Anyone else decided not to finish med school?

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sandramjet
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Anyone else decided not to finish med school?

Post by sandramjet » Fri Apr 14, 2017 3:46 pm

We have some friends whose son went to medical school. He finished the first year, and started into the second year when he decided to not pursue it anymore, for a few reasons (among them amount of debt needed to finish, and the impact to time with spouse, realizing that he won't make tons of money to repay the debts in the fields he was interested such as public health, etc). One of the downsides of quitting is that he now seems to feel like he's a failure.
Given that there more than a few physicians here, and hopefully some who have gone through similar situations... I'm wondering if anyone has any suggestions on how to encourage him? Both his parents and I have no doubts he'll be successful in some other endeavor (he has already found another job, so its not about paying the bills), but it might help to be able to relate other experiences.

bi0hazard
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Re: Anyone else decided not to finish med school?

Post by bi0hazard » Fri Apr 14, 2017 3:54 pm

IMHO:

If he is not dedicated enough to go past first year, it's a good idea to move on. Medicine is delayed gratification to a level most people cannot imagine. Three more years of med school and 3-7 years of residency/slave labor... How/why can you convince someone of doing that?? He is not cut out for it.

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Re: Anyone else decided not to finish med school?

Post by jcavana1 » Fri Apr 14, 2017 4:22 pm

As a medical resident in my 8th year of post college training and with two years to go, if he wasn't sure about it that early then i really think he made the right decision. It gets harder and more difficult to be enthusiastic every year.

No shame in trying to be happy.

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Re: Anyone else decided not to finish med school?

Post by Dottie57 » Fri Apr 14, 2017 4:35 pm

I think it is smart and brave to quit something you are not cut out to do.

linguini
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Re: Anyone else decided not to finish med school?

Post by linguini » Fri Apr 14, 2017 4:46 pm

He may feel like a failure, but he absolutely isn't. What he is realizing is super common, and it's actually a good thing he realized it so early on.

If he's already feeling burned out in the first couple years and like he doesn't get enough time with his spouse, then it probably won't get any easier. My wife is in med school (also came out of public health), and now that she's doing rotations, she spends even less time at home and works odder and longer hours. She comes home exhausted, she sometimes works weekends, and occasionally she even has to pull overnight shifts where I won't see her for a full day and a half. And she hasn't stopped studying just because she isn't sitting in classrooms anymore; it just gets added on top of the existing more-than-full-time job of working at the hospital. My wife is a type A personality and thrives on stress, so she's loving it. But even still it wears on her, it wears on all her classmates, and it will wear on your friends' son too.

On top of that, everything I hear from her suggests it's just going to get harder after med school. Residents spend even more time at the hospital than the med students do. During her rotations, my wife has already come across a couple residents who plan to quit instead of practicing medicine. If he doesn't think he will lead a fulfilling life as a doctor, he is making the right choice by getting out earlier instead of later, after accumulating 2.5 more years of debt and going through training that will have no practical use for him.

The culture among med students and physicians is to accept this frankly abusive amount of work-related stress as "part of the job" and to look down on those who "aren't cut out for medicine", but really, being willing to take an inhuman amount of stress is an unhealthy lifestyle choice, and there's no shame in deciding you want something else. By going into a different career, he is doing what is best for himself and his family. There's probably nothing that you or your friends can do to convince him of it right away. He's going to feel some shame for a bit over his career adjustment, but eventually he will get some distance and realize that there's nothing to be ashamed of. In the meantime, your friends just need to keep telling him they're proud of him and think he made the right choice.

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Re: Anyone else decided not to finish med school?

Post by hariom » Fri Apr 14, 2017 4:50 pm

the sense of failure can linger for a long time if he quits. the should have/could have feeling. he can always enter public health after completing medical school (without doing a residency). will probably get paid at a higher rate than a non physician public health professional.

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Re: Anyone else decided not to finish med school?

Post by lightheir » Fri Apr 14, 2017 5:29 pm

More common unfortunately, are people who forced themselves to finish med school despite hating it early on, and then forcing themselves into a career that they dislike vehemently. They get bitter about it, and it shows with their relations with patients, spouses, and kids. Very sad, but not uncommon, unfortunately.

He absolutely made the right decision to bail out at this point if he knows its not for him. The medical field only gets more demanding of your time and commitments as you progress further, and the income isn't enough to offset that amount of unhappiness (as compared to say, an unhappy investment banker who could bail out after 8 years of pain with enough money to retire.)

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Re: Anyone else decided not to finish med school?

Post by JDCarpenter » Fri Apr 14, 2017 5:46 pm

linguini wrote:.... My wife is in med school (also came out of public health), and now that she's doing rotations, she spends even less time at home and works odder and longer hours. She comes home exhausted, she sometimes works weekends, and occasionally she even has to pull overnight shifts where I won't see her for a full day and a half....
Sounds like DW, apart from the "occasionally"--and she is 27 years out of med school. Private practice OBG (until end of July, at least). There is no way her job would be worth doing if she didn't truly enjoy it.

