Failed Medical School: What to Do Now?

If you are visiting this section, most likely you have failed medical school or may be on the verge of failing medical school.

If you are an US medical student, you will probably get a second chance, even a third chance. So make the most of it.

But if you have been dismissed from the school, I want to let you know that it is ok. You are not the first person ever to fall. Your life is not over, it will go on. Failure is a blessing in disguise.

Dale Carnegie, author of one of the most famous book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, said, “Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success.”

There are many people whom I admire that have failed at one point or another:

  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Winston Churchill
  • Thomas Edison
  • Albert Einstein
  • Henry Ford
  • Michael Jordan

You can read about how these people failed, but they did not give up. And neither should you.

I Failed Too

After college, I wanted to start my own business, Cut and Fit. It was supposed to be an online store selling items related to fitness, from supplements to equipments. I love fitness so why not sell it? I spent half a year developing my site. I programmed my own shopping cart, set up my merchant account, and made sure I can accept credit cards. I found a distributor who will ship out the products for me. Everything was set. And yet, I never made a sale. So I eventually abandoned my plans and got a job.

Even though I lost 6 months of my life and maybe a thousand dollars, I have learned that I hate programming. In addition, I learned how not to run website. You can be sure that I am not repeating the mistakes I made with my previous site.

failed medical school - angry

It’s ok. Let out the anger.

Now Back to You – What Should You Do?

You may be saying, “Now Alex, that is not a good comparison. Your loss does not compare to my loss. I lost way more time and money than you.” And you are absolutely correct. But there are people who failed even harder than you and yet became successful. Look at Henry Ford, for instance. He went broke five times before he succeeded.

What you have to do now is to examine why you wanted to go into medical school in the first place. If you love medicine, you can be a nurse, physician assistant, or physical therapist. If you love money, you shouldn’t be a doctor. But seriously, if money is your goal, there are other ways to get it besides being a doctor. You can start a business, write a book, or even invest. If you want to help people, you can volunteer or become a teacher. Being a doctor is not the only way of life. You now have total control over the destination of your life. Do something meaningful and fulfilling.

Some of the options I have listed are hard. Maybe your own ideas are even harder. But, you are smart, capable, and hard-working. That is how you got into medical school in the first place. The work ethic you learned in medical school will serve you well for the rest of your life, even if you failed medical school.

You should be concerned about the debt you have accumulated over the years you spent in medical school. Obviously, the earlier you failed medical school, the smaller your debt is. If you have a federal loan, you can apply for the income-based repayment program to reduce the monthly payments. Visit the medical school loan section for more information about managing the debt.

If Being a Doctor Is the Only Option for You

Personally, I would not reapply to medical school if I failed medical school. The financial and time commitment is way too steep, especially the second time around. But, if being a doctor is the only option for you, then I guess you have no choice but to reapply.

Let me just warn you that it will be a risky and costly path. You will most likely have to take the MCAT again and jump through 20 others hoops to get into medical school. Admissions don’t look at medical school failures in a positive light either. So even if your scores are good, you may not get an acceptance.

But you’ll never know if you can get in or not unless you try.

If you absolutely, positively must become a doctor, make sure you have a rock-solid study system. Without it, I don’t know if I could have gotten through medical school, especially with my non-science background.

I Envy You for Failing Medical School

There is so much I want to do that I do not have time for as a medical student. I want to become proficient in Spanish and Mandarin. I want to live in another country. I want to learn how to tango. Sometimes, I wonder what it would be like to be free from medical school. You can even say that I envy you because you will now have time to try out all the things I have been missing out on. Remember, today is the first day of the rest of your life. You failed medical school, but that is in the past. Live life for the present.

Let me know what I’m missing out on.

Are you turning your back on medicine? If so, you may feel like you are alone. You may feel like a failure. But, you are not. Leaving the field could turn out better than you have ever thought possible. And here is why you should get out …

This article is part of the How to Survive Medical School series. Click on the link if you want more tips and hints about surviving academic hell.

