Indecisive Pre Med Student

posted 6 months ago in West
Post # 2
1168 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2011

collegestudent123 :  Only you can fully answer this question. But just because something was your childhood dream doesn’t mean that you should pursue it. Oftentimes we have dreams of career aspirations growing up without understanding fully what being in a position entails. If you’re not extremely passionate about medicine and willing to give up a lot to get there, then being a physician isn’t the career for you.

Why don’t you go do some clinical work or volunteering to figure that out? You’ll see what the day-to-day work is like and whether you want to do it. Personally, the fact that you wouldn’t consider nursing or PA makes me wonder if you want to go to medical school because being a clinician is your passion versus some other reason (e.g. money, status, etc.). You don’t need to come back and try to counter this by saying you want to be a physician for “leadership” or “deeper scientific knowledge/contributions”…I don’t really care what your reasons are… just be honest with yourself about why you wanted to be a doctor… whether that is because you would actually love to work in medicine or for some other reason.

To be honest, if you weren’t getting the grades to get into med school before, and you’re not 100% committed to doing whatever you need to in order to get the grades that you need, and then to continue to study your tush off once you are in medical school… then yeah, don’t switch back to premed. Or if you take a science class to test the waters and aren’t able to get the grades that you need, don’t switch back. Grades are really important when applying to medical school, and while people with lower GPAs can get accepted if they have special life circumstances or experiences, the average matriculant GPA is around ~3.8 for a lot of schools.

Last but not least, the fact that you are so indecisive about this decision indicates to me that you are not 100% committed to medicine. If you were, you wouldn’t need to ask someone else to tell you what to do. 

As someone who veered off the pre-med path for my own reasons and has a career in scientific research, there is happiness and fulfillment to be found in a lot of different fields. This has been a better fit for me, and there are tons of opportunities out there… for example I’m considering pivoting myself into more of a business-type of management job that’s still related to research. I have also looked into healthcare-related consulting opportunities, and they seem pretty interesting.

Post # 3
8 posts
  • Wedding: City, State

I’ll preface this by saying I’m a current medical student in Australia, so I may not completely understand American entrance requirements. Medical school entrance in America seems to require considerable shadowing and volunteer hours along with the MCAT and GPA. This might be a good start to see if the day to day life of a doctor actually interests you. Doctors in Australia often describe medical school as the easiest step of the process – are you prepared for all the work that comes afterwards? I think those are important things to explore to make an informed decision.

Post # 4
138 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: City, State

I’ve worked in the health care industry. Why did you choose medicine to begin with? If you find school really hard, it’s gonna be harder making decisions about real people’s lives and it will require a lot of knowledge. Have you spent time with anyone in the health care industry? There might be another health profession that is better for you, why do you say it has to be all or nothing? Medicine may seem like a glamorous job but it’s a lot of stress and 24h on call sometimes. You can’t just turn off at night and only think about yourself, you will always have people calling you about patients that have sudden health problems. Unless you decide to be a dermatologist or doctor that doesn’t deal with people in hospital, it really takes over your life. This is a huge decision, I agree you should really consider shadowing some doctors and asking them what they think about the profession from both a personal and professional point of view.

Post # 5
4481 posts
Honey bee

What has suddenly made you decide it isn’t too hard and/or you are ok with the level of hard work that it will take and are just fine working that hard now?  Besides worrying that you will regret it, what specifically changed that will make this time different?  Because unless the underlying problem has been fixed, regret probably isn’t going to be a big enough motivator to make it happen.

Post # 6
500 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2017

I went to college with the childhood dream of becoming a physician.  I realized in my first year (after an organic chemistry debacle) that likely, I wasn’t going to be able to get the grades in the pre med classes that I needed to get into med school and ended up pursuing a degree in psych.  I also decided, after getting accepted into a PhD program for psych, that that wasn’t for me either, and did a masters in healthcare administration and I’ve been working in healthcare management for the past 20 years. 

A couple of thoughts- 1. you don’t have to be a pre-med major- you can major in violin, art, history, or whatever your passions are- so long as you take the required classes to get yourself into med school and prepare for the MCAT, the world is your oyster- you can even still major in business.  2. If you thought the pre-med classes were hard, or you weren’t getting the grades, you’re probably right.  You can do a lot of things (tutors, study groups etc.) if this is something you want to change- but medical school is also hard, so it’s likely not going to get easier (my husband is a physician, and said he never really had to study until medical school- if that means anything).  3. There are many, many options outside of being an MD that allows you to still work in healthcare- I would be one.  If you like business, or you like the idea of healthcare, but aren’t sure if you’re “provider” material, then check out some additional avenues.  You may, like me, find that administration is a wonderful balance of helping people, and still being ensconced in the healthcare field.  4. Having worked with physicians, residents, med students, and being married to a physician, I can tell you- if you’re questioning it- even a little- keep questioning.  Medicine is a huge committment financially, academically, and emotionally.  It doesn’t stop with medical school, it continues into residency training, fellowship training (if you choose), and then a litany of continuing education requirements that last the entirety of your career.  For most of the physicians I know, and the one I live with, it’s a balanced life, but it does occupy A LOT of your life- it’s not a 9-5, and it’s not something you just leave at your desk when your day is over. 

