicine or something else, do something else. But If I did something else, and got halfway through that degree and realised I actually wanted to do medicine, had to do another so many years of a uni, with 10s of thousands of pounds more, higher competition for grad entry. I would feel so regretful.

To sum up, I'm not sure about medicine, but I don't want to regret not doing it now, when I'm much better placed to get in.
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ajj2000
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year or two out while you learn what you want out of life and where your interests lie.
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hss_2004
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I was in the same position as you, medicine was my goal and my dream for ever until year 12. I've decided to go for chemistry now. I had similar reasons to why I didn't want to become a doctor and im not going to lie to you, if you have doubts going in I don't think med is for you, it is clear you're having trouble committing to it which will only hurt you in the long run. You have the rest of your life to become a doctor if you really wanted too. Im doing a chem degree and maybe then I might go into med. but if you aren't 100% now then I would say you're dodging the bullet.
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Turning_A_Corner
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I would second the idea of taking a year out to decide and to get some more experience to try and make up your mind. I think a lot of people would rethink medicine if they did more extensive work experience. It's a way to make sure you're certain about it and whether the drawbacks are things you can live with.

What you're describing are drawbacks. They're not reasons not to do medicine unless you decide that the benefits don't outweigh them. They exist in any job. I don't know any job that doesn't have them. A good example for me would be chocolate taster. On the surface it sounds like a dream job. But the reality is that you have to taste chocolate with liqueur, fruit and nuts in and that's just not something I would want to spend my life eating!

Let's take your worries one at a time:

Long length of study. there is no getting away from this. The length of study required to become a doctor in the UK is one of the shortest in the world and it's still long. However, let's compare it with law, as you mention it. At best, law is only a year shorter due to the postgraduate qualifications you have to study for. Plus, law is a saturated market with no cap on the number of people studying it - unlike medicine - and it could easily take you 5+ years to land a training contract or pupillage. Engineering is 4 years, in most cases. Becoming an academic is 7 years at least (and at best). Becoming a teacher is 4 years if you go the postgraduate route. Psychology can take up to ten years with the competition but, again, it's a minimum of 6 years, and 7 is more realistic.
You say you're looking for a career that's meaningful but you can't think of any. I'd say you haven't been looking very hard! If you wanted to do something related to medicine but which isn't as long the allied health professions are your obvious target. The AHPs are only 3 years' training, as is nursing. Speech and language therapy, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, social work etc. Might be something to look at if length of study is too much of a barrier.

Lifelong study. Most graduate careers involve lifelong learning. Not necessarily exams but to stay current, most people have to engage in continuing professional development, attend conferences, complete audits, do extra training etc. This isn't specific to medicine. The number of exams you have to do may be higher than average but eventually you do take your last exam.

Lots of negativity? Well, yes, no getting away from that either. But bear in mind, however, people are more likely to talk about the negative parts of their job than the positive, for various reasons. And the only way to effect change is to get the public talking about it. And that means dwelling on the more negative aspects of the work.

Your reasons to do medicine or any healthcare career are different from the reasons you have to stay in the job. You spend your life renewing your commitment to your job. Some days are terrible, some months are terrible. Then some days are brilliant. I spent two weeks at the beginning of this month coming home crying most days because it felt like all I saw were the most devastating cases coming through the stroke unit. I didn't get a single win for two weeks. Added to that, my favourite long-term patient who I'd been about to discharge had a new stroke that wiped out all of the progress we'd made and his swallow and remaining mobility. And those really impaired patients were then lingering in the hospital, too ill or infirm for discharge and I therefore had to see them everyday and got nowhere. I came home most days feeling useless and that I wasn't contributing anything.
Then, things turned around. I had two cases who it seemed were hopeless undergo spontaneous recovery and started talking and then a spate of people came through who had come in unable to speak and were being discharged with only minor impairments. I had two patients in community who smashed their language targets and one person who went from saying he was unable to write at the start of the session to writing a nine word message to his dad. Yes, that person was also a murderer I went on to find out and may or may not be occasionally pretending to be more impaired than he actually is for reasons unknown, but it felt like a win at the time! Then I got a lady with foreign accent syndrome who inspired some really interesting reading and I was able to help another lady just by being able to sit and talk with her for an hour and putting her in touch with services who could help her. The rubbish things were still happening, but it felt easier to cope. And I had a renewed sense of enjoyment, stimulation and commitment to my job.

It's not necessary to love your job all the time or everything about a particular job. You try that and you'll never find anything that you want to do. I know people who've not done it and have walked away with no regrets. My supervisor is one such person, actually. Then there are people who find their way back to medicine at a time when they're better able to make that decision or better equipped to do the course. Then there are the people who do it without enough preparation and find it's the wrong path for them and then there are the people who give it due care and consideration and find it's exactly right for them. You don't have to make this decision now if you're not sure. Take some time.
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Turning_A_Corner
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I would also add that there are many exit routes from medicine along the way and even once you’re through. I know almost as many people who’ve exited medicine as who’ve stuck with it as well as a whole lot more who balance more than one income stream.
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