Comments

  1. Hi, Alex. Just browsing through. We actually have sort of the same background! I was a business graduate who went straight into med school after one year of bumming and interning at an international organization for public health (never even tried to work after grad, which sucks for me). I did one year of med and actually joined a sorority while I was there. It was the most hellish time of my life. I quit the next summer, mostly after diagnosing myself with PTSD from all the hazing I had to go through. My grades certainly sucked too though, unlike yours. This probably went a long way towards dampening my enthusiasm for the field, I think (somehow I thought it would be a cakewalk..). It’s funny you mentioned learning other languages, as that’s exactly what I’m doing right now. While wondering what to do with my life – yet again – (I was glumly contemplating finance or operations) I got a random fun job to pay for French classes, which I wanted to start studying again after learning the basics during a summer abroad in college. Anyway, that job was -and is – at my country’s international trade office, where I now help to negotiate free trade agreements (Capital-side for now, but hopefully abroad in a few years :D ). And just like that my life turned upside down. So.. occasionally I browse online, to see if I find a solid enough reason to go back to med school in favor of this surprisingly novel and travel-wise rewarding career path that I am setting out on (so far I haven’t).. Just drop me an email, if you want to chat and compare career notes!

    • Alex Ding says:

      Hey Page,

      Thanks for sharing about your background. I totally agree with you that medical school is a hellish experience. Don’t go back to medical school. I wouldn’t if I was in your situation. Your new job sounds really cool. If they can send you abroad, that would be a blast! Some of the best time of my life was overseas.

      • Hi Alex, you seem to give the best advice here.. IM in my first year of medicine, 2nd semester.. Our first semester results just came out and i found out i failed two courses.. Omg i feel like shiit right now.. In my class in the only one who failed it. Its anatomy, i got 48% .. Pass mark being 50%.. And it has lots of credits.. So to retake it i have to pay $200 holy crap where am i gonna get that money? My dad would totally kill me if i told him this.. He’d be like you’re always partying and shit and forget to study now look what you got into.. Am not gonna pay for that bla bla find the money yourself.. Second course is psychology i got 45%.. I have to pay $50 to retake it.. Now there’s a good chance you could persuade the lecturers to just top you up the little marks left i don’t know.. But how do i go about it? How do i sound so convicing that it guarantees they give me the marks.. Right now i cant sleep.. And i have an exam tomorrow and i lost hope i cant even study for it.. I feel lost right now.. IM in low spirits right now..qhat do i do?

        • Alex Ding says:

          Hey Derrick,

          It sounds like you’re in a medical school abroad. From my point of view, where tuition is $50,000+ per year, $200 and $50 is not too much to retake the classes.

          In anatomy, it seems like you are so close to passing. Maybe you can visit the teacher and discuss ways for you to get another 2%. Maybe you can turn in something for extra credit or something. Or if there was something subjective (such as an evaluation, you can appeal for a higher grade). The best way to get what you want is to give the other person what he wants. So you’ll have to figure that out.

          Then you’ll just have to worry about $50 for psychology.

          I’m gonna be real with you. It is just going to get harder and harder. Either quit now or strap yourself to your chair and study like your life depends on it.

    • Hi Page,
      I have also failed out of medical school and wanted to know a little more about your new career choice. It sounds like something I would also like to try out.
      Sandra

      • Alex Ding says:

        Hey Sandra,

        I did not fail out. But I know some people who either failed out or dropped out. One works as a teacher. Another works in finance. Another makes really good money with his own business.

        Personally, I would start my own business if I am not doing medicine.

      • Sandra
        I failed medical school in the UK.

        Became an Architect after 12 years of evening study, then did Law and Project Management. 30 years later I’ve designed and built many buildings, worked on Olympics projects, and live in a foreign country where I’ve had to learn 2 new languages.

        And I still regret my 1 year of stupidity where I thought I could get by with minimum work and maximum fun living in a Billy Liar kind of life for cheap laughs.

        My advice is whilst you CAN get over failure and build a new life its better not to be a dickhead and waste a dream. The life now is not the life I wanted. I still have dreams about being taken back for redoing the year. Sure there are many good things but there is something missing.

        Keep going because the alternative is not good.

        Best

        Red

  2. Hi Alex,

    I am on the verge of quitting medical school but I don’t know what to do with my life if I did. I got a degree in Biology for my pre-med and the career options are limited. I am interested in finance but I don’t know how to start. I am also interested in business but I don’t know how to start. Any tips?

    • Alex Ding says:

      Hi Trishia,

      No one can tell you what to do with you life. But I can try to guide you.