OP--I agree, the young man made the right call for he and his family. Pushing to go back in just accumulates more debt and stress for someone who is unlikely to ever enjoy the practice of medicine. While the pay is good, I don't think it is worth it unless one enjoys the work (and is darn good at deferring gratification in the face of considerable stress)
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Loik098
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Re: Anyone else decided not to finish med school?

Post by Loik098 » Fri Apr 14, 2017 5:57 pm

sandramjet wrote:We have some friends whose son went to medical school. He finished the first year, and started into the second year when he decided to not pursue it anymore, for a few reasons (among them amount of debt needed to finish, and the impact to time with spouse, realizing that he won't make tons of money to repay the debts in the fields he was interested such as public health, etc).
To be clear: is he quitting school altogether, or is he contemplating switching majors?

There is no shame in learning what you want out of life....some of those lessons are just more expensive than others. But if he feels like this is a "failure", perhaps he can use the credits he has from that first year towards a Master's in another science-related field? Doing so can be done relatively cost-effectively. Just let him know many credits "expire" after 5 years or so.

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Re: Anyone else decided not to finish med school?

Post by hicabob » Fri Apr 14, 2017 5:58 pm

My nephew quit med school after 3 weeks. He's much happier doing his genetics related phd stuff instead. A bit shocking at first for the family, but he is doing well in his weird field so all good. He said he wanted to do serious science rather than medicine. As in most things, figuring it out early is better than later.

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Re: Anyone else decided not to finish med school?

Post by crumbgrabber » Fri Apr 14, 2017 6:04 pm

My brother finished med school but bailed on residency. He is now working for a pharma company, absolutely loves it, and makes very good money. 3 years out and he's already paid off his debt. So there are options for those who finish school but don't want continued pain...

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Re: Anyone else decided not to finish med school?

Post by Good Listener » Fri Apr 14, 2017 6:14 pm

Like others said, if he doesn't want to do it, the earlier that he dropped out the better. But I'm reading the reasons he dropped out as to avoid debt and spend more time with his spouse. It is not my business to judge anybody, but to me those are horrible reasons if accurate. I also think it's great of you to be a friend to the mother, but I would let this go to the parents to manage.

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Re: Anyone else decided not to finish med school?

Post by Inframan4712 » Fri Apr 14, 2017 6:22 pm

Good Listener wrote:Like others said, if he doesn't want to do it, the earlier that he dropped out the better. But I'm reading the reasons he dropped out as to avoid debt and spend more time with his spouse. It is not my business to judge anybody, but to me those are horrible reasons if accurate. I also think it's great of you to be a friend to the mother, but I would let this go to the parents to manage.
I'm a married MD with kids and I completely disagree. Those are not horrible reasons to quit - those are *incredibly insightful* and *wonderful* reasons to quit, especially so early.

You only get one life. I'm happy with mine, but unless you've been through it, you can't imagine the sacrifices required.

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Re: Anyone else decided not to finish med school?

Post by blueman457 » Fri Apr 14, 2017 6:28 pm

-One of my classmates left after 1 semester. He realized he liked chemistry more than medicine... went for his Ph.D instead.
-I met a McKinsey consultant who finished a surgical residency (5-7 after medical school), who was completely happy not being clinical.
-One of my relatives finished her residency and is now doing public health. Doesn't pay much, but she's happy not seeing patients. Her loans got paid off by her higher earning husband.
-I interviewed a 2nd year cardiac surgery fellow; she got through 6 years of surgical training and realized she didn't want to operate, ever.

I would STRONGLY encourage your nephew NOT to do medicine if he's tired of it. It's a long long long road, not necessarily satisfying anymore. He's definitely NOT a failure if he stops. If anything, many in medicine will applaud him for recognizing it early.


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Re: Anyone else decided not to finish med school?

Post by steve roy » Fri Apr 14, 2017 6:31 pm

Our oldest son dropped out of college in second year and is now a manager for Southwest Airlines. He's happy and fulfilled, though Mom and Dad tried to talk him out of bailing from college. People have to find their own way.

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Re: Anyone else decided not to finish med school?

Post by somekevinguy » Fri Apr 14, 2017 7:06 pm

Echoing the others on this board...both wife and I are physicians and it is a long road that gets progressively more difficult from first or second year of med school. That being said, I would say 1st and 2nd year med school have the most resemblance to undergrad and the least resemblance to the actual practice of medicine. If he was dropping out because it didn't seem like something he wanted to do, I would hesitate a bit given that fact. While mounting debt is certainly a concern, overall I think debt is manageable if one can be responsible with expenses while in med school/residency, regardless of what specialty you go into (and even consider moonlighting). However, time with family will definitely be tough and a sacrifice for at least the next 3-6+ years, even in the kindest and "easiest" of clerkships/residencies. Ultimately, being able to make such a decision probably doesn't come lightly and there are plenty of other wonderful careers available that don't involve the same trade-offs.

