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Dropping Out of Medical School – Uncensored

Today, for the first time ever, someone found my blog by typing “med school dropout” into a search engine. I was thrilled! My blogging adventure really took off when I couldn’t find anyone else on Google who had experienced that kind of pain.

Rewind to July 2006.

My first (and last) rotation as a third year medical student took place in the adult Psychiatry ward. A tall man, with stringy gray hair and piercing blue eyes taught me more about Schizophrenia than any textbook I could have ever read. His leathery skin resulted from walking in the hot sun day after day. His parents paid for his apartment, but they couldn’t afford to give him a car. He was forty years old. I will never forget the way he looked at me as he explained that “The teeth of the wicked shall rot out. But I’m not wicked. My teeth are rotten by mistake. The Lord has told me He’s going to fix it.” When I told my husband about my patient, he wanted to put an extra lock on our front door.

But that’s not why I dropped out of medical school.

I typed up a list of 50 reasons. Reasons why I no longer wanted to be a doctor. Perhaps one day I’ll post them, too. Looking back though, it really boiled down to three big reasons. I quote two of these reasons all of the time, but the third reason I’ve only told a handful of people.

the three biggest reasons why I withdrew from medical school

1. The Psychiatry resident (i.e. brand new doctor) that was training me, had a six month old son. She told me one morning, that when she had arrived to pick him up from daycare the previous evening, he thought she was a stranger. He didn’t recognize his own Mommy because she never got to see him. He cried when she tried to pick him up.

This alarmed me because Psychiatry has the reputation of requiring the least number of hours/week from its residents.

2. Staying in school, meant putting our plans for a family on hold. Bri (most likely) would never have been born. Kids would have been too expensive. We would have waited until after residency to start trying for a family. This may sound insignificant to some people, but it was earth-shattering to me. In my heart, I knew that we would be missing out on the children that God wanted to give us.

3. I have hesitated to reveal my grades, whenever I’ve discussed this issue. However, some people are under the impression that I failed out of school, and I wanted to set the record straight. During my first year of medical school, I was a solid C student. I believe my depression started during that year. Remembering anatomy lab makes me shudder. Still, I had no trouble passing my classes the first year. By my second year, I was doing a little better. I made a B in one class, and an A in the course that had the highest weighting. At the end of the year I squeaked by with passing grades in the rest of my classes, too. I never had to remediate a class. Although, I did sweat over a few of them.

At the beginning of that second year, a group of seven amazing girls and I started studying for the USMLE Step 1. You can think of Step 1 as the SAT or the MCAT on crack. We studied together for a year. Six weeks before the test, I paid $1500 to take the Kaplan course for it, too. When I sat down to take the test, even though I didn’t feel good, I knew that I was ready.

I failed Step 1.

By approximately 1%.

(Sidenote: For those with medical backgrounds, I made a 179 back when you needed a 182 to pass. A friend of mine made a 280 (yes, she’s a genius). So I figure that those 3 points are about 1%)

Anyway, when I failed Step 1, my life fell apart. So much of my identity had been wrapped up in my grades and what people thought about me. I suffered from serious depression. I considered suicide, but I’d learned enough from the Psych ward to keep my mouth shut about it. The school gave me six weeks to try again. But I requested a leave of absence instead. They said that would be just fine and that I could come back anytime over the next twelve months with no questions asked. (But I’d have to retake Step 1).

My friends didn’t know what to say. They felt guilty and relieved that it hadn’t happened to them. My advisers tried to convince me not to leave. We all knew that I could pass it if I took it again. People from my hometown called me. They told me God wouldn’t have put me in medical school if He didn’t want me to be a doctor. They told me they would pray for me. I got more depressed.

My psychologist never judged me or told me what to do. Bless her heart, she just asked questions. I loved her so much for that. Each time I went to her office, I actually curled my hair before I left. That was a big deal in those days.

When the dust settled, and the meds kicked in, the whole ordeal felt like a blessing. Not any kind of blessing that I’d like to do over again. But I was glad for the friends I’d made along the way, and glad for the possibilities that suddenly opened up before me.

I’ve found true happiness as a teacher and a mom. I love my life now and wouldn’t change it for the world. No one would have been able to convince me of that as a college student, but I’m content with learning this lesson the hard way.

If you found me by Googling “medical school dropout” or “quitting medical school” then I hope you know you’re not alone. The road I’ve been on has never been easy. But every step, even Step 1, was worth it.


396 Responses

  1. This post was amazing! Thank you so much for sharing this.

    • I’m sorry I’m posting this as a reply to the above comment, but I’ve never commented on a blog before and am not quite sure how to do it. But I just wanted to say thanks for posting this, I have recently dropped out of medical after struggling through my first year (I failed a course, and the school decided I wasn’t going to make it, and asked me to leave). I spent two years after college trying to get in, and when I finally did, I was more terrified than happy. For the past 7 years of my life, being a doctor is something I was sure I wanted, even when my parents encouraged me to explore other options after not getting in on the first attempt, I was stubborn and refused. I hated myself my first year, I was depressed, anxiety and fear were ruling my life. I think I failed because I just couldn’t deal with the stress. Now I’m stuck with a gigantic debt that I have no idea how I’m going to repay, parents that shake their heads and say “I told ya so”, people whispering about me behind my back, and I live everyday feeling like a complete failure. I’m glad you found some peace with your decision, because I feel like there is nothing that I can do now, I am doomed to be labeled a complete failure for the rest of my life.

      • Hello, Maya.

        I know the exact feeling. It seems like everything you have worked towards has just come crashing down. The feeling of failure persists and I hope that it settles itself soon. Please know that you are not alone. I, too, am going through a similar situation. For as long as I remember I was a premed slaving away to get into medical school. When it came time, the anxiety and depression took over and I just could not live that way anymore. If medical school has always been a priority for you, take advantage of this time to explore other options. As cliche as it sounds, we must remind ourselves that everything happens for a reason.

        In regards to the whispering, I remind myself that I do not owe an explanation to anyone about anything. They are not the ones who worked endless hours in research labs, went on volunteer missions, and took the MCAT (twice in my situation) therefore, they have no say over what should’ve and could’ve been done. Be proud of yourself for how far you have gone.

      • Hi Maya,
        I used to struggle a lot with what you’re going through but I feel I have a better handle on it now, but it’s taken me a long a time and a lot of introspecting to get here. I,like you, was afraid of what people thought of me. Worried about how people will judge my actions and put negative spins on it and I wouldn’t be in a position to argue for myself. I hate that feeling of being defenseless or be misjudged. And, honestly this way of thinking depressed me, enslaved me, and wore me out. I kept me from sleeping at night or doing things or making decisions I believed in that was good for me because I was afraid what people would think.

        But, my boyfriend really grounded me. Why should we care so much about what other people will think? They don’t have to live with the consequences of our decisions? No, we do. You are not a complete failure, you are still so young and you still haven’t figured yourself out!! How can you possibly be a failure. And why should you care about what other people may think? They don’t know who you really are, and they’re too ignorant to care to know you. By making their opinion and anybody’s opinion hurt you means you value their opinion more than your own. If you let them de-value you by saying you’re a failure and you agree to that, then you have helped to put yourself down.

        I had to get over that and it is difficult, but Maya, it has lightened my load and I have the courage to make decisions now that I couldn’t before because I was afraid of my parents and didn’t want to hear them nag me or call me everyday just to tell me how worthless I am. But I don’t care about any of that anymore, they can’t tell me how useful I am or whether what I’m doing is right. I’m the only one who can tell myself that.

        I have a huge debt too. But it’s okay we’ll pay it off, really any fulltime job with a frugal living will work. You know medschool is no longer an option for you, so you know you need to move on. Grieving about having to lose your identity/title as a medstudent is warranted, but you need to focus on the upside of it too; you no longer have to deal with the stresses, responsibility and liability of being a doctor. Now, you are given a blank slate, so you need to clear your mind and imagine what are the things you need in a good career? And move from there. You need to embrace this point in your life, Maya, and take advantage of it!!! Find the next path you want to try and stop letting this old path break you down. It’s time to get back on your feet, your past makes you strong, and it’s time to start walking again. We’re all here to support you. But you need to support yourself too. :)+<:

      • What about PA school – it’s only 2 years long, you’ve probably taken some of their classes already (sometimes PA students and Med students take classes together) there’s no soul-sucking residency to complete after school and you still get to diagnose/treat illnesses! Or nursing school would be totally easy for you too! I dropped out of med school ’cause I burned out and just couldn’t handle all the stress – it was too overwhelming. Now I wish I would of went to PA school right away but it never occured to me. So now I’m working on my RN!

      • Hi Maya,

        I just read your post and I really emphatize with you. I always wanted to go to med school, but unlike you didnt make it. I completely bombed during my undergrad years at an ivyleague due to a lot of personal issues and i never recovered. now im in pharmacy school and i absolutely hate it and am looking for a way out. i often feel like a failure to and just wanted to say that you are not alone.

      • Hi maya i just read your post and burst into tears. I just wanted to share this on this site as I have no one to talk to.
        I always wanted to do Medicine since i was a child, actually it was Dentistry but my parents convinced me that a medical career was a better choice so I chose it.
        After a year of medical studies I have come to realize that I no longer feel the driving force to study anymore, firstly the place I’m studying in is nothing like home. Apart from the difficult studies, I’m also struggling with the weather and the language barrier. I’m from a cold place and the heat where I’m at is a big obstacle.
        I feel depressed and nervous and I cry every time I think what my life would have been like if I had chosen another line of study.
        I’m terrified at the thought of confronting my parents as they have made the biggest sacrifice to get me where I’m at, starting from the fees to the travel expenses I have cost them.
        I know it’ll be a huge disappointment to them if I tell them how I feel but all I know is that I have made the wrong choice.
        My finals are in 3 months and I am sure to fail, even in the re-exam, and after that I really dont know what I’m going to do as I feel they will no longer have faith in me
        Please I need some advise

    • It’s impressive that this blog seems to be the most helpful info for medical school drop-outs. I was dismissed from my school back in July, after failing STEP 1 on my 3rd attempt (my school requires passing STEP1 for graduation). My grades weren’t spectacular but I never failed any of my classes & I even completed a semester of 3rd year clerkship rotations, passing all of their shelf exams. Now things seem pretty bleak. I’m over $150,000 in debt, my girlfriend left me in April, & my Dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer 6 months ago. I have a BS in Physics, but now I have no idea what do for a career. When I asked the administration at my school what others had done they said they have no idea what students do after they leave. I have about enough money to get by until January & then I’m not sure what to do. Any advice?

      • Daniel,

        I’m sorry to hear about everything you are going through right now. First, just take one day at a time. You are going through a lot. You will get through this. I don’t know if you enjoyed med school and if it was just not passing step 1. If you do enjoy the medical profession, maybe you can retake step 1 and see if there are transfer opportunities. Possibly PA, pharmacy, nursing schools, Im sure some of your credits will transfer. In regards to Physics degree if you enjoyed it, maybe get back in touch with college classmates and old professors for help finding a job. Good luck with everything. You are not alone.

      • Daniel,

        I was in your situation back in 2008. It took me more than a year just to get myself out of the ( fill in this blank with everything that’s your dealing with, internally and externally). I’m 34 yrs old now, and looking back, I should not have allowed myself to “dig that deep a hole to jump in!”. You got into medschool! It’s an accomplishment not many people can claim. You survived 2 years of medschool; absolutely not an easy task. Daniel, your are a high caliber person. You have what it takes to turn your life around.

        So, first thing first. Get a job! Do something you enjoy. It doesn’t have to pay well. Just get a job so you can keep yourself busy and your mind focus. Then, one step at a time, figure out what you need to do. Don’t feel sorry for yourself. You need to fall forward and get back on your feet. Start one step at a time.

    • Thank you for this honest post. I attended nearly 2 years of a 3 year PA program. I was so excited that I got into my favorite school on my first try. I had done well in undergrad and thought I was on my way to my dream career. I would have never guessed how depressed and hopeless I would become…I especially did not like cadaver lab where we spent 2 hours plus slowly removing adipose tissue to uncover the veins, nerves, etc. I also financially collapsed and had to move with my parents for a while because you cannot work more than 5-12 hrs per week….my friends either had spouses or parents that could support them. I hated my life….I was known for my positive attitude and cup half full attitude my whole life. My PA friend told me to think of PA school as a “prison term.” I dropped out in 2003. I am glad for the lessons I learned and will always have the intrinisic value of my education. I recently graduated as an RN and have a dream job as a peds nurse…….PA school made nursing school while working full time seem easy in comparison. I wish I had started off as an RN but hind sight is 50/50…..I would not have listened and would have claimed that being a PA is my dream job. The PA school wasn’t kidding when they said 80 to 100 hrs per week of school work……..after 40 hrs class/clinical and 35 hrs of studying, my brain was full and I could no longer study. Good luck to all of you and I hope everyone ends up happy…and learn from others

    • I had a very similar experience with medical school! I studied constantly and slept 4 hours a night for 2 years. My children were 2 and 4 years old at the time I began and I promised them daily that 3rd and 4th year would be better, but it was only worse!! I had a 3.4 gpa and passed USMLE step 1 but the day I walked in and my children didnt run to the door to greet me and my daughter called her babysitter mom, I knew I couldnt continue. I was on surgery when I was diagnosed with premature ovarian failure at 36 years of age due to the stress and I knew I wouldnt be able to have another child. One night while I was putting them to bed by reading a story, I feel asleep without setting my 3am alarm to get to the VA by 4am and make rounds for presentation by 6am. One of my fellow classmates called to tell me I needed to hurry up for rounds and my reply was…. I quit. The chief resident tried to talk me out of it but several of my MALE classmates told me they understood. I never felt they had a clue about the huge responsiblity I carried with 2 small children and a husband who was a full time physician himself and clueless about my responsibilities at home himself. I was one of 3 females with children and the others had grandparents or a full time live in nanny because they lived away from home while attending med school. I requested an adjusted shedule from the dean but was denied so I was basically forced to withdraw. My last child graduates this year and I have cherished every ballgame and concert and parent teacher night but I am left with a burning desire to finish med school because I have always wanted to become a psychiatrist. I am not certain if my dream will come true because of the large amount of time Ive been away from the classroom but I am looking at options other than medicine as I have an MSW and I am 50 years old! Life is short so I dont know if going back at this time is a wise choice…..any thoughts????

      • Hi Laurie, you’ll end up regretting not being a doctor for ever. Since you are 50 and have worked so hard, it will get at out for a long time
        to come. Since you are already in med school, please continue. I’ve met people who’s lives do get better and you can work part time. I’m not saying this to be rude, I’m saying this because I didn’t go in my 20’s and still regret it at 46. I don’t want others to feel the extreme regret. Try to stick with it.


  2. Wow amazing! Thanks for sharing!

  3. I’m glad you found your way. Imagine what, and who, you’d be missing out on had you not…

  4. Wow – thanks for the transparency in telling this story.

  5. Just a reminder that you did the right thing! Most of my friends who are doctors/lawyers hate it anyway

    • Amen to that. What I saw when I was shadowing doctors (when I was in med school . . and am no longer) is that it was long hours, lots of paperwork, stress, and you never, ever get away from it. I wanted to be a small town doctor and one of these docs actually told me to quit med school! Well, I’m glad I did!

      Thank you CityStreams for bravely sharing and creating a place where people can go to find other’s opinions, experiences, and information about this “taboo” topic. It’s hard for people who have not been in med school to understand why you wouldn’t want to be a doctor. But I think most med students and doctors would understand perfectly.

      • That is so true. During my first month of medical school two doctors told me to drop out and that no one would blame me. Three years later I found out what they meant. They obviously saw the misery in my face early on. I was in medical school to please my parents at heart. It’s so wrong when parents place that much pressure on their kids to become doctors. I absolutely hated clinical work.

  6. Wow. I worked in daycare when I was in my early 20s and I saw exactly what you’re talking about: kids not recognizing their own parents because of strenuous work schedules. So sad.

    Your little one, though, is so cute! I love the picture a few posts down of her wearing a wig! How great that she’ll know you better than if you spent all your time working.

  7. Reason #1 would have been enough to do me in. I can’t even wrap my mind around my babies not knowing me.

  8. i always thought you were so brave to drop out. it takes a whole bunch of courage to know when to quit something. besides, you do have an awesome life and a beautiful daughter!

  9. I found you through Blog Share, and I will definitely be back. What a fabulous post.

  10. Hi. I found you through Fina Drea and happened to see your link to this blog. i’m 16 and a senior in high school, but i hope to go on to be an OB/GYN someday, and this post had me in tears by the end of it! I totally relate to your feelings about everything….i don’t do wonderfully in anatomy at school (or chemistry) and it makes me feel so conflicted sometimes because i know that this is what i’m supposed to be doing with my life but i’m afraid that i won’t make it…and a majority of my friends want to be various types of doctors as well, so to see them do better in the med. college prep. courses is sort of hard to deal with.
    and to fail the MCAT (or step one…i’m assuming both of them are the same) by just that much is probably my biggest fear (it’s how a lot of my anatomy tests went…i got a C+ overall for the class, but there were so many things that i didn’t understand or care for…it was like i’d bomb a test, barely pass one, pass one with a B- and then restart the cycle based on what we were going over…it’s complicated)
    and i totally relate to your first two reasons….i babysit 3 girls whose parents are both doctors and thus never there, or always on call (which means that a parent is home but there is also a babysitter in case something were to happen and they would need to leave) and it’s just so heartwrenching because their parents will wake them up before they leave for work (the girls arent’ in school yet) and they’ll say something like “you know i love you, right?” like they have to remind their children that they love them because they’re never there…and you can wait to have kids after your residency and everything, but you’ll be older(well, i won’t…i’m young for my age so i’m hoping to be done with everything by my early 30s….possibly my late 20s depending) but i don’t know. i’ve realized that i’m sort of pouring all these hidden fears that happened to surface while reading your blog to you and i don’t even know your name as anything other than citystreams…so i’ll just say what i wanted to say originally, which is THANK YOU for posting this….everybody makes jokes about med. school dropouts, you know “dentists are doctors that couldn’t make it in the big leagues” and such…but this truly inspired me. it makes me feel comfortable to know that if for some reason my priorities take a drastic turn or i don’t do that well in the courses there’s other people out there like me.
    thanks! sorry for the long comment!

    • Taylor,

      As a current 3rd year med student, who took a year off to figure things out (and looked at this blog during that time, and shared lot of good emails with the author) I can offer a few quick thoughts.

      First, yes, med school and beyond doesn’t appear to have much of a light at the end of the tunnel. But you have to figure out what it is you enjoy, if that truly is medicine, and if you have the energy to do that and try and lead as normal of a life otherwise as you possibly can.

      Second, no the MCAT and Step I are not the same thing. The MCAT is a test that factors into your acceptance into medical school. It tests all the general sciences from undergrad (college) such as biology, chemistry, organic chemistry, and physics, as well as some verbal reasoning skills. Step I is a general medical knowledge exam required by most schools to pass from 2nd year of medical to 3rd and is required for US licensing. Step I is a very difficult exam (it covers anatomy, physiology and pathophysiology of all body systems, pharmacology, etc…) and basically is meant to take everyone who in undergrad most likely all placed in the top 5-10% of each class and widely stratify them. Sometimes even those who do well otherwise do poorly on Step I just due to chance, style of the exam, etc..

      If you are 16 (or probably 17/18 now) and having doubts about medicine as a career I would take that as an early warning sign. If your doubts are related to grades, well you just need to see if you can step it up a notch. If you can get all A’s and it doesn’t drive you nuts, well then maybe it is worth continuing the path towards med school. If not, I wouldn’t worry. There are TONS of meaningful jobs in th world. Even in healthcare alone there a tons of people with really cool jobs that have a lot more direct care with patients, make important research discoveries, and work really nice schedules in comparison to physicians. Something that drew me to be a physician was the constant problem solving. Unfortunately yes, it is true that a lot of a physician’s work has to do with paperwork, bureaucracy, and the problem solving sometimes takes a back seat. But, for now that is something I have accepted, and will deal with.

      Lastly, I will say yeah, balancing a family with all the obligations seems difficult. I am not married, and I can say that medical school has definitely made it hard for me to be in lasting relationships due to the fact that my schedule changes drastically and often. It is just really hard to be there for someone as I know it is healthy to be when sometimes I don’t even have time to do laundry as often as I need to or pack my lunch, let alone be a parent.

  11. Hi, you commented on my post in the Mothers in Medicine blog. I just wanted to say that as a 4th year resident with a baby, I think you made the right decision in leaving med school. Not that I don’t get to see my daughter a lot… I work basically 8-5, rare weekends, and even get home for lunch a lot. But I know in my heart that medicine was the wrong career for me and I wish there had been some roadblock in med school that would have knocked me out of the race earlier.

  12. Great post…..I just recently left med school myself after 3 years. I too realized it was not for me and wanted to start a family. God bless you and good luck with your family.

  13. hey
    i searched for med school drop outs because i wanted to c if there can be more people like me and ya as u said i m not alone. but i m in final year of medical school now. and i ll probably change my stream after this. it has been a torture for me all these years but i really had no option being in a plce like india. i am sick of people comparing me with my sister who got 97 and 90 in both the steps. but lets see how things turn out. my life will start after school. i m 22 and i have a lot to look fwd to. thanks for the post btw

    • I am in my final year of medical school, after
      1. not really wanting to be a doctor in the first place
      2. hating it so much it sent me into depression in my 3-4th year

      I am currently trying to finish the degree and then go my merry way. just so i have something to show for the past 5 years of my life.

      I have NO idea what i want to do with my life. and that scares me. but what i do kno, is that i do NOT want to be a doctor, and i feel so silly, cuz i never did, i just did the degree cuz i thought it would have been a good ‘base degree’ which i realise now is stupid. I never knew what medicine entailed. To be in medical school you have to LOVE it and want it, i don’t. Everything about medical school sickens me. It takes me away from things i love like dance and working out, and that makes me even more depressed.

      I hopefully should finish in June this year. I just don’t know what is my next step in life.

      • Alizabee, your story is so similar to mine… I have always been a bright student but i never wanted to be a doctor.. But i was kinda talked into becoming a doctor. When i entered med school, i realized that it was a mistake but then i just did not have the courage to leave it.. I thought of quitting after graduation but after that my bf talked me into taking usmle.. He already gave it and scored high but now he wants me to take the exam as well. We prepared for it together but i seem to lack the energy and i haven’t taken the exam yet.. I tell my friends that i really want to quit but everybody keeps telling me that you should go for it since you’ve already spent so much time on prep.. But im still very confused.. Any suggestions?

  14. Thank you so much. I’m a 2nd year in a 6 year BS/MD program (ie, I’ve got another year in undergrad and then 4 years of med school), and I’ve been thinking about dropping out of my program, for a variety of reasons. I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one who hasn’t known since she was three that she absolutely has to become a doctor–and that I have the choice to be happy outside….

  15. Thanks for your post. I have one more year of medical school left. I am currently on leave of absence after going through a depressive epsode while trying to get my MPH.

    Now I am trying to figure out wether or not I want to go back to finish my last year of med school in July. I am in good standing with the med school, but I am not certain I want to go through this process anymore. I just have this feeling that I am supposed to be living my life out differently, but I don’t know what I really want to do. I know I want to be self sufficient, get married and have a family. I feel like if I was doing that instead of working through school, I’d be happier and not depressed every other day.

    I just have to get over the dissappointing feeling and know that my life will turn out great.

    • Im in exactly the same boat! Im currently in my first year of dental school, and recently went through a depressive episode. I want to request a leave of absence, but I don’t know whether I should come back or not. I do not have the desire to start a family or get married at this moment, but I do want to be self-sufficient. I like some aspects of dentistry but I don’t know if I want to do this for the rest of my life. I practically cried everyday throughout my first year of dental school. I feel stuck, loss and disappointed. Id rather drop out now than 3 years down the road with an insurmountable amount of debt !!

    • Hey Keisha. I see your post is from 2008 (that’s a LOONG time ago!)… but I was wondering what you ended up doing? I’m currently on a leave from the university after completing my first block in 5th year. I’m considering not going back: the idea of being in the hospital gives me a weird mixture of panic and boredom. I only have 2 years left to complete, but I just have this aching feeling that I should burn this bridge now for good. Would be good to hear your thoughts.

  16. Thank you for sharing this and making me feel so not alone. I was in my 3rd year and dropped out 6 months ago. I have been so alone over the last few months with only shame and failure as my constant companions. Although my family has tried to be supportive, they don’t understand my decision and I feel so alienated from them. It hurts so much to live with them but be so distant because of the rift that has been created by my dropping out. I sometimes feel that my worth to them was based on my becoming a doctor and now that I am not, I’ m almost as good as invisible. I may have left med school, but I’m so afraid this failure will haunt me for the rest of my life.

    • Hi, I just wanted to tell you that you leaving medical school is NOT a failure. I left too, but in my first year. I think you probably felt that it wasn’t right for you from the start but kept going..because there is a lot of pressure to do so. But you are brave, not a failure..it takes a lot of guts to leave rather than to stay. I recommend that you seek some therapy, it really helped me to speak to a professional counselor and to really organize my thoughts. It’s nice to have someone with an objective opinion on the matter, and as much as family may try to help,they don’t really understand what you have been through. Please don’t treat this as a “failure” that will haunt you for your whole life. What helps me is thinking of it this way–one day you can tell your children that you were once in medical school, but you decided to leave and follow your dreams elsewhere. How many people can say they have been in medical school but chose to leave? It’s really a privilege..=)

      • PB I left medical school many years ago. I was in a good Carribean school that graduates many doctors in the U.S. The main reason I left was not the academics, but the living conditions of a third world country. I was miserable. I enjoy working out, having basic conveniences, like running water…..this place was very uncomfortable. I regret leaving. I left after 6 weeks! Never really gave the place a chance. If I really wanted to become a doctor badly I would have stayed. I am 51 and still regret that decision, as my life was pretty much downhill ever since. Still living with parents. I never found my calling and have had sporadic employment. I should have stayed in med school because I would have felt better about myself, and probably would have found something in medicine I enjoyed. Perhaps orthopedics/sports medicine. I also was having personal problems at the time. Excessive anxiety and depression. Especially social anxiety around the opposite sex. Never had a girlfriend in my 20’s… was too shy even though plenty of women were interested. So there was a lot of personal issues I should have worked out before ever leaving for med school in a 3rd world country. At 51 I have had some brief relationships, but nothing long term, never married and I am considered very good looking and smart by everybody. Hasn’t gotten me much in the social world. Never been great at dating and the whole social thing. I should have stayed in med school because for me there was nothing else. I never found my calling and don’t have one. Should have finished and done something behind the scenes. With a good career like that I probably would have found someone, gotten married, had a kid or two and then divorced. But for a guy like with who always did well in the sciences, high GPA there was really nothing else. Did eventually become an LCSW, but dealing with the mentally ill is not my calling. I don’t have a career and don’t ever expect to have one. I have been diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Depression and Personality Disorder. So I am kind of impaired and can’t hold down a job anyway. Had a gf and a job as a mental health clinician a year ago. First lost the job and then the girl. Both were very stressful and I can’t handle stress. Forget about kids. Not cut out for that responsibility. No I am going to be one of the small percentage of guys who never get married, never have kids. Currently going to a career counselor to see what options I have at this point. Also I collect social security disability. All of this because I lost of my focus and could not concentrate on my studies anymore. Used to be an incredible student. Should have stayed that way and at least finished and found something medicine I actually liked.

    • Don’t worry. Use this opportunity to embetter yourself and find inner contentment. Continue to read of experiences such as these. I experienced a similar experience both in and outside of school.

      Pray for strength and you will receive.

      All the best.

  17. What a failure! Oh bo hoo life is so hard, you failed a test once. It’s good though, failures shouldn’t be allowed to do difficult things in life. Of course, if you weren’t so pathetic, you might have realized you don’t fail until you stop trying. The sad part is how many people are being supportive of the fact that you failed, just to feel better about their own failures.

    • You clearly have issues. It takes someone with a pretty insecure sense of self to attack others, especially in vulnerable positions. You probably aren’t even a medical student, possibly some arrogant pre-med that doesn’t know a thing about medicine. Not everyone who leaves “failed”. A lot of people do very well academically but decide that it isn’t right for them. Get over yourself, and don’t come to websites like this. People seek support here, not the opposite.

    • Dad, is that you?

  18. My first troll. Yay! I feel like a real blogger now.

  19. Aw man, I’ve never had a real troll. I don’t think. You’re in the big leagues now! 😉

  20. So what constitutes a failure!?!?

    Thanks for the post!

    OJ, I recommend that you get some counseling to help you. Before I left, I went to the wellness clinic and sought professional help to help me get through. People may see this as a sign of weakness but do whats best for you. When I try to explain my decision, people look at me like “What is wrong with you?” But I can look at myself in the mirror and that is all that matters

    Your decision will only haunt you if you allow it to.

  21. Hi!

    Actually yes, I did find you blog while searching for medical school dropout :), and I definitely wouldn’t feel bad if I were you. Med school is one of those things you either want to do, convince yourself you want to do, or exit when you realize your depression (which is QUITE common) is not just because you are struggling with the material but rather because you do not want to be doing it.

    I think it is great for this discussion to be available to people, since it is somewhat of a forbidden subject. There is a lot of mutual fear, scrutiny, etc. that surrounds this topic. Not to mention a relative lack of pages about it, dealing with it (emotionally and financially), and moving on.

    To those how are leaving scruttinizing messages, get a life. you are the people that make medical school the ego driven judgmental atmosphere that it does NOT need to be. But, I guess sometimes the old sayings are right, misery loves company.

    My case is a little different, and I have not dropped out. But I have considered it. I struggled through med 1/2 with very heavy depression (and rightfully so, as med school began I lost my brother, and was still going through the end of my eight year relationship). I never felt on top of anything, and never felt like I had a moment to get there. Like yourself, I never had to remediate anything. And even received decent grades in some sections (just depending on how interesting they were to me). As step 1 approached I made a decision to take a LOA. Not b/c I was scared of step 1, but because I didn’t feel like my head had been in the ball game at all. I needed a change. There was no reason for me to take a test like that when I was only functioning at 60% (at best). I can say that while my school allowed this, they were relatively unsupportive, and even did some highly stressful things that I had to get through. My plan has been to work (good hard outdoor contruction; which has been a little shaky due to the economy), take step 1 during this year and resume to see how I feel. (I am feeling great now, but will I just relapse once I hit Med 3? That is what I await).

    Additionally, my decision created huge rifts in my personal life. Obviously my medical school friend network has been in relative shambles. I received harsh words from my immediate family that I am sure you can imagine. Even some of my friends essentially were like “what the hell?”. I never really realized that other people felt like they had such a say in my life. Some of those I always confided in essentially were just like “you aren’t going back, are you? you don’t have to lie”…which was quite insulting because I was generally pretty open with people, and took the year with intentions of going back (but obviously taking the time to fully make that decision). Responses like this can make it even more difficult for a person to separate what matters and what does not.

    Unfortunately I think you are right about the time constraints and damage to a person’s interpersonal relationships. This is not always the case, but it definitely is a reality. In order to ignore this reality one has to be blindly convinced being a physician is THE end all be all…which to any person of good intelligence will realize, is not the truth. There are a lot; of challenging jobs that will allow you to do good/rewarding/intellectually stimulating/high paying (whatever one’s drive is) things in this world.

    Some of the best advice I have received this year has been from older guys I work with. They have all been very non-judgmental, although they do seem to like calling me college boy as a joke, and all have voiced the same opinion. That is, sometimes it is ok to reflect. Figure out where you are, where you’ve been, and where you want to be. Reflection is something we don’t give ourselves time for much anymore. Maybe it is a cultural thing.

    My question to you (you could reply to my email address if you like) is….

    What does one do about the financial burden incurred during your time in medical school? If you are anything like the 75% of medical students out there you must have accumulated a good amount of debt during you full 1st two years. How have you handled that?

  22. Wow. I feel like I’m reading what my life will be like two years from now. I’m halfway through my first year, and I’m already fearing failing Step 1, for the simple reason that I’m not acing exams. I’m not even coming close to acing exams. And on top of that, my best friend constantly complains about how she’s always behind… and on the brink of getting an A. Um, my concerns usually involve passing a class, thank you. Each day we have an exam is another one where I break down, consider the possibility of going on antidepressants (refusing, for now), and Google other possible careers. I have no idea in terms of specialties. The one thing I do know is that I want a family and I want to be there for them. It’s nice to be reminded that I’m not alone in struggling with this decision, that other people have made the hard decision.

    I really related when you wrote about suicide and learning enough from the Psych wards not to say anything. I’ve definitely thought about it, decided that I would fall into the “calling for help” category, and subsequently decided to swallow the thought because I didn’t want to end up a patient at the ward. In any case, thank you for posting. Today was one of “those” days, and your blog just reminds me that there is more to life than an MD (even if that’s what I spent all of college striving for).

  23. I read your post and i totally identify with what you say. Im a med student in the UK and worked my entire life at school just to get here. Im 8 weeks off the end of my 2nd year and i know that this isnt what i want for my life anymore. My main fear though is if im gonna get a resonable job i have to have a degree in something. If i drop out now then i would have to start another degree from scratch but if i can push myself to hold out another year then at the end of 3rd year i would at least get a BMSc which is better than leaving with nothing. The thing is i am entirely miserable and i know at 19 i’ve got time to work out what i wanna do in life but the dilemma between leaving now or pushing myself through another year of total hell is driving me craazy!! At least you have showed there is life after med school!! Anyone who thinks that leaving med school is failure is soo wrong – it takes more courage to leave and is probably one of the hardest decisions you will ever make.

  24. To Lotusone, listen to those older people. Most of them will tell you, do what makes you happy because life is too short to be miserable. That’s what everyone I spoke to told me. In regards to paying that debt, I don’t know what to tell you. But things work out in the end.

    To second year, it is an extremely hard decision. I went to the couseling services. I spoke to a counselor there and also spoke to so many people inside and outside of medicine. Like my counselor (psychologist) said, “it was a loss of identity because it had been part of my who I was.”

    When I last saw my med school friends a month after dropping out, they said I looked so happy. I do still have thoughts of school or see pics of their adventures or hear them complain but ultimately I enjoy what I do.

    But remember at 19, you have so many options (although at the time it doesn’t seem like it). I also recommend talking to the counseling services.

  25. I dropped out in the 3rd year of medical school too. I had lost interest in medicine by this time due to the drudgery. Nowadays, I like to tell all high school and college students that being a doctor is not what it is all cracked up to be. You can make a lot more money in other fields.

  26. Interesting! Three years ago, I was in the same situation. I was in medical school with a decent C average with a couple of Bs. I had some family issues that happen around the time to take Step 1 and honestly my confidence was low about the whole Step 1 test. I missed the passing score for step 1 by one point (181). I was devastated. I eventually left medical school and the year after I left was horrible. I was deep in debt and didn’t know what I wanted to do. I actually did search the internet for anything about other medical students who left medical school and didn’t find much. Now, three years forward, I have a MPH degree and I am going back to medical school in the fall. I have to admit I am nervous about how it will all work out but I know that I have God on my side. So I have been through that journey and I wanted to share my story so if someone is looking out there for some hope that you can figure it all out after you leave medical school. Yes, there is a light at the end of the tunnel whether you decide to go back to medical school or not. The decision to leave medical school isn’t easy and I really had to re-adjust on how I perceived myself. (I had come to define myself as medical student. Bad idea.) In the end, I know my experiences brought me closer to God and I believe made me a better person. Thanks Citystreams for posting this blog because I was searching for that confirmation after I left school and I know it would have helped to read your blog. 🙂

    PS. Additionally, I have two friends who left medical school. One friend is getting a PhD in Public Health and the other is a full time missionary working with international public health organizations. 🙂

    • Blessed,
      After having left med school, as I did after the first semester 8 years ago, how did you go about regaining entry?

    • Hi
      i’m in your situation right now , i left podiatry school in 2009, and since then i’m suffering and going thru depression , and i am thinking to apply for dental school? but my question is: when u got admitted to school again , did you tell them about your previous situation? or u hide it? and whats up with the debt u had from b4? did u get approve easy for a new loan—– thanks in advance for you support

  27. Your reasons are understandable, but it is for the best that you are not a doctor- both for your family, and your would-be patients and coworkers.

