Author Topic: Quit med school  (Read 45528 times)

RoryCK

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Quit med school
« on: October 07, 2013, 02:59:04 PM »
Hey there,

So finally I've amitted to myself that I want to quit med school. The only reason I'm doing it, is because my parents are forcing me. But it's literally sucking all the happiness out of my life.
It's not just the education, thought that's positively horrible aswell, it's the future you have as a physician. There's almost no life outside the world of medicine, female doctors have to struggle to have children and when they manage to have a baby, they have to jump to get back to work within a matter of weeks weeks. A female doctor said to me that she could never find the time to read to her children or help them with their homework.
As for the education; you hardly need to be smart; it's just memorising an endless list of facts. I've noticed that a doctor's favourite phrase is "We don't know exactly why or what the reason is ...." No, you wouldn't know the mechanism behind anything if all you do is memorise. It's hardly intelectually stimulating.

But my main problem is what do I do now (and I do like to point out that I live outside the US), I have my bachelor's degree, but I don't know whether that would be useful for anything.
Have any of you been in similar situation, or known someone who has gone through the same?

gimp

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Re: Quit med school
« Reply #1 on: October 07, 2013, 03:07:12 PM »
What degree? Pre-med? Or something more general like biology?

Do you like medicine at all? Nursing? Pharmacology?

RoryCK

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Re: Quit med school
« Reply #2 on: October 07, 2013, 03:10:47 PM »
Bachelor's degree in medicine unfortunately. That's how it works here; first you have the bachelor, then clinical rotations, then you're an MD and then your life stinks.

Norrie

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Re: Quit med school
« Reply #3 on: October 07, 2013, 03:44:18 PM »
Look into becoming a pharmaceutical rep. They make killer money, but you've got to be able to put on a sales face.

Don't go down a path that makes you unhappy, even if it means having a hard conversation with your parents. You deserve to do what makes you happy and fulfilled in life, and it sounds like medicine isn't the place.

Good luck!

StarryC

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Re: Quit med school
« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2013, 03:48:30 PM »
I don't know where you are or the system there.  Here in the US, those with an MD can go in to research.  Once you fight through the memorization, etc.  you can go out and try to find the "why" if that is what interests you.  Also in the US, options with a pre-med degree would include becoming a dentist and a pharmacist.  I think both of those have more stable schedules than MD schedules, though I'm sure still a lot of memorization.  Perhaps a medical profession that requires a different type of training like chiropractic, physical therapy, occupational therapy, vocational rehabilitation?  None of those deal with a true "why" but they do offer more hands on interaction and hopefully noticeable improvement.

Another thing in the US: Some medical professionals get into "forensic" or "litigation" work- become a doctor that lawyers hire to evaluate people's claimed injuries or read their medical records and offer an opinion.  Lucrative, flexible.  But requires the MD for sure.  Also, teaching pre-med at undergrad level?

If you really hate it, you shouldn't do it.  But it might be worth it to talk to more doctors outside of your training program about their lives.  Country doctors, part time doctors, specialists, "concierge" practice group doctors, etc.  I know in the US the general idea is work all the time, but I think that isn't actually true and plenty of people find another way. 







 

mustachejd

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Re: Quit med school
« Reply #5 on: October 07, 2013, 04:16:16 PM »
I was in the same boat as you.  While I quit and am pretty happy with my decision, I have friends who also quit and are desperately regretting their decision.   

Here are my .02:

Don't rush into quitting.  Talk to your Dean of Students (or whoever it is that's in charge of student welfare) and explain your situation.  You sound like you *might* be at the start of your medical school career, so what you are feeling is totally normal and I assure you, at least 25% of your classmates are probably feeling the same way.  If she is doing her job properly, she'll be an invaluable source of people to talk to and other programs/career options to consider.

In my situation, it took me about two years to quit.  And even then, I didn't quit right away.  Because I kept in touch with my dean and she knew that I was really having a difficult time in making a decision, she managed to convince the administration that I should be able to take a leave of absence "to figure things out."  It probably helped that despite all my issues, I was doing fairly well academically, so please, please, please, whatever you do, make sure your grades are as top notch as possible, so that you can keep your options open.  In my case, during that year, I worked two jobs and decided not to go back to medical school once I realized that I could keep myself financially afloat while I made more concrete plans for my future.   

Also, StarryC is right - I am still good friends with a lot of my female medical school friends, and they're doing fine, quality of life-wise.  I don't know how it works in other countries, but in the US, it's all about what specialty you go to and what practice you wind up settling down in.  My radiology/dermatology/anesthesiology/private practice gal pals and I hang out for happy hour, do mommy/child play dates (I don't have kids, but I find them fun) all the time.  Not so much with the ladies who went into surgery or work at university hospitals.

FuckRx

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Re: Quit med school
« Reply #6 on: October 07, 2013, 04:41:10 PM »

I did my first 2 year and then quit in my 3rd year, 2 months out a lot of my friends really urged me to reconsider and said it will get better. Took me almost 4 months to finally get back in and it did get better. I'm not a family medicine doctor and i absolutely love what i do. stable high income working 5 days a week about 32-40 hours a week. it's not easy work but i was a fish/reptile specialist in college at a pet shop and that was way harder. in my particular situation i'm glad i stuck it out.

RoryCK

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Re: Quit med school
« Reply #7 on: October 07, 2013, 05:04:54 PM »
Dear mustachejd, I can assure I don't rush into anything, It took me even longer than it did you to get to this conclusion. But I have to take the signs seriously; I'm not happy in what I'm doing, I've been diagnosed with clinical depression and don't want my life to be like this. Really, something has to change; I can't be endlessly afraid of my parents' judgement.
But I'm curious as to what you ended up doing?

And it's not that I necessarily want to know the "why" behind everything, it's just that I feel like a robot, who's only good enough to acquire information and then apply it. Sometimes I feel like I have to check whether I still have the ability to think or if all me braincells have just died.

Overall I have these options for master degrees;
-I can go into biomedical sciences; the professors haven't denied me entrance, but they heavily advise against it; because of my bachelor in medicine I lack the knowledge in biological mechanisms behind disease, so that limits my job opportunities. And also people have difficulties funding fundemental research because of the poor economic status of most countries.
-I can go into pharmacy. Again lack of knowledge in mechanisms, plus I would have to study one year to erase all deficiencies before I'm even admitted to the programme.
-And my last option is going into epidemiology, which seems like the best option, because there are no deficiencies and there seems to be a rise in job opportunities in this field. There are however a few things that bother me; firstly the programme isn't as full and secondly the students are usually older.

