Ask Asad: I want to opt out of MBBS but I am scared I'll disappoint my parents. Please help

Majority of us have to struggle with changes in our life that major studies like MBBS demand and bring along

Asad Shafi February 23, 2018

Dear Asad,

I am the eldest of six siblings and have recently gotten admission in MBBS to become a doctor. I am not very good at studies but I still managed to get admitted in a medical college. However, it is proving very difficult for me to cope with my studies. Each day I find my studies much more difficult than ever. One reason for this is my health. I am anemic and have to rest quite often. This affects my studies. I can’t put in as much time as I should. It has gotten to a point where I simply want to give up and not study medicine anymore.
I have the opportunity to do CS. I often think of leaving MBBS and going for that instead. What do you think? Also, I have a keen interest in computers. Should I try to develop this interest of mine in computers as a career?

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My father is an ex-government employee and we are a lower-middle class family. We are not financially strong. I can’t discuss these issues with my parents as they have invested quite a lot from their meager savings on my education and a switch in my education will take away from the little bit of money which they have kept aside for the education of my siblings.

What do you think I should do? Please help me in making a decision.

Confused MBBS Student

Dear Confused MBBS Student,

I am sorry to hear that you suffer from anemia. It is a curable disease that can be taken care of if the correct treatment under the supervision of a competent doctor is undertaken. I hope you are taking steps to completely recover from it and are not taking it lightly.

I hope and pray for a speedy recovery for you.

I must appreciate the fact that you are honest about your abilities as a student – not everyone is. You realise that you are not very good at them, which by the way is quite normal, and might either not be able to complete them or not do as well in them as required.

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Note: Many of us are not good at studies and our talents lie elsewhere. This is completely fine and normal. But sadly in Pakistan only a handful of professional studies are looked upon favourably and the many other sort of educational opportunities including vocational training are looked down upon by most parents and our society unlike the west where there is dignity of labour and one is free to opt for any studies or profession without the fear of being made to feel inferior in any way.

Therefore, your thoughts about dropping medicine and doing something else like CS or pursuing a career in involving computers is actually quite prudent. You are sensible enough to realise that your interests, and also perhaps your talents, lie elsewhere. Trying to pursue your talents is always the ideal choice.

But the thing that comes to my mind and stops me from asking you to leave MBBS and pursue a career in CS or computer studies is the fact that you mentioned that you can’t study as much as you should because you are anemic. If it’s anemia that is keeping you from studying properly then won’t this same anemia prevent you from studying for CS or computer studies? Won’t you again feel tired and weak when pursuing some other studies of your choice? If so, then dropping MBBS and taking on something else wouldn’t be of much help, would it?

Note: CS also requires a lot of studying. Thousands of people sit for CS exams every year but only a few are able to clear it. Preparing for it is not easy and requires a grueling schedule. Keeping your medical condition in mind, do you honestly believe that you will be able to cope with it?

Another thing that I would like to point out here is the fact that whenever we start something new, for example a degree like MBBS, it is always difficult in the beginning. Majority of us have to struggle with the changes in our life that major studies like MBBS demand. It’s a new experience, which for most of us can be quite overwhelming. This is a phase that most university students go through and many of them end up making the drastic decision of either switching to something else or dropping out of university altogether. I hope this is not the case with you; that you are not thinking of dropping MBBS just because you have recently started it and are struggling in coping with the demands it makes of your time and commitment.

However, with all due respect,  dropping MBBS because it requires a lot of studies and you are not willing to put in the time and effort required, should not be the reasoning for making a decision. If that is the case then dropping MBBS and taking on some other studies won’t help as whatever you choose to study will require full commitment towards it. Slacking or taking the easy way out won’t ever result in doing well in any studies that you take up. I think you need to honestly reflect on this.

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Keeping the financial condition of your family in mind, which you are sensible and sincere enough to realise, leaving MBBS won’t be a small step. It will definitely have a huge impact on your parents financial resources in terms of all the fees lost for MBBS plus the additional cost of paying admission fees for any new studies you take up. Thus go for CS or a career in computers only if you are extremely sure that you will be able to perform much better than you currently are performing in MBBS and are not just opting for it because you find MBBS hard and want to perhaps take the easy way out.

I would also suggest that before making any drastic changes – like giving up MBBS – you talk to people who already are studying for CS or have already completed it. Also talk to people studying computer sciences. Take their feedback. This will give you a clearer picture of how tough those fields really are and will help you in making the decision whether to switch from MBBS or not. Remember, the grass is always greener on the other side.

All the best!


Asad is a counsellor, life coach, inspirational speaker and a personal-development expert. He advises on social, personal and emotional issues. You can send him your questions for this weekly column at with “Ask Asad” mentioned in the subject line and provide as many details as possible.


Note: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Express Tribune.

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