We’ve received several asks recently regarding how to find shadowing opportunities and when is right (or too early) to start shadowing in preparation for medical school, so I’m going to combine them into this post. I invite and encourage my fellow TNQD contributors to weigh in on this topic as well since each premed has had different shadowing experiences, and it’s always helpful to have multiple perspectives.
As for when you should shadow, I would say start as soon as you decide that medicine is the career for you. Even if you’re on the fence (I was during high school. Originally I thought I was going to do microbiology research as a PhD), I would encourage you to shadow. Often times this can help tip the balance one way or the other, and in my case, solidified my commitment to medicine. After multiple shadowing experiences and working one-on-one with patients, I knew that medicine was exactly where I wanted to be. It felt right. Obviously there are some limitations as to when you can start shadowing. I doubt many hospitals will permit anyone under the age of 16 (maybe even 18? I was 16 when I started shadowing, but I was luckily grandfathered in before all this shadowing paperwork craze began) to shadow, especially since many hospitals are beginning to formalize shadowing protocols. If you have a family member or friend in medicine though, you may be able to shadow sooner, especially if it’s a private office practice rather than in a hospital setting. As a general guideline though, I wouldn’t recommend shadowing before you’re in high school. Most premeds I know didn’t start shadowing until college though.
In terms of finding a physician to shadow, there are several ways to go about this. The most common tend to be:
1) Networking: contact a family member, family friend, parent of a friend, etc. who is a health professional and see if you can either shadow them or if they have a colleague who may be willing to allow you to shadow. This is how I obtained my first shadowing experience as a junior in high school. I didn’t have any family members in medicine, but through my mom I was able to connect with one of her coworker’s daughters who is a practicing infectious disease specialist. I loved shadowing her and continued to shadow her through college when our schedules would align (she was in academic medicine, so she traveled to conferences quite often…this is something to keep in mind when asking to shadow. As you might have already guessed, most doctors are busy people! So it often takes planning, patience, and persistence in order to find consistent shadowing opportunities).
2) Volunteering: for me, some of the most powerful moments of “I love medicine and can’t imagine myself doing anything else” have come while volunteering and just happening to observe physicians working with patients while I was doing my job. Often times you can build rapport with a physician or two if you volunteer in the ER, Hospice care, at free clinics, etc.regularly, and usually they are very approachable about shadowing once they get to know you and realize you’re interested in pursuing a medical career. If you are bilingual, consider becoming certified as a medical interpreter and volunteering your services at a local clinic. One free clinic that I’m a Spanish interpreter for has doctors who rotate in and out on a weekly basis, so you meet lots of them and as an interpreter. You’re also working directly with the patients and doctors, which is a huge plus since some ER programs will have you changing sheets or bedpans until you work your way up. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it just doesn’t initially provide you with relevant medical experience in my opinion.
3) Shadowing/mentorship programs: check around at your university for shadowing and mentorship programs! My college offered a semester-long mentorship program where they would match you with a professional in the field you intended to enter, so they matched me with a hospitalist at a local hospital. Having a formalized program also means that both you and the doctor are kept semi-accountable, so you’re less likely to run into last minute shadowing cancellations and scheduling conflicts.
4) The Dreaded Cold Call or Email: sometimes, you just have to put yourself out there and go for it! The worst that can happen is that the doctor says no or that they’re too busy. When attempting the cold call or email, remember to be very polite, concise, and clear. Introduce yourself as an aspiring doc, mention a few brief reasons why you’re interested in medicine, and always say something to the effect of “if it isn’t possible for me to shadow you, would you happen to have a colleague who is open to having students shadow him or her?” This way even if they are too busy or unwilling to take shadows, they may still help you link to someone who is able or willing. When looking for docs to cold call or email, it’s usually best to find those affiliated with a teaching hospital or university since they are accustomed to having students around and may be more amenable to having a shadow.
