I Hate Med School – And That’s Okay

Here’s a quick post-call ramble: I had a pretty bad night on call last night.*

And it was still better than medical school.

hate med school
Base Image by DearFreshman, click for link

I hated med school.

In first year, I hated the loneliness. I had went in hoping for intelligent conversation with the country’s cream of the crop and at least initially, I could not find it. What I found was a narrow-minded and selfish little campus, and I hated it.

Years later I would learn that med students around the country – and sometimes around the world – have felt the same.

During second year, I hated how nothing I learned seemed relevant to practice. I could not make the jump from what I saw in paper to what I would learn practically the following year, and so it felt like a waste of time.

Third year came, and I hated being the skivvy. Abused by fourth, fifth and sixth years alike, and blamed for anything that went wrong in a ward round or a clinic.

It went on like that. I hated that we worked long hours doing grunt work for the doctors, who got PAID for that grunt work. I hated that nobody seemed to care about our safety or our wellness, that our lives seemed cheap to the government, hospital administration and faculty.

I hated that nobody cared to keep us from becoming disillusioned.

I hated the selfishness I saw festering in my colleagues. I hated noticing how our passions died, how we began to work just hard enough to get through the day. Dreams clinical and humanitarian prowess fell by the wayside, and we shuffled forward towards that degree like zombies past their expiration dates.

I hated how any complaint was met with, “But that’s the way it has always been, and it won’t change.”

I hated how I was studying one of the fastest growing fields, and yet all I saw around me was stagnant water. There was nothing to excite us. Nothing spurring us on to become game-changers in our world.

I hated how having other hobbies was seen as a weakness, a sign of lack of devotion to medicine. “Medicine is a jealous lover” they would say, and suggest that one might want to reconsider.

Medicine eats her young, I say, and it tried to devour us all.

I hated medical school. The great things that happened to me during my university years – the Hunan trip, Semester at Sea, Student Government – those were all things I grasped at to keep me afloat. They were in spite of, and not because of, med school.

Let’s be clear: UNIVERSITY was a great time of growth and adventure in my life. But MED SCHOOL was just a part of that. Med school was the portion I hated.

Med School is over now (and good riddance) and I can actually say: I like my job. Some days it frustrates me. Some days it makes me cry. My exact path with medicine in the future is uncertain, because there are so many options. And yes, I deserve to be happy and fulfilled, so I will make my ultimate decisions with that in mind. Some days I even get to say I LOVE my job.

At its best, it fills me with excitement for all its potential. At its very worst, it is a job that pays the bills. Certainly, when I wake up in the mornings I would love nothing more than to roll over and sleep a little longer, followed by spending the day in the sun, reading. Certainly, at three o’clock in the morning when we have three emergency C-sections lined up and several more patients waiting to be seen, I feel miserable, and a little bitter that so many people get to have stable sleeping patterns and “normal” jobs.

But overwhelmingly, I have been satisfied by my job. It is only three months in, and I’m certain there will be times that are much worse and (hopefully) also times that are better.

Many people hate med school and hate their jobs too. I’ve got no proof that it won’t happen to you. I’m not saying there is not a whole lot wrong with the world of medicine. I’m not saying you’re wrong if you think you need to quit medicine – I don’t KNOW you.

But I am saying: Medical School is NOT Medicine. Don’t think that just because you hate med school – which is a warped little world – you will hate being a doctor, too.

I hated med school, and if you’re the medical student that hates it too, that’s okay. It is a lie that loving med school is a prerequisite for becoming a good doctor. You are allowed to hate it. But you are deserving of happiness. Find things to love. Find adventures to live. Find warm currents to keep you afloat. Med school is what you do to get your degree; life is what you do to be happy.

*I’ll write about it some other time.

Some related posts:

When College Kinda Sucks

A Journal Flashback from First Year

The Passion Deception I

The Passion Deception II


  1. Borderline Med says:

    Love this. Seriously. And I’m glad you found out medicine is not med school and like what you’re doing now.

  2. I had no idea this could happen. Thanks for the insight!

  3. M says:

    Hello 🙂 I’ve applied to med school and I’m quite nervous to how it’s going to be. I know I want to study medicine and I know I’m going to love it but I juse a little bit nervous. Do you have any advice? And am I going to have free time to the stuff I want to or am I going to be very busy?

    Thank you 🙂

    1. barefootmegz says:

      Hi! My best advice is not to have too many expectations. Med school is awesome for many people, but it’s awesome when you make it so, not when you expect it to be. You will absolutely have time to do the stuff you want, provided you make time for it. I had tonnes of free time because I prioritised it all through med school. Final year was the only time I really had to cut down on free time because then it’s the last stretch to your degree. Congrats on taking your first steps to med school – I hope it will be a positive experience for you. And you’re welcome here at any time!