So that basically is my situation.

kh

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Re: Quit med school
« Reply #8 on: October 07, 2013, 05:20:30 PM »
You're trying to make these important decisions about what you want to do with yourself through the haze of your depression.  Naturally, it feels overwhelming.  Why not ask for a leave of absence to give yourself time to think, take stock, and decide if you want to go into epidemiology or try something else?

lizzzi

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Re: Quit med school
« Reply #9 on: October 07, 2013, 05:26:11 PM »
This is my first post, ever, after lurking for a long time. But I was in healthcare for 42 years before FI and ER, and I have to say that what I am Not hearing here is deafening. It's hard to define what caring is, but I'm not hearing that word here from anyone. It's an X factor--a slippery concept--but  anyone who builds a successful career and is happy doing healthcare will tell you first and foremost that they're in the business because they want to help people...want to make a difference...love to take care of people...something along those lines. It comes before anything else, and if the poster is not saying that--and I'm not hearing it--there is no disgrace whatsoever in getting out of the field, no matter what parents or peers may say. Caregiving is not for everybody, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with not being a caregiver type. One of my brothers is a physician, and like most of them, lives and breathes medicine. It's a calling, a vocation--and if you don't want to do it, or just are not "feeling it" then for heaven's sake, find another field that you are passionate about. People who go into medicine, nursing, dentistry...whatever..."for the money" or because "it makes me very employable" never, repeat Never, build successful careers. They do themselves and their patients a disservice, in my opinion. And I don't mean anything derogatory or critical, not in the least. If it's not for you, be honest with yourself, get out, and find your true direction.

Simple Abundant Living

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Re: Quit med school
« Reply #10 on: October 07, 2013, 05:39:11 PM »
I wonder if it's the med school or the depression that is making your decisions.  I think the depression needs to be addressed first.  Then the family issues.  Then the career choice.  What would you like to do if you had the option?  What really gets you excited?  Every job will have its downside.  Here in the US, there are so many different paths to take with a medical degree.  I do know of women that have been able to have a good work/family life, but I don't know how things are where you live.  I am applying to PA school in the spring.  I love this career path because it has the flexibility of specialty and schedule I want, while getting me into medicine which really excites me.  Is there a career path in your country like that.  PA's and NP's are able to see patients and prescribe, but it is a Masters program.  PA's can change specialty simply by getting a new job.  You are qualified to work in any specialty that the MD who oversees you is qualified to work in.

Hamster

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Re: Quit med school
« Reply #11 on: October 07, 2013, 05:49:38 PM »
Sorry to hear of what sounds like a horrible way to train physicians. While I had a bit of a love/hate relationship with medical school, our program focused very much on first understanding the fundamentals of biological systems on a cellular and molecular level, then understanding the physiology of organ systems and how they function together, then looking at what happens when things go awry in disease processes. It sounds like in your case, they are beginning with the latter without building the foundation... I can see why that would promote depression.

My two cents: It sounds like you have plenty of career options, but it would be hard to advise without knowing what part of the world you are in and what you enjoy. I personally wouldn't be able to stand pharmacy, but have friends who love it. That sounds like a memorization-heavy discipline... At least in training.

I have an MPH in epidemiology in addition to my MD, and I particularly find infectious disease epi to be amazingly interesting. Still some memorization, but much more application of principles, once you've learned the fundamentals. if you read/liked Freakonomics, basically those authors are trying to apply the same principles and techniques epidemiologists use to what the Freakonomics people call 'economic' questions. Also lots of opportunity for work in governments, NGOs, international opportunities, and working in areas that are socially relevant... Now I'm starting to talk myself into quitting clinical work and going back to my public health roots... :-) the biggest downside I personally see to epi work is that you are almost always part of some big political organization - govt, university, NGO - and I quickly get tired of bureaucracy and political stupidity.

[edited grammar/clarity]
« Last Edit: October 07, 2013, 10:13:08 PM by Hamster »

frugaldrummer

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Re: Quit med school
« Reply #12 on: October 07, 2013, 07:22:51 PM »
I don't know what country you're in, but here in the U.S. there are lots of part-time options available for physicians.  I trained in Family Medicine.  When I first was out of residency, I worked shifts in a busy urgent care center - about 30 hours a week at first, then gradually less as I had more children (I have 3) and my husband finished his residency. Eventually I was down to just two 12-hour shifts per month - enough to keep my hand in and my intellect stimulated, and provide some small income, but left me free to take care of kids and home too.

Now my kids are grown, I am divorced, and I have a small holistic private practice which is very rewarding.

There are lots of other part-time options for primary care doctors here - working locum tenens (filling in for doctors on vacation or sick leave), working with nursing homes or drug rehab centers, working for a health spa, etc etc.

I agree that you should be careful not to make a decision that is just a response to depression or fatigue.  Is there something else that you love that you always wanted to do?  Or are you just burnt out?

lifejoy

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Re: Quit med school
« Reply #13 on: October 07, 2013, 07:23:03 PM »
What do you like to do? Talk to people? Read? Research? Analyze? Compute? Build? Create?

Answer that question, and then think about the jobs that would focus on that skill.

Nords

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Re: Quit med school
« Reply #14 on: October 07, 2013, 08:32:22 PM »
Bachelor's degree in medicine unfortunately. That's how it works here; first you have the bachelor, then clinical rotations, then you're an MD and then your life stinks.
Yeah, that's exactly the sort of bedside manner I'd want to encounter as a patient.

I can't tell you whether clinical depression is the cause of your medical school feelings, or whether med school is causing the clinical depression, but if you're in medical school because your Mommy & Daddy think it's a good idea then you need to get out of there now. 

You have a bachelor's degree, and that gains you entrée into a hiring manager's queue.  Your university presumably has some sort of career assistance office or alumni center where you could find out more about what others before you have done with their bachelor's.  At the very least you should use their self-assessment tools and their discovery software to figure out what you like doing.  Don't define yourself as "a medical degree" or "sent here by my parents".  Find out what you like to do and then figure out whether anyone will pay you for it.  Maybe your true avocation lies in a business that has nothing to do with medicine but everything to do with having a college degree... any college degree.

