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Med school woes

I need some advice.

I am a first-year medical student originally from London. I chose medicine because I enjoyed the science and human contact and the range of opportunities available to doctors such as teaching and research to name a few. I did do the work experience and volunteering at A&E and really enjoyed that aspect of things. I could really imagine myself becoming a doctor and being able to help patients.

I ended up doing your bog standard bio chem maths for a level, and took a gap year to achieve AAA at A-level. Did reasonably well at the UCAT and got entry into medical school for 2023. I should perhaps mention I come from an Asian household where engineering, law, computer science and medicine were the only routes. I did enjoy biology at a level and despised physics. Considering things now, law was an option however did not take any humanity subjects. Did do an EPQ and enjoyed writing bibliographies and cross-examining essays so I’m unsure if this was a path I should take.

Anyways, I started medical school in September after an incident which wasn’t directly to do with me per say but affected my family as a whole. I thought I had it all planned out, work hard and play hard. However, I started falling behind and feeling depressed about everything. Which led to me taking a leave of absence beginning of Christmas break and then reversing it and continuing revising throughout the break. I wasn’t in the best state and was suffering from undiagnosed depression and insomnia. Flashforward to start of the term and exams were there. I revised as best as I could, started on new medication for insomnia and depression and things were well. But I was stressed out about exams and how they were going to pan out. So I suspended again and hence missed exams (which were mocks so didn’t count towards anything), thinking oh it’ll give me 6 months of time to decide what to do with my life. However, now I’m regretting it. I love the course and placement, it was great but the exam aspect was not for me. I’d spend hours panicking over the content I know and didn’t know. I knew medicine was going to be a career where there’s always exams looming and I thought maybe if I took a break it would leave me feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

How wrong I was. Now, I think if I stuck to it maybe I could have done it. Also, my plan was and still is if I failed first year, I’d probably transfer courses to another healthcare or stem subject. So now I’m scared. Because I’m 19 and will be 20 when I start again in September 2024. What happens if I start again and realise medicine isn’t the career for me? What then? People the same year as me at sixth form will be in their final year at university while I’ll be choosing to start another degree whatever that means if medicine wasn't the right option. So maybe I should have sat the exams and gone through it all so then at least by the end of the year, I would at least have a general idea of whether to stay on medicine or go elsewhere. I do have the choice of unsuspending if I am sure that's what I want however I'm not sure because I missed the exams even if they don't count, the summer ones will be essentially my first chance at doing them and I'll have no prior experience. Never been so unsure in my life. Also if I were to drop out, I would essentially be removing myself from the opportunity to study medicine again at least in the UK. So it's a vicious cycle, I'm scared of not continuing medicine and regretting it in the future because future me may think if I'd worked a little harder or continued it and not being able to back out of it because of the nature of the course. Please help, I’m desperate. @GANFYD @MedMama @Medpapa and any others. Please don't judge I'm in a tough situation and I know many would kill to be in my shoes and get into medical school in the first place.
(edited 4 months ago)
Hey there, thanks for posting a question in the Medicine forum. :biggrin:

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Hello there.

Firstly, you have absolutely done the right thing. Anyone in any kind of predicament like this and my advice would be to suspend studies. Sometimes life gets in the way of study- it's no big deal and it can happen to people. You suspend until you feel ready and able to come back. Live your life, learn to drive or whatever, come back in September or even wait until September 2025. It is no big deal.

Forget your age- it's just a number and there are thousands of people of varying ages in medical school in the UK. The fact you are one year older is of no consequence.

Focus on your health, forget the course for now. By the sounds of it you could have persisted with the first year but what if it had ended in a flaming wreck in July? You'd have to have repeated year 1. This way you get time for yourself, you can recuperate, relax a bit, go and do some healthcare work, reignite your passion for medicine and come back. You'll know what to expect and in the meantime if you want to look at some of the course content and start learning it in your own time and pace, that will help when you return also. Some people do this, some don't.

