Are you a current/prospective Biomed or Health Science student with doting ideas of breezing through FYHS to medicine (or any other clinical programme)? Are you confused yet intrigued about the title of this blog? Well, stick around to hear why I failed pre-med, and why I’m glad I did.
Let me start off by saying that if your lifelong dream is to become a doctor, optometrist, radiologist or pharmacist, good for you! I encourage you to follow your dreams and work hard towards achieving them in first year if you really really want to. However, I also want you to keep an open mind to what I’m going to say — you don’t need to necessarily agree with anything I say in this (heck, this is probably going to be my most controversial post besides the one about me enjoying POPLHLTH 111), but I definitely think an open dialogue about this subject is beneficial for all of us to learn.
Anyways with that PSA, let’s go into the reasons why I’m actually glad that I ‘failed’ pre-med.
- I did not like most of the core pre-med courses. — I’ve mentioned before that although I like science, they’re not my best subjects. However, my first year basically made me hate Biology which was my favourite science. BIOSCI 107’s content seemed so trivial, yet unneccesarily complex at times (thanks to the MCQs of death) that it made me hate cellular biology, which was my best topic in NCEA Level 2. CHEM 110 was tolerable, but not early as enjoyable as some of my other non-core papers, and MEDSCI 142, while interesting, was also unnecessarily complex and in depth for a Stage I paper. Like I said at the start, this is merely my opinion, but I feel as though to do well in a subject, you actually need to like it. I felt as though if I wasn’t enjoying these courses at Stage I, they’re just going to build on and get even more complicated as the years progress, and I wouldn’t really want to waste my money on things I didn’t even enjoy.
- I really enjoyed my non-core/BHSc specific papers. — Point 1 leads directly into point 2. If anyone were to ask me what my favourite papers from the year was, I’d definitely say HLTHPSYC 122 and POPLHLTH 102. Surprise! These aren’t core papers. Because I liked these way more than the core pre-med papers, I found myself actually wanting to make time and study these courses when all you really need is a B+ for them. I even wanted to look ahead to Master-level Health Psychology papers just because I found the topic so fascinating. I feel as though this is what studying should be about. Picking things that actually ‘spark joy’ and make you want to learn is really important in wanting to be successful, and that’s a lesson I’m glad I learnt now, and not a few more years into my degree.
- There are so many options available to explore and I wanted to make sure I appreciated all of them. — If you read my post about Choosing My Degree For Me, you’ll know that I went to BHSc not being 100% about what I wanted to do yet, but knowing I wanted to be in the health sector somehow. The thing with me was that every time I was interested in a new course, I would change what I wanted to do. POPLHLTH 111 and 102 made me want to be the Director-General of Health (heyyyy Ashley hehe), HLTHPSYC 122 made me want to become a health psychologist or paediatrician, MEDSCI 142 made me want to die (but also become an endocrinologist) and just doing my own research into different courses made me think about music therapy, speech therapy, audiology and a bunch of other fun things. All those things sounded so interesting to me that I could see myself doing any of them. If I had done MBChB without looking into my options, I wouldn’t even know if there was something else better suited to me that I would enjoy more.
- I felt bad if I did take the place of someone who wanted it. — This point probably sounds a bit weak, and it is! But it’s truly what I felt every time I did a bit better than someone on a test who was trying their absolute best to get into a clinical programme. Some people are spending $1000+ on tuition outside of university, and I was just glad that I was able to keep up studying on my own. Nowadays, I think that pre-med is filled with JTT, MedView and other tuition students who I expect really really really want to succeed and that their techniques actually work to an extent. I’m not going to sit here and endorse them, but I feel as though these students get some sort of ‘upper hand’ when it comes to preparation for courses and honestly, good for them. Once again, I’M NOT SAYING THESE COURSES ARE NECESSARY. Rather, I’m saying that wouldn’t you also feel a slight sense of guilt for taking a place of someone who paid all this money to be in MBChB when you’re not even sure what you want to do?
- I wasn’t confident in myself and I needed to figure out where my strengths lie. — I definitely didn’t think I was going to make it into MBChB regardless, and I think that reflects on my GPA. Like I did well enough to score an interview for both clinical programmes I applied for, but I just didn’t think I was good enough. Looking back on it though, I’m quite proud of what I achieved. Getting a solid GPA without the help of others while working three part-time jobs is quite an achievement. If I had that belief, thought that I was good at science and asked for help when I needed it, I probably would’ve done a bit better. However, with points 1, 2, 3 and 4 combined, I’m glad that 2021 panned out the way it did. I needed to figure out myself a bit more and what I actually liked before I committed 5 years (+ more time, ugh) into it. Semester 2 was also a good time to reflect on where my strengths were and I think doing this helped me pick a path that I’m happy with, no matter what I end up choosing to do in the end
I think the important thing to remember if your first year of BHSc/Biomed doesn’t go the way you want it to is that you have a minimum of 2 more years to try again. And in the grand scheme of things, it isn’t even that much. In that time, you may also be exposed to many different options that catch your eye, and I don’t think you should be afraid of them! Embrace any opportunity that comes your way, and let these experiences build you up into continuing to pursue your clinical programme dreams or doing something else entirely.
So where does that leave me? Well, I’ve picked up BSc majoring in psychology to complement my BHSc degree, yet, I don’t know what lies ahead for me. I could apply for MBChB, study clinical psychology, drop out and become a YouTuber. Who knows? The possibilities are endless, and I still have time to figure out what I want to do.
Stay safe, stay healthy and stay happy!
Going Psycho(logy) ^.^