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Indecisive About Medical School

Credit garry61A friend recently brought up an interesting point of view. He is just about to finish his undergraduate degree in life sciences, he’s done well so far and his GPA shows it. He wrote his MCAT and applied to multiple medical schools this year and received and attended several interviews. And the strange thing is that after completing all these individual steps, he’s still not sure if Medicine is what he wants to do.

He may very well end up with an acceptance in hand and decline it. And that’s perfectly reasonable.

It must be strange to think that with so many applicants out there wanting to pursue a career of medicine so bad that there are a few applicants each year that receive an acceptance and have no clue with what to do. I spoke to a graduating medical student the other day who retold his story of how he was accidentally accepted into medical school. His original intentions were to go into public health and he only applied to medical school as a backup, so he wouldn’t regret it in the future. Strange how things work out.

There are other applicants who defer their acceptance for a year to complete their master’s or even work abroad. The fact is getting into medical school is not the only thing that matters in life. There are many goals and pursuits that are just as worthwhile and meaningful to pursue.

Furthermore, medical school and the process of becoming a doctor is a large commitment. Apart from the debt of tens of thousands, by the time you practice you would have sacrificed your youth in school, studying, memorizing, learning.

This isn’t a decision that should be taken lightly. Ultimately, it should be you who should make the decision. Not your parents, your peers, expectations of others. If you think there’s something you love doing way more, I would urge you to consider that.

For instance, if you’re a varsity athlete who has a chance of making the Olympics but also has medicine in the back of your mind, pursue what you would LOVE doing more. This goes beyond just athletics. If you want to do research, work abroad, teach, or whatever more than go to medical school, you should seriously consider it.

The worst case scenario is you realize you don’t like what you’re doing and you apply to medical school. It’s much much harder to do it the other way. By the time you graduate from medical school, your accumulated debt and sacrificed time will compel you to go into practice right away. It will be hard to start another career at that time.

Medicine is a flexible field.¬† – For most people, it’s big enough in scope and depth that everyone finds something they like doing. Whether that’s working with their hands in surgery or satisfying their curiosity with research, medicine has something for everyone. Even the math and physics types may be surprised at how many sub-specialties¬† have a use for their knowledge.

So if you are one of those people who are indecisive about whether medical school or medicine is for you, give it some long and serious thinking. Medicine has a lot of rewards and unique opportunities but it’s not for everyone. But it would be reckless to enter this profession without knowing what being a doctor is really like, what kind of a person you are and what you would like to do.

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  1. An observation
    An observation April 8, 2009

    Look, I’m not trying to flame your blog here, but I think you should know that bolding certain words make you come off as an epic douche. When you bold a certain set of words or term it’s like saying: “you’re too stupid to notice the significance of this sentence, so I’ll make it absolutely clear for you.”

    • Jeremy Weaver
      Jeremy Weaver December 6, 2011

      Posting a ridiculously irrational and douchy comment about a helpful and well thought out blog post kinda swings the douche label in your favor my friend. Just thought I’d point out the obvious. Bolding words is a problem? Really? I wish there was bold function on this comment window I could bold the words, “GET OVER YOURSELF.”

      Thanks for the post medaholic.

  2. medaholic
    medaholic April 8, 2009

    Thanks for pointing that out, it was not my intention to come off that way. The search engines pick up bolded words differently and the majority of readers will scan through a post, so bolding words helps bring out the key points. In the future, I will keep in mind your comment.

  3. what's the problem?
    what's the problem? April 23, 2009

    I think there’s nothing wrong with bolding the sentences. I can simply scan the page quickly and see if i’m interested in reading this entry. Please continue bolding the sentences and structure the blog the way you intended to, medaholic.

  4. 2
    2 June 19, 2009

    This is a good article. I was thinking the other day say if somebody got into dental school but was not 100% sure they wanted to go, would it be best for them to defer acceptance to the next year so they can take that year to decide what they want to do and also have their spot in next year’s dental school class reserved?

  5. medaholic
    medaholic June 19, 2009

    Hmm. It’s hard to say. My personal opinion is to apply to things you are only willing to commit too, however I understand that some people would like to have options or backups. I don’t have a good answer to that.

  6. premedabroad
    premedabroad June 21, 2009

    Hey, nice post. I can really relate to your friend, and agree that the decision to even apply to med school is a big one. But a year out of college and lucky enough to do the only other thing that i thought i’d ‘love,’ i find myself happy, but still wondering if i should apply.

    All i’d like to communicate is that even when you are pursuing other options, taking a bit more time to weigh your interests, strengths, weaknesses…don’t expect the decision to materialize overnight. We all know it’s one of the biggest decisions of our lives. You’ll likely feel lost in the decision-making process, deterred by GPA/MCAT stats, and inspired by patient stories. But hang in there, and one day something – a newspaper article, a friend, or even a random thought that’s bubbled to the surface – will spur a feeling. And that feeling will be the inspiration to apply; not your wonderful life abroad, the nights of endless introspecting about what you want in life; it’ll be this one overwhelming feeling that will tilt you towards or away from applying.

  7. Brady
    Brady April 12, 2013

    Thank you for sharing your info. I truly appreciate your efforts and I am waiting for your further post thank you
    once again.

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