Posts tagged premed


I’m going to be a junior in college this year and I’m just now starting to realize that I have doing pre-med. My parents have been pushing and forcing me into medicine since freshman year and I think I convinced myself I was enjoying it but I have been extremely miserable. I do really mediocre in my classes and I have volunteered in hospitals before but didn’t really enjoy it. Do you think I should just suck it up and continue with this?

My parents are South Asian and they would freak if I told them this. My dad has worked his butt off to pay my tuition and make a good living for me so I can comfortably study and become a doctor. I don’t want to disappoint them. But at the same time I don’t know if I’ll be able to make it through medical school in one piece if it’s anything like what pre-med is.

What’s your advice for me? I would also appreciate any advice from your followers who are going through or know someone who has been through the same thing. Thank you!

Hi there stranger,

I knew someone who was like that back when I was in pharmaceutical sciences and he appeared miserable every day of class. Now that he has graduated and is working, I still hear stories through the grapevine of how he is not satisfied with his work. All in an effort to satisfy his parents.

I think every day that I grow older, the Holstee Manifesto resonates more with me. I would encourage you to read it and reflect on it. I think that you should follow your passions, because it is only there that work becomes play. In an ideal world, you should not feel like you are going to work. You should not have to resent going to work or pursuing that which you want to achieve.

There are definitely stronger bonds of honour and respect that are culturally important at play. However, self discovery cannot be forced. They obviously want the best for you, to be established and to be happy. At the end of the day though, it is still your life and your journey. Perhaps broach the subject with them, of your struggles and that you tried to like it when you volunteered at the hospital and the work did not resonate with you. 

It is a sensitive situation and I am not sure how to culturally approach it in a sensitive fashion. Hopefully one of my readers can help you. Leave a reply below or through Disqus on the blog page proper.

I hope that helps you to some degree and wish you best of luck. Take care.

I'm a soph in college right now and I took chem and bio freshman year and did well and am currently taking orgo this year however I plan to take physics junior year and also take the mcat the same year. Do you think I'm at a big disadvantage by not having fully completed physics before taking the mcat's? — Asked by Anonymous

I do not recall there being a lot of physics in the physical sciences section but it has been a long time since I took it. I do not think you will be at a severe disadvantage. When you are preparing for your MCAT, perhaps focus more on the physical sciences and do some practice tests. You will get a better sense of what you will need to work on. Good luck.

can you reccomend any websites or oublications to read which cover recent medical progessions or whatever? im applying in the UK and they require you to do alot of reading whilst applying! — Asked by Anonymous

That is a very broad question. It really depends on what you are looking for. Off the top of my head, I am thinking of possibly the British Medical Journal, New England Journal of Medicine, Canadian Medical Association Journal, and the Journal of the American Medical Association etc.

For websites, you could maybe try the Science Daily or Medgadget.

There is more information than you can handle out there and if you know where to look they should be readily accessible to you. 

I'm taking Physics instead of Anatomy in high school because I'll need to take physics in college either way. Is this a good idea? Or should I switch to Anatomy (i've taken Gen. Science, Bio, Chem) i'm a senior this year and want to pursue Medicine. I've already applied to college and got in. Does it matter? Will I need to take Anatomy and Physics in college? — Asked by Anonymous

If you are thinking of pursuing medicine, I suppose studying anatomy early has some minor benefits but the truth is you will have so much exposure to anatomy that taking it this early on probably will not make much difference in the long run besides satisfying your interest.

Physics, if it is required later on in college, could be a good investment, especially if it is a pre-requisite for some more advanced classes. Unless you are thinking of going into something along the lines of an engineering or physics domain, I think that physics is not particularly useful. While it is part of the physical sciences, which is a testable subject on the MCAT, it has very little bearing practically in medicine. There is a lot more biology, chemistry, biochemistry, and physiology.

What is considered "competitive extracurricular activities"? Do activities from high school count? Is it possible to have a long list of committed actvities within 4 years of undergraduate school? — Asked by Anonymous

Participate in activities that interest you and that you feel are worthy experiences to your growth and to your character. That way, you can make the most out of your time and your effort. As they say: “if you turn work into play, then you will never work a day.”

Having said that, some of the common activities that people partake are listed here. Again, I would highly recommend doing something that appeals to you. 

The way a university looks at extracurricular activities varies from school to school. My faculty chose only to look at activities post-secondary education. 