I totally and absolutely understand your situation- believe me- because it happened to me as well. It happens to people and it isn't anyone's fault. There is no need to panic.
Reply 3
Original post by ErasistratusV
Hello there.

Firstly, you have absolutely done the right thing. Anyone in any kind of predicament like this and my advice would be to suspend studies. Sometimes life gets in the way of study- it's no big deal and it can happen to people. You suspend until you feel ready and able to come back. Live your life, learn to drive or whatever, come back in September or even wait until September 2025. It is no big deal.

Forget your age- it's just a number and there are thousands of people of varying ages in medical school in the UK. The fact you are one year older is of no consequence.

Focus on your health, forget the course for now. By the sounds of it you could have persisted with the first year but what if it had ended in a flaming wreck in July? You'd have to have repeated year 1. This way you get time for yourself, you can recuperate, relax a bit, go and do some healthcare work, reignite your passion for medicine and come back. You'll know what to expect and in the meantime if you want to look at some of the course content and start learning it in your own time and pace, that will help when you return also. Some people do this, some don't.

I totally and absolutely understand your situation- believe me- because it happened to me as well. It happens to people and it isn't anyone's fault. There is no need to panic.

Many thanks for your insight. Can I ask what your situation was please generalised? Some context about this all.
If you FEEL it's not right for you, then it probably isn't for you. Trust your inner gut. If you don't think you continue on with medicine. Don't. You still have plenty of time to consider switching the degree, but don't push yourself into doing something that you internally know you won't be able to succeed in.

Mental health is real. Don't play around with it. If you came back from the break and you still don't have the internal passion/motivation to push on with medicine (disregarding all aspects of family pressures). then start working on a Plan B. Possibly a life science degreee? Biomedicine? Biochemistry? You still have time, don't make the mistake I did pushing on with medicine just because I thought of the same things as you (good reputation, hard to get into med school etc).

Trust your inner gut. It's almost always right.
You still have time, don't keep on dwelling and move on to something else if that's what your body is trying to tell you.
Original post by hopeless2424
Many thanks for your insight. Can I ask what your situation was please generalised? Some context about this all.


I'm afraid I can't really go into any details I'm afraid as they are distinctly personal to me.

Instead I'll say this though. You've suspended which was exactly the right thing to do. You might not be able see this right now but you will in time- trust me on this.

You now have all the time in the world until September (or September 25 even), provided your GP and occupational health think it is a good idea. Make the full use of this time to fortify your mind, body and soul for the challenge that you know is involved when you return. You'll be wiser to the demands and nature of the course. And because you know what is involved you can be a pillar for other first year students who will benefit from your prior experience.

The fact you took time out is a good thing. You'll be a better student and in turn you'll be a better clinician because you'll have greater insight. Leverage this fact as a strength. It's not a weakness in any way.

In the meantime, focus on your health. Perhaps in time get some healthcare work under your belt and get into an exercise programme if you think it will benefit your mental health. I would also find an anatomy anki deck and work through that gently. By the time you restart, you'll already know a lot of content which makes the whole job a lot easier.

And lastly, exams- they can be quite fun. You'll get used to them. They aren't something to be terrified of- if you have experience of the environment in A and E then you will be used to some challenge.
(edited 4 months ago)
Reply 6
Original post by AcadWarriorA*
If you FEEL it's not right for you, then it probably isn't for you. Trust your inner gut. If you don't think you continue on with medicine. Don't. You still have plenty of time to consider switching the degree, but don't push yourself into doing something that you internally know you won't be able to succeed in.

Mental health is real. Don't play around with it. If you came back from the break and you still don't have the internal passion/motivation to push on with medicine (disregarding all aspects of family pressures). then start working on a Plan B. Possibly a life science degreee? Biomedicine? Biochemistry? You still have time, don't make the mistake I did pushing on with medicine just because I thought of the same things as you (good reputation, hard to get into med school etc).

Trust your inner gut. It's almost always right.
You still have time, don't keep on dwelling and move on to something else if that's what your body is trying to tell you.

Did you pursue with medicine even though you knew it wasn't for you?

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