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Re: Anyone else decided not to finish med school?

Post by Afty » Fri Apr 14, 2017 7:09 pm

Inframan4712 wrote:
Good Listener wrote:Like others said, if he doesn't want to do it, the earlier that he dropped out the better. But I'm reading the reasons he dropped out as to avoid debt and spend more time with his spouse. It is not my business to judge anybody, but to me those are horrible reasons if accurate. I also think it's great of you to be a friend to the mother, but I would let this go to the parents to manage.
I'm a married MD with kids and I completely disagree. Those are not horrible reasons to quit - those are *incredibly insightful* and *wonderful* reasons to quit, especially so early.

You only get one life. I'm happy with mine, but unless you've been through it, you can't imagine the sacrifices required.
+1. I'm married to a physician. She is on service this week, which means I will get to see her for maybe an hour each day. Our kids won't get to see her at all; she will leave before they wake up and come home after they're asleep.

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Re: Anyone else decided not to finish med school?

Post by White Coat Investor » Fri Apr 14, 2017 7:13 pm

sandramjet wrote:We have some friends whose son went to medical school. He finished the first year, and started into the second year when he decided to not pursue it anymore, for a few reasons (among them amount of debt needed to finish, and the impact to time with spouse, realizing that he won't make tons of money to repay the debts in the fields he was interested such as public health, etc). One of the downsides of quitting is that he now seems to feel like he's a failure.
Given that there more than a few physicians here, and hopefully some who have gone through similar situations... I'm wondering if anyone has any suggestions on how to encourage him? Both his parents and I have no doubts he'll be successful in some other endeavor (he has already found another job, so its not about paying the bills), but it might help to be able to relate other experiences.
For sure, if there's something else he'd like to do he should go do that. It takes a ridiculous amount of commitment just to make it through the long training pipeline, much less practice for 30+ years afterward. If you're always thinking about something else you should have done instead it's not going to be very fun.

Society sometimes seems to think that "doctors and lawyers" are the only people who are successful, work hard, and make lots of money. You don't have to spend much time on this forum to realize that isn't true at all. In fact, there are probably far better ways to make lots of money than Medicine and Law.
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Re: Anyone else decided not to finish med school?

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Fri Apr 14, 2017 7:21 pm

Afty wrote:
Inframan4712 wrote:
Good Listener wrote:Like others said, if he doesn't want to do it, the earlier that he dropped out the better. But I'm reading the reasons he dropped out as to avoid debt and spend more time with his spouse. It is not my business to judge anybody, but to me those are horrible reasons if accurate. I also think it's great of you to be a friend to the mother, but I would let this go to the parents to manage.
I'm a married MD with kids and I completely disagree. Those are not horrible reasons to quit - those are *incredibly insightful* and *wonderful* reasons to quit, especially so early.

You only get one life. I'm happy with mine, but unless you've been through it, you can't imagine the sacrifices required.
+1. I'm married to a physician. She is on service this week, which means I will get to see her for maybe an hour each day. Our kids won't get to see her at all; she will leave before they wake up and come home after they're asleep.
+2 - Have a sibling and three close cousins who are physicians, one is a surgeon. If they aren't on service, they are getting called to an emergency and it can be at any time of day or night and interrupt their own special times with family and they do it selflessly. It takes a strong commitment to put the patient first.
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Re: Anyone else decided not to finish med school?

Post by cantos » Fri Apr 14, 2017 7:48 pm

He failed. That is good. That is more than most can say - to fail at something most people would love to have, and move on. The more you do, the more you try, the more you pursue, the more you fail. The less you do, the less you risk, the less you fail, the less you may have to show for it. Eventually you arrive where you belong. Take risks. Discover yourself. Land where you should be and not where the tide takes you. Good for him.

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Re: Anyone else decided not to finish med school?

Post by camden » Fri Apr 14, 2017 7:56 pm

Agree with multiple comments above; medicine is an awfully consuming grind even if you really like it. If he feels that it is not for him, better to find out early. In particular, if he is unhappy with the amount of time he gets to spend with his spouse in med school years 1/2, he is really going to hate the next few decades.

He is not a "failure". Going on and spending your life hating what you do would be a "failure". May not be the case here, but often it is the parents' sense of disappointment that drives the feeling.

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Re: Anyone else decided not to finish med school?