    As an aside, the “extra lock” tidbit really irked me. Is your husband from the ‘burbs or something? The patient was mentally ill and deserved a bit of empathy and competent treatment, not stories being told behind his back by his medical professionals and disparaging remarks from their husbands. How would you feel if someone told you to stay away from their children because they lumped everyone with mental issues into the same group?

  28. Im glad you chose to drop out because you are obviously not cut out for it at all and never were truly interested in medicine. First of all, who gives up after one failed attempt at step one. Thats incredibly pathetic. But besides that, youve deluded yourself into thinkgin that it wasnt for you as a defense mechanism. Oh so some 6month old couldnt recognize his doctor mom? that 6 month old can barely recognize his own hand. Thats ridiculous.. do really think that other parents dont work? Being a doctor is a lot like any other job, you work. You have opions in medicine, you choose what you do to some extent. So… ya good thing you chose to be a stay at home mom so you can be with your babies. And when their all grown up you can can sit there wondering if you could have amounted to anything if you actually tried.

  29. but to achieve one must sacrifice…

  30. hey thanks for this, you’ve basically destroyed why i wanted to go into medicine to begin with. and although that sounds like a bad thing, its actually a good thing. and yeah i did google medical school dropout to get to your site.

  31. Dear whatever,

    I would like to ask you several questions. Why did you bother looking up Med school dropout? Did you have a moment of weakness? Did one of your classmates make a decision and you were wondering why they made that decision? Did you have to insult someone else to make yourself feel better?
    I’ll be honest, I wasn’t cut out for medicine, but let me ask you, are you cut out to be an entrepeneur? I have worked longer and harder than most interns starting the two companies. Because of my companies you get the supplies you need to treat patients.
    Let me use an analogy since you are in or interested in medicine (There was no clarification what you do) So if you are in medicine, what’s more important the heart or the blood? Neither, they both need each other. My businesses are the blood in that they provide you the equipment you need to perform the treatment you give to your patients which include me. So neither is more important than the other. So grow up and get over you superiority complex!
    To highschool student, before you listen to everyone, find out for yourself. Especially in medical school, people will tell you what to do and you will get their feedback but most of its worthless and you have to do what works for you. Talk to doctors, shadow (especially with doctors on call and not just for a few hours but their entire schedule). You are still young and there will be plenty of time to experience life and find out what you want to do. Good luck

  32. I dropped out of an Ivy league med school last year. I’m now an investment banker and trader. I’ve made more money in the past year than I would have made in my next 15 years as a doctor. The way I see it, med school is for people who like to suffer. Stop delaying gratification and start enjoying your lives, people. Best of luck.

  33. I knew several girls who had babies in med school and finished a year late as they used it to get an MPH which requires a lot less time. This would have been a good idea. Furthermore, if you failed step 1 you probably weren’t academically cut out for medicine anyway considering how most schools have a pass rate of 97% or more.

  34. LifeSucks says:
    I wandered on to your site today and my jaw kind of hit the floor. Because after sifting through the posts on here I realized I was looking into a mirror. If I had ever started a blog it would be just like yours with similar articles and feelings (maybe not as neatly organized).

    About junior year into medical school I also realized I didn’t like anything. Oh, if you asked me what specialties I didn’t want to do I’d have spit out my answers like pediatrics and Ob/Gyn in a millisecond. Had you asked me what I was interested in though, I probably would have just given you a blank stare.

    Anyways, last year I tried to escape my plight by applying for EM but I didn’t match. So after sitting out a year I find out I’m now set to begin medicine come July. But you want to know the problem? I hated my medicine core and sub-internship. I expect things to be exponentially worse in residency. I often thought about quitting during 4th year of medical school but I’m one of the 50% you mentioned in one of your other posts. I’m too old and owe too much money.

    I guess it’s time for me to get the Paxil and Zoloft ready. I hope lots of undecided pre-meds see your site before they take the plunge because it really is very difficult to turn the ship around.

    • Hello Lifesucks,

      I hope things are going better for you. But, when I worked at the hospital in Chicago and was feeling pressure to be better and become a doctor, I saw a resident coming out of the elevator with an attending and the resident said: “I can’t wait until this part is over, it will be so much better.” The attending promptly set her straight and said, “No dear, it gets much worse.”

      I took heed and stayed away from medicine.

  35. I’m very happy I found this blog.
    Thank you for posting your reasons for dropping out.

    Out of interest this evening I googled ‘medical school dropout’, as you always hear about dropouts from other degree courses but not so much about medicine and as I’m also in a dilemma about dropping out too. Stress. Argh.

    I’m happy you finally found your path in life, I hope that one day I’ll find mine.

    Best wishes!

  36. thanx alot 4 posting this

    yeah i found this by googling leaving medical school

    i am happy to know that i am not alone, i think u maid the right decision.

    i am stil not sure what to do (leave or stay) but i hope i make a decision that i wont regert later.
    my god bless u all

  37. I dropped out after 3 semesters. I have not yet found my niche in life but here’s a few things I do know.

    1) No one is a failure for leaving med school. It takes courage to “wake up” and even think about leaving because of all the pressure to “stay the course”. No one can tell you if you will or won’t be happy being a doctor. It is a job like any other job. But it IS a very demanding career. One that you have to make huge sacrifices for. (family life, personal life, personal identity) If it will be worth it or not has to be a personal decision.

    2) You have to be really, really, really driven to become a doctor. Everyone in my med school class was foaming at the mouth to take Step1 and I had real pause if I wanted to stay in this rat race. Live inside a clinic or hospital all day – yuck!

    3) Things to consider: One question i was asked at a med school interview was “what are you passionate about?” – i had absolutely no idea what she was talking about and no idea what I was passionate about, so i gave some BS answer and didn’t get into that school. you have to be passionate about MEDICINE to be a doctor – nothing else. (now I know what I am passionate about and it’s not medicine) The follow-up question was “what would you do with a year off between college and med school?” If you would take more medical or science related classes or work in a clinic or volunteer in a hospital – yes you probably want to be a doctor. If you would spend that year traveling around playing in your band, or hiking in the mountains, or working on the farm with your dad . . maybe not doctor material.

    4) Yes you may have to get another degree to feel “fulfilled” in a different career, which is something i am now considering. But don’t let that stop you. Life is long enough you will eventually pay off the debt 🙂

    One of my classmates once said about med school “they keep you so busy so you can’t think about leaving”; and a professor once told me “people go to med school because they don’t know what else to do with their lives” – both have some truth.

    To “whatever” – so who will you be when you are no longer a doctor? When your identity and your career are one in the same . . . not so healthy.

    I leave these comments to hopefully help someone who is considering leaving med school. Let’s not be mean, let’s try to help each other.

  38. Josh, I very much enjoyed reading your comments on this blog. I’m a first year medical student at a top 3 medical school. I have a publishing company on the side that I started last year. The business was doing great and I am considering dropping out of medical school and focusing on growing my business. The main reason is that the information I learned at medical school doesn’t excite me much. I’ll sit in class and feel not at all excited by the most amazing scientific facts. I don’t feel like I care for it. Do you have any suggestions?

  39. Dear confused1st year:

    I felt the same way. I was extremely bored by the book side of med school. I was used to going, making decisions, meetings, problem solving. The rote memorization was killing me. I also felt like my life was passing me by.
    I also felt that I became so focused on grades because everyone else was so focused on grades, I started to change, which I didn’t like. I started going to the student resoursces center and spoke to several professors after our second block exams. During this time, I had a “Spazz out” where several of my classmates saw me go on a tirade about med school. I shadowed several Dr. and volunteered in some clinics. These did nothing for me.
    I decided to follow up with my professors and the student services center. After talking to family,friends, pastor, classmates, professors, and counselor, I decided to return to “normal” life.

    I have to be honest, that things haven’t been peaches & cream. My companies are struggling because of the economy and there have been some other issues. But this is a risk you take in business.
    But I have a baby on the way, and am so excited for that. Looking back, I don’t regret my decision to leave medical school.
    Hope this helps, and if you need to contact me, I have given Mrs. Citystreams permission to send you my email

  40. Dear Josh and Cindy,

    Thank you so much for your help! I will keep you updated about my final decision. I love this blog! Keep up the amazing work! Josh, congratulations on the baby!

  41. wow – I’m so glad I found this blog. I’m currently a 3rd year and am absolutely miserable. Every day is a chore to get through. I have no interest in what I am doing, and just do the bare minimum to get by. I am seriously considering dropping out, but am so scared of looking like a failure. I can’t even imagine what I would tell my friends and family (mostly my family, I don’t really have that many friends). I feel like I would be letting everyone down, because I’m from a small town and they all know I’m in med school and are ‘rooting’ for me. I have planned on being a doctor since I was like, 13 years old. I did internships and worked in the hospital for a year, and still was interested. Then I got to med school and am absolutely miserable. Two things keeping me here are the shame of dropping out, and the $100,000 in debt I already have after two years. Reasons to leave include the desire to have a family (I’m getting married next summer), to have a life, and to be happy! Plus, if I am going to drop out, shouldn’t I do it now rather than later so I don’t accrue even more debt?

    I hate this.

    • Lia
      I’m in pretty much the same situation you were in when you posted this 6 years ago. I’m wondering – did you stay in med school?

  42. I’m a third year medical student as well , I’ve been struggling the past few days with this feeling that I’ve been ignoring for two years now , I don’t want to be a doctor , I hate the medical field , and I’m not willing to spend half of my lifetime in those wards !

    I’m very confused & still haven’t reached a decision whether to drop out or go with it …!

    but I’m happy for you , you seem to have a happy family , bless you all : )

  43. Lia and Rayan,

    I also recommend checking out medschoolhell.com. It has several resources to students questioning med school and what your options are!

    Lia: Make sure you make this decision for you; not for anyone else. I don’t know if you have done any clinical shadowing during med school, but maybe its school alone that has you feeling like this. Try volunteering at a clinic to get that “real” world experience.
    It was during my volunteering that I realized I didn’t want to do medicine any longer. Maybe the opposite will be true for you though.

    Good luck and neither one of you is alone

  44. i’m so glad i came across this blog! i am a current senior pre-med student who has now decided to wait with applying to med school because the reality of the road ahead has really begun to sink in. is it really worth sacrificing all those young years for? for about the past year i have considered going the nurse practitioner route (i really think i would be so happy in that field) but i’m now worried i will always regret not going to med school (since i’ve wanted to be a doctor for as long as i can remember) or that i will feel like less of a person. i’ve always been so determined but now there seem to be so many other things to experience in life. it is so comforting to know that you don’t regret your decision at all! only the strongest and smartest people are able to realize what will truly make them happy in life.

  45. Josh – thanks for the advice. I know I shouldn’t base my decision on what other people think, but it’s hard to not think about how hard it will be to tell people, “yeah, i dropped out of med school, the thing i’ve been aspiring towards since i was 13” I’m also hesitant to make any decisions right now because I’m pretty depressed, and I don’t know if the depression is because med school sucks, or if med school sucks because I’m depressed. I haven’t actualy been diagnosed, but I’m in the process of setting up appointments with some local psychiatrists. I’m hoping that this will help, and maybe once the depression lifts school will be better. If not, then I have no clue what I’m going to do.

    I almost wish I was failing so that I could have an easy out, but I’m not. I’m borderline, but I haven’t failed anything.

  46. Lia,

    Great to hear that you are looking for help! It’s the best thing.
    I also know what you are going through. When I first returned I got some funny looks and people would give me judgemental looks. It was also hard when I saw my parents have to explain to people. But over time those looks fade because life moves on and people decide to focus on someone else.
    I also know what you mean because ever since I was 5 I had wanted to become a doctor. Even when i was helping start the businesses, I still had a focus on med school and that was my dream. It became a change of identity when I left. Now my identity has changing to a father.
    Keep your head up and good luck.

  47. I, too, dropped out after two years in med school. I could have written about half the responses up here- especially the ones about how your family and community shun you once you give up on their dream. Ignore the a–holes on this blog- they are half the reason that medicine is as screwed up as it already is. I dropped out eight years ago, and it was the right decision, but the guilt and shame stayed with me for a long time- there are times now when I still struggle with it. I’m a science teacher at a middle school now, and I love my kids. I still don’t know what I want to do with my life, and occasionally, I’m still afraid that I will fail or change my mind if I try something else. Having to pay back the loan for what was a very painful time in my life is like adding insult to injury, but I will survive. If you do decide to leave, the decision is yours, and you must find a support network (and the people who support you most may not be the ones you expect!). Some of the smartest people on the planet have chosen to leave medicine (both before AND after their graduation dates), and have done very well with their lives. Don’t give up!

  48. Hey,
    i’m currently a 1st year med student. Unfortunately, not doing great at all. I’ve always liked science and medicine. But to be quite honest the major reason I applied to medschool was not solely rested on the love for medicine (like rather), but more so on the practical reasons (stability in the future both for myself and my family). I know that my parents pension won’t even cover their rent, and they will depend on me. All my mom can dream about is “my daughter a doctor w/ her own office”.
    But honestly, I’m absolutely miserable right now. I have never felt so stupid as I do now. I’ve always been a good student, and now I can’t seem to pass. I feel like a complete failure. Yet at the same time with each day I feel more and more like I don’t want to be here. That i made the wrong decision. And not just because i’m not passing.
    My family is being as supportive as they can, but at the same time feel like if I do fail out its gonna be the biggest dissapointment for them.
    I still want to stay in medicine, but not on a doctor track. But with that I doubt that PA programs will be thrilled to take a med -school drop out.

  49. Nat,

    Keep your head up!
    I know there are med studens and doctors alike who look down on other health professionals for not being doctors. Do what you enjoy.
    Finish off the semester and recover during winter break and you can get some rest and then make a decision.
    I understand about your concern regarding the welfare of your parents, but you are putting too much pressure on yourself. The reason I know is from experience. When the companies were struggling during the beginning of the year, I had the same concerns about my parents. I went to speak to my pastor for advise and told me that “My parents were adults and can handle what life throws at them. If I was in a position later in life to assist them, then I could. Why are you worrying about something in the future that may not even come into fruition.”

    If you are worried about money read “The Millionaire Next Door” and it will educate you about money. Hopefully this will help you on your financial goals of helping your parents.
    Again good luck

  50. I am so glad I saw this site! I am a PA (physician assistant) and I have not been able to find anything on the web that was supporting of not being thrilled with the PA profession. I related to many of the comments on this topic.

    Although, not an MD, there were so many similar feelings going through PA school for me. I chose to become a PA, frankly because I didn’t want to go through medical school and residency. I loved medicine, still do…I loved having the knowledge of medicine, being able to help myself with my own medical questions as well as helping others, etc.

    The didactic year was fine. I enjoyed learning clinical medicine. The trouble started with clinical rotations. I hated every single one of them! I was in shock! how could I possibly not like any of them…after all this is what it’s going to be like in a real job.

    I had always considered myself to be smart, intelligent and capable of handling academics. I was an A student prior to PA school and a B student in PA school. But, I felt like a complete idiot during all of my rotations. My self esteem hit bottom every time a preceptor would make a comment about something I didn’t know, etc.I know some of that is expected, but I began to hate it all with a passion…but was determined to finish. I graduated and interviewed for many jobs and only wanted the jobs that were far removed from clinical stuff as possible. So, I decided to go into the pharma industry. I was in it for about 3 years. I missed the clinical aspect and building on the knowledge base of medicine so in between I tried to get back into the clinical area by trying derm and peds….both times, I couldn’t make it past a month…I was so depressed. I knew it was time to leave when I was enviying the Janitors that were in our building (no disrespect to Janitors).

    I still miss medicine, so at times, I feel like a bipolar person in regards to career decisions…I still can’t give it up completely. I just don’t enjoy how medicine is today.

    Sorry that I made this so long…thanks for letting me vent

  51. i have found your blog post and the subsequent posts to be revelatory with their uncensored honesty and a source of incredible support for those such as myself who are finding med school difficult. If those in my school’s student affairs office had the even a fraction of the courage, frankness, and humanism on display here, a lot of students would feel less alone, lost, adricf, and isolated in times of difficulty. There’s more open sentiment here than any my dean of student affairs or wellness clinic could possibly muster. Thank You

  52. well, im gonna drop out of med school because i cant even get past the first year. And i was depressed before i even entered and only went in due to parental pressure.

  53. Hi, I’m in the 1st year of medical school, and lately i’ve been having doubts. I always liked interesting stuff, so when I had to choose a path. I said medicine would be interesting. My parents who have a business supported me. I have a place to stay and everything.

    But now, seeing the amount of work you put in…. and when i think that 6 more years await me, scare the hell out of me ( I live in Romania, here medical school is 6 years (3+3), after which you go into residency).
    In highschool I studied pretty well, maybe the biggest problem is that I studied pretty much everything, so when I had to choose a career I was a bit confused.
    Now, when I presented my doubts to my parents they were furious. I thought they would maybe, even be a bit happy, I may have thought maybe I could work in the family business. The thing is, that in this country, doctors have an image of beeing from another world.

    I was pretty good at math, and english (i got a CAE degree). And I’ve got a feeling that chemistry is going to kill me in med school.
    I’m really confused, these past 2 months I’v been thinking of several jobs or paths to take just to get away from this. I really don’t know. In highschool I wanted to get away from mindless book learning, cover to cover, and thought that a photographic memory can be useful in some places like anatomy. But now I see that you have to put you butt down and learn a lot.

    Now, I do not want to make a decision that I will regret later on, wether that is staying in med school or quiting it. Furthermore, I don’t know that are these thoughts coming to me because it’s laziness getting to me, or my innerself signaling. I too thought about what is my calling, and things like these, and don’t know what to do. I do not want to look like a failure beacause I quit in 1st year but I’m not sure if I want to put myself through this. I would hate the fact that my family would have to explain to everyone that their son left med school, and I would definetly hate those judgmental looks.

    I have a ton of learning to do for today’s anatomy course, yet I said to myself, I will read this blog and comments because it is time. It has been really helpful, and brought me down to Earth. I don’t feel like I’m alone in this case.

    Dany, who is confused

  54. i was in a similar situation and was struggling but i just stopped

  55. Hi I was in a similiar situation to you too,
    I started my first year in medschool but realised that i didn’t want to carry on anymore so i dropped out after 2 months, i realised that life is more than dedicating my whole life to medicine so now i am looking for a different medical career to chose.

    even though i have a few regrets now and then, i’ve realised that my decision to drop out will be worth it in the future when i have a family and have more time for different things. I guess being a doctor isn’t for everyone. I’m grateful that i realised that a life in medicine isn’t for me from an early stage rather then a years down the line when things will be alot different.

    Don’t be afraid to make the decision to drop out if you know it is right for you. In the end when you are working in the wards, all these people who you feel are judging you aren’t going to be there. In the end they aren’t going to be living your life, only you are, so you need to do whats right for you and not live to the expectations of others.

    I was lucky to have the support from my family, i hope you make a decision which is right for you and not to please those around you.

    Good luck with your decisions

  56. The other day when I was still thinking about making a decision, a question popped into my mind. Does leaving medical school make me a bad person? I mean someone who is selfish, and doesn’t want to help people ?

    • I remember asking my therapist the same question and she looked at me like I was crazy. Her answer was to point me back to why I felt that way. I placed medicine up on a pedestal. I’d always assumed that it was the most noble of professions. Then we talked about all of the jobs that help people.

  57. Happy New Year!

    Dany: I am sorry to hear that you don’t have the support of your family. I really don’t know much about Romanian culture so I don’t know how your family dynamics are. I am guessing you are probably under 20 years of age. What I mean, is you still have your entire life ahead of you. Here in the US, the average American changes careers multiple times throughout their lives. I can understand your fears and concerns.
    When I dropped out, it really hurt me seeing the faces of people when my parents explained that I had dropped out of med school. But my parents are grown ups and have had to deal with much worse stuff and did not need for me to protect them. I hope you can relate to this. As for being selfish because you don’t want to become a Dr, I can also relate. My grandfather told me to think about all the people I could help by becoming a Dr. There are so many other ways to help people besides being a Dr. My company provides Thanksgiving and Christmas meals to communities and we provide services to our church. Not only that we provide employment for over 60 people who due to their jobs can provide for their families. You ultimately decide if you are a bad or selfish person by your decisions. I know plenty of Doctors who are great people, but I also know of many doctors who are complete jerks. And what about those doctors who are dedicated to their patients but ignore their families. (Understand, I am not judging because it is their choice and can’t judge a persons priorities) Being a doctor is a job/profession and should not completely define who you are. I hope this helps

    Remember you decide if you become a success/failure/selfish/good person and this is not determined by others opinions of you.

    • My grandpa told me the exact same thing two weeks ago. I just decided to leave medical school after 4 years of undergrad, a foundation course and a year of medical school. I’ve taken a leave of absence and now I’ve decided to leave for good. There are so many other ways to help people and I definitely found my identity in medicine, not a good thing…I had wanted to be a doctor since I was 15. Now, I’m looking at other education possibilities, getting a job and paying off loans. Next week I start work flipping hamburgers until other possibilities open up…from med school dropout to burger flipper…woo hoo! Life is good =)

  58. Thanks for replying so fast. These days, coming back from holiday, I’ve been thinking a lot about this issue. Frankly, Monday I didn’t want to come back, it was as if I were being shipped to prison. The issue buggs me, cause I can’t even study the right way. I find myself several times during classes thinking: “Have I made the right choice ?”
    Exams are coming, and my plan so far is to pass them, and then say to my family:this is it. I did half a year, passed the exams but I really don’t want to do this.Maybe I want to pull through these first exams just to see what’s it’s like to be in a university, or maybe to prove myself that I can do it. I don’t know.
    At home things are kinda bad, my family and I don;t bring up the issue because they know where I stand. And when it does come up, and I say my mind, I get a response: “Well yeah, leave med school, look at X’s son he left and now he washes cars!” or “What else are you gonna do ?” And if bring up the problem of years of study (which only hit me when I actually got to medschool), they say: ” You’ll see by the 3rd year it’s gonna be OK”. And I say to myself, what if I still won’t like it ? Than I’ll be in a situation of “I spent 3 years doing this, so I just as well do this for the next 7 years”. Or what if things don’t get better.
    Funny thing is that my parents act like med is the only way to make money, even though there are in a totally different field.
    Looking back at my decision to coming to medschool I don’t have the slightest idea what made me do it . Maybe it was wanting to be in a pedestal sorta world. Then when I got here, I realized it isn’t the way I imagined.
    One last thing. Honestly, I am sort of afraid of all the things I have to study. When we do experiments or smth. interesting that spikes my interest, but when I get home and I see the amount of information I have to put in I get depressed. I don’t know if this is laziness or the fact that I imagine my life to be somewhat more thrilling than studying for the next exam. Maybe that’s just the kid in me, who has to die, to live in the adult world ?

    • Dear Daniel,
      your post is like written by me.
      I´m a 1st yr and I consider quitting several times a day. There are also many things I like and love at medschool and it makes me want to cry when I imagine giving up and spending life NOT BEING A DOCTOR. My grades are better than average, but the prise is SO high. I’ve been very hard on me since it all started. Every day is the same. I come from school, eat lunch and then sit and study for hours. At weekends there are 8 hour “shifts”. I meet my friends like twice a month. I don’t have time to do sports, I gained weight, I have problems with my eyes now, I get up with an awful feeling, I’m constantly nervous, because I know that everything I can and MUST do is learning, and after all of that I can’t fall asleep. And when I don’t study I feel guilty. I wanted to get to a med school so badly. I worked so hard for it. And while I’m finally here, I hate this life style. I can’t imagine standing 6 yrs of med school. I’m lucky that we don’t pay for school in my country (I realized what a serious problem the loans are for you guys!). Even my parent won’t hate me if I quit. I don’t consider it such a shame. BUT. The problem is that I still want to be a doctor, to have this job. Really help people (doctors in my country don’t earn much!).
      It’s total ambivalence. It’s like my life stopped. My friends study different courses, but they also can have hobbies, leave for a weekend, date someone… they LIVE while I’m burried in “digestive system”. I used to be quite happy and funny person, who liked many things. I’m changing and I don’t like it. Yes, I still want to be a doctor. I can’t imagine another job for me. But I don’t believe you should suffer your life, you should live it! I don’t know what to do. I’ve been hesitating for weaks. I feel so tired. I can’t understand how my life became this hell. What did I spoil?

  59. Thank you so much for your entry. I’m starting medical school in 1.5 weeks…my doubts have been accumulating over the past year, yet I still went forth. I’ve always wanted to be a doctor, but I don’t think it is really worth the pain in the end…the effects on my family have been severe as both of my parents are doctors as well. They’re highly stressed and my mum’s depressed and she never gets to relax and enjoy what life has to offer.

    I thought medicine was the only thing I could in life. I thought it was my calling. I’ve received awards in Anatomy in my undergraduate degree…but that doesn’t mean I’ll cope with medicine. I get high distinctions…but that doesn’t mean I have to do medicine…I’ve only realised this now. I’ve also put medicine on a pedestal, not realising the huge lie I’ve fabricated for myself.

    I’m just glad I’m not alone. =] Goodluck everyone!! Have a happy life ok? Life is too short to live buried in textbooks and it’s okay to be selfish in life…to take some time off for yourself and go sight seeing or travelling. As long as we are good to our family and friends, our life will be fulfilling. The respect of a patient for a doctor does not compare with the love and respect of a family member.

    I’d rather spend time with my family than dealing with paperwork, patients and legal issues for my whole life. They’ve looked after me, so it’s time I look after them 🙂

  60. Daniel

    Don’t worry, its not laziness. All med students feel that way. As the cliche goes, “Its like drinking out of a fire hydrant.” It is extremely intimidating.

    mnln: Good luck with everything!

  61. thanks for posting this. I’m in the middle of my 2nd year, and already have to repeat the year. I will be up for dismissal if I fail my next exam in five days. I want to drop out, but I owe so much money…and I have no clue what else to do with myself (non-traditional student, that worked hard to get here).
    No clue what I’ll do, but its nice to know others have gone thru this and emerged on the other side.

  62. Savantrice,

    Keep your head up! There are several options out there for you! One could be getting another degree where you could have the government assist you in paying back your loans. I understand regarding the non-tradional student

    Remember this too shall pass.

  63. To everyone out there who has dropped out of med school:
    Do you regret leaving med school?
    If so, what do you do on those days when you’re plagued with doubt about your decision to leave?
    I left med school after 1.5 yrs and some days think “maybe I should of” finished my MD. Not because I long to be a doctor, but because I am wondering what to do with myself next. I am currently a stay at home mom to 3 small children. Thanks for any advice.

    • Anon:

      I think you would be crazy not to have those thoughts. There was such an investment to first off get into med school. Also you held onto these “dreams” of becoming a Dr for whatever reason.

      I don’t necessarily regret leaving, but have thoughts about where I would be right now when I talk to my classmates or miss them personally. I also I have to remind myself why I left and how miserable I was. And to be honest, I didn’t want to make the necessary sacrifices (time, energy, money, family, etc). I guess the main thing is to be grateful. I am grateful for the opportunity of attending med school. I am also grateful for the friendships. But most of all I am grateful for my current life and my son. Sorry I don’t mean to be cliche-ish but its the truth. Gratitude will change a lot of things.

      I don’t know why you left, but you need to ask yourself, why you left. Another question you need to ask is what do you want to do. By reading some of these other posts, you have some examples of what others are doing. Heck, one poster went back to med school.

      Hopefully this has helped

      • Hey Josh, thanks for the pep talk 🙂

        I guess there are just days where I wish I had a good, stable, well-paying job to go to when the kids are old enough for school. And right now I have no idea what I’ll do.

        You’re right though, a little reflection of why I left (and why I was there to begin with – for all the wrong reasons and with no clue what being a doctor was really all about) helps get things back in perspective. Being a doctor just seemed like a “good idea”, money, prestige, being important, and having everyone’s approval of my career choice.. . . how could I go wrong?

        What helps though is to remember it certainly wasn’t my “calling”. As I’ve heard doctors tell pre-meds “this better be the only thing you can imagine doing with your life” . . . otherwise you won’t have the passion to carry you thru those rough med school and intern years. And I certainly didn’t have the passion for it . . . I remember shadowing docs my first summer after my M1 year and there was nothing at all that excited me about medicine, I might as well of been shadowing a burger-flipper at McDonalds 🙂 I didn’t care about the subject matter at all in med school, and couldn’t imagine that life as a doctor was going to be so grand and fulfilling to justify all those years of suffering.

        Ah, I do feel better. Thanks!

  64. I just finished my 2nd year of medical school and I don’t think medicine is for me. I HATE the medical field. I don’t mind science research though, but in this economy it’s impossible to find jobs.

    I am $175,000 in debt. For some weird reason I am ok walking away from med school with that much debt.

    I want to be a rock star…famous musician traveling the world..YEAH RIGHT…but I think I’ll give science research a go 🙂

    My parents hate my guts. My friends think I’m insane. But I really, really, really HATE healthcare!

  65. By the way, should I add…most people in those BS/MD and BA/MD programs end up dropping out. Yes, I’m one of them. I really hate my life!

    Now that I’m not in med school anymore, I’m SO happy!

  66. I don’t know what else to say about leaving medical school, but from reading these posts I can tell some people really want to change careers but are afraid because of student loans, the collapse of their identity, the backlash from friends and family, etc. As someone that dropped out, I can tell you, that the hardest thing for me was that part of heart was in medicine but part of me that wanted a life was elsewhere. Unfortunately, in the medical field, you have to be 100% to be a good doctor. The unknown is so scary and I truly admire each and everyone of the bloggers on here that dropped out and carried on, even if that meant seeing a counselor to adjust to their new life. My sister had a great career and four children, and died of breast cancer at the tender age of 37. I still can’t believe it, but one thing I learned is what one of the bloggers above stated about life being short. I also have three friends from medical school that graduated, two were in the last year of their surgery residency and one was a full-fledged pediatric surgeon; all three of them committed suicide over a three year period. One of them told me about his problems when I was doing a surgery rotation with him, but I had no idea that he was in such a desperate state. I thought, this guy has the world by the tail, and here I am doubting myself and my purpose here in medical school. Long story short, be alive and live every day to the fullest, no matter where life takes you.

  67. I don’t know what else to say about leaving medical school, but from reading these posts I can tell some people really want to change careers but are afraid because of student loans, the collapse of their identity, the backlash from friends and family, etc. As someone that dropped out, I can tell you, that the hardest thing for me was that part of my heart was in medicine but part of me that wanted a life was elsewhere. Unfortunately, in the medical field, you have to be 100% to be a good doctor. The unknown is so scary and I truly admire each and everyone of the bloggers on here that dropped out and carried on, even if that meant seeing a counselor to adjust to their new life. My sister had a great career and four children, and died of breast cancer at the tender age of 37. I still can’t believe it, but one thing I learned is what one of the bloggers above stated about life being short. I also have three friends from medical school that graduated, two were in the last year of their surgery residency and one was a full-fledged pediatric surgeon; all three of them committed suicide over a three year period. One of them told me about his problems when I was doing a surgery rotation with him, but I had no idea that he was in such a desperate state. I thought, this guy has the world by the tail, and here I am doubting myself and my purpose here in medical school. Long story short, be alive and live every day to the fullest, no matter where life takes you.

  68. Wow! Thank you everyone for posting your experiences. I am in the middle of M2 and really dislike med school more and more every day it seems. I have done everything in my life so far to become a doctor. I worked for a doctor, shadowed doctors, etc, etc. My grades in med school are not great but I get by. Last year I enjoyed studying and learning all I could about the human body…this year is a totally different story. This year I would rather be in the classroom or in lab than spending late nights and weekends studying and reading for hours. I dont have the passion for it all that I once had. I am terrified to drop out though…for many reasons. Some of the reasons include being so far in debt already and another reason is doubting myself in the future…could I have done it if I stuck it you?!? I dont want to regret my decision. But at the same time I feel as if I could go into another career and can be as happy (if not more) as I would have been (or will be) if I were a doctor. I have debated going to school for nursing…I originally wanted to go into primary care so that I could form relationships with patients instead of “fixing ’em and streeting ’em”. Nursing I feel would give me more personal contact with patients that I am looking for and would still give me the satisfaction of “helping” patients. I also have been very fascinated with prosthetics so I have thought about getting my masters in orthotics and prosthetics and doing that. Again, I think I can get the satisfication of helping patients in that field as well.

    One thing that terrifies me of dropping out is breaking the news to family and friends and all the people that have supported me along the way. I have this horrible feeling that I am letting people down by not becoming a doctor when everyone expected me to become a doctor for so many years. Has anyone else felt like this? How did you deal with it? I know that my family and true friends will support me no matter what but I cant get rid of the feelings I am having of letting them all down.

    Again, thank you everyone who has posted their stories. You have no idea how much it helps knowing that there are others out there that are going or have gone through the exact same thing!

    • KSA,

      I enjoyed my M1 year also, and my M2 year was when I started having doubts about becoming a doctor. I would suggest getting some counseling – does your med school have a couselor for med students? It might help to talk to some M3s or M4s to gain some perspective. Maybe they can encourage you and seeing how things could get better the further you get in school might help.

      Did you enjoy your time shadowing doctors? Basically what you’ve got to decide is if the job of being a doctor is going to be worth it once you get thru this (relatively) short but painful experience of med school. Med school just sucks, everyone hates it at some point so you’re not alone there. everyone would agree med school and residence are grueling, but once you get to the other side you might love it! You’re right there are lots of other helping professions that will satisfy your desire to help others, and the training is not as expensive or grueling.

      The best advice I can give from my experience is get some counseling, talk to other students or doctors about how you’re feeling, and taking a 1 year leave of absence is always an option. I know people that have done that and came back to med school refreshed and ready to go but for me the leave of absence helped me form a plan B for my life.

      Best of luck to you. It’s a terribly hard decision and med school is terribly stressful. Don’t worry about what your family or friends will think (if you do leave). They’ll get over it!!

      • Im confused. Im in my 3rd year, during the LOA, waiting to take my Step 1. I dont know if its because im scared of the test or im just tired of this medical school student life. Being back with my family makes me want to start my own family. The confusion is, I do love shadowing and seeing people in the clinical setting. I love it. But when it comes down to my personal life, i feel like its falling apart. My friendships, my family (nephews), my boyfriend of 6 years. In a way im scared of always being so busy i cant be with them. I looked into this blog, because inside of me im looking for an answer. Im happy here, but unhappy studying. It all takes a toll. And maybe my answer is to go through with it. I need to look deep down inside, which is something hard.

        For all of you who left, I admire YOUR GUTS.. I dont have them yet. In a way im scared to say im dropping med school. This could be my confusion.

  69. Hi again.
    Right now I think I’m going through a ‘hatin’ phase. Basically I started to resent almost anything associated to med school. This morning I even had headaches.
    After something like this happens, then I cool down adn feel bad for being mad. So I start thinking about why is it good at med school. But all of the positive things I enumerate in my head refer to the future. Probably, I will have a steady income in 10 years, I will be respected, I will be able to support a family. Yes, but the way I look at things, is that…all of those are in the future. So what if those things don’t come true ? Yes having a steady income is good in a today’s financial situation.
    So I have these ups and downs, constantly.
    In sprin break I even talked to a few of my ex-classmates and I felt like rubbish. All of them happy and going on with their lives, while I am cutting my soul out with a butcher knife because of indecision.
    I talked to one of my best friends who went to engineering, and it felt really bad while he was telling me stories from his university. I started thinking with a lot of What if questions.
    Now, I actually have no ideea where would I start again if I left med school. It’s like everything would seem to hard. Here, I have a good place to stay, my best buddy as roommate. So, if I left to a different university, then I would leave that behind too. And start again from year 1. All my friends would be 2nd year while I would be the rookie.
    It’s like I’m in an endless pit of my thoughts.

    • And another thing. In highschool I was at the top of my class. Straight A student.
      But these days, it’s like I have lost all motivation. I’m making up excuses and always trying to get as far away from homeworks as possible.
      I’m in a rut.

