What to Consider Before Deciding to Go to Medical School

Consideration #1: Do I Really Want To Be A Doctor? (Even If It Doesn’t Make Me Rich?)

It used to be when your parents asked you: “What do you want to be — a doctor or a lawyer?” that whatever answer you gave would ensure you an extremely successful financial future. Because of certain economic realities we face today, the medical profession is no longer the giant cash cow parents once credited it to be (and many doctors will probably tell you it never was to begin with.) Therefore, if you have begun to think about applying to and going to medical school, you should really be doing it because of a passion for the field.

Consideration #2: Dermatology or Epidemiology: What Area of Medicine Do I Want To Specialize In?

Of course, you will have time to figure this out in medical school as well, but you will be the most informed applicant you can be by doing some of this thinking up front. Medical schools are like any other kind of school: even the best ones are stronger in some areas of medicine than they are in others. Therefore, it’s worth your time to spend some time thinking about what area of medicine you would like to practice in. If you want to be a pediatrician, apply to the schools that are the best in pediatrics; if you want to be an oncologist, seek out those schools that have the best reputation for education young doctors in this area.

Consideration #3: How Will I Get Into The Best Medical School In My Area of Interest?

Be the best pre-med student in your area of interest. If you are in undergrad reading this, there is no time like the present to start getting your prerequisite classes out of the way to qualify for medical school. Also, the more homework you do outside the classroom on the schools that you’ll be applying to, the better your application will be.

Consideration #4: Where Do I Want To Live After I Get My Medical Degree?

While the school that specializes in the area of medicine you want to practice should probably win the day in terms of where you decide to attend, you should also think about where you’ll want to live after you get out of school as well. Much of your medical training will be hands-on, and so you might meet and develop relationships with your future patients as a medical student if you attend a school located in a place that you intend to make your home. Also, you will have to take and pass state medical licensing exams, which will be easier to prepare for when you are studying in the same state that you hope to be licensed in.

Elizabeth Saas

  • What can you do to be productive if you decide to take a year off after college and before medical school?I’m considering taking a year off before I go to medical school but I want to know what kinds of things people do during that time that are considered productive. If someone has taken a year off I want to know what kinds of options are out there to do that people can do during that time. I have little guidance for this process since I am the first in my family to be interested in a health career so any help on the application process and medical school would be really helpful!


  • A break year is great because it may be the last time you have no real responsibilities. If you go to medical college, you’ll train hard and work hard for years then get straight into an internship and then spend years trying to improve your position in work and then, the next thing you know, you are already in your mid 40’s standing on a golf course, talking to another quack about the benefits of aspirin versus another more expensive blood thinning drug and you’ll ask your self ‘where did the time go?’ try and do something extraordinary. Go and work in a community hospital in Africa or something. See the world before you lock your self away in hospital corridors.References :

  • I would look into internships at local hospitals, or – if you’re not tied down to where you’re currently living – take this opportunity to travel and/or live abroad. Maybe look into the peace corps – I think they generally require a two year commitment, but I think they also offer hybrid programs.References :

  • I would not suggest you take a year off unless you can get a situation where the med school will admit you and then give you a one-year deferment. They may not want to do that unless you have some specific plan that they would consider important enough to wait a year, i.e. research.

    You don’t say what stage you are at in college, but med school admission is HIGHLY competitive. The road to becoming a doctor is already very long, so adding a year without a very good reason doesn’t make sense. You need at least a 3.5 GPA in college, great MCAT scores, terrific recommendations and, ideally, some experience in the field [e.g. working in a prof’s lab]. If you’re admitted to med school, you’re in for four years of intense work, an extremely competitive atmosphere and a very high debt load [unless family or spouse can pay], as there is little, if any, financial aid. After med school, you’ll have at least four years of residency or more, depending on the specialty you choose. Residency consists of 80-hour work weeks with frequent, long on-call duty. You’ll also have two sets of exams to get through: the three-part National Boards and the specialty boards for your area.References :

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