I was pretty much the traditional pre-med student when applying to medical school. I did the standard volunteer experiences, had the ECs, and my GPA and MCAT scores were pretty good.
As most of you know, however, I did quite a lot wrong. Let’s take a look at my thought processes when deciding to attend medical school.
Probably the number one reason I wanted to become a physician was job security. In fact, I told each interviewer this at all schools where I was accepted. I think they appreciated the blatant honesty.
My father was laid off work after 15 years of service, and then had to deliver Domino’s Pizza to make ends meet. I saw first hand at what poor job security could do to a family, and I wasn’t going to make that mistake.
There certainly is quite a bit of job security in medicine, so I feel this was a valid reason for me wanting to become a physician. On the plus side, you can pretty much work wherever you choose to (or at least close to where you’d like to be) due to the good demand for physicians in the workplace.
Money & Prestige
Although I never straight out and told the admission committee that one of the top two reasons for me wanting to pursue medicine was money and prestige, it sure as hell was true. Yes, you have to work seemingly ungodly hours for good pay but where else can you complete a post-bac and make a guaranteed 6-figure salary?
This was my thought process regarding the money and prestige reason initially as a lowly pre-medical student. Looking back now, however, I’ve learned that (for me) medicine is simply not worth it.
Despite what the majority of pre-med students will tell you, I still think that money is a huge decision factor for students – along with the “prestige” that being a physician can offer.
Caring For The Sick
I honestly never really gave a crap about caring for sick people. I even knew back when I was doing my volunteer experiences that I didn’t particularly like working with sick people who complained all the time. Why didn’t I listen to my heart way back then? Well, honestly I chalked it up as me not liking [insert volunteer specialty here]. I thought that out of all the specialties in medicine, surely I’ll find something I like. Don’t always bet on that.
Before I started school, I actually thought I wanted to practice family medicine in some podunkville town somewhere. My, my how things change.
Pillar of the Community
We hear so much about the “community” these days. Admission committees like to hear your crap about communities too. The honest truth was that I didn’t (and still don’t) really give two shits about the community. Sure, I have lifelong friends and cool neighbors, but in general I like to be left the hell alone. I just don’t like people knowing what I’m doing all of the time. Habitat for Humanity? I’ll let someone else build the homes.
In my opinion, to be really truly happy in medicine, I think you guys need to be thinking much less about money and prestige, maybe a little bit about job security, and focused a hell of a whole lot on caring for sick people and doing stuff to better the community (or your patient population).
I was the exact opposite, and have a really bad taste in my mouth for the practice of medicine. Premeds, if you’re like me, don’t try to fake it. Get out, and get out while you can. Otherwise, you might wake up one day and realize that you’re unhappy and 65 years old.