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Quitting Medical School - Help...

Discussion in 'Current Medical Students' started by andrewtayl, May 18, 2011.

  1. andrewtayl

    andrewtayl New Member

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    Hi,

    I've been having a bit of an inner crisis and don't really know who to turn you.

    I'm coming to the end of my 4th year of Medical school with one more to go (I also intercalated and got a BSc in Physiology last year). Problem is I'm fairly certain that medicine is not what I want to do with my life. I've been feeling this way for months now and feel completely torn up inside and in utter turmoil. I'm 24 and feel like I've ruined my life.

    I went into medicine because I wanted a career that was interesting, challenging and worthwhile with good job prospects, financially comfortable and stable. I did work experience before applying and thought medicine was right for me as it provided all of these and also meant that I could work anywhere in the country.

    But now I feel like I've completely destroyed my life:

    - Medicine doesn't allow you to work anywhere in the country, it just means you can BE SENT to work anywhere in the country, with nothing you can do about it.
    - The work isn't challenging, it's overwhelming
    - The debt I've accrued with extra years of study, loans and missing out on earning a salary for several years has meant I am in too much debt to do anything else, but wouldn't be in this position if it wasn't for medicine
    - The working conditions are terrible (low staff morale, unpleasant workplaces, no benefits, high pressure) and are only going to get worse
    - The long, anti-social hours are extremely hard work and not worth it
    - Added to this having to work non-stop to pass exams, carry out audits, get published, get skills signed off, etc means there's no time for a life

    My biggest fear is that I have and will continue to spend my youth slaving away in hospitals for seemingly no reward at the end. The majority of the junior and senior doctors I see are incredibly stressed and tired and I keep thinking to myself - is this really worth it? There's more to life than this. I won't look back when I'm 65 and think 'thank God I spent all my life slaving away in a hospital for this'.

    I was just wondering if anyone else has thoughts like this and how they deal with them? I know I only have one year left to go but let's face it finals will be hell and if I decide not to go into foundation training I'll be 25 with huge debts and no work experience of any kind. I know medicine is a hard degree but it's not directly related to anything else and won't look any better than the BSc I already have. I'm seriously considering just finishing off 4th year in a few weeks, applying to masters courses and hoping to God I can get on one and get out of medicine. I am worried how quitting medicine so late on will look though. I've been looking at MSc's in Management. During that year I could at least get some work experience and apply for jobs. When I think of not having to spend any more time on wards I just feel so relieved.

    Sorry this is a bit of a rant...
     
  2. whenwhere

    whenwhere New Member

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    Finish your medical degree. Then do something else.
     
  3. James

    James New Member

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    I agree with above. Finish your degree. Even if you leave medicine for another career entirely your degree will count for a lot.

    Also bare in mind that you are only exposed to the acute side of medicine at medical school. Most of your time is in hospital with the busy, acute specialities. There are plenty of jobs outside of this area with a much slower pace of life - public health, GP, occy health, pharmaceutical medicine, psychiatry, pathology, clinical biochem..the list is endless.

    Why don't you see if you can have a chat with a consultant from one of these non-acute specialities?
     
  4. ethaniha

    ethaniha New Member

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    Hi Andrew. I'm not at Medical school but I appreciate how hard it is and that you have very justified concerns about the future at present and are feeling overwhelmed by all the work and study and pressure. I think you might be best off speaking to someone at Uni who can help you deal with stress so that you can think more clearly about the future - once you have completed your degree you might feel differently and you would probably regret it if you didn't finish the degree. You don't have too long left and if you can find a way to get through it you can consider your options in a much better position than being very in debt with no degree and no career ahead. I think it is possible to do clinical research or medical mangement with a medical degree, which would be very different from working as a doctor and might appeal more - who knows? I hope you get things sorted though and try not to make any rash decisions based on how you feel at this moment - hopefully your uni is supportive and will be able to offer advice? Good luck x
     
  5. Martigan

    Martigan Super Moderator

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    Hi Andrew

    I’m going to reiterate the advice you have received so far and also strongly suggest that you at least finish your degree.

