On the long list of life’s great questions, deciding whether or not to attend medical school ranks well up there. Will you take the plunge or not? It’s a dilemma and we humans hate dilemmas. When we come to the fork in the road, we look for an easy way out. That often makes us grab at seemingly credible reasons to not do something, when upon closer inspection those reasons really don’t add up.
The website PreMedStar recently identified five reasons that keep people from going to med school. Here they are along with our take on them:
1. I am not smart enough. Well, what is “smart?” Is the person who is “smart” in mastering organic chemistry also “smart” when it comes to evaluating a patient with a complex medical condition? In terms of the classic view of being “smart”, e.g., getting good grades on academic work, PreMedStar notes that if you are "smart" enough to successfully make it through college then you are also "smart" enough to succeed in medical school. If you don’t like academic work, and do not want to put in the effort to do well, that’s another issue. But it has nothing to do with being “smart,” whatever that means.
2. My scores aren’t good enough. Unfortunately, scores have a lot to do with getting into medical school. Standardized tests such as the MCAT, once intended to create a level playing field and eliminate favoritism, have morphed into hard-and-fast admissions cut offs. Everyone agrees that there are plenty of students who do not do well on standardized tests who would make great doctors. So, don’t let a bad test score psych you out. It’s a hurdle to overcome, not an insurmountable barrier. Here at Saba, we have seen numerous students who impressed us in many ways beyond their MCAT and GPA, and have gone on to become very successful physicians.
3. I can’t afford medical school. No question, medical school is a big investment. Here at Saba, we are proud that our tuition is one of the most cost-effective of all the leading international medical schools (see a comparison here), but we still know the burden this places on our students and their families. Government loans are one way that many manage this—Saba is one of the few international schools eligible for the U.S. Federal Direct Student loans. (Learn more here.) And keep in mind that there are many repayment options through the military, federal programs, or practicing medicine in underserved areas. Doubts over finances tend to bleed into other doubts and amplify them. Don’t let that happen. What seems like a major financial undertaking today, may seem far less onerous once you have successfully done it.
4. Doctors work too hard. Yes, this is true. So do medical students. In fact, so do most people who want to accomplish something valuable. And as PreMedStar notes, this is true for many other professions that offer less job satisfaction and pay much less.
5. It’s too late. While the average age for entering medical students is 24, more and more students are entering medical school at later stages in their lives. Here at Saba we have seen outstanding success from students who have come to us after careers as teachers, engineers, paramedics and more. Read about them at http://www.saba.edu/for-alumni/alumni-stories
As in all big, life-changing decisions, you are going to be wracked by doubts. It’s natural. But make sure those doubts are really based on something—before you allow them to destroy your dream.