  70. I really commend you for speaking up about your situation and your decision to quit medical school. What I find so interesting is that you originally posted this blog over a year and a half ago and you have had a steady stream of comments since then. I know that dropping out of medical school is something that a lot of students consider, but many people are afraid to talk to their families or advisers about the issue.
    In this field everybody bottles up their emotions and thoughts about things, which I find to be one of the most frustrating things about medicine.
    I’m currently in my second year of medical school and have that monstrous test (Step 1) looming over my head. At this point I’m really ready to get that part over with! During my first year of medical school I was considering quitting and constantly found myself wondering what life would have been like if I had chosen something else. I couldn’t bring myself to quit, mainly because I knew a very long time ago that this was the career God had chosen for me and I knew I would be even more miserable if I walked away from that.
    These first two years of medical school have been two of the most depressing years of my life. Relationships have been disrupted, I hardly get to see my family, and I spend so much time studying that I’m by myself a lot. It stinks. I love being around people, but I was thrust into this world of isolation and had no clue it was coming.
    What bothers me more is that the people that made the nasty comments above me might actually go on to be doctors. I fear for their classmates and colleagues, and even more for their future patients. They obviously have no compassion, and in spite of their intelligence they still haven’t figured out that nobody likes to be around a jerk!
    Like I said before, I really appreciate the fact that you were so honest about quitting medical school. I don’t believe that it has anything to do with “being cut out for it,” like some have suggested, but it’s all about doing what makes you happy and what you’re good at. I think people who practice medicine and are unhappy about it are only making themselves and their patients miserable!

  71. Hi everyone 🙂
    I took a leave of absence from med school during my first year. I absolutely hated everything about it. I have been gone for three months now and haven’t been this happy in SUCH a long time. It’s weird when I get this overly ‘happy’ feeling … like, smiling just because I can … because I know those endless nights of studying are behind me.

    I went to therapy to re-route my life and I’m still figuring out what exactly I wish to pursue. I have a lot of difficulty with the ‘unknown’ and NOT planning things (letting time take care of things) but it’s been worth it. I feel healthier, happier and a bit more jazzed about life.

    I am taking a 2 cr. elective at the med school just to “stay attached” (ie, make the Dean happy) and it’s insane how miserable my classmates are. Truly, utterly miserable. I’ve had some late night phone calls from friends who ‘wished they would die’ … weird thing is, is that was me three months ago.

    Long story short, I’ve learned a few important things in these three months that might be helpful to others:
    1.) If you want change, bite the bullet and do it now.
    2.) Don’t aim to please others. Please yourself (easier said than done, I know).
    3.) Remind yourself of what makes you happy.
    4.) Don’t be afraid of the unknown or of “failing at life”. You got into medical school for pete’s sake. You’ll do FINE anywhere.

    As for me, I’m actively pursuing different career options … I love medicine, so Nursing or PA school might be options. But I also love to write, so I might completely change career paths and go into that. The point is, I’m happier and the world doesn’t suck as much as I thought it did.

  72. Hey everyone,
    I am having major issues (read: severe depression/anxiety) with medical school, and I’m only in my first year. I cry everyday b/c I just can’t decide what I should do: stay and be miserable, hoping that it will eventually get better; or cut my losses and run before the debt piles on too high for me to handle. A few of my classmates suggested getting some drug prescriptions (apparently a very LARGE number of them are already on some form of medication). My issue is, do I want to take medication just to make it through this hell?? Why should that even be necessary? I have definitely struggled with mild depression throughout my life, but it’s never been so serious that I can’t focus on day-to-day activities. I’m not sure if I’m depressed because of med school (so if I leave I’ll be happy), or if I’m depressed and med school sucks as a result (so that if I take drugs, I’ll be able to handle it). What do you guys think about this situation? If I’m so miserable that only drugs can help me at this point, does that mean I shouldn’t continue on this path??? Thanks for any advice! Oh, I’m also concerned about having kids…I’m over 30 and my window is narrowing…the time factor is super intimidating as is, but knowing that I will have to be on meds makes thinking about having kids all the harder (don’t want to risk hurting the baby during pregnancy)….

    • That’s pretty much what I was told. So many of my classmates were on drugs just to get them through and I decided that was not the way I wanted to go. I also cried every night and I seriously thought about self destruction … weird for a happy-go-lucky type of person I usually am.

      I would ask for a leave of absence and see what happens. I went from wanting to die to never being so happy in my life in two weeks. Yes, you start to worry about debt repayment/finding a new job, but it’s NOTHING compared to medical school hell. As long as you are willing to take the time to listen to yourself and really figure out what you want from life, the break is worth it.

      You might find that the break is good, or, you might find that you miss medical school/the idea of becoming a physician. Both outcomes are good 🙂 You’ve made progress and clarified your goals.

      The thing about a leave of absence is that not a lot of schools tell you about it – after I said ‘yes’ to a break, my Dean went on about how it’s really common for students to do but people just don’t talk about it.

      I had a hard time listening to my gut because all of my intuition went out the door the first week of medical school. That being said, try listening to yourself. Are you scared to take a break? What’s the worst that could happen? Are you afraid of losing this opportunity? This is a drastic example but I asked myself this question: If I were in school for plumbing or farming and I had to go through all of this stress, would I still be here –> meaning, are you continuing with medical school just because society puts it on a pedestal/people might look down on you for walking away? I definitely went into medical school with the right/honorable intentions but I wasn’t staying in it for the same reasons.

      My advice is to:
      1.) Listen to yourself. You are a smart, independent, love-deserving person and life is to short to deny yourself happiness.
      2.) Don’t be afraid to take a break – yes, it’s the less traveled route in medical school but people have done it and turned out fine.
      3.) Drugs, and this is my opinion ONLY, are a short-term solution …. and you are going to be practicing medicine for a long time after that … so what’s the long term solution?

      Good luck. You can do it 🙂

      • Thanks for your advice Liz!
        I actually *do* know about the leave of absence thing. The problem with my situation is that I already took one during first semester due to other personal reasons that required too much time! So really, this spring semester is my first semester, and I’m already struggling ridiculously with the idea of doing this for any prolonged period of time. I mean, I’m doing fine (making A’s and B’s), but I just really, really, really hate having to learn this stuff. I love psychology, and thought it would be great to be a psychiatrist, but I’m finding that this path is so far removed from what I really love!

        I decided to start applying to other grad programs. In my heart I know this path is not for me. But as you said, it is very difficult to be honest about what our reasons are for staying in medicine. For me, I definitely want to help people and I definitely want to practice psychology, but I just can’t deal with all that medicine itself has to offer. I just really hate putting myself through so much unnecessary stress day after day. It feels so unhealthy, and I am definitely coming close to that place of wanting to hurt myself just so I can escape.

        I actually skipped classes for the last day and a half (my own little leave of absence, lol), and yesterday I felt great for just leaving it alone. But today I felt so sick…not b/c I missed it, but b/c I felt guilty about coming up for air. I thought to myself that if I never had to learn another thing about medicine, I’d be happy. And I guess that is my answer. I just wish I didn’t have to feel so sick/guilty for wanting to walk away.

        As for the drugs, I totally agree. That’s part of my issues w/that situation. I think if I were chronically ill and really needed meds, than that’s fine; but the fact is that when I remove med school from the equation, I don’t feel that same anxiety/depression/black cloud hanging over me every waking (and sleeping!) moment.

        I definitely have been trying to cope with my fears of thinking that if I walk away from medicine, than I will never be as successful as I could have been if I had stayed. But I know that that thinking is mostly due to how society perceives doctors. It is a struggle to not fall for that trap, and to only focus on what will make me happy in the end. But I’m working hard to get the courage up to find my way in the ‘unknown’!

        Thanks again for your advice. It is soooooo very nice that we all don’t have to be alone in this situation.

        P.S. – Is it wrong to think sometimes that maybe we’re the smart/strong ones for figuring out how abusive this situation is, and deciding not to deal with it?? 😛

  73. It’s INSANE how alike we are ha ha.

    I think you just answered your own questions and fears in your last post. It’s o.k. to go against the grain.

    And yes. I think we are the smart/strong ones for identifying that the situation isn’t a healthy one. It’s definitely a hard thing to recognize but it sure is nice once you accept it 🙂

  74. I came to this post via Facebook (just to clarify that I wasn’t googling “med school dropout” or the like)- as a 4th year med student I feel like there are a lot of discouraging attitudes and some misconceptions in the comments section. I support the blog author AND anyone else’s reasons for leaving med school, and I don’t think it’s a failure, and I don’t think anyone should have to explain their career choices to anyone (save their family, in some limited circumstances). However, if there’s anyone here on the fence, I can vouch for the fact that it’s not all bad. People don’t get put on antidepressants “just to get through” medical school– antidepressants aren’t like happy pills and don’t make you feel better if you are simply dissatisfied with your life choices. They make you feel better if you have clinical depression. Certainly, med school is very stressful and is one of the times when people who are predisposed to depression may encounter their first (or subsequent) struggles with it, but remember that there are other stressful life events that you will face with or without med school that may have the same effect, again, if you may be predisposed to it. Deaths or other losses, divorces, even marriages and babies, as joyful as these events can be often precipitate depression. Med school does not “cause” depression. I would like to think that with the right support, therapy, and medication, those people who really did want to finish medical school but stopped because of depression could return to it when they got back on their feet psychologically. I speaking as someone who has had bouts with severe depression pre-med school and am now very happily about to finish med school. That being said, I again support anyone’s decisions to stop for any reason, and acknowledge that the atmosphere of medical school and residency are more stressful environments than some other jobs.

    However, they’re not more stressful than ALL jobs, and just because you’re not a doctor doesn’t mean that you’re going to be able to stay home with your kids all the time. Remember that if you were considering becoming a doctor, you’re probably going to end up working somewhere and it’s probably not going to be less than 40 hours a week. Also know that there are lots (and more and more all the time as the demand increases) part-time physician jobs, or more flexible hours, that don’t require a physician to work 80-100 hours a week. So don’t base the choice of not becoming a physician on these facts alone, because it’s not totally logical that not going to med school=unlimited time for family.

    There was also some comment in there that someone thought they weren’t suited to medical school because they like being outside and having hobbies. You can make medical school or being a doctor your life, or you can make a point of having a life outside of that. I hike frequently, have traveled to 6 foreign countries since starting med school, cycle with my dad, and have done 3 half-marathons and 1 triathlon. I read about a book every couple weeks, and some of my classmates and I have a book club. I just spent the evening eating pizza and watching movies with some classmates with whom I share a lovely house. It’s been a great time for me, but I work hard sometimes too.

    But it is true, it’s hard and if you’re not committed to the idea for any reason, it’s going to be really hard to get through. If you think it might be right for you, do more work than reading these comments, and talk to a variety of people about it. Look for a medical school that is supportive of students having a life and having mental health support. Look for a med school where students truly seem happy when you interview– mine did, and I’ve been happy here. Pledge to have the life you want in medical school or any career choice you make, and also have the strength to leave it or never go if you can’t, just like the blog author did.

    • Thank you so much for this quite optimistic comment. I needed to hear something like this for a while.
      Congratulations on finding the right balance.

  75. I’m sure you know this, but just in case, you can become a medical writer if you want. Just thought I’d mention it!

  76. Story/Question for everyone:

    I took a leave of absence my second semester of first year. For the past three months I’ve had nightmares about going back … I couldn’t see myself torturing myself like that. But now I’m starting to reconsider it.

    My problem is this: I swore I would never go back. I was miserable. I’m so confused that I don’t even know if I like it anymore.

    Anyone else going through/has gone through this? I’m thinking about getting my teaching certification and teaching biology but there’s something that is still making me wonder if I should go back.

    Other problem: I had a SUPER-WEAK (mid 20’s) MCAT and I’m starting to think maybe I just can’t handle the academic work …

    Any advice would be wonderful. Thanks 🙂

    • You can handle the academic work. Remember this; what do they call the guy who graduates at the bottom of his med school class? “Doctor”! So that’s not really a problem, don’t dwell on that.

      Here’s some things to consider:
      I’ve heard lots of people say “if there’s anything else you can see yourself doing (besides being a doctor) do it” because the road is so long and grueling. If you can’t imagine doing anything else, go be a doctor.

      On the other hand . . . . I think if you can survive med school and residency and find a specialty that suits your personality and allows you to have a life outside medicine, you could carve out a very nice life for yourself later on. So to survive med school and residency I think you either have to;
      1) be a personality type that has lots of energy and is obsessed with and loves learning about medicine and science OR
      2) somehow live thru those years knowing that someday it (might) not be so bad as far as the crazy hours and little time to yourself. And talk to some doctors who have been practicing awhile and see what life is really like for them “on the other side”.

      I think everyone (even those who love medicine and whose true passion is medicine) will agree that med school sucks, and residency sucks. So the question is; can you or do you want to do the training bad enough to achieve the profession? Do you want the kind of lifestyle that doctors have? (admittedly, lifestyles can vary widely in the profession).

      I hope your med school has a counselor you can see who can help you work thru some of these questions.

      Our society has unfortunately placed doctors on this pedastal and treats them like gods, which makes it very hard for people who get into med school and then want to get out, leaving them very conflicted, and with terrible guilt if they leave. After all, wouldn’t EVERYONE want to be a doctor if they could? EVERYONE would love to have a doctor in the family. There is not a more noble and greater calling. (ha.)

      The only people I know who enjoy it are the ones who are “called” to it.

      I hope you find the path that is right for you. And I hope some of my thoughts have been helpful.

    • JBR,

      Idroppedout has very good advice. Go see the med school counselor. I’m pretty sure there is a student services program where they have certified counselor. They should be able to help you work out your decision.

      Thanks for giving us a different perspective

  77. I join you in my hatred of med school! I only wish I was as brave as you and could drop out. My mom is a surgeon and the pressure I feel like I’m under is intense. Not only am I under pressure to be a doctor, I’m under pressure to be a brilliantly successful one, my parents don’t care much for primary care!!! I hate medical school, just hate it. My younger brother has now joined us in this rot of a career. I’d take pride in the courage of your conviction if i were you and let the rest of us hide in our holes.

  78. I have been working up to medical schools for the past 6 years of my life. After working in a clinic for the undeserved and interviewing my first patient, I fell in love with medicine. This was my fourth year into undergrad and as my major was bioengineering it was not tough adjusting to apply to medical school. I decided to do a masters in biomedical engineering for a year following that up with 6 months doing health work and then worked in a basic science lab for a year and a half while i applied. two years ago i was still gun ho about medicine, but the basic science research, which i have come to detest, and going through the application process has drained me out. out of the 26 school i applied to i only received one interview and that school has waitlisted me.
    i am in dire straights. i dont know if my depression is from the being drained by research and the disappointment of the application or if it because i am finally coming to terms with the real costs of medical school. i am very scared, absolutely terrified in fact, terrified that if i get in and go i will regret it but that if i do not get in a don’t reapply i will feel the same. i am currently studying to retake the mcat but i hate the stupid exam. i was not a bad student, graduating with a bs in engineering with honors and doing well in my masters, but i am absolutely lost as to what to do. nothing seems to excite me these days so i dont even know what i would do instead. i go through the ups and downs two or three times daily swinging from + to – on med school. any suggestions?

    • I am inclined to accept if i get in (although the costs of medical school freak me out). I only incurred 13k in debt through my masters, of which i have 8k left. If I don’t get in I have decided that it is best for me to reapply and take the mcat again to improve my score (i think the only weak part of my application) because i have everything together for the application now and getting it back together in the future may not be possible. any good alternatives anyone else can think of?

      • Confused.

        I was in very similar circumstances. The first time I applied, I only received 1 interview and was rejected. I was extremely disappointed and heart broken. After working on an MBA, i reapplied and was accepted. During this time, I was extremely excited, but also scared about many of things you were thinking about. After attending, then later dropping out, I am still grateful for the opportunity, because I won’t second guess myself regarding whether I could do it. I am also grateful because of the great people I met.

        On the other hand, one of my good friends got accepted after getting a masters in chemistry into medical school. She delayed her entry for a year to decide whether to attend and ultimately decided on pharmacy school.
        It seems like money is an issue with you. There are ways to help pay for medical school bills, e.g. goverment service, underserviced communities, etc.
        But it seems from your writing that you are leaning on attending. If thats what you really want to do, keep working at it!

      • Retaking the MCAT sounds like a good plan. Then if you do get in, or not, you’ve got a better score to work with. I’d suggest looking into a plan B; have you thought of PT school, nursing, or PA school? You get get your RN, then become a nurse practitioner. Seems like what excited you about medicine was the patient contact and making a difference and helping people. There are many ways to get at that without going to med school. Ways that are easier and cheaper!! And a lot of doctors find it difficult to choose primary care (which is sounds like you’re interested in?) after racking up the med school debt. Good luck to you – hope this helps!

    • have you looked at St. George’s University School of Medicine in Grenada? I know it’s a Caribbean school but it is a good school, great campus, 2 years in Caribbean, 2 in either NY or CA, not very difficult to get into and fully accredited. http://www.sgu.edu On the other hand, I just left SGU but not because it isn’t a good school…medicine just turned out to not be for me.

    • Hello,

      My niece is in her first year of med school and her fiance is an engineer. I’ve noticed that these two think very differently from one another and he is not cut out for being a doctor but being an engineer. Engineers are not required to diagnose problems every day like doctors so don’t feel bad about not getting into med school. I decided not to go as I don’t have the passion for it and I can’t make myself have it–I’ve tried.

  79. Well, first of all I loved the post and seeing what other people have to say in their comments.

    Thank you city streets for your post, it was very helpfull

    I myself am a first year med student. I am a 29 year old man, I have been married for 8 years and have 2 sons, ages 3 and 2 months. I am just finishing retaking some of the courses for second semester of first year. I failed Neurobiology by 10 points. So because I was retaking the class in the first place and because of their policy I am dismissed from the school. I am happy to say that I don’t care one bit, I am actually glad to be done with med school. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders.

    Everyone on my wife’s side of the family are all doctocs and dentists or something of the sort, my wife is dental hygienist. After we got married my father-in-law and the rest of their family sort of talked to me about med or dental school and that it was a great family life and all. I am pretty much the first in my family to even go to college. So with the encouragement of my inlaws and my own family I choose to become a doctor. Ever since I started school there was something in the back of my mind that was telling me that this was not what I wanted to do. I was only doing it to please everyone else and that if I did it I would be happy and make good money and be able to do fun things and go cool places.

    Well, I wasn’t happy until two days ago when I found out that I missed the cut for Neurobiology by 10 points. I didn’t really struggle in undergrad but I have ever since I got to med school.

    There are only two things that I worry about with not moving on in med school. Paying back the loans and telling my wife.

    I going to school in Cleveland, OH and am flying home to Seattle to get my wife and boys in the morning. I know it will take her a while to get over it and that she will freak out about the loans but. We have our health and I am a hard working man that is very capable. It will take time to pay back my loans but that is ok. If I take 25 years to repay them they will be forgiven anyway. 🙂 Found that out the other day. It better not take that long or I will have payed them like 3 or 4 times at least.

    Anyway, the only advice that I can give to anyone that reads this and is in or is considering med school is that make sure it is really what you, yourself wants to do and that you are happy. Let me tell you that if you are not, it will not change in med school, it will only get worse.

    Something else that has really helped me is to pray and have patience. I know that my Heavenly Father has comforted me through this learning process of learning that this is not for me, even if it is the hard way like citystreams said. I know that everything will be ok, I know that I am a good person and that I deserve to be happy too. So I am going to make myself happy and therefore make my wife and children happy.

    May God bless all of you that are having hard times and have hard choices to make. May your minds be clear and open to new ideas. I know that if we are honest in our daily dealings and strive to always do the right thing we will be blessed for it.

    Take care,


  80. You’re not alone in this.

    I actually graduated from medical school, so no one can call me a failure or a quitter, but decided not to pursue a residency.

    I hated clinical medicine and didn’t want to be stuck doing something that made me absolutely miserable for the rest of my life. Behind the glamorous facade that medicine has built up for itself, it’s really just a thankless daily grind of a job that’s not for everyone.

    My family hasn’t exactly been supportive. Although sometimes it takes more strength to admit you’re unhappy and get up and leave than continue on the safe path and be unhappy.

  81. Thank you for this blog. It’s good to see self understanding and the courage to listen to yourself. It is such an incredibly scary thing to do though. But I am curious, what kinds of jobs/degrees did you all pursue after leaving med school? Were there any programs/fields that made use of all the years of expensive medical schooling you received? Where did you go to look for help with this?

    • The first thing that comes to my mind is another health care field like nursing, (which I’m looking into) physician assistant, physical therapy – as you’ve already got those “pre-reqs” out of the way by just getting into med school and you might be able to skip some of the “other” programs classes by the med school classes you’ve done. There is also pharmaceutical sales – although i’ve not looked into that much – since you’ve got the understanding of medicine and science that they want. I would hope a med school counselor could steer you in the right direction for other ideas of how to use all that expensive schooling. At the very least, I am a very, very well informed consumer when it comes to health care and taking me and my family to the doctor 🙂 !!

  82. PS. I as because that is my major fear – what the hell do I do if not this? Because I’m a non-traditional older student in my 30s with a non-science BA degree….

  83. Hi. It’s me again.
    Well I’m still confused. And it’s exam time in my country. I dread this. I don’t know if I’m afraid of the volume or just resenting the system.
    I have ups and downs. What buggs me the most, it’s that I now have become good friends with a few of my colleagues and now I’m starting to think, that if I leave. Where the hell will I meat good people as these ?
    I have this image in my head, I don’t know why. That if I become a doctor I will be a part of a system, part of a stupid government (Romania) and basically my life will end. I will become a dull worker, going to hospital and consulting patients and being bored all the time. And that I will never do smth awsome. Maybe it’s the Fight Club guy talking in my head to be young and rebellious and everything. I don’t know. maybe I should do smth else.

    The question Scared asked was really good. What have you done after leaving med school ? I mean it’s kinda weak from us to ask this, but I think we want to hear that yes somebody can triumph in other fields. That there is smth beyond med school. I think I would try smth in a completly new field. I guess I am weak, and I want to hear that somebody else did it.

  84. […] City Streams of a Med Student: A medical school drop out blogs about med school and more. […]

  85. Your story sounds pretty familiar to my own except I’m leaving after year 1. My family believes I can do it, I know I could do it but I’m leaving for pretty much those three reasons you stated. Now, I’m trying to calm my family’s fears, my own fears, and looking for a new career and/or new education path…directions I’ve never considered before. It’s the toughest decision I’ve ever made in my life but I feel that it is right…even though I am scared that I might regret it in the future. It’s good to hear that you don’t have any regrets in making your decision. Thanks for sharing!

  86. I’ve always been contemplating switching course since year 1 itself. I used to think that I want to become a doctor to make my family proud and acknowledge me.

    Year 1 – Miserable everyday because of rote learning and lack of intellectual stimulation. I love numbers and it’s a turn on for me, but unfortunately, there’s hardly any calculation in medicine. That’s the start of my transition from a cheerful and witty guy to a dull and grumpy old man. Seriously thought of getting out but I tried to believe things will turn out alright, maybe I’m just not used to it yet, maybe this, maybe that… I think I was a real coward and regretted that I didn’t leave.

    Year 2 – Lost most of my friends and start being a real lone ranger, burying myself in books or watching TV to spend my free time/to drown myself so I won’t feel miserable or forgetting about the misery even for just an hour. I hardly went out for leisure and I found it painful to even being near the hospital. I also lost my gf during this year because I’m no longer the way I was (being a funny and cool guy). It was one of my most painful times in my life. I think I was broken at that time, because despite the breakup, I didn’t feel that sad for the first few months. Only after that when I suddenly broke down crying one night thinking about her. I’m still sad thinking about her even after I’ve reached 4th year. ‘What have I become?’ was what always lingered in my mind. I became a misanthrope by this time.

    3rd year – Burying myself in books as usual, completely being in denial that I’m still fine, thinking, “Get through it, JUST another 3 more years to go…” But broke down several times at home alone because of the tremendous pressure and hate towards what I do. I don’t have the same vitality and youth I once had back then when I was in high school. In the hospital/outside, I forced myself to smile and appear happy with people around me, but the truth is, I was literally rotting inside. My eyes were no longer the eyes of a hopeful young man set on his passions and ambitions for the future. The flame has kind of died out.

    4th year – Finally took a leave of absence for a year, after succumbing to serious depressive symptoms (it was full clinical year); I cried while forcing myself to read my books (tears were really streaming as I continued to read) most of my nights to a point when I really didn’t want to do anything anymore and stayed on my bed, wishing I will never wake up the next morning and when I did, I cursed myself that I was still alive. I still forced and drag my feet to hospital pretending I was alright and the cycle continued for a week. When I took the leave (still under MDD at the time), I get all kind of condescending eye stares from my classmates and family. They start to look down on me. Funny how it’s a stigma to take LOA in my country.

    Finally, after a couple of months dealing with my depression, I felt much better. But… I still hate medicine to the core of my heart. It kept eating me from the inside and I was at my limit. But if I quit, what will happen to me???

    I believe this is something realistic and faced by probably all of us here in this site:

    What’s gonna happen to the loan?

    How am I going to live with my family, friends, and ex-classmates looking at me like some pariah?

    Will I be successful if I switch to another course which I haven’t touched throughout my years in med school?

    I’m getting really old. Will I make it with my age now? Can I still study the same way I did back when I was an A student in high school? Can I compete with the fresh high school graduates in year 1?

    These questions accumulated in weight year after year. Looking back all these years, I developed hpt, became overweight, looking like a 40 years old man instead of 25, became depressive and hateful towards life itself. I’ve become a completely different person now which I’m not at all proud of.

    All these thought loomed over me during my LOA, and I considered suicide to end it all honourably in numerous occasions throughout the leave. But my coward self just can’t do it… I was scared of the pain and the consequences/potential permanent physical damage if I were to be saved in time.

    In the end, I finally decided that that’s it, I don’t want to have anything to do with medicine anymore; I’m quitting! After deciding to quit and have some idea on what I want to do with my life again, I felt rejuvenated and I haven’t had this happy feeling in my heart for as long as I could remember. I’ve never been happy since I entered med school.

    So, yeah, I now have some clear direction in my life of what I want to do from now on. The questions that weighed on my mind for that 4 years were answered with a simple ‘I don’t give a damn’ – I just don’t anymore. Come what may and things will work out. At least that’s what I believe. At least that’s better than not doing anything about it and keep myself in this vicious cycle.

    So I don’t have an MD degree anymore. But I’ll strive to work hard on my passion from now on and I’ll work towards accomplishing a milestone to make up for the lost time. I foresee it to be rocky in the beginning, but that’s what I choose to do and I shall have no regret! I’m resetting my life for the better. All the medical experiences (working real hard and communication skills) will not go to waste as I’ll still be able to apply them in my everyday life. At least I learned how to live in hell.

    I’m now happily doing something else. I should have really quitted much sooner! 🙂

    • Hello 4th Year Medical Student,

      I worked as a patient care technician and had the same sort of depression because I didn’t want to really be a doctor but I had this strange pressure to just keep trying to go in that direction! Honestly, I would really HATE being a doctor and am finally glad that I did not try to go in that direction! I’m glad you figured it out and I’m happy now going into another industry and making special cylindrical handbags on the side and the customer base is growing. I once talked to a cardiac surgeon and he said becoming a doctor is definately something you do TO yourself not FOR yourself. Also, a very prominant neurosurgeon told me not to persue it at all costs because the quality of life is much lower than it used to be. I can’t stand the smell and sight of infected sputum, vaginal discarge, weeping wounds and the general hospital smell. Sorry to say but if that is the reaction, becoming a doctor isn’t it. There are many other intellectual things to do in life. I’ve met many a doctor who complains about the costs of doing business and ones who cannot turn a computer on to save their lives.

      Good luck with everything.


  87. Hey all!

    My name is Isabella and I am not sure what to do…im new here and heres my story and i’m looking for some advice:

    When I finished Grade 11, my sister introduced me to the profession of pharmacy…she was a masters student and thought that going into Pharmacy was a good idea for me. So starting from first year of university I applied to Pharmacy and got rejected. I knew that my grades were a problem so I studied really really hard and I did succeed at pushing up my grades, but I still didnt get in. After this, I lost alot of confidence with school. I was an excellent student throughout my life, but I was having difficulty in performing in harder courses like genetics and I dropped several courses and switched them to easier ones (I was having some minor stomach issues as well, but that went away by exercising and eating well). In my third and fourth years of university, I kept with slightly easier courses (lighter science courses, not hard chemistry courses) because I felt that some of the science courses were too hard and I was trying to keep my GPA up. During this time, I worked in pharmacy and I found it medium. However, In both years, I applied to pharmacy and still could not get in. Instead, I applied to Teachers College and got in and I succeeded and did well with that. However, during Teacher’s College, I found out that the admission process to the Faculty of Pharmacy changed and I decided to give the new testing process a shot and I got in. Right now, I am in one of the best faculties in my Country. But I entered in to a deep problem now. During my first year of Pharmacy, I kept on remembering my past failures and I put too much pressure on myself and I ended up developing an acid reflux problem. Right now, I am on a ppi tablet, taking one once daily. Due to developing this problem, I am in depression right now….like I feel sad easily and I feel sort of doomed.

    The issue I have right now is that from all the rejections and dropping courses and now the acid reflux issue, I am depressed and unsure if I should continue with Pharmacy. I do like Pharmacy, once I remove my previous rejections from it, the depression and anxiety I am facing right now. Its just hard to do that… I am just concerned if I am doing something out of my range and if anyone had faced similar experiences and can shed some light on my situation?

    One of reasons why I suck at hard courses is because I take too much pressure. I do want to continue, but I am just concerned if Pharmacy is too much for me now. Sometimes, after working in a Pharmacy, I come home and start thinking of pharmacy-related things like me sitting at the counter and working and I start getting nervous in my mind because I get worried if I can handle the responsiblity of a pharmacist and now that I am sick, I am just unsure if correct for me to continue. I am also worried about side effects of the acid suppressant (ppi) that I am in.

    To makes things clear, I got sick because I took too much pressure of hard courses and I dont want to get more sick. Should I quit because health is the most importatnt thing.

    Is it normal to feel overwhelmed as a pharmacy student. I have become an anxious person over the years because of all the failure I went through and now with the acid reflux I am sort of depressed and have lost alot of confidence.

    What do u think I should do? Or can someone just give me some inspiration..?

    Please let me know if ur confused about my story…i hope its clear


    • I feel for you. School made me stressed out to. I kept feeling this longing to escape and if I could just breathe I’d relax and everything would be okay. I’m not sure I like the path medicine is taking. It seems that lots of doctors know what the best thing to do is but are limited by time, stupid rules or stipulations.

  88. can any1 give me some advice as to what to do?

    • You just have to do what you’re passionate about. I just quit medical school this year, after going to university and going to 1.5 years of med school. It just wasn’t for me. I did well and had fun but realized that being a doctor was just something I thought would be good to do and it looked good, in theory but I wasn’t passionate about it. I’m now pursuing other health related fields and going to grad school this coming year. If you’re not passionate about pharmacy then you will be miserable and the work isn’t worth it but if that’s what you really want to do then you can get through these few years of hard work. And don’t worry about failing…once you’re in pharmacy school, they give you all the help you need to complete it…I thought I wouldn’t do well in med school because I failed a class in undergrad but I got A’s and B’s the first year. You just have to forget the past failures, learn from them, move on to what you have a passion for and then just go for it. Don’t be anxious…if pharmacy causes you to be anxious then maybe you really shouldn’t do it. I can’t tell you what to do but just that if you really want to do something, you can do it and if you don’t really want to do it then you probably won’t succeed. Hope that makes sense and hope that helps. Good luck!

  89. Thank you for sharing your story.

  90. thanks Missy and Carleetha…i’ll keep that advice in mind

    tc and gd luck in grad school

  91. Just dropped out too. Largely due to grades. I did OK in cell bio and genetics, but anatomy demolished me. Kind of relieved but at the same time freaked out. THE ECONOMY IS HORRIBLE!!!!

    Even though I was weak in anatomy, I’m thinking about physical therapy. I’m a cyclist and do pilates, so I’m pretty in tune with my body.fitness.wellness. I was a yoga instructor off and on for a year before school.

    Any thoughts??????

    • That’s what I’m doing. I’m applying to physical therapy programs for next year. My advice would be to go in and shadow a physical therapist or even do some paid or volunteer work at a clinic. This will give you a good idea if you like it or not. Also, a lot of physical therapy programs require you to have done a certain amount of hours in a physical therapy clinic before you can apply. And don’t worry about the economy…people are still hiring. I found 3 jobs this summer…working over 52 hours a week, in a small town with a depressed economy. You can do it…don’t be discouraged. Good luck!

  92. I’m in a predicament as well. I’ve just finished my 2nd year of medical school( leaving me with 4 years to go) and recently, my exam results were out. I didn’t fare well as I failed 2 papers out of 10 subjects, which leaves me in a very bad state.

    In comparison to my 1st year of medical school, I worked harder than I’ve ever had before but I’ve also suffered from bouts of depression and my lack of social life made the other students in my class deem me as ‘the anti-social’. I hated what I’ve become and so I thought that maybe I could try to enjoy life a wee bit more in my 2nd year instead.

    However, this didn’t go exactly as planned. During my 2st semester of my 2nd year, I failed my Pathology paper and now, I’ve failed my Biochemistry and Pathology paper as well. Medicine wasn’t what I wanted to do in the first place, I wanted to actually become a vet and a journalist as well but my parents didn’t exactly go with the idea nor did my family. It was plain to say that I did not have my family’s support in my decision making.

    And so I stuck around and saw myself get brutally bruised mentally and emotionally throughout the 2 years I’ve slaved myself from memorizing things which weren’t much to my concern. Honestly, depression and a hatred to ones’ self is not a matter to be laughed at, it is in fact a very serious one indeed.

    Due to the following reasons, I too will soon inform my parents and my family as well that I shall soon quit this unwanted course of mine. I am sure that this would be the best decision I’ve made, on my part 🙂

  93. The last year i’ve been watching inspirational videos and trying to get a better picture of things. I still do not want to continue with medicine. I’ve thinking of things like, finding the job that you would do for 24 hours a day, you know….find a career path but a meaning too.

    I’ve hearing a lot of don’t let other people say what to do, take your own path, but also don’t quit. Now I’m confused. A part of me feels like a lied to myself when I said I wanted to become a doctor. Like being in 12th grade, and everybody goes somewhere so…so do I. I think I choose medicine mainly because of money and stability. I know, they are the wrong reasons to go into this field. My other part questions itself, as to, by quiting med school am i giving into a weakness or I want to explore other things out there, and find maybe a true calling.

    When summer holiday came, I left the university with absolutely no intent to go back. Now it’s approaching and I fear my exams, I fear of going back there and feeling so lost again. Everybody is telling me, after 3rd things will get easy, but I don’t want to hear it. I hate myself for being in this zone of hating and feeling lost, and mainly, I feel drained from indecisiviness.

  94. Well, I can remember having doubts already in the 12th grade, before entering med school. I guess in 12th grade I was sort of like bored of everything, I just wanted to make a ‘smart’ choice. I was the top of my class for 12 years, in a math-informatics class.
    Here in Romania, everybody says, you made a terrific choice, cause you study for 6 years, and after that the money starts pouring, and you’ll lead a good life. Or, just study so after that you can leave this shitty country, cause doctors are wanted everywhere. So that’s why everybody is saying it’s a great choice.
    Funny, that my Anatomy professor once came in and said: ‘many of you came here, just to go to a university ( I was like, yes sir that’s me). or some of you came here because of money, well i’ll tell you in 6 years you can make a lot more money somewhere else’.
    Honestly, I feel like shit that I was a straight A student, and that now I have these issues. I have to go to re-exams, and stuff.
    Or I sometimes think of what people might say if I quit med school ? But then again, why should I care what they say ?
    In a way, I think my brain new on the 1st week in med school that I don’t want this.

