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Changing program from med to another health related field


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Hi everyone!

I am curious! So many students go from health related programs like kin, nutrition, pt, ot, toward med school. Are some people doing the opposite? I am wondering how it is viewed by universities when you apply to other programs before finishing med, for personal reasons. Do they see you as someone who cannot commit to a program and won't accept you? Lets say you want to go from med to opto, pt or something like that, with limited space. Would dropping out from med be seen negatively by other programs or admission department? Thank you!!

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This is incredibly rare. I have heard only of 1 case over the almost 10+ years I have been involved in an allied health field. Dropping out of med to pursue another program won't be seen that negatively, since for most allied health professions, they just don't care. As long as you have the degree and interview well with the head PT or nurse, you should be employable.

My next question is, why? I understand that there may be strong personal reasons behind such a decision/thought, but the grass isn't always greener on the other side. If you dislike the clinical work that physicians do, chances are, the work that RNs and PT/OTs do are not that different. In the end, it is still healthcare and still a "trade" and service oriented. If you dislike patient care in general, there are fields like pathology or radiology where interactions with patients should be minimal. If you dislike everything about healthcare (in which you shouldn't go into an allied health profession either), you can always take up a teaching position, do consulting or work in a biotech company. There is no denying that having a MD offers you much more flexibility and opportunities compared to a BScN or PT/OT MSc, so why switch? However, if you have truly explored (through shadowing, talking with other professionals in the field, talking with your advisors, friends and family) an alternative healthcare profession, such as PT, and believed that it is your life's calling, then that would be an appropriate and logical choice to switch. But in almost every other case, it would not be a good idea, and sticking with the MD would be much better.

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7 hours ago, Organic Chemistry said:

There is no denying that having a MD offers you much more flexibility and opportunities compared to a BScN or PT/OT MSc, so why switch?

I respectfully disagree with this statement. I think in terms of flexibility, MD is not considered as a flexible career unlike nursing. Surely, having an MD is seen is far more prestigious than a nursing career,  but nursing offers way more flexibility than medicine. One example is that a nurse can enter different fields and require shorter training and schooling when wanting to specialize. They can also go on for more advanced degrees and roles a lot faster than medical doctors. People with nursing background can even pursue nurse practitioner program if they want to work more independently (increased scope of practice). Nurses can work in multiple work specialties unlike medicine where you'd be "forced" to stick in your chosen residency program for the rest of your career. There's clearly a benefit and disadvantage to both, but it really depends on your personality and/or preference. 

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2 hours ago, marsaturn20 said:

I respectfully disagree with this statement. I think in terms of flexibility, MD is not considered as a flexible career unlike nursing. Surely, having an MD is seen is far more prestigious than a nursing career,  but nursing offers way more flexibility than medicine. One example is that a nurse can enter different fields and require shorter training and schooling when wanting to specialize. They can also go on for more advanced degrees and roles a lot faster than medical doctors. People with nursing background can even pursue nurse practitioner program if they want to work more independently (increased scope of practice). Nurses can work in multiple work specialties unlike medicine where you'd be "forced" to stick in your chosen residency program for the rest of your career. There's clearly a benefit and disadvantage to both, but it really depends on your personality and/or preference. 

yeah issue is residency acting like cement in terms of what you can do. Family medicine is very flexible but other than that you are pretty much locked in with a 2-6 year retraining time to do something else. 

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10 hours ago, Lilirose said:

Hi everyone!

I am curious! So many students go from health related programs like kin, nutrition, pt, ot, toward med school. Are some people doing the opposite? I am wondering how it is viewed by universities when you apply to other programs before finishing med, for personal reasons. Do they see you as someone who cannot commit to a program and won't accept you? Lets say you want to go from med to opto, pt or something like that, with limited space. Would dropping out from med be seen negatively by other programs or admission department? Thank you!!

Medicine is such a large field that most people instead find their niche within medicine instead of looking elsewhere. You are interested in PT, you can do Physiatry. You want to be a lab tech, you can do hematology. Obviously these are not the same jobs, but for the most part, there is a specialty to match your interest. If you can’t find an interest within medicine, usually it means people are leaving healthcare altogether to do something else.

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I know a few people that left during medical school to pursue other careers (business, teaching and engineering) - the French-speaking medical school that I went to has historically had a relatively much higher attrition rate.  One case was voluntary: I don't believe the other two were.

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There's no shame in leaving med school if its not for you. Better not to fall into the sunk cost fallacy and struggle your way through matching and a residency just to be miserable with the actual work. I think people voluntarily leaving medical school is rare, especially in Canada, because you get put through the ringer and have to work very hard to get into medical school in the first place, so usually those not 100% dedicated are lost to attrition prior to acceptance.

I don't think there would be any negative prejudice when applying to other programs, as med school is far more competitive than any of them, so (assuming they don't think you failed out) would probably respect your decision to choose an alternative career as being a truly personal choice. However, I would do a lot of soul searching and talking to respected mentors in both medicine and alternative fields, because once you leave medicine you're essentially closing that door forever.

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On 4/21/2021 at 12:01 PM, bearded frog said:

There's no shame in leaving med school if its not for you. Better not to fall into the sunk cost fallacy and struggle your way through matching and a residency just to be miserable with the actual work. I think people voluntarily leaving medical school is rare, especially in Canada, because you get put through the ringer and have to work very hard to get into medical school in the first place, so usually those not 100% dedicated are lost to attrition prior to acceptance.

The most important point about this post is to realize that medicine is often about compromises.

Many people don't match to their "most desired" program or specialty, but still find a way to make it work, often for practical reasons.  Just like medical school, residency is about laying the foundation of success by balancing career opportunities with other aspects of life and trying to ensure social support.  Since it's very demanding and hard, giving yourself too many extra "challenges", like I did unintentionally with French, is not a recipe for success - life is also about the journey, not just the destination (i.e. MD, residency, etc..)

Leaving voluntarily does happen more often in QC where the barriers of entry are much lower (2 years of CEGEP) and much lower cost for IP (even less than a BSc at Concordia or McGill).  Besides submitting a CEGEP transcript (and university if applicable) and now writing CASPer (in French), there are no other requirements for applications.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Thank you all so much for your interesting points of view on my question! I am really just wondering how its viewed by universities if someone wants to change their course of studies when in med school or after med. Your are ginving me lots of points to reflect on! Thanl you!

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On 4/21/2021 at 10:57 AM, indefatigable said:

I know a few people that left during medical school to pursue other careers (business, teaching and engineering) - the French-speaking medical school that I went to has historically had a relatively much higher attrition rate.  One case was voluntary: I don't believe the other two were.

I know of at least three people from a French-speaking medical school who left (2 voluntary, 1 non-voluntary). I think the two voluntary ones pursued teaching (one had received her MD and wants to teach in med school if I remember correctly).

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