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Failed 1st year medicine

(255 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.

belledechocchipcookie Sat 10-Sep-11 18:09:49

She'll be malnourished as she's anorexic, this will cause fatigue amongst other things. It would be a mitigating circumstance but only if the uni were aware of her illness before the exams. It sounds like she was struggling with the course and she needs some support with her illness before she does anything else. You need to take her to her GP first. She needs time to get as well as she can before she thinks of her next step. The university do have a duty of care, which they have failed by the sound of things but if they didn't know all of the facts then they couldn't have helped her. I'd help her with her illness first, then look for a different uni. She'll be as low as she can get right now, concentrate on her health and get her some support.

chickengoujon Sat 10-Sep-11 18:19:54

We have booked at appointment at the GP this week. I am just reeling from the shock of her failing and then being told she has been eating near to nothing for so long. I can't believe it. Of course she will never now be able to do medicine and I think that this has been so hard for her as it is all she ever wanted so she is desperate to appeal, but I don't know how worthwhile that would be. thanks for your reply

Booboostoo Sat 10-Sep-11 18:24:38

The medical degree is incredibly stressful and does not suit all students, but it's usually very very hard for them to admit this even to themselves because they have worked so very hard to get there. Failing medicine is by no means the end of the world. She has fantastic A levels and she can go on to do another course and be happy. Can you relate these ideas back to her and see if you can get her to feel happy and proud of her achievements again rather than stressed about medicine?

Hope your GP can help a bit.

jenniec79 Sat 10-Sep-11 18:26:33

Not necessarily out of medicine for ever, but if the course has led to exacerbation of the eating disorder it may well not be the best for her in the long run - medicine as a career leads to a number of years fairly chaotic living and unpredictable eating patterns.

I'd start with GP regarding the eating disorder. Her health has to come first. Then she needs to speak to a tutor in her uni. Could she take a year out to get herself back on track then back to it in 2012? The university occupation health service should be able to help too.

Waswondering Sat 10-Sep-11 18:28:44

Does your university have a student support centre with disability advisers? (They should do!) Phone them first thing on Monday and see what they can do. Is there an option to repeat the year, or take a year out, get sorted, and start again? Do get help from them as if you have a diagnosis from a GP it may change the goal posts ....

.... but also, as others have said, she may be having a long hard think about if this is right for her.

Hope things look brighter for you both very soon, but do phone your student support office on Monday and see what they say (and they are used to getting calls from worried parents!).


Tempingmaniac Sat 10-Sep-11 18:31:47

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

chickengoujon Sat 10-Sep-11 18:33:47

Thank you for your messages - you are all very kind. We went to the welfare officer at the uni and she wasn't very helptful just said that she would have to appeal but if mitigations weren't notified before the exams they probably wouldn'[t be interested. She also said that she would never be able to apply for medicine at any other uk university - so nice of her - my dd sobbed and sobbed. We couldn't have put the mitigations in because my dd didn't admit the eating problem until last week so how could we have told them? I feel so useless and want so much to help her. We asked about tranferring to another course and they just said - no we are full.

slightlyoversharing Sat 10-Sep-11 18:38:29

Chicken goujon - have pm'd you

kangers Sat 10-Sep-11 18:38:53

Really sorry for what I am about to tell you, but my colleague's daughter also studied medicine at Uni, also struggled with anorexia and in her LAST YEAR was found dead in her flat. The Uni had been neglectful of her condition bearing in mind she was in hospitals most of the time. The inquest is pending and my colleague has nothing but contempt for the uni.
Do not expect sympathy from them. Go with the flow, an alive, clever, happy daughter is better than a pressured,unhappy one.
I think anorexia is fairly common amongst medics as they are under immense pressure and have to be very disciplined to succeed. There is a GP at my surgery who is clearly anorexic (hairy down all over her etc) but she caries on as though nothing's wrong.
Let her recover and find another way.

elliott Sat 10-Sep-11 18:39:32

Gosh they sound spectacularly unhelpful. I wonder whether things have changed a lot since 'my day' - I have several contemporaries who failed first year medicine (and not with any mitigating health problems either, they just misjudged how hard they had to work) - they started the first year again and are now established and competent senior doctors. Is retaking the year not allowed any more? Is it because she failed by too big a margin? Would they accept a transfer to another course next year, once she has got better?

unitarian Sat 10-Sep-11 18:39:37

I assume she has no medical history of an eating disorder because she would have had to disclose it on her medical form before admission to the course. This will have been conditional on the enhanced CRB check, her exam results and her medical fitness, vaccinations etc. If she did have a problem before and didn't disclose it then she doesn't stand a chance at appeal. If she didn't have a problem before and the lack of nourishment is to do with anxiety then they would argue unsuitability anyway.

You need to try and get her back on her feet and consider an alternative career avenue when she is able to think straight.

My DD is also a first year medic and I feel for you and your DD.

kangers Sat 10-Sep-11 18:41:28

Not Leeds Medical school by any chance is it?

belledechocchipcookie Sat 10-Sep-11 18:42:00

There's no reason why she can't apply somewhere else, I'm not surprised dd was upset. I think she needs to take time off to recover as best as she can, then think about where she wants to go next. There are other careers that she can go into, medicine is incredibly stressful so she may find something similar but without the stress (chirporactors do a great job, more holistic and treat the whole person by looking at their symptoms, like medicine but without the drugs.)