  4. harveylisam says:

    “In first year, I hated the loneliness. I had went in hoping for intelligent conversation with the country’s cream of the crop and at least initially, I could not find it. What I found was a narrow-minded and selfish little campus, and I hated it.”

    I felt the same way about medical school. I was so optimistic about meeting a great group of people and making lifelong friends, and with convocation coming up next month, I can honestly say I have made zero true friends. Pretty disappointing.

    (Fingers crossed residency is better!)

    1. barefootmegz says:

      I sure hope residency will be better for you – I suspect it will!

  5. Nancy Ackelson says:

    I am so grateful you found your way through the nightmare Mariechen! Phew!

  6. Lwazi says:

    I feel you. I also feel lonely considering the small town I live in, it’s not bad. AND I also get this question alot from other people, ”how is Medicine ” I always tell people that I’m still learning medical & general science for now. Most of what I’m learning I can’t seem to fit it with clinical practice. I love how you put med school is not Medicine, never thought about that, I’m stealing it gonna use.

  7. Megan says:

    I cannot tell you how much I needed to hear all of this today. I’m a 4th year and I’ve been dragging myself along each day wondering why I am doing this to myself. I also haven’t met any great people or made any of those lifelong friends everyone else seems to have. I feel isolated and incompetent and my non-med friends/family don’t seem to understand. Thank you for being honest, thank you for giving me some hope.

    1. barefootmegz says:

      Ah Megan, I’m so glad this helped somehow. I hope you will find what you need to get through med school. You are not incompetent, and you will get your mojo back. Keep going!

  8. Hopeful Doc says:

    Oh happiness and truth.

  9. P says:

    Hi there, this post speaks to me and all my fears. I am a first-year student now, who gave up a lot to start medical school; I thought this career could give my life some purpose. But it has only amplified loneliness and drained me empty. Not because of the rigor or pace, but because of what I sacrificed and how I don’t fit well into this school and profession. I know school will be hard and not a true representation of being a doctor. But, if this is me now, I don’t see how I can make it through the rest of the years. I am curious about your thoughts on medicine now, that you have been officially practicing a year? I want to be a doctor and help others, but not if it means loosing all of myself in the process.

    1. barefootmegz says:

      Hi – sorry it took so long to get back to you. It’s been a rough few weeks, settling into a new job. I’ve bene practicing for two years now and I don’t regret medicine. I love what I’m doing. To be sure, it’s still a daily struggle to remain true to myself, and I’ve had to do a lot to maintain my wellness (including the fact that I’m currently attending weekly therapy). I have not lost myself, but I certainly have changed. To be fair, I think any career changes you. How are things for you now? Maybe if I know how the year has gone for you, I can give some more up-to-date insights? Keep going ❤

  10. Nadine Hugo says:

    I’m sitting here trying to study for anaesthesiology. 5th year has taken its toll…already! This post is just what I needed to read in my ‘little world of med school and never quite being good enough for those consultants and peers alike.’ I don’t connect with the competitive, unbalanced approach that 99% of students have – and as you know being surrounded by it make it difficult at times to remember that life is BIGGER than medicine.

    1. barefootmegz says:

      I’m really glad this meant something to you. I remember how often I wanted to quit because I felt completely out of touch with the world, because of medicine. Hang in there. Medicine is wonderful, but life is certainly BIGGER.

  11. Vanessa says:

    This actually just spoke to my soul. I thought i was the only ‘failure’ who felt like this and was borderline considering how I should end it all. Thank you for making me see Im not alone, you can come out the other side and being a good med student isnt the same as being a good doctor. I love medicine. i hate medical school. And Im going to print your post and remind myself that friggen ok.

    1. barefootmegz says:

      Vanessa, I’m super glad this post meant something to you! What year are you in now? Good luck and keep going stong ❤

  12. Acchiapparole says:

    Thank you. I am struggling with my first year exams, with the feeling of having taken the wrong decision about the right faculty for me (I dreamt a lot about doing language university) just to have in the future a work to “pay the bills with”. I feel alone, and frustrated and not motivated, while all the people around me just love being in Med School and also feel privileged. I don’t, and I feel guilty about it.

    But reading this article made feel less lonely and uncomprehended. Thank you a lot for your sincere article. Best wishes xxx

    1. barefootmegz says:

      Hi! How are you holding up – two months later? I do hope that things are bearable for you. It’s a long road, and it is painful. I hope you can find a way to feel less lonely again; and I hope that this journey becomes a little bit easier. Good luck – you know where to find me!