      First, a college degree (no matter the major) is worthless. Everyone has one. So it doesn’t matter if your majored in biology or business. Your future is still very, very bright.

      Second, you have to determine what you love to do in life. I’m assuming you are still young, so you may not have a good idea. So pursue finance. If you love working 60 – 80 hours a week working on spreadsheets and dealing with numbers, you’ll love it. If you’re doing it for the money, it’ll suck.

      But definitely try it out. You have to break into the field first. So offer to work for free. Maybe it means you should get an internship. If no one takes you up on your generous offer, start learning finance on your own. Borrow a book in the library or look up the information on Google.

      Learn how to create pro forma. Learn what a bond is, what a stock is, what a mutual fund is. Learn how to calculate intrinsic value. Learn about P/E ratios and whatnot.

      I truly believe you have to experience the varieties of life before you can find what you love. So go out. Live. Explore. Volunteer. Learn.

  3. Sage Compos says:

    Hey Guys!
    I am on the verge of failing out of my third year. The MCAT was HELL for me, and now the Step 1 is seemingly the same…There are a MILLION things I want to do with my life, but this is what I wanted for my FUTURE. It is extremely scary. I have not gotten the official kick out, because I am going to fight it, but life is short and we should all do what we love.
    Cheers.

  4. I failed dental school. I graduated top of my undergraduate class and was accepted to dental school on my first time applying. I failed my first year of dental school, was allowed to repeat on a decelerated program, passed boards, but ultimately ended up failing a class again and was dismissed. Now I’m 6 figures in student loan debt & trying to figure out what to do with my life. Even though I’ve considered reapplying just to prove that I CAN succeed and become a dentist, I have given up on dental school. Honestly, the years that I was there were absolute hell for me and I did not have support at the school. I was depressed. But I feel like I really let my parents and family down. I’ve considered nursing, physician assistant, physical therapy, teaching, getting a degree in public health/nutrition, etc. I’m just not sure what to do. I’m working full-time now in a job unrelated to my college major (biology), and although I’m thankful for the job, I’m not content. I really don’t know what to do. I’ve complete classes for teaching certification and I’m considering getting a Masters in teaching or biology or health promotion/public health. Any advice?

    • Alex Ding says:

      Hey Carmen,

      Maybe failing out is the best thing that happened to you in terms of happiness. Yea, the loans sure suck. But based on income-based repayment program or pay-as-you-earn program, if you make minimal salary, your repayment towards the loan is also minimal. (Assuming all your loans are federal.)

      To me, it seems like your life revolves around science of some sort: biology, dentistry, public health, etc. Is that what you really want to do?

      I don’t know what the hours are like for your current job. But whatever free time you have should be used to explore life. Try crazy things. Experiment with new things. Maybe go into computers or art or business or whatever.

      Your goal right now is to find what you love in life. You’ve probably been in school all your life, so why get another degree? That you may not even use?

      And once you find what you love, go after it. If you are passionate about your job, you won’t mind putting in the work. Therefore, you will succeed and you will be happy. And you’ll realize how trivial failing out of dental school really is.

  5. Hello,

    I failed out of med school. I am not sure my heart was into medicine, I think I was mainly there for the money and due to parental pressure since I am Asian. You eluded early to finding out what you love to do. How does one find out what they love to do? I majored in a Humanities subject (English/History/Psychology) along with premed. I was always more interested in the Humanities. I am trying to decide whether I should pursue a career in business/finance or go after what I really love (writing) even if i have to struggle financially. What do you think?

    • Alex Ding says:

      Hey Angela,

      You find out what you want to do by living life, taking risks, and trying new things. You asked about doing the sensible thing and working in a safe, stable job vs. following your passion. This is something I struggle with too. And to help you answer the question, here is a quote by Steve Jobs:

      “If you live each day as it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.”

      If you were to die in a week or even a month, would you be happy with your life? Sometimes, when you live for the future, it may never come. Too many people think about money. Money this. Money that.

      But think about it … How much is a year of your life worth? Would you give up a year of your youth for $50,000 or even $100,000? If not, why would you take on a job you dislike (or even hate) just for money? Even though you may be struggling financially, you’re happy. You enjoy life.

      So I say, do what you love. And when you get so good at it, the world will reward you. Chase after passion and excellence, and the money will come.

