A Young Non-trad's musings

Hello Everyone,

I’m 24 and currently enrolled in a PhD program in the United Kingdom. I’m here on a scholarship and had every intention on completing my PhD here until I was accepted into a joint program, which I applied to mainly to get out of England. Terrible decision, amazing opportunities, and now I’m in turmoil. I want to take time off to think about my priorities and to decide whether to leave my program and to work or volunteer before medical school (my dream is to unite patient care and research in underserved communities). These days, it feels as though I am striving for my PhD because not finishing would hurt my chances at gaining admission to medical school. Horrible as this all sounds, I’m about to have a major fight with my supervisors so that I can have time off (3 months) to think about all of this and to volunteer, study for the MCAT and hopefully to return with faith renewed.

Continuing my PhD in the joint program would require three to four more years of my time (I’ve already been in this program for 2 years). I’ve been thinking about this as completing a job, a committment worth fulfilling, however feel as though my creative energies are slowly being sucked out of me as though I’m an insect caught on a spider’s web and slowly being consumed. This has caused me to question my motivation in science AND medicine, even though I had initially intended to apply to medical school before changing course temporarily. Except that this course seems to bring me further from my goals, rather than closer to achieving them.

Welcome to OPM! I am not sure I understand what you mean by “joint program” - can you elaborate? What are your PhD studies in? You’re right, it generally doesn’t look good to bail on a program mid-stream, and pre-med advisors routinely advise you to finish what you’ve started. However, I also think it’s a mistake to keep doing something when you’ve already determined that it is NOT what you want to be doing. It’s a tough call.


I’m in a joint program with the NIH called the Graduate Partnerships Program. My PhD is in immunology. It really is a unique opportunity. I could apply to med school and get NIH funding if I am accepted to an MSTP. But in order to get there, I have to stick in there, even if I were to decide that I should be elsewhere. It certainly is a tough call and that’s why I’d like the time to carefully consider my options.

I just found an article on Science AAAS that addresses some of my concerns: http://sciencecareerst.sciencemag.org/career_devel…

The overwhelming decision seems to weigh in that I should not quit but stick it out and do high-quality research before moving on to the next stage (med school). I encourage all pre-meds to seriously consider all of their options before committing to terminal degrees. I thought I was informed about the entire process, but I’ve got a lot tto learn! This week, I’ll have critical meetings about my progress and other issues and then will be in a much better position to make a decision.