Failed 1st year medicine

(106 Posts)
chickengoujon Sat 10-Sep-11 18:04:07

I am so upset and just looking for a bit of support really. My dd worked desperately hard to get into uni to do medicine. She volunteered at a local old people's home, worked at the gps, worked at the hospital, etc. She got fantastic A levels: A*, A, A, B in general studies. She is a lovely girl, really home loving and plesant.

When she went off to uni she was sad and then started to really live it up, not working very hard. She failed an exam after christmas but apparently that 'didn't matter'. She then failed 5 exams in the summer and spent all summer revising for her resits, only to fail again. After the uni asked her to leave last week she told me that she hadn't been eating properly for about 6 months. She is 5ft 8 and 7st 10. She is like a stick insect and I have been very concerned about her extreme thinness, but she reassured me that she was fine. She said how she had difficulty concentrating when revising and couldn't remember things - does anorexia do this? We didn't submit mitigations before her exams because I wasn't aware that she wasn't eating and she thought she was fine. Could we appeal? Is it too late? The uni seem totally disinterested and couldn't care less.

I feel so upset. Getting her in was so difficult and now it seems she has lost everything. She is totally devastated. Thanks for reading.

Waswondering Sat 10-Sep-11 20:06:23

Chicken - can you pm the institution and I'll dig about for you ....

Appleby Sat 10-Sep-11 22:22:44

chicken don't cry. The welfare officer sounds completely pointless, I'd be furious. The thought of your DD sobbing and sobbing is awful. She's bound to be at rock bottom, what she really doesn't need is a git telling her stuff which is simply untrue: her ambitions needn't be over, not at all.

FWIW I had to fight like a tiger when the fairly-out-of-their-depth doctors were saying my own DD's anorexia must be pressure induced. This was on the basis of her grades, which were flawless. The school told them to stuff off: her grades weren't the product of pressure, either self-induced or externally induced, she was simply clever. She needed to hang on to the idea that she had something to aim for still and that kept her going, at least once she could see the wood not just trees. I'm sure that for some girls, re-evaluating what you want and shifting down a gear may be the key. But under-achieving because you've slipped into an illness may ultimately create a negative pressure all of its own. Anyhow, I fought and a different group of specialist doctors agreed.

If I can be of help as a mum of a DD whose been through it (and a shadow still lurks), do message me please.

Booboostoo Sun 11-Sep-11 10:28:48

I say this with 15 years experience as a Uni lecturer (some of it in a medical school): if your daughter wants to go back, appeal and threaten to sue the university for not recognising her problem and helping her. I will eat my foot if they don't back down and let her do whatever she wants! I have seen appeals upheld on the most ridiculous grounds rathat than risk bad publicity/litigation, and you have a good case.

Having said that, I would encourage your daughter to take some time out and consider whether medicine is truly for her. Drop out rates for medicine are massive (on average 10%) and as a profession it has one of the highest rates of suicide nad depression. Many of the kids I saw in the medical school had gone from one academic super achievement to another without stoping to think if they REALLY WANTED to be in medicine or if it was just the next highest academic achievement they were due to conquer!

Personal tutors in medical schools tend to be doctors who have absolutely no time to see students and deal with pastoral issues. As a result large numbers of students fall through the cracks. Tutorials discuss academic topics, not pastoral care issues. Students should really see their personal tutor at least once a term, although for every personal tutor who cannot be bothered there are about 50 students who couldn't care less and never turn up...doesn't help those who need help though.

scottishmummy Sun 11-Sep-11 11:47:28

i dont think you can so emphatically assert the uni will reconsider etc

certainly encourage op and her daughter to vociferously appeal,but they need to allow for may not go their way.

a professional vocational course like medicine needs to be assured student mental and physical health are robust enough to meet demands of the course and clinical work too. That needs to be the priority at moment. medicine is different to other undergrad degree- and demands other qualities both personal and academic

Booboostoo Sun 11-Sep-11 14:58:50

scottishmummy if that was addressed at me, I can assure you I can. 10 years as a student and 15 as a lecturer, I can assure you that any Uni will take the 'soft' option of letting the student re-register (after all it's just more money for them) rather than the risk of litigation. Personally I don't think the risk of litigation is actually that real but Unis behave as if millions are handed out in compensation to students on a daily basis. They will back down even in completely ridiculous circumstances and the OP's daughter's case is nowhere near a lost cause anyway.

mumof3teens Sun 11-Sep-11 15:24:28

I was just going to say the same as Booboostoo - if she still wants to carry on and do medicine I would be surprised if they would not let her have a chance to retake the year. She sounds as though she could perhaps do with a year out and to restart the course again. DS1 has just graduated from med school and DS2 is a Dentistry student and they have both told me about students who have been allowed to do this (they are at different Uni's). I wish your DD all the very best in her recovery and for the future.

Waswondering Sun 11-Sep-11 15:34:58

The other thing to do is to see if they have regulations or an academic quality handbook on the website - that'll give you what the rules and regs are re illness/resitting etc. Then you can do a wee bit of homework and be forearmed.

