Need Advice?

I am a first year medical student. But I dropped out of the school three weeks ago. The main reason is I am waiting for the Federal Government job. The second reason is the grade of my anatomy exam. is on the marginal. I understand my background was engineering. I got my B.S. and M.S. in UC Berkeley with the major in Chemical engineering, Civil and Environmental Engineering. I graduated ten years ago with those premedical courses. So,it is quite difficult for me to pick up in the beginning of the few weeks in my medical school. Or I am a lazy person because I don’t want to study up to 3:30 am and wake up at 7:00 am. The situation is worse when the exam is approaching. Fortunately, the Dean allowed me to take a leave of absence one year. Now, I have to face a dilemma: going to MD school or taking a job. Definitely, going to study in MD school is a grueling process and I understand more obstacles will be coming in the future (passing academic and board examination and age restriction). I am 39 years old and have ten years working experience. I have tried to ask myself almost two weeks and it seems I am unable to get the answer? Please give me some advice if someone has come across the similar situation with me?
P.S. The first semester of medical school requires a strong memorization for the material, not reasoning. It seems a little bit different format for the MCAT examination (just my opinion).

While I haven’t been in exactly the same position you’ve been in, I have been in a similiar one. I was offered my “dream job”, the same week I was accepted into medical school, and had to decide which way to go. For me, applying for that job had been as a backup to medical school, (and I really didn’t expect to get it) but once it was offered, it was very tempting-- good pay, great hours, doing something I really enjoyed. So I had to think about what it was I really wanted.
I think there are a lot of questions that you need to answer before you can decide whether or not to try medical school again next year. I guess the bottom line is do you want to go to medical school? It sounds like there might be a lot of question in your mind about that. You mention that part of the reason you dropped out is that you are waiting to see if you get a federal job. If that job is your first choice over medical school, you should do that. Even if you don’t get it you should ask yourself why you preferred that job to medical school in the first place. As you know, just because you got into medical school doesn’t mean you’re committed to going, and if you have realized there is something you’d rather be doing, or the lifestyle isn’t for you, that’s great-- better to figure it out now.
However, let me say that some of the other concerns you mentioned-- your age and your anatomy grade-- should not be things that keep you from returning to medical school. There are many of us on this board older than you, some by a pretty fair amount, and many who would have LOVED to have a “marginal” grade on the first anatomy exam! If you really want to go to medical school these should not be obstacles to your successful completion. Even having your pre-reqs a long time ago should not be a huge concern-- your school obviously thought you performed well enough on the MCAT to let you in. You may have to work a little harder at first, but it will even out. Trust me-- my prereqs were all at least ten years old when I started, and it probably did put me at a disadvantage at first, but that quickly evened out.
However, the other concerns you mention, such as the hours, are real, although probably not quite as bad as it seems. The first several weeks of medical school are brutal, largely because there is so much material, and it’s being thrown at you so fast. I think there are many of us, if we’re honest, who will admit to wondering if we were going to be able to do it, and if we could do it, and could we survive on three or four hours of sleep a night for four years. I remember asking a friend if you could flunk out in just three days, and she pointed out we hadn’t actually taken an exam yet. It does get better! You realize you can’t learn every detail, and you learn how to study for medical school (which is for many people different than undergrad). But even though you many not be studying until 3:30 every night, there may be times you have to do that. It depends on what you need to do to get through. (And is that what you need to get through comfortably, or are you doing that to be number one in the class?). Once you graduate and are in residency you can count on having many sleepless nights.
In short, it sounds to me like if you want to continue in medical school next year, there is no reason you can’t, but there are some very strong questions in your mind about whether or not you WANT to. That is what you need to decide. I’d suggest giving yourself a little more time to think. It’s not the sort of thing you can decide in a week or two.
Good luck whichever way you decide to go.

Hi there,
It is not unusual for many students to fail the first Gross Anatomy exam. Getting used to the volume of material that needs to be mastered in medical school take an adjustment. Most students, no matter what age, have to ratchet up their study techniques. There is a large amount of material that needs to be mastered in a short period of time.While many students fail and exam or two during medical school, the vast majority go on to graduate and pass boards without difficulty. It is a matter of adjustment.
Yes, there are many things in medical school and in medical practice that just need to be memorized. I cannot walk into the OR and reason out how to do an appendectomy everytime I go in. I have to know my anatomy both normal and abnormal varients cold, period, end of discussion.
If you successfully navigated the pre-med courses, you can navigate through medical school. The more studying you do, the better you become which is a major part of the adjustment. This does not stop with medical school and continues in residency and throughout practice. For most specialties, the hours will never be 9-5 and you are going to have to study fairly hard to stay competent.
I started medical school at age 46 and now as a PGY-4 General Surgery resident, I have not encountered any “age restrictions” yet. I am no more tired than my younger colleages and I LOVE every second of what I do. Surgery is absolutely the greatest specialty in every way. I can literally cure a problem rather than just treat it. On this rotation, Pediatric Surgery, I get out of the bed at 3AM and I get home about 7pm. I operate most of the day and do patient care the rest of the time. I have to hone my techniques, learn how to perform operations and diagnose diseases in children that are treated surgically. When a heart stops, I can open the chest and restart it. I can also close the wound afterwards too. Yesterday, I took a 4,200 gram tumor out of the pelvis of a 13-year old child. That child is doing well this morning and will not be troubled by this problem again.
Medicine and medical school are difficult to do very well. You cannot decide that you are too tired to go into work because people have entrusted you with their lives or the lives of their loved ones. You cannot have a “bad day” and you will be getting home long past your colleagues in business. The rewards for me are instant gratification and pride in putting out 100% everyday at every time. I cannot even put in a single suture or knot half-way because the patient may bleed to death.
People get sick in the middle of the night and you have to be there to help them. Many times this means missing parties or putting things on hold but this is the nature of medicine. There is nothing else that even comes close in terms of satisfaction for me. Medicine and surgery requires mental and physical stamina at every turn and many people drop out of medical school for the reasons that you cite above. They just don’t want to sacrifice sleep, relationships with family, time off etc. for what medicine demands. It is far better to drop out at this point than get through with huge debt and find that you actually hate medicine.

Good luck