I'd also suggest that you get on Linkedin and network with others who have a similar degree-- find out what they're doing and emulate that.


imustachemystash

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Re: Quit med school
« Reply #15 on: October 07, 2013, 08:57:45 PM »
Hi. There is some really good advice given so far and I just wanted to add another thought.  I think you should consider taking a leave of absence from school to figure out what you really want to do with your life.  There is nothing wrong with wanting to a pursue a career that is more compatible with family life.   If it means getting a degree in another area then go for it.  See if your university will let you do a post baccalaureate year to get into another program.  After getting my bachelors degree in one area, I only had to take a year of post bacc classes before I was able to enroll into a Master's program.  See if you could do the same.  It would probably even take less time and cost less than getting your Doctorate.  Just make sure you take the time to explore and research a career that makes you fulfilled and provides a balance for family life.

Left

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Re: Quit med school
« Reply #16 on: October 07, 2013, 09:31:36 PM »
I can't put in much, no med school experience but could you take a year off then go volunteer somewhere (I see listings online in Africa that wants med students to come help out). Would give you a sense of what it's like as a doctor in a different area than med school would. Might help inspire you or help you decide you don't want to do it

mustachejd

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Re: Quit med school
« Reply #17 on: October 08, 2013, 07:40:09 AM »
I was also diagnosed with clinical depression during my years in medical school - which is another reason why you should consider taking a leave of absence.  It is much more difficult to make good decisions when you are not well.

And no, you can't be endlessly afraid of your parents' judgment.  To be honest, I was nervous when I broke the news to my parents that I was going to leave medical school for a bit.  In fact, I was so afraid, that I enlisted the aid of my Dean of Students, in case they had any questions regarding my ability to return to school.  As it happened, I just didn't know at the time how amazing my parents are - they were fully emotionally supportive.  Financially, not so much - I grew up with Mustachian parents, you see :).  Fortunately, I was able to parlay my part time job of teaching during medical school into a full time position during my "sabbatical."   

Re. your question of what I ended up doing: To make an incredibly long story short, I wound up trying many different careers (four? five?) before I became a happily practicing attorney.  I began as an intellectual property lawyer; with my medical background, getting into a patent law practice was easy.  (After medical school, law school was a total breeze.)  I made pretty good money, and since I was single and child-free, I squirreled away most of it.  When the financial crisis hit and my law firm dissolved, I was one of the few people who was quite excited to be out of a job and decided to try something completely different.  So now I work as a government attorney and I love it.  While I make less than a third of my original salary, the hours are great, my colleagues are fun (and actually pretty Mustachian!), and most importantly, my office is extremely family-friendly. 

One word of advice: If you decide to seek more education, do your best not to take any loans.  I'm assuming your undergraduate grades were quite good if you were able to get into medical school; you should be able to get into decent programs with sizable financial aid packages.  If I could name the one reason why I've been able to happily bounce from career to career, it is because I carried $0 debt.  The best decision in my life was when I chose a highly ranked state school (full scholarship plus stipend) over Harvard (their "financial assistance" barely covered books).  Don't give into the name branding of schools. 

You're going to be fine.  You are clearly intelligent and you are young.  Get some help, take some time off, regroup.  Things will work themselves out as long as you're proactive about your approach.

RoryCK

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Re: Quit med school
« Reply #18 on: October 08, 2013, 03:57:39 PM »
Hey Lizzzi and Nords, you're right; I probably don't possess the personality and/or bedside manner to become a good doctor. And I've spent a longtime supressing and subsequently being angry and frustated with myself for not being that sort of person. Because I am very idealistic and I do consider being a doctor an honourable and noble profession. But at the end of the day I can't find it within myself to consider the sacrifices I make on my personal life as a necessary part of my job, I find it too painful. And hating myself won't change that fact.
I do however like helping people, just not in a doctor kind of way.

By the way I'm in Europe, so does epidemiology still sound like good idea? If anyone else wants to share their experience with epidemiology, please do, I would love to know more. And Hamster it's funny that you should mention bureaucracy, because bureaucracy is pretty much the backbone of the control freak country I live in and it's driving everyone insane, so it wouldn't really matter for the profession I end up doing.

And mustachejd, I considered going into law aswell, I even ended up taking a couple of classes on private and international law. And though it was very interesting, I decided against it. Because I really want to be able to work abroad.
And I'm glad you have such amazing parents, really you  can't be thankful enough. Unfortunately, I can't say the same thing. When I started to take the classes in law, they threatened to no longer financially support me and cut me off from the family. So yeah, they won't win any "Parents of the Year"award from me anytime soon.

And I know the thing that interests me most; literature. But we all know what the prospect for that looks like......

By the way; I find it extremely worrying that so many med school students are diagnosed with depression and it's dealt with so casually.

pumpkinlantern

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Re: Quit med school
« Reply #19 on: October 08, 2013, 08:18:34 PM »
I'll echo some of the comments already posted.

Almost everyone I know in medicine has at some point wanted to quit.  It's tough and it can be very discouraging at times.  But... medicine is very diverse and most people find something that fits with their strengths, goals, lifestyle, etc.  You can have a life as a physician and you can have a family as a woman.  You might give up income and a high-flying career to do that, but you can do it especially in areas like family medicine, pediatrics, some internal medicine subspecialties (eg. endocrinology, respirology), derm, etc.

It's true that clerkship and residency are tough with long nights of call, but that doesn't last forever.  You have a lot more control as a staff, especially if you pick a specialty that is more lifestyle oriented.  We all get a bit of the grass in greener.  Research (including epidemiology) is tough - it's very competitive, academia is brutal and very few people actually succeed.  Being a drug rep requires a lot of sales and marketing skills and sucking up to people that's not all that much fun.  Consulting is long hours and lots of travelling that you don't necessarily want to do.  Are you sure that it's medicine you don't like or is it the reality of growing up and realizing that you are eventually going to have to work a real job with real responsibilities?

Having said that maybe medicine isn't right for you and you should quit.  But I don't think you should make that decision lightly.  If you are clinically depressed, you are not going to be able to make decisions properly and you need to work on your health before you throw away a career that you have already worked very hard for (premedicine years, medical school, etc).  Take time off if you need to.  Talk to your dean.  Ask people to refer you to physicians who work part-time or those who have left for other fields and see what they have to offer you.  If you have alternative career options, talk to people in those fields and ask them for the all the downsides as well as the upsides so that you don't idealize other careers.

mikefixac

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Re: Quit med school
« Reply #20 on: October 08, 2013, 10:08:41 PM »
Years ago the same thing happened to me with law school.