Post by neurosphere » Fri Apr 14, 2017 8:03 pm

cantos wrote:He failed. That is good. That is more than most can say - to fail at something most people would love to have, and move on. The more you do, the more you try, the more you pursue, the more you fail. The less you do, the less you risk, the less you fail, the less you may have to show for it. Eventually you arrive where you belong. Take risks. Discover yourself. Land where you should be and not where the tide takes you. Good for him.
On the contrary, he didn't fail (as in failed out due to grades), but he made an active decision to change course. That's a stunning success, as most in his situation do not have the courage and fortitude to "get out", either due to fear or stubbornness.

I'm a part-time physician (and former associate residency director) and I know dozens of MDs who are stunningly unhappy with what they are doing. High debt plays a role. But most folks made the decision to become an MD well before they were savvy enough to weigh the pro/cons and understand the realities and feel stuck.

Have your friend's son read this page if you think it will help. I have the feeling he will be successful at whatever he chooses to do, because he make an informed decision in advance of getting in "too deep".
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Re: Anyone else decided not to finish med school?

Post by metalworking » Fri Apr 14, 2017 8:59 pm

If he had a friend/family member who dropped out (or even failed out for that matter) of medical school would he consider them a failure? I hope not.

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Re: Anyone else decided not to finish med school?

Post by Wildebeest » Fri Apr 14, 2017 9:05 pm

I recall two friends dropping out of medical school.

It surprised me. I thought they were good people, they were searching souls, smart enough and seemed kind of lost and I thought the rigor of medical school, residency etc would help them find their way.

It may have worked for them, but I have never heard of them again.
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Re: Anyone else decided not to finish med school?

Post by greybus » Fri Apr 14, 2017 9:12 pm

Once the emotional aspect of it has passed, you might appeal to the economical side (sunk cost fallacy vs opportunity cost) and find this podcast helpful:

http://freakonomics.com/podcast/new-fre ... -quitting/

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Re: Anyone else decided not to finish med school?

Post by qwertyjazz » Fri Apr 14, 2017 9:22 pm

You are missing a chunk of the story and are asking a bunch of people a long time out of 1st year med school. In most med schools, the first two years is class work filled with overachieving obsessive compulsive types who think that they need to be top of their class in courses that have very little to do with what you actually do as a physician (it is a rare physician who can remember minutiae of anatomy or biochemistry). The work does get harder 3rd year - 4 th year and then residency but it is patient related then. Your friends kid saw the BS and crazy co-students and bailed. This is not about overworked physicians - this is about first 2 years of med school have the pain with no benefit.
Should he go back? I have no idea. There is money to be made as a physician who never does residency. A lot of companies value having an MD on board. Might he like actually being a doctor seeing patients (sacrificing to do that)? Again I have no idea. But neither does he. He left before real medical school starts.
Asking a bunch of old doctors does not help either. He probably should ask 4th year med students or residents or physicians who got a non clinical job out of medical school - at most 3 or so years ahead of him.
The rest of the advice is from people who forgot 1st year medical school.
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Re: Anyone else decided not to finish med school?

Post by parvo19 » Fri Apr 14, 2017 9:34 pm

His feeling of failure will disappear if he can direct his energies into a field that interests him. Is his new job in public health? If not, I would encourage him to pursue a career in the field if that is what he is passionate about.

I am a medical student now but I have a Master degree in public health and have worked in the field. There are many exciting opportunities to contribute to policies and programs that will improve the health of more people than I will ever help as a clinician. If that is what "gets him going", tell him to go for it!

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Re: Anyone else decided not to finish med school?

Post by drob82 » Fri Apr 14, 2017 10:32 pm

I am a physician, 5 years into practice. I think he made the right choice. If you aren't fully committed to medicine, realizing that early is a good thing.

The first 2 years of medical school are different than the practice of medicine, but they are a crucible that all doctors got through. The competition from "gunners" in the M1/M2 classroom years can really get to you, but the challenges only get worse in the M3/M4 years and residency. If this was enough to make him quit, they he probably isn't meant for medicine.

Medicine is not for everyone. Training is longer in real life than on paper, and the sacrifices are hard to fully understand for those who haven't lived through it. Looking back, even I don't really think I really knew what I was getting into. 4 years medical school, 5 years residency, 1 year fellowship = 10 years. Your friends the same age have normal jobs, move up the ladder, rarely work weekends, have time to exercise, have a social life, date and get married, start their families -- and you are still training.

During training, the hours are long. The 80 hour work-week for residents was meant to be more humane than what preceded it, but it's still a lot of time compared to work outside of medicine. Surgical rounds start at 5:30-6:00am, which means everyday you wake up at ~4:30-5:00am. Surgical residents rarely eat lunch. It is routine to work most weekends, and 1-2 nights/week overnight. For call you sleep in the hospital and don't go home. Even when you're off, there is still reading and studying to do. You miss social and family events, from being too tired (e.g. pictures of me asleep on the couch at parties were cliche during residency), arriving too late, or having to leave because of an emergency.

