By: Tara Tavakoli
Why medicine? That is the question that will forever be asked of aspiring physicians, whether just beginning the pre-medical journey or finally reaching the goal that is matriculating to medical school.
No one person has the same answer to this question, nor do they come to their answer by following the same path. After all, becoming a physician is a long journey.
What I’ve learned as a pre-med
I am currently halfway through my senior year at the University of Florida pursuing my Bachelor of Science in Biology. Just typing out “senior year” makes me flinch, thinking about how far I have come from my freshman-year general chemistry days.
I didn’t always know I wanted to be a physician. Sitting down to write my personal statement this past summer affirmed that I had no idea how to explain why medicine is the only career I see myself in. Quite frankly, I still question my desire, especially after a hard week of exams.
Today, I want to share some of the lessons I have learned throughout my time as a pre-med student, and invite you all to learn from some of the mistakes I made on my journey to becoming a physician.
1. There is no “magic” college major
If I could time travel, and tell my freshman self one thing, it would be that there is no requirement to declare a certain college major to get into medical school. Many students, science and non-science majors alike, matriculate into medical school every year.
I love biology, but I did not love it enough to declare it my college major. It is far more important to major in something that you are interested in, while still completing your pre-requisite classes for medical school. This strategy will allow you to stay engaged in your interests while in college. You need to have classes that can act as a break from your rigorous medical school prerequisites.
2. It is okay to ask for help
This is definitely a tough one for many pre-med students. Practicing medicine is more than just one person working alone. The best healthcare comes from healthcare teams. Similarly, you are not alone on your journey to medical school. It is okay to ask for help, whether that be academically, from a tutor or professor, or personally, from a counselor or friend. This journey can become overwhelming, and it is a commitment that can feel too big at times to take on by yourself.
The people around you in your classes know how you feel because they are feeling the pressure too. I learned this far too late in my journey, but this was the most important lesson I learned. Allowing myself to open up to a counselor about my feelings of inadequacy in my classes, and even in my personal life, made me a stronger pre-med student.
Physicians act as a patient’s caretaker. As pre-med students, we must make sure we take care of ourselves too.
3. You CAN and WILL become a physician!
Just because the journey is long, doesn’t mean it is not worth it. Any physician you talk to will remember the summer they studied for the MCAT. These doctors will still remember the applications they spent hours filling out in hopes of getting a couple of (or just one) interview.
Many people have embarked on this journey before us, and many people have made it in their own ways. We all have heard the saying, “Nothing in life worth having comes easy.” Whoever said this must have been pre-med.
Learn more about pre-med life on the Kaplan MCAT Prep on Facebook to recap Tara’s AMA.
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