From Pills to Bills: former Med School students in the GED

Flora, Mai and Thanutsika (then abbreviated to “Thanu”) are second year students of the Grande Ecole du Droit. They accepted to answer our questions and to share with us their experience of becoming a GED student after medical studies.


Mai “Law was an evidence” – © Christophe Rabinovici

Why did you choose to study law after medicine?

Flora chose Law school after medicine because she needed “to join a degree course where there are a lot of different interesting courses yet remaining really general, not one specialty only”. She explains it was because she liked “the diversity of courses and the panel of choices in medicine studies”.

Mai said that she had always hesitated between law school and medical school. However, after a bachelor’s degree in science she thought medical school was the more obvious choice. But when medical school didn’t work out for her, she did not even hesitate to choose what to do next: “Law school was an evidence”.

Thanu explained: “At the end of the year, I thought of what I wanted to do after, and I realized that nothing really interested me in the field of science apart from medical school. I considered doing a degree in biology like many others after failing the competitive exam but I didn’t really see myself doing it and the job market wasn’t great. I asked the help of a guidance counselor when I realized that I needed to completely reconsider my future. I remembered that during med school, I followed a class on bioethics and initiation to law. It was really interesting and new for me, and I thought that it was worth trying. I also remembered a guidance test that I took in High school that guided me towards law studies. I always wanted to do long studies and I knew it was risky but I really wanted to try and I’m glad I did.”

Why did you choose the Grande Ecole du Droit?

Flora says that she selected the Grande Ecole du Droit “for its international perspective and to find again a hard but important rhythm of working.” It was important for her to work a lot after med school.

“Medical school asked a tremendous amount of work and she used to work a lot” Mai adds. She did not want to start over in a classic, regular law degree. She wanted something selective and “then the LLM and the extensive hours of English were very appealing arguments”.

Actually Thanu did not really choose the GED: “I didn’t even know it existed during my first year in law school. I was following the normal law degree and thanks to good marks, Professor Magnier offered me the opportunity to do this double degree course. I’m really glad that I have been able to enter the GED. It is a great opportunity that will for sure help me build good and solid legal knowledge, especially in international law”.

 Why was choosing a degree course with a lot of English important to you?

English was also a key point in Flora’s choice, she explained that she had “many difficulties in English” during her 2 years in medicine. “I didn’t improve my English; I forgot my basis in this matter so I try to improve my English day after day”. And she’s doing quite well, as she’s preparing the IELTS for this summer.

Mai always loved English whether it was the language or the American/British culture. She knew that she wanted to work at an international scale, so English had to be a major part of her degree.

For Thanu, GED was an opportunity: “Again I didn’t choose the GED. But they explained to me what the GED was, I thought that it would actually be a great chance for me to really develop my abilities in English. I think that English is essential in today’s job market and this double degree will really help me increase my chances to easily fit in”.

 What was the first difference you noticed in law school, compared to med school?

To Flora, it seems that law school offered a “breath of fresh air” compared to the fierce competition in med school: “Now, I work for myself and not to be the best, just to pass my year and to be satisfied with my work and nothing more. I’m in competition with myself not with others as it is in medicine.”

Mai said the typical differences for her are the reasoning and the thinking. She said that: “We are taught, in medical school, to learn a lot of information as fast as we can. You don’t have time to truly understand and think about what you’re learning which I found very frustrating. And then the midterms were awful because there were only multi-choice questions which don’t reflect your actual knowledge. In law school, you must learn a lot but you also need to have a strong reasoning. Writing a paper in three hours explaining your thoughts was actually rewarding.”

Thanu has a similar opinion: “Med school was really frustrating in terms of exams because it was a multiple choice questioner. So either you know the answer, either you fail even though you knew a lots of things that you struggled to remembered. In law school, it is really different. You really have the opportunity to think and develop ideas your own way in essays and are not restricted because you can use the knowledge that you have as you want. Med school taught me a lot of things for sure but it was really like a transitional phase in order to pass the competitive exam”.