  95. and hi every1…has any1 ever overcame their feeling of anxiety, depression, and fear in their medical profession? if u did…how did u do it? I am still haveing acid reflux problems…any help any1

    • Isabella–to answer your question, there are plenty of people who feel like medical school was the worst experience in their lives who go on to have successful and satisfying careers. I think that it depends on a number of factors. I don’t think being unhappy now means you will be unhappy as a doctor but its hard to predict and only you can decide what you want in life.

  96. hey come on…..any1???? im stilll stuck!

    • Hello Isabella,

      Since your becoming a doctor and you’ve not practiced medicine–obviously–you thinking of all of the respondibility that is ahead but the schooling, internship and residency are there to make you a doctor down the road. Most people get tinges of anxiety but soldier on. If you really think it’s not for you, try to talk with other seasoned professionals that you trust and get a realistic view of the profession. I think everyone gets anxious when learning the skills and realizing that they are going to be directly responsible for people’s lives.

  97. Hi Isabella,

    I think you should get yourself to your pharmacy school counselor’s office. (I would bet they have a counselor and if not, ask to see the med school’s counselor) You really need to talk thru your feelings with someone who is more qualified to help than most of us probably are.

    What you’re feeling is normal. School is very hard and stressful and I’m sure lots of people have anxiety regarding their abilities to really do the job. Why you need professional counseling is to help you manage these feelings and decide if you can handle school and the profession, or not.

    Please go see your counselor – I’m sure it will help tons!

  98. honestly,….i have spoken too counsellor…but they really dont help….i just wanna see what other people’s experiences are

  99. Hi Isabella, i don’t know about acid reflux (yet …).

    Anxiety, and fear yes. Maybe even depression. For me it’s this feeling of being up in the air and totally misguided, feeling like lost. Feeling like ‘what am i doing? is this right ?’.

    I have a question. How do you find that other thing that could be good for yourself ? Honestly, i’m so sick of hearing people, that the only thing good now is to be a doctor, that that’s stabile. My parents all say, engineering is not worth it, and you’re not cut out for it, and you don’t have oratory skills, and you don’t have business skills. I just keep hearing, i’m not good, i’m not good.
    Okay so maybe i won’t change the course of worldwide economy, but i should have some other skills? i honestly, don’;t see why i’m cut out for med schools ? because in 12 years of school, i was 1st in class ? that’s enough ?

  100. So dany – from what you wrote – it seems your anxious because your not sure if medical school is the right thing for you…u havent had the chance to explore other professions

    You said that you entered medical school from grade 12….and your what – starting 3rd year now…is this a 6 year program or 4 year?

    To best see what you excel at, maybe consider taking a year off and try taking different courses at your unviersity or shadowing different types of professionals such as lawyers, teachers, engineers, business people and get a good feel of what they do

    Maybe your uncertain about medicine because your not sure exactly what a doctor does and your doing med school simply because you got in…..I know this is tough to figure out – and I also know that family pressure just kills – sometimes parents and siblings dont even realize the effects of themselves on us – its not like they are doing the program we are – they have no idea exactly what doctors or pharmacists do

    In the end of the day through, remember that its all just a job – no matter where u go AND it isnt uncommon for people to switch majors during undergrad and even later – – generally it is believed that on avg an individual makes 3 major career changes in life – so dont be alarmed if u find something else ur passionate about and u do decide to drop medical school – but i think take the first step : SHADOW OTHER PROFESSIONAL, including your own – if u dont wanna take a year off – can u do this in school? like if u have a day off school ask the professional u want to shadow if its alright for u to shadow him/her at their job on that day-this will avoid the whole family commotion – u dont have to take a year off to shadow other professional……..
    remember ur not alone….we all are facing some kind of struggle in our careers

    for me im still unsure and like i dont wanna health problem out of stress: ACID REFLUX, but at the same time I dont know what to do because i am stuck in teaching there are not many jobs and im trying to figure out a way to build confidence again with science….but i also know that just time itself can heal wounds of the part

    Hope this Help Dany! Best of Luck…do keep posting on this board!

  101. at us in Romania. you finish highschool (12 grade) then u pick a university. here med school is 6 years long, after which you start your residency. so it is long, that is why i also do not want to get involved into something like this if I’m not 100% heartedly in it. also at some classes for example one my teachers said that after she finished the 6 years of med school and started residency it was as if she started an entire new university. that blew my mind. it made me think that what the hell than am i studying for anyway ?
    my parents also said, that it’s not a problem if after finishing med school i don’t want to be a doctor . that i can be a manager at a hospital. then i said :’ you mean, you want me to finish med school to not be a doctor ? to write receipts ? to be a manager ?’ they also said it doesn’t matter that i don’t feel the urge now, things change and that i can finish med school with shitty grades…but hey….i do not want to be a stupid doctor, i do not want to endanger lives. i do not want that responsability.
    i like what you said about shadowing, yes that could help shed a new light on things.

  102. I guess I am here looking for support. I actually deferred my first year due to the strong feeling that medical school isn’t where I am supposed to be. My white coat ceremony was almost traumatizing because I knew that this isn’t for me. I like the university itself and I love doing research and science, among many other things. I know I could get through the rigor of medical school (I am actually above my class average as far as MCAT and gpa) but I just can’t picture myself in the hospital. I don’t want to do procedures on people. I want to do my research and be left alone. I am very torn because I have worked so hard to be in this position only to feel like I was in the wrong line of work. Any advice would be nice. I am just trying to project my thoughts into the future and I see a very tired miserable person who has given up all of her creativity and any hopes of having a family. Speaking of family, mine of course don’t understand and believe I am a coward at this point, and selfish for not wanting to help people. They didn’t drive me to medical school, my natural curiosity about science did. Now I am realizing that the reason I never stopped was because I enjoy my pre-med classes, but that I never really considered that being in medicine is a WHOLE different game. Consequently I am dealing with a lot of anxiety/depression (something I have had to battle with my whole life). I am seeking some help to make sure that I can clear these problems up and make a decision free from this emotions. Thanks for any constructive comments. I could use them.

    • I understand what you’re talking about. I also enjoyed my pre-med classes and have a great interest in science and enjoy it, but medicine is definately a whole different game. And you don’t really realize that until you’ve had some exposure to what it really means to be a doctor. And it is also very difficult to anticipate how much you will or will not enjoy the profession (as you say project your thoughts into the future) ’cause you don’t really know what it’s like until you’re actually doing it.

      I say don’t give up yet. The fact that you enjoy the classes and the science is good. That means you can get thru med school no problem. I believe you can have a career as a MD and not have to work in a hospital or do procedures on people. Start to think about other ways you can use your MD without lots of patient care – like teaching at a med. school, or doing more ‘administrative’ things, or doing clinical research outside of a hospital/patient care setting. If you really want to do just research of course you could go the MD/PhD route.

      The idea of working in a hospital and taking care of patients is anxiety producing if you’ve not had exposure to that environment before. You might really like it if you go into say, radiology or another specialty where there’s not a ton of patient contact.

      If there’s a med school counselor at your school go see them. At the very least maybe they can help you get some shadowing opportunities set up and help you work thru some of the conflict you’re having. Being a MD can be a very good career if you’ve got the stamina to make it thru school and residency. Don’t give up yet. Talk to lots of different people so you can make a well-informed choice and good luck – it will be okay!

  103. that’s like a xerox of my case. write to me at pdannysan13[at]yahoo[dot]com

  104. I was actually in physician assistant school but have not found a blog for PA’s. I failed only one course in my semester before starting rotations and was asked to audit all my courses until I could retake that course and start rotations pretty much a year late and graduate with the class behind me. This was so humilating to me and I actually requested a leave of absence b/c I did not know if being a PA was worth it.

    Most of my family and family friends are doctors and I always worried that I would feel inferior to them for the rest of my life being a PA. So before I started school I had a sick feeling of doubt that I would not enjoy this profession. Once I started I didn’t really even enjoy medicine so now I was doing something that made me feel inferior and it was not that enjoyable.

    So when I first heard that I failed this course I was devasted but then I realized I was more devastated because of the embarrasement of people finding out that I failed a course more than even about the profession itself. After all, they didn’t kick me out I just had to wait. I left school very last minute and requested a leave of absence. I left without even telling anyone and now I am very depressed and anxious pretty much the way your described above. I haven’t really told that many people my ENTIRE story so everytime I tell people I took a leave of absence b/c I wasn’t happy witht he program they look at me like I’m craaaazzzy. Even after I mention that I want my Phd I still have people ask me why I would quit the program and tell me what a great job it is. I keep having to remind myself that the only reason I am actually upset about leaving the program is because I am afraid of what people are thinking. As I said before, I didn’t even tell anyone in my class I left. I just picked up and left. But it is getting really hard to remind myself that I was not happy and now I’m just getting depressed like I made a huge mistake. I feel so lost and confused and I don’t know if I am making a mistake. I mean ,yes, I only left because I failed the course but thats what gave me the motivation to say “hey” you don’t like this anyway why not leave. PLEASE offer any advise. I

    • i’m currently wainting for my request for a year leave of absence to be approved. i haven’t told anyone yet. i want the confirmation in my hand. i want to know something solid.

      i think you should clarify why you went in medicine, and why you left. the things in between are good memories.

      • Thank You. Thats what I hope this past year will become. A good memory and an experience. I hope everything works out for you.

  105. Hello all,

    Like so many of you I came across this website by searching for med school dropout information on google. A little skeptical of reading advice from a blog, I casually skimmed the post and it brought me to tears. I’m in the first few months of my first year of med school and I’m absolutely miserable. I have been working to reach this goal for so much of my life and I’m still in shock over the fact that something that used to mean so much to me is bringing me down so much.

    I was a fairly mediocre student in my undergrad, and I often struggled to get the grades I needed to get to this point. Frequently, the only thing that got me through was the fact that I was working toward being a doctor. Now as a med student, I’m spending hours upon hours studying and I’m still failing my first course. Although this is definitely discouraging, it’s not the reason that I am where I am now. The unfortunate truth is that each day I realize how much I am sacrificing to be here and it’s killing me. Over the past 2 months I have lost the person that I thought I was and feel like an aimless zombie. I spend Monday through Fridays wishing for the weekend so I can return home to my life and the people I know actually even remotely care about me — a vast improvement from my life here at school. Sunday rolls around and I have to stop myself from crying each time because I know I have to go back to my miserable med school life. I’m in a place that I hate, with people I absolutely despise, and I’m put into a position where I’m so stressed academically that even the things I used to enjoy are now meaningless to me. I have lost my desire to be me.

    Although the “now” is bad, my main conflict is over my future as a physician. Since I was young, I knew I wanted to be a mother. Not the kind of mother who cuts the cord and sends her child to daycare, but one who never leaves her child’s side and is there for every trivial and important moment. What scares me is that I’m going to have to prolong this for so long because I’ll be so far in debt that I’ll be incapable of taking a few years off to be with my children. What I really want is a career that I truly care about but one that I can also put on hold if needed. I’m really not sure that I can do that as a doctor. Essentially my issue is this: I’m terrified of being so deeply in debt, I’m terrified that I’ll never be able to achieve the lifestyle I dream of as a doctor, and I’m terrified that I’m going to lose my identity in the process.

    Now for the reasons why I’m so torn. I fell in love with working with people a long time ago, and with every experience I have to to this day I realize how great I can be in a clinical setting. In addition, I have a love for learning about medicine and I feel like in some ways if I go into another medical profession I may not gain as much knowledge as if I were to stay here. And, as completely and utterly selfish as it sounds, I absolutely love the bragging right of being able to tell people that I’m a medical student. In many ways I’m so proud of my accomplishments and I’d hate to know i worked this hard and gave it up.

    So, at this point I’m lost. My heart and my future are telling me that this isn’t the right place for me, but my head is telling me that I should just suck it up and get through the next few years. I’m not sure that I can deal with the fallout of dropping out, the disappointment for me and for the people who have helped me get this far, but I really don’t think I can stand to be this person any more. I’m not sure I’d ever be approved for a leave of absence after only 2 months of school solely because “I’m not sure” and I don’t even know if I’d benefit because I’m sure that if I left I’d never want to return. So what should I do…let the list of practicals win and stay or let the intangibles win and drop out. Any advice, especially to those of you who have dropped out and are coping with it, is truly appreciated.

    Thank you all, your comments have made me feel stronger and not alone for the first time since I started feeling this way.

    • Stressed, I know exactly how you feel. I felt all the exact same things within a month a medical school. I took an LOA and didn’t go back (see below for my post). I also struggled with the same questions as you about the lifestyle of being a doctor. When you dream of being a doctor you also dream of lifestyle factors like money and prestige. These are things you have to work through if you decide to leave. I know I’ll never make a 200K salary in another health care field. That being said, if I’m making 200K but don’t know who I am or hate my career what does it matter. Studies show that after a certian income level, happiness measures don’t tend to rise. On top of that fear, I also constantly fear regretting my decision. I’m at the point right now that I can’t even watch Greys Anatomy on T.V cause it’s painful to know that I left medical school. Finally the biggest part of it all is that medical school and residency is long. If if was only 2 years of hell, maybe I could handle it. I would still be depressed but it would only be two years. Unfortunately, it’s 6 or more years until I will finally be able to practice independently. For me, that would put me in my mid-thirties. I’m just not sure if it’s worth it!

      • I feel so blessed to find this site. I feel lifted up! Thanks everyone for sharing your experiences openly.
        If medicine is easy and fun like what is shown in Greys Anatomy, I would devout myself to medicine my entire life. I went through med school and I graduated with flying colors. I was a good student. However, getting there is a totally different story from being there. What I have learned during med school did not pull me through my residency. Med school did not teach me how to handle abusive fellow doctors, angry relatives (of the patients), clueless nurses and no-sense-of-urgency lab technicians. The hospital was a hell on earth to me, and it still is. Everytime I see ER or Greys Anatomy or House, I feel nauseated – “nonsense!”. Those show do not represent what a hospital really like. Well, understandable, those are just TV show. I’m glad I left medicine. I went through spiritual rehab after leaving medicine and I am much better now. Life is fragile and short, why would I want to live it for something unworthy of my devotion? ^_^

    • if you stop studying and had become a zombie ( like i am now) you already drop out dear….. what is important is..if u ever stop studying u already a drop out….
      now is the time to ask yourself …look at the grade..if you keep on failing the exams it is sure sign u already abandon your studies and officially a drop out eventhough you are still living in med school…

  106. I feel like this blog is my saving grace! I am not alone! Stressed, I felt the same way as you did. I left medical school after only one month on a LOA and decided not to go back. My story is a little different:

    I am a mature, married student who gave up my car, full-time job and left my husband back in Canada (he was going to join me later) to move to the carribean to attend medical school. So for me, it took a lot of guts to leave to attend a school where I was going to attain my dream since I was 10 years old. I love being in school (have a BSc and MPH) and was so excited about learning again and going back to school! My experience when I got there was much different than any other schooling I had done in the past. I’m not sure if the school I went to was extra intense but we learned anatomy in less than 4 months. For someone who has never taken anatomy, this was tough. I did fine on my first exam but didn’t feel like I was really learning anything at all. I didn’t feel like I was learning concepts or using any type of critical thinking skills. Perhaps if the pace was a little slower, I could have understood concepts a bit more. I understand that there is an obvious element of memory in anatomy, don’t get me wrong. But the pace there was so fast (115-130 slides per 1.5 hour lecture) that I didn’t feel like it would adequately prepare me for being a good physician. Of course this was coupled with other things people know about the carribean. It isn’t a as much of a supportive environment like in North America. In the one month I was there, I devoted everything I had to studying. I came home from class and studied until 2am, slept for a few hours and studied before class. I could barely hold food down because I was so nervous the prof was going to call me out in class (typical there). So after no sleep and lossing about 15lbs in a month, my husband came to get me. I took a leave thinking I might go back but when I got home I was so depressed there was no way I could go back. I talked to a few friends who are attending schools in North America and they told me it was tough but they had some down time to eat and maybe relax for an hour or two a night. The pass rate at the school I was at was also 75% so that added on the pressure. Simply put, I didn’t feel like the teaching style and pace suited how I wanted to learn. Being a mature married student with a lot of life experience, the journey is just as important as the destination. I know I could have completed the program academically but I felt like I had lost who I was in the month I was there and couldn’t imagine what I would have become in the two years it would take to finish. I don’t want to be negative about the school because for some people, it is an alternative to becoming a doctor. It just wasn’t right for me. This type of learning works for some but I was heart broken. I was really looking forward to understanding and learning medicine and I felt all I was left with was an accumulation of facts.

    Now I’ve been back for a few months, am working full time in the public health field and am healing. I am still very torn about what to do. I miss learning anatomy, I really enjoyed the material in medical school just not the way it was being taught. I am struggling with figuring out who I am if I don’t become a doctor. I thought that it was I wanted all my life. I am considering re-writting the mcat and applying to some North American schools but it’s been so long since I’ve learned those concepts that this will be difficult for me (esp. working full-time). I am also considering becoming a physician assistant as it will give me all the things I love about medicine (relationships with patients, treating disease) but also also me to spend more time on counselling and chronic disease management. I am really torn right now about what to do?

    I felt alot of the same things people on this blog have felt. I felt like a failure for leaving med school. I have good days and bad days. Days I’m thankful for leaving and days I am so hard on myself for leaving. I constantly question whether I should have stuck it out for a little longer. Would I have gotten used to it. I just felt like a hollow skeleton when I was there. I didn’t smile once or enjoy a single meal. It felt like i was eating cardboard. I couldn’t imagine who I would be after 4 years of that style of living. Like I said, I am still not 100% sure what to do. I am so thankful to have this blog and others who are struggling and have gone through the same issues I have gone through. You all have no idea how much it helps to read others experiences that are just like mine.

    I am proud of myself in a way for recognizing that the medical school I was at was not for me. I always say it would have been easier to stay and continue then leave and have to pick up the pieces. I just keep hoping and praying that I will figure out my calling soon!

  107. P.S I’m also reading a great book that might help others who are planners and type A personalities like me struggling with trying to figure everything out. It’s called the 20 something manifesto by Christine Hassler.

  108. Hello to the ones who are talking about practicing independently. I’ve worked with and for doctors for a long time (anesthesia tech), and I learned that doctors are tied to many things and that autonomy is a myth. For surgeons and anesthesia people, they HAVE to be at the hospital at all hours and for the rest of their careers if they are going to serve the sick. Insurance is also an issue and health care reform is alive and well. MANY seasoned doctors complain to the rooftops that they are not able to practice autonomously any more. School is just the beginning and it’s the practice during residency and after that shows if you are interested really. It seems okay to think twice if you are wanting autonomy.

  109. So I’m on my LOA year right know and I don’t know why I’m wanting to go back.
    i think it’s the success aspect of it that is making me do it. My parents, grandparents are all like it is a good job, you don’t have to be a robot you wear white coat everyday. you can work as much as you want to. you don;t have to be surgeon, just be a MD, work 4 hours a day and have an enormous free time.
    that’s what they are saying. now i know that in Romania, there are people who live like that and are doctors. but what are the stressess related to being a doctor ?

    right now, i want to start a calendar, and everyday i will encircle the date of the passing day, if i want to go back to med school or not. and if next summer i still can’t decide i’ll go on deductive logic , and if the encircled days are greater in number, i’ll go back.

  110. I am a final year student from ireland.this time it is my 4th attempt to pass my paeds exam..me and hubby had decided that if I fail again,i will quit medical school…I had been thinking about this since i was 4th year…and finally have a gut to make a decision to to pursue med school any futher if things dont work out…I am pregnant 22 months with a healty fetus…so I had figured out what to do after I finish with this medical school…to become a good mother..although many women out there don’t consider becoming a mom is a career but as for me..it is a good career…as women find being loved is very heart warming….I live in a rented shack with my husband..but it is OK…a small house is better with an attentive warm mother and better for my children to grow in it…..and I will give 100% to my family..and my husband will become the main provider while I am helping with the economy at my own pace…my husband is taking a life insurance and he had laid out a nice plan for the kids if something happens to him..I feel blessed I have him as a husband…other people has different support system….but the main thing if medical school is starting to make you depressed ..quit NOW!

  111. I finished first year medical school. However, at the end of th first year as I was preparing for exams, I just became seriously depressed. During the summer, the depression deepened to the point where I considered hurting myself.So, I decided to leave medical school. I still have thought on whether or not I made the right choice. But reading your blog helps me to not feel so alone. I can see that I am not the only one who made this tough choice and it makes me feel 100% better.

  112. Thank you for this blog. I cannot believe how many people went through the same experience I did. After reading some student doctor forums (clearly filled with people who have no idea what they are talking about but pretend they do), I felt even more alone. My story is similar; I completed the first 2 yrs, but failed Step I by 1 point. My school took a hard stance and forced me out. I fell into a deep depression that was only compounded by the fact that other med students I knew were given several opportunities – to repeat classes, retake boards, etc. But I was never given that opportunity, and the injustice left me bitter, deeply depressed, and drained of any hope.

    After leaving med school, I spent the following 5 yrs deeply depressed, unemployed, and accomplishing nothing of substance with my life but growing older. Now, I am finally ready to pull myself back together and focus on the future. This is where I am hoping to find some advice, feedback, and opinions.

    I am looking at doing a masters geared towards non-traditional, working adults (I will not be working, but I certainly don’t feel confident competing againts young, eager, fresh-out-of-undergrad students). However, most of the information I can find on the programs are on pre-med boards, from people who did not get into med school and need graduate work to boost their application. It made me realize that I may be taking a step back! After all, I did complete the first 2 yrs of med school, which should be equivalent to a masters. Is it a waste of time and money ($30,000-40,000) to pursue a masters at this point? Are there PhD programs which will take my first 2 yrs as transfer credit? (I know there are medical schools in the U.S willing take my first 2 yrs as transfer credit, but I am absolutely not going back to med school.)

    • Where are you from?

    • Have you considered nursing or physical therapy or some other related health care field – i think your two years of med school would definately transfer into a nursing program . . . if you want to get back into medicine.

    • The hard truth is you will NEVER have the same respect or high pay as you would have had you stuck it out and become a doctor. Fortunately, you are a women and you can marry someone with money. However, had you been a male medical school dropout, no one would want to marry you, and you would probably be alone and bitter the rest of your life.On a brighter note, I am happy you found something you like doing.

    • Hi Abigail,
      I’m in your same shoes, so I understand what you are going through, and I am glad to know I’m not alone. It’s been a year now since I left, and I’ve also been contemplating going for a M.A. program, but I’m having a hard time making a decision, since I have many interests. Most recently, I’ve been looking into nutrition programs, since I’m really interested the benefits of certain diets. Like Hippocrates said “let food be your medicine and medicine your food.” But, I am so worried that no one is going to want to take a medical school dropout. I’ve thought of pretending I didn’t go, but I don’t think lying is the best way to go about the situation. Also, I’m worried because I’m starting from the bottom. I don’t feel comfortable going back to the professors at my medical school to ask for recommendations for instance, and undergraduate, I’d feel like such a bum. Additionally, it’s virtually impossible to get a job when you have medical school dropout on your resume.
      Therefore, this stops me from attempting to go back to school, leaving me doing nothing, but living with and helping out my family members, and I’m miserable because I want to try to be independent. Yet, because of my loans that my father, my co-signer is currently paying, I feel eventually, I’ll have to pay them and I’ll never really be able to make it on my own on a 50-60K salary, which is the salary I’d probably have in the careers I’m thinking of going into, like nutrition. I’ll always have to live with one of my siblings or parents. I’m in pretty bad shape in terms of having a career and a life, and I don’t want five years to go by before I decide on doing something, I’m not exactly 21 any more. I feel like not doing something and just trying to marry a rich guy like some gentleman stated above and like one of my sisters has told me would be a good idea is really not something I’d want to do. It’s very important for me to try to make it on my own and do something I enjoy.

      • Monica – You’re wrong when you say that it’s “virtually impossible to get a job when you have medical school dropout on your resume.” That sounds like depression talking. Believe me it can be extremely self-defeating. There are plenty of opportunities out there for us. The catch is – you have to try. You’re never going to find a job if you let yourself be talked out of pursuing one.

        Keep your chin up girl! Only the cream of the crop make it into medical school. Most of the rest of the world either envies or resents you for your intellect and capabilities. Put those smarts to good use!


      • Monica, I know exactly what you mean about not being able to make a decision. I just don’t know what I want to do with my life, and I have this nagging fear that I won’t be able to finish what I start, again. I also spent my time doing things for family members, which I really should not have done. If I had spent the time pulling myself together instead, I wouldn’t have this gaping hole in my resume that I can’t explain away. I’ve never considered pretending I didn’t go to med school, because I will have a hard enough time explaining away 5 wasted years, much less the years spent in med school. As far as marrying rich, I don’t know why that person thinks that we, as females, can just marry rich and solve all our problems. It’s not like there are good rich men knocking on doors looking for med school dropout girls.

        I find it ironic that people who could never get into med school feel that they are qualified to judge me. I have been called “uneducated” by people who barely know me, as well as family members who somehow think that insulting me will miraculously turn me into the doctor they want me to be. That saying “It’s better to try and fail than to have never tried at all” does not apply to med school! People who could never even get in get more respect than I do as a dropout. I would have been better of if I never tried. At least then i could join the masses who delude themselves into believing they could be great doctors if only they had chosen to go that route.

      • Actually, Abigail, I’m happy to have gotten the chance to help my family. My sister has a growing fashion retail company, and I’ve always loved fashion, so I’m glad to get to work with her, now. I actually got into medicine because of my family, my father, sister, brother, uncles, and a cousin are doctors. And, I love science and learning, so I was eager to learn. I’ve also taught creative writing as my undergrad degree is in English, and teaching is truly a gift. Looking back, failing the courses in medical school was a blessing in disguise. For the record, I failed two classes by a few points, Physiology was the subject. But, I was not dismissed. It was my decision to leave. I really wasn’t handling it well. It just wasn’t for me. I’m too much of a creative person. I was feeling down, but now I realize it’s a gift. I’m really glad I got to go for a year and learn Anatomy, Biochemistry and some of the basic workings of the human body. And, I truly believe we each have a destiny. I hope you find happiness and see the beauty in your own path in life. Have a great holiday season and enjoy your loved ones;)
        P.S. Cindy.Thank You for the encouragement!

    • What type of programs where you thinking of going into?

      • Abigail, I agree with you on this : “It’s better to try and fail than to have never tried at all” does not apply to med school! People who could never even get in get more respect than I do as a dropout. I would have been better of if I never tried. At least then i could join the masses who delude themselves into believing they could be great doctors if only they had chosen to go that route.”
        Med school is not for trial and error. If we failed med school or dropped out med school, we are worse than those who are never been to college at all. I don’t know where this idea came from. I am a med school graduate, but I dropped out during my residency. and because of that was treated like a person with incurable infectious disease. I wished I have never been born at that time. I attempted suicide many times. But I think the Almighty God is covering me. I’m still alive, but am bitter towards those to looked down on me just because I am a med school dropped out. I despise those fellow doctors who heartlessly bullied me as a fresh graduate during my residency.

  113. I dropped out after 3 semesters. Medical school was hell for me: the classes, the people, the material. I hated all of it and always felt like I was out of place.

    I cut off all contact with my previous classmates. One, we were never really good friends, and two, I couldn’t really bear to tell them any details. My family was supportive, as were my non-medical friends.

    My current classmates (I’m getting my MS) know about it and surprisingly they don’t make a big fuzz about it, other than to once in a while joke that I’m smarter than all of them. I was afraid to tell anyone but then realized that they probably don’t care about medical school as much as med students do. And it’s true, most people don’t give a #&^% whether you’re a medical student or not. It’s MDs and med students who tend to hold this idealized version of medicine in their heads, which is why it’s so difficult to quit or to talk about quitting: it’s just unimaginable to most of them.

    Sometimes I wonder “what if”, but realize that it’s mostly nostalgia speaking. I felt proud of having gotten into medical school and a lot of my identity revolved around it, so it was very hard to let it go. But most days, I don’t regret quitting. I am a much happier person now. I have friends, I have classmates who are more relaxed and whom I love, and I like what I’m doing. I used to look at the docs around the hospital and dreading becoming like them. Now, I can look at my professors and I *WANT* to be like them and do what they do. I realized that other professions can give me decent money for a hell of a lot less stress. I’m no longer looking at my 20s like a jail sentence, a decade of living in the hospital, sleeping badly, and cutting years out of my life.

    • Oh, and for those who are thinking about quitting, DEFINITELY go through counseling/therapy/academic advising first. It might make you change your mind and stay OR it might be the motivation you need to quit.

      I did all these things for a while. I went to tutoring, I was seeing a psychiatrist, I went through academic counseling. I really did everything I was supposed to do to try to fix the situation, but in the end I knew that the only way I’d stop being so unhappy was if I left school.

      But at least I have the satisfaction of knowing I really tried as hard as I could to change things, and if they didn’t, it wasn’t because of me, but because medicine wasn’t my thing.

      • Well said!

        Medicine is unique in that after entering medical school you’re made to feel like you’ve passed the point of no return. Other careers are different, primarily because of the amount of training required of MDs. In undergrad people change their minds plenty of times about what their major will be . . . even after college lots of people switch jobs/careers multiple times . . . yet if med students decide to back out ’cause medicine is not their thing after all, they are often looked down upon by others in the field and maybe also by family and friends. It can be a great career for some, but it’s not for everyone.

        I like to remember what I’ve heard some doctors tell undergrads before med school – that being a doctor had better be the only thing you can imagine doing with your life – ’cause it does not make your life any easier. If you can imagine doing something else and being equally satisfied – then do that instead.

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  115. Thanks for this. I’m an M3 in internal med right now, and never thought I’d find myself this stressed, miserable, exhausted, etc. I’m not at the point of dropping out yet, but the thought crosses my mind more than once a day. Nice to know someone else has been there. The biggest thing I’ve learned in doing this is how to fail. Maybe the lesson I’ve learned in humility is worth the money, stress, and everything else that goes with this. Just wish there was a more subtle way to be taught…

  116. “Additionally, it’s virtually impossible to get a job when you have medical school dropout on your resume.”

    Not from my experience. From what I’ve found, people who aren’t in medicine don’t care that much about medicine (I think as med students our perspective was often skewed about how much people cared). On the contrary, I’ve gotten many understanding nods because these people know it takes guts to change your career path. Granted, I quit after only 2 years and not 4 or 5 years into it like some others who have commented. My student debt is much lower than it would be if I’d waited longer. I think my “gap” (which isn’t a gap since I was doing something) isn’t that harmful. I got into another graduate program and a field in which I’m looking forward to working (and not dreading, like I did in medicine).

    What kind of bachelor degree do you have, that makes you so unemployable?

  117. Also, to that guy, “marrying rich”? Please, I got into med school on my own and I can do well outside of medical school on my own. Your paycheck isn’t as impressive as you think it is.

  118. I decided to go to Medical school as well. I was never passionate about Science, so I never majored it during my undergraduate years….instead I majored in something I fell in love with…History! Since my older sister was in medicine, I decided to give Medical School a shot as well…. So for 2 years I finished my basic Sciences. Now it has been 2 years since I graduated from Basic Science I have been trying to study for Step 1. I took it once and failed it. I now am in a very deep depression, because I feel as if I spent 4 years of my life studying, having no life, I don’t even go out much! I devoted so many years to medicine and it isn’t getting me anywhere, so I decided to leave it all behind me….. I feel guilty because I spent over 120 grand in medical school! I could of done so much more with that money if I decided NOT to go! That is what depresses me the most! I am glad I made the decision now before I ended up in residency and decided that I really didn’t like to continue practicing. I know a friend who quit after his residency in anesthesiology because he hated it! Glad to know there are people on this page who made the right decision as I have! God Bless You All!

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  120. Would like everyone’s opinion…

    I am currently 1/2 way thru my 2nd year of medical school and feel absolutely miserable. I don’t want to dedicate the next 6+ years (if i factor in residency, which I dread) dedicated to studying and memorizing random trivial facts and to laboring away in the hospital— don’t get me wrong, I like patient care, which drew me to the profession but not enough to make so many sacrifices (including my already deteriorating mental health) it’s just something about medical school, and the training… it stunts your creativity and you have to deal with a lot of bureaucracy and arrogant severe TYPE A Personalities… it’s suffocating when u’re not like them, and are unable to conform to this type of environment….

    anyhow because I’m attending a private university in a really expensive area.. i’ve accumulated $140,000 (70K per year in loans incl. living expenses)… + i think the tuition has already been billed for this upcoming 2nd semester… *sigh

    Should I tough it out? The only thing that’s keeping me here is fear of not being able to pay off my loans without making a physician salary… I have interests in other careers, non-science related but they pay very little and since it’s business, can be very unstable… i’m feeling so trapped!! though i’m grateful for the opportunity to get in and study medicine, of which i am reminded constantly that so many people would ‘lose the right arm’ just to be where i am… (this has added more guilt and only worsened my depression), my heart says, I will be miserable and only more severely depressed should i choose to stay for the next 6+ years…

    what would you do??

    • If I were you I would tough it out and visit your family doctor to discuss your feelings to determine if anti-depressants could assist you. Feeling trapped is a part of severe depression. I dropped out and felt the same way as you did and I too had loans. It was scary but I knew I would succeed even with loans to pay back. I’ve had the option of returning to medical school since then but decided to let it go, water under the bridge, so to speak. You might want to look into transferring your units into a PhD program to do research and teach. Some PhD programs also offer loan repayment. If I could do it over again, I would have obtained my PhD to study cancer. Clinical work wasn’t for me. Instead I pursued business and easily paid off my loans with discipline and investments. I now have a happy home with a beautiful wife and kids, a good job and a retirement building up. My point is that I wish you the best and want you to take care of yourself.

      • Did you feel like a failure for not going back to med school? How can I get it out of my mind that I’m not making the worse decision of my life by dropping out? May I ask what kind of business ventures you pursued?

    • Yes, I felt like a failure. There is inertia when you are trying to become a doctor. When you quit it is a huge load off of your back and for some peculiar reason you feel a sense of happiness. The sky brightens up. You breathe and feel a sense of wonder and bliss. You also feel a sense of calmness like everything is going to be alright. It truly is a growing experience. The feeling of failure changes as you redefine what success means to you. You really learn about yourself. You also learn that the medical model is very limited and pill-driven. There is much more to healing than just performing tests and taking pills. You also learn that medicine is monopolized in the United States so that patients are overcharged and do not receive much better care than in developing countries. The AMA limits the number of doctors so that they can make more money. Residents and medical students have to do all the scut work so that physicians can see more patients and make more money. Students that enter medical school need to realize that once you begin taking out loans, you’re playing a casino game in a money-driven profession. In your third year, you find out that the doctors do not really care about their patients the way you thought they did when you were in undergrad. It really is a shameful profession of which I am proud to not be a part. To answer your question though, failure is just a word people use out of insecurity. You are not a failure because you made it this far unlike most people, and you got to experience what it means to enter the medical profession. Just by reading your posts, I can tell you are really miserable and I am worried for you. If you walk away from your loans, they won’t come chasing you down. You will only need to pay an agreed upon percentage based on your salary. Don’t worry so much. If you do not like medicine, it is okay to leave. I had doctor friends that were so miserable that they are no longer here. Lighten up and really consider leaving. Something tells me you’ll be happier. take care

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    • Teaching is good for however long you can keep your teaching certification but you gotta love the job 1st and foremost. It’s not enough money to pay back your student loans and get you out of default. Debt collectors wanted $3000 dollars a month. That’s more than I get to keep as a teacher. To add insult to injury.. you can’t renew your teaching license if you are in default. So after 5 years you can’t even pay them back.

      View it as a job that will last for a few years.. but I wouldn’t make a career out of it since you don’t get to keep the license indefinitely.

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  129. you should have known what you were getting yourself into before you even thought about medical school. Firstly, you had to have a stellar high school and a decent study habit, then use college as a means of preparing yourself for medical school such as advanced sciences and pre-med programs. This failure was ultimately a result of taking education lightly by cheating here and there, using friends for help, and/or slacking off (med students study 24/7). I am sorry for your messed up life, but I hope you find happiness through your kids in their futures.

