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“Why Does Everyone Want To Go To Medical School?”

Earlier afternoon, I received a great question posed by a pre-med student who I’ve come to know through social media. He asks:

Why does literally, everyone, want to go to medical school? I am finding out more and more of the people I know in my high school “planning” on going to med school. It’s somewhat annoying, because when I find out this info from them they seem to disappear from old friends..because their plan on going to medical school suddenly gives them an ego boost. As a doctor like you, what do you think is the most important thing to take from my situation? Even the kids in my high school I would imagine would never want to become a doctor, are planning to!

It’s easy for everyone to say they want to go to medical school. They love science. They want to help people. They want a prestigious, noble profession. Whatever the reason, the majority of pre-meds at the high school level transitioning to undergraduate collegiate studies have no idea what rigors medical school will actually entail.

I vividly remember a large portion of my undergraduate colleagues labeling themselves as “pre-med.” By the time application season rolled around, the overwhelming majority had switched away from becoming a physician in favor of dentistry, pharmacy, optometry, or something entirely non-medical (business, law, accounting, etc.) Their reasons varied, but for many, the sacrifices and academic rigor inherent to pursuing medicine were simply too much. I’d say ~5% of the original pool actually received an acceptance from a medical school the first time around. I was one of the lucky ones.

Ask current medical students how involved their application process was. Ask them about their transition from college to med school. Ask them how much they have had to sacrifice in terms of recreational time. Ask them about the mental, physical, emotional, and psychological fatigue they deal with while trying to balance the rest of life. And this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

My advice is to never let someone else’s career goals alter yours. It’s your life. Know what you’re getting into, stay committed, be wary of distractions, and reap the fruits of your labor. The path to becoming a physician is arduous but so worth it! 🙂

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