For me I felt I was in way over my head, and I did not have the money to pay expenses. A fellow student was bummed because she thought that if I dropped out, what chance would she have becoming a lawyer.

Years later we hooked up, got married and now we're living off her pension.

Anyway, I think it takes courage to quit something when you know it's not working out. But the moral of the story, make sure you're friends with one of your colleagues of the opposite sex.

Osprey

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Re: Quit med school
« Reply #21 on: October 09, 2013, 12:12:14 AM »
I'm with many commenters here who are saying that it might help if you took some time off in order to gain perspective.

I don't agree with a previous poster that "caring" has anything to do with quitting. I went into medicine wanting to make a difference but ended up depressed, burnt out and cynical. I think it tends to happen to people who care a bit too much. Then I got an office job. I have more time and energy to pursue other interests (and to start a family) but I miss clinical medicine. I've been burned, though, and still very bitter.

If you are sure about quitting there are plenty of websites offering support and options. Pharmaceuticals, research and management consulting companies come to mind. At the end of the day you are the one who has to go to work every day, not your parents. They might be disappointed and they may never understand, but they can't begrudge you for trying to find happiness.

It's interesting that you mention literature. Historically, many doctors are also authors, for what it's worth.

P.S. There are a few similar threads on this forum about quitting/not quitting medicine and the options thereafter - they're very in-depth so maybe take a look?

RoryCK

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Re: Quit med school
« Reply #22 on: October 09, 2013, 03:49:12 AM »
Dear pumpkinlantern, could you please explain the rationale behind the "don't throw away a career that you have already worked very hard for". That's the standard comment I get from people who are opposed to me leaving med school, but I still don't understand it. I've come this far because of my fear of leaving and my family's manipulation thereof, hating every step of the way. And your suggestion is keep doing this for the rest of your life?

And you're right; the research field is very competitive, I agree I might not succeed. And that thought still paralyzes me with fear. But just as well, there's no guarentee I'll succeed as a physician. I don't know the situation in the US, but here gaining a place in residency is extremely difficult due to competition. In as much that I know several doctors who still are without after 5-6 years. You either have to have a PhD, family or friends in the circuit or you have to be a naturally gifted arse-kisser. And it's also very difficult to gain a PhD position (same rules apply). And I'm not the only one who wants to start a family, so not the only who's opting for a specialty that's compatible with a family life. Many others have the same idea, which makes specialties such as radiology, anesthesiology, microbiology, dermatology etc extremely popular, thus very competitive, thus extremely hard to get into.
And also: recently the government has decided that doctors have to pay for their residency at least partially, so that is promising a huge debt for future residents.

Frankly I don't know any field that isn't competitive. I know people with degrees in law, bussiness, psychology and are unemployed. It's tough for everyone.

And I want to add that while we all idealise the physician (which I did aswell pre medical school) as the person who values helping people above all and willingly makes sacrifices asking nothing in return, this isn't always the case. Believe it or not, there are people who are so superficial that they went into medicine purely for the respect, authority and status it brings. So unfortunately these arrogant breed of doctors also exists, I've met many in person.

mustachejd

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Re: Quit med school
« Reply #23 on: October 09, 2013, 10:53:57 AM »
I don't know what your exact situation is with your parents, but you're saying that they have threatened to cut you off emotionally and financially if you leave medicine.  That sucks.  But, and I am very sorry to say this, if they are supporting you financially, you're essentially allowing them to have a say in your future.  And if you let your family hold you emotionally hostage now, it's just going to get worse. 

So regardless of what path you choose, I would advise you to get a job (if you don't have one already, of course!) and make sure you have your Mustachian life skills down pat.  Get yourself as financially secure as possible while your parents are still supporting you.  That way, if they cut you off if you decide not to pursue medicine, you'll be fine, at least financially. 

I worked while I was in medical school.  So did my a lot of my friends.  We did everything from teaching to bar tending to nighttime janitorial work to make ends meet.  Granted, we didn't get to party as much as my classmates (I went to a pretty good medical school where everyone was essentially guaranteed a residency somewhere.  I think my school's unofficial motto was, "Work hard, play harder."), but it was worth it in the end.  I left after two years with zero debt and excellent time management skills =P. 

totoro

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Re: Quit med school
« Reply #24 on: October 09, 2013, 11:28:07 AM »
My first response is one that others have had:  do not make this decision while battling clinical depression.

What if you focussed on getting well first?  Can you take a term or two leave from the program?  Can you participate in a well-regarded self-development course of some kind?  Probably the best investment of time/money you could do right now.  Your future self will thank you for dealing with this now and not prolonging the suffering by keeping on keeping on.  You will likely make better choices as to spouse/school/work and be happier and reach FI faster too if you do this.

Also, I don't know Europe but here in Canada my primary care physician is a woman with kids who works part-time and homeschools one of her boys.  They take sabbaticals.  She shares her practice with her SIL. 


Nords

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Re: Quit med school
« Reply #25 on: October 10, 2013, 12:14:05 AM »
By the way I'm in Europe, so does epidemiology still sound like good idea? If anyone else wants to share their experience with epidemiology, please do, I would love to know more.
A friend of mine is a doctor in environmental health-- epidemics and public sanitation and immunization and so forth.  His dad is a (still working) doctor too, so he was sort of dragooned into the family occupation.  He chose environmental health because he gets to work on large projects and huge databases.  He doesn't have to spend much time with those icky patients.  He's also going to retire the minute he reaches FI and never touch a stethoscope again.

I've noticed that a lot of murder and mystery novels have coroner characters who got into forensics because the patients don't talk back.  But you should probably not choose your career based on something you read in a work of fiction...

pumpkinlantern

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Re: Quit med school
« Reply #26 on: October 10, 2013, 12:44:51 PM »
Dear pumpkinlantern, could you please explain the rationale behind the "don't throw away a career that you have already worked very hard for". That's the standard comment I get from people who are opposed to me leaving med school, but I still don't understand it. I've come this far because of my fear of leaving and my family's manipulation thereof, hating every step of the way. And your suggestion is keep doing this for the rest of your life?

