Attending medical school is a major life decision. While attending medical school and becoming a doctor is an excellent choice for many people, it’s not the best course for everyone.
Wondering whether med school is right for you?
Read on for a roundup of five signs that you are a good candidate for medical school.
1. You’ve excelled academically
Medical schools have limited spaces with way too many candidates fighting for them. As such, they’re notoriously difficult to get into. Before setting your sights on attending medical school, you should first consider whether it’s a realistic choice for you.
If you don’t have top-notch grades, test scores, and extracurricular activities that will give you a decent shot at getting in, you may want to consider another path, such as a less competitive healthcare career or taking a year or two to improve your qualifications.
2. You comprehend the commitment
One of the reasons medical school is so difficult to get into? Medical schools are seeking candidates who can handle the rigor. No one expects medical school to be easy. Between the intense curriculum, the grueling hours, and the stiff competition, however, few people are aware of just how difficult it is.
And we’re not just talking about your time in medical school. Attending medical school is a commitment to years and years of learning—both in the classroom and during your residency afterwards.
Some residencies, like neurosurgery, last as long as seven years. Therefore, aspiring neurosurgeons are committing to more than a decade of training when they decide to go to medical school. The more aware you are of this commitment, the better prepared you’ll be to manage it—both personally and professionally.
3. You’re supported by your loved ones
The decision to attend medical school doesn’t just impact you. From the high cost of attending medical school to the time demands of being a doctor, medical school is a huge commitment for families of medical students, too.
The support of spouses, partners, families, and friends can help you stay the course when things get tough. Conversely, lack of support can become one more obstacle to success with the potential to escalate over time.
This doesn’t mean you should let someone else’s opinions stand between you and your goal of becoming a doctor. However, it is another factor when assessing the pros and cons of going to medical school.
4. You’ve evaluated other options
The healthcare field is booming with a variety of potential career tracks. If you’ve only ever dreamed of becoming a doctor, then attending medical school may make the most sense for you.
However, if you have a broader interest in the healthcare sector, it’s worth looking at other types of jobs. From clinical to research to administrative roles, there are many healthcare careers that require less training while still boasting a strong outlook.
For example, if you’re most drawn to patient care, you may find working as a nurse, physician assistant, genetic counselor, occupation therapist, speech-language pathologists, or other patient-centered role equally (if not more) fulfilling.
5. You’re motivated by the right things
People have many reasons for wanting to attend medical school. Unfortunately, not all of these reasons are conducive to a positive medical school experience and long-term fulfillment as a physician.
If you’re considering medical school because of parental pressure, prestige, or money, you may be setting yourself up to fail. Why? Because these motivations are unlikely to sustain you on the long and arduous journey to becoming a doctor.
On the other hand, if you are motivated by a genuine interest in medicine, aspire to help others in a meaningful way, and love to be challenged, medical school may be a perfect fit. These same qualities happen to be the key to career satisfaction for physicians.