Tips for Shadowing:
- Arrive early and give yourself plenty of time to drive to the location and to find their office
- Dress in business casual attire
- Check with the hospital administration about shadowing protocols several weeks before your shadowing date. Most will require you to provide proof of a 2x negative TB test, proof of a current flu vaccine, proof of standard childhood vaccinations (see CDC guidelines) and will require you to sign a confidentiality statement saying you understand HIPAA and will refrain from sharing personal details about their patients, personnel, etc. on social media.
- Just get HIPAA trained and certified (usually this can be done through an online 1-2 day course through your university’s research ethics and privacy office). It sucks but it will make hospital administrators much more likely to allow you to shadow.
- Always always always send a follow-up thank you note.
My predecessor also had some great tips and advice about shadowing as well, so here are links to his posts about the matter:
Caveat: Not every shadowing experience will be a positive one, and that is okay. In fact, some of my shadowing experiences taught me what kind of doctor I didn’t want to be (and I’m not talking about specialty here) as opposed to encouraging my interests. This is why it is important to shadow multiple doctors and in different settings (clinics, private practice, hospitals, etc.) so that you get a wide range of perspectives and are knowledgeable about what kind of practice you may be interested in. Several of my interviewers asked me about this, and so did my secondary applications; they expect you to have an idea of what you’d like to do as a physician, and shadowing is the single best way to narrow all those options down.
Good luck! Remember, finding someone to shadow takes planning, patience, and persistence, so don’t give up!
My name is L (formerly known as the contributing blogger Love-Madness-Hope-Infinite-Joy), and I will be taking the reigns for the TNQD blog over the next few weeks. I realize that I have some rather large shoes to fill and hope that I and our other contributing bloggers can continue to make this blog a place where students in all phases of their medical education can find advice, encouragement, and a sense of camaraderie along their paths to careers in medicine.
Since I will be just starting out as a first year medical student come Fall, I am currently best equipped to answer questions about the premed years and medical school application process. For other questions regarding life in medical school, USMLE, etc. I will defer to my wonderful contributing bloggers who are MS2s, MS3s, and residents.
In the meantime between now and my next post, I will try to go through any asks that have been sitting in the TNQD inbox during the transition period and try to get them answered ASAP! I look forward to getting to know our diverse group of followers and hope to share any gems of wisdom I’ve gained along the way to help make your journey a happy and fulfilling one.
All Good Things…
I am writing to say goodbye.
Almost 3 years ago I started this blog with no idea what it would turn in to. Since then I have shared some of my greatest victories and toughest losses. But due to life circumstances my reign as TNQD is coming to an end.
Don’t worry though, TheNotQuiteDoctor is not going anywhere. As a blog this will continue. In fact, the last few months I have been gathering writers to contribute. It is their hard work that has kept this blog afloat. Upon my request, one has offered to take my spot. She will be the next iteration of TNQD and serve as a source of pre-med/med wisdom. She, and the other writers who have been contributing, will ensure that this blog lives on.
My life has gotten more complex in the last year as I have begun writing for news outlets and larger medical blogs. My research has been advancing and I am being pulled into larger projects. Plus the ever present step 1 looms over all that I do. This all has happened while I continue to balance being a medical student and graduate student. There are times in life where you reach your limits - and this is mine.
This also feels like a natural time for me to step down. I have overcome many of the problems I came here to vent about. My love life seems in perfect order. I am satisfied with my schoolwork and I have been exercising regularly. I honestly feel happy, healthy, and balanced.
My replacement will be transitioning into the blog throughout March (more likely closer to the end, and I will be around until then). I know you will show her the same kindness you have shown me. We have created a supportive community here, for students of all fields and all walks of life. I sincerely hope you continue to participate and grow this blog in the years to come.
Thank you all for all the support you have given me. Honestly, you, my faithful readers, have provided some of the kindest words and sincerest well wishes. I am thankful for each of you.