Finally you are totally allowed to change your mind.  Maybe continue in business, but take some science classes too- see how you do. If you end up getting a degree in business, and start working and realize that you really did miss the boat in medicine, there’s no reason why you can’t take the MCAT and go to medical school (so long as you’ve done the required undergrad classes).  I know several physicians that had other careers first and went to medical school later in life.  Lots and lots of options.  Good luck to you!

Post # 7
9615 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: March 2014 - Chicago, IL

collegestudent123 :  My advice is to major in a hard science like biology, chemistry, biochemistry, biophysics, bioengineering, etc., so that you have a fall back plan if you aren’t accepted to medical school right away. Also, doing well in these types of classes will tell you if you’re cut out for med school. 

TBH though, if you weren’t keeping up as premed maybe it isnt for you. Have you tried taking an assessment test?

Highly recommend

Post # 8
549 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2020 - Summer Camp!

Ask yourself why you want to be a doctor and why becoming a nurse practitioner and a PA aren’t good enough for your? I don’t want to tell you to give up on your dreams, but understand that it’s not just a time sacrifice, but an emotional sacrifice. I know brilliant med students who got stuck somewhere they didn’t live for a few years. It also makes having relationships difficult. And you know how difficult getting in is (I have a friend who went to Cornell, was rejected the first year, and then ended up at their last choice DO school). There are plenty of great professions in health care, and you should shadow all the ones that might interest you to figure it out. 

Post # 9
5821 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: May 2011

I had a free ride during undergrad, started pre-med track and was like “wait biochem is hard”, switched to business and now work in finance (I did eventually go back for my MBA). I love my job, its intellectually stimulating, the money is good and I have nice benefits/good flexibility. I guess why were you pre-med? I think I was pre-med because I felt like it was what smart people did. I’m sure I could have buckled down and gotten into medical school but I have 0 regrets.

Post # 10
232 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: June 2015

You should stay with a business major (or whatever degree you really enjoy and/or think will help you land a reasonable job after gradutation).  If you are still interested in medicine, go to the counseler and make sure you take medical school required classes. If you don’t do well in those or the MCAT, then you still have a great degree to fall back so you can get a good job.  You  don’t have to major in pre-med as a PP mentioned.  My honest thought is if you are having a hard time making the grades and are not sure you want to do all the hard work it takes, Medicine probably is not for  you. The work doesn’t stop once you get to medicial school…it’s for the rest of your life.

Post # 11
3934 posts
Honey bee

Have you ever done any patient care work, such as volunteer EMT? Do you know any MDs you could shadow? How do you like chemistry, particularly O Chem? You mentioned that you had problems with it and it shows up a lot on the mcat, along with Inorganic. I wouldn’t recommend the sciences to anyone who wasn’t really interested in them. I had a professor who would say “this is chemistry” if someone wandered into the room. She would laugh about how quickly they ran away lol.

Post # 12
1168 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2011

DrAtkins :  I think your second point is key. If she wasn’t keeping up in the basic premed prerequisites, I highly doubt she is going to get good grades in a hard science major.

I actually had a two friends in undergrad who didn’t do well in the first couple of premed classes. To prove themselves, they tried to do a hard science major without first fixing their studying… which only led to them getting more mediocre grades in science classes and ultimately crushed their premed dreams.

Since OP says she wasn’t doing well in the basic introductory classes requored for medical school, I think if she were to try to go for med school, she needs to start with 1 science class at a time and figure out the skills she needs to learn to master that class. In terms of admissions to medical school, A’s in one premed class at a time counts for way more than B’s in a bunch of science classes at once.

Plus, non-science majors are not discriminated against in the medical school admissions process… science majors have no advantage in admissions. High GPA (overall and especially in the prerequisite classes) and MCAT are the two most important things for admission, and you don’t need to do a science major to do well on the MCAT…you just need to do well in the prerequisites (which is the material the test is based on) and have adequate test taking skills.

Plus, with this plan, if OP were able to fix her studying-related problems, she could try taking 2 science classes at a time, etc. Or if she figures out that she can’t excel in science classes, she won’t tank her GPA trying to do a major that isn’t a good fit for her.

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