Getting into medical school is a difficult journey and too many premeds do not seek help early enough. Unfortunately by the time many premeds ask for help, it is too late. Avoid that situation, seek help early, and eventually become a medical student.
Many of the premeds that seek out my advice are third or fourth years in college. Typically, these premeds are asking for my help because something has gone wrong (primarily poor academic performance) or because they are not sure if they are taking the right steps in order to get accepted into medical school. Unfortunately, for many of these premeds, by the time they ask for serious guidance, they have already dug themselves into a huge hole that is very difficult to get out of.
Here is an all too familiar example:
Eric Premed is a fourth year neuroscience major who has dreamed of becoming a physician all his life. But because of a lack of focus and discipline during his first three years in college, his GPA has dropped to a 3.2. He believes that his GPA is a poor reflection of his actual academic abilities and thinks he can improve his GPA if he tried harder, but now he is worried that he has run out of time. Eric also has not been involved extracurricular activities besides shadowing a couple of physicians. He has heard that other premeds volunteer, research, and are active in other clubs and is wondering what medical schools require of him in regards to extracurricular activities.
Eric is in a difficult position because of his low GPA. Even if he got straight A’s during his final year of college, his GPA probably wouldn’t go any higher than a 3.4, which is still low if he is planning to a go to a U.S. allopathic medical school (the average GPA of an applicant who gets into at least one medical school is 3.68). He is also “behind” in regards to extracurricular activities.
Fortunately, not all hope is lost. Although future medical school admissions might be incredibly difficult and time-consuming, Eric still has options. He would probably have to take time off after college to raise his GPA through a post-baccalaureate program and boost his resume. He will also have to do very well on his MCAT to make up for a lower GPA if he wants to attend a U.S. allopathic medical school.
Ideally, this kind of situation should be avoided altogether and the best way to prevent this scenario is by seeking help early. Freshmen and sophomores in college, or even juniors and seniors in high school, should know very well what they are getting themselves into when they decide to become a doctor. Many college underclassmen lack motivation, do not know what it takes to get into medical school, and do not know how to study. If these underclassmen are left uncorrected, the earlier stated scenario is almost inevitable.
The perfect time to find help is during or before your freshmen year of college. There is a wealth of information on how to get into medical school but it is your job to go and tap into those resources. One of the best ways is to have serious discussions with friends or family who are physicians or medical students since they have gone through it all before. Ask them what their motivation was and how they prepared themselves. Find out how they fought through challenging times and how they balanced their studies with everyday life.
If you do not have a relationship with a doctor, medical student, or even older premed that is on the right path, you should go out of your way to make those relationships. Meet a doctor or medical student while volunteering or shadowing. Pre-med clubs often have valuable resources and connections that you can utilize. Make other pre-med friends who are also serious about getting to medical school and keep each other accountable. Take advantage of your school’s pre-med advisors or career centers. Pay for a professional counselor if you have to. In the end, you need to find a mentor, someone who can lead you down the right path.
||Read: The Importance Of Mentorship||
There are useful websites with valuable information such as ProspectiveDoctor.com or StudentDoctor.net, but nothing beats a personal connection with a knowledgeable individual. Ideally, you can glean information from multiple sources and decide what works the best for you. The most important thing is that you get the right information and motivation.
Every single medical student or doctor will tell you that they could not have reached their goals without guidance and support. On my own path to medical school, there were so many people who not only gave me valuable advice but also provided me with multiple opportunities such a research or shadowing position. Do not get trapped into thinking that you can do it all by yourself. And do not wait until you “mess up” before getting help. Find valuable online resources that you can trust. Build relationships early and emulate the success of others.
*This article was first posted on US News Education.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ProspectiveDoctor. Follow ProspectiveDoctor on Twitter @ProspectiveDr