All the best in everything you do,
Hi there! First of all I would just like to say that your blog is great, thank you so much for doing this! ;) I’ve actually got a question… I’m only in high school (9th) but I already think a lot about what I’m going to do later on, and medicine is always something that’s fascinated me - I love my bio and chemistry classes, interacting with people, I want a job where I can DO and not just sit at a desk - but I still always wonder if… I’ll regret it or something. I mean, the studies are long, and it’s a real lifelong commitment… I guess what I’m asking is, do you think it’s a bad idea to do this even if I’m not 100% sure? Anyways, thank you. Keep it up! Ps: sorry if my english isn’t perfect, not a native speaker…
I think you like things that a doctor should like, if that makes any sense. It’s certainly important to love the subject matter, and enjoying interacting with people is definitely a plus. However, in medicine you won’t necessarily be interacting with people or be on your feet all the time. There’s a lot of studying to do and you’ll be pretty desk-bound because of that.
And there’s also a lot more to medicine. You’ll need to be determined and self-motivated. You’ll need to empathise with other people and care for them even if you’re feeling overworked and depressed. You’ll need to be okay with people dying on your watch. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
It’s okay to be unsure. Even people who have wanted to be doctors since they were children have questioned their decision while in medschool because it’s tough. It really is. But, I think its also important to have goals and something to work towards. If your goal is medicine, work towards it! Get some experience by volunteering at a local hospital or try to shadow a GP. You’ll get a feel for the job and the environment you’ll be in. Perhaps then, you’ll be more confident in making a decision.
Should I go to Med School in the UK?
Hi, I’m wondering how much you know about studying medicine in the UK? Do you think it’s more worth it than to do it in the US? Thanks!
I can’t really tell you if something is going to be more “worth it” than another. But here are a bunch of things you might like to think about to help you come to a decision.
- Cost. Non-UK/EU citizens pay through the nose for a medical degree. About 200-250 thousand pounds. You’ll also need to rent a place, buy plane tickets to get home, and there are plenty of other living expenses.
- Location. Where do you want to work in the future? It’s preferable to study wherever you want to work in the future. You’re used to the environment and people around you, and you make connections as you go through medschool. Leaving all of that and transitioning to the actual job of being a doctor can be tough. Also, there could be exams to take if you want to practise medicine in the US after getting a degree in the UK. I’m not too sure on that front.
- Culture. Well, this one is pretty much up your own preferences. Do you like drinking tea or bottles of coke? I’m joking of course, but culture is something that’s different and you’ll need to think about it.
- Food. This is actually really important to me, and is a big part of what makes me feel at home. Is there something in the US that you won’t be able to find here? I’ve heard wonderful things about in and out burger and you won’t find any of that here. While it’s easy to think that the US and UK have pretty similar foods, there’s always going to be -something- that’s missing.
- Family. Are you prepared to leave your family for months at a time? People who live in Europe but study in the UK take planes home every week or so to visit their family and friends. But that’s because flights are quite affordable for them. Britain and the US are pretty far away from one another, so that’s something to consider.
- “Prestige”. I don’t know too much about this since I’m neither a citizen of the UK or US. But is studying overseas going to make it harder to get a good job back home? Is there a stigma against schools overseas?
So, those are just some things that might make studying in one place more “worth it” than another. I hope it helps.
Time Management: Getting Things Done Without Losing Yourself
As we get closer to Step 1 my fellow M2s are starting to become crazy people. They are clearly not sleeping enough, are eating a lot of takeout and are starting to look disheveled. Not to sound cliché, but medical school is a long arduous process and I cannot afford to ignore my physical and mental health for the next few months.
When life gets busy and stressful I create schedules. These are not schedules that have every minute planned out, more like rough goals for what to accomplish for the day. Thursday’s schedule included lecture, a lunchtime radiology talk, reviewing the day’s lectures, preparing for small group, cooking a large quantity of food, calling my mom, and attending a suturing lab. By 11pm I had finished all of my goals and was able to relax. Friday’s goals included class, Step 1 study group, going to the gym, and relaxing in the evening. I try to keep my goals realistic and to account for the fact that sometimes I am just not that productive. At the same time, I work very hard to meet my daily goals even if it means staying up a little later than I intended.