I mean that you've put a lot of hours and time into getting to this point and although quitting might be the best option, it might be worthwhile to:

(1) Explore your options within medicine.
- there might be something within medicine (or very close to medicine, even if it isn't exactly the conventional medical practice) that works for you.
- you may be able to use the skills that you've already acquired and still do something that makes you happy.
- if you are interested in things like research/clinical epidemiology, consider that an MD might be a very valuable way to jumpstart your career.  It's not how you might have chosen to do it if you could go back in time (lots of wasted years), but having done part of it, it will give you an advantage over someone who hasn't done it.  It is much easier to be an MD researcher than a PhD researcher without an MD, simply because of supply and demand.  You have skills as an MD that are valuable and most MD's don't want to do research.

(2) Explore what your options are outside of medicine and find a realistic, viable alternative before you quit.
- Are you depressed and would not like any job?
- Are you idealizing the world outside of medicine?  Although we complain to each other in medicine, the truth is young people in other careers (research, law, accounting, finance, business, etc) all have to work hard and do things that they don't necessarily want to do, work long hours, and do a bit of "arse-kissing" as you call it.  The truth is relative to other professions, medical school and residency suck a lot, but once you're a staff you have an awful lot more freedom to decide how you want to practice than other non-medical fields.  No law firm or consulting firm is going to hire you part-time.  You can't own a part-time business.  You can have a part-time medical practice (you just make less).

I am a medical resident and at least 5 of my friends in medicine have expressed to me a desire to quit at some point along the last 6 years or so.  Some have switched medical subspecialties, some are now family docs and work part-time or some alternative model of work.

I'm not idealizing medicine.  I have done 4 years of med school and 2+ years (so far) of residency and I know the de-humanizing parts of it, the brutal hours, the hierarchy, etc.

I just don't want you to make a rash decision because you are depressed and you didn't know what your options are.  You won't be able to go back after you quit.  So why don't you ask for a year of absence and take the time to properly figure out an alternative action plan before you jump out completely?

pumpkinlantern

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Re: Quit med school
« Reply #27 on: October 10, 2013, 12:51:43 PM »
Sorry one last thing I forgot to add.

No, you shouldn't make your decisions based on what your parents want.  But you should also not be making decisions as a reaction to needing independence from your parents.  Do you live with your parents?  If so, maybe you should look into the possibility of moving out of their home so that you can have your own space to think.

RoryCK

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Re: Quit med school
« Reply #28 on: October 10, 2013, 04:29:55 PM »
Hey pumpkinlantern, I'm sorry if I came across as a bit harsh, but I have been hearing that comment so often lately and it still doesn't make sense to me. Because I know better than anyone what it was like to pull all those all nighters and that I never want to do it again.

You make some very good points, so thank you.
You also mentioned in your earlier post that I might not want any job due to my depression. But I do want a job, I want a job that is fulfilling, I want a job where I can use my creativity and which enables me to be fully independant.
The things I don't like about medicine, is that there is no outlet for creativity - and I don't necessarily mean painting or writing etc, but you can never have any kind of input in anything, everything happens according to very strict protocols- and speaking of; the horrible hierarchy in the hospitals. 
All kind of spontaneity is erased from your life; you will know that you have work and you will have to study in the remaining hours and sleep if possible, because that is a human necessity. And I also don't like the fact that I never have enough money; I work as much as I can (but because of the hours I have to study I can't work that often) and I lead a ver Mustachian lifestyle; I virtually only spend money on food.

I don't think I'm idealising the world outside of medicine though, it is a bit hard to do that in these economic times. Sometimes when I see how many friends of mine are unemployed, I'm even glad that I didn't do a BA in English lit or Journalism as I initially wanted to.

And Osprey; I just noticed you posted the previous topic on quitting medical school; so how are you, I gather you quit, do you feel happy about your choice?
And what do you miss about clinical medivine, now that you've stopped?

Daleth

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Re: Quit med school
« Reply #29 on: October 10, 2013, 06:48:16 PM »
Yes, let's step back from the question of "what options are there for people with medical degrees" and consider the bigger question: What makes you happy? What do you enjoy? What are you good at--what are your natural skills? What are you enthusiastic about (or if you're depressed, what did you used to be enthusiastic about)?

Do you like interacting with people a lot? If you were considering whether you'd prefer to interact mostly with people, with data/information, with works of art or literature, with animals, with nature... which would you choose?

If a friend were proposing an activity, which one would you be the most enthusiastic about: seeing a movie, hiking/mountain climbing/skiing, flying a plane/racing a car, going to a public reading by an author you like, going to a museum, taking a painting/photography/other art class, riding horses, listening to a lecture by an expert about ___ topic (fill in the topic), traveling to a foreign country...?

The first step is to remember what you like, how you like to spend your time. That is the compass that will guide you towards the right career. Then, the NEXT step is to figure out how to get into that career and whether med school will help or hinder it.

Osprey

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Re: Quit med school
« Reply #30 on: October 11, 2013, 12:59:21 AM »
And Osprey; I just noticed you posted the previous topic on quitting medical school; so how are you, I gather you quit, do you feel happy about your choice?
And what do you miss about clinical medivine, now that you've stopped?

Hey RoryCK. I "quit" clinical medicine after three years of work.
What I don't miss: overtime, hierarchies, protocols, paperwork, and in my setting we had very few resources.
What I miss: seeing patients! I liked interacting with people and doing problem-solving. It was rewarding and that's when I did some of my best writing.
You sound very bitter, which I totally understand (I am still bitter, my doctor friends don't want to hang out with me due to my cynicism) but this is the reason many commenters think you should take a breather before making decisions. The nice thing about actually finishing your medical degree first is that it opens up so many opportunities in a wide variety of fields. I was amazed at how many places wanted me for my "Dr."

Aloysius_Poutine

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Re: Quit med school
« Reply #31 on: October 11, 2013, 03:01:17 AM »
For some people, every job sucks. Can you be sure you're not one of those people?

Speaking from personal experience, I threw away some very amazing career opportunities because they weren't the perfect job for me. I believed I deserved a job that was perfectly fulfilling in every way. Now I look back and wish I'd taken at least one of those great opportunities because what I do now is SO far from a dream job - it is a bad compromise. For me there is no 'dream job', but some jobs are definitely less bad than others.

Be careful that you don't mistake disdain for work in general, for disdain for the specific job of being a physician. I am assuming you have just spent 7+ years in university and have never had a real job before. I advise you to be VERY cautious of throwing away the opportunity to become a physician.