Medicine can be mundane (charting, paperwork) and then other times high stress (code blue, traumas, etc.). Making a mistake can mean someone can die or be seriously harmed. There are highs - patients that you help to get better, patients/families that appreciate you, and working with an inspiring physician, nurse and other staff - but there are also lows - deaths, child abuse, gun violence/assaults, senseless accidents, untreatable conditions.

It gets better when you get past training, but life is still not "normal". I love what I do. For some reason I always knew I wanted to be a doctor - no one encouraged me, but I also never considered quitting. You have to be committed to being a doctor - it is the only way to be successful and fulfilled for the long term.

Your son will be fine. That he doesn't want to continue in medicine is ok. If he got into medical school, he is smart, hard-working, and has a good college record - he will find something else, and be successful. An interest in public health can be approached in a lot of other ways -- policy/government work, non-profits, etc. It may even be more lucrative, with less debt and better lifestyle. He's not a failure - this is just a detour.

Good luck.

Dave

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Re: Anyone else decided not to finish med school?

Post by anoop » Fri Apr 14, 2017 10:55 pm

You could have him read/watch this:
http://news.stanford.edu/2005/06/14/jobs-061505/

It's not about dropping out of medical school, but it does cover dropping out of school and also the twists and turns in life.

It may also help to have him read some motivational stuff. Not Tony Robbins kind about material success, but stuff for the soul. My favorite is Many Lives, Many Masters by Brian Weiss.

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Re: Anyone else decided not to finish med school?

Post by Cruise » Fri Apr 14, 2017 11:07 pm

sandramjet wrote:Both his parents and I have no doubts he'll be successful in some other endeavor (he has already found another job, so its not about paying the bills), but it might help to be able to relate other experiences.
Unhappy medical and legal professionals contribute to high suicide rates. The son appears to be ahead of this curve, so good for him. Of course, he may find that he is disenchanted with the next thing, and the thing after that. At some point, he will either find his way, or regret his decision to bail.

I have a friend who had an excellent job at a medical center, but quit prematurely due to immaturity. She gave up a lot, and has struggled for years because of this decision.

No way to know how this will turn out, until it does...

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Re: Anyone else decided not to finish med school?

Post by SGM » Sat Apr 15, 2017 8:07 am

Three members of my medical school class left in the first or second year. One was a complete fraud who entered medical school on a full scholarship with false credentials. A second was a woman with a family who confessed she felt she was smarter than the other students and flunked out. A third was 19 when she entered medical school and met a fellow and dropped out to get married and have a family.

I graduated medical school without any debt and found the whole experience to be a lot of fun and a privilege. I was an older student with prior careers. I saw my family a lot more often in medical school and later on than I did when I was an internal consultant for a large corporation and on the road almost every week. Sometimes I didn't see my family for 20 days at a time before medical school.

Certainly medical school is not for everyone and a lot of doctors are stressed out and unhappy. Others don't want to give it up and work into their 70s. It is not a field to go into unless you really want it.

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Re: Anyone else decided not to finish med school?

Post by tp_from_ks » Sat Apr 15, 2017 8:29 am

Going through med school, yes it's difficult. The fact that he finished the first year says a lot. However, there is a benefit of quitting something especially quitting fast.

One of the most popular podcasts is Freakonomics radio. One of their most popular episodes is The upside of quitting. I think that will be a great listen for him. I enjoyed it. Best of success to you all.

Edit: To give context, I'm done with Med school, full time pediatrician.

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Re: Anyone else decided not to finish med school?

Post by Mike83 » Sat Apr 15, 2017 1:41 pm

Some people wind up in professional school for the the wrong reasons. Social or family expectations, or a mistaken interpretation of what is desired or required. Some people even forge ahead and complete the program, knowing this, and can then redirect the learned skills into other areas very successfully.

All in all, medicine, the law, and the priesthood, once sure-fire paths for a middle or lower class citizen to pull a few generations ahead, are now much less attractive as an escape mechanism. Lawyers are in oversupply, physicians have been commoditized and reduced to technical employees, and religious callings have had their own peculiar downfall.

I've done really well, but have considered how things might have also turned out to be really okay if I had just decided early on to be something simpler like a fireman with modest pension after twenty years and a small house in the outer suburbs.

Good luck, and thanks for all the fish.

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Re: Anyone else decided not to finish med school?

Post by Good Listener » Sat Apr 15, 2017 2:01 pm

Inframan4712 wrote:
Good Listener wrote:Like others said, if he doesn't want to do it, the earlier that he dropped out the better. But I'm reading the reasons he dropped out as to avoid debt and spend more time with his spouse. It is not my business to judge anybody, but to me those are horrible reasons if accurate. I also think it's great of you to be a friend to the mother, but I would let this go to the parents to manage.
I'm a married MD with kids and I completely disagree. Those are not horrible reasons to quit - those are *incredibly insightful* and *wonderful* reasons to quit, especially so early.