I encourage everyone, particularly those who feel stretched too thin, to examine how you are spending your time. If you are only sleeping 4-5 hours a night or constantly feel overwhelmed take a close look at why that is.
Do you waste hours online when you could be doing work? Try to limit yourself. I recently decided to only check FB once a day, drastically reducing the time I waste online. I also use a program called “Self Control” when I really need to limit online distractions.
Have you taken on too many extracurricular activities? Examine what activities are really important to you and consider letting others ones go. It is better to be fully committed to one or two activities than to find yourself overstretched.
Are you studying inefficiently? Last year my friends teased me because I never used pictures for anatomy. I would read the notes and go to lab, but Netter’s did nothing for me so I stopped using it. Determine what study techniques work for you and stop worrying about what everyone else is doing. If you are a visual learner draw out pathway maps. If you like learning through proactive questions get ahold of review books. Do you like to talk things though? Create a study group. Or do all 3 of those things IF it helps. If something works keep doing it. If not, stop wasting your time doing something because you think you should.
Struggling through AP Chemistry
"Greetings! I feel like I’ve uncovered the Holy Grail with this blog you’ve got here! I came across it as I was feeling a little down in the dumps about my AP Chem grade, which turned out to be a C+ this past semester. I’ve always wanted to be a doctor and to enter the medical field ever since I spent a summer shadowing and volunteering at a local hospital, but I feel a bit discouraged that I cannot pursue this dream when it appears I am no good at Chemistry. What kind of doctor gets a C+ in chemistry AKA one of the biggest components of being a doctor? It was comforting to know you got a 2 on your exam, but your circumstances seem a bit different with the whole new-teacher-situation. People are still getting A’s in my class, it’s just myself to blame and not the teacher. I’m going to try as I might — although it may seem impossible — to achieve an A this semester. I believe I can do it, with a lot of hard work.
Do you have any comforting words of advice or encouragement? Is there still hope for me, or better yet, my aspiration to become a physician?”
Based on your question, I would venture to guess that you’re a lot like I was when I was a high school student with my eyes on medical school. You’re a hard worker, want to succeed, and feel extremely defeated when you achieve anything short of an “A” in classes that are related to the field of medicine. These are all awesome qualities! They also have to be kept in check so you don’t get so down that it keeps you from pressing on.
Before I give you any advice, I’ll go ahead and tell you that I got 2 Cs in college (which directly impacts med school admissions, unlike high school grades which you don’t have to put on your application). I’m also still weak in biochemistry. Yep! I got a B in college, and it’s still a subject that I have to slave through in order to wrap my head around it. We all have areas that we have to work at, and they vary from person to person. Many people in my class have struggled with anatomy, physiology, etc. Struggling in certain areas doesn’t doom you to being rejected from med school, I would argue that working through weak spots will make you a stronger student because of it.
That being said, although it may not seem like it, you have a LOT of time between now and medical school—4 years to hone your study skills, and to improve in areas that you see as weak. Simply having a weakness in high school biology or chemistry will not keep you out of medical school—yes, these are topics that are heavily tested on the MCAT, and to a lesser extent come up during medical school, but it’s not any sort of reason to give up on your dream. [As an aside (and I say this with caution), a vast majority of what you learn in high school chemistry isn’t used in medical school and in the process of diagnosing and treating patients. I say that only to give you perspective—because chemistry is part of college courses and the MCAT you still have to work through learning it now!]
My advice to you would be to do what I’ve done in the past with subjects I’m weak in: meet with your teacher, develop a study plan, and think about studying with a couple friends. Your teacher will be able to give you extra help and point you towards good resources. A solid study plan (reading the textbook, doing PLENTY of practice problems, etc.) will keep you on track. Studying with friends will make it more exciting, keep you accountable, and will let you bounce ideas off of each other. Also, if you haven’t tried studying with flashcards yet, give those a try. You study the material once when you make them, then again as you flip through them.