    Even if you don’t practice medicine, it is an incredibly valuable degree. Outside the Healthcare sector, a degree subject has less relevance. For most work/jobs, a degree provides little more that an indication of your intelligence / ability to learn. I did a degree in accountancy and it earned me no real advantage over the accountants that started off with Music or History degrees. A medical degree demonstrates an intellectual ability far better than any other undergraduate degree that I can think off.

    And as for the hours and stress, don’t underestimate what its like in the private sector. During my formative years 50 + hour weeks are not rare. So that is working to the small hours and weekends. Plus I was sent round the world, away from my family and friends, with no choice over this (other than to quit)

    You have to go where the work is. Just like medicine it’s a matter of luck over if you can get the work you want exactly where you want to be. And some jobs are far more restricted in location than medicine. Try getting a well-paid Finance Directors job outside London!

    You talk to other Accountants, Lawyers and Teachers and you can get similar stories. The jobs that pay well, do so because of the personal sacrifices you must make, which to be honest, these are comparable or worse than those that you would face in medicine.

    Plus your employability is much higher in medicine, where as at the moments on average more that 50% of graduates are said to be still unemployed 6 months after their graduation. Of those who do have jobs a good proportion of those are in McDonalds, Starbucks, Waterstones etc... For those jobs you still face stress, unsociable hours and personal abuse, but without the benefit of good pay or mental stimulation.

    Also consider the stress you are under at the moment? Could this be making you feel anxious or down? Could this be making you look at the future, with a more negative twist?

    As James highlights, there are may careers within Healthcare and allied areas that have better work life balance than acute medicine.

    Talk to your student support, talk to a few consultants, GP’s etc. Talk to people outside medicine. Things are not as bleak inside the NHS as you may think. Nor are the prospects outside as easy as you seem to believe.

    Good luck, and I hope things go well for you.
     
  6. hayles

    hayles New Member

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    Hi Andrew,
    I'm coming to the end of my third year now and have been feeling similar to you for the past 3 months.

    After initially feeling pretty miserable and down about my future, I've spoke to other med students (my year and older years) and a lot of them have felt similar at least one point or more during their time as a medical student too, which is nice because it reminds you that you're not alone :)

    The main thing I've found that de stresses me at the moment is by focusing on just passing the degree rather than worrying about working as a doctor, and researching options other than medicine as a career path.

    These are some links that I've found helpful.
    http://www.eastmidlandsdeanery.nhs.uk/document_store/12828356941_career_handbook_7th_edition.pdf

    http://www.radcliffe-oxford.com/Books/samplechapter/3044/Cottrell chpt 20-18b4c120rdz.pdf

    And if you fancy a good laugh:
    101 Things You Wish You Knew Before Starting Medical School : Med School Hell

    I hope this helps, and good luck with everything :)
     
  7. Teshan

    Teshan Member

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    There is some great advice here, Andrew. I would agree with the previous posters that you should try to stay the course and finish your degree, seeing as you are so near the finish line. Following that come of your current stresses will have dissipated and you can think more clearly about your future. Try to take some time out to destress after the exams. When things are most intense, we often can't think clearly (can't see the wood from the trees).

    Not all those who finish with a medical degree go on to be doctors. There are many other professions that value a degree such as medicine - finance, insurance, education etc. You are in a much better position than most to have a great career, whatever you choose. I wish you all the best.
     
  8. elz

    elz New Member

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    yea medicine has been my dream my entire life and it was only recently that I actually began to doubt if im really cut out for it. however iv got back on track and have sorted my crisis out i think. I think i also thought i should at least finish my degree anyway now as i only have 2 years left and with a medicine degree you can always do other things apart from practising, like medical writing, or i dont know what. As for being able to work anywhere in the country, i think you can. You may be placed somewhere withint your 'chosen' region for FY but after that ie if you become a GP you can apply to whichever GP practices in the country that have vacancies. No jobs perfect and no working conditions are perfect. I think I always had medicine on a pedastool, and I no longer think its all that, but I still enjoy working with patients and I think when i eventually get where i want to be itl be worth it.
     
  9. bonoz

    bonoz New Member

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    Maybe this is just a moment and perhaps it will pass? There's good and bad to everything. Nothing is all good and no bad.
     