    • Why would you even come on here to post something like that? This is a forum for people to help eachother out. Your comments are just rude, obviously you have no sense of compassion or empathy. Have you even been to medical school?

      There are many medical schools in Canada that don’t require any science college courses so before you state facts, maybe you should ensure they are correct!

      I don’t believe that anyone who enters medical school is taking it lightly, perhaps they realize giving up their lives for a career just isn’t worth it. Or perhaps they realize that they have a different learning style that doesn’t suit a particular medical school.

      Either way, your comments are not helpful to anyone reading this blog, why even bother posting?

      • It’s bullshit she learned from the system that fails us as a people. The protestant work ethic is a lie told by those in power to keep the believer subjugated.

  130. Why would you even bother coming on to this blog and post something like that? The purpose of this blog is for people with similar experiences to share their stories and help eachother. You obviously lack any compassion or empathy. Have you even been to medical school?

    Also, before you state facts, perhaps you should check their accuracy. There are many medical schools in Canada that do not require any science or pre-med pre-reqs.

    Also, there are many reasons for people to leave medical school that I would not consider a failure. Perhaps they felt that they didn’t want to give up their lives for their career. Or perhaps their learning style didn’t suit a particular medical school.

    It is obvious to me that it is you who is messed up for coming onto a blog like this and writing such a rude comment. It is me who feels sorry for people like you!

    • Sorry for the double post, internet explorer timed out! Hopefully it highlights the fact that comments such as yours are not-welcomed or helpful to anyone!

      • Hello ‘Dropped Out and Confused’,

        I did not get as far as med school but decided it wasn’t for me in the long run. I would ask myself if I wanted to give away 100 hours/week of my life for the rest of it and found there are other ways to help people. Life truly is short and it flies by!

  131. to “dropped out and confused” thank you. yea, i’m currently seeing a doctor, been feeling a bit depressed. not sure if it’s the med school makin me depressed or me being depressed and feeling like med school is just the worst thing ever… either way i’m giving anti-depressants a try… *sigh i’m hoping just to get through 2nd year, and maybe 3rd year with the increased patient contact will be better for me… i’m kinda scared of 3rd year though.. seems like even more pressure to perform

  132. I’m glad there is a place where we can all go and share our experiences and know we are not alone in our pain and suffering, highs and lows. It really has made me feel better.
    I’m thinking of going back to school after 1 year off. I don’t want my medical education to go to waste, even if it was just 1 year’s worth. So, I’m thinking of going for nursing for a variety of reasons. Has anyone here gone from medical school dropout to nursing student, especially students in their 30’s or into other health profession. If so, I’d like to know about your experience. Nursing means starting all over with a undergraduate degree, BSN (this is the program offered at my school), so I’m both excited and nervous. Yet, I’m still pretty confused. I was a writing teacher in a Literature graduate program before I left it and went back to school get my pre-reqs for medical school, years ago. I liked teaching and I was good at it, and loved literature, but I wanted something more, and series of things led me to be very curious about science. I have considered returning to teaching, but I fear the same things that led me from it will remain. I always felt I just had sort of fallen into teaching and I started to feel I could just enjoy literature on my own, instead of wasting time in a classroom talking about it. I know nothing is perfect, but I’m hoping nursing will provide me with that something more stimulating. Both help people and that’s what’s most important to me…and being not bored. Ok, now I’m just thinking aloud. I have to do something because my family is getting really fed up with my indecision and immobility. Any thoughts, thanks.

    • I’m looking into going to get my RN after leaving med school 10 years ago and i’ve found my med school courses will cut out a lot of RN classes that i’d have to take so I bet the same is true of your med school courses and the pre-reqs that you took. It’s not a bad idea for an alternative path to a helping profession that won’t be so hard on your family life.

      I think it’s important to recognize that nursing will have it’s daily grind and stuff that bores you, just as teaching did, and just as being a doctor would have too. Since I’m in my 30s I can realize that now, something that I didn’t realize in my 20s. (that no career is perfect and can offer ultimate satisfaction with life) So don’t pick nursing because it might be a perfect and always stimulating and exciting career, but because it will be a good job and have the potential to be satisfying and fulfilling. There will still be long hours and office politics and boredom too though, just like any other job. That’s how I look at it for me and I’m thinking of starting school in the fall to get my RN in two years which will be nothing compared to the med school haul.

      I’d also add think carefully about leaving teaching if you liked that . . .

  133. One more thought . . maybe see a career couselor or a med school counselor (for free?) if you still can to help you sort thru what’s pulling you in each direction so you can make a decision and then move on. Best of luck to you!!

  134. idroppedout,
    thanks for the response, very helpful. I’m taking Microbiology and Nutrition this semester at my undergraduate school since they are nursing pre-requisites (go figure you don’t need nutrition for medical school, such an important part of our health). I think I might go to see a career counselor during this time, thanks for the advice. If you don’t mind my asking, what did you do during these 10 years? Thanks!

    • Well, after much counseling, I also went back to undergrad to explore biological and medical illustration since I have a passion for the arts. I ended up not getting that degree (art is my hobby now) but did get a good job using my medical/biology background and my phlebotomy skills that I acquired when working in a medical lab for awhile after I left med school.

      My counselor made me come up with a plan before taking a leave of absence, which I think was very important so I wasn’t “drifting” around. Thus, going back to undergrad.

      Then I got married and had 3 kids and work part time in a medical research-related job. 10 years sure did go by fast! Now I’m thinking of getting my RN (although I swore after leaving med school I’d never do that 🙂 since the kids are older and I’d like a career that has growth potential and offers more stimulation and personal satisfaction. There are tons of opportunities in nursing so I’m sure I’ll find the right area for me. And now I’m entering medicine knowing what I’m getting into.

      Good luck to you!

      • To add to this for anyone else who has left med school or considering it;

        My counselor made me have a plan in place when taking my leave of absence. I believe that is very important because;

        1) When leaving med school you are prone to feeling regret and depression because you are leaving something that was “bigger than you” even if you hated it. And eventually you will miss being a part of something bigger than you, which is totally natural and part of being human. Therefore, it’s good to enter another program right away or identify another career path to start on so that you aren’t “missing” med school and regretting leaving just because you have no direction in your life now. After all, leading up to med school you’ve been used to having a plan for your life years in advance.

        2) Even if you don’t end up making your plan B your life’s career it will give you direction which is what’s most important now. Pick something and go with it.

        I think the biggest part of the “regret” that people feel when leaving med school is that not “belonging” to something bigger than themselves so if that is you, get on with another career or find something else that brings meaning into your life – and get some counseling, it couldn’t hurt 🙂

        Best luck to everyone . . . this is a very hard decision to make and can be a painful process.

  135. Hello Monica and idroppedout,

    Monica, I’m not in my thirties but almost there 😉 I was lucky when I left, my old job took me back. I have an Master of Public Health degree and work on chronic disease prevention policies in local municipalities. It’s an interesting job that I do enjoy but I can’t imagine sitting in front of a computer for the rest of my life.

    I think that an RN degree is a great way to go! I am actually considering going back to school to be a PA. It’s relatively new in Canada so will have its challenges. Have you ever considered it?

    Monica, how has the last year since you left med school been? I’m coming up on 6 months and doing better but I still think about it everyday. I think idroppedout hit the nail on the head when he said that we were a part of something “bigger than us”. It’s funny because I think it’s really only pre-meds and medical school students/grads that think so highly of medicine. Everyone else just kinda thinks, meh, it’s a job that pays well and takes forever to go to school for.

    Thank you for sharing your experiences with me, it’s so helpful to chat with others that have been there and done that!

  136. To dropped out and confused;

    It’s okay to think about it every day . . . being a med student was ‘who you were’ and now you are sort of re-inventing yourself . . so I think it’s normal to ‘mourn’ if you will this loss/change in identity. In my experience, once you get into med school you are made to feel very important by that ‘system’ which is good because it serves to keep students there. But if you leave, you feel like you’ve lost this ‘sepecialness’ and this loss of identity can be very had to deal with. (plus loss of friends/social network that being in school provides)

    I think getting your PA is a great idea! Someday . . maybe when the kids are older I’d go that way too.

    Best of luck!

  137. Hi,

    I’m so glad to have found this and realise there are so many people feeling like I do!

    For me, medicine was never what I wanted to do; it was my sister’s passion. My dad died when I was 13 and my mum went into overprotective mode and wanted me to have a solid career in case anything happened to her, and pretty much forced me into doing medicine. I went along because I didn’t really have a burning passion for anything else.

    So I got through the first two pre-clinical years of lectures alright. They were tough and I had to resit an exam, but I passed. I then did a BSc for a year (standard practice at my med school) which I enjoyed so much more and got a 2:1.

    The problem came when I started clinicals. I hate clinicals. My school is a very tough, highly-thought of school, one of the best in the country, and I just felt academically outmatched. The main teaching method is through humiliation which I don’t respond well to, but I still struggled on and finished my first of three clinical years.

    Not far into my fourth year, family problems started to emerge and I began to feel really unhappy with med school. It got to the point where I would cry myself to sleep at night and dread having to wake up in the morning to go in for another day of being humiliated in front of everyone else. I started to skip as much as I could to avoid having to feel like that, though the guilt wasn’t much better.

    Eventually, I finished fourth year, but failed one of my modules. I asked my school for a LOA and that’s currently what I’m doing. My school want me to return in April to resit the module I failed last year and then let me go straight on into final year.

    Thing is, the last few months on my LOA have been the happiest of my life. I’m now 100% certain I don’t want to be a doctor. But part of me feels that I should at least try to finish the course since I’ve only got one year left to go. But I dread that year; it’ll be so tough and even the knowledge that I can wave it goodbye at the end may not be enough to get me through.

    I’m trying to get the school to let me return in September rather than April because I just can’t stomach the thought of having to be back. I know I’m just avoiding the issue, but it makes me feel almost physically sick. It doesn’t help that I have almost no support from friends or family in the decision I took to take a LOA.

    Part of me is tempted to just say **** it and drop out now and pursue teaching which I’m pretty sure is what I really want to do now. I have a degree, so I could technically do it. Part of me thinks I should at least try to finish the course, if just because there won’t be three years where I apparently did nothing to have to explain on a CV (the two clinical years plus the LOA).

    Any thoughts or advice anyone? Does anybody have experience of dropping out and explaining those years to potential employers?

    • I wouldn’t worry about explaining dropping out to potential employers, you just have to put a positive spin on it and explain how it’s made you a better and more focused person, etc., etc.,

      I’d say the first thing you should look into is getting some couseling from your med school counselor (I’m assuming there is one?). That will help you sort out our emotions and make a clear, well thought out decision. Clearly you’ve needed this vacation from med school so I think some counseling would help you make the best use of it.

      If you do finish and get your MD, you can still use it to teach, and not necessarily see patients in the clinic. If you do that, you’ll have to find a way to have some balance in the rest of your training (just one year – or do you have residency after that for four years?) so you don’t get even more depressed. I know it’s hard to do nothing but study but finding a hobby that is not at all related to medicine and making time for it might help.

      This is a tough spot in your life and no-one unfortunately can tell you the right thing to do. Talking to a counselor, or other physicians, I think is your best bet for gaining some perspective and will help you get clarity and find some direction.

      I truly wish you good luck.

    • Emma,
      I would go back if I were you. I know you are dreading it, but if the school doesn’t let you go back in the Fall, go back in April. Try sticking it out and possibly taking up a hobby or changing some aspect of your life. If you don’t finish I suspect you might always be wondering what would have happened if you went back. You are almost done and have worked too hard to not just get the degree. Just live up the LOA, and be thankful that your school gave it to you. Now if you are just adamant about not returning, then well I would say it’s your life, and it’s up to you. Sometimes it’s better to follow your heart. But, just because you finish doesn’t mean you have to be a doctor, and in my experience I’ve always felt the hurt of not finishing something I started. It might be easier for you to teach with an MD. Also, I wouldn’t think so far ahead just yet as to how to explain your life to an employer, there as as many different employers as there are jobs and you have to take each situation as it comes. But, you can always say you were taking a break, traveling, seeing the world. You are human after all…and hopefully, so is this future employer. Good Luck;)

    • Hi Emma 🙂 Just curious to find out what you ended up doing? I know it’s been a few years since you posted this and you probably don’t visit this site anymore…I’m in a similar predicament currently.

  138. I have been looking for a site like this for a while now. I feel much better knowing that others have experienced some of the things I did and are doing well. I left med school in my 1st year, taking a leave of absence. Since then I’ve started my MPH. I dealt with a heavy bout of depression during my 1st year that only worsened when I confided in my academic advisor. It’s amazing that those in medicine have no tolerance for individuals with medical illnesses. Luckily, I’m doing well now, but I still have those awkward moments when people ask me about medical school and want to know why I left. After my LOA, I decided not to return. As others have stated, there are more meaningful ways to contribute to the health of the public without giving up your entire existence and neglecting those who you love. I’m working as a Rx Tech now (which is grossly underpaid) but it’s a means to something else for now and I’m much happier. Good luck to all of you.

  139. […] great career choice to consider is teaching. Check out this blog here, of a gal who cease medical school and became a teacher. There are many schools that would be […]

  140. Wow. I’m astonished. I feel as if I’ve been reading about myself over and over again as I explored these posts. I honestly couldn’t believe how many people share my current feelings and especially those who left medical school so late in the process- exactly my current situation.

    I’d like to clear up something that apparently some rather rude and unknowing visitors like to harp on. Everyone doesn’t leave medicine because of grades, exams, “being weak”, or not “being cut out for it”. I’m nearing the end of my M3 year. I have a practically perfect GPA in med school with all As thus far. I aced Step 1 with perhaps the highest score in my class. My clinical evals frequently comment on how great of a doctor I will be…. And guess what… I absolutely hate every minute of clinical medicine and constantly contemplate quitting medical school.

    Don’t get me wrong… I actually somewhat enjoyed 1st and 2nd year. I enjoyed learning. I enjoyed the interesting courses and labs. I felt a cohesiveness with my classmates. Now, I see the day in and day out of the practice of medicine and I dread the thought of doing that for the rest of my life. I started with a true and unshakeable passion for practicing medicine. I worked as a paramedic during undergrad and absolutely loved it. I just knew I wanted to be a doctor. Yet, now I can’t believe that I have put myself in a situation that I would rather have never started.

    I feel like a hypocrite.. I spent years advising pre-med students and representing my school for admissions. I have fed people line after line about why I want to be a physician. And while it was all true at the time, it feels like a lie now. I feel that the process of learning and practicing medicine actually removes the joy from the actual practice of medicine and interacting with patients.

    And I’ve discovered something about myself. I absolutely love teaching. I could easily see myself teaching high school or college. I think the problem is, like many of you, I’m just scared to quit. I don’t want to feel like a quitter, I don’t want to disappoint all the people who have been really supportive of me (I’m from a small town with a modest background). But right now, I feel smothered and powerless. I’m even too scared to bring up the topic with any advisor or administrator at school.

    I definitely respect all of you who have dealt with the issue and made decisions, regardless of the reasons. And while I’m still thoroughly confused and conflicted, I find some solace that I’m not alone.

    I’m considering sticking it out to get the degree, without pursuing a residency. I’m hoping the MD may let me teach at the college level, which I know I would love (as I have enjoyed my TA and teaching experiences). It will be tough, but everyone tells me 4th year is the easiest?

    Does anyone here know how logistical it is for an MD to get teaching positions?

    • I suppose it depends on the college or high school and the state requirements where you live regarding getting a teaching position. You might have to actually go get a teaching certificate, I’m not sure.

      I do know someone from my days in med school who was depressed during med school, and also loved teaching. That person is now an assistant prof. at a medical university. That might be an option for you – use your MD to teach at a med school, still see some patients but it would be limited, and maybe someday just be a full-time professor. Something to think about and explore that might get you thru the next year and residency.

      Since you liked being a paramedic so much, have you thought about going into ER medicine?

      Best wishes and good luck!

    • Wow, this is nearly a year after the fact, but I’d love to know what you decided if you ever read this. I’m in the exact same boat. I was dead set on radiology and had the board scores to get me there. I have LOR’s in the pipe from very influential radiologists in the program. But the horror hit me not to long ago: I fucking hate clinical medicine. Radiology is the most mindless, boring field. When I did research in it I loved it. But after spending 7 months on wards and having to endure hours of discussions about chest x-rays, I hate it. The last straw came today when, in front of 16 people (yes, I counted…and it included the patient’s family) I was asked to interpret a rather complex CXR. Needless to say, I made a complete ass out of myself. And meanwhile the attending took pleasure in grilling me with every detailed question he could think of. Well, why didn’t you comment on the miniscule effusion on the right? What about the slightly blurred cardiac border? Who gives a shit! Following that debacle this morning I realized I hate clinical medicine. And what scares me even more is that I have loathed every other rotation. IM sucked, psych was boring, and OBGYN nearly drove me to shooting myself after a 124 hour work week. FM doesn’t interest me and I DEFINITELY don’t want to do surgery. Most specialties nauseate me.

      So, much like you, I have to scores to do most anything, but I have the drive to do nothing. I just hate clinical medicine. I, too, love teaching. Would love to hear your thoughts and what you decided.

  141. Hello,

    I took an Anatomy class at the local Jr. College and the person teaching was an M.D. He decided that the clinical life was not for him and he’s much happier now.

  142. I am so happy to read this post. As a current med student in the last 4 months of my second year, I’m experiencing a major case of burn out. Med school has a quality of making you feel inadequate, but worse yet, I can’t talk about it, not even to my friends. I recently got the lowest grade on the final, and I can’t tell anyone cause I’m scared that they’d judge me in some way. I know this sounds silly. I’m glad you’re happy and you chose what’s right for you, I’m also happy to know that I’m not alone in feeling upset about the process of medicine. I don’t think I dislike medicine, but it’s hard to see the purpose when I got 30 units a quarter.

  143. It’s amazing how many people are still posting after years from the initial post.

    I, like everyone else, was amazed at how much I could relate to everyone’s comments. I found myself copying and pasting certain comments I wanted to keep as motivation/for coping reasons.

    I wanted to share my story too, in case it would help others much like your stories have helped me.

    I failed 2 classes in my first semester of medical school, one of them by 1 point. I was required to do a study skills class in addition to being tested for learning disabilities. At that point, it was determined that I have ADD in addition to some reading comprehension issues. After taking the second semester off, I repeated my first year. My first repeat semester was successful, although I still only passed with mostly C’s. By my second semester, I began to struggle again. I was just a few points shy of passing, when I decided to withdraw. I basically broke down and decided I couldn’t take it anymore and perhaps I was just one who simply couldn’t cut it.

    I turned out to be a blessing in disguise (which even now is difficult to imagine). I had been planning to get married that summer (although we hired a planner so I wouldn’t have to do much). Three weeks after withdrawing my brother attempted suicide. Just the day before my only living grandparent died. The two instances weren’t related. I was able to spend time with my family that I otherwise would not have been able to.

    Since then, I got married, went on a honeymoon, have applied for various jobs, and have worked off and on.

    I’m considering getting a BSN then maybe looking into becoming a nurse practitioner.

    What I have learned from my medical school experiences is that, like other have said, quitting medical school is in some ways like losing your identity. After spending years trying to even get to the point of acceptance into medical school, only to find out either by force due to grades or from depression while in school that it’s not for you, is like losing everything you thought you would be.

    I’m still learning that this is not true. I am, simply put, who I chose to be, and your career choice is just a small part in who you are overall.

    • @AnotherDropoutHopingtoHelp

      Holy cow, are you from my school? My school had very similar requirements (the skills class, l.d. testing, etc) for people who weren’t successful the first year.

      I ended up dropping out on my third semester, too. I can tell you it’s taken me until about now (2 years later) to finally begin to make peace with that decision. I was relieved when I quit and then I entered a short state of panic where I thought “WHAT DID I DO?!” to then enter a more angry stage where I was just pissed off at the money and time lost as well as the loss of what had been my identity for so long. But the experience left me with some wisdom and I’m back in grad school, and a hundred times happier than I ever was in medical school.

      So, I’m a med school dropout, one of the ones no one will tell you about. I hate the secrecy that people like us encounter in medical school, so I’m glad that so many of us are putting it out there. There is indeed a good life to be had outside of medicine, if that’s what you really want.

      • @Ess

        Haha, i doubt I’m from your school, but I remember wondering that myself as I read through some of the posts.

        It’s been just over two years for me too! I’ve been working off an on and just applied to an accelerated BSN program, so I’m not completely leaving the idea of medicine behind.

        Glad to hear your happy in grad school. It’s is encouraging to hear of a good life after what we’ve been through.

  144. Hey everyone, Ive read most of the posts and I truly feel everyones pain. I have completed my first year of med school and although it was a rough ride that year i got through it with very good grades. However, a good chunk of the time i was really depressed. During my second yr, I had an anxiety attack and ended up in the ER as a result of a few sleepless nights that really got to me so i decided to take a year leave. The year after, the same thing happened but even worse all within the first 2 weeks. And i took another leave. And now, with 4 months left until i return back to school, Im wondering if it is the right decision because of all that has happened. I mean i feel like i like medicine but i cant take the depression, long hours, and lack of social life. And im at a cross roads where i feel like my life is worthless without medicine yet dont want to do it. I wonder what you guys think?

    • your life is certainly not worthless without medicine. at the end of the day it’s just a job people do.
      many people like medicine but are not doctors, i guess that is why shows like ER and Grey’s are so popular. if you can’t imagine your life without it consider careers in the field that aren’t so depressing to you. if you want to keep learning, how else can you utilize what you’ve already acquired? is there something else you like or that you have a talent for that you would prefer to pursue? if you really don’t want to do it don’t. sometimes it’s harder to quit because your family is pressuring you. sometimes it’s hard because you have to mourn the idea of what you were going to become, was it just an idea in your mind not realistic, this is possible. this might be why you get depressed. is there someone in your life, parents for instance, that is measuring you by these standards? do something that makes you happy and allows you to live a healthy life.

  145. I just discovered this blog via google. I am a 32 year-old medical student finishing my second year. I have been drawn to health and healing since I was a teenager and entered med school sure of this decision. The classes have been interesting and I remain with class testing mean, but I cannot stand the mentality. I feel like medical school is training test-taking technicians who will follow algorithms rather than people who connect to others– a huge aspect of healing. I do not want to spend 6 more years so I can have 6 minutes with a patient because I am living under the thumb of insurance companies. So I am strongly considering leaving and finding an alternative. I also want children and do not want residency to jeopardize something that precious. My question to this group is if there is any application of an M.D. without residency. It sounded like academic medicine was a possibility? Any insight would be helpful.

    • I know there are jobs in medical writing but I don’t know how much experience you need to get into the field. I think you can also teach. Besides this cruelly it seems the MD is quite useless without a residency. But getting the degree I’m sure is looked at better than not getting it. Good Luck

  146. I feel trapped. I’m 32. I’m living with my parents and older sister who is about to move away to start a residency. My father is a physician. My older brother, whom I’ve never really gotten along well with, is coming back home after graduating from a school in the Dominican Republic. He has to take the USMLE now, Step I and II, in a row like my sister did, in order to apply for a residency.
    I want to get away from them and have my own independent life, but they are Cuban, so they are very controlling, and they give me money for everything, including my student loan payments. But, I don’t want to go do something I don’t really want to in the short term just to get out of their house. I’d rather leave when I have something decent, a job, a school acceptance.
    I went to one of the big four medical schools in 08′ and I struggled. I decided to withdraw in 09′ before failing out because I didn’t feel like I had it under control. When I left, I was sure medicine wasn’t for me, and I got really into baking. I even took a cake decorating course. I began to search for other careers. People started telling me I should get in the baking business. Well, the baking bug was a phase, which passed quickly. I looked into other areas, but I have found it very difficult to find any kind of good job. The only job I applied to that I was qualified and got an interview was for a physician’s scribe. This is typically done by pre-medical students, it doesn’t pay much, but it was better than nothing. I thought it might be an interesting way to get some real hospital experience to reassess my wanting to be a physician. I’m in the process of trying to get this job.
    Well, I also thought about going back to school. It’s the same, it seems with every program, at every school, you need a deal of planning to enter a new profession, including experience in the field, people who will recommend you, and I have looked into some like nursing and occupational therapy, but none really gives me the impetus to proceed. Then, I found an M.S in Medical Sciences program, which is the one re-applicants do in a year to prepare better for medical school. It’s basically the first two years of medical school. I had the qualifications, and even got two professors from the medical school I withdrew from to recommend me, so I decided to apply. Now, I’m waiting on the notice. I have come back to medicine a year later. But, I don’t know if I have because these are the only opportunities I have been able to find with my current credentials and experience. I think now about going into Psychiatry. I think if I returned to medical school more prepared, I won’t struggle as much. But, I also think if I get a Master’s I’ll be able to teach at the higher level and get a degree to reflect my knowledge. But, I have many doubts, medicine is such a long hard road. Unless one has something else they are really good at, which can pay the bills, like Michael Crichton, who quit after he got his M.D to become the successful writer of ER and Jurassic Park, or one has something else they want to do, I feel like it’s really hard to start completely switch gears. I write poetry but have never been willing to dedicate my life to it, and I have never pursued it as a career. Unless you are independently wealthy or have someone willing to support you, you have to find a way to make some money for yourself or you’ll always be answering to another. The system makes it really hard to just switch over to something new. It would take years to be able to start doing well in another field, but then again if I continue in medicine it would still take me many years to get a good job.

    I don’t think the decision is completely up to us. Sometimes people just fall into things or life just leads them in a certain direction according to the opportunities presented, innate talents they possess, their parents, their circumstance. I hope that we find the right path eventually, if there is one right path, and realize that we are not entirely in control of our lives, so we should just breathe and let go a little and not take our jobs (and job titles) so seriously because although they are important they are not the most important thing, not where we will ultimately find our happiness. I wish you all the best of luck and hope for some luck myself.

  147. i quit. after 3 weeks at another university,i went back. i was on a leave of absence. i have learned much more interesting stuff in the 2nd year. and i just want to say that don’t let all the things get in to your head. i know you are thinking ‘what kind of a doc am i going to be? can i handle people?’ ‘people coming for answers? TO ME?’ just go out and see other stuff and maybe you’ll realize that this fits you. i sometimes get feelings but they pass,i want to enjoy the entire process not get caught up.

    for those struggling with money: if you want it bad enough, come overseas. it’s much more cheap. in my country on the foreign part of the university, we have folks from kenya,dutchland, india, pakistan. i think the tax is. 2000-3000 euros a year. that’s 18000 euroes for the full 6 years. it’s way better than 100k dollars.

    try it. do it.

    PS also i would ask the moderator of this site, to delete my name, so when i search it doesn’t appear, at my posts i mean. i want to forget that period of being lost.

  148. I’m on the precipice of leaving right now. I’m 30yo and freaked out, more because I’m not sure what else to do as an alternative…and I should have this figured out by now…
    I struggled my first year, and had to retake one exam at the end of the term. My second year was horrible and I’m in the middle of repeating my second year. I’m not motivated and been diagnosed as depressed…my academic advisor suggested I take a LOA at the beginning of this year (both of my parents died w/in 3wks of each other at the start of the term) but I was afraid I’d get really depressed (go figure, happened anyway) if I didnt have anything to distract me.
    My concern is, I have a ton of exams coming up, I’m not focused, and I’m mucking thru a repeat as it is…
    I just have no clue what to do…I feel like I cant move forward, I can’t go back, and if I could do it over I would never have even gone thru the headache of walking this path…I havent even bothered speaking to administration because they told me to take a LOA and I didnt…

    I just hate this feeling…my life is filled with estate issues and medical school…and both are going horribly and in turnmake me feel like an all around failure…i’ve been thinking about simply dropping out but not sure what else to do. Like a previous poster my BA is in Literature, so not even remotely related…

    • Consider taking a leave of absence to get your life sorted out. No one would expect you to push through with all that’s happened. You need time to grieve, process and plan. Also, you should see someone for grief/depression. I would certainly be taking medication by now, if that was me. After life feels steady under your feet again then you may feel more like facing medical school.

      • medication is not for everyone. many people feel worse when they take those psychiatric drugs, and I don’t really believe they work, yet I know for some people they do. in this case I think the person obviously has gone through some huge stressors and needs time to recuperate from the losses, a vacation of some kind, to get their strength back. anyone would understand if you were in grief given what you had been through and needed a break.

  149. Hi all,I’m so glad that I am not alone in this.I was literaly forced to come to med school by my mother’s side of the family(my parents are divorced),since everyone else is a doctor.After 3 years of toiling in this 6 year degree programme,I’ve made up my mind its time to pursue what I want n stop being bullied into a career.I have a fiance who I would like to marry and have a family with and I need to figure out what path I want to take on my own.I love helping people but I have never ever had the dream of being any kind of doctor.I want a job that is less stressful n time consuming.I pray that God opens a door for me to do something I adore.Thankyou for sharing everyone 🙂

  150. this is so sad…i didnt think med school and medicine would be so hard 😦

  151. I’d go back if it were free education. I love the academic part of it but not the scut bullshit and bullying that comes with it.

  152. Hey everyone, I’m actually doing my MD in Canada so it seems the school system is a bit different. In any case, I’m currently finishing my 3rd year of my 4year program. I’ve done well so far, average all the time and though the amount of material we’re expected to know is daunting I feel ultimately I’ll do fine.

    However, I’m having a hard time deciding whether I should be a doctor or be a schoolteacher. There are essentially 3 things I’m trying to figure out:

    1. Do I fit in with med people? I don’t feel like I”m that nerdy and the things I enjoy doing are very different from everyone else, even the type of jokes and the things they find “fun” are different from me. And they’re always uber-interested in weird cases in medicine or so ecstatic when they get to scrub in on some special OR case when I’m more like, wow, I feel bad for this patient. So not really sure if I’m a square peg in a round hole. I didn’t think much of it at the time but at the beginning of first year we had a personality test and while 80% of the class fit into a certain Type A group I was part of a 5% group that were considered “outside thinkers” and blatantly at the time they informed us that we might not fit in. How nice, I guess.

    2. Life is hard, a lot of time in the hospital and very little with my fiance and my other passions. How much will this change once I’m staff? Will going through residency kill my soul? My fiance is already having a hard time not seeing me that often and I’m only in 3rd year of medschool! I don’t want residency to kill our relationship because I definitely do not think it’s worth it. But then some people make it through…

    3. Tell me what you think but I feel there is no space for CREATIVITY in medicine, unless you’re in research. I hate research though. There is the art to medicine but in terms of being creative with treatments and approaches I find that it’s very little to none. I feel like my brain goes into some auto-pilot mode at work everyday, I’ll smile and write orders but there’s a large part of my brain that’s not working. The environment feels so stifling, so rigid, everything is pure memory regurgitation and things are expected to be done in a particular order so as not to mess up. Is there anyway around this? Is there a rainbow that I’m missing? Or is this really what medicine is and I’m not a good fit?

    Anyway, please post your ideas/advice/critiques. I don’t care if you’re one of those jackasses that have been responding to other people’s posts. Frankly, there are enough jackasses in medicine that I’ve been exposed to and I’ve managed to grow some thicker skin over the past few years. However, that’s also another reason why I dislike medicine; egotistical self-serving delusionists. Thanks for reading.

    • R-U- HapB- your summary of your concerns almost exactly parallels mine. I am just starting my third year and I have yet to find anything that excites me. Instead I feel like I have entered an automated, rigid world that takes me further and further away from myself (and my family) daily. I even find the “patient-centered” part of it to be robotic and lacking. It almost feels like the corporate world to me. The only reason I am still in it is because I am hoping to find some light at the end of the tunnel– with the tunnel being residency. It is a risk because a) being a practicing attending may ultimately be just as unsatisfying and b) to get there will require pushing against the grain as a non-A type, B type, whatever-type. Most recently, I have been going on “informational interviews” where I talk to physicians with careers that may inspire me. My results have been so-so but I have not left school yet so maybe these conversations have helped somewhat. Until I decide what to do about my career medicine, I find it important to remind myself that it is true that I do not fit in with the profile of medical students but I can relate more to most of our patients than a lot of them. So in the meantime, the field of medicine does benefit from your diversity. Regards, L

  153. Thanks LW. 🙂
    That’s very encouraging to hear and an interesting perspective. I’ll keep your advice in mind. I’ve never heard of “informational sessions”…. so maybe worth looking into. :)+<:

  154. I never realized how stifling and rigid medicine can be until I experience the environment first hand. It’s nothing like in the TV shows. Unless you can get creative and follow a path less traveled in medicine, it seems you are not going to be fulfilled. Maybe your attitude towards it needs to change or maybe you need a change. It’s a decision only you can make. You can always graduate and decide against residency if you don’t want to continue and teach, but like you said it might all get better afterwards. Keep in mind though there may be some jackasses in any career, although I have shared your view on many in the profession, the self-serving, egotistical, deluded, arrogant, know it all types, who think nothing is as good as being a doctor, nothing is perfect. I definitely feel for you. Best of luck in your decision making.

    • Thank you Winter.
      I just wanted to let you know that I am a few steps closer to my decision and once it’s finalized I will post it here.

      This entire medschool dilemma has definitely forced me to really understand who I am and what makes me tick. I am actually quite happy that I am at a crossroads right now because I feel whatever I decide will only help me grow further.


  155. Hi, really helpful post 🙂

    I started medical school last september, but after having a bit of a crisis about the whole thing and becoming quite depressed I took the rest of the year out to have some breathing space… which brings me to now.

    I’m still unsure if I will go back to med school and start again.

    But deep down I think i’d probably enjoy my life more if I was doing something else, and like other readers have commented, i kinda got the feeling i didn’t fit in somehow – not that fitting in in life is crucial at all.

    Anyway reading this has brought me one step closer to making up my mind so thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Stevo,
      I’m hoping I have something that might help you. Like you, I didn’t think the matter of fitting in would be “crucial” and yet I’ve learned now that it can be.

      If you live and work in an environment that works against your natural tendencies, strengths, interests and values then it’ll slowly wear you down and depress you. I sought out a book to really put this to rest and see what other careers might suit my personality better.

      I used the book: “Do What You Are” by Tieger and Barron and it has really really really helped me. It echoed the thoughts I’ve already had and only anchored what I’ve thought all along.

      You may be a skeptic when it comes to this kind of thing, but I found that this was useful and validated in my own life. Perhaps it’ll shed some light onto yours.

  156. First of all, I found this blog by googling “job options for med school dropouts”. I’m seriously considering dropping out. I retook my boards for the third time a few weeks ago, and I’m starting to think that whether I pass or not, I don’t think this is for me. (I’m sure at this point a lot of readers are thinking that I should’ve stopped trying a long time back…) As many others have said, my grades weren’t the best, but I never had to repeat a class. I was somehow able to come out of first and second year alive, even started third year and went through a few rotations. I was quite depressed during my third year, and I think the time has come for me to seek professional help. I have not been able to tell my friends and family that I thought about suicide (or even my doctor when asked- due to the stigma of it all)…because it was too painful for me to wrap my head around that I would have ever thought of such a thing, and because of the pain and hurt it would cause those nearest to me. But I think the fact that I thought about it and never told anyone hurts me so much. Please rest assure that I have no intention of doing anything so drastic, but I had thought about it once. I think even now, writing this out for others to see, is somehow helping me. Reading the experiences of others, which are so similar to mine, is certainly a great comfort to me, and I hope that someone may find solace after reading my experience. Thank you all so much for posting!

    • Praying for you to find comfort in this new leg of your journey. Keep in mind that you are incredibly intelligent to have made it this far and happiness is not too much to expect from an occupation. I hope you find a job that you passionately love!

    • To “NotSureWhatTheFutureHolds:”
      We are in the same pea-pod!!! 🙂

      I am glad that you spoke about your depression. I went through the same situation back in 2nd year and went so far as to plan it meticulously. If it wasn’t for my boyfriend who intervened I would not be here. It is still painful for me to think about it and I still feel shameful that I had ever thought of leaving the people I love behind. But I believe it is good that we both have something left in this world that we want to live for. I hope you receive help when you need it during your low moments and that you’ll continue to speak to others about what it is your emotionally enduring in the future.

