Today we have a guest post from Joe Baxter on the crucial steps to getting into medical school. Enjoy! Joe Baxter worked in medical research for the majority of his life. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling abroad, working in his wood shop and freelance writing about medical news.
You can read all the stories you want about preparing for Medical school, but each person’s experience is a little different. It’s difficult to prepare for, stressful, and once finished you probably question if it was worth all that time and effort seemingly chucked out the window. But it is worth it. If you truly are committed to studying medicine, it’s worth every minute of your time taken. Bestowed upon you is the right to decide whether a medical action is reasonable, comfortable, invasive or painful. I don’t need to tell you that the world of medicine is saturated with conflicting and controversial decisions. But if you are desirous to answer yes, then here are a few of my steps which helped me get into Medical school.
- Know your decision. If you are dead-set on becoming a family health physician or within another realm of medicine, you have already known for a while. You can’t just one day obtain an epiphany from some higher power telling you to go to Medical school because you made the grades in high school and college. It is completely your decision to determine if this is right for you. Med school is an enormous step, so know exactly what you’re getting into before making the jump. Know how Medical school works, the schools you apply to, and what these next eight years will entail.
- Apply early. You hear it quite a bit, but waiting a few days instead of filling out apps or waiting until the next scheduled MCAT can cost you an additional year of living out of your parents’ garage.
- Volunteer. It doesn’t matter if you spend two hours a week scrubbing the backsides of residents at a retirement home, because it’s something to throw on your Medical school resume showing you were at least active, involved, and willing to start at the bottom. Med school committees want to see if you are in this for the long haul. It’s those little jobs that separate you from all those other applicants. After all, they want to know not only if you are committed to make it through eight years of additional schooling, but also if they can trust you to hold people’s lives in your hands after the education. If you can’t handle those unglamorous jobs now, you won’t be committed later. Get out, intern, and give away your time.
- Communication. Write, talk, talk, and write some more. Practice this. A hefty portion dictating whether you get into Med school depends on how well you come across to interviewers and the review committees. Your written statement(s), interview skills, and overall ability to speak clearly, concisely, and thoughtfully give those reviewing your entrance request a great picture of how prepared you are. Grab your intern adviser, a professor, or even your sister and practice interviewing in front of them. Wear the exact same clothing, hairstyle, and dress jacket you would wear to the interview. Make great eye contact, carefully listen to each posed question, and answer uniquely and truthfully.
- Your answers before their questions. This is a tangent from #4, but ensure you are prepared to answer any and all questions the committee can throw at you. Obviously, you’ll want to know how to answer, “why do you want to become a doctor,” “why is this Medical school right for you,” and “tell me about this C in organic chemistry.” But be prepared for the questions that can catch you off-guard. Questions such as motivational tools you put use to, how do you handle stress, or should doctors be allowed withdraw life support from terminally-ill patients. Many of the questions that stump interviewees are those which may catch an applicant completely off-guard and force them to begin stuttering like a bumbling fool. Preparedness is not something that comes overnight, so begin practicing months ahead of time.