So, most of you have a great passion for watching Grey’s Anatomy right? Right. But before you all become the “McDreamys” and “McSteamys” of the world as potential pre-med students, I have to ask you to check yourselves. Look within. Do you really want it? Do you even know what it entails? I hope so, but if not, let’s find out.
1. What am I signing up for?
OK, this is a big one. This is THE MOST IMPORTANT ONE. So you want to be a doctor. Starting now, you’ll be, first and foremost, a student. A student of biology, chemistry and physics (all the major pre-med requirements). In addition to this, you will be expected to participate in philanthropic efforts, science research, shadowing and maintaining some facade of social normalcy. Good luck!
Please become best friends with your advisor. It is imperative that you start planning early. When will you do research? What leadership activities will you take on? Gap year? When will you take the MCAT? Having a solid plan will eliminate some of your stress and guarantee that you have a great shot at achieving your goals.
3. The Major
A very common misconception is that to be a pre-med student, the major that you pick has to be biology, chemistry or physics. Wrong. Your major doesn’t even have to be science related. In fact, many students that wish to go to medical school are now majoring in fields such as sociology or comparative literature to keep up a high GPA to meet competitive medical school application requirements.
An important part of your resume will be science research. The summer before my freshman year, every single pre-med student I talked to gave me this one tip: Contact professors early. When I asked, “How early?” they would emphasize that there is NO SUCH THING as too early. Securing a spot in a lab will save you from the first semester rush and lessen your stress load.
A good way to get experience is to volunteer at a hospital. While this will look great on an application, it is important not to pick a volunteering position solely on how it will look to an admissions committee. Do something that rewards you on an emotional level and shows in your essays and interviews! Above all, medical schools want to see that you are an empathetic person. It’s one of the most important qualities in a doctor, and it can’t be taught.
One of the biggest favors that you can do for yourself is earning the respect and friendship of your professors. Office hours are there for a reason. Your professors can be the biggest resource you will have access to in college — bumping up that A- to an A, writing you a recommendation letter or simply helping you understand a difficult topic.
Amidst all this, it is important to remember to leave time for yourself and the things that make you genuinely happy. So indulge, take a long bike ride, curl up with Netflix and a pint of ice cream, garden, etc. Do whatever floats your boat. And furthermore, remember that there is always always, always a way out. If you realize that going to medical school is not for you, there are a myriad of other career paths that you can explore.
In all the madness that probably seems much less appealing than the inside of an ER, stay bright-eyed. Never lose that passion, never lose track of your goals and never sacrifice your own well being. It will ALL be OK. Now shoo! You have more important things to do.
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