      And yes, your story gives me great solace that there are others like me and that it’s not always “foolhardy” to consider leaving medicine even after years of hard work, as I’ve been told now many times now.

      I hope we both find a career that suits us, even if it ends up to be medicine. And I know we’ll both be happier because that’s what we’re striving to find!

  157. It’s a shame that there is a such a stigma and backlash if you decide to quit, especially in families. It’s more so in medicine than in any other career, I think. Maybe it has something to do with taking the hippocratic oath at the white coat ceremony, I really don’t know. I had to move back home with my parents, and I had really hoped I’d be independent by now, but I guess everything happens for a good reason. The worst part of the whole ordeal was having to face my family with the reality. I quit after only three semesters, so I can imagine how hard it is for those quitting after if your family is anything like mine, but they could be worse.
    I was a college writing and literature teacher, mostly adjunct faculty at the two big local colleges and writing tutor and at the same time was getting a M.A in Literature, when I decided to change careers. I dropped everything I had to go into medicine, started pre-med when I was already in my mid twenties, as I had worked for a few years after college, where I got a double B.A in English and Psychology.
    I must admit looking back my decision to go into medicine was not only due to the fact that I didn’t see the best career options with an M.A in Literature unless I wanted to compete for the few full-time professor jobs out there after getting a Ph.D, since I wasn’t interested in high school teaching, and I just felt less and less that I wanted to take the scholar professor road in life.
    But, also at the same time that I felt unsatisfied, my sister after studying art history was working as a secretary at the ER where my dad worked as a physician and she decided to go to a school in the Dominican Republic, without an MCAT or pre-medicine, and her actions influenced my choice to rethink my path. I originally started pre-med with thoughts of going to vet school since I wanted to be one as a little kid, but my experience volunteering at an ER in NY where I took some courses at Columbia’s post-bacc pre-med program, made me choose to apply to medical school.
    I went to Caribbean since I didn’t have a 4.0 and 45 MCAT best and I had heard great things about it from a friend of my sisters that was finishing her rotations in NY, while I happened to be there. I didn’t want to take the chance of not getting accepted in the states so I followed suit and went. Also, a friend of mine from high school I had recently reunited with coincidentally was also in the process of applying to medical school. She didn’t get in and also went Caribbean, so this sort of pushed my choices. Everything went well for these two people. My sister just started a residency.
    Then my brother, who is five years older than me, who never went to a university, he got an A.A at a community college and dropped out of the navy, he had also had a failed online business and had to move back home with my parents too, he decided to go to the same school as my sister in the DR, basically he had to get out of the house as he was just at my parents house doing nothing but watching TV and with his background it was doable, the school doesn’t require a B.A or even pre-med.
    Well, he just graduated and now is moving back home to take the USMLE. It’s a miracle that it went well for him as nothing else seems to have and it’s hard to be happy for him when he has been such an a***** to me throughout my life. It will take like two years for hims to take all USMLE’s and he has to pass with flying colors to even get a residency interview in the states. My sister did she got A’s on the USMLE’s.
    Meanwhile, since I’ve been in the process of trying to piece my life together after I lost it all for the gamble of medicine which at the time really seemed like the right choice, I’ve had to deal with my brother and sister tell me that I’m a loser who has nothing and so on. It’s the thing with people in medical school. I had to break ties with all the people I met at school. It’s like they can’t accept you’d ever not want to do what they do. They can’t even accept it might be understandable for me to not want to be in medicine. Any other person in any other profession I don’t think would be so closed minded about it. They think that medicine is the best thing you’ll never hear them say anything bad about it. It’s so unrealistic. Or they make you feel inferior for not being cut out for it. I’ve had my idiot brother who didn’t even get a BA degree tell me recently that he’s more intelligent than me.
    I’ve had to put up with him berating me he who has had so many failures berate me who was actually successful at something when I decided to quit and change, a decision I have regretted at times. I really hate him and living with him is a war zone, he’s been such a freakin’ abusive jerk to me all my life. He even said once to my mo in front of me that me going to therapy was a waste of money, when I was going to get help to sort things out when I had just left school. He even has an avatar that says his name with an M.D at the end on his facebook ever since he graduated. Trying to overcomensate for something? You think.
    All this as I’ve been in the process of applying to graduate school, talking with my professors, trying to figure it out I had to deal with the negativity of those around me and just plain meaness towards me when I already feel bad about my situation. My parents have their good points, and god bless my father who is like an angel with paying the school debt luckily he’s a physician who still works even though he is already a senior, and won’t be working for much longer.
    Now I’m already 33 but I fancy myself to look more like at 23 year old and I’m in school debt living at home with my parents. I applied to a Master’s in Social Work at my local undergraduate university because I think it’s work I can see myself doing and I had all the pre-requisites necessary, and it will be not too expensive as I’m already in debt. This is a good choice I think if you decide to drop out to work with child welfare or even in hospitals. It’s a job with not as much prestige or salary but I think it’s not as consuming either, which is great for those who imagine they want to have kids.
    I’m waiting on notice to see if I can begin the two year program this Fall. But, I tell you it doesn’t make it any easier having to live with people who are mean at times to the point of abusive, constantly attacking me verbally, threatening, it just makes me not want to live because they just humiliate me all the time. And what I have done to them. They just can’t see the good I have done. There has never been any praise for anything that I’ve done. Being in my parents house now with my constantly criticizing brother moving back to take his boards makes me feel like such a loser, and this is what I was trying to avoid. I’m not interested in doing something, career-wise, to prove I’m smarter than others or because I think I’m smarter than the average person, I don’t want to do something because even because I’m hungry to learn about a particular subject, at this point, I want to study and get a degree in a field where I can see myself doing the jobs available to someone with the degree. This is where I went wrong with both Literature and Medicine. I went there because I liked the material and wanted to learn about it, not necessarily because I wanted to become a professor/scholar or because I could see myself treating patients day in/day out but looking back this is clearer than at the time when I don’t think I looked into it as honestly. I was too influenced by those around me including my family, that has many physicians.
    I know this has been a very long post, but the point is that we all go into medical school various reasons, and when I did I was 100% sure I wanted to go, otherwise I would have never gotten out loans and such, and it didn’t work out, I couldn’t continue to go through it after just three semesters. Why I had to go through all this I will never know.
    I sometimes really miss medical school, even though it was just one year, believe me we had some fun times on that island, although going back is just not something I’d ever have the strength or even desire to do. Maybe there is a higher power and a higher plan that is behind it all because it just seems like too many things led me in this direction. I am a very different person now than the girl who first decided to go to medical school. I’ve been changed in many ways, humbled and maybe gotten to know myself a little better through it.
    But I tell you this has not been an easy path not with the stuff I have to deal with at home, and it seems the hardest part has only just begun. Coming here to this site has been extremely helpful to me. As a place to not only vent, but also feel like I’m not alone on this journey. When I’ve felt really bad about my life since I left school in 2009, reading all of your comments seeing that I’m not the only person that has gone through similar experiences has made me feel better. I’m really thankful to Cindy for it.

  158. Also, for those who need a little encouragement, there is a long list of medical school dropouts that have gone on to become very successful in other fields just do a google search and you will find it you are not in such bad company. It’s okay that you tried for something, you should never be punished for trying with a good idea you had in mind, but if you find it wasn’t for you, then that’s okay there is something else that might just be right. Everyone makes mistakes.

    • Winter, thank you so much for your posts.
      You have moved me to tears. I’m extremely afraid of having to tell everyone I know about my impending decision. People, whom I feel, have emotionally invested more in this degree than I have.

      But knowing what you’re going through I feel I do have the strength to make the right decision.

      I hope your despicable brother gains some humanistic qualities soon, otherwise I feel he will just become a very bitter, shallow old man.

      Props to you!!! I think you are very courageous and I hope you will find where you belong soon. I am actually considering social work, counselling, or high school teaching myself.

      I do not think you are a failure, if anything I think you’re growing and maturing, evolving so much more than anyone else in your family! And I don’t say that just to be comforting but I sincerely believe it’s true. Adversity makes us reflect on who we are at the core. I think you have more dimensions and you are more sure of yourself than either of your siblings at this point. I wish you all the best!!!

      • Thanks R-U-B,
        I’m glad that we are able to see that we are not alone. I feel a strong connection to you, and I hope that I’m able to lend my support to you and vice versa. I’m sure in the end that your family and those around you just want to see you happy and most of all emotionally healthy. Look forward to hearing about your final decision to continue or not and how everyone reacts. Again, I’m glad to be supportive and to have some of the support I’ve found on here. 😉 Best, Winter

      • R-U-HapB, How are things going? Have you finally made a decision to stay with medicine or go in another direction?

      • Hi Winter,
        I was just thinking about replying to you!
        It’s been about a month and currently I am on leave from my medical school. So I currently have one more year to finish if I choose to get my MD.
        Aiiiish…. where to begin. I’ve had many appointments with different people in the past month, my school’s counsellor, a psychiatrist and a health and family psychologist. I am deemed to be mentally well but that doesn’t really solve anything. I have done multiple personality tests, a lot of introspecting, etc., to see if anything will help me make up my mind. At times I am certain that I should be a schoolteacher: my personality type is ENFJ (supposedly made for teaching), I’ve taught before and loved it, I like working with youth, I live for social interaction and I value creativity and diversity in thinking. But then, as soon as I hang out with my med friends or even non-med friends I start doubting myself, sometimes I get angry at my friends for “pressuring” me to stay in medicine. And then sometimes I find myself getting carried away discussing some interesting medical tidbits or patient stories with my med friends and then I get confused again about whether what I’m planning on doing is right.

        I’ve tried doing a lot of mental exercises where I try to imagine what I would do in a clinic as a doc or what I have experienced and it feels like a lot of boring, yawning, and gray with random, few moments of excitement or fulfillment. It’s so hard for me to decide if this impression is accurate.

        The other points I’m battling are how likely will it be for me to find a niche in medicine where it would give me great satisfaction? And for me to think that certain things would give me satisfaction, are those thoughts accurate of me? For example, I feel that I want to help people reach their greatest potential. I have come to learn that that is possibly the specific way that I want to help people. But in medicine everyone is ill and you are simply trying to bring them back to baseline. Is this enough for me? Second point, as much as I enjoy teaching I know that I want to do something greater than myself in my lifetime. Meaning, I want to be remembered when I die. I want to help create big changes in the world. I want to change issues in society and I feel teachers have a lot of capacity in that area. However, realistically how much can I accomplish as a teacher? If I want to do something bigger 10 years down the road, will being a doctor give me more leverage than being a teacher would?

        I apologize for such a long reply but essentially my status currently boils down to this:
        – I want to be a teacher but this feeling dwindles because I am unsure whether I can create big changes as a teacher compared to being a doctor.
        – Also, the thought of having only one year left to attain an MD is very tempting. But the thought of going back without any real dream or goal makes the task so much harder and the days longer.
        – I haven’t told my parents yet. I have only told my close friends and brothers. They are supportive of my ultimate decision but most of them would prefer me finishing my MD at least. I am honestly shit-scared of telling my parents; they have never been supportive of what I wanted nor do they even try to know what I really want.

        So I guess I would say, Winter, that I have figured out more pieces to the puzzle but because of that I’ve also found a lot of holes in the picture. I’m planning to find work while I’m on my leave and hopefully that experience (teaching/tutoring) will provide some direction.

        How are you? My fiance’s uncle is actually a social worker and I love the man! He is very soulful but a definite firecracker. He enjoys his work tremendously and finds it very fulfilling even though it can be daunting at times. If you have any questions you might wanna ask him just shoot em my way, I’ll forward them to him. 🙂

        THanks for reading!!! I’ll keep you and anyone else reading posted on what happens next! :)+<:

    • Thanks winter…I am a med school dropped out too and I thought I was all alone before I found this site. I was doing my internship in 2007 but I dropped out after 6 months. I hated being humiliated in front of the patients by my senior doctors. I hated being treated like a slave, working from 5.30 a.m. till 11 p.m. on my normal working days and working 24 hours a day on my on-call days. I hated medicine so much that I hated myself. I even attempted suicide a few times. I could not endure being bullied by the senior doctors. So, I dropped out and that was the end of me (literally). My family treated me like a heap of stinky rubbish, my friends did not want anything to do with me. I fell into deeper depression and was diagnosed with Major Depression +schizophrenia. I was on medication for months (supposedly), but I did not take the medication because I know I did not need it. What I really needed was to escape from the depressive environment. I found refuge under a Christian mission organization. I went through series of mental and spiritual rehab. I’m unemployed but happier, still struggling sometimes, but coping well. Thanks to my elder brother who is humble and loving enough to take me under his wings. I’m praying that I will be able to go back to school and start over again, even though I am now in my late 20s.

  159. To Cindy Streams and RUHapB,

    Thank you both for your kind and thoughtful words. I’ve been reading through this blog and I wish I had found it earlier. It provides a wonderful support system just knowing others have been facing with the same or similar issues as oneself. I can only hope that we will all find our silver lining and continue on to find what we want in life.
    Best wishes to you all!

  160. I don’t know if you’ve heard this quote: “If you think you’re too small to make a difference, then you … “If you’ve ever been in bed with mosquito”.. The point is you might actually be able to make more of an impact on people’s lives through teaching…..I know you want big, but I think you’ll only get there if you follow your true passion, like Oprah would say, and I know you’re trying to figure that out like many of us.

    But, I know that my teachers have made a much greater impact on my life than any doc I’ve ever been to, but then again, I’ve never been through any huge health crisis….I would say to just do something you enjoy…..

    But, if you can bear to finish the MD, maybe it would be better as you can use this degree to teach at the higher level. You just have to be honest with yourself as to what you can truly imagine yourself doing.
    I for one, didn’t want to do anything else with medicine but then again I was only in medical school for three semesters. I had reached a point that studying medicine or talking about it or doing anything related to it was very boring for e, not pleasurable at all, not interesting to me, difficult to get through just half an hour of studying the material, so I knew it was time to find something else.

    I’m looking forward to starting the Master’s in Social Work, and I’m thinking of going into the area of working at a school, whether high school or preferably higher ed, in the counseling area, and possibly also working in private practice as many social workers do now. One of the things that attracted me to social work was the variety of job opportunities available.

    My undergrad was a double B.A in English/Psychology before I did a post-bacc pre-med, and I had thought of being a therapist during my undergrad years. I don’t know exactly where this road will take me, but I know I’ll be studying subjects that are more interesting to me, more engaging to me, that I believe I will enjoy and with more pleasure and interest study for hours, not at all as I felt with medicine at the end. I think this is something that is comes more natural to me. I think it’s important to find something that is more natural to you. Some are more drawn to the sciences others to the arts…You shouldn’t try to be something you are not because nature will have it’s way and sometimes the symptom of this is depression.

    Just don’t think about it too much but I don’t think medicine is it for you otherwise you wouldn’t be questioning it so much. I think you should teach during this time and then if you like it stick to it. Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks, just be yourself, and you are going to be fine;

    • Thanks Winter.
      I forgot about that mosquito quote. hehehee:)

      I completely agree with you about not trying to go against your own nature; it’s true, a lot of people finally express this internal dissonance through depression. I definitely will not do something I don’t want to do, it’s just hard trying to learn what I really enjoy. For you, it seems you’re quite certain that you enjoy the arts more than the sciences. For me, I’m quite split down the middle. I enjoy the sciences, but not all of it and I enjoyed all my nonscience courses in undergrad more than the core ones. These consisted of history, english, anthro, arky, just to name a few. So it makes it confusing if I try to think too much about it.

      But the one thing I do know is that I’m genuinely interested in people, the way they think and behave and their stories.

      But you and my fiance are both right. I will just keep going and I know things will unveil themselves in the end. Thank you so much for your tremendous support through all this. I am so excited for you as well!!! I know you will enjoy your Master’s. 🙂

  161. You are very brave to share your story Cindy! It’s wonderful to know that we are not alone. Medicine is not the be-all or end-all. It takes a while to get out of that sort of thinking. There is far more to a person than their career, and you are not a failure or weak for dropping out. The most important thing in life is to do what you love – most of us can take this advice!

    I dropped out of med school 2 years ago and it’s the best decision I ever made. After anxiety, depression, and a sociopathic roommate (who was also in my class!) all took a toll, I had failed my first year and decided to took a leave of absence.

    It’s unfortunate that mental health issues (esp depression) is a huge stigma in med school, particularly when it is so prevalent among students. Nobody dares to open up, perpetuating this environment of denial. What most appalling and sad was that I was ostracized, literally treated as an outcast by members of the administration as well as by some of my classmates (those who claimed to have been my ‘friend’). I severed ties with all of them. It left a very bitter taste in my mouth.

    Anyway It was clear as day that I had to get out! I opened my mind to new possibilities. This year I’ve started a Masters in Social Work and looking forward to a career in counseling, mental health and social justice. What was crucial for my healing was the support of my parents, boyfriend, close friends and my deepened spirituality. I’ve been through some of the highest highs and the deepest lows all before the age of 30, so if anything, these experiences are allowing me to grow more resilient. Hope this helps someone 🙂

    • Thanks Apsara,
      I’ve also started a MSW program this year after dropping out two years ago. I have my moments when I feel like I ruined my life because of the debt, thinking I could have spent all that money on something else, like going to a better graduate school, especially since many social work jobs don’t pay nearly as much. But, I have to keep the faith, the school I go to is pretty good, and coming to this site helps; you’re post definitely made me feel a little better;) Thanks.

  162. there’s no shame in leaving med school if you are not happy-after you are constantly reading robbins path and seeing all of the things from which you can die, a realization develops and truly one sees that life is so short. anyone can get cancer…thank you for your frank candidness in sharing your journey.

    my current situation is that i failed step 1 by a point this past june. school won’t let me stay in hospital and i have to retake test (even did a regrade but to no avail). i am thinking more and more that the 187 was a sign for me to reevaluate if i really really really want to do this. if i retake test, it’ll be in late november. haven’t yet paid for it again. if i continued in medicine, i would aim to get an IM residency with the hopes of following in ID. the problem is that i am severely depressed and having to restudy for this exam. i’m on wellbutrin and it does help; i just have to question if this is what i want forever. for the longest time, i’ve done everything mom told me to do-go to med school abroad, for example, where i have been greatly unhappy due to the shady academics, crappy admin, etc. now it’s time to think about me!

  163. jen… i am in the same boat. 3 points from passing :(.. I attend a pretty competitive US school and they’re not used to their students failing so i felt even worse when i had to sit there in front of all the big deans to justify myself. *SIGH i think a part of it was because my heart’s not there anymore. I’ve lost the determination to follow through. I went ahead and paid the $535 (upset at myself for not getting it right the 1st time and upset at the whole system in general… i just feel so ripped off). I’m not dissing medicine as a profession, there are a lot of admirable doctors and people i’ve met along the way who are just amazing at what they do (part of the reason why i’ve lasted for so long) i just keep thinking.. if they can do it, i guess i can to, or ‘it’s probably not that bad, and there’ll be that light waiting for me in the end of the tunnel… but is there really? I’m a 3rd year now, and I have to resit for step 1… going to take some time off for that, time off to reconsider what i’m doing to my life. i’ve been feeling really depressed and i don’t know if dropping out will make things worse or better for me…. help!

    • I understand you’ve been feeling depressed because you didn’t pass the exam and experienced some embarrassment at school. I emphasize with your situation. It seems there might be a chance you still want to give it another try if your school supports you, and you’re up for it, resisting might be an option. If you feel like you can’t and don’t want to go through it again, then another option might be considering other career options. You’ll know what to do by the way you feel;) I’m sorry about what you’re going through; you’re definitely not the only one that has struggled with these decisions. Best of luck to you.

    • You’ve come this far and there really is a light at the end! Stick it out. You can do this!

  164. What are the dropout rates like in Medical School compared to nursing school from what I’ve read its 11-14% for Medical School but it seems like 50-66% for Nursing School. Is Medical School a better choice, is the environment more supportive!

    • No, it’s because nursing school is so easy (relatively) to get into. Nursing school you can enter as a 18 year old, med school requires a bachelor’s degree so once you get there, you’re less likely to drop out vs. a nursing student who didn’t give much thought into going to nursing school.

    • I believe people feel more invested once they’ve entered medical school. The stakes are higher; you can achieve higher pay, you got accepted into a difficult field, it’s prestigious, etc., all of that stuff. Hence you’re less likely to leave even if it’s horrible; primarily fear of debt, and stigma from colleagues and family.

  165. Recently, both my sons are diagnosed of having LD, and my parents are having marital problems. I’m a single mother and the emotional burden was too much. I was a good student but because of so many problems, I lose my focus and failed an semstral subject twice., But the sad thing is, the teacher or department or anybody in authority didn’t notified me, gave me no warning and didn’t advise me on what to do. I got kicked out. They told me to focus on ,my children because they might have foreseen that I couldn’t make it in the coming years and still fail because of all the responsibilities I have. I’m on my third year. My parents didn’t know it yet coz’ they are on a very depressive state with all the problems piling up. I really don’t know what to. I wanted to try and gave it one last time before giving up but no schools accepts debarred students. I’m so angry that a classmate last sem was supposed to be kicked out because he failed 2 major subjects and 2 minor ones but because the associate dean told him he passed and was later found out he didn’t they let it go and just told him to retake it and they will just put dropped in his final grade while I, only failed a minor subject twice with no assessment and no warning. I passed mostly all my exams after the midterms except for 3 topics and since no warning was given I thought I had pulled my l;ow grades. They always notified us by suprise like during enrollment. My case could have been prevented if they had assessed us and advised us but I felt like they neglected us. Do i need to make an appeal? I am not talking about just our future, but It’s like they killed a big part of my life, left me crippled and couldn’t stand up again. For me, the title is a big bonus and the respect that comes after it but to me the greatest reward is becoming a doctor, serving my patients with compassion and gained their respect thru that. I know my capabilities and skills, it’s just that I stumbled during my bumpy and rough journey in med school. Lucky are those who have a very smooth journey.I believe that life has it’s ups and down and I’m on my down lately. Policy? they had bended it especially to those who have relatives, parents, etc that are doctors. I salute my premed dean, she once said if others school wouldn’t accept a student during the times wherein a student fail or fell down because of policy, she would! damn those policy! because she believed that as a dean, mother, teacher, colleague, it is where she must help a student get up from falling down and have a better future,. It should be the school who must assist, help and guide a student to stand up after each fall. What would happen to a student who fell and fail in life if no school would accept him/her? no future!! so, any advise? Should I make an appeal or just give up though I know it is my calling and become a full-time mom, find a job..???My father will be so heartbroken, after all, it’s his dream. I admit, I was forced into it during my first year, then I fell in-love with medicine but due to some unexpected events, I failed.

  166. Recently, both my sons are diagnosed of having LD, and my parents are having marital problems. I’m a single mother and the emotional burden was too much. I was a good student but because of so many problems, I lose my focus and failed an semstral subject twice., But the sad thing is, the teacher or department or anybody in authority didn’t notified me, gave me no warning and didn’t advise me on what to do. I got kicked out. They told me to focus on ,my children because they might have foreseen that I couldn’t make it in the coming years and still fail because of all the responsibilities I have. I’m on my third year. My parents didn’t know it yet coz’ they are on a very depressive state with all the problems piling up. I really don’t know what to. I wanted to try and gave it one last time before giving up but no schools accepts debarred students. I’m so angry that a classmate last sem was supposed to be kicked out because he failed 2 major subjects and 2 minor ones but because the associate dean told him he passed and was later found out he didn’t they let it go and just told him to retake it and they will just put dropped in his final grade while I, only failed a minor subject twice with no assessment and no warning. I passed mostly all my exams after the midterms except for 3 topics and since no warning was given I thought I had pulled my low grades. They always notified us by suprise like during enrollment. My case could have been prevented if they had assessed us and advised us but I felt like they neglected us. I am not talking about just our future, but It’s like they killed a big part of my life, left me crippled and couldn’t stand up again. For me, the title is a big bonus and the respect that comes after it but to me the greatest reward is becoming a doctor, serving my patients with compassion and gained their respect thru that. I know my capabilities and skills, it’s just that I stumbled during my bumpy and rough journey in med school. Lucky are those who have a very smooth journey.I believe that life has it’s ups and down and I’m on my down lately. Policy? they had bended it especially to those who have relatives, parents, etc that are doctors. I salute my premed dean, she once said if others school wouldn’t accept a student during the times wherein a student fail or fell down because of policy, she would! damn those policy! because she believed that as a dean, mother, teacher, colleague, it is where she must help a student get up from falling down and have a better future,. It should be the school who must assist, help and guide a student to stand up after each fall. What would happen to a student who fell and fail in life if no school would accept him/her? no future!! so, any advise? Should I make an appeal or just give up though I know it is my calling and become a full-time mom, find a job..???My father will be so heartbroken, after all, it’s his dream. I admit, I was forced into it during my first year, then I fell in-love with medicine but due to some unexpected events, I failed.

  167. Recently, both my sons are diagnosed of having LD, and my parents are having marital problems. I’m a single mother and the emotional burden was too much. I was a good student but because of so many problems, I lose my focus and failed an semstral subject twice., But the sad thing is, the teacher or department or anybody in authority didn’t notified me, gave me no warning and didn’t advise me on what to do. I got kicked out. They told me to focus on ,my children because they might have foreseen that I couldn’t make it in the coming years and still fail because of all the responsibilities I have. I’m on my third year. My parents didn’t know it yet coz’ they are on a very depressive state with all the problems piling up. I really don’t know what to. I wanted to try and gave it one last time before giving up but no schools accepts debarred students. I’m so angry that a classmate last sem was supposed to be kicked out because he failed 2 major subjects and 2 minor ones but because the associate dean told him he passed and was later found out he didn’t they let it go and just told him to retake it and they will just put dropped in his final grade while I, only failed a minor subject twice with no assessment and no warning. I passed mostly all my exams after the midterms except for 3 topics and since no warning was given I thought I had pulled my low grades. They always notified us by suprise like during enrollment. My case could have been prevented if they had assessed us and advised us but I felt like they neglected us. I am not talking about just our future, but It’s like they killed a big part of my life, left me crippled and couldn’t stand up again. For me, the title is a big bonus and the respect that comes after it but to me the greatest reward is becoming a doctor, serving my patients with compassion and gained their respect thru that. I know my capabilities and skills, it’s just that I stumbled during my bumpy and rough journey in med school. Lucky are those who have a very smooth journey.I believe that life has it’s ups and down and I’m on my down lately. Policy? they had bended it especially to those who have relatives, parents, etc that are doctors. I salute my premed dean, she once said if others school wouldn’t accept a student during the times wherein a student fail or fell down because of policy, she would! damn those policy! because she believed that as a dean, mother, teacher, colleague, it is where she must help a student get up from falling down and have a better future,. What would happen to a student who fell and fail in life if no school would accept him/her? no future!! so, any advise? Should I make an appeal or just give up though I know it is my calling and become a full-time mom, find a job..???My father will be so heartbroken, after all, it’s his dream. I admit, I was forced into it during my first year, then I fell in-love with medicine but due to some unexpected events, I failed.

  168. Recently, both my sons are diagnosed of having LD, and my parents are having marital problems. I’m a single mother and the emotional burden was too much. I was a good student but because of so many problems, I lose my focus and failed an semstral subject twice., But the sad thing is, the teacher or department or anybody in authority didn’t notified me, gave me no warning and didn’t advise me on what to do. I got kicked out. They told me to focus on ,my children because they might have foreseen that I couldn’t make it in the coming years and still fail because of all the responsibilities I have. I’m on my third year. My parents didn’t know it yet coz’ they are on a very depressive state with all the problems piling up. I really don’t know what to. I wanted to try and gave it one last time before giving up but no schools accepts debarred students. I’m so angry that a classmate last sem was supposed to be kicked out because he failed 2 major subjects and 2 minor ones but because the associate dean told him he passed and was later found out he didn’t they let it go and just told him to retake it and they will just put dropped in his final grade while I, only failed a minor subject twice with no assessment and no warning. I passed mostly all my exams after the midterms except for 3 topics and since no warning was given I thought I had pulled my low grades. They always notified us by suprise like during enrollment. My case could have been prevented if they had assessed us and advised us but I felt like they neglected us. I am not talking about just our future, but It’s like they killed a big part of my life, left me crippled and couldn’t stand up again. For me, the title is a big bonus and the respect that comes after it but to me the greatest reward is becoming a doctor, serving my patients with compassion and gained their respect thru that. I know my capabilities and skills, it’s just that I stumbled during my bumpy and rough journey in med school. Lucky are those who have a very smooth journey.I believe that life has it’s ups and down and I’m on my down lately. Policy? they had bended it especially to those who have relatives, parents, etc that are doctors. I salute my premed dean, she once said if others school wouldn’t accept a student during the times wherein a student fail or fell down because of policy, she would! damn those policy! because she believed that as a dean, mother, teacher, colleague, it is where she must help a student get up from falling down and have a better future,. so, any advise? Should I make an appeal or just give up though I know it is my calling and become a full-time mom, find a job..???My father will be so heartbroken, after all, it’s his dream. I admit, I was forced into it during my first year, then I fell in-love with medicine but due to some unexpected events, I failed.

  169. I’m sorry for the multiple posts. The.Windows kept on not responding..

  170. As I write this I’m in tears because I don’t know what to do from my current situation. I failed my step 1 exam, I just got the results today infact. I’m trying to cope, figuring out how to revise the previous stuff. But I have no interest or any clue as to what the future holds. I had a passion to pursue derm, I was so confident in myself before the exam and felt like I had done well right after. But today was just the worst day of my life. I broke down and told my husband and then my mom later on. They both understood but I’ve yet to tell my dad, he’s so filled with hopes of seeing me as a doctor and I know this will hurt him.
    I don’t know what I want to do at this point, I don’t know how to get past this. This was my biggest fear come to life. I can’t stop crying and looking at the books and even the thought of opening them all over again makes me queasy and my head hurt.

    I just don’t know how to cope with this.

  171. Magnificent points altogether, you simply won a brand new reader. What could you suggest about your post that you just made some days in the past? Any positive?

  172. Found this on medicalinsurance.org. I was browsing for blogs by medical students.

    This is admirable. I’ve just started medical school and it’s nice to hear from someone who left med school to find his way. So far, so good for me. Let’s see if I can put up with all these stress-inducing things I hear doctors and upper med students talk about.

    As cliched as it sounds, let me say, I hope we all find our roads to happiness.

    • Don’t think about this blog and dropping out. You need to love what you do and never look back. I don’t want anyone to repeat my mistakes.

      • Certainly, I don’t plan on doing that. I just admire the decisiveness.

        Med school makes me happy, and in the off chance that I quit, I won’t be blaming this blog. 🙂

  173. I left medical school and am very happy with my decision. Here’s my account of things –

  174. I’m now not certain the place you are getting your info, however good topic. I needs to spend some time studying much more or understanding more. Thank you for wonderful information I used to be searching for this info for my mission.

  175. Here is my story, I had a harder time than you:

  176. hello there and thank you for your info ? I’ve definitely picked up something new from proper here. I did alternatively experience a few technical issues the usage of this website, since I experienced to reload the website a lot of instances previous to I could get it to load properly. I were thinking about in case your hosting is OK? Now not that I am complaining, however sluggish loading cases times will sometimes affect your placement in google and can injury your high-quality ranking if ads and marketing with Adwords. Well I am adding this RSS to my email and can glance out for a lot more of your respective fascinating content. Ensure that you replace this again soon..

  177. I don’t know if anyone will ever read this, but I’m an MS3 at a US med school, finally half-way through my third year. I came to medical school for two reasons: it seemed like the safest bet at the time, and my father was a physician. I had a taste of what that lifestyle was like…he worked a lot, no doubt, but we went on wonderful vacations and had many luxuries in life…I now realize just how unbelievably fortunate my life was as I grew up. But my father passed away before I started college, and so I felt like I should follow in his footsteps. After all, I loved science and the shadowing I had done was really enjoyable.

    What’s interesting is my father was always encouraging me to pursue anything except medicine. I was a teenager when he was getting sick, so I don’t think I got the message he was trying to give me. When he was dying, I now, in retrospect, realize that he never cried because he feared death. He cried in those last few months because he realized how much of his life was wasted in medicine. I recall very clearly a conversation he had with me a few weeks before he passed away in which he told me, through tears, “I wish I had had more time…it’s going to be so hard for all of you. I’m so sorry I wasn’t there more”. But alas, I was a hardened teenager; I wasn’t able to comprehend what all of that meant.

    So, I foolishly went into medicine any way. First year was okay…I tend to get things “easily”, so I did well. But second semester my grades steadily dropped as I lost motivation. Things were simply uninteresting. I finished the year strong and the break over that summer was just what I needed. I started second year strong, but about 10 weeks in I slipped into an enormous depression. I hated all of medicine. Grades plummeted and for the first time I scored near the bottom of the class on 2 consecutive exams. Over that Christmas I did some serious soul searching and by some miraculous feat found the motivation to do very well my second semester of MS2 year. Went through the hellish routine of Step 1, but did well on that.

    Now I was starting MS3 year. I was so excited. I loved the first few weeks. The thrill of managing a patient and the pride that came with correct management decisions! I networked with anesthesiologists and radiologists at my institution. I was doing research. I got involved. My board scores were good enough to get me into a radiology residency or anesthesia. It was a high. But as with any high, it quickly wore off. As internal medicine wore on, I grew to fucking hate it. I quickly realized that I enjoyed theory, I was fond of the concept of medicine. And I clearly remember the day it happened…around 10am outside a patient’s room. The famous hallway where a one hour discussion of hyponatremia ensued. Its causes. Its complications. Its treatment. And all the questions were directed at me. I was without answers…I knew nothing. Though, truthfully, you get used to being short of words your third year. What really struck me was the following thought that kept entering my head: I don’t give a flying fuck about the minutia of hyponatremia. And slowly but surely I realized that much of the minutia in clinical medicine was repulsive to me. Hour long discussions about heparin therapy guidelines…hallway lectures about the management of a-fib in one of a hundred scenarios…fourty minute pimp sessions about a CT scan and what one little fucking hypodensity could or couldn’t mean. Yeah…the high had definitely worn off. I just didn’t care!! I don’t know why, either. But all the details were beyond me. And meanwhile, I’m surrounded by classmates just eating it all up. Kissing the attendings’ asses and acting like all of these details are just the most astronomically interesting things in the world.

    So here I am. Drifting through the rest of my third year. And don’t be mistaken…I get outstanding evaluations from my residents/attendings. I work very hard. But my exam scores from each clerkship are always below average. Invariably I am studying the week of the test because I’m so busy working 100 hours a week that I just don’t care if I fail the objective exam. So, while I was in the top third of my class the first two years, I am now in the bottom half during my third year. I feel hopeless and I feel like there’s nothing in medicine for me. I just don’t find the details interesting enough to pursue any one field. Radiology? That dreams died a while ago when I realized I’d go mad arguing to significance of one pixel vs another. Anesthesia? I loved physiology, but let’s talk straight…MD anesthesia is becoming more of a glorified supervisory role. The MD’s are quitting like wild fire at my institution as CRNA’s take over. No thanks. The only field where I was truly happy every day I went to work was Psychiatry. Yeah, the one field that gets absolutely no respect from anyone. The field that my internal medicine attending described as “Not real medicine…more like a glorified pill-pushing PhD”. I’ve thought about dropping out and pursuing a business/consulting position, but I’m 160k in debt. Plus, I’ve tasted the lifestyle that medicine affords. The job security alone is worth the effort to at least finish.

    I’m sorry for the rant. I have so much pent up anger, frustration and sadness. My marriage is laughable right now since I’m gone from 5am until 7pm most days. Things suck. Medicine is full of false promises and I URGE anyone considering the field to SERIOUSLY consider other avenues before deciding on medicine. Medicine is full of malignant personalities and will guarantee you the worst lifestyle imaginable for the better part of 8+ years. I am so afraid that 2-3 years from now in residency I’ll look back and think “I wish I had quit”. Even if your parents are doctors and you feel an overwhelming “obligation” to have that special MD after your name, too, my advice would be to tell your parents to fuck off. I wish I had been mature enough at 17 to understand why my dad spent his last nights on this earth crying. Only as I traversed the hell hole of medical school did I finally realize what he tried to warn me of.