  6. Thanks! What suggestions do you have for someone whose passion is for English literature and writing?

    • Alex Ding says:

      Are you reading and writing every day? If so, why not create a website of your own? Or write a book? Or teach people how to write? Or tutor people in English literature?

      There are so many things you can do with the power of words. Writing is my passion as well. =)

  7. How does one get over the bitterness of failing out of med school? I spent 3 years working as a research assistant at a hospital while completing organic chem classes and studying for the MCAT. I was admitted to med school at 25. I failed first semester and took a year off. I came back the next year to redo second year and was still struggling. I ended up failing some exams and since it was my second time around, they dismissed me. Now I am 27 and have no idea what I want to do with my life. I’ll be honest, I only went into medicine for the money and did not have a passion for it. I feel so bitter for wasting so much of my life and time.

    • Alex Ding says:

      Hey Melissa,

      You are still young. There are people who did not succeed until their 40′s and 50′s.

      One of my friends went from multimillionaire to bankrupt around 39 years of age. Got divorced. He thought his life was over.

      He made his money back. He’s married to someone who care about him. He has a beautiful family. He is happier than ever.

      The trick is to pick yourself up and to wipe off the dirty feeling of failure after falling down. You now know you and medicine don’t mix well. So stop dwelling on the past and move forward. Try something else. Find something you love and you too will be successful.

      And anyways, medicine takes away a lot of your time. You’ll have to sacrifice your relationships, and maybe even your love life. It’s for the best that you get out now than after a decade.

  8. I just failed my 1st year in medicine and I have been given a second chance to redo the year in the units failed. In my country we do the degree as an undergraduate within 6 yrs.
    To be honest my heart was in pharmacy as *I love chemistry* and topics to do with micro organisms in biology.
    My idea was to get my degree in pharmacy then work in a pharmaceutical company as an analyst then later go into research.
    However I was discouraged by some doctors who told me that most pharmacists end up just selling meds behind counters and never use their training during their job.
    Medicine was my only other option and I don’t mind the idea of being a doctor nor the stress that comes with it. My problem is that I suck at memorization as I am more of an abstract thinker and I’m very analytical.
    My problem is that my confidence right now is sooooo low that I’m afraid of repeating the year because of the ridicule I’ll get from my former classmates. And I’m also afraid of not succeeding in pharmacy because I failed med in the 1st year!!!
    Any advice on how I could get over this grave yard I dug myself into?! Do you know of any one who failed their 1st year and became successful physicians/pharmacists?!

    • Hey Paula,

      What a heavy burden on your shoulders. You know what? It is ok that you failed. It is not the end of the world At least you know that however you’re studying does not work.

      I had some classmates who failed the 1st year and had to repeat it. The majority of them will become doctors after this year.

      If you suck at memorization, you’re just like me. I wrote about how I study in great details at:

      http://www.medicalschoolsuccess.com/the-secret-of-studying/

      It helped me get through 4 years of medical school. I never failed a single exam. And it helped me pass my licensing exams all on the first try.

  9. I’m a 1st year who failed and has been asked to repeat. My confidence is shuttered and I fear being ridiculed by my ex-classmates. I worked hard and I thought I’d a fair chance of making it through.
    I had a flu during the exams and was unable to read but I remembered my exams being extremely fair and 53% of the class passed well.
    I have always had a passion for chemistry and anything to do with
    microbiology. Hence my heart was set out for pharmacy but I was discouraged from that path and was told that as a pharmacist I won’t use my training much but be more of a business woman. Yes I love the idea of making money but I love the idea of getting into medical research more and wanted to work as an analyst in the labs.
    My only option of achieving this dream was through medicine.However I SUCK AT CRAMMING AND MEMORISING (hence avoided law school). But don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind reading constantly, I just have no idea on how to go about the content without memorising but rather understanding e.g. physio and bchem were fine, anatomy was the problem. What’s wrong with me?! In knew med would be a challenge but didn’t think I’d fall under the 5% that fails. I thought that group was for medics that partied too hard not studied like I did.
    Please give your opinion/advice before I make the huge desicion to leave the “medic” family. I am paralysed.

  10. Ohhh. Thanks!!!
    I have really bad connection at home hence didnt see your response and sent the same message several times even Facebook is a problem :-( .
    OH and congrats for that.
    I’ll definitely try it out and give you a response ASAP.