Daleth

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Re: Quit med school
« Reply #32 on: October 11, 2013, 07:23:30 AM »
Be careful that you don't mistake disdain for work in general, for disdain for the specific job of being a physician. I am assuming you have just spent 7+ years in university and have never had a real job before. I advise you to be VERY cautious of throwing away the opportunity to become a physician.

I agree. The OP is in Europe, though, where medicine (like law and everything else) is an undergraduate degree. Or that is, you start it as an undergrad (at about age 18, in other words), and you study nothing or almost nothing unrelated to that subject for X years--it takes a bit longer than most other undergrad degrees and I'm assuming you end up with something along the lines of a combined bachelor's/master's degree.

Reason I mention this is because I think it'd be helpful for us, in terms of understanding the situation and thus giving better advice, if the OP would tell us how long a medical degree takes in her country, how many years along in that degree she is, and whether there are post-degree requirements (for instance, after you get the degree do you have to do X years of clinical training before you can be licensed as a doctor?). And honestly, I know she's trying to be anonymous, but it would be helpful if she'd say what country she's in because in terms of career prospects, I think there's a big difference between, say, Spain and Germany. Of course, I'm guessing from her excellent English that she's a native speaker (and thus is in the UK or Ireland), so maybe we can proceed on that assumption?

RoryCK

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Re: Quit med school
« Reply #33 on: October 11, 2013, 11:09:39 AM »
I am assuming you have just spent 7+ years in university and have never had a real job before.

Meaning? I've worked since I was 14, because my parents have pretty much amounted to nothing in their lives and there was always a shortage of money. I've worked in supermarkets, shops, I've waited tables, I've cleaned, tutored, acted as a translator, I have worked in libraries, hospitals, a morgue (short-lived) and offices. And though none of these are jobs for "grown-ups", they're (underpaid and) real enough..

I'm most definitely not a spoiled brat who's living of the family fortune

StarryC

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Re: Quit med school
« Reply #34 on: October 11, 2013, 11:34:14 AM »
Whoa, I don't think any one was saying you were a spoiled brat.  However, you've said your parents were providing you financial support which you would lose if you quit.  We therefore assumed that you were in some way relying on that money and it had been influencing your decisions. 

I think the part time, hard work jobs we have when we are young (14-22) are different from "grown up" post school jobs in that the adult jobs feel permanent.  You are giving up other jobs by pursuing training in one area, committing that it will be your life's focus, and that you will spend most of your waking hours doing it.  At least when I finally had a "grown up" job I felt a horrible sinking depression about that.  I think that many people, no matter their profession start to feel that way in the transition between academic training and hands on training or on the job learning.  You imagine how you'll be an awesome doctor or lawyer or engineer or even mother, and then you get in and start doing it and it is hard, and tedious, and boring, and doesn't feel meaningful every moment! 

I think what people are trying to say is that many people have struggled when they were in situations similar to yours, and found that it wasn't the specific career that was the problem, it was the transition to full time, career work or the horribleness that is learning something hard and important in the early stages.  That may or may not be the case for you.  Talking to a counselor might help you sort that out. 

RoryCK

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Re: Quit med school
« Reply #35 on: October 11, 2013, 12:47:17 PM »
My parents don't financially support me; I have a part time job.
It's just that my mother had inherited some money from her grandfather ( it's really not a large sum) and from when I was a kid she always said that that money was intended for my education. I relied on that money for a long time; it would have made things a little easier. But when I started taking a few law classes and hinting at quitting medical school, she said that unless I did what she wanted, I would no longer have access to that money.

It wasn't exactly the lack of money that scared me, it's the subtle threat that she would do anything and everything in her power to make me study medicine.


And I'm pretty certain that transition is not my problem.

totoro

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Re: Quit med school
« Reply #36 on: October 11, 2013, 12:49:04 PM »
I think the issue might be partly attitude?  And the attitude might be depression-generated?

Your posts have a negative tone.  Pessimism doesn't tend to work out as well for happiness as reasonable optimism. 

I think focussing on getting to a more positive place is a priority.  Which brings things back to taking time off and getting some self-development help. 

My thoughts are that a medical degree is a very useful thing, even if you don't become a doctor.  You have already spent four years on this so I would not make this decision until you are in a more positive state of mind. 

This might include coming to a better place regarding your relationship with your parents, including forgiveness because you don't need the burden of the resentment you are carrying.


Daleth

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Re: Quit med school
« Reply #37 on: October 11, 2013, 02:12:59 PM »
Rory, where are you (UK? Ireland?) and how does medical school work there? You say you've got an undergraduate degree already and are in med school, but I know in the UK at least med school consists of either (1) an undergraduate degree in medicine that takes 5 years (with the last two being spent on wards, similar to a "resident" in US hospitals) or (2) an undergraduate degree in a related field (e.g. biochemistry), which takes 3 years in the UK, plus a further 4 years of medical school. So unless the system you're in works quite differently than that, it sounds like you must be on version (2) of the becoming-a-doctor track, in which case you've got a BSc in something scientific.

So in that case my question would be, if you've already got a BSc or other undergraduate degree, why do you care if quitting med school would cause your mother to withdraw her financial support? You've already got a degree and can go out in the world and make your way. If, for instance, what you really love is writing, your degree (not to mention the fact you spent time in medical school) should help you get a job or freelance position doing science writing, from which you could eventually branch out if you like.

I guess what I'm saying is that if you've already got a degree, then the only reason it would matter that your mother withdraws her support is if you have a passionate desire to enter a specific career that you can't do without getting another, quite different degree. But have you? If you don't know exactly what you want, then losing her support doesn't matter, does it?

Also, about becoming a doctor--do you have any interest in alternative health? Just wondering, because in the US at least I have seen doctors who became additionally qualified in something like that (certified holistic practitioner, acupuncturist, etc.) and they seem to have quite interesting careers that in no way resemble the hell you describe in your first post.

Dibbels81

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Re: Quit med school
« Reply #38 on: October 12, 2013, 07:58:15 AM »
How you looked into the possibilities of becoming a medical therapist (Physical, occupational, respiratory, speech)?  I'm currently pursuing my Master's in Speech Pathology, and there is a couple of people in the program with pre-med degrees that cited similar reasons to you for not entering med school.  With a medical background, grad committees would love to have you in the program and you would definitely see some scholarships come your way.