    That’s all for now. I could go on for hours, so I’ll be surprised if anyone reads this whole thing. Med school sucks, period.

    • Hello MedSchoolSucks,

      That was a very thoughtful post. Have you thought about being a Hospitalist? I do know of one who’s life is going well and she has time for a good solid marriage, a horse (no less) and time with her extended family. She seems happy and loving her work. Psychiatry doesn’t sound so bad and when you with your peers and helping patients, you will get the satisfaction. Think of those times when your working with patients and working with peers who may have something enlightening to say to help you feel less like the ‘bastard child of medicine’. Cardiothoracic surgery was the thing to be if you wanted to feed your ego every day but now interventionalists are taking over and CT residents are having trouble finding work. It all shifts around like that.

      It’s hard not to think about being ‘less than’ when you’ve got a bunch of egotistical people around but you’ll rise above.

      I hope this helps.


    • MedSchoolSucks,

      I am sure a bunch of people have read your post and found it very heartfelt, honest, and admirable. I know I did. I am sorry to hear about your father. I too lost my mother while I was in college. She too was a physician and, like your father, seemed to be a bit disillusioned with the whole career of medicine. She was a very simple, straightforward, and easygoing person, and I believe that these qualities somewhat clashed with the actual state of the medical profession as a whole. I believe most people, while they may not want to admit it, actually enter the field of medicine to satisfy the expectations of their parents or maybe even to prove to themselves that they can accomplish the highly touted intellectual feat of receiving an MD degree. But anyway, back to the topic of my mother and my struggle with the idea of pursuing a career in medicine. For the majority of my college career and beyond, I was confused as to whether or not I should become a doctor. After a lot of soul searching, I realized that it truly was not for me. I am almost positive that med school would have probably ruined me–my personality, my outlook on life, my whole demeanor. While I never actually applied to med school, I had the perfect resume for admission (excellent pre-med grades, GPA, extracurriculars, research experience, volunteering, etc etc), but I never actually pushed myself to apply, for some strange reason. I dont even know why I had completed the pre-med courses in the first place, since I was having strong reservations about going into medical school. In the end, I think your father was absolutely correct. Life is too short to surround yourself with misery (arrogant peers and instructors, depressing hospital environment, inhuman amount of studying and work hours, etc). I always had this burning desire to use my creativity and artistic ability to do something exciting and perhaps innovative. I always dream of owning my own business. Another part of me is hooked on the notion of attaining a professional degree, which is why I am considering a career in clinical psychology (PhD program), since I majored in Psychology as an undergrad, and I am very fascinated with the human behavior and neuroscience as well as therapy and assessment. I guess I’ll just wait and see how things pan out. I just would like to let you know that I found your post to be somewhat therapeutic in and of itself. I can relate to your loss, and the idea of following in my mother’s footsteps. She was a great, compassionate, and caring doctor. I really admired her. Unfortunately, I think she was fed up with all the BS that comes with having the title MD. In her final years, she actually quit her practice and decided to spend more time taking care of the family. I grew much closer to her and she would visit me quite often in college. Its a tragedy that her life was taken from her so sudden and so soon. But, I have to tell you, losing her was a real eye opener. We all just have to live one day at a time and make the best of each day we have on this earth. Life is far too short to engage in such a long, strenuous commitment like med school/residency if you are not %100 committed to becoming a physician. Furthermore, I have a wife and a newborn, and I would imagine that a commitment like med school would leave me with very little time to spend with my beloved family. Anyway, great post! I hope everything works out for you. Good luck in all your future endeavors, my friend.

  178. I am a 3rd year med student and just started my clerkship. The problems that I am facing are the following.
    1. Sense of incompetence. I always feel like I am not good enough. I want to do well but seem unable to. I feel like my grades aren’t good enough and that I will not be able to specialize in what I want to do.

    2.I feel like I have no interest in a lot of the stuff I am learning and cannot wait to finish the day. The only two specialties I find interesting are psychiatry and neurology. i feel like all the other things I am seing are so bloody useless!!!! I just would like to do those two things so why go through ob/gyn and all those other horrible things and feel shitty all the time??????????????? The days are fucking exhausting, the people (mostly colleagues) are so bitchy (men included) and I feel like I don’t really learn anything.

    3. I do not identify with anyone!!!! I feel like such an outsider!! Nobody seems to have the personality that I have. I cannot seem to find any friends.

    Anyways, I dont feel like Im ready for zoloft or dropping out quite yet but Im ready to make changes! Has anybody felt the way I feel and learnt to deal with the shitty feeelings? I wish they would go away!!! I hate feeling lousy. Whats the solution? Do I have to drop out? At the moment I am constantly reminding myself of what a psychiatrist told me about her experience as a med student. She told me “ITS FUCKING HORRIBLE, but get thru it and once you get your degree, things get GREAT”. Also what helps me is the thought of finishing, getting my degree and either specializing in something like psychiatry whish is CHILL compared to other specialities or if that doesn’t work move to some other country and specialize there. That way theres always something to look forward to!

    Miss Optimistic

    • Miss Optimistic,
      I can completely relate to your experiences and in many ways have the same problems. I hate my entire class and everyone is such a gunner. I feel like a ghost most days and barely alive. I used to be such a vibrant person and now I’m just a shell of a person. It’s sad! If you ever want to chat, let me know. I occasionally check back to this blog, so let me know.

  179. Hi,

    I left med school during my 2nd year. Like many of you, I just couldn’t handle it. I was burnt out, depressed, and just realized it is not for me. I’m applying to go back to school in September to become a midwife. Interviews are coming up and i’m really scared. I know they will ask me why I dropped out of school and I don’t think telling them I couldn’t handle it, or that I was depressed will help me get in.

    • Well, you’ve got to put a positive spin on it. Tell them something like you wanted more hands-on patient contact and more opportunity to provide care for your patients, one-on-one. And you realized being a doctor wouldn’t allow as much for that personal connection with patients that you find fulfilling – something like that. I think they’ll understand and have probably seen it before.

  180. About an hour ago I took one years leave of abscence from medical school in the UK. I feel a sense of relief but i’m also SCARED at the same time. So many of the posts on here ring true for me and reading them has been a great sense of comfort. I am a mature student who has worked really hard over my 18 months preclinical studies but then starting clinical work on the wards I became overwhelmed by anxiety. I found I couldn’t stand most of the consultants and their bullying, arrogant attitudes and I looked at the junior doctors and saw how medicine had taken over their lives and I found my self becoming more anxious and depressed and I began to detest medicine. As I start my leave of abscence today I now need to consider what to do with my life. I find I am drawn to the mental health field and I am considering trying to do some research in this field and at the same time trying to qualify as a counsellor, I must admit I am scared about the uncertainty of it all at the moment though….

    • I think if you can apply your ability to work hard and take on challenges with your compassion and intrest in people you will succeed at whatever you choose.

  181. The irony of hind-sight …
    I regret attending medical school, I regret not quitting after the first year when my gut told me I should, and, finally, I most regret quitting after my third year when I was so close to finishing.
    I went to an excellent university for my undergrad education where I also garnered a decent art following. I was accepted into medical school right out of college. Everything seemed like it was going according to plan.
    Then I went to medical school …
    My social life went to shambles. The long distance relationship I naively thought would work crumbled after only 2 months of my being away even though the relationship was built on a 4 year foundation.
    At this point I became indescribably depressed. Having never been depressed before, I had no idea. I meandered about until my school offered me a split semester opportunity in hopes that I wouldn’t fail out. Ultimately, the split semester lightened the load enough that I was able to keep up with the work load.
    When the split semester ended the following year, I was slung into MS-2 not knowing just how difficult digesting that amount of information in one year was. I was never one to memorize, and the split semester offered me the luxury of being able to learn the material. To be honest, most of what I learned during my two years of MS-1 I still remember 3 years later, but I honestly remember nothing of MS-2.
    During MS-2 I also met my current girlfriend. She is smart and beautiful … and because of it she didn’t understand that I couldn’t handle the volume. She would tell me I was making excusing or that I flat out wasn’t trying, when in reality I was never a good memorizer. Her disappointment in me coupled with my mother’s disappointment further coupled by my own sense of failure lead me to drop out just before taking Step 1.
    After quitting I felt a huge weight was lifted off of my shoulders. I thought I knew that I made the right decision. Then two years of inconsistent work as a teacher/tutor, and the workforce showing me how worthless my partial medical education is along with my girlfriends continued disappointment in me and my family basically nixing me from their lives has made me quite depressed again.
    I feel so lost. After reading this blog I realize just how hopeless my situation is. I have an insane amount of debt that I can’t pay down because I can’t get a good job. I find myself wishing I would have stayed in medical school and toughed it out.
    My only hope is that my girlfriend keeps rooting for me while quietly being disappointed in me … lord knows, she is the only one that is trying to be positive.
    …and I don’t know how many more times I can wake up hating myself. The last two years out of medical school have felt like an eternity.
    My advice, once your are in, decide if you are staying after one year. Once that one year mark passes, it is in your best academic and financial interest to stay.
    Hopefully someone reads this and learns from my three greatest mistakes. I strung together 22 years of good decisions only to let 3 bad decisions be my undoing.
    If anyone can offer some advice, that would be great.
    Good luck to everyone on here. Be strong.

    • Dear S,

      I am in my 40’s and now know that leaving medical school was a good choice for you. I could not handle the load in my 20’s and tried to get a job and go to school right now at the University of Chicago and had to drop out because I literally cannot handle the stress. I kept telling myself that I’m lazy and a cop out and trying to take advantage of everyone but I almost had a psychotic break and that is not saying it like a stupid lay person would, a psychiatrist would have said it if she or he saw me. Please know that you are you and you CANNOT handle the real load of medical school. There are MANY people doing the full load right out of college and not doing split semesters and not rethinking their decisions. You yourself are not cut out for medicine and find people who REALLY support you not a bunch of jerks who only like you if you are on top of the world and a doctor so your parents can brag and your wife can live off of you lavish income.. It’s not fair.

  182. what would you tell your son whose is in his third yr and had a major problem after missing out on the step one twice. Overwhemled by the chore of doing the rotation and studying for the second step 1. He is on LOA and trying to decide if he wants to try to take the test again.
    He indicates he likes the clinical but not the way they want you to jump through the hoops.He is questioning going on with Med School. My wife wants him to stay the course while I say “Why would anyone put themselves through this…

    • Hey John, I think I have some experience I can share with you and perhaps it’ll be of some use to you and your family.

      I was on a LOA in 3rd year for a few weeks wherein I had decided that I didn’t want to do medicine anymore. I realized that I had harboured these feelings for a very long time but the idea of leaving it all after such a long trek was scary. Even scarier was everyone’s reaction and beyond that just the idea of the amount of debt I have accumulated was stressful. But in the end, with the insistence of my fiance, who was very saddened at how medicine has changed me to an unhappy, anxious person who never had time to spend with him, I realized that I had a choice to leave medicine. This is something people do not want you to think about in medschool. It was “gutsy” as people put it and I did it.

      However, from that point on I had to decide whether to just finish my 4th and graduate and get an MD instead of just leaving it. So, currently, I am finishing my last year of medschool, hoping I’m passing all my exams to graduate, BUT I have firmly decided to not go through with residency.

      The path through medschool is difficult. And it remains so, once your a full-fledged doctor. That is the nature of medicine, because you are accountable for the lives you treat you have great responsiblity and authority but great responsibility nonetheless. So no matter what, there will be lifestyle issues. I think your son needs time to himself, without influences from family, to reflect on what in medicine really peaked his interest. For me, I had misunderstood my enjoyment for clinical medicine with the actual point that I simply enjoyed interacting with people. The medicine on its own really wasn’t enough. Medicine was too solitary for me and lacking in creativity. So you can help your son in terms of thinking: does the personality that medicine require suitable for my son? How much does my son value time outside of work?

      After talking to my colleagues and residents, I have come to some conclusions regarding why people “put themselves through this.” (1) Some people were born to do medicine, or medicine is a perfect fit for their interests, personality and values. These are the people in my class you don’t mind the long hours and the lack of time off work or having to study so much. They ENJOY it!!! And it’s not forced. This is quite rare to be honest. (2) Majority of people decided on doing medicine at some point for some unclear reason but now they don’t love it nor do they hate it but really they wouldn’t know what else to do. (3) These are the group of people who know they hate it but they can’t leave it. Because they wouldn’t know what else to do and feel that they’ve “gone too far” at this point to give up on it. So for me, I was “lucky” that prior to medschool I was stuck between medicine and education. I got into medschool while I was teaching and decided, what the heck, I’ll just go for it and see if I like it enough and I didn’t but I still have teaching to go back to. i.e. I have another goal to pursue. But for most people without that goal it’s difficult to leave medicine. People don’t like being idle. So ask your son whether there was anything outside of medicine he’d always wanted to do or certain interests or areas of learning he never explored fully that he would want to.

      Anyway, I apologize for such a long response. It was as succinct as I could make it while hoping to put helpful details. Please let me know if there are any other thoughts that I can shed some light on. I wish your son all the best. I came to understand that it’s difficult for anyone to truly understand my position of transition, even people who were in medschool and even my close friends. It’s something your son has to decide almost on his own. He needs to understand who he is and from there, what he wants. Good luck. :)+<:

    • John,
      Just another point to add. This is a simple point but most often neglected: it is NEVER worth the effort to go through with something just because of the prestige, status and money. A lot of medstudents and doctors are tempted by this and in the long run it doesn’t make the meaning any better or the job any more satisfying.

  183. I was wondering if it would still be an option for him to go for a PA position which was his original plan.

  184. I think it’s definately worth looking into. I know in some states PA students take classes with med school students so he at least wouldn’t be starting over from scratch. I wish someone would have suggested PA school to me when I left med school but for some reason it never came up.

  185. I posted on here a while back, and I always enjoy coming back every now and then and reading. Don’t worry, I still hate medicine. But, some of the recent comments inspired me to write a new post.

    Particularly, I really feel for the couple of people that posted about their troubles during second and third year. This led me to want to say the following…please, for the love of all that is holy, decide if you want to drop out before you are in your second year. I really do have to agree with the above poster, and that is that once you get into MS2 and beyond, the amount of debt you’ve accumulated just doesn’t make dropping out worth it. I’m at the end of my third year, and I’m nearly $150k in debt. I get nauseous at the thought of how long that would take to pay off if I dropped out now. Remember, no one is ever going to give a shit that you went to medical school. The flip side is that if you stick it out and get the MD, those two, stupid, fucking letters can mean a lot to an employer. In that regard, just stick it out.

    Of course, that’s easier said than done. I don’t know how I’ve made it through third year. This has been the hardest year of my academic life, easily and without question. It’s been a year of feeling mostly stupid and feigning a lot of interest in things I don’t give two shits about. There’s nothing like talking about gall bladders for 2 hours with an attending when all I’m thinking is “wow, the last fuck I gave about this went out the window 10 seconds after this conversation started.” I am mentally, physically, and spiritually worn out. I have only a few weeks remaining, and you can be damn sure I am counting down the days; nearly the hours at this point. I’m to the point where I’ll be lucky if I pass my final rotation’s exam. Third year is a giant game that is often very unfair for lots of reasons. It drains you of your humanity.

    Furthermore, I love what a previous poster said regarding the three types of medical students. There are more of those type (1) students than you’d think; the ones who love every fucking aspect of medicine. Agreed, most of them are that type (2) who don’t love and don’t hate it, but they have no clue what else to do with their lives anymore. Then there are the few of us poor bastards that fall into that (3) category. I’d like to think I’m somewhere between (2) and (3)…I hate medical school, but there’s a part of me that hangs onto the hope that things get better when I graduate and I’ll actually enjoy what I do. I’ve found that it’s mostly the people in my class that drive me to hate medicine. Don’t get me wrong, there are many other aspects about medicine that suck, but it’s largely the people that make it so fucking malignant. And third year it really gets thrown in your face and you are made out to be this ignorant, stupid fuck who doesn’t know anything. And I’m telling you, it wears on you quickly. There were only a handful of wonderful doctors I worked with who actually remembered what it was like being in medical school and, as such, really encouraged me. Only those few I worked with actually took the time to sit me down and say “you know what, you can do this…you are going to be a great doctor someday”.

    If there’s ONE bright side I’ve observed during third year, it’s that things really will, I believe, get better in residency. As one of my residents put it, “even the worst day of residency is still better than the best fucking day of third year”. And I can see how that’s true…residency is when you finally get to LEARN how to BE a doctor. Medical school is all a game, full of bullshit subjective evaluations, bullshit objective exams, and bullshit standardized testing. It’s an absolute gauntlet somehow lying to yourself that it’s all worth it. And for me, the jury is very much out in that regard. As I said, I have too much debt to turn around, so call me in 10 years and I’ll let you know it’s worth it.

    The thing is, there are areas of medicine that I legitimately find interesting, and I could see myself being “happy” doing a couple of things. I think the key for people like us is finding a field where our lives can be relatively normal while still making a good income. Trust me, I’ve met doctors (and, no, not dermatologists or some other hyper-competitive field) who work 3.5 days per week (9-5 days, too) that make $250k – $350k. Who wouldn’t want that? Once you find that field, it’s just a matter of convincing yourself it’s worth it to stick it out in med school. Trust me, med school sucks, and I fully anticipate that 10 years from now I will look back on this void of my life and wonder why the hell I went through it all.

    The problem is med school is designed to cater to these malignant, uber-competitive students who are cut throat and can kiss ass like a professional porn star. If you aren’t like that (i.e. me and a majority of people who’ve posted on here, I’m assuming), med school is a terribly miserable thing. The only way through it is isolating yourself to the 2-3 people in your class who are like-minded and then just encouraging each other it’s worth it. If there’s one thing that should stick out, it’s that the job security that comes with being a doctor cannot be over-emphasized. I don’t care what you do, people will ALWAYS need doctors. If you can tough it out, you will find a job, and you will likely get paid $100k+ for it. There are very few jobs that can say the same. And no, money isn’t everything in life, but you’d be lying to me if you said that money doesn’t make things easier. So does a guaranteed job. I’m not saying that alone makes med school worth it, far from it, in fact. However, those two points at least serve as a small motivating factor when I feel like down in the shits, as I’ve felt most of my third year.

    Also, don’t forget, fourth year is mostly a joke. You will spend 2-3 months working hard, but remember you aren’t graded in most schools your fourth year. After those months, you just interview and mostly fuck around until you graduate. If you’re in your third year, tough it out until fourth year and then just screw around until you graduate.

    As always, sorry for the long post. Lots to say, I guess. If anyone ever wants to chat, I’m happy to talk. Just leave your e-mail and I’ll get in touch.

    • Hello,

      Thanks for writing that. I worked in a hospital for the first time when I
      was 26 and was old enough to look at things and decide that I could NEVER be a doctor. I hope you figure things out. pawriter123@hotmail.com

  186. haven’t posted in awhile, have been checking backing once in awhile.. i felt compelled to write another entry in response to:

    MedSchoolSucks comment:

    “The problem is med school is designed to cater to these malignant, uber-competitive students who are cut throat and can kiss ass like a professional porn star.”

    I can not agree any better..

    FOR ANYONE READ THIS POST, and questioning med school (before 2nd year and you’re not drowning in debt) or if you’re still a pre med wondering whether to go to med school or not, DON’T, UNLESS you love, I mean LOVE medicine/science and willing to sacrifice yourself (mentally, emotionally, physically) at ANY means for it. If that’s the case, then by all means, you should DO IT or you live your live regretting not following your dreams– but if there’s any hesitation in you or anything else you’d rather do, PLEASE Follow Your heart, you can make $$$ in anything if you’re really good at it and apply yourself… don’t have to waste 4 years of med school + 3-5+ years of residency + 1-3 more years of fellowship before you start making real $.

    people keep telling me, you’re so close, you can do it, it’s just another year.. i can hear them saying this every point along the way, when will it be enough??? NEVER. my point is, stop listening to other people folks, and start listening to your own heads and your heart/your passions your interests don’t let med school SQUASH THEM. YOU LIVE ONCE.. i’ve seen to many people die prematurely… makes me realize life is freakin short, time is precious don’t waste it…

    i found a video that is REALISTIC representation of my experience as a 3rd year thus far: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OdsMHUFlOlg

    I too, can’t believe I am paying for all this madness to put it nicely… I am literally paying $50,000+/year at a private US school to get abused.. one word to describe my med school experience thus far: EXPLOITATION.

    How’d i let my life drift meaninglessly to this point? Because I was scared too make a move, and I still am.. i’ve lived my whole life thus far always wondering what other people thought of me (mistake) and wanting my parents/friends to be ‘proud’. But quite honestly, in the end of the day, none of that matters, if you’re miserable.

    I am going to finish just so my debt won’t be all for nothing… but I am counting down…

    • Augustine, thanks for the laugh. That’s some of the funniest shit I’ve ever seen regarding what goes on during your surgery clerkship, and my attending reminds me so much of that video it’s funny. If you have an e-mail, let me know; would love to get in touch with you and commiserate some more.

  187. This is exactly why I would never date a lady in the medical profession.I want to enjoy my holidays, vacations etc with my girlfriend not have all those completely different opposite schedules as in your girlfriend/wife goes to work when your getting home, most dinners are by yourself, forget having holidays together for a good 10 to 15 years or more. This is why medical profession people belong together. Medical Profession and a 9-5er does not usually mesh well at all. Also I recently was thinking about this profession and when one graduates from Medical school I’ve thought you should only envite your immediate family to these graduations cause the medical field tends to alienate friends, and it’s weird but it usually pi**es friends off and most friend hate that uber competiveness seeing friends graduate from medical school.

  188. hello friends , i m rohit and want to share my story ,i was selected in mamc in 2003,as i entered the college i realized that this is not for me , simple things became stressful,i told my parents that i don’t want to continue ,but they were not ready to listen , i became trapped in a severe conflict,1st year was so stressful that though i passed it with good marks but it resulted in chemical imbalance in my brain which my psychiatrist told me when i was in deep depression after failing my 2nd year ,then i was on antipsychotics..friends i fought through all this , i used to cry at nights and i was so disturbed that i wanted to die,i told my parents but they were again not ready to see me leave medical college,people would laugh , what will u do then, these were their lines,they were themselves very much disturbed,seeing all this i decided whatever happens i will do mbbs for my parents.i failed 3rd year then i failed 4th year but i somehow did my medical school in 2010.now my parents want that i should study for pg,and even now i feel that i do not enjoy this ,this is not for me ,friends should we listen to these kind of parents who dont feel about their children , all they care is about there status.now i realise that i wasted 7 to 8 years of my life in hell,now i will not listen to my parents , i will listen to my heart only.i will not do what i dont want to do

    • If you live your life for someone else (in this case, your parents, and vice versa – your parents, living through you), you are GUARANTEED to have resentment because there will always be regrets on either side. You and your parents aren’t mere photocopied and merged DNA existing as an organism. YOU are your OWN person. And from what I can tell, the medical profession isn’t very lucrative – not for all the risk and stress you assume. And you know something, after a point, money doesn’t matter. You can only buy so much luxury. The rest is excess which is a liability and just more stress. I was going to go into medicine in 1998 as a young guy but I realized I rather not work 80 hour workweeks and work my life away thinking about patients and my “job” all day. No, my work does not define me. I have my own interests in life. My job just pays the bills. Too bad most parents or cultures identify a person with a job. Don’t they realize child molesters are pediatricians too (just in the news a week or two ago btw)? Your job is a skill. That’s it. Doesn’t mean you will be happy doing it, nor does it make you any more a moral person. Oops, I am moving off topic. Live life for yourself kid. Don’t live for or through others. Help them but to a point.

  189. On other websites about how hard medical school is, how much studying is required, there are so many postings about how people only study 2 hours a day outside of class and not at all on weekends, unless cramming for an exam. How is this possible given the volume of work and memorization? Are these postings mainly BS or for many med students, is this really the way it is?

  190. This is the most magnificent blog ever! I withdrew from med school after 3 months due to horrible grades. I figured it would be better a W than an F. After appealing to enter with the following year’s class and being denied I had to figure out what to do with myself. Needless to say I felt totally embarrassed and stupid. “if my peers could do it, why not me?” Though I will admit my study habits left much to be desired. After working for a year, I am currently getting my master’s and in the process of getting my AMCAS app together. I look forward to posting a success story soon 🙂 keep me in your prayers

  191. my results were announced recently and i have to reappear in biochemistry. i feel depressed n embarassed. it’s miserable…

  192. Hi, I don’t usually comment on blogs but I really appreciated this post. I am a college student choosing between pre-med and nursing. But I have this nagging feeling that med school would overwhelm me — I want to live! I don’t want a life enveloped in grades and stressful rotations with no sleep! I want a family and to have a good time in my youth. This post really confirmed what I’ve been thinking… I love your honesty.

    • could u try premed and see if it works for u….if it doesn’t…then maybe go to nursing…ur probably young….u might regret that u never tried premed when u become a nurse…i sure courses are transferable from premed to nursing…the same core science courses…

  193. Hi,

    I’ve recently failed one of my modules in my first year of medschool in the UK and they’ve asked me to terminate my studies. I feel absolutely awful- like everything I’ve been working towards is just now useless. Everyone is being really supportive and my family is going to help me with my appeals procedure but I honestly don’t know if they are going to allow me to redo the year or not. It feels so humiliating being the only one out of your friends who hasn’t managed to pass and I feel like people are just going to judge me from here on. Reading this blog has brought me some comfort because firstly, even though it feels that way, I’m not alone in the way I feel. All I want to do right now is spend all day in my bed, under my duvet and not think about how screwed up things have gotten but I cannot do that. I have to prepare for my hearing, gather all evidence, sort out my student finance, sort out my apartment and celebrate my sister’s results. She’s made it into University. It’s so hard for me right now. Medicine has always been that career I was so sure was the right one for me and I can’t possibly imagine doing anything else but there’s a great chance I might not be allowed to do it again. I just hope I have the resilience shown by most of the people who’ve posted here, who’ve discovered joy and fulfillment in other careers.

  194. I love this blog! Thank you for providing a place where people can honestly admit that they dont find the entire med school experiance “awesome” and think out loud about what they want to do about that.

    I’m a 4th year med student now coming off of what have been 3 of the hardest, most depressing and demoralizing years of my life. It’s the academics (which are crazy hard) but its also a lot of other things too. I dont fit here and never have. I’m not a competitive person and sometimes just being here surrounded by all these enthusastic overachievers makes me sick to my stomach. There were early clues (like not being comfortable with the people in my MCAT prep class and my undergrad premed society) but at the advice of my friends and family I ignored the signs. 1st and 2nd year were hard. Getting poor to average grades for the first time was difficult….feeling I was leaving every course with a vague idea instead of a true understanding of what I’d supposedly learned was even worse. I started to feel that I wasn’t really learning anything in this emotionally toxic environment and to wonder what level of “doctor” I was becoming.

    A few months into first year, I started having panic attacks before exams and team-based learning excercises. I got permission to take exams privately in the student testing center, which helped some. But, going back to that lecture hall during M2 for Step 1 board review brought back some of those same feelings…I found myself skipping lecture because I just couldn’t be there without feeling overwealmed and tearful. My favorate rotations during M3 were those where no other med students were around to intimidate me and ‘psych’ me out.

    Its the beginning of M4 now…Step 2…ERAS…Interviews. Things are better, but far from what I would consider good. When I think of medical school of think of that song “Breathe” by Anna Nalick. “There’s a light at each end of this tunnel you shout ’cause you’re just as far in as you’ll ever be out.” I’m almost $300,000.00 in dept now. I feel like it’s simply too late to turn around…It’s quicker and smarter to go through. I tell myself that just because I’m not good at being a medical student doesn’t mean I’m not going to be a good doctor. I tell myself that I like patients and I like medicine, I just don’t like medical school. I tell myself it’s going to be ok…and I hope it’s true.

    • I took an LOA after my first year of med school and have decided not to return. Although I will miss the beautiful archetype that is the MD, I know leaving is the right choice for me and I’m feeling very positive 🙂

      I’m now applying to PA programs.

      My question to everyone is have any of you decided to pursue PA after leaving medical school? I am wondering how my application will be received by PA admissions committees (any negative views on those leaving MD for PA?).

      Side note – I found this website last year when I was deciding whether or not I could muster up the courage to leave. Thank you all for posting – it was so helpful to read everyone’s stories.

  195. Hello everyone its good to fi d people with the same problem as me .
    Today is going to be my decisive test and I am prwtty sure I am gonna fail it , it is my last chance to stay on med school but i dont want to stay there is such a bad place for me , I am not a competitive person and i have really bad grades but i am afraid of leaving cuz i am 22 years old just starting 4th year and i still have to take another class i fail , plus i am pretty sure that if i screw this up my parents will get mad at me and they wont be supportive about getting another carrer path or something like that , i just want some to tell me that after quitting med school everything gets easier or that things turn out good thank you very much for the advices above and sorry for my bad english i am from mexico , saludos gente bonita!

  196. Even though I graduated valedictorian of my class, I did so by studying hard, putting off starting a family, and rarely saw my wife.
    How we made it was thru God’s grace.
    But as far as the depression you speak of and the enormous amount of pressure on grades and how bad you condemn yourself for even the smallest of “failures” is all too well remembered…the pressure that students place on themselves in med school is so bad that I will do everything in my power to deter my children from going to med school….

  197. I have a question for the group. Have residents and attendings made you feel worthless and humiliated? I am in my third year of medical school right now and I have never felt so disrespected, humiliated, small, and insignificant as I have in the past 5 weeks. I was just hoping for some advice or confirmation that I am not alone in feeling this way. I have always thought that medicine was exactly what I wanted to do with my life up until this point. Frankly I have been an excellent student all my life and even throughout my first two years of medical school which I passed with flying colors. I knew medical school would be difficult with lots of studying and long hours and I was fully prepared for that. What I didn’t expect was the hazing and disrespect from the physicians. I love talking to patients and helping them in any way I can and I also get excited when I learn about cool new pathologies, but my personality (that I consider to be gentle and kind) is not compatible with the cutthroat and aggressive environment that I have encountered. I am very unhappy with my life right now and don’t know what to do. There’s no time or energy to do any of the other things I love like singing, playing tennis, painting, and spending time with my loving boyfriend. I don’t want to drop out because I think it is my calling to help others, but I also don’t want to turn into a bitter person who’s life has been completely consumed by medicine. Maybe dropping out is the only way to live a happy healthy life. It’s different for everyone, but I’d like to think I can find a happy medium. It’s refreshing to know I’m not alone in my struggles.

    • Disappointed,
      You are not alone in that regard. I don’t know what rotation you are on right now, but as a fourth year looking back on my med school career, third year was truly the worst. But, I can tell you it gets better when you finish third year, though you’ll still be looked down upon. As third years, you are on the bottom of a very tall totem pole. It’s very sad to me that medicine is so full of people such as the ones you describe. My surgery clerkship, as an example, was one giant 8-week glimpse into what my existence might be like if I am sent to hell. Internal medicine was a 12-week exercise in much the same. It was rare that I encountered a physician who actually remembered what it was like to be on the bottom of that totem pole.

      I don’t know what you want to go into, but when choosing your specialty, be sure to take these things into consideration. For the longest time I wanted to be an anesthesiologist. I was dead set on it and thought it was my “calling”. Well, turns out my calling doesn’t include being a fucking dick who is completely superficial and takes myself way too seriously. In truth, I think it’s really difficult to find an area of medicine where you would truly be able to flourish without being around people like that. You see, that’s the whole fallacy of medicine…we’re made out to be these wonderfully caring, selfless people, when, in fact, most of those in medicine are horribly self-centered and frequently get off over how important they think they are. Don’t believe me? Think back to the last time you were pimped. Did you truly learn anything? Did it seem to serve a purpose? Here’s a bright idea: the most outstanding teachers you’ll have during your third year will NEVER be the ones who pimp you. They’ll be the ones who sit you down, understand what it means to be a student, and teach you in a way that is conducive to you understanding the medicine at hand. Pimping’s only purpose is for an attending to show off how big he thinks his dick is.

      It was that resounding theme that made me so sick of third year and, honestly, so sick of medicine. I love medicine when I’m on my own (and falsely thinking that I know what I’m doing). There are also a hand-full of attendings who I enjoy working with. But, for the most part, the time I spent during third year was miserable. You are the undeniable bitch of the medical hierarchy. You will bow down and blow whoever asks you to because you’re the third year and unless you want to fail a rotation, you don’t have much of a say in the matter. It’s degrading, depressing, and absolutely dehumanizing in every imaginable sense. And although I’ve said fourth year is better, third year left an indelible mark on me. I’ll never be the same. And I’m not trying to be melodramatic here…third year broke me down to a point I never thought I could be. In some ways, I feel like there is a mere shell of me left over now. In time I can only pray that my old self returns.

      As for finding a happy medium? I’m not sure where that exists. There are a few, rare specialties where you might be able to achieve that. But they’re competitive, and chances are you’ll have to work with some fucking assholes to get into those fields. Yes, I’m talking about radiology, dermatology, allergy, etc…, fields where you can one day work 30 hours a week and make 250k+.

      What’s sad is that I sit here as a fourth year and I think about my future…I went into medicine because I wanted to help people, I liked science, and, to be completely truthful, I didn’t know what else to do with myself. Anymore, my only goal in life is to find the easiest way out of this terrible, shitty profession. I want to go into a field where I can work 30 hour a week, have 10 weeks of vacation, and have as little stress as possible. Why? Because as I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that the number one thing that matters to me in life is my happiness, my family, and to spend time with everyone I love, because they won’t be here forever, and neither will I. And one of the most important determinants of my happiness is the people I surround myself with. Well, guess what…medicine isn’t very conducive to being happy with the people around you. Because they are all hyper-motivated, backstabbing, greedy, selfish, self-centered, egotistical mother fuckers who somehow are happy being miserable every day.

      Sorry for the rant…if you’ve followed this blog any, you know I randomly get on here and write very long responses. If you’d ever like to chat, I’d be happy to. Leave me your e-mail and I’ll be in touch.

  198. Hey Med school sucks,

    my email is solarsky2012@hotmail.ca

    can we talk, plz by email?


  199. hey guys, I am fourth year MBBS student from India, like a few of you here I joined for my parents sake, my university kicks me time and again in my exams, lost a year and half till now, and one subject still remains (surgery and ortho) to pass through….In all these years I too have lost friends, been totally alone, seen my mom roll out tears when my results are announced, thought of committing suicide thrice, cried like mad when my juniors cleared and I failed,….so on.. but here is the difference, I wont quit…not after going through all this… I think it makes sense to search for the thing where we have lost it rather than trying to find happiness elsewhere.

    I have kept myself alive and not dead in these trying times by diverting my mind to business (I am into online share trading) and I study for the rest of the day. There is always so much we can do in this “connected” world than just sulking or quitting.

    Can you give up/quit and forget it?
    I don’t think so…

    • Whether you search for happiness amidst your pain or search for it underneath a new rock that hasn’t been overturned yet is up to you. But I’ve never quit anything in my life BUT the things I never had time to start. We can only live one life so going down one road prevents you from going down another. I regret not doing what I’ve loved in exchange for trying to love what I hated.

  200. I just started my MS1 year a few months ago. Initially the transition to a new city and start of classes was stressful and I was a bit depressed but this seemed normal for everyone.
    Then its only gotten worse.
    I really enjoy the curriculum and the professors and students here but am struggling academically and I just dont desire to put in the time required to study.

    I hate medicine, hospitals, the pride and arrogance of a lot of the physicians here and dont at all look forward to sacrificing so much time away from friends and family.
    Plus this whole idea that doctors are these prestigious all knowing magical healers is garbage. Medicine hurts more than it helps. Sure some surgeries and meds are great but the chronic disease epidemic is made worse by allowing everyone to get away with shitty behaviors and choices.

    If Im honest with myself, I never really enjoyed the healthcare experiences I had prior to matriculating. Hated being an EMT, home health aide, etc. but LOVED working with people in some form or fashion related to their health, physically and/or mentally.

