The question is a reasonable one, and also extremely crucial for those seeking pre-health experience or pre-dentistry experience, considering the high percentage of students who begin their undergraduate careers with a premed designation on their major tracks versus the relatively low percentage of students who actually graduate from undergrad having completed al their premed requirements.
Naturally there’s nothing wrong with having to change your major or choose another career track — college, after all, is a great place to find out what your strengths and interests are — but there are also a few things that “true” premeds tend to have in common which sets them apart from those who switch out to another career choice during undergrad. The following questions, when answered properly, are what sets real premeds apart from the crowd:
Are You Willing to Sacrifice Fun and Focus?
As anyone seeking a pre-health experience or pre-dentistry experience undoubtedly knows, the premed track is definitely not for the faint of heart. Science courses tend to be extremely difficult, especially when you’re studying “higher” premed requirements like organic chemistry. Because of this, it’s likely you’ll be spending a good deal of your time studying for tests; unlike high school where a decent percentage of your grade in a class might come from homework assignments, grades at the collegiate level usually are based primarily on exam scores, at least for science courses. Because of this, doing well on exams is vital to maintaining a competitive GPA.
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In addition to the studying required for a busy schedule loaded with science courses, premed tracks are also filled with long lab hours. While there’s always a chance, more likely a prayer, that you will get out of a lab early, there’s also the chance that you’ll be stuck filtering your chemistry product for the full four hours.
Furthermore, competitive premeds are often involved in numerous extracurricular activities, from volunteering around a city to gain more pre-health experience or pre-dentistry experience, to leading biology clubs to contributing to undergraduate research projects. When it all adds up, a true premed will find that he or she will have to commit most of his/her time to focusing on having a competitive medical school
application. While this certainly doesn’t mean that true premeds never have time for fun, it does mean that you’ll probably need to say “no” to some undergrad events at times.
Are You Interested In Medicine Because You Care About People?
If a desire to earn a relatively high paycheck is your primary reason for wanting to go into medicine, then there’s a good chance that you’ll drop off the premed track sooner or later. There are other career choices where a passion for money can be a better source of motivation than the field of medicine. If you really want to go into medicine, caring about people is essential.
Have You Created A Strong Base of Encouragement
Being a premed major is not easy, and you’ll need friends that are there to encourage you to push through studying when you might be out partying instead. (You’ll also need friends who know when to pull you away from your books for a good study break too though!) Medical school is much much harder than undergrad, and having a strong base of friends who believe in you and your dreams is crucial to your success.
Besides having a good group of friends, seek out mentors who will be good influences on your path to medical school. This can include doctors and other healthcare professionals who were once in your boots. It ca also include other adults in other professions that are willing to hold you accountable for following through with your goals, even when things get tough.
Are You Exposing Yourself to the Health Care Practice?
Whether you’re applying to DO schools or MD programs, a requirement across the nation is that of shadowing experiences. Ideally, a shadowing experience should overflow into medically-related volunteer work or possibly even a medically-related employment opportunity prior to enrolling in medical school. Schools look for premed candidates who not only are capable in the classroom, but also are knowledgeable of what the groundwork of a physician’s life really looks like. Being a real premed goes beyond just being a student of your college; it extends into being a student of the health care field as well.
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