Dropping Out of Med SchoolWatch
Have read a previous couple of articles but many are years past the original post. Wanted to possibly connect with those that also have serious doubts about medical school.
Much like many others, I just finished my intercalation year in Epidemiology and did pretty well. I'm a hard worker, and have been pretty intrigued in MedTech ever since I first got involved like a year ago on the course.
I've had a couple of MedTech research projects, holding down a summer internship at a tech company, and have learnt to love to programme/work with data over lockdown. I really can't see a stage of my life when I didn't work with data. My grand plan was changed recently now that I don't want to be a doctor, and so go into MedTech, PublicHealth, Research or just Tech.
Ive picked up a couple of Microsoft/Google qualifications at my work, and think I will be in a good place to apply for a MSc in Data Science/Computer Science/Machine Learning.
More recently, I have worried I dont even want to return to medical school. Ive never failed exams, my friends and family would be shocked, but its just so ... pencil pushy. For example, I just got told I will have to work on the wards as of next week, despite asking to delay this a week until I've been fully vaccinated.
This sounds like its not part of the issue, but I have an overwhelmingly negative impression of the course (organisation, teaching quality, student support) and that they can put us in an uncomfortable position and they don't care. I have organised a 1-1 with the head of the year and head of course, and they have suggested an official leave of absence ... for missing a week of work.
Am I going insane? Is this normal? I thought i would be able to knuckle down and see it out to get the full MBBS degree, but now I'm not even sure I want to be on the course for another second. There's no measures to protect us on campus, no attempts to encourage vaccination, testing, mask-wearing, social distancing ... Help!
However, a couple of things to consider:
You may not always feel this way. Do remember that just three or four years ago you couldn’t think of much else besides being a doctor. Whilst it would have been great to have been able to experience a few more things in order to make up your mind then, you’re now in a position of being a large chunk of the way through a medical degree and it’s not advisable to just walk away from it without really considering what you’re giving up. Just because you feel very strongly about data and tech doesn’t necessarily mean that you will like the reality of working life in that sector. And you’re giving up a certain career for one which has no certainty attached to it and for which you might end up changing you mind again later. There’s no way back to a medical degree once you leave it. And a UK medical degree is an incredibly valuable degree that is recognised the world over, even if you don’t end up in medicine. It’s worth just considering finishing just so you’ve got a ticket back if you need it. I think you probably know this.
You need to work through your decision to leave medicine, not just a decision to work in a different sector and you need to do this in an honest and objective way. You’re focusing a lot on the negatives, which is very common when you’re trying to talk yourself out of it. Believe me, I’ve gone through something similar and then done a U-turn right back to the thing I’d previously talked myself out of. You want to convince yourself there are no reasons to stay and that you never really liked it anyway. But the truth will be that there are some things you do like about it.
It’s normal to experience some trepidation about returning to something after a long break. You’ve spent a year rewiring your brain for something else: of course you’re going to be resistant to going back. And I think you owe it to yourself to try immersing yourself in medicine again, to see if it is quite as bad as you’re making out. It sounds like you’re about to head into clinical years, or maybe the next stage of clinical years. Whichever it is, this will be different to what has gone before. Again, you owe it to yourself to give yourself a fair chance to come to an objective decision rather than just one based on a strong hunch and a year out of study. You may find yourself wondering what if and this can be very unhealthy if you don’t get some proper closure on the matter.
Finally, re: the vaccination thing, you surely realise that the entire NHS did not shut down just because staff were unvaccinated. They had to keep working when there no vaccine and only PPE. Now you have a first vaccine and PPE is there to protect you. Patients are tested from the moment they get in to the moment you leave, you have access to lateral flow tests, and most staff around you will be double jabbed. You may be able to get exemption from working directly with Covid patients and it’s unlikely you will be placed in the thick of things. But this is something that everyone in the NHS has gone through and I don’t think on that basis you have a very strong argument to avoid going on the wards.
I don’t think this is a decision you should make without giving yourself a fair chance to make up you mind for certain. Future you may really regret it if you walk away without giving it your best try.