You only get one life. I'm happy with mine, but unless you've been through it, you can't imagine the sacrifices required.
I may have misinterpreted the time with the spouse. I thought it was just during medical school, not for the duration.

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Post by Taylor Larimore » Sat Apr 15, 2017 2:21 pm

Bogleheads:

In my opinion, this is one of the better threads on the forum.

Thank you and best wishes.
Taylor
"Simplicity is the master key to financial success." -- Jack Bogle

msd96
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Re: Anyone else decided not to finish med school?

Post by msd96 » Sat Apr 15, 2017 4:16 pm

I dropped out of med school twenty years ago. I was two years and a few rotations in when I left.

My situation was a bit different, in that I was much younger and not worried about a spouse/family - I was 20 years old and the second youngest person in my class when I started. I was the stereotypical kid with strict immigrant parents who got pushed into med school without having a clear passion for the field. Well, that backfired.

I cannot describe how depressed I was during that time, to the point of being suicidal. I developed an autoimmune disease that I'm sure was triggered by the stress. The best thing I ever did was to leave - I only wish I had found the courage and determination to quit sooner.

I have never looked back or regretted it. It took a few years for the nightmares to go away, and to re-focus my career in a different direction. I have done fine. I'm not financially as successful as I could have been, but I'm infinitely happier and I enjoy what I do, absolutely not related to the healthcare industry in any way.

Not blaming myself anymore was the hardest part and took many years. I blamed myself for wimping out in standing up to my parents, for not truly having known the right thing to do sooner, and once I knew it, for not quitting sooner.

I felt like a failure professionally for a long time, but even then I never regretted my decision to quit. I knew it was the right choice for me. It sounds like your friend needs time to heal, and he will recover. Hopefully his family will support him unconditionally and without blame..

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reriodan
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Re: Anyone else decided not to finish med school?

Post by reriodan » Sat Apr 15, 2017 4:54 pm

He failed medical school? That doesn't seem so bad, dentistry is a very respectable career. :D

anil686
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Re: Anyone else decided not to finish med school?

Post by anil686 » Sat Apr 15, 2017 5:34 pm

White Coat Investor wrote:
sandramjet wrote:We have some friends whose son went to medical school. He finished the first year, and started into the second year when he decided to not pursue it anymore, for a few reasons (among them amount of debt needed to finish, and the impact to time with spouse, realizing that he won't make tons of money to repay the debts in the fields he was interested such as public health, etc). One of the downsides of quitting is that he now seems to feel like he's a failure.
Given that there more than a few physicians here, and hopefully some who have gone through similar situations... I'm wondering if anyone has any suggestions on how to encourage him? Both his parents and I have no doubts he'll be successful in some other endeavor (he has already found another job, so its not about paying the bills), but it might help to be able to relate other experiences.
For sure, if there's something else he'd like to do he should go do that. It takes a ridiculous amount of commitment just to make it through the long training pipeline, much less practice for 30+ years afterward. If you're always thinking about something else you should have done instead it's not going to be very fun.

Society sometimes seems to think that "doctors and lawyers" are the only people who are successful, work hard, and make lots of money. You don't have to spend much time on this forum to realize that isn't true at all. In fact, there are probably far better ways to make lots of money than Medicine and Law.
+1 from another physician...

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White Coat Investor
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Re: Anyone else decided not to finish med school?

Post by White Coat Investor » Sat Apr 15, 2017 5:52 pm

tp_from_ks wrote:Going through med school, yes it's difficult. The fact that he finished the first year says a lot. However, there is a benefit of quitting something especially quitting fast.
Reminds me of a quote about entrepreneurs where the best ones fail quickly and often.
1) Invest you must 2) Time is your friend 3) Impulse is your enemy | 4) Basic arithmetic works 5) Stick to simplicity 6) Stay the course

sketchy9
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Re: Anyone else decided not to finish med school?

Post by sketchy9 » Sat Apr 15, 2017 6:03 pm

lightheir wrote:More common unfortunately, are people who forced themselves to finish med school despite hating it early on, and then forcing themselves into a career that they dislike vehemently. They get bitter about it, and it shows with their relations with patients, spouses, and kids. Very sad, but not uncommon, unfortunately.

He absolutely made the right decision to bail out at this point if he knows its not for him. The medical field only gets more demanding of your time and commitments as you progress further, and the income isn't enough to offset that amount of unhappiness (as compared to say, an unhappy investment banker who could bail out after 8 years of pain with enough money to retire.)
I couldn't agree more with this entire post more. The first part of the bolded portion is more true than not for me. I wouldn't say I dislike my career in medicine vehemently, but it most certainly is not how I would choose to spend my time if given a choice. I've been able to avoid the bitterness by switching to a part-time job that allows me do the things I would rather be doing, but I got very lucky in being able to choose that path. It's not available to every doctor.