    But Ive put all my chips in to this path. My undergrad degree in Bio wont do anything for me. I have no other obvious career paths to pursue. My parents would be not approve and probably think Im crazy to drop out. Then I have to worry about finding another job to make ends meet. I have a serious girlfriend I was planning to propose to at the end of this year. What will her father think of me when he hears Ive dropped out.

    Im in my mid 20s so Im trying not to panic knowing I have time and am a capable person. I will succeed at something but I have no idea what to do or where to go from here. Fortunately I have no debt yet as Im in an affordable state med school.

    I like the potential for a decent income and stable job outlook but I can make just as much money doing other things that I may actually be passionate about.

    At the end of the day I like this but dont love it. Do I make the choice to pursue something Im truly passionate about and abandon an incredible opportunity or do I suck it up and let this play out knowing Ill be okay with it but never that happy or satisfied. Mostly stressed and overworked at best.

    Hell I havnt even gotten into MS3 and the wards where I could really hate this whole med school thing but be too far in to quit.

  201. Your method of describing everything in this post is truly fastidious, every one be capable of easily know it, Thanks a lot.

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  203. Feeling depressed – that’s what pushed me out too.

  204. Hi, my name is Ryan. I was a 4th year Canadian medical student studying in a 5-year MBBS course in the bottom part of Australia. Like many of you I failed medicine. I spent a total of 6 years to get to the end of year 4. If you know me well, most of my set backs and failures throughout my medical career was due to my own character. I was a very arrogant person in 1st year. I forgotten how hard I worked (plus the discipline involved) in getting accepted into a well reckoned Australian medical school, fully accredited by the Australian Medical Council. I spent the first one and a half years in Canada studying Biological and Medical Sciences right after high school. I worked hard and diligently to get high distinctions in my core subjects. I failed the second semester of 1st year, because I was not disciplined enough in my studies, especially gross anatomy. Throughout my MBBS course, I was given a maximum of 7 years to complete it. Having failed Year 1, I repeated the year. This time, I am on top of my academic components. I went through 2nd year with a few issues, but nevertheless passed.

    In year 3, I did horribly in neuroscience for semester 1. Procrastination, a medical student/professional’s worst enemy, got the better out of me. Lucky for me, starting in 3rd year, all assessments are cumulative. All written examinations throughout the year will be marked together. Scores from each class will be collected together and placed under the Hoftscee Marking Scheme/Curve. Those who do not pass the class pass mark will be given a FAIL. Those who scored above the class pass mark will be given an ungraded PASS. So I was, in one way, granted a “second chance”. I studied my butt off for the 3rd year final written examinations (multiple choice questions, extended matching questions, short answer questions). I passed the written component. However I failed the OSCE’s. In the first semester, I passed 3 stations out of 6. In the second semester I passed 5. Totally I passed 8 out of 12 stations. I was given a chance to sit for the 12-station supplementary OSCE’s. I failed miserably in it. This was due to lack of practice throughout the year as well as serious character flaws. Among them include the use of jargon, inadvertent use of judgmental words or phrases and inadvertent language that may scare away patients, thus defeating the purpose of helping a patient. Also, in some stations, I lacked structure and coherence in my history taking. I failed year 3. I failed year 3, not because I didn’t do my best. I failed year 3 because of my personality and my deficiencies in social skills.

    I was diagnosed with ADHD when I was 12. As an adult, reflecting on the various interactions with the different peers I have met in my life, I could think of the various silly things I’ve said and done. I was impulsive and, quite frankly, emotionally my quotient is on the low side. After being prescribed with Ritalin and with close supervision and support from my parents, my high school grades skyrocketed. However, I struggled in making friends until first year of university…a clean slate.

    However, these character flaws began to manifest themselves right at the beginning of Year 1 and left unchecked for years. I had a big mouth and my sense of urgency diminished.

    Christmas holidays in Australia just so happens to be in the summer holidays. The Australian summer holiday of 2010/2011 (November to February) was particularly a bad one. My parents, even my younger brother (who successfully graduated from medical school this year) bore the bad news of my failure of year 3. It was, emotionally, quite traumatizing. I became a more pessimistic and bitter person overall. My brother and I decided to move out into the nicer downtown apartments situated closer to the clinical school away from college (university residence) and all of the distractions it carries. Academically, I did well in my second try in year 3. I still had difficulties with OSCE’s. I passed 4 out of 6 stations in the first semester. I also passed 4 in the second semester. Again, I passed 8 out of a total of 12 stations. I just needed to pass 1 more station throughout a year and I would be in the clear. So I sat for the supplementary OSCE’s for the second time. This time, I had more practice throughout the past 2 years and I had more experience and knowledge (solid according to the clinicians). I put on a poker face and walked into the supplementary examinations thinking that I had nothing to lose, everything to gain. The wait for the results was painfully long. Year 4 starts after Australia Day, and the results were officially released in early to mid January. I passed 11 out of 12 stations. I am authorised to begin my 2 final clinical years in the northwest rural region of the state. This meant that living expenses would be drastically reduced thanks to the Commonwealth government. Bursaries would be given, even to international students. It was a bittersweet, but joyous occasion.

    Getting resettled in Australia was a bit of a rush for me. However, I settled into my new student accommodations with everything set up to begin my clinical years. The first rotation was psychiatry. I passed without issues. The second rotation was emergency medicine. That was when I ran into trouble. One case I had to see a toddler (who was brought in by her mother) with vomiting and reduced feeding. Dehydration was the first thing that came into my head in terms of assessing him. As a medical student, I would never dream of discharging patients on my own. It is beyond the scope of my practice and I am not authorized to do so. I explained to the toddler’s mother about this limitation as a medical student and that she and her son would can only be discharged by a qualified, senior member of the department (i.e. registrar or above). I told her at least three times. I still recollect what and the number of times I have said to this patient’s mother to this day. The mother left the emergency department with her child without being seen by a doctor. I was asked by the registrar in charge the whereabouts of the patient and his mother. She asked, “Did you discharge her?” Scared, stunned, lost for words and weary of my not-so-shiny record as a medical student, I decided to minimize antagonism with the faculty and admitted fault and said “Yes”. To this day, I regret doing that. I should have said “no”, regardless of what the mother would have said after she was brought back into the emergency department with her toddler. From then on, regardless of how well or how badly I did in that rotation, I have automatically failed it. The faculty in that rural clinical school have took steps to make sure that I won’t do this again. I would be closely monitored in terms of performance even when close supervision is closely lifted.

    To add fuel to this fire, I had difficulty submitting long written assignments on time. For those reading this and having the second chance to enter medical school again, PROCRASTINATION IS YOUR WORST ENEMY. I will learn later that discipline in all aspects of life is paramount for any career. Discipline in maintaining healthy weight, diet and exercise can be applied towards discipline in keeping your assignments and work in check.

    I manage to pass the rest of the rotations. I was warned to be vigilant 2 months prior to my written exams and OSCE’s. The written exams in year 4 are the final written exams (MCQ and EMQ) of the entire MBBS course. There will be no more formal written assessments in medical school. The OSCE’s are examined at the end of year 4 with 10 stations, in which each student must pass 7 to pass the OSCE component.

    During the weekend of the written exams and OSCE’s, I made sure I had enough sleep and ate well. I came to the exams fully prepared. Results were released in late November. I passed all of these components. However, I have to finish my 2-week-long remedial emergency medicine rotation in the capital city’s hospital/trauma centre. I finished my orthopedics elective beforehand. Interns gave me strict, no-BS advice on how to pass that rotation. It should not be a problem. Boy, I was very wrong.

    The consultant evaluating me was (and still is) one of the heads of the department of emergency medicine. He also held clinical teaching credentials. It wasn’t until after 2 weeks that I found out that he is (90%) local state politician for the Green party and (10%) emergency physician who rose through the ranks quickly (you don’t have to ask me how or what kind of character one man would be to get to that stage). At the end of the remedial rotation he failed me. From a medical student’s and a medical professional’s point-of-view, whether it is a fault of my own or not, I deserved to fail. I could not demonstrate to him that I can collate and consolidate relevant information about the patient and make correct snap medical judgements to a level of an end-of-year-4 medical student.

    At the end of the rotation, I was summoned to a faculty meeting, where senior/executive faculty members of the MBBS course sat and delivered the gut-wrenching news that I have failed year 4. By policy, I have exhausted my 2 years/chances afforded to me to repeat and improve, thus I am being “let go”. Despite this, I am going to be awarded a Bachelor of Medical Science degree. They emphasized of the immense difficulty in the decision making process of letting me go.

    Despite their generosity, I am now facing the possibility that I would find it extremely difficult to get a master’s degree in anything. For instance, I am trying to apply for MBA courses that require work experience, reference letters and interviews (in which I have to demonstrate I have leadership skills). Quite frankly, I may not have the guns/chops for this. I am currently studying hard for the GMATs.

    The things that worry me are:

    Will I learn from my mistakes.
    I am 26 years old. Dumping behaviours, old habits and attitudes brewed with years of failure after failure and bitterness is quite a challenge. My brain is not like that of a 16 to 18-year-old anymore. It may not be as elastic. It’s plasticity may not be as great as before. Will I succeed? I just hope that having a strong will to work hard for future sweet tastes of success would be enough.

    For the future “I just got in” medical student fresh from high school surfing around this website, learn from this hard lesson. Seek help when you need it.

    For the numerous colleagues who walked in my shoes. I wish them all good luck and hopefully, building a community from this website could make us stronger and more insightful–which can lead to other avenues of success whether in a new career or in a fresh restart of medical school.

    Lastly, I take my hat off for the numerous students who did not make it out of medical school in loads of financial debt. I am lucky that my folks support me 100% both financially and emotionally. I genuinely hope that you can find your way out of debt and enjoy life with friends and family.

    I am open to suggestions and comments.

  205. I love looking through a post that will make people think. Also, many thanks for allowing me to comment!

  206. I read a report in the New England Journal of Medicine recently that said 300-400 U.S. physicians commit suicide each year. What is going on in that profession?

  207. I am a 4th year medical student in India and I really like this blog and all the comments. My problems in medical school began when staff started calling me dalit, which is a pejorative term. I am even being denied letters of recommendation due to my caste. What should I do?

  208. I am currently thinking about dropping out from medical school. I just finished my first year and the school is making me repeat my second semester because i failed a class by one point. I would continue and do the semester again but I don’t trust my school. I have no guarantee that when I repeat the semester, I won’t fail another class by a point. The school is what is making me leave. It’s a horrible Caribbean school in the middle of the ocean. I have no guarantee that I will become a doctor and at this point i am not sure if i want to be a doctor. I am already working on an MBA so at least I have that to fall back on. I am thinking about doing a 2 year course in sonography and start working at a hospital. I have no regrets about leaving the medical field. I feel like i’ll be able to have a life again. I can get married, travel, and live my life the way I have wanted to for so long.

    And as far as other people are concerned…WHO CARES? It’s your life. Yea it helps to have people in your life that will always support you no matter what but let’s face it we are not all that lucky. I am blessed to have an amazing family that supports me no matter what. I know my mom is a bit disappointed with me but I know that in the end she’ll be happy with my decision.

    I can’t wait to board the plane and go home. I feel like I am leaving prison and starting a whole new life. Better yet, I feel like the doctor has told me that I don’t have cancer and I can live a long and healthy life now. I can’t wait to close this chapter and start another chapter of my life and I have a feeling this new chapter will be better than the last.

    • I dropped out of a Caribbean medical in the fall of 2011. Best decision of my life. I am in the 2nd semester in nursing school and just 2 more to go and I am absolutely happier than i was on the island (prison). Kuddos!

  209. you’re the most amazing and bravest woman I’ve ever seen because it’s really hard to take decission like that I wish for you and your family the best happiness in the world.mohammed

  210. We should a MSDA (Medical School Dropouts Anonimous) session once in a while and see how each others life goes on. In my case, i dropped out four weeks ago, i was in my second year of medical school and i knew that this was not for me. It took me so long to realise that i don`t like it because i was addicted to medical school, the looks on peoples faces when i told them that i was in medical school, the science maybe… chemestry and physics mostly.
    Now i`m not debt, thanks to the system i`m in( i`m from Romania)… and i`m starting a computer science faculty, i`ve always loved exact sciences like math, chemestry and logic(i was a fool when i thaught that medicine is exact and people are variables).
    My long term plan is to get married ,be a teacher, make kids :D. Live a good life.
    The parents hate it, but i`m moving on to the next chapter of my life, you should all do that!

  211. I really love and am grateful for your post.. 3 weeks of exams are almost over, and i’m pretty sure i failed (99%). I felt horrible and depressed for the entire duration. I felt suffocated, incapable, hopeless, and even crazy. I’d be in my room crying almost every day and i’m not even sure why. But now that the inevitability of failure smacked me on the face, i’m relieved. I never saw myself as a doctor; i didn’t love it. I realised that i had forced myself to want it.. probably to please my parents.

    I’ve learned the hard way as well.. to pursue what I really want to do (whatever that is; haven’t figured it out yet), and not what’s safe, or what’s held in high regard.. not even what would please my parents.. One of my biggest fears was failure.. but now that it happened.. i realised that..i didn’t fail haha (ironic). What really would’ve been a failure was if i grew old and died, never pursuing what i truly wanted..

    so I was just wondering.. what do you teach? and how did you become a teacher after medschool?:) did you have to get an MBA or something?

  212. After a horrendous, soul-sucking, degrading, exhausting decade of medical school, residency and fellowship training, I finally listened to what my heart has been screaming to me for all these years…and I quit.

    I was sad through medical school, depressed through residency and suicidal through fellowship. I had a wonderful, patient husband who was discussing divorce due to my complete lack of affect for anything to do with real life. I would study for Step 3, the internal medicine boards, my fellowship boards and literally weep to the point of dehydration for all that I had missed out on in life and all I would continue to miss in the future.

    Two weeks ago, I wrote my notes, collected my pills and brought them to a storage shed where I wouldn’t be found quickly. Unfortunately (Fortunately?), my husband was searching for a light bulb and located me almost right away. The pills were pumped out pretty much undigested. He gave me an ultimatum when I arrived home from the hospital a few days later. Him, the future father of the children we hoped to have together, or my medical career that had progressed from living like I was dead to almost actually being dead. I’m sad to say I had to think about it for a day or two. What about the prestige? The only good part of my life was that one minute every so often that I got to tell random strangers what I do and feel a little proud. What am I qualified to do with this specific degree? I only know how to be a doctor?

    Thankfully,in the end, I chose a future for myself. I chose to laugh and love and live again. I’m only 10 days out from my decision, but I haven’t felt a flicker of the old sad pit in my stomach or the lump in my throat from constantly holding back tears. I even have a job offer from a pharmaceutical company. I’m finally excited for what life has to offer. I hope and pray all of you will find the same kind of relief.

    • Thank you Jilly for sharing your story with us. I know how you feel. I graduated from medical school in Canada in 2012 but I decided to leave the profession. So I never applied to residency. I had decided at the end of my 3rd year that I would never become a doctor because like you, I was suicidal. My fiance of 2yrs at the time also told me straight up that if this was how our life was goin to be he didn’t want to stay with me. It was such a stressful point in my life to say the least. Making the decision was scary and sad for me. Since then I’ve started my education degree to become a highschool teacher and everyone in my life never cease to inform me that I’ve made a mistake. It can be very frustrating and sometimes I wonder if u did make a mistake; if i had toughed it out there would have been the light at the end of the tunnel. But your story has helped me regain my courage to follow my heart and to LIVE my life. Who cares about prestige when you can’t even spend time with the ones you love or have the time to take care of yourself! Thank you Jilly. I want all the best of life for you. 🙂

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  214. “So much of my identity had been wrapped up in my grades and what people thought about me”

    This sums up what I’m hiding. Wherever you are, you should know you have the courage I only wish I could have.

    I’m a current medical student. Today, 10 mins into an exam, I found myself walking into the Exam office and letting them know I’m dropping my studies.
    Then I woke up.

    A big part of me want to drop medicine and do something else.
    Another part of me is showing me images of disappointed family and friends and people. It’s showing me images of people who’d look down on me because I’d be a medical school dropout, a failure.

    Maybe one day I’ll have the courage to follow my heart.

    Thank you for sharing

  215. I have just started my fourth year of med school and for right now it sucks just as much as third year. I posted here in September of last year because I thought it would make me feel better to know that there are others out there going through the same hell I am. Frankly, I don’t wish this hell upon anyone and I’m very impressed by those of you who found the courage to call it quits and pay attention to your happiness. The end of third year wasn’t so bad although there were still points during which I wanted to quit. Now as a fourth year we are expected to function like an intern. What?! I don’t actually know any more than I did three weeks ago when I finished third year and I’m now somehow magically supposed to know all the answers and blend in with the interns? On top of that I am in the pediatric ED which means doing everything twice as fast than I’m physically able to. Honestly, I’m afraid of quitting because I don’t know what else I would do or how I would pay off my $300,000 in loans. I don’t have a spouse or anyone to help me pay that if I don’t ultimately get a high paying job. It’s just me on my own. I want to have a family one day but because of med school I moved far away from home and have few friends and no time for my loved ones. What’s sad is that I have a boyfriend whom I love very much but have lived long distance from him for four years and unless I get a residency out where he is it seems like it’ll never work out. We could potentially be long distance a good 3-5 more years after med school and that’s just unacceptable. As it is we only see each other a few times a year (he mostly comes to visit me whenever he can). I just want to move back to Los Angeles where all my family and friends live including my boyfriend. I have been pretty lonely and miserable throughout most of med school. My big dilemma: should I quit now or stick it out for the last year? And regardless of when I quit, what then? How do I pick up the pieces? I have no energy left to go through anymore schooling for another career. How do I find that courage and take the leap to leave everything I ever worked for academically behind?

    • Stick it out! You’re so close to the finish line.

      • I quit med school 3 years ago, after 1.5 years of med school. I actually did enjoy med school and was doing fine. I fell in love with the place I was going to school though (NE England)…on an exchange program…and fell in love with the most wonderful guy I had ever met. Because of EU laws, I had to decide if I wanted to go back to the States and finish medicine and be a doctor in the States or stay in England, drop out of med school and be with the person I wanted to be with and in a place that I loved.

        So, I dropped out…volunteered for a few months in England, got a Masters in Public Health, worked at a charity and after 3 years now I am marrying the love of my life, living where I want to live, and just got offered a job managing clinics and hospitals in England. I love my life, don’t miss the stress of medicine and don’t regret dropping out. My family finally understood, after about 2 years, that the decision was the best one for me. I’m glad I’m in a better position now to start a family and have a less stressful career. I’m still paying off med school debt but it’s nothing in comparison to being happy =)

        Also, all my friends from med school graduated this month…most seem happy, but also have very different lives than I do. They are very, very busy with life, have huge amounts of debt and many of them have been away from friends and family for the past 4 years and will be away for the next 4 years…working 60-80 hours a week.

        It all comes down to what you love. If you love medicine, then you’ll make it through, won’t mind the sacrifices and will love what you do. But if you don’t love it, then life will be difficult and you probably will have a hard time going to work every day.

    • Overwhelmed,
      If you ever get back on here, leave your e-mail. I’d love to chat some time about your concerns. I’m just about to start my intern year and I had (and still have) lots of the same questions as you.

      • MedSchoolSucks,
        You’ve shared similar perspectives to me on this blog. How is residency going?

  216. I’m 3 days away from taking my boards and I’m scared of failing (for obvious reasons) but scared of passing because then I have no excuse not to continue on. I love art and writing, but I’m not very good at them, and I’m not sure if taking a jump into a huge risk is worth leaving the stability of medical school. I have passed all my classes – even two that I tempted God by trying to fail. That made me even m

    • Sorry! I cut myself off! Anyways, not failing even when I tried made me believe that God wants me here. I really want to do art therapy and everyone says that I can be a psychiatrist and do the same thing. I’m not so sure as Art therapists have lower malpractice insurance (if any???) and they can charge lower rates to reach out more to lower income people (which is who I want to serve). I hate medical school, and I don’t know if it’s worth the sacrifice to wait for kids (I’m 28), and to lose out on writing and art in the meantime. I feel such intense guilt leaving just because I don’t like it. I’ve always pushed myself to excel at everything thinking that I’m not truly serving if I can’t take the bad with the good. My goals are to serve others, be creative, and to start a nonprofit in Africa one day. It seems medical school is the best choice, but I hate the subject material, the lack of time with patients, and the same procedures day in and day out. Please help…

  217. Hi
    I was wishing there was a forum as such. Where people with the same commonality express there feelings.
    After earning my undergraduate degree in Canada, my family moved to Italy. Since employment opportunities where very bleak, I decided to write the entrance exam to attend medical university in Italy. I did get accepted, and completed 3 years of the 6 year MD program. This was in the mid 90’s I never went back to register for the 4th year. I just don’t know why.
    I’ve been thinking about this from time to time, Also today, I am married with kids, and still think about it. Maybe at that time I wanted things too soon too fast. I was scared to fail, not confident enough, being in another environment, even though there were other foreign students. I really don’t know. I kick myself from time to time.
    My wife has really been supportive. She encourages me until today to go back and continue. Even though I am 45.
    Well this was sort of a long story converted into a short one. I do feel regret. I don’t know how to put this aside and move on. I do in ways move on for the kids sake and family, but it keeps on reoccurring in my head like a bad dream.
    Anyhow, this was my story. Hopefully there are other people out there that can relate to this. Thanks

  218. You can never know what it meant to me to read this. It’s as if I wrote it myself (except for the part about the kids; I’ve never been fond of children). I dropped out of med school after my M1 year in 2012. I only ever went to med school because my mom and my community thought that it would be best for me. I’ve always been “that smart girl” who graduated from high school with a GPA over 4.0 and as valedictorian. I finished college a year early and got accepted to med school on my first try at age 20. But it was never what I wanted. I knew from the moment that I got my acceptance letter that I was making a big mistake but everyone had me convinced that it was the path for me even though I knew it wasn’t. I was depressed even thinking about becoming a MD and when I got to med school it only got worse. I hated all of my classes and found gross anatomy and psych class even emotionally disturbing. I became so depressed that I began having suicidal thoughts which I knew not to tell anyone about. Finally I convinced my mom to let me drop out and I’m currently working on my doctorate in higher education administration. I’m relieved to be out of med school but I’m still very much depressed for different reasons. My family has been very unsupportive of everything I try to do since leaving med school. They make me feel so inadequate for not having followed the path they wanted me to follow. Do you have any advice?

  219. Bridget, If it makes you feel better my family (or origin) almost completely stopped talking to me when I left medicine. They kept saying: can’t you go back to medicine and be a doctor? No matter what I have done for the most part, unless it was very glamorous, they have criticized and ignored. My brother said to me: medicine was more important to them than you are.

    So, today I don’t talk to them at all. I told them to stop calling and that I wished them well.

    Sadly, I can see how that behavior shaped my willingness to endure tremendous self-abuse and deprivation in order to be ‘accepted.’ In therapy I am coming to see that I valued external things and not necessarily who I am and what kind of relationships I have in my life. Today I believe that the most important things in life have nothing to do with money, and can’t be bought with money. Taking care of myself, having a good relationship with myself and others close to me and at work, and being at peace with myself and the world are key.

    Medicine was very abusive and I suffered tremendous insult and hostility on the wards. I was 45 years old and had worked in other environments, I had no idea that that behavior could exist and be tolerated. I made the mistake of speaking up and asking: why are you speaking to me like that? I spoke up and was beaten down even more.

    I made it through into residency but it was even worse. Finally, after six months I was told: we just don’t like your personality and we don’t want you here.

    Teaching is a great field. Once you get your emotionally strength back it can be very healing. Doing something positive in the world and helping others is a good thing, and again – it’s not about the money. There is also student loan forgiveness for teachers, so if you can make it for a few years you will have a chance of having loans diminished.

    Living well is the best thing, whatever that means. Being at peace with myself and others is success in my mind.

    • That is awful. Someone actually told you that they didn’t like you personality and kicked you out?

      I hope you find something you love. You mentioned teaching, are you working as a teacher now?

      • Yes, the program director of my family medicine residency here in the states told me that. I would never have thought that you could just get rid of a resident like that but after I left, three other residents were forced to resign in the next year. So, a program that can force four residents to resign is obviously a crappy program, right? Unfortunately, it is not uncommon.

        Yes, I am teaching now and it has been a long slow journey back to myself. Who am I? who am I not?

        So many wise comments here from so many of us. Really, we are all very brave and wonderful people to be able to walk away and go on. Recently, someone said that I was a strong person to leave medicine and I hadn’t thought of it like that for a long time. What I tell people is that I didn’t like the clinical environment (true) and felt that the way medicine is practiced today makes it very hard to provide good quality care to patients. Most people agree and then they usually say something along the lines of, how brave you are to live true to yourself and walk away from something like medicine.

        And, you know. I can say today that I guess I am brave for choosing myself over medicine. It’s taken me four years to be able to say that, but I love and accept myself today and feel pretty good about life.

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    day. Smoothies are made of fresh fruit and veggies which are full
    of diverse vitamin and minerals.

  221. I’m a current MD1 student and I am thinking about dropping already. I feel so bad since my parents helped me with the money and now I am scared to tell them I feel like quitting. My dad calls me like everyday and tells me to continue to believe in yourself and that just makes me cry. I just hate anatomy and can’t take it. I thought medical school was all about working in a hospital and direct patient contact but instead it’s all about biology, biology, and more biology. The school I attend has a refund policy and if I quit by this week, I will be able to get 50% of my tuition back. So do you guys think I should stick it out for the rest of the year or just quit now before it’s to late?

    • I’ve decided to stay for the remaining of the semester since I am too scared to tell my parents I feel like quitting. They keep calling me and say they believe in me. I really hate anatomy and my teacher really sucks. All he does is keep talking and talking and nothing makes sense. I will decide if I want to stick with medical until year 1 is finished.

  222. To anyone who is considering leaving medical school but who still has an interest in the medical field, I encourage you to seek out any resources to help you to stay in, because once you leave, you will realistically never get a chance to go back. I dropped out after failing a few classes in med school, but in my case, I was able to move on and get a master’s in chemical engineering. Years later, with more life experience, I regretted leaving med school and tried to go back. I studied and retook the MCAT (I earned a 37R, which is a very high score). I paid an essay service to help me write the best application essay that I could possibly write, I applied to 15 schools, but only one interviewed me (this was the med school that I had originally left), and they rejected me. The following year I applied to 7 more schools, but no one interviewed me. The lesson I learned from this is that med schools WILL NOT give you a second chance. I feel fortunate that I was able to shift over to a chemical engineering career, but even in this I have to omit any reference to medical school in my resume (basically I only report my career experiences after grad school). I wish I didn’t have to do this, but people tend to critically pre-judge you if you make it known that you failed at medical school, and I choose not to give them that option.

    • Chem Eng…you are way better than med school…im happy to see that people who left have made a way to become successful in their life and NOT stay stuck in the whole med school thing

  223. Hello there!
    I pretty much took an afternoon off to go through this blog. I kinda got to the last stretch first semester of med school but I managed to pull through and I was pretty happy to have overcome the challenge of first semester, in a foreign country. Yep…foreign country.
    A little back story….have been wanting to be a doctor ever since I can remember so I pretty much did all within my power to stay on that path. MCAT came around and i did horrible …took it a third time and heeeeeey ! There’s a school in Mexico that will take me! Awesome. Apply, interview, get in…relocate. As I said before…went through first semester, happy camper by end of it and once I was in the states with my significant other.

    Seeeecond semester rolls around. School: “oooops, we effed up some paperwork and now you guys don’t have access to student loan money “. That lasted until last week (seriously, I just went to deposit my check yesterday). During that time, it was hard to concentrate and I pretty much dragged it test to test. I started looking for alternative careers in case school had effed up so badly that it would close international program. Then it happened. I snapped…it got to the point where I was crying all the time, the smell of food made me nauseous and forget about keeping food down.
    By some miracle…loans are back on original title IV terms and I am not happy. I should be….I can stay in med school, continue the dream. I am not, I feel miserable and I started crying as soon as I heard the news.
    I had a meeting with one of my instructors who prescribed me remeron to help me short-term. Big mistake….made me feel what I imagine vertigo feels like. Appointment with psychiatrist made…he listened to me for 20 minutes…took a test where my depression was scored 55/65 so purty dooooown in dumps. More meds…get rid of remeron (it was bad and as a 5’4” girl 30 mg was waaay too much).
    I have been on the meds for a week, and i don’t feel as miserable. I took a physio test that I am sure I bombed though…but no more exams for a couple of weeks.
    Without the exam pressure, I don’t know what I want anymore. Can I suck it up and pull thorugh med school hell? My significant other tells me countless times that he doesn’t get why I keep putting myself in e situation where I am not happy and that I should not need meds to keep me stable…no matter what i choose to do.
    I am in my early 20s so there really are options. The problem is, I have wanted this for so long and my family hAve sacrificed so much to get me here that I don’t know what to do. I don’t even know if I am here because i truly want to or because I just don’t know what else there is to do and there are expectations to meet.

    Confused, sad but better.

  224. Hey.noone can tell u what to do . But I am just telling u my honest opinion. If u are outside of your hometown and u are taking meds after 1st semester and probably spending alot of money. I would NOT continue esp if u need psychiatriic meds to do so. Those med schools outside your hometown [in the caribean/mexico/random islands] are NOT worth it…u dont even know if they are fully accredited by the US.

    You are right – u are young with lots of options…find one that is best fo r u and im sure you will.

    best of luck..im not expert….just someone who knows alot about the ups/downs of med school

  225. Thanks so much…I have been waiting on someone to reply. Been on the deciding path for a couple of weeks. Talking with psychiatrist has helped some and I think I will be off to greener pastures soon.

  226. hey…Clari..how are u doing? glad u are doing better..dont worry..im in your shoes too… you are never alone with the whole hate medschool thing… you are young and have lots of options..find what u like…u are worth it. Trust me sticking it thru can suck your life, esp if you are away from your hometown

    • Hey! Clari here. SO, I LEFT. I flipped the bird on them and got out. Now i am in San Diego dabbling with design and I am HAPPY 😀

    • Also you are absolutely right. My close friends that decided to suck it up and stay write to me all the time, complaining about how shaky the situation is and how they can’t wait to HOPEFULLY get out during residency so….I am glad i cut my loses and started anew 🙂

  227. hello, i recently decided to try and be come a doctor again. here is my story http://redpm.tumblr.com/

  228. I think this is among the most vital info for me.
    And i’m glad reading your article. But want to remark on few general things,
    The web site style is perfect, the articles is really nice : D.
    Good job, cheers

  229. I am going to appear for my final exams on feb 2 and I am too depressed.i don’t know how I made it so far.wasted too many years of my life.since I’m from india..it’s really hard to quit..I dont know what I would say to my parents..I was googling for life after dropping out of med school and came across this..I am really depressed:(

  230. Ok I am in the same boat…but I can never get over what happened in med school and it has been almost 10 years now. It doesn’t get any easier not a day goes by where I don’t think about it. I ended up getting a degree from an offshore school but can’t get a residency spot so what is the point…of a piece of paper. Burdened by tremendous school debt and now 40 years old (woman unmarried too late for kids) couldn’t afford one anyway. Total loner now and my situation was so intensely stressful that I swear I have flashbacks all the time and they stab me like a knife still to this day. I wish I could make it right…explain to the deans the misunderstandings that occurred…explain to them how I need to fix this.
    I would say based on my experience…do NOT seek help with anything remotely related to mental health because med schools see this sort of problem as a weakness. Even though they preach non-discrimination…they practice it anyway.
    Even now I wish I could get another chance at my first school and do it right. Anyway for me…everyday is still tortuous b/c I know what happened shouldn’t have happened as well it was less than one point…literally…and my answer was correct…makes it all the more completely intolerable. And the higher ups that liked me no longer liked me b/c of one higher up who made sure to paint me that way. I would say…don’t waste too much of your life lamenting…and end up like me. My life is pretty much done. Most of you are still young enough to do something and salvage your life. I am too stubborn to let this go… a flaw that got me into an awesome med school in the first place…the one I dreamed of going to since I was a kid. I would do it all over again just to fix this…and they won’t …so I have to just struggle everyday instead. It really sucks not to be able to do anything about it…

  231. hello claricefonseca.thankyou for those kind words:)I feel better these days.just completed my final year theory exams.practicals are this monday.after my house surgeoncy period I plan to drop out:)

  232. Wow I feel for each and every single one of you. It’s the worst when you are at a place where you aren’t enjoying your life and are confused. I have nothing to lend beyond my sincere hope that each of you found your way to doing something that you love. Life is brief so please find a way to enjoy the ride. Love and blessings to each of you. *\(^o^)/*

  233. I came to this site looking for comfort also. However, I was not a medical student, but starting as a physical therapy student at the age of 30 yrs. I stayed in the program for a miserable 4 ½ years (repeating a year, taking a yr off to work in the field as a tech for a 3-yr degree.) I struggled with the academics, initially, but sealed my fate by bombing clinicals. I had 3 mos of clinicals to complete, but it may as well have been 10 yrs; I WAS D.O.N.E. I was tired of the hypocrisy of patient-centered care; I was tired “not getting it”. I fell into a deep depression, divorced from my marriage, and then went scary manic (probably due to my prescription meds- BTW, not on ANY meds today.)
    Forward 4 yrs, and at 41 yrs old, and every single day I STILL live with the regret of having entered graduate school. My intentions were pure, but I was very naive. I am currently a SAHM and VERY happy and overjoyed at the opportunity to be a dedicated mom.
    But, I as will need to enter the work force soon, I can’t ignore two facts: 1) I have put 7 yrs (2 yrs of post undergrad prereq classes to qualify for the grad school- my undergrad degree was not related to grad degree; and 4 yrs of grad school) into schooling which has cumulated in zero degree (at the school I attended I was denied a degree based on my failure to complete clinical rotations); and 2) How do I funnel this experience-which was immensely financially, mentally, and time wise expensive -into something tangible at a work level. It’s utterly incomprehensible that I actually PAID (tuition) to have my self-esteem and sanity trampled by a group of people (educators, other students, and other professionals in the field) that gave nothing but cold criticism or pity (if they were feeling generous.)
    I did drop the ball and knew it was the only option, but I can’t help but wonder, what if I had just worked at a 9-5 job for all those years? At least I would not have the debt (maybe even a savings); I would have real world work experience; and I may even kept my sanity! As Cam Newton says “hindsight is always 50/50″. That is still funny.

    • Hi! I know this post hasn’t had any recent comments in a while but I was wondering if anyone could give me some guidance. I am in my second year of med school and I am considering taking medical leave to think things through and explore other options. I have seen people talk about getting an MPH and teaching. I was wondering if anyone who has left med school to do something else or as the examples listed above could tell me what the steps they took towards doing it, why they choose it, and how much better their life’s are since leaving? Thanks!

      • Hey Liz,

        Honestly, you have to listen to your heart. Not your family, friends, professors, etc and especially your brain. Your heart will tell you whether you should continue or whether you should let go. Once you decide, those other remaining things (the supportive family, friends, professors, etc.) and your mind will be there to help the true pursuit of your heart. Whether that’s an MPH, teaching, another medical field, anything really. One decision at a time, following your heart. Because only your heart can push you through the trials and suffering of any great endeavour (ex. Job, career, goal) to fulfill your potential. I dropped out…twice. You have to listen to your heart.

  234. Hey, I just want to thank you for this article. Your last part about finding this by googling medical school dropout hit me in the gut. I’ve also struggled with depression for awhile and your article made me feel extremely relieved to not be the only one who felt this way.

  235. I made it to my 3rd year, when you start doing your clinical rotations. I got see how I will be spending my life for the next 30 years, if I stayed in medicine. I chose not to. People think the money’s decent, and if you enjoyed your work, it would be. If you’re miserable, however, they could not possibly pay you enough. Your family and friends may be disappointed if you quit; they would likely be even MORE disappointed if you stayed in medicine until you were truly trapped, and opted for suicide in order to escape. Burn the bridge, don’t look back.

  236. […] dropped out of her 3rd year in medical school to become a teacher and start a family.You can read more about that here on her […]

  237. […] Cindy quit in 3rd year to become a teacher and start a family. […]

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