Maria

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Re: Quit med school
« Reply #39 on: October 12, 2013, 04:24:02 PM »
I'm going to echo everyone else here, and say that first things first...the most pressing fire you need to put out is dealing with your depression. Make sure you're getting the adequate help, support, and medical assistance that you need in order to be your healthy whole self. If you don't do this first, all of your decisions will be made under the shadow of depression and this is the last thing you want.

Second, if you don't want to be a doctor, don't. Just because you've already committed time to it doesn't mean that you need to commit more. Wasting more years of your life doing something you hate isn't going to somehow remedy the years you've already spent.

Are you still interested in the medical profession? If so, have you considered becoming a physician assistant? This career would offer far more flexibility as well as less schooling while still being a fulfilling job in the medical field.

And if you're not interested in the medical profession, then go for what you do want. Just do something. Not many people work in the field they studied in college. Get an internship or experience in a field that does interest you. Start pursuing something else.

Hope this helps a bit and all of the best to you!

RoryCK

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Re: Quit med school
« Reply #40 on: October 13, 2013, 03:51:09 PM »
I have actually started treatment for my depression, but it's kind of annoying me that I don't know how long it will take. I guess I'm a bit impatient.

Totoro, I hope, if I'm ever able to sort my life out, I will forgive my parents. I usually don't hold a grudge against anyone. But this is still going on, my parents still treat horribly for not wanting to go to medical school. I think I'm more diasppointed than anything else, as I have always believed parents should love their children unconditionally and accept them for who they are.

Daleth, I'd say go with Northern Europe :), I'm sorry to be so vague, but you're right I would rather stay anonymous. And as I stated earlier I have a BSc in Medicine, so I'm on version 1 actually. And in the world of medicine, I'm more interested in public health. That's why I would like it if more people shared their experience with public health and epidemiology.

Dibbels81, Speech pathology sounds very interesting, but I'm afraid that degree is not given in this country. Still, great suggestion!

And I'd like to say that this is an amazing forum, so far no one has skinned me for not wanting to go med school. That is quite different fom my previous experiences.

totoro

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Re: Quit med school
« Reply #41 on: October 13, 2013, 05:03:38 PM »
Your parents probably want you to succeed, and maybe they wish they had your opportunities?  I know I catch myself wanting my kids to have everything I didn't and sometimes these opportunities are not what they want.

I agree that it seems like they are putting too much pressure on you.  I don't have the answer for that except maybe if you tell them honestly how you are feeling they might understand better?  Not sure.

It is going to be okay.  Hang in there.

Daleth

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Re: Quit med school
« Reply #42 on: October 13, 2013, 05:57:36 PM »
I do think it's not okay for parents to try and force their children to fit a particular mold. A friend of mine was in the same boat--her parents wouldn't pay for college (university in the US) unless she did what's called pre-med (preparation for postgraduate medical school)--and guess what? She never went to college. Idiot parents. The world does not run on doctors alone. We need all the professions.

And so I want to go one step further than what Totoro is suggesting. There may indeed be, as Totoro suggests, ways to get your parents to understand. But there may not be. In short, there are three possibilities here:
1 - They may not understand now, but start understanding if you explain it to them enough and spend enough time talking with them about it;
2 - They may not understand now or after talking about it, but, say, 5-10 years from now when you've made yourself a good life they will understand (in other words perhaps talk won't get through to them but actions/results will); or
3 - They may never understand.

Personally my vote is on (2), because it sounds like you've talked to them quite a bit already without their experiencing any change of heart. Their manipulativeness (threatening to withdraw financial support, already withdrawing moral support) also doesn't bode well for a mere conversational clearing of the air. And while I hope it's not the case, there remains the possibility that they'll never understand.

I'm not trying to depress you here, Rory, and I hope it's not depressing. What I'm saying is that it's quite possible that you at a bare minimum have several years to go before even one, much less both, of your parents have a change of heart. And I'm telling you that because I want you to know that even though you may not get what you want from your parents or may not get it for a long time, still, however remotely, however far away we are, all of us here support what you're trying to do (namely, make a happy life for yourself--our interest in money is solely because, as Denzel Washington once said, "Money can't buy happiness, but it makes a hell of a good down payment"--or as we see it, if you have enough money and use it wisely, then you can spend your limited time on earth doing what makes you happy and what fills you with a sense of meaning, instead of punching a clock just to pay your rent).

So... I wonder if it would be worthwhile for you to imagine what you would do if, say, for the next 5 years your parents didn't change their attitude at all. First: notice that you do not die! Haha! Their lack of approval doesn't kill you! Second: notice that you could invest a lot of time and emotional energy in trying to change their attitude, or you could--this is possible--let go of the desire for their approval, accept (truly accept) that they are flawed, disengage (in other words if they start harassing you, put down the phone or leave the house), and thus have all that time and energy left over to use in building yourself the sort of life you want. Third: notice that everything in life that matters--friends, the quest for (or work in) a satisfying career, your growing self-reliance, good movies, good books, interesting places to travel, falling in love, etc.--continues to develop; giving up on seeking support from your parents doesn't stop it! And fourth: just keep on noticing...

And through it all, you will find people, here and on other forums and in real life, who will support you. Of course you'll find naysayers too, but there are MILLIONS OF PEOPLE who understand that our time on earth is short and it's incredibly foolish to yoke ourselves to a career that makes us miserable.* And unfortunately there are also lots of people who understand what it's like to have unsupportive, manipulative, toxic parents--parents perhaps driven by their own fears and their own wasted ambitions (did either of your parents want to become a doctor and not have that chance, or choose an easier path, or...?), and who let those fears dictate how they treat their children. It's terrible, and many people have temporarily or (rarely) even permanently strictly limited or even eliminated contact with such parents, because it just comes at too high a cost. (In a word, your sanity is more important than your maintaining frequent contacts/visits with your parents.)

Excuse me for sounding incredibly American, but we are rooting for you!


* I remember reading years ago about a dentist in his early 40s who had an epiphany while he was at the mirror shaving one morning: looking at himself, feeling miserable at the prospect of another day drilling away at people's teeth, he had the thought, "What right did I have, at the age of 17, to force myself to be a dentist for the rest of my life?! I DON'T HAVE TO KEEP DOING THIS!"--and he quit. Boom! I love stories like that, but I love even more stories like yours, where people don't wait until their early 40s to wake up...
« Last Edit: October 13, 2013, 06:09:59 PM by Daleth »

RoryCK

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Re: Quit med school
« Reply #43 on: October 15, 2013, 10:42:22 AM »
Wow, Daleth, that's quite a speech. Thank you, that's very encouraging!

