I recently spent over two weeks at Methodist Hospital. Over this time span, I had the opportunity to strike up a conversation with many of the attendees, residents, and medical students. I noted that most of the people on this team were textbook examples of doctors: those that believe in treating an illness, all the while forgetting that they are treating not just an illness but rather a patient. If I were to go back into any one of these people’s lives I would bet that I would see the same stereotypical pre-med: a student bent over science textbooks, scientific journals and ogling over any new medical series/documentary. In their journey to med school, most pre-meds get so lost in the science behind it all that they leave behind all other important qualities. They forget about real life. They forget that in order to cure a patient you need to make a connection.
I, for one, do not want to be that sort of doctor. And I bet there are a lot of other pre-meds out there that don’t want to be either. Here are four things I recommend:
1. Read, Read, Read
No, I don’t just mean scientific journals. Read the newspaper. Read about topics that interest you. Read different genres. Read about different cultures. You never know when you’ll learn something new.
Writing is an integral part of almost every career field and it is just as important for the medical field. Doctors have to take precise and descriptive notes on every patient that they see. The first step to applying to med school even consists of a personal statement, which is a written piece about yourself. So why stay away from writing? Write about anything that comes to mind.
3. Be A Cosmopolitan
It is very important to be not only culturally tolerant but also culturally educated. Why do I say that? In a hospital, you can encounter patients from different faiths and cultures and sometimes, unfortunately, these values can hinder a patient from receiving certain treatments. When encountered with such situations, a doctor should be competent enough to know what resources to reach out to help the patient make safe decisions. Under certain circumstances, a doctor should know how to approach a patient.
4. Be Yourself
Here it is. The overly cliché line that all pre-med advisors and admissions officers will point out to you. But it is entirely true! Being yourself helps you stand out of the crowd. Embrace your values, your personality, and stay true to what you believe in. Admissions committees are tired of seeing students who are what I like to call “checklisters.” These are the students that go out of their way to make sure they have completed the entire checklist of pre-med requirements. The research. The volunteer work. You name it and they’ve probably already done it. But ask them about what they’ve learned or how the experience affected them and they will draw a blank. Don’t be one of these students. Learn from every experience you are a part of, even the ones you didn’t enjoy so much.
PS. Don't forget to study!