Gastonladybird Sat 10-Sep-11 18:42:28

Am so sorry to hear about your daughter - fwiw my sister failed first year exams (also really bright but couldnt seem to pass as was a combination of not being quite sure about it and the skills required not bein ones she was good at).

She transferred to another course , did as masters in it and has had a successful career since. Her confidence did take a knock but she got over it and looking back it turned out to have given her another chance.

I know that the facts slightly different here but wanted to give you example of something where there was a successful and happy outcome .

If uni won't take her will any other take her (of not for

Appleby Sat 10-Sep-11 18:42:49

chicken, she's clearly ill but she really hasn't lost everything. It's important for her to know that to give her some light to get her through to the end of the anorexia tunnel. Poor thing, it's so often lovely girls who get it, they're too sensitive for their own good.

Anorexia completely does that, leads to a loss of concentration. My DD was just the same. Because girls with anorexia are often highly intelligent, this is disguised, because they function academically at a reasonable level, whereas if they had their concentration back they'd most likely excel.

I completely agree she needs medical help but in order to keep a door open I would ask for a meeting with the appropriate university authorities (personal/ moral tutor). It does sound as though they failed in their duty of care, on the other hand I expect she never sought help and may well not have recognised what was happening herself. The first university may not take her back but something should be put on her record for a subsequent reference: I'd strike while the iron is hot.

A medic friend of another DD had to leave Oxford after her first year with anorexia: they told her to go away and get better. It took two years but she's back, I think three years behind her original group. There was still a door open.

My DD had a very long very difficult time and got so thin it was hard to believe, though that was in Sixth Form. It was a long, long road. I thought she's lost all her chances, but she's now up at Oxford too.

There is always hope, she needs to know that, but she almost certainly can't get better without help. Make sure it's good help too, some areas are much better provided for than others.

I'm sorry for you both; good luck.

chickengoujon Sat 10-Sep-11 18:48:01

Actually she didn't fail by a big margin - only 1 mark in 2 exams and 6 in another. I really think unis don't give a s***. And no it isn't Leeds, but it's a 'prestigious' uni.

chickengoujon Sat 10-Sep-11 18:50:56

Gosh Kangers - that is terrible. Very sad indeed. I wondered if she felt pressure from me and her dad, but I don't think we pressured her. I have spent the past week analysing where I went wrong.

My dd is thin but I am hoping we have caught it soon enough. She has admitted it, which is the first step. She said that she would go to the drs but if she was prescribed fortisip (or whatever), she wasn't going to drink it. I am hoping the gp can help her in some way

Appleby Sat 10-Sep-11 18:53:48

Well then she did amazingly in the circumstances. Most students with creeping anorexia would have bombed each and every exam.

If she comes out of this realising medicine with all its pressures isn't for her, then fine, but there will be doors open and opportunities to start medicine all over again, she just has to be properly well.

Appleby Sat 10-Sep-11 18:57:38

I'm sorry to say it but that was exactly what DD said, the Fortisip thing. It's best to be prepared for the worst.

kangers Sat 10-Sep-11 19:01:12

Chicken- my colleagues wife is also a medic- it is nothing you have done.
Anoexia is a highly complex DISEASE with psychological and biological elements, and usually the sufferers are very sensitive and intelligent (as previous posters have alluded).
Do not blame yourself, but I am just saying that in the scheme of things forget about the course atm and focus on the health of your daughter only.
I am sure she can do something very fulfilling when she is BETTER.
Much love to you.

scottishmummy Sat 10-Sep-11 19:14:05

sorry for your dd troubles and mental and physical anguish. 1st prioritise mental and physical recovery,maybe pursue an ED referral, with community support. also look into what family support available for you too

medicine is demanding academically and professionally.and so v different to other courses,more lecture contact time,labs and tutorial.

take time for a recovery
anorexia is a complex psychiatric illness. affects physical and mental health and self esteem. i hope she can make a recovery

best wishes

Waswondering Sat 10-Sep-11 19:17:02

Please check if there's a disability adviser, not a welfare adviser. They are 2 very different roles .... I work in HE and our DAs work in a totally different way to the welfare people. The DAs will advocate as much as they can for the student. Does your student have an Adviser/Regent too that you can talk to?

chickengoujon Sat 10-Sep-11 19:49:39

Waswondering - I don't know. What's difficult as well is that we don't live close by so have to travel each time. Dd doesn't seem to know anything about the uni, she said that at the start they mentioned that she had a personal tutor, but she hasn't ever seen him. Don't they do tutorials? I had them termly when I was at uni. We saw a welfare person at the medschool and she seemed very harsh. We couldn'[t have told them that she had an eating disorder because I don't think she knew she had one. It's difficult. On the one hand I don't want her to carry on with all the stress, but on the other she has been focussed for so long on doing the degree that she can't see another way forward. I think we will have to appeal although I don't know if it is worth bothering as they are so unsympathetic.

chickengoujon Sat 10-Sep-11 19:50:19

and thank you for all your constructive help. At least I have stopped crying now and started to feel a bit more angry about it - that's a move forward for me!!

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