I’ve watched literally thousands of premeds on their journey to medicine. Some are successful and some are not. Like anything in life, repeated exposure to something allows you to appreciate patterns, both subtle and overt. One of the more obvious patterns is evident when I receive that great news, “I got into medical school!” Many of those students share similar traits. On the other hand, there are those students I watch who don’t match the description and are obviously heading down the wrong path. I wish I could yell out to them before it’s too late (if only they would only listen). Here are 5 areas that contribute significantly to premeds missing out on their dream of going to medical school.
1. Wrong Friends
For those who know me, this is no surprise. 9 out of 10 times, your closest friends will make or break you in this life. I’d venture to guess that most people who fail to reach their goals in life do not have the right group of people around them. This may also include your significant other. Time and time again, I have seen very intelligent premeds head down the wrong path for this reason. I personally chose the wrong friends my freshman year in college but quickly learned we did not share the same priorities in life. I corrected this by my sophomore year and this no doubt was instrumental in my successful path to medicine and life in general. Fraternity and Sorority life as well as collegiate athletics can consume you and force you to be around a group of people who may not share or respect your goals. This can be dangerous if you are not disciplined so please be wise.
2. Not Seeking Help
You cannot do it alone. I repeat… You cannot do it alone! One of the more painful, unsuccessful premed journeys I see are from those who kept to themselves and thought they were on track only to find out they missed something very important. There are many premeds who experience a traumatic life changing event and try to manage it on their own. This day and age, there are a lot more tools at your fingertips. If you have a question or concerns, speak with a counselor, premed advisor, or your fellow PreMed STAR peers. Don’t be afraid to send the recruiters, med students, or physicians on the site a question. That’s what we are here for. Don’t wait until its too late and you can no longer make up for your mistakes.
As a premed it is crucial that you are aware of deadlines and that you meet them. These includes class registration, class drop dates, exams, letter of recommendations, and applications. Many premeds are perfectionists and this in itself can give rise to procrastination by waiting to move forward once things are perfectly lined up. Some premeds fail to establish relationships with their professors on time making it tough to get a research position or letter of rec when needed. It can be very frustrating for a busy physician or professor to receive a letter of recommendation request just 1 month ahead of the due date. You are liable to get a poor letter on your behalf in that situation. In fact, I will be working on a letter with a deadline in 2 days that I received just 1 week ago from a premed (yikes!). I’m more than happy to support this student but this was not a wise thing to do. Many premeds (including my former self) procrastinate when it comes to logging extracurricular activities. Take advantage of your PreMed STAR Profile by keeping your activities and awards up to date. It will save you a ton of time during the applications and you never know who is watching your profile.
4. Wrong Reasons
These are the students that medicine just was not for them in the first place. The ones that were simply following the premed path to please someone else. Or maybe because everyone else was doing it or solely for monetary gain. A few of these students will make it to medical school but when times get rough, there is little there to keep someone not in it for the right reasons pushing forward. In the long run it is probably best that these type of students never enter this noble profession. I recommend premeds take a step back and and make sure this is what they really want to do.
5. Poor Work Ethic and Motivation
I know I’m preaching to the choir here but you have to work VERY VERY hard to become a physician. You don’t need to be the smartest in your class but you’ve got to work harder and more efficient than nearly everyone in that class. Laziness is unacceptable and cutting corners will only harm you in the long run. If I’m asked what one quality identifies every single sole that graduated in my med school class, it would NOT be that they were all smart or all compassionate but instead, that every single student was extremely hard working. That is the one common denominator that sets nearly all medical students apart from the general public.
So, there you have it. These are the 5 areas that I believe will cause any premed to miss out on their dreams. I would love to hear your thoughts.
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