And you're right; I believe that eventually that they will have to accept that becoming a doctor isn't the right path for me. But I have a feeling that their acceptance might come (too little) too late.

And again you make a very good point. Looking back I see that the more depressed I've become, the less I've "noticed". The less I've been able to be aware of the joys and beauty of life outside of the world I perceived. There are beautiful and "noteworthy" things in life no matter how grim your situation is. My parents have always told me that a life without an education is worthless, but I can see proof of the opposite around me now. I know people with no education who manage to be happy and healthy and make their time on earth worthwile.

I've recently come up with a phrase that I think describes best how I feel. If I had a thousand lifetimes I would like to be a doctor in one of those lifetimes, but I only have one. The key is now finding out what I'm going to do with this life.

Honestly with such powerful words, it doen't matter that we're an ocean apart. It's still great to know that there are people supporting me even if they are on the other side of the world.

Bless your heart!


zarfus

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Re: Quit med school
« Reply #44 on: October 15, 2013, 11:16:07 AM »
Maybe I'm being blunt, or dumb, but I don't think mustache forums are a place where you'll get a lot of what you need.  For example, after reading this thread, there are too many suggestions like "What will a medicine degree get you. Get a job, get money, retire!!" but it sounds like there are a lot deeper issues here.

1) I see you're on depression meds now...been there, done that.  You're saying that they annoy you because you don't know how long you'll need them/when they'll kick in.  Answer: You'll need them forever or they will never kick in until you figure out the source.  Whether that's inner peace, or quitting med school, or getting away from manipulative parents, medicine alone will not solve the problem. (Don't get me wrong, they help. Like I said, I've been there.)

2) Do what you want.  Seriously, it's that easy.  Nobody can tell you what do to, but you have a lot of options. So figure out what's important to you: your relationship with your parents, a fully-funded college education, quitting medical school.  It sounds like you cannot have all three of those, so this is a place to start.  I can guarantee you cannot have all three of those unless you rationally sit down with your folks and tell them what you want.  Tell them what your passion is, and how med school is truly destroying your life.  If they don't support you, then maybe this is a road you're going to have to go down by yourself (financially and parent-emotionally).  You seem strong, you can do it.  I'm not saying you must destroy your relationship with your parents, there's a difference between "not being supportive with your decision" and "disowning you for making a decision".

Just my two cents.  Good luck man, keep us posted.

Bank

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Re: Quit med school
« Reply #45 on: October 15, 2013, 02:31:33 PM »
*Standing and applauding Daleth's post*

We're all pulling for you, Rory.  Good luck.

Aloysius_Poutine

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Re: Quit med school
« Reply #46 on: October 15, 2013, 04:30:56 PM »
If you're interested in public health why not just finish med school, get the MD degree. And then pursue a masters or phd in social dimensions of health. An academic in that field who also has an MD sounds like a sure thing?

expatartist

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Re: Quit med school
« Reply #47 on: October 15, 2013, 09:08:21 PM »
Hey OP, I know - in a way - where you're coming from. While my parents didn't want me to study something in particular like medicine, I wanted to study something they disagreed with: painting ('and nothing else!') in a liberal arts program. At the time I was attending my dad's uni (reduced tuition which they paid for) which didn't have an art program, and living at home. Not going to get into it here, but there was a whole host of accompanying control issues (10pm curfew, general psychological and occasional physical hell, etc). Parents naturally disagreed w/my impractical degree choice, so I moved in w/friends and didn't talk to the parents for a year. It was more than a break from a school program, it was taking control of my life for the first time ever.

Started out working at Subway on just over minimum wage (under $4/hr). Paid for community college out of pocket while working full-time, then transferred to a public uni to finish off the degree, ended up in 20K debt including a semester of DIY study abroad in France. At the time, that's what I wanted to do. It meant a lot that, for the first time ever in my life, I was making my own choices.

After some shows, development of my skills, and a few years of commitment, my parents began to respect my choice a bit more. Naturally they worried about what I'd do for a living - but they're academics (English lit. and Theology) who also studied abroad at impressionable ages, and in a very real sense were great examples at how impractical life choices can lead to real vocational (not just a 'job' but so much more) fulfillment.

What I'm saying, similar to Daleth above, is: they may come around, or they may not. But you and they may have a lot more in common than it seems at this point. And also, that forgiveness is the corollary to love, even if it takes a while.

One last note: I made my decision based on what I really WANTED to do, not what I didn't. It was a positive moving towards, with specific goals, rather than away from the negative. As with other posters above, I'd suggest you take some time to yourself - away from family pressure - and work for a semester or so, and begin focusing on what you want rather than what you don't. It's never a good idea to make irrevocable decisions under the influence of depression.

RoryCK

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Re: Quit med school
« Reply #48 on: October 16, 2013, 04:16:29 PM »
Dear Zarfus, I'm sorry to hear that, do you still use medication? I hope you're doing better now and that you somehow found a way to be happy.
You're right about everything, I need to fix myself first and as I said I have already started treatment, but the process is very slow and I'm a work in progress. But I do believe I can get some helpful advice from this forum, or gain a little perspective at the very least. Because the only thing I know that'll make me feel better is knowing what to do next. And finding people who went through a similar experience is essential to me, because I'm genuinely terrified of making the wrong decision and ruining my life.

And expatartist, I know, psychological pressure can be hell, right? I'm glad it turned okay for you, hopefully one day I'll be able to say the same. And I'm working on positively walking towards something, it's just that I find it extremely difficult to feel anything even remotely positive right now.

KimPossible

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Re: Quit med school
« Reply #49 on: October 16, 2013, 07:42:59 PM »
And I'm working on positively walking towards something, it's just that I find it extremely difficult to feel anything even remotely positive right now.

Hang in there, Rory.  It's going to get better.  Sometimes, when things are bad and I feel overwhelmed, I remind myself that although it might suck just now, in six months things will be better.  And then I just tell myself to hang in there for those six months.  It usually works for me.  :)

FWIW, it sounds like you're making a very good decision.  I'm nine years out of residency, and don't think that I made the right decision to become a physician.  I'm too far in now to quit, but working on FIRE so I can as soon as possible. 

Best wishes!