Nobody expects you to be superhuman, which is again why finding activities you are interested in helps you. Your passion will be reflected in your dedication and work ethic; your choice of activities also reflects upon who you are. It is better to have quality over quantity. In four years time, there will be more than enough opportunities to find commitments and interests; choose what fits best for you and never overcommit.

Do you think going to a community college then transferring to a four-year university affects one's chance of getting into medical school? — Asked by Anonymous

I get this question quite often and I feel that this might be a geographical thing. As far as I know, going to a community college should in theory have no impact on your ability to go to medical school in the long run. The caveat here is any course that you take that you are using as a pre-requisite course in your application to medical school must be comparable or compatible with their requirements. In other words, the syllabus should meet the standard of whatever they require from you. In a community college setting, this might be the main issue you might run into. Otherwise, there should be no effect. There are strict criteria that medical schools will look at when considering you as an applicant and it is not so much where you come from that matters but who you are as a person, as a student, and as a potential colleague that matters.

Here is Dr. Cranquis from experience: I did 1 year of basic college classes at a community college before transferring to a 4-year university for the remaining 3 years, (I did most of my basic science pre-reqs at the university, but my A&P community course transferred just fine).

Hey, hello. My med school admission tests are getting closer and myself, who have always been self confident and have had much self control happened to have a nervous breakdown. I feel weak, shaky and cry oftenly. I lack appetite. Not only this can affect my results in the tests, its also being a bother and stopping me from studying more. Do you know anyone else who have gone through this and can you give me advice? Sorry if this is a bother, and thank you. — Asked by Anonymous

It sounds like you are going through a difficult time. I am not sure how far away your tests are but I think you should take some time away from studying and have a break, spend some time with some friends and family and talk it over and not go it alone.

I have written about the MCAT before. Everyone who takes it is nervous and anxious. We get nervous because it is a challenging exam and it is one of the first steps to a potential career in medicine. That is a lot of weight and pressure. However, we all get a little nervous for any exam, and at the end of the day, the MCAT is just another test, albeit a longer and harder one.

I think you should speak with someone who can be supportive of you at this time, your family, friends, or even your doctor as it sounds like you are going through a lot of stress. Good luck and take care.

Hi Tom! :) I know you mentioned your late father in your application but did you have to prove it by producing a death certificate or anything? I received some poor grades this year due to an elusive yet very uncomfortable illness (still haven't figured it out!) and I'm afraid I'd have to 'prove' it by producing various medical records (most of which are scattered across the country). Thank you so much! — Asked by Anonymous

No, I did not have to produce a death certificate. There are legitimate, legal scenarios where this would happen but it was certainly not the case for my application.

If you are applying to medical school and the application has an essay component, you are welcome to discuss it if it is relevant to the essay subject. For me, my father’s death was an important factor in the essay topic: “why have I chosen medicine?” In your case, it sounds like you would like to explain why your grades have been less than expected.

Truly, your own medical history is private and confidential information; unless you wish to voluntarily disclose that, they cannot ask if you are ill or not. If you were to disclose and they thought the information may be important going forward, they may or may not ask you for a doctor’s note or written letter explaining your situation. Again, due to confidentiality purposes, I highly doubt they would ask for your medical records.

Good luck to you and take care.

Mail: Everything and the Kitchen Sink

Given my recent opening of anonymous questions and the latest feature on Tumblr Tuesday, my inbox has exploded. I have been trying to answer these as quickly as I can. To help me clear off a large slate before the end of my summer, here is the latest mailbag.

How tough was it to get into medical school? What type of university did you attend before med school? — Asked by thebearfetus

The short answer is: very tough. The process of applying to medical school takes a year to complete, and the preparation, the experiences you gain before hand takes many years to accrue. There has to be some planning long in advance as the machinery must be set in motion and brought together for the application. Academics, extracurricular experiences, and exams all had to be competitive over the course of my post-secondary education. When I was able to reach the interview stage and finally see the brilliant and amazing people who were also vying for a seat in the incoming class, it really put into perspective the diversity, the competitiveness, and the challenge of getting in.

Once I was accepted into medical school though, it became clear that the challenges were only just beginning; medical school is a tougher process in its own right.

Out of respect for privacy concerns and my faculty’s social media guidelines, I can no longer answer the second question. Sorry. :(