Sometimes becoming a doctor can seem impossible. You are taking triple the science classes, working 24/7, trying to get involved at a local hospital, trying to get teachers to notice you for recommendations, always studying, and simultaneously keeping your GPA from dropping too hard. You put in all this work for the off chance that you may get into any medical school because they all have something of a 4% acceptance rate. And, it doesn't help that whenever you tell someone you want to become a doctor, they just assume you are either doing it for the money or because your parents told you to.
Well, I'm here to tell you can do this! I believe that if you want to become a doctor, your drive, passion, and determination will help you get there. It is not impossible. Here is some advice that I hope will help you stay motivated to follow your dreams.
1. Do not let your grades define you
Being pre-med is hard academically. You have to take some really tough STEM courses, and getting a decent grade in those classes is important for being accepted into medical school. But if you get a 'B' a 'C' or even straight up fail a class, do not be discouraged. I know it sucks and I'm not going to gloss over the fact that you need a good GPA for medical school.
But, passions are not easy they are challenging, and no one is going to blame you for a few bad grades here and there. Those rigid letters and numbers cannot truly reflect an inherent human error. When you get a bad grade you just need to take it with a grain of salt and learn how you can improve. Do not give up after a misstep, grow from it.
2. Do not think your life will only begin after becoming a doctor
This is something I hear from a lot of pre-medical students. Many of them complain about how much time it will take to become a doctor like their lives will only begin after that. This is a not a great way to start a 12 to 15-year journey.
Your life does NOT begin after you become a doctor. Your life is NOW.
So, make sure you are enjoying yourself. Love your major, visit your family, hang out with friends. You have time to have a life, and you will regret this track if you aren't actively trying to do so.
People think that once they become a doctor they will finally live happily. But to be honest being a doctor is just as stressful or even more stressful than being a student. So why suffer now? I guarantee you'll never have to if you just change your outlook on the journey.
Becoming a doctor is not a means to an end, it is just a phase of life yet to come. So be patient and relish the phase you are in now.
3. Do not try to become a doctor for the money.
To be honest, if you are I don't blame you. But try to discover a passion in the medical field that will allow all your hard work to be driven by something other than an annual income. Medicine is amazing and has so many fields you can go into. I am sure you can find something that sparks your interest. And when you discover that one thing in medicine that just 'clicks', you will find that being pre-med is a lot less of a drag.
4. A lot of people are pre-med. So what? You are still special!
I know it can be overwhelming when everyone you meet is pre-med. It is like you are struggling to try to keep up with work and life and then you realize a ton of other people are doing the same thing. It makes being pre-med feel competitive and cliched. But you are still special, and you deserve to be pre-med just as much as anyone else.
If you really want this, you are entitled to your goals, no matter how many people are striving for the same thing. Just remind yourself why you started doing all this in the first place.
5. Never say "I'm pre-med for now"
A lot of people tell me they are pre-med but "that is subject to change". I understand this if you are genuinely trying to discover whether you want to become a doctor or not. However from what I gather a lot of people just say this as a disclaimer. Like they don't want to be judged because they assume that others will not internally believe that they could achieve such a feat. Or they add this disclaimer because they are worried they may not get into medical school or be able to handle the program.
But if you want to become a doctor, you need to own it. You need to be confident and confirm your aspirations. Every time you tell someone you are pre-med "for now", you are not only enlisting doubt in the other person but also yourself. So just don't even say it. If you fail fine, and if you eventually decide a different path, that's fine too. But do not give up before you have even begun. If you are pre-med tell people you are. If someone asks "Are you sure?" Tell them you are sure. This is the first step to fabricating your ambition.