Most importantly, keep your head up!! Like I said, you have several years to improve and grow as a student. For now, focus on doing what you can to get better. Ultimately, a grade in high school chemistry won’t impact your chances of going to medical school.
Keep on keeping on!
I was wondering what are, in your opinion, the advantages to doing pre-med in your undergrad? Do you think those students are better prepared for med school and its course load or does it depend more on the individual?
Most colleges do not have a specific pre-med major. “Pre-med” simply refers to a group of classes that fulfill the pre-requisites of most medical schools in the US. In general those classes are:
- 2 semesters of biology
- 2 semesters of physics
- 2 semesters of English
- 2 semesters of general chemistry
- 2 semesters of organic chemistry
- 1 semester of calculus
- 1 semester of biochemistry
Individual undergraduate schools and medical schools may have slightly different requirements, but those classes are pretty standard. If you already know that you want to attend medical school, I strongly recommend taking these classes while in undergrad. Talk to your institution’s pre-med advisor to find out which classes they specifically recommend taking and if they have a suggested schedule so that you do not find yourself taking biology, physics and organic chemistry all at once.
There are also post-bac programs that you can enroll in after college to fulfill the pre-med requirements. These can work well if you did not decide that you were interested in medicine until later in life, or if you are looking to improve your science grades from undergrad.
Regardless, there is no reason you have to stick only to premed classes. Pre-med classes only take up about 1/3 of your total credits, leaving plenty of space to explore other interest. Med schools do not care what you study in undergrad and it has no impact on your success in med school. In fact, studying something outside the traditional sciences can help you stand out among thousands of applications. I studied political science in addition to biology because that was what I was interested in. One of my friends was a Chinese major and has said that a lot of interviewers were impressed with her language fluency.
In short, do not feel like you need to restrict yourself to the narrow definition of pre-med. Take the classes you need to take, and then feel free to pursue that interest in English literature, Latin American history or whatever makes you happy.
I want to be a psychiatry doctor, do you think i must learn as hard as possible in all fields of medicine or just focus on the major I like. And I found difficulties in real patient injection, is it essential that a doctor should be master of that? if yes, any advice for me to improve that skill?
Hello, this is Pat.
I absolutely don’t think you have to put your all into every single field: medicine is very broad science, and expecting yourself to take in and retain all of it is a catastrophe in the making. To focus on the subjects you find interesting and important is prioritization, not negligence. I try to muster as much enthusiasm as I can for each new subject without demanding of myself to become very knowledgeable, since it helps reduce stress.
And don’t forget that you may stumble over something more interesting yet. You might want to keep an open mind for that. :)
Too much of one thing is not a good either; no speciality exists in isolation. Things like CPR, first aid, basic emergency medicine and being able to identify signs of abuse and severe illness, are skills that can become relevant in any setting. I like to think of what I might need to know to be able to take care of my family and friends, and work from there.
When it comes to injections I’ve been told several times by nurses that when they fail to do something, they will call a doctor (and we’ll all laugh politely and it’s terrifying). You will end up doing injections one way or another - as far as I know, intramuscular injections aren’t all that rare in psychiatry. It’s becomes kind of a head-first-deep-end deal: you choose whether to jump or get pushed. The problem is of course that manual skills are really only perfected through practise of some kind.
Try to identify what the underlying problem is. If it’s the act of breaking skin, maybe you could try working at a vaccination clinic or blood bank, where most people will be healthy and understanding. Maybe ask a friend to volunteer for practise. Ask a nurse. Shadow a nurse. The important thing is that you get some kind of peace of mind.