I do think that your experience with the welfare officer sounds underwhelming, and I'm sorry that your dd was left with the impression it's a hopeless situation ..... it isn't, but you need someone to sit down and tell you what all the options are, eg, year out, restart course; year out, transfer to other course; transfer to other course immediately (maybe a biomedically type course that could maybe give her the opportunity to do a grad medicine course 3y down the line); and so on. If they won't allow her to continue with medicine they will hopefully give some advice about "plan bs". IME unis don't like students withdrawing or leaving as it has to be returned in the stats and they want as many students as possible to have some sort of returnable "success" iyswim.

I know (personally) of a couple of people who repeated years at med school - one due to illhealth, one due to messing around. One of these decided med wasn't for them, their own choice after a repeat, and is now v happy ... the other repeated and started winning prizes all the way through.

I think for your dd she really needs to know what her options are .... hope you get some answer soon.

scottishmummy Sun 11-Sep-11 20:20:40

resuming studies will likely be dependent upon maintain and sustain adequate weight and assessment of ability to cope with the mental demands of the course. that will involve time out

prioritise physical and mental health. when the anorexia resolved then resume studies.it is possible with support to resume and qualify

funnyperson Sun 11-Sep-11 20:20:57

This is a difficult problem.

As I see it, your DD is ill and the illness wasn't diagnosed till very recently.
Her and your priority will be for her to get better as anorexia is a very serious illness and she will need help for a period of time.

I would

Get a doctors report confirming the diagnosis and the timing of a) symptoms and b) the diagnosis and c) the treatment plan

Then appeal and ask for her place at medical school to be saved for when she is better- she can always repeat the first year

Your DD is bright enough to complete the course when she is better, or at least to do a BSc at the same uni without having to reapply.

Completing the course doesn't mean she has to then go into clinical medicine. She could choose a less demanding non clinical option for a career. The General Medical Council and medical school will need to be sure she is well enough for clinical aspects of the course-usually the last 2 years, though this varies between medical schools.

scottishmummy Sun 11-Sep-11 20:36:36

op take look at student fitness to practise guidelines

uni requirement is demonstrate fitness to practice - if fitness to practise is attained can resume

GrendelsMum Mon 12-Sep-11 17:48:46

I work in science education, and my colleagues and I see a lot of very talented young people go to study medicine, when there are so many other courses and professions that will be every bit (or more) as valuable to humanity, need every bit as much intelligence, and which may frankly be an awful lot more enjoyable, especially in the early career stage. There are scientists working on medicine, on finding new sources of fuels, on saving millions of people from starvation... the opportunities for your daughter are endless. Please do reassure her that her options are still as wide open as ever they were, and there are no less ambitious targets for her to conquer, if she wants to take on these new challenges.

I do think that the life style of young doctors is conducive to eating disorders, and I suspect that a fair amount of this is normalised in the profession.

scottishmummy Mon 12-Sep-11 20:01:28

you think a psychiatric disorder is normalised in profession?
frankly that's a bold and unsustainable assertion

chickengoujon Mon 12-Sep-11 20:40:19

Thank you all for your kind messages of support.

She has decided to appeal, particularly as she is so borderline and worked so hard to get in. We are going to the GPs about her eating problems and he will, hopefully, be able to suggest some strategies for her to cope a bit better. At least we know now and it is all out in the open. I think she feels a sense of relief that she told someone. Fingers crossed that it all works out well in the end.

scottishmummy Mon 12-Sep-11 20:42:22

best wishes,do look at fitness to practice links and with robust support and time to recover she can resume her career.

Chicken.. only just seen this and just wanted to send some un MN ,<hugs>

My daughter has just finished her first year of med school.. and while she passed by some miracle, she came home weighing 6 stone 1(she's 5 ft 8) ..she was 8 + stone when she started there. Like your daughter she was a high achiever at A level, but the stress, homesickness, bullying in her hall of residence ..well it all combined to make her control the only thing she had left.. food.

We were lucky in that the GP was fab and got us help pretty quickly..her BMI was 13.9 so she was pretty much hospitalizable. It's been a rough 3 months at home but she has made massive progress through sheer determination.. the earlier help starts, the better the outlook.

My DD's uni DOES allow first years who fail, to resit the year if the grades were borderline.. one of her friends is going to restart next week! I would be surprised if there isn't a similar option , especially with your daughter having medical reasons.

My DD also found her concentration was shot.. she just couldn't focus well at all.. or sleep.. I think her body was just too busy trying to stay alive sad Once she is heavier her brain will work better again.

Wishing you, and your DD, all the best!

kritur Tue 13-Sep-11 21:06:36

I know you say that medicine is all she has focused on but I think she may be better off out of medicine for the immediate future at least. She should be able to transfer to a biological science degree, finish that and then when her health is better go onto medicine as a graduate. Medicine is a tough degree, not necessarily intellectually but physically far more than many other degrees. Recovering from anorexia is a long and slow process and there is no guarantee if she is readmitted to 1st year that she will manage to complete the year. She needs to focus on her health and get well. I would suggest she would be better at a uni closer to home as well.

funnyperson Wed 14-Sep-11 22:02:00

Grendelsmum what is the evidence for your terrible assertion?