  10. Lyns

    Lyns New Member

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    Stick with finishing medicine. At least you'll have a good degree at the end of it and even if you dont become a doctor people will see you are dedicated, hard working, intelligent and can cope under pressure - excellent qualities for any job.

    The foundation years of being a doctor are hard work but starting in most jobs is hard work. You work long hours - but you could always go for a hospital trust that is lower banding and therefore less hours.

    At the end of the day if you cant see medicine as rewarding for being apart of some of the most vulnerable parts in peoples lives and helping people get through hard times then maybe being a doctor isnt for you anymore. But that doesn't mean you should quit medicine when you're so close to the end.

    Like everyone else has said there are plenty of medical related jobs and doing a masters degree will just put you in more debt. Also medicine is probably the only degree with an almost guaranteed job at the end.

    Talk to careers advice at your uni - they will be able to help you develop a plan.
     
  11. andrewtayl

    andrewtayl New Member

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    Thanks for all your replies, it's been interesting to hear your views and to see replies from people who have felt similarly.

    I know that I'm not going to drop out of the course. Whatever I ultimately decide to do a medical degree will look great, better than a lot of other degrees and certainly better than quitting so close to the end. Next year is going to be extremely tough if my heart is not in it, but I will have to struggle on. I still wish i had never chosen medicine, but there's nothing I can do about the decisions I have already made! Just work and try to improve things.

    I have spoken to a careers guidance counsellor about my options, what I want from a career and why I don't think medicine will be able to give that to me. The areas I'm interested in are management/accountancy and will look into applying for jobs in these area during my final year. I have also spoken to a counsellor about managing my stress and anxiety so that i am able to feel less panicked, like a failure and able to focus.

    I have a portfolio review next week and am in two minds to discuss my thoughts with her and my hospital dean.

    The idea of leaving medicine with at the end of 5th year with no firm other option is scary as I have bank loans to pay back so really do need some sort of other option to pay them back if I don't become an F1!!
     
  12. PeteM

    PeteM New Member

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    [What did you end up doing?

    I ´m sort of in a similar situation. Knowing what you did might help

    Thanks
    Pete
     
  13. andrewtayl

    andrewtayl New Member

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    Hi PeteM,

    I'm currently sitting my finals at the minute so focusing on them. I spoke to my portfolio tutor who was actually really helpful. She didn't tell me what to do, just that there is almost certainly something in medicine for everyone but also that there if something really isn't right for you then it is time to do something else. I also spoke to my Dean who was less helpful but was very clear that I should finish the course (and I definitely agree with this!) and give myself as many options as possible.

    5th year hasn't been as bad and finals not as traumatic as I expected (they're tough but not awful). I wish I had spoken to my family earlier as I left it quite late and they were disappointed and it was harder for them to understand why I was so unhappy doing medicine as it felt very sudden for them.

    I have applied for many other jobs and am now in the final stages of interviews for quite a few, it's actually surprising how useful a medical degree can be at providing answers to application questions. However beware that later on you need to have a very good reason for moving into a new career area. They don't want to hear why you don't like medicine, but why you feel more suited to their line of work.

    Looking back I wish I had researched other careers and spoken to the careers service earlier and started looking at other opportunities earlier in my final year (July) as I waited until October and by then there was a lot more pressure. At first I just wanted something that wasn't medicine and was really looking at any job and applying which made my applications a bit haphazard, however I realised that jumping to a new career that was equally wrong would place me in an even worse situation and I should focus my efforts on what I really want. I don't want to do a job that isn't medicine and then realise that just because it is different it isn't necessarily right. Speak to employers, go to career fairs and speak to current employees in other areas.

    I do appreciate a lot more of the good points of medicine now, but I still don't believe it is right for me. I won't go into the specifics of what career I want to follow now as it's important to make your own decisions. At the minute I have an F1 job lined up and will use it as a back-up if needs be. Completing foundation so that I can always return to medicine or do locuming while I look for something else. This isn't ideal and I hope not to, but I feel less worried about F1 than I did before.

    I hope this helps. What stage are you at? Have you thought about what you'd like to do? What is it about medicine that you don't like?
     

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