What can I get out of my medical degree if I decide not to drop out?

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kellogscoffey

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Hey everyone! This is my first time posting so feel free to move this if Ive chosen the wrong forum, but I suppose this is the speciality I want to direct my post at. Im a medical student from Ireland and I was just hoping if anyone could give me some light on my situation.

Right, Ive just finished my first year of medicine, but for the most part of it I found myself to be very unhappy. I ended up loving anatomy when we were doing it, I loved physiology once I understood it, hated biochemistry, and struggled slightly with the clinical aspect of medicine. Looking back on first year, I think Im way more interested in the science behind medicine (especially physiology), than the clinical aspect of it.

I ‘thought’ I was unhappy in my course for a few reasons;
I struggled to adapt to college life. I became overwhelmed by the huge amount we had to study and the number of hours spent in the library every evening. I was intimidated by the other students who were somewhat ‘superior’ to me. I just felt, bored really, completely dismayed. I dont have the same passion or drive for medicine as everyone else has. They live and breath medicine, its all they talk about. I also struggled to manage my time, so I didnt really stay dedicated to clubs and societies as I would have liked.

I was certain for months I was going to change course to Mathematics. Maths was the one thing in secondary school I had a passion and flair for, I would spend hours working on problems and wouldnt give up until I found a solution. I even looked forward to the exams haha! Everyone more or less told me I should study maths than medicine. I had doubts myself. I suppose my mind was going for medicine and my heart for maths.

However, I have had personal problems which could possibly be the source of my unhappiness over the past year. Ive suffered from depression for most of my life, and when I get hit, I fall hard and can take months for me to ‘recover’. There was a lot of major issues going on at home the week I started college, of which I found it really hard to cope with. I wont go into detail but it took a year for them to be resolved. To make things worse, me and guy I was seeing decided to break up due to distance. I just felt so alone during my year at college, even though I made so many great friends. Everything just snowballed and I went a bit off the rails.

Sorry for rambling, I just feel confused now. Am I leaving medicine for the right reasons? I realise now Im not cut out to be a practicing physician, and Im 100% certain its nots for me, but Im not sure if medical research is right for me either. Would it be right for me to continue with my medical degree? Based on the last year, Im not sure will I end up struggling to power on through or end up loving it, and thereafter where Ill end up. Or should I change to mathematics and still have the possiblity of going into mathematical physiology e.g. mathematical neuroscience. Only I can answer that I suppose...If Im going to make any changes I need to do it now.

Im not sure what advice people can give me, but Id really appreciate some perspective! Thank you to anyone who replies! :)

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First, I think everyone struggles with doubts and feelings of inferiority their first year of medical school. Problems in your personal life will only compound those issues.

Would it be possible for you to take a year off of school to try research to see if that is more your speed? That is common for US med students, but I don't know if that would be possible in the Irish education model.

Finally, if you do decide to stick it out in medical school, there are specialties where you can deal less with the clinical aspects of medicine and more with the scientific aspect. Pathology is the most common choice for people who want that, but with a strong interest in math something like radiation oncology may fit you better.
 
I believe it is best to stay away from university mathematics. If you like secondary mathematics, then it is not safe to assume you'll also like university mathematics. It is useless, and it does not help you understand the world around you like some of the other useless majors (history, literature, political science). I do not know if there is such a thing as mathematical physiology or mathematical neuroscience but I doubt it. It is rare to find anything in biology that uses more than secondary mathematics, and I've never seen anything in biology that uses more than the lower division mathematics. I have done a significant number of university maths courses, and I have come to regret doing most of them. If I were in your situation I would probably stick with the degree you have started, accept not enjoying it, and then look for things to do that are not the things you've figured out you do not want to do.

there's plenty of stuff in biology that uses higher level math. computational biology is a whole field dedicated to this. biomedical engineering can also put mathematics to good use. there's a reason some bio majors like biochemistry, biomedical engineering, etc require quite a bit of advanced math. its not necessary, and depending on which field you go into you may not ever use math. but there are plenty of fields with biology and math. you can find some professors who have dual appointments (chemistry/physics, or biochem/physics, or biochem/math, or engineering/math, etc) and talk to to them.
 
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I believe it is best to stay away from university mathematics. If you like secondary mathematics, then it is not safe to assume you'll also like university mathematics. It is useless, and it does not help you understand the world around you like some of the other useless majors (history, literature, political science). I do not know if there is such a thing as mathematical physiology or mathematical neuroscience but I doubt it. It is rare to find anything in biology that uses more than secondary mathematics, and I've never seen anything in biology that uses more than the lower division mathematics. I have done a significant number of university maths courses, and I have come to regret doing most of them. If I were in your situation I would probably stick with the degree you have started, accept not enjoying it, and then look for things to do that are not the things you've figured out you do not want to do.
Way, way too harsh. I agree, there is a point where mathematics becomes a language far too abstract to answer useful scientific inquiries, and this is probably the point that was drawn when applied mathematics came about. There are plenty of fields where applied mathematics is useful, and coming from the BME side, I regret not having more experience in it.

I also think fields like in the social sciences are perfectly valid to answer scientific inquiries. Poverty is just as much a driving force as the mechanisms of HIV/AIDS are in human disease.
 
It is useless, and it does not help you understand the world around you like some of the other useless majors (history, literature, political science).

It is rare to find anything in biology that uses more than secondary mathematics, and I've never seen anything in biology that uses more than the lower division mathematics.

"What the fudge" is my reaction to the first one, and "false!" is my reaction to the second. Stunned at both, though.

1. Are you saying history, lit, pol sci don't help you understand the world? Sorry if I am misreading that. If you don't think understanding history and the foundations of political science are important, then I hope you never have to face the real world.

2. Math is in everything. Without higher level math in biology, fields like bioengineering and biomedical engineering would not exist. If the OP is interested in mathematical biology, check out computational neuroscience
( http://www.bme.ogi.edu/~hayest/BME665/ - a computational neurophysiology class that's offered online).

My advice would be to try to do a rotation in a research lab if your med school has that kind of option. Something like a bioengineering or bioinformatics might fit your interest. You seem to be sure that clinical medicine isn't right for you, but try doing research before ruling it out.
 
Sry this is a little bit offtopic but i think people put far too much emphasis on the job that fits "best". i have had job experiences as a hospital tech, cook assistant, steel worker and as a research assistant and i have studied mathematics for a while as well. that´s not huge. but with time i came to the conclusion that the work you do is relatively insignificant and unrelated to happyness in life. what a job can contribute to happyness is good money, reasonable hours, social status, perspective, job security and working in a team with people whom you get along or even bond friendships with. and a little meaning is good as well.

medicine is pretty good with that

i have had rough times as well but never because i couldn´t find time to create a rigid prove
 
Biomathematics or biostatistics might be a good fit for OP. By the way, a lot of the new techniques to deal with genomics research uses methods adapted from linear algebra, Bayesian statistics, and graph theory. Some topological methods are also being used to study protein-protein docking and protein folding...
 
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