GrendelsMum Thu 15-Sep-11 10:13:17

I apologise for having upset people by my post, and I'm more than happy and relieved to accept that I and my friends have extrapolated too far from what were probably isolated incidents, or amongst people who were in a situation that they found particularly difficult and reacted to those stresses in a way that is not uncommon in women of their age.

I'm happy to ask for my post to be removed if that would be preferred?

mezza123 Tue 11-Oct-11 22:47:06

Hi OP
Many years ago (2003!) I too failed my first year medicine exams and my resits and was chucked out of uni (UCL). I had no mitigating circumstances apart from laziness, but I did appeal, with the help of the student union people (useless) and also a law student boyfriend. As I understood it, the year was far too big and the idea is that a certain % will fail their exams, thus helping to get the 2nd year down to the size it's meant to be. For that reason I think unis are fairly harsh about resitting the first year and don't really allow it any more (that might be cr*p though). I am now considering applying again to graduate entry medicine, and although there are a few that don't allow it, there are some that do so it's not impossible. Those that do allow it seem to be the ones that use UKCAT or GAMSAT for graduates. The other option is going abroad, and with the increasing costs here, that might not be a bad option.
But anyway if your dd gets her health sorted out and wants to carry on now, appealing is probably the better option and I would pull out the big guns too, I wish I had done as it would be easier than applying now with 'failure' on my record!! Good luck to your dd.

mags2024 Wed 19-Oct-11 19:46:19

Sort out her health - without that she will not get anywhere.
Take timeout to recharge batteries and self esteem. prove to her the world has not stopped turning.
Do degree - physiology / biology/ psychology etc or an academic subject she enjoys. Get a good degree - get life back in perspective - go back to hobbies - need to be rounded. Sport /dance great destressors.
Apply for a post graduate medical course if still her wish to do
my son did his 1st degree at southampton (Biology) and one of his flatmates dropped out of medicine. my godson did the same thing and 2 of son's girlfriends house mates have left afterthe second year. All these people have one thing in common - worked hard for a levels - straight to medical school. Personally l think medicine / dentistry should be post graduate.
For what its worth we are both in medicine. Up until 18 he was going to play cricket for England. Got a place to do sports Science and realised although he was good at cricket he wasn't exceptional ( for a while his life collapsed )- decided to do Biology - ment he had options as he didn't know what he wanted to do as sport had been his life. Took a gap year and learn't a language- German. He had worked for MIND as volunteer since school and sso did a 6 week placement in the German equivelent. Boned up for GAMSAT & UKCAT. Got offers fro Imperial Colledge and Swansea. He has chosen the latter as he feel it is a better post grad course.
My son couldn't read and write at 8 and if it had been left to his state primary school he would be stacking shelves in Tesco ( not that here is anything wrong in that ) or the wrong side of the law. We had the resourses to get the right help and support him. There were times when l thought hewould never make it to 6th form let alone uni. It was carrot and stick.
You know your daughter is bright. In her present mental state she may lurch from year to year just passing or may suddenly do well. However the real stress test is when she qualifies - and it is unrelenting. So she needs the support and love to come to terms with her illness / problems. Then plan the next step by step. She can get back on track - needs space and time
Good luck - bottom line there is more to life than medicine.

funnyperson Thu 10-Nov-11 18:26:56

How are things with you and your dd?

peteneras Thu 10-Nov-11 21:31:43

I sincerely hope OP and DD are able to pick themselves up again and take some positive steps towards the right direction.

I'd like to thank OP for starting this thread and I've shown my DS the first few pages just before he entered medical school in September to warn him about the danger of complacency just because he succeeded in getting into medical school in last year's exceptionally tough competition.

This evening he rang and said they had a test last week and the results were made known this week and many had failed the test. He passed.

LadySybil Thu 10-Nov-11 21:35:54

at many places the bottom five percent are always failed. no matter how well they do. Its competitive and you need to ensure you stay above the bottom five sometimes ten percent. its sad, and it sucks, but do you really want incompetent doctors?

having said all that, if she did well enough to get in once, then she can go back to medicine once she has sorted her health out. she's obviously capable, and one failure in life doesnt mean we have failed the entirety of it all.

Mazaraz Sat 30-Jun-12 18:37:20

Hi there-I'm new to this but had to join after reading this thread. I was really upset and could totally empathise with chicken goujon's situation-my daughter failed first year med school and we have had a totally horrendous year. My faith in the higher education system has been totally destroyed-not tomention my poor daughter's confidence and self esteem. I know he last post was some months ago-but was just wondering how her daughter is now? Mine is still hell bent on doing Medicine despite her heartless treatment by this particular University. Please anynews???

Yellowtip Sat 30-Jun-12 22:31:53

You almost certainly won't want to say which university Mazaraz, but in what way was your daughter treated heartlessly? I've been surprised by stories of large scale fails at one particular university which apparently takes on far more first years than it can put through. That seems immoral. I don't know that it's true, but I've heard it from several sources now. DS1 is starting in October but thankfully hasn't had to sign up to the university in question.

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