  13. Altoid says:

    Fourth year med student here… Thank you for this. I’ve hated all of med school and have consistently found myself fighting battles/challenges that are unusual among classmates with similar scores/grades/goals. It’s been discouraging to say the least. I’ve debated leaving the field entirely because so little though med school has resonated with me or fed my passion for applicable knowledge. Reading this gave me hope that there might be more to this than the sustain I hold for the last 3.5 years of my life. Again, thank you.

    1. barefootmegz says:

      I am sorry that you are finding this difficult too! Certainly, some do decide that it is best for them to leave. But I hope that you will find the motivation to keep on, and that it will be worth it for you. Thank you for letting me know, and good luck!

  14. Disillusioned says:

    Thank you so much for this post. I’m in my final year, which (thank God) is almost over. And every time I think of my med school experience i think what a harrowing, miserable time it’s been. I’ve hated almost all my classmates, hated the environment, just hated med school and everything about it. It’s sad that something as pure as medicine, the practice of healing, can become so grotesque & tainted by a toxic environment, people’s ugly egos, competition, hierarchy, constant undermining, pressure, all the stuff nobody tells you about when you desperately want to get in. I fully agree with you that finding something that keeps you alive (a hobby etc) is a must, and helps you stay afloat, keeping you going.

    To everyone that’s maybe in too deep to drop out or change career paths, just find a hobby & good friends, do what you’re supposed to do and get out ASAP.

    1. barefootmegz says:

      I am sorry that you had a similar experience, and I’m glad that this post meant something to you. Good luck with the last stretch of the year, and I sincerely hope that you, too, will find that real medicine is so much more rewarding than university!

  15. This post spoke to me! That’s my experience too. I don’t fully hate med school but that’s easy for me to say now. I’m on holiday. Wanting to quit often outweighs wanting to stay but sometimes I get reminders why I chose medicine & so I’m still here. “But that’s the way it has always been, and it won’t change” is the line which upsets me the most. Sorry to hear it’s the same on both sides of the Atlantic 😦

    1. barefootmegz says:

      Hi! I hope that the year is going well for you. If being back at school has been hard for you, this is just me reminding you that it is worth it. Keep going. ❤

      1. Thank you! I appreciate that ❤ It hasn’t been easy but at least I’ve been making it and this year hasn’t been bad so far. I’ve been enjoying these recent rotations (Psychiatry, ENT and derm).

  16. Ollie says:

    I can’t thank you enough for writing this post. I’m going to print it out. I spend a lot of time feeling alone as though I’m the only one questioning why any of us stick this out. Medicine and the Medical Community need a complete reality check as if not falling on your own sword harder than the next guy makes you a less caring doctor. I am going to stick the rest of my degree out, but if my feelings towards Medicine don’t change then I will jump ship.

    Thank you for writing this post. I hope you feel happy and fulfilled within Medicine

    All the best

  17. AustralianMedStudent says:

    This afternoon, instead of pulling up one of the dozens of documents/lectures/notes that I should be going through to study, I found myself typing a phrase into a search bar without thinking. In almost out-of-body fashion I wrote:

    “hating medical school”

    I wasn’t expecting to find this. Your piece is such an eloquent, succinct and poignant summary. Thank you for giving this to the world. I have one year left of my studies and I constantly wonder if it’s worth it. I came from a career in which I had plenty of contact with like-minded people. My old colleagues were mostly well-read individuals who could talk about art, music, history and literature with ease. Comfortable and comforted though I was, I felt that my old career wasn’t enough of a challenge. I wanted intellectual stimulation, I wanted to squeeze experience out of life and to explore an entirely new world.

    There are no words to describe the shock of the last three years. The shock of discovering that hospitals are riddled with disenfranchised individuals who despise their patients almost as much as their colleagues. The shock of realising that my colleagues at medical school are absolutely unlike me and that some of them probably lack the compassion and love for humanity that most people in the community would expect of a doctor. I’ve struggled terribly to make meaningful connections with them which is INSANE since I find it so easy to connect with people in my ‘real’ life. We look at each another utterly dumbfounded.

    My supervisor has stressed to me many times over that I will enjoy my internship. She says that patients often tell her how much they like me. She is sure that I will be good at this job. But I’m dubious. I’m dubious because it will take so many training years before I can ever go into a little niche of medicine with people like me. Sexual health or public health, perhaps psychiatry. I worry that I can ever be happy in a workplace culture like medicine.

    So thank you for saying that it gets better. This is a page I will bookmark and come back to time and again.

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