As a premed, you may get advice from various sources. But how do you know what is true or not? Previously, we listed and debunked our first 22 premed myths. Here is the list of the final 11.
*The facts stated below are specifically meant for U.S. allopathic medical schools
Myth 23: I need to do basic science research to get into medical school.
Fact: The high percentage of applicants who get accepted into medical school have done research. Medical schools like applicants who do research but it does not need to be basic science. You can pursue any type of research as long as you are dedicated to it. And if you decide not to do any type of research, make sure you are passionately involved in other activities. There are people who get into medical school without doing any research at all but that means they are very involved in other activities.
Myth 24: If I don’t finish college in four years, I will appear weak to admissions committees.
Fact: Circumstances are different for everyone so you do not need to finish school in the traditional four years if you cannot or decide not to.
Myth 25: As long as I have the motivation and the drive, I’ll get into medical school.
Fact: Unfortunately, effort does not guarantee success in medicine. There are people who do not have the skills, intelligence, and/or opportunities to become a doctor. That is perfectly fine. It is not the right career for everyone.
Myth 26: I finally decided that I want to become a doctor but it’s my junior or senior year. It is probably too late for me.
Fact: There are many people who decide later in their lives that they want to pursue a medical career. There are even people who are deep in other careers who end up switching to medicine. If you are a junior or senior and haven’t taken any pre-requisites yet, you can go to a post-bacc program or take classes at a community college. You can even stay an extra year at your school to finish all your courses. The main message: There is still time and many different routes.
Myth 27: It’s not worth going to medical school unless I go to a top school tier school.
Fact: If you go to any U.S. allopathic medical school, you will have a great chance at becoming a good doctor. Medical school rankings are not as important as other graduate school rankings. How well you do in medical school is more important than the name of the school you attended. Thus when applying, you want to aim high but getting into any medical school is hard enough. Avoid having an elitist mentality. More likely than not, you will be humbled.
Myth 28: I don’t really enjoy learning about science or health but I know I want to be a doctor because I like helping people.
Fact: The medical profession requires extensive scientific knowledge mainly in the field of medicine. Thus, if you don’t find medicine interesting, why would you want to become a doctor? You can dislike organic chemistry and physics but if you are not passionate about learning about the medicine, becoming a doctor is probably not right for you. You can help people in a lot of other ways besides medicine.
Myth 29: As long as I get an A in a course, I can ask the professor who taught the course for a letter of recommendation.
Fact: You should only get letters of recommendation from professors who know you personally and can write you a strong letter. If a professor barely knows who you are, the letter that he or she writes will be weak and generic no matter how well you did in the class.
Myth 30: I don’t know him that well but if I get a letter of recommendation from Dr. X, who is really famous and influential, I’ll get into medical school.
Fact: Getting an impersonal letter of recommendation from a distinguished doctor or professor probably will not do much for you. Try to ask professors and doctors who you know on a personal level (even if they are not as well known and or accomplished) to write letters for you.
Myth 31: Admissions committees look unfavorably on people who took time off after college before applying to medical school.
Fact: On the contrary, medical schools tend to like applicants who took time off because they are usually more accomplished, well rounded, mature, and realistic. Older applicants have more life experience which usually translates into more maturity. The average age at entry for Stanford medical school is 24, while traditional applicant enters medical school at 22. That means Stanford accepted a significant number of applicants who took time off before or after graduating. Take home message: Taking some time off before or after graduating will give you an opportunity to enrich your life and application.
Myth 32: I’m not sure that I want to become a doctor but I should apply to medical school anyway. I’ll figure it out when I’m in medical school.
Fact: Applying and attending medical school is a huge emotional, financial, and time commitment that you should not make unless you are sure that you want to become a doctor. Yes you can drop out after starting but you should really explore if medicine is the right career for you before you start medical school.
Myth 33: I really hate being premed but I should stick it through because it’s all worth it in the end.
Fact: If you hate being premed, there is a strong chance that you will hate medical school or the profession itself. Also, if you are not enjoying what you do, you will have a harder time succeeding. The path to becoming a doctor is a long and grueling one that requires many sacrifices. In a sense, you must enjoy the journey in order to get to “the end”. Becoming a doctor will not magically make all your suffering worth it.