I definitely had a feeling that something about my choice was "off" as early as my first year of med school. Like many other of the posters here have alluded to, I realized that the first two years are nothing like the actual practice of medicine, and I convinced myself that once I got to my clinical clerkships things would improve. They did, somewhat, but not enough to make up for the drawbacks. By that point, though, I was in too much debt not to continue on.

I applaud the decision that the OP's friend's son made, not because I dislike medicine, but because, as lightheir says above, the further you get in training, the harder it becomes to walk away. Debt, the feeling of wasted time, and increasing specialization of skills and knowledge to the exclusion of others kind of funnel you towards one eventual outcome. The time to get out is early, and it seems like he knew that and made the best decision for himself.

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Re: Anyone else decided not to finish med school?

Post by WallStreetPhysician » Sat Apr 15, 2017 7:13 pm

I think he made the right choice. Medicine is not for everyone - according to the most recent Medscape compensation survey, only 77% of doctors would choose to do medicine again.

http://www.medscape.com/slideshow/compe ... 6008547#38

It sounds like he's definitely going to be successful, and there's no reason to try to soldier on for another 6-10 years of training, accumulate hundreds of thousands in loans, and end up being one of the 23% of doctors who wish they had done something with their lives other than medicine.

-WSP

Derby
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Re: Anyone else decided not to finish med school?

Post by Derby » Sat Apr 15, 2017 7:50 pm

My MS1 class had 3 (of 130) drop out in the first month or so. I suspect that's not a statistical outlier. There were certainly a few more that would have been happier if they had too.

Another thing to consider is, if after taking a year off, he decides that he does want to pursue medicine after all, it is much easier to enter medical school as a second year. I had someone like that in my MS2 year. However, that would probably not be possible after more than 2 years out, I would guess.
Carpe Diem.

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thatwhichisgood
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Re: Anyone else decided not to finish med school?

Post by thatwhichisgood » Sat Apr 15, 2017 8:15 pm

hicabob wrote:My nephew quit med school after 3 weeks. He's much happier doing his genetics related phd stuff instead. A bit shocking at first for the family, but he is doing well in his weird field so all good. He said he wanted to do serious science rather than medicine. As in most things, figuring it out early is better than later.
Our neuroscientist brain child (PhD Theoretical Physicist) told me once...when one of my sisters needed it...find her a MD with a PhD...that's important. Good advice for a cancer family that's hasn't lost a sibling yet! I did, she went... He's a neuroscientist.

Good for him! Do what he calls his name.

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Re: Anyone else decided not to finish med school?

Post by High Income Parent » Sat Apr 15, 2017 10:46 pm

Doc practicing 10 years here.
If you don't love taking care of people and curing disease, then medicine can look more like a prison sentence rather than a ticket to the good life.
There are hundreds of docs that finish medical school and residency and look back at the mountain of school loans and feel trapped in the profession.
It is better to get out earlier than late.
I even took a month off my third year when we had a lot going on in my family and I was very stressed. Thankfully I missed it and resumed my studies with a renewed sense of vigor.
If he got into medical school in the first place, he has the smarts to do just about anything. Tell him to pursue what he truly loves or at least something he can enjoy and make a decent living at.
Children are not a distraction from more important work. They are the most important work. | | C. S. Lewis

Canuckfan
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Re: Anyone else decided not to finish med school?

Post by Canuckfan » Sat Apr 15, 2017 11:49 pm

I'm a subspecialist working in the community, 7 years out post-fellowship.

Quitting early in med school is the best time to quit! Far better than to soldier on, rack up hundreds of thousands in debt, and realize that quitting is no longer a financially viable option.

The one wrinkle is that MS1 and 2 (first two years of med school, heavily preclinical) bear almost no relation to the clinical years of med school or post-graduate training (internship, residency, and fellowship). Many, perhaps even most physicians hated the first two years of med school, because of the lack of clinical exposure. The clinical exposure really starts in MS3, and then kicks into overdrive when you start post-graduate training.

Still, if you already have an inkling that medicine isn't for you at MS1 or 2, you lose very little dropping out then, as compared to dropping out further on in training.

I know of many med school graduates who went on to drop out during residency training, or even worse, completed all of their training but hate their jobs. Medicine is rough enough when you love your job. I can only imagine how much tougher it would be if you hated it as well.

If you have the grades and drive to get into med school, you should have the tools to find a career that you enjoy.

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PhysicianOnFIRE
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Re: Anyone else decided not to finish med school?

