As a high school student looking into medical school you likely have a few questions that you want answered. That is understandable. Chances are that you are worried about what the future will hold for you. Are you a good enough student? What happens if you change your mind after you already started down your path? What are some goals that I should be setting for myself? Well, hopefully this piece will help you get answers to some of those questions.
I’m in high school and am really interested in going to medical school eventually, but I’m having anxiety about my future. What should I do?
Your current age / growth / life perspective has a huge affect on what you think and feel. Rest assured things will calm down over the next few years, and your mind won’t be quite so agitated. These feelings will slowly settle down over the next few years on their own, and you don’t have to ‘do’ anything or ‘be’ anything. So enjoy the roller coaster ride while you’re on it.
I have an idea of what I want to study already, but how likely is it that I will change my mind?
Very common actually and that’s perfectly fine. Over 67% of med students change their minds about what they want to do as doctors. This usually happens after 3rd and 4th year of med school, when you start rotating among all the different areas of medicine. Don’t be surprised if you fall in love with several aspects of medicine before you finish med school.
Most of my anxiety comes from feeling like I’m “not good enough.” How do I best deal with this?
The anxiety comes from not knowing … meaning that if someone gave you a master list of the things you’ll need to become a plastic surgeon, it would help. Like I said, this is part of the roller coaster ride, and it’s completely normal. Just relax, you still have many years ahead of you. OK, the first step of course is to become a doctor, and for that you need to get into med school.
What do I need to do to make sure I’m on the right track to medical school?
The med school you attend will affect which residency you are more likely to get. So it’s a good idea to get into a “good” or “higher-ranked” med school. To do that, you’ll need a GPA in the 3.75 range, and an MCAT score of about 33 or so (on the 2014 scale).
Let me break this down further into a “to do” list for you. Here you go:
- Get into a top 100 college in the U.S. — you want to get into a good college, but not sooo crazy competitive that you end up getting lower grades. It’s better to go to a decent school, and get all As, then to go to Harvard, and get a 3.0 GPA.
- Once you’re in college – get a 3.75 GPA in all your classes, and get an 33 or higher on the MCAT.
- Make sure you do at least 100 hours of clinical volunteering. Could be a hospital setting, could be a doctor’s office, etc. Since you want to do plastic surgery, try to volunteer in a plastics office.
- Do about six months of science research while you’re in college — you just volunteer to work in a lab on campus. There’s usually lots of ways to find this, and talk to your on campus premed adviser, or go to the premed club and ask them.
- You need a lot of prereqs before you can go to med school — bio, general chem, organic chem, physics, English, math, physiology, biochemistry, etc. It’s easier to meet those requirements if you do a bio major in college. You can do other majors, but then you have to do all the premed work AND all the work for your major.
Ok, I’m a bit less stressed, but what should I be doing now?
Make a “to do” list, based on the content of this email, and whenever you start to feel anxious, review the to do list and just keep reminding yourself that you’re doing the right things.
It’s common for students to ask at this point, “what else should I be doing?” and the answer is … nothing else. Do these things, and don’t do anything else. You won’t have a whole lot of time for much else if you follow this list.
Phew, is that all?
Well, there is one more thing you should be doing … enjoy yourself. Find stuff to do while you’re in high school and later while you’re in college that you enjoy. Pursue your passions, get a little outside the box. If you like to dance, go to a dance club; if you like lacrosse, go play lacrosse … point is to go and pursue what you’re interested in. Express yourself. Medical schools loves that kind of stuff.
Just don’t let your grades suffer. It sounds bad to say, “My grades suck, but I’m a good dancer.”