  11. So I have a bit of a different story…. I was accepted into a very difficult masters of biomedical science program which is intwined with the first year med students. So the deal for all those in this program is the following, as long as we end up with a B in the class we will be granted acceptance into the med school, and if one were to receive an A in anyone of the classes they would’ t need to repeat that course, which remarkably can/does happen, but not always. And for anyone students who end up with two C’s they would’t necessarily be dismissed, they would need to do a second year of the masters program and retake those courses they received C’s in. For any students that receive more than two C’s, they will not be eligible for the medical school but could receive a masters which isn’t the point of why we are there. So today i come to find out the physio exam i took on monday, which is one of the hardest classes, and taught by some of the biggest pieces of shits, who resent the med students because they never became doctors themselves handed me back my grade, it didn’t turn out so good (46%)…. and sadly not the lowest. The class avg was a 70 and there are 250 med students, maybe a few more. So I’m prepared to write a letter to the dean tomorrow resigning from the program…. I have been dreaming of becoming a doctor my entire life. I have never thought of anything else as a career choice for me. I will be honest, i do wish to make a substantial living, it’s of great importance. I plan on getting married within a few years and having a life, and without money i can’t do that/support my family….. However what sucks more is my father is an extremely successful doctor, who isn’t upset with me because he knows the professors in this school pride themselves on failing students. I’m just completely lost, not clue as to where I’m turning to. Either i retake the mcat and get in regularly which would be incredible bc getting at least a 70 isn’t that difficult, those 10 pts to an 80 are impossible when you F-uped the first exam and don’t know what else you can do the study and memorized everything/ concepts. No matter what i did these professors made exams to difficult people repeating the year found it harder. I know its going to be nearly impossible to come back after this physio exam, especially when the second exam is cardiophysio and there are more F’s on that exam then any other in the entire school. Now i to figure things out…. i though maybe getting my DNP… doctor of nurse practitioner, which hold essentially all the rights and abilities doctors have, just half the time of school. What do you think?
    J

    • Hey Jacob,

      I totally agree with what you wrote about professors getting job in failing students.

      Since the grade made you ineligible for medical school, it is wise to resign. If you could care less about the Master’s degree, then stop wasting money and time on it.

      Your backup plan is really good. Become a physician assistant or a nurse practitioner, because it will require less schooling and you’ll get to skip residency. You’ll also make darn good money … maybe in the six-figures or so. If I had to choose again between being a doctor or a physician-extender, I would choose the latter.

      In the future, doctor’s gonna do worse. The mid-tier practitioners will do better. It’s already happening now.

  12. Gilbert Grape says:

    Hello Alex,

    I failed out of medical school after I got a nervous breakdown and constant panic attacks. I was dismissed. I went into medical school because I wanted to be a Psychiatrist. I studied Psychology and premed in undergrad. Now I am wondering, should I apply back to go to med school in the Caribbean/Australia or some foreign school to fufill my dream of being a Psychiatrist? Or stay in the States and apply to PHD/PsyD. programs in Psychology and become a Psychologist? I am better at Psychology than the medical sciences.

    Thanks

    • Hey Gilbert,

      If you want to practice in the US, applying to residencies as a foreign graduate will be one heck of a ride. It’ll be tough, because residencies favor American medical graduates.

      If you are ok with psychotherapy, become a psychologist. In some states, even psychologists can prescribe medication! You gotta do a little digging to find out which states give you more privileges.

      If you don’t like medical sciences, you’ll have a very miserable 4 years of medical school. (Like me.)

  13. Hi Alex,
    I have taken the Step 1 3TIMES!! Failed them! I just took it, and I am deathly afraid of the results…At this point, I am questioning everything in my academic career in order to obtain this goal of becoming a physician. I have a2 masters, and I cannot get why this exam is so difficult and daunting, I literally have 10 months of rotations remaining, but I question whether to continue…What is the point of having the degree, if you cannot get a residency position(I’m an IMG)… I am so distraught, I have no idea what to do next… Any thoughts?

    • Alex Ding says:

      Hey Aud,

      Your situation is quite dire. You’re right; you most likely can’t get into a US residency.