Hello TNQD, I’ve been reading your blogs for an hour now and I can really say that I really really love everything that you’ve posted and pretty much inspired by your passion in medicine. I’m actually in the midst of confusion, whether I should proceed to med or not. I finished 4yrs course nursing last year and passed the Nursing licensure exam so i’m an RN now. I’m really certain that I want to proceed but there is this one small part of me that doesnt want to. I just don’t know what to do :(
Hi there! This is not TNQD, but JustALittleDoctor. Let me introduce myself. I am a fourth-year-medicine student and totally in love with medicine. When I was a little girl, I always remember telling mum how much I wanted to be a doctor so that I will be able to save lifes. And now, here I am, studying to be a doctor.
I read your question and to be honest, I find it pretty easy to answer. Not because your question is silly or anything like that, but because the answer is simple: if you enjoy medicine and saving lives, then here you go! On the other hand, if you are afraid of the responsibilities you may have in the future in concern to your patients, or even have a fear any kind, well, that may be a sign that your nurse license is what you need!
I know I may be a little too discouraging but I think that medicine needs people that will be dedicated and love their job, otherwise they are going to be miserable and not concentrated into it.
But then again, you really have nothing to lose. I mean, that you can try some med classes or read some med books from the library and see if you are really interested in this. I can honestly tell you that there are a lot of my co-students that came to medicine with some doubts in their heads about this carreer but as the years came around, they became more and more interested in it. All you have to do, is try to take a taste of what is like to be a doctor. Of course this is not completely easy to do, but I am sure there are some ways. At the end of the day, nurses and doctors are always in the same building working together.
But please keep in mind: medicine school is a lot harder and more pretentious, so you have to be prepared for that. I don’t feel that you should give up your dream because of fear, but make sure this dream is real first. If you really want it, THEN GO FOR IT! :)
I hope I helped you make a good decision. Have a nice day!
~Just A Little Doctor~
Never stop learning
Hi TNQD, I really love your blog and enjoy reading them and I also get motivated by all the advises and inspirational quotes you wrote. I have one question though, since you are in med school now are you expected to know everything? like I know there are so so many diseases, terms, medicines or parts of the body and I know some of them you can even forget. Is it normal for a med student to “NOT” know the answer? I hope you get what I mean and hoping you would answer this one. Thanks so much! :)
I think this is the perfect time for me to be answering this.
Today we received a deluge of information about muscles, nerves, vessels of the limbs and back and it honestly felt like it was too much to take. Ever since coming to med school, we’ve been force fed information faster than our brains can digest it, and every time it seems like we’re just getting the hang of it, they pile more information on top of us. You’d think that after all this, we’d know everything, but the truth is that we don’t.
So the answer to your question is no. We are expected to remember and know A LOT of things, but in no way are we expected to know EVERYTHING. Medicine is vast. One of my doctors once told me that you could open a medical dictionary and find terms and diseases you may never encounter throughout your entire career. There is just so much that it’s unreasonable for one person to know it all. It’s probably the reason why specialisations exist, and why an ENT doctor won’t know everything that a cardiologist might and vice versa.
On the bright side, if you’re looking for a career where you’ll never be done learning, medicine sounds about right.
I am not Zach Braff
Okay, so this is super awkward. I have been following you for a while now (you are one of my favorite medblrs by the way) and I never knew that your icon and picture are of the guy from Scrubs. I always thought it was you in the picture until I saw a Scrubs episode today for the first time while TAing for a pre-med class. Just wanted to let you know. LOL
Awww, well thanks for liking the blog. Unfortunately I am not a Zach Braff look-a-like. Surprisingly, you are not the first person to make that assumption. I am just a huge fan of scrubs and found that having some sort of avatar helped readers identify with me.
I’m still only in high school but I’m a horrible test taker. I can do fine on quizzes and all the other homework but tests I do not do well on. I really want to get to go to medical school but I’m afraid my bad scores on standardized testing are not going to allow me to even get accepted. Help! Ps. Keep up the awesome blog
Thanks! We hope the blog is helpful for all aspiring docs—it’s a long road and no one should have to go it alone.
