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Why I didn’t do Med

I’ve written a whole series on my journey from a regional Victorian high school student to Ph. D student in my ‘How did I become #PhDLife?’ series of posts (see part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4).

But most people who go into Biomedical Sciences have a dream of becoming a medical doctor (in my experience). Whether it was just the cohort I was in, or, more likely, the subjects I was in- the vast majority of people in my final years of uni were highly motivated pre-Med students. They were very keen to take the GAMSAT and get interviews, and I was just like a jelly fish in amongst all that, just floating around at my own pace.

I shall call him Squishy and he shall be mine and he shall be my Squishy |  funny gifs
I am the Squishy 😂

It wasn’t like I wanted to go into research. A series of events just sort of lined the path up for me towards research (as written in the previously advertised posts), and I sort of just fell in it.

But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t interested in Med. I did Anatomy in second and third year, not enough to get a Major (or Minor), but out of personal interest. I also took Physiology in second year, because I thought it was fascinating. Both ultimately melted my brain, but I still thought it was super cool. The Anatomy Pracs at Melbourne also allowed us to do real cadaver dissections, which, if you’re not too squeamish, really helped with the understanding of how the body works. It’s always better to learn the names of the individual muscles, nerves, veins, and arteries, when you can actually see and touch them. I know it’s a very privileged thing to be able to do that, and I still appreciate the opportunity to this day. Although- I’ll be totally honest- the first three hour dissection Prac left me wanting to become vegetarian… and then I got over it. But I couldn’t eat meat for a few days afterwards, and the smell of fixative burning my eye balls and airways still haunts me.

As mentioned in other posts, I’ve always had very steady, dextrous hands. Surgery, or Forensic Anatomy, could have been very interesting. I could struggle through with the rote learning, and clearly I’m into self-torture, because I did a Ph. D, so I would probably have coped with all the study…

So, why didn’t I pursue Med, then?

The short answer is money. 💰

Due to my circumstances, I have to pay my subject fees upfront. I still have Commonwealth Supported Place, so I don’t have to pay full fees, but it’s still a hefty sum of money that I needed to organise… and it just wasn’t feasible.

A Ph. D, on the other hand, is free- provided you get a scholarship (see previous post about the logistics), so that seemed the best option for me at the time.

Do I regret not doing Med?

Not really. I’m sure there’s a version of me in another dimension that’s probably gone on to become some sort of Doctor of Medicine, but… eh.

Admittedly, a medical doctor has a much higher employability in this current climate, compared to a Ph. D graduate. I don’t think we’ll ever get to a point where we, as a society, don’t need doctors. 😅 A Ph. D graduate, though… not as employable, unfortunately. There’s not enough jobs to go around, so you still need to do a lot of leg work to even be considered for a position.

I think it’s definitely a ‘to each their own’ sort of scenario. A Ph. D worked out for me, but it might not necessarily work out for others. I also know people who did Honours in a research laboratory, then went into Med, then went back to the same lab to do their research project (as a part of their Med degree). I also know crazy people who do Med, then do a Ph. D. Going from a proper paid job to a Ph. D stipend would be quite painful, but I guess you could come to an arrangement where you work and study simultaneously, so you’re still getting paid properly to work… but yeah, that’s commitment. A Med degree is a few years, and a Ph. D is usually around four. Needless to say, I’m glad there are people who are that driven, because I’m sure they’re making the world a better place.

At least for me, I’m a Ph. D graduate in infectious diseases, so I can sort of pretend to know useful stuff that’s Med related. 🤣 AND- a Ph. D is a higher degree than Med (which is a Masters at best), and a ‘Doctor’ is traditionally for Ph. D graduates, not for medical doctors, so…

Just reaching for straws here, I know. 😂

But yes, everyone’s journey is their own, and while a part of me will always have a longing for Med, hopefully the Ph. D will be the last major degree I obtain.

Categories: Careers Ph D posts

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A Ph. D graduate in Microbiology, residing in Victoria, Australia. Currently working in multiple locations but still in the STEM field. 👀 🦠 🧫 🧬

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