      If you really want to become a doctor, there is a chance you can do so in another country. But if you want to work in the US, it is wiser to cut your loss and change direction. I can’t tell you what you should do instead. But I recommend that you try a lot of different things and find something you like. Get a job. Travel. Volunteer. Hang out with people outside your social circle.

      I would not urge you to go back to school. You also got enough of that and look where it got you.

      And you can skip the traditional job by creating something. It could be creating a new business, writing a book, producing videos, etc.

      It is a big world out there and there are lots of opportunities besides being employed as a doctor.

  14. Hello alex, I studied med school for two years but only accomplished the first year classes. As I repeated twice one subject that had a lot of credits and didn’t let me to continue with the other subjects because it was a pre requisite for the others. So I got dismissed of that school and now I don’t know if I should enroll into another university looking forward to becoming a med or just forget about med school and do another career? I’m not in the United States but I was looking for help online and found this forum which I read, and discovered many people was in a slightly same situation. I feel really lost and sad because in the bottom of my heart I really want to be a doctor but certainly I know that maybe I will do better in life if I did another thing that Im good at. I just keep thinking I should have studied more or didn’t get depressed for family problems which lead into the bad grades. When I was in high school everybody told me that I will be good if I was a journalist or a public relations manager or something involved with speaking or sharing your point of view or with languages because I was supposley good at that. But I dont know really what will I do If I wasn’t in med school….

  15. First I would like to say that this post is more negative than positive and the comments equally. There are a lot of people who have failed out (like myself) and returned to medical school. Yes it’s hard, frustrating and depressing but if it is truly what you want ignore everyone else. It doesn’t matter. Stop worrying about what society thinks and what HE would do…All the successful people in the world, those unheard of and heard of all…ALL retook risks and never gave up. I failed out because I truly believed I was onto of enough, I had such a negative mind set and realised that a PBL based course sucked for me. I was so lost. The fact that younger and less studious people passed means something. So do NOT give up if it is what you want to do. Your story can inspire others. Lincoln was probably told to be crazy until he became president. Ignore the naysayers.

  16. Hello, I failed out of medical school. I thought my life was set when I got an acceptance. I always did very well in school. Now I feel so ashamed of myself. I was dismissed from medical school. I don’t have a job. I am unemployed and moved back home to my parents house. I felt very suicidal for a while. I think about cutting myself. I don’t know what to do with my life and I am in my mid-20s. I always thought I would grow up to be very successful because I did well academically. I go often to a coffee shop and bookstore to read books. I met a guy who has been incredibly loving—helping me to see that I shouldn’t let this failure to define me…It is because of him, that I am still alive. I finally woke up today and instead of crying in bed, I got up and started applying to lots of jobs….I don’t know where life will take me. I am so scared because I built my life on prestige/success. I am thinking of going to a career counselor but I am dead broke—literally have no money for anything….What advice do you have for me?

    • Hi Haley,

      I’m sorry that you went through such hardships. When your big dream gets crushed, it is easy to get depressed. And the guy you must seems to be an angel in disguise.

      Haley, you’re too young to give up. You still have 60 more years ahead of you. And there is so much more to the world than medicine. I hear of people who didn’t fail out, but are trapped in medicine and miserable because of all the student loans. No matter which stage people are at, you will still find misery.

      Right now, you should explore what you like. You think being a career counselor is for you. So why not talk to actual career counselors. Shadow them. Intern with them for free. Experience as much of life as you can, and find the purpose of your life.

      I graduated from medical school and I would trade places with you in a heartbeat, because you have something I no longer time. Time.

  17. Hi Alex,

    I am a Type A personality. So while you don’t have “time,” I have too much “time” on my hands. I also have no money and live at home with my parents. All this free time has been driving me nuts. As someone who has always been doing things my whole life, unemployment and having no direction now has been really rough. I don’t want to be a career counselor. I considered seeing a career counselor to receive advice on what to do with my life now, but the services are so expensive and I don’t have the money to pay for it.

    • Hi Haley,

      With all the time you have on your hands, why don’t you explore the world around you. Try to get an internship or volunteer. Read books or take online classes. You don’t even have to spend a penny to do so.

      I don’t think a career counselor will help you out too much. You’ll probably take a quiz that assess your personality and give you a couple jobs you can go for. You can probably find one online if you search hard enough.

