It was always funny to hear other pre-meds talk about the application process as if they were already in or as if they knew what each admission committee was thinking. I would hear from others “You have to find your passion, you have to do this and that to show you care… you have to prove that this is for you.” And yet, the truth is, I still don’t know what I am doing most of the time and I think I got into a pretty good medical school.
I think the biggest part that bothered me about the application process was that there were expectations that following a certain set of criteria would get you in. I don’t dismiss the fact that you need to do well in school and there are certain things that need to be done to show interest in medicine. But the part that I didn’t always hear from people was an honest admission that maybe we don’t have it all figured out. And that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Maybe it is just me, but I don’t always believe the answer lies in knowing exactly what you are doing (talk to me again when I get malpractice insurance), but rather being curious about what you don’t know yet. For me, the person who is more curious always beats out the person who might have known more at the outset. Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. Something like that.
I used to listen to stories of people who had done x, y, and z and found myself in awe. I admired people who had 10.0 GPAs and built orphanages in Africa. Yet, I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to live up to those expectations. Eventually I understood that this isn’t a bad thing. In fact, that’s the best part.
Certainly we need people to admire and look up to, but that doesn’t mean that we are going to fail if we can’t live up to the image of the people we admire. On top of that, we all have our own stories to mold that are amazing in their own right. Spin anything a certain way and you can captivate anyone.
What I am trying to say is that you don’t need to have all of the answers now. Don’t feel overwhelmed by everything around you. Obviously, to get into medical school and succeed, you need to work hard and figure out the details of the application process so that you’re well-prepared. But this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t make time to laugh and have fun. Get to know your friends. Not just through clubs, but over beers or something that doesn’t have to do with school. Know how to talk to people who aren’t in the same position as you. Learn how to really laugh and care for others not because it looks good on a resume or because someone else is watching. Strangely enough, doing the right thing is oddly undervalued. Do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do; seems simply enough right?
At the end of the day, don’t be afraid to put your guard down. Don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t know what’s going on. It’s strangely comforting. Not everyone is a prodigy, but that is alright. You’re just as cool and special as everyone else. Seriously.
Have fun and good luck!
Jeff Fujimoto is a second year medical student at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.
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