Medical Students Contemplating Leaving Before They Graduate

Medical students who are under stress and contemplating leaving before they graduate struggle with mental health.

With waiting lists at an all-time high, 75% of UK students are concerned about how staff shortages may impact their future jobs.

In the UK, about 60% of medical and nursing students report having mental health issues; some even expressed thoughts of leaving the field before they have earned their degrees.

According to recent data from the scientific research group Elsevier Health, 57% of trainees indicate they are concerned about their mental health, and 5% are thinking about quitting their undergraduate degrees.

Three-quarters of UK medical and nursing students are concerned about how a scarcity of healthcare workers may impact their future careers, according to research.

A little over 2,200 students worldwide were surveyed by researchers, 325 of whom were from the UK.

Read More About Medical Students And The Unique Stressors They Face

Third-year King’s College London medical student Anjola Awe told The Independent she was thinking about leaving the NHS and looking into other career paths.

“Why are people leaving? That seems like a red flag. I’m not just thinking about picking up the extra work.”

Ms. Awe, who has a keen interest in sexual and reproductive health as well as plastic surgery, mentioned that a colleague had just informed her about her perspective on non-medical jobs.

“You will have doctors encouraging you to look at other options which are not going into the NHS. Mostly they suggest you go to work as a doctor in Australia or Canada.

“I am keeping my options open. My issue is I love medicine that is the thing I’m most passionate about.”

Ms. Awe expressed concerns about the expense of the entrance fee as well as the cost of preparing for medical examinations. She added that she hasn’t looked at the cost of any UK exams since she wants to keep all of her choices open.

“I was burnt out in the pre-clinical part of my training because the work we do in a term is more than other students do in a year,” she said. “I wasn’t sleeping as much as I could have been. I did all-nighters in the second year.”

According to NHS Medical Staffing Data Analysis from June 2023, there were over 125,000 open positions in clinical or hospital settings in England, accounting for over 10% of all nursing positions. The number of people waiting for NHS treatment is at an all-time high, at 7.75 million.

Dr Philip Xiu, a GP who supports medical students and junior doctors in Leeds, said: “I see daily how vital it is we address students’ well-being concerns.

“Doubling enrolment won’t resolve looming workforce shortages if issues impeding student wellness go unresolved.”

Jan Herzhoff, Elsevier Health’s president, added: “It’s clear that healthcare across the globe is facing unprecedented pressures, and that the next generation of medical and nursing students are anxious about their future.”


Oppenheim, M. (2023) Stressed Medical Students Considering Quitting Before They Qualify, The Independent. Available at: (Accessed: 05 April 2024).

About the author : Andrew Warren