Withdrawing From a Master's Program in Favor of Medicine?

First of all, I want to say how happy I am that this thread exists because as a non-traditional student, I often feel that I am going through this alone. Having other people in similar situations with similar anxieties makes me realize that my experience is valid and completely understandable. I’m wondering if anyone has some insight on a question I have regarding a career change (sort of—it’s really a change in schooling plans…I’ll elaborate).

I decided recently that I want to become a physician (recently meaning like 3-4 months ago). Ironically, I came to this realization because of a work-related injury that left me with a lot of time to self-reflect on my career, an aspect of my life that has given me a lot of distress. I am currently on the path to becoming an elementary special education teacher; I am enrolled in my second year of a teacher education master’s degree. This happens to be my student teaching year. While I enjoyed much of the coursework from my first year in the program, I concluded that I wanted to do more than just teach in a classroom setting. I have always been interested in biology and health but never thought I was “interested enough”, thereby never having considered becoming a doctor until this April. Unfortunately, the realization that this is the path I want to follow came a bit late. I am enrolled for the Fall 2021 semester to student teach as well as continue with coursework, and I fully intend to complete this semester; however, I don’t know what I want to do come Spring 2022.

My question is: Would admissions committees consider it a red flag if I were to withdraw from my master’s program at the end of the Fall 2021 semester (only doing one semester of student teaching as opposed to the two I would have to complete to finish my degree)? I do not want to stick with teaching, so I wonder whether I should attempt to start a post-bacc program in Spring 2022 to get my prerequisites or if I should bite the bullet and just finish my teaching degree, meaning I would start the post-bacc in Fall 2022 instead. I’m worried that I would be spending a lot of money on a degree that I am no longer interested in using, but at the same time, I’m concerned that medical schools would look down on my decision to withdraw from my master’s program to pursue medicine. Any advice would be immensely appreciated!

Hi! Thanks for sharing. You may have already made a decision now since you originally posted late August, but here’s my 2 cents if it’s helpful!

I was in a very similar boat. Doing a master’s program that I really hated and considered quitting. However, I pushed through because I already committed much of my time and finances to pursue it. In a way, I hoped that that tenacity to continue something I didn’t like could somehow reflect/be transferrable to medical school, as I’m sure much of it will be very difficult and there will be parts that I don’t enjoy.

Best of luck to you! My master’s program was a blessing in disguise because it served as a catalyst for my career change into medicine. If I had enjoyed it, I would be pursuing a PhD now in that field.

Hi! I did decide to keep going with my masters. I agree with what you said about having committed so much time and finances that it only made sense to keep going with it. I will be done in 5 months and will take time after to reflect on where I want to continue once I am finished. I think what you said about the tenacity of doing something that isn’t necessarily ideal also speaks to my experience and I know that my motivation will keep me going even through those moments where I want to quit. Thanks for responding!