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Taking time off during medical school

FindingVeritas

Full Member
7+ Year Member
Nov 11, 2011
28
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  1. Medical Student
    Hey guys, long time lurker/infrequent poster here on SDN.

    I'm a first year M1 a top 30 medical school with enormous imposter syndrome and burn out. My program is a 1.5 year shortened preclinical curriculum and I am genuinely thinking that I need to take a year off after the summer in order to get my head back on straight. Simply put, I don't think I can pass boards and I don't think I have the motivation to keep going. I can barely get in 2-3 hours of study a day and have really stopped going to classes.

    I am at a total loss at how I got into this program at this point. If I'm honest with myself, I took very few hard science courses as an undergrad (BA in Bio) and essentially utilized easy classes + hard work to come out with a high GPA. MCAT I did well on, but I just felt as though I had more energy back then for tasks like this.

    What I'm wondering is the following:
    -How bad would taking a year off post-summer look for residencies? I am straight out of undergrad. I am not considering doing anything competitive at this point. Not only due to grades but simply because it is incredibly clear to me I can't tolerate the hours required for things like those.

    -This summer (2 months and a half) I have a part time teaching position for the MCAT. The other time I want to spend reviewing first years material in the hopes that I can somehow come back swinging for the 6 months of second year before starting the grind of boards (6 weeks built-in at the end of the 6 months). Let's pretend that I failed every course in M1 (I beg you guys I really NEED this COMPARISON SPECIFICALLY), is this POSSIBLE?

    -If I could choose to take the time off directly following the summer vs. the end of my 2nd year (Essentially take it off once my classmates begin their board prep in late December) which would you guys recommend?

    Thanks for taking the time to read and I really do need answers here.
     

    operaman

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  • Jun 7, 2010
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    1. Attending Physician
      There are some grammar/style issues in your post that may be obscuring your question. I'm not sure exactly what you're asking regarding failing every M1 course. My questions in order to better answer your question:

      1) Have you/will you fail any M1 courses? (obviously if you don't pass the year, then your question is moot)
      2) Have you met with your student affairs office about how you're feeling?
      3) Have you sought help through your student mental health services?

      Those are the key pieces of information that are missing from your post. As for 2 and 3, if you haven't yet, you should.

      Taking a year for a great opportunity (Fulbright, HHMI, Doris Duke, Sarnoff) doesn't look bad at all. Taking a year just to chill out and decompress is another matter. If you do it, you'd be well advised to disguise it with something else. Timing-wise, I would do it between 1st and 2nd year (ie. after your summer). Sounds like you are feeling pretty burned out and that if you pushed through to boards you would be on track for a sub-par performance.

      But first you need to start asking for help at your school and having some honest conversations with people who can really help you. I personally fail to see how a year off will magically fix what a summer off can't.
       
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      misteracey

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      Sep 25, 2014
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      1. Medical Student
        Hello there,

        I'm sure many students feel like this but many don't admit it to others or themselves. I was in a similar situation to you. M1 year I really was so busy I didn't have time to think if I liked med school, and we had lots of spoon feeding compared to second year so I got through it. M2 year I really was sad a lot and got depressed, quit going to classes but I got through. And step 1 I got through. But M3 year all of my thoughts that you're having culminated, clerkships hit me like a brick wall, I hated it, the hours, the material everything. I was researching taking time off, not doing residency, etc. Bottom line : med school is a train that is really hard to get off of, and you're not meant to get off of it, and if you do if looks bad and you have go explain why you did it. I kept struggling in 3rd year and eventually I just cracked and didn't show up for 2 days of a rotstion, so I basically in that way forced myself to take a leave of absence. But the minute that was official, I was like wtf? You will feel abandoned. I only took one month off and I think it was good for me, made me grow up and be a big boy. So maybe a short time off could be good for you to get your **** together. But I can almost guarantee you will be crawling back to it as I did. I struggled again with Step 2ck, fooled around and didn't study and failed and had to retake it but now I am waiting to see if I've matched and at least am going to graduate this year! So as someone told me, you signed up to be there 4 years. Now finish what you started. You can always do sometging else later, no one can take away your degree. I got asked about my leave once on interviews, but any longer than a month or year perhaps would require significant explanation. so take some short time off if you can. Or get a new hobbie. But a whole year? Unless you're failing or just got diagnosed with an illness or have a family member with illness/death then I'd recommend not doing that. You'll regret it. It's easier to take time in 3rd year because you can just repeat a rotation later (summer between 3 and 4 years is when I did that and worked out fine). Good luck!! And above all, don't take anything too seriously - especially yourself! Get a therapist. Talk to academic counsellors for free and vent to them, it'll make you feel better. Med school is hard. Life is hard. There's no easy way out.
         
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        FindingVeritas

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        Nov 11, 2011
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        1. Medical Student
          Hey guys, thanks for the replies. Are either of you or anyone reading this thread open to a PM with me? I would appreciate if I could maintain privacy here on this forum and I would like to discuss my situation with someone, especially someone with backgrounds similar to mine but in a slightly less front-page kind of way. Much appreciated everyone!
           

          AllDay24

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          May 26, 2010
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          1. Medical Student
            There is nothing wrong with taking a full year off via a leave of absence. Do research like 30 hours a week or something. You'll have plenty of free time and weekends to decompress too. Plus any publications you get would be a bonus for whatever residency.
             
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