Seems like to me if you are doing fine on the quizzes and homework and are understanding the material well, maybe you have psyched yourself out when it comes to taking tests. It’s a fairly common thing (I had a friend in middle school who was absolutely brilliant. He could do calculus when the rest of us in 7th grade were learning algebra I, but he just couldn’t take tests well) and I think it’s something you can overcome. First you have to identify what the problem is. Do tests make you super nervous and scatter-brained? Do you feel anxious? Are you unable to focus? Or do you just second guess yourself a lot?
If it’s the first two, then maybe you have a form of test anxiety, and there are many resources (working with a counselor, learning mindfulness and meditation techniques, etc.) you can use to circumvent that fight-or-flight response and find a sense of calm while test-taking. An inability to focus can stem from many things (anxiety, chronic stress, lack of sleep, etc.) but for some it’s a legitimate biological disorder with no known external causes and should be addressed with your doctor. If you find yourself second-guessing yourself often, then it’s most likely a matter of self-confidence and learning how to trust yourself. Speaking from my own experiences with low self-esteem, the best way to remedy this in an academic context would be practice. I can’t even count how many practice MCATs I took, and I made sure to take them in a setting that simulated how my actual test day would go (woke up at 7am, sat at the kitchen table, put my dad’s noise-cancelling gun-range headphones on and set timers for each section etc.) Take practice exams until you feel comfortable with the material and take as many as you can. After awhile, you get a feel for how the tests are written and become more comfortable with phrasing, and you start to feel more secure about things because you’ve got your test day routine down. I truly believe you can “learn” most standardized tests, given enough time and resources. Since you are still in high school, you could look into test preparation programs (many schools hold mini-programs for free and some offer scholarships or grants to help defer the costs). Some of my friends went to summer camps for the SAT and ACT. It wasn’t something that was financially feasible for my family, but if I could have afforded it, I would have taken advantage of it. They seemed to have benefited from it, but I find that test-prep program results depend strongly on the quality of the program and the learning-style of the individual participating in it. If anything though, I doubt it would hurt and often in these programs they teach you test-taking strategies, which may help you feel more confident when taking these standardized exams. You can also find many of these strategies online and in test prep books, which are a lot cheaper than the tutored courses. It really just depends on how you learn best.
The good news is that you have several years before you even have to worry about picking up a MCAT prep book, and in the meantime, you can work on improving your test-taking abilities and test-taking confidence. Keep in mind that you are more than a score and that the MCAT only serves as one component of your application. I would like to leave you with the wise words of a MCAT tutor YouTube video I once saw: “Stop being terrified of the MCAT. The MCAT exists to HELP you. You’ve survived those classes. You’ve done all the legwork, and now it’s simply time to prove it. The MCAT is the only way medical schools have to objectively quantify your knowledge because all colleges have different class and grading standards. Think of your MCAT score as an enhancement to your application, especially if you’re not coming from a prestigious undergraduate college.” So there you have it. Make standardized tests your friend and make them work for you.
Good luck and best wishes!
How did you know you wanted to go the med route? Was there anything really definitive that made you pursue medicine.
I’ll say right away that this is Pat speaking, considering the personal nature of the question. Every medical student has their own story and circumstances.
The one decisive thing that pushed me towards medicine would be that I grew up in a family stricken by chronic disease. A situation like that can of course play out in any number of ways, but for me it was perfectly undramatic: I thought a lot about bodies, disease and disability, which caused me up to pick up a lot of information about such things even when I wasn’t actively seeking it out. It’s such an everyday thing for me that I still haven’t come to terms with the fact that people can live their lives without knowing the first thing about, say, their internal organs. (It’s massively hypocritical of course, but I’m working on it.)
Ironically, sating my curiosity once and for all by going to medical school never really passed my mind as a viable option until I was in my late teens, and if it hadn’t been for how a string of science teachers actively encouraged my interest in biology I would probably have ended up somewhere else entirely. I owe them my lack of regret.