Flora : "I have found my way" - © Christophe Rabinovici

Flora : “I have found my way” – © Christophe Rabinovici

Do you find any similarities between law and medicine studies?

 “Yes, it could be thought that these two courses are completely different, even opposed or contradictory, whereas they have some similarities. I would say that law is the mirror image of medicine.” Flora said. It seems to her that “Both subjects share a form of humanism: they are looking for the best in men, or at least simply seeking to correct his flaws. Medical ethics is a good example of the mix between these two arts.”

For Mai, the similarities are the amount of work, the discipline and the precision.

Thanu thinks that “Maybe the fact that law is really a structured and pragmatic field” is a similarity.

“In a way, there is a scientific way to think and proceed, very mechanical. Having a Scientific Bachelor Degree and doing med school (even if it was just the first year) really taught me that”.

 Did you encounter any difficulties to adapt to law school?

Flora has not encountered real difficulties yet. On the contrary, law school flourished her: “I have found my way. I will never forget medicine and what I learned in med school. I learned about myself, about others and these two years really made me grow up.”

Mai found that the difficulties were “the classes of three hours where you need to listen and type everything the teacher says. It demands a lot of attention which was different in medical school where we had a break every 45 min for a three-hour course. And then learn to think again by yourself compared to medical school where you just needed to learn as much as you could.”

Thanu had a little apprehension at first: “I really thought that I forgot how to write at the beginning. During med school, I was always checking boxes and never writing. I was really afraid of essays but it is finally my favorite kind of work to do now.”

 What did you find difficult in law studies?

Nothing was difficult for Flora, but she needed a little adaptation: “to be ready every time for a TD (special courses in small groups, for which we have to prepare legal exercises), that is to say having all the work prepared”. That was a little troublesome “because I am very perfectionist so it’s hard, that’s why I try to be less harsh and more indulgent with myself.”

Mai didn’t find law studies so difficult, like Flora: “It was the adapting part that was more difficult”.

For Thanu, “It was really just getting used to the different way to teach and to learn” that was difficult. “But it was just in the beginning”.

 Did you think medicine studies help you in your law studies?

Flora describes med school as “learning for life”: “medicine studies help me always, everywhere”.

Mai’s answer is yes: “Thanks to medical school, I know that I am able to work and learn a lot in a very short term. It also gave me a very rigorous discipline.”

Thanu agrees too: it helps her “absolutely, especially in my way to think. Like I said, it is really pragmatic and scientific in a way and med school prepared me for this. “

Thanu, on the right : "I am looking for an LLM in connection with bioethics or medical liability" - © Christophe Rabinovici

Thanu, on the right : “I am looking for an LLM in connection with bioethics or medical liability” – © Christophe Rabinovici

 What did you learn in med school which still helps you today in you law studies?

Flora said that in med school “I have learned to be hard-worker, to be autonomous, to be conscious that people surrounding me aren’t all kind.”

In med school, Mai had a general culture course in medical school where she learned what the EU institutions are. But, “Honestly, besides that, nothing”.

Thanu asserted that med school was particularly helpful “to structure my mind and work efficiently”.

 What do you want to do after (any idea of job or area of specialization…)?

Flora would like to become a lawyer: “I need my independence, my liberty and I need to defend a important cause to feel I’m useful”.

Mai doesn’t know yet but she has some ideas: “Probably in business law. Law firm or company, it does not really matter to me. However, what is essential it the international element. I would like to be surrounded and interact with co-workers that come from different countries. I don’t want to only practice civil law, French law”.

Thanu has no precise idea for the moment: “I’m still thinking about it but I would really like to work in a field connecting law and health issues. So I’m considering working in pharmaceutical groups or hospital groups. I did choose med school in the first place because it was my first call. It is still interesting to me so why not choose a job relying on both?

Bioethics and medical liability seems interesting so I’m looking for an LLM in connection with that.”

 By Clémence Lamy & Inès Rodriguez Nello