A career in medicine is one of the most rewarding careers in the world. You get to help people in need, plus doctors are some of the most respected professionals in almost every culture— not to mention that doctors are some of the highest-paid professionals as well. However, those with a true passion for medicine let their desire to help people be their drive, not the money. This is a good thing too because medicine is also a very challenging career— but it’s not impossible to be successful.
It Starts in Undergrad
Your success in the medical field actually starts during your undergraduate years— specifically when you choose a major. Not every school offers a specific pre-med major, so you’ll have to choose a major in a similar field of study. The majority of pre-med students choose a major in one of the following natural or health sciences:
- Health (Public/Administration)
However, it’s possible to get into medical school without majoring in either one of these natural sciences— or even in a science-related field at all. Some examples include:
Just note that you may still want to take some natural science courses (which are likely a graduation requirement anyway), and maybe even some electives in the health sciences if you choose this route. Either way, the most important thing is that you do well in all of your classes to keep a high GPA.
Choosing a Medical School
To optimize your chances of getting in, you should apply to at least 10 medical schools— and this needs to start in your junior year of undergrad. This can be quite overwhelming, but there are a few questions that you should ask when applying to medical school (and choosing which to accept).
- How strict are the admission requirements?
- What is the learning environment like?
- What percentage of students pass their exams (United States Medical Licensing Exam if you plan on attending medical school in the U.S.)
- What percentage of students graduate from the program?
- How many graduates match into a residency program?
- Does the program include support services for students?
Doing Well in Medical School
It’s no secret that medical school can be extremely challenging, so here are some tips on how to be successful in medical school:
- Create an effective study environment
- Write everything down
- Review material regularly
- Use both visual and auditory methods
- Form a study group
- Take care of your physical and mental health
Choosing a Specialty
Next to choosing an undergrad major and a medical school, choosing a specialty in medical school is one of your most important decisions. Maybe you want to work with a specific population such as women, children, or the elderly, or with a specific part of the body such as the heart or the kidneys. Choosing a specialty is also a very personal decision, based on your clinical interests and even your experiences during clinicals, so choose the path you think you’ll enjoy the most. Your final year in medical school will be dedicated to your chosen specialty, and then you’ll have to pass your second exam.
Mastering Your Residency
Once you’ve chosen a specialty, you can complete your residency. The study habits and time management skills that you’ve practiced in undergrad and medical school are really going to help you during your residency as well. During your residency, you’ll be given a residency salary while learning and training. This is also the time when you’ll take your third and final exam before becoming licensed.
Getting a Job
After completing your residency and passing your final boards, you’ll be officially licensed to practice as a physician. From here, you can either open your own practice or apply for a job at an existing practice, hospital, or other clinical settings. Look to job search firms like The Medicus Firm to link you to a medical recruiter in your specialty to help you find the perfect position. You may also find a position in the medical setting where you completed your residency.
If medicine is truly your passion, then your love of the field will also be a driving force in your success— but you still have to put in the work. Starting from your undergraduate years all the way up through your entire medical career will require hard work, but if medicine’s your passion, it will all be worth it.