      Seriously, put yourself out there and be open to new experiences. Whatever you’ve wanted to try but were afraid to, try them out now. You’re not gonna wreck your life (as long as it is not illegal or immoral).

  18. Hi Alex,

    Thanks for your advice. You mention being miserable in medicine but can’t leave—why is that? I was thinking of doing a biomedical masters and trying to get back into med school…But honestly, I am having second doubts. I would have to retake the MCAT, complete a biomedical masters and then based on my performance, see if any med school would admit me. I am 27 years old now and will be turning 28, which means if it did work out for me, I would be 30 when I started med school! Do you think this is worth it? While I have an interest in medicine—I also hope to get married and have children one day. I am worried I will have to sacrifice getting married and having children if I only finish training at age 37. Since I am 27, I don’t have much of my youth left and there is no guarantee any med school would even admit me…Not sure if I want to spend the remainder of my youth studying. What do you think?

    Thanks!

  19. Hi Alex,

    Also you are right! There are lots of other things outside of medicine I would rather do….I guess I was attracted to medicine but it would enable me to make a high salary while also helping people and doing good in the world. I am also really interested in working for a non-profit and possibly one day becoming a non-profit director but non-profit work really does not pay much unfortunately. There are lots of things I would really enjoy doing but I would earn much less money than a doctor (which would mean living more modestly). However, like you said, even if I had to live more modestly, I would have more time to enjoy my youth. I would also like to get married and hopefully have children by my early 30s. Going back into medicine (and there is no guarantee any med school would even take me at this point) would mean sacrificing relationships/family until 37.

    Thank you!

  20. Hello Alex,

    Sorry for the 3rd post, LOL…I thought of something else I wanted to ask you since you said you had a Business degree and worked in the business field prior to going to medical school. What do you think of a job as a Business Analyst, Financial Analyst or Management Consultant? I know they are all careers that would enable me to make a good living. Is it possible to enter these careers with a Biology/Psychology degree and only medical research experience?

    Thanks!

    • Hey Haley,

      I can see you’re really enthusiastic.

      The jobs which allow you to make a lot of money will also require a lot of time. Doctors, lawyers, investment bankers and whatnot will require much more than 40 hours a week.

      You have to prioritize what you want out of life. Do you want a family or do you want a career? It is very hard to have both. Your 20′s is soon gonna pass. Are you going to use the time to find a spouse or embark on a new career?

      If you really want to remain in medicine, make decent money, and have a family, I would recommend you look into becoming a nurse or a physician assistant. Neither occupation will require that much schooling. And neither will require residency. (As a bonus, maybe you’ll meet a nice doctor to marry.)

      In the right field, nurses and PAs can make six-figures.

      Before you dive into business, you have to first find out if you like the job. Do you like creating slides and giving presentations? Do you like to work on excel and create financial models? Do you like to analyze stocks, etc. You just have to try it out and see.

  21. Hello Alex!

    Yesterday, the results of my first year medical school came out and I failed. I was “dropped from the student rolls for failing more than 40% of my academic load”.
    I was confused. Of course, it didn’t happen all of a sudden. Half of my school year, I was failing in my 2 subjects: Physiology and Biochemistry.

    The moment that doubt at myself started lingering (that moment of ‘I thought I can do this but apparently, this grade doesn’t say so) was when I got the result for my first Biochemistry exam. If I could remember correctly, I got 63 (the passing grade is 75). That was also the moment that I told myself to study harder.

    On the second exam, I passed my Biochemistry exam. I was happy; I was proud of myself. However, that was also the time where I failed my Physiology exam. I wasn’t that sad because I only lack 3 points. And I thought I could easily earn that in the next exam. (Well, I thought wrong.)

    On the third and fourth exams, I was continuously failing Physiology to the point I got a grade of only 62. I also failed Biochemistry again for 1 point behind on the third exam, but happily passed on the fourth.

    To this point, I was then seriously doubting my potential and capability as a medical student. And I hated that. I was against the educational system of today for making students hate learning and doubting themselves because of a failure in a somewhat biased and standardized exams. That was cruel.

    One moment medical schools were gladly accepting these highly appointed students, the next they were making them withdraw because they failed in a few exams. That was happening in my class. Some of my classmates withdrew in the middle of the semester because they were afraid that they will fail and it will be in their transcript. (Oh, if only I knew.)

