Even if you’re planning on studying medicine in school, the road to becoming a doctor doesn’t necessarily begin with college.
You might consider doing an internship or taking some classes at a local community college, or even starting your career as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) or in the pharmacy industry.
No matter which route you choose to take, it’s important to know what lies ahead of you before you get too far along in your education.
Here are 10 things you need to know before you study medicine in school.
You will never stop learning:
There is no end to the things you can learn, and every new thing you learn will open up a whole new world of possibilities.
Medicine has been around for over two thousand years, and there are still countless medical breakthroughs waiting just around the corner.
You never stop learning when it comes to medicine, so don’t think that just because you’ve finished school that your education has ended!
The more you learn about different aspects of medicine – whether they’re specific fields like gastroenterology or broad topics like psychology the more doors you’ll open for yourself and what you want to do with your life.
You’ll have more opportunities available, which means that the only limits are those that you set on yourself.
There is a lot of theory:
When it comes to studying for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) or taking a pre-med course, there is a lot of theory.
In general, this includes classes like chemistry, biology and math.
The science courses are what make up the bulk of your pre-med coursework. However, there are also humanities courses that can be taken as well, such as philosophy and ethics.
If you’re really interested in learning about both fields, this might be a good place to start.
You’ll have time to study: One thing that’s great about being pre-med is that you don’t have any other major requirements outside of your school’s curriculum, which means you’ll have plenty of time during the semester to devote all of your focus on preparing for exams and studying.
You will have to do a lot of practical work:
One of the best ways to learn about the practicalities of a career is by doing it. For this reason, much of your time at medical school will be spent on practical work.
You’ll spend up to 12 months on placement, where your time will be split between hospital work and supervised clinical practice.
Your placements will usually include emergency care, obstetrics and gynaecology, general surgery, psychiatry, paediatrics or geriatrics.
As well as learning about different disciplines in medicine and what they entail, you’ll also have the opportunity to assess whether or not this type of medicine is for you.
If not – no worries! There are plenty of other careers in health that would suit your skills better.
You will be working with patients from Day One:
In the United States, medical students spend their first 2 years of school in the classroom and their third year on the wards.
This means that from Day One, you’ll be working with patients, learning how to interact with them, developing your skills as an observer, and gaining hands-on experience.
You will also learn clinical reasoning, a type of problem solving that is based on what is best for the patient.
In order to apply for medical school, students are required to take Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) test grueling set of exams designed to test everything from verbal comprehension and biological sciences understanding to logical reasoning skills.
The MCAT consists of four sections:
Biological Sciences; Physical Sciences; Verbal Reasoning; and Writing Sample.
There are no easy days:
Studying medicine is a tough but rewarding career. There are no easy days, but the rewards make all of the hard work worth it.
We all want to be doctors and we all think that it’s going to be an easy road that we’re going to breeze through. But let me tell you now, there are no easy days when studying medicine.
Medicine is demanding and challenging, but if you stick with it, the rewards will outweigh any of the difficulties.
That being said, some people can’t handle the stress and pressure of being a doctor so they may want to pursue another career path.
And for those who can handle it, then I would encourage you to continue because this profession is one of the most rewarding careers out there.
You will need to be able to work under pressure:
It is important that you are able to work under pressure and be able to handle the stress of medical emergencies.
Being a doctor will require an immense amount of responsibility and many long hours, so it is important that you are prepared for this.
You will also have to learn how to diagnose patients and make appropriate decisions about what kind of treatment they should receive.
In order to do this you will have classes in anatomy, pharmacology, physiology and biochemistry; as well as attending lectures from specialists like surgeons or gynaecologists.
You will need to be able to work long hours:
You will have classes from 8am-5pm, work a minimum of 30 hours a week, and spend the rest of your time studying.
You will also be on call for at least one month per year.
During this time, you will be paid full salary but will not have any other benefits such as sick days or vacation.
If you can handle this workload, then medical school may be right for you!
depending on your undergraduate major and/or what courses you choose to take during college years.
You will need to be able to deal with stress:
You will be involved in stressful situations on a daily basis and it is important that you have coping skills for that.
It is also important that you are able to learn from your mistakes and not let them get you down.
You need to know how to manage money: Medicine is an expensive degree with many years of training.
There are some loans and bursaries available but they do not cover everything, so it is important that you keep track of your finances throughout the course and make sure that you budget accordingly.
You will need to be able to deal with difficult situations:
A career in the medical field can be a rewarding experience, but also challenging.
Medical professionals are constantly faced with life and death decisions, as well as difficult situations.
You will work long hours and have little time for family and friends, but when you’re able to help someone through a difficult time, it’s all worth it.
In order to go into the medical profession, you’ll need more than just intelligence:
You’ll need physical stamina, an understanding of human anatomy and other skills like communication and critical thinking that make doctors successful.
You will need to be able to deal with death:
Medicine is a demanding career.
You will have to deal with death, and patients who are sick and often times dying.
The hours can be long, but the reward of being able to help people at their most vulnerable is worth it.
The pay can be good too, but don’t let that make your decision for you.
There are lots of other careers that require long hours and take up a lot of your time, so make sure that this is really what you want to do.
If anything, remember that the rewards come from helping others and there’s nothing more fulfilling than that.