Post by PhysicianOnFIRE » Sun Apr 16, 2017 12:00 am

If his heart wasn't in it, he was wise to get out when he did. He's already proven he could have been a doctor -- no reason to feel like a failure. Pursuing an alternative career path, he should be able to succeed -- you don't get into medical school without an excellent transcript / application.

I'm 11 years into a career in anesthesia, and plotting my exit path. I've been in 3 nights in a row placing labor epidurals at midnight, and back each morning for OR cases. The job pays well. For a reason.

:beer
-PoF

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Re: Anyone else decided not to finish med school?

Post by scienceguy » Sun Apr 16, 2017 12:46 am

I went to an MD/PhD program and quickly realized that I loved the PhD part, but not the MD part. I finished both (the MD just barely), did not do a residency, and went immediately into full time science, which is great. Unique opportunity, since MD/PhD programs are generally tuition free. But, medicine is definitely not for everyone - lots of unhappy sick people and families often looking for something/someone to blame in highly charged situations. Obviously there are positive aspects too, but those are the main reasons I didn't like it. Also I was pretty young and immature, so the idea of helping people wasn't yet of substantial interest to me. One great career options for MDs who don't like doctoring is pathology, which is highly paid and pretty much shiftwork.

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Re: Anyone else decided not to finish med school?

Post by rfowler » Sun Apr 16, 2017 2:34 am

If your friend is regretting his decision, it may be a good idea to work with a life/career coach who specializes in physicians, and reevaluate.

Based on personal experience on this topic of physician dissatisfaction and career detours ("friends and family"),it's important to understand that medical training is a journey unto itself--separate from medical practice. In particular, students and residents invariably go through a gauntlet of fear that taints the psyche--but not forever. Once you clear that hurdle, the opportunity for career satisfaction actually expands. For example, medical research without practice is one option. Academics. Biotech. Consulting firms such as McKinsey & Co hire newly minted MDs and see them as good entrants into the world of strategy consulting.

All is not lost.....and may be worth completing the degree with the clear intention of exploring all possible career options.

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Re: Anyone else decided not to finish med school?

Post by SleepKing » Sun Apr 16, 2017 6:51 am

rfowler wrote:If your friend is regretting his decision, it may be a good idea to work with a life/career coach who specializes in physicians, and reevaluate.

Based on personal experience on this topic of physician dissatisfaction and career detours ("friends and family"),it's important to understand that medical training is a journey unto itself--separate from medical practice. In particular, students and residents invariably go through a gauntlet of fear that taints the psyche--but not forever. Once you clear that hurdle, the opportunity for career satisfaction actually expands. For example, medical research without practice is one option. Academics. Biotech. Consulting firms such as McKinsey & Co hire newly minted MDs and see them as good entrants into the world of strategy consulting.

All is not lost.....and may be worth completing the degree with the clear intention of exploring all possible career options.
This.
I was chatting with my DW on this topic. There are some quality non clinical careers that can utilize the MD degree. It can be challenging to find the best path, however. She worked for a research group where most of the MDs were >80-90% research with limited patient care. However, they were all fellowship trained, so had a strong clinical base to go from. I know physicians who left residency to work for biotech, as well as attendings who called it a clinical career and went into consulting, biotech, pharma, etc.. I dont personally know any who went straight from med school to a non clinical career...seems tough since you dont have a grasp of patient care for practical purposes, etc..

Anyways, tell your friend they are not alone. Take a year to figure it out. If they want to be involved in healthcare, then maybe finishing the MD is worthwhile, albeit expensive, to open up new career paths. I will say the going wont be easy...as many doctors they work with could look down upon someone who didnt go through the difficulties of residency/fellowship, yet call themself 'doctor', etc... life aint easy!

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Re: Anyone else decided not to finish med school?

Post by Rotarman » Sun Apr 16, 2017 7:31 am

I don't think he's a failure, I applaud him. I think many, many more medical students/residents would do exactly what he did if they had the courage. Many med students (and residents and physicians) are so type A they can't admit to themselves they've made the wrong decision, so they revert to reaction formation "Well, I never see my kids and I'm a quarter million in debt, but I could NEVER be happy doing something else". I'm sorry but no mentally healthy person only has one career they could be happy in, you're just justifying the sunk cost of medicine (e.g. your entire 20s).

And it's even harder for people with spouses and families. I recall leaving the library late at night being almost envious of people who didn't have a SO to go home to because they could stay until 2 am or whatever and catch up on more work. It's not a healthy time for a lot of people, and I strongly considered quitting after my first year and going to graduate school. It took a lot of soul searching to decide to stay, but I wouldn't be any lesser of a person if I'd left instead. Anyone who made it through MS1 has the intelligence and work ethic to be successful elsewhere. You only get one life and there's no prize for the most suffering at the end.

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