    On the fifth and sixth exam, I was finally passing all my subjects again. In fact, I got an 80 in my sixth exam in Physiology. I was happy. I was hoping. It got me motivated to study even harder.

    When the finals came, I was more enthusiastic in studying because there’s this hope, this fire within me that I can actually do this. I thought to myself, “I was going to push the world harder this time.” I isolated myself from friends to study on my own because I have a lot of coping up to do.

    Then, I got sick. My asthma acted up. It was different from my other asthma attacks before. It was more intolerable. I couldn’t focus in reviewing, I couldn’t sleep. But I need to read a lot of transcripts because of my finals, and I also need to get myself something to eat despite how awful I feel because I was living along. But, surprisingly, all through that, I wasn’t losing hope. I was kind of getting the hang of it.
    Then, the waiting for the results came. I was nervous. I couldn’t sleep. I was even having nightmares.

    When it came, it felt like, out of nowhere, without my permission, I became the volunteer of a human catapult experiment and been slammed to a hard wall. I actually got the results while in Starbucks trying their new summer drink. If it mattered, I didn’t enjoy it and I didn’t even finish it. I was shocked because out of the options of a failing student, I was dropped.

    In my school, there were a lot of options before you get dropped from their medical school:

    (1) Get promoted to second year, but you need to attend your missed session in this one particular subject.
    (2) Take the removal/remedial exams, pass it, and then get promoted to second year.
    (3) Take the removal/remedial exams, if you failed it, you will be retained in first year to take the subject again.
    (4) Retained as a first year and take the subject/s you failed.
    (5) Lastly, dropped from the medical school.

    It was actually a list. When I read those who will get a removal and didn’t see my student number, I was relieved because I thought I passed. Then, I saw it at the bottom pit. Literally. I was scared. I was confused.

    I was finally passing my exams. How come they wouldn’t even give me the chance to take the removal exams for both subjects? Turned out, Physiology and Biochemistry, combined, was more than the 40% of the academic load. I only got the individual result for Physiology and I lack 0.78 points.

    I really wanted to be a doctor. Even more so, when I started medical school.
    At the moment, I don’t know what to do. I can’t reapply to other medical schools because the applications are already finished and most med schools here disqualify students who were dropped from their previous med school.

    I am only 21 years old, so you may say I still have a lot of options. But still, it was saddening for me. I couldn’t talk to friends because, frankly, I was embarrassed of failing. My parents were also sad. I am depressed. Sometimes, I just cry out of nowhere. I don’t know what to do.

    I’ll try emailing the dean and associate dean for a help for my other options. But I doubt, they’ll even reply. Nobody knows me at school, except those people I get to talk to (such as the employees in the library, secretaries, registrar, etc) , not those BIG people in the school such as the dean or even my professors. I’m just that average student. I didn’t graduate with honors. I was just wait-listed when I applied for this school. So, somehow, I can tell how “dispensable” I may be to the school. I now doubt myself. I hate it but I can’t help thinking I am that just average person.

    I have this hobby of writing screenplays. But I know I need to start from the bottom and work extra harder because I never had the time to pursue this. In the meantime, I need to find a work, so I wouldn’t be a hassle to my parents. They paid a lot for my tuition but it feels like I failed them.

    PS I’m sorry this post was quite long.

    • Alex Ding says:

      Hey Mal,

      It is unfortunate what you went through. And I understand why your post is so long. You have a lot to get off your chest.

      But it is not all over. You have the luxury of youth and time on your side. If your calling isn’t medicine, find out what it could be.

      I would gladly trade places with you. You can have my medical degree and I’ll be your age once again. So know how blessed you are in your circumstance. And if you think writing screenplays is what you want to do, write them! You never know unless you try.

  22. Failed out of med school by 1% how shitty is that. First semester I failed a course at 59% (passing grade is 60%) asked the prof to bump me to a pass but he didn’t. Next I find out I have to sit out a year and repeat this class with the new cohort. Okay fast forward a year later, pass the course I failed and now into second semester. Exam period comes and goes same BS 59% in two courses now. Prof’s are refusing to bump me resulting in my permanent withdrawal. No idea what to do next. Should I petition the dean? But even then I don’t even want to see those profs again. I mean 1% you have to be kidding me.

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