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Bankrupt Before Medical School! – The Financial Burden of Applying

Medical school is expensive and the last thing you want is to be in serious debt before you even start.  Nowadays, students are applying to as many as 25 medical schools, and this certainly isn’t a cheap process.  When applying via AMCAS, students will pay $160 for the first application, then $38 for each subsequent application.

So, for the student who applies to 25 schools, that’s $1,072.  Oh ya, then there’s the cost of secondary applications, oh, let’s not forget plane tickets, hotels, food, etc. Let’s assume a student applies to 25 medical schools, submits 10 secondary applications, and interviews at 5 medical schools; you can approximate an overall cost of $3,000+. That’s a lot of money, especially for a college student who at the time of applying might not have any money.  But there is hope and you don’t have to go into debt during this process.  Here are 3 strategies to help you in the process.

  1. Save money ahead of time. Most students who apply to medical school don’t make the decision to apply the night before the portals open.  As a matter of fact, it’s likely that you started your college career with this dream in mind.  This being the case, premeds should start saving for the application process as soon as they decide to pursue a career in medicine.  Many students work a few hours a week in a research lab, library, tutoring center, or at a restaurant.  If it is at all possible, save some of that money in a special bank account…and don’t touch it!  $10 a week saved will go a long way towards your applications.
  2. Apply strategically. Too many students take the shotgun approach when applying to medical school.  They apply to schools that they’ve never even heard of, purely out of desperation to gain acceptance anywhere. Yes, it is true that medical school admission seems more competitive than ever (and that’s likely not going to change anytime soon in the current economic market), but you can still be wise when applying.  In other words, do your research on schools to find your best fit schools.  Take advantage of free resources such as PreMed StAR and local/national recruitment fairs (many fairs have travel awards) to showcase yourself as a great candidate and allow medical schools to reach out to you ahead of time and in doing so, demonstrate their interest.  Ultimately, you want to apply to schools where you have a good chance of gaining admission, otherwise, you might as well throw your money in the trash.
  3. Take advantage of assistance programs. Medical schools and application services understand that many premedical students simply can’t afford to apply to very many schools.  Because this is the case, they offer a variety of fee assistance programs (AMCAS Fee Assistance Program & AACOMAS Fee Assistance).

Utilizing these 3 strategies, premedical students should be able to avoid going into debt when applying to medical school.  In order to be successful at it, you have to be disciplined with saving, wise with your choices of schools to apply to, and resourceful in finding assistance to pay.  But still in the end, if you arrive at application day with no financial means, and if being a doctor is your destiny, you just may need to go into some debt.  In this case, keep in mind that it is just an investment, and if you perform well in medical school, the returns will be worthwhile.

Finish Strong – Preparing for Finals!

One of the most nerve wrecking times for pre-medical students is just after Thanksgiving.  During the Thanksgiving break, you go home, eat turkey, sleep a lot, and maybe watch some football.  You’re in bliss!  But the day you return back to class, you’re professors don’t hesitate the slightest bit to remind you that finals are just around the corner.

Finals are important for every pre-professional student, but the premedical student knows that in a science class, the difference between an A and B, or a B and C, can really make a difference in not just your cumulative, but specifically your science GPA.  This in turn may impact your medical school application.  Is your heart racing yet?  Are you nervous?  Well, don’t be!  Here are 5 tips to help you perform at your best!

  1. The first thing you should do is realize that one grade won’t make or break you. In the field of medicine, one bad day does not define how strong of a physician you are.  Doctors are judged based on their performance over time and this is how medical schools try to judge pre-medical students as well.  You should always aim to get the best grades possible, but don’t let the anxiety make you sweat.
  2. Start reviewing early. Here’s a thought, why not spend one hour a day during your Thanksgiving break to review your most challenging subject.  Assuming you sleep for 8 hours in a day, that still leaves you with 15 awake hours to enjoy yourself and relax.  Those 7 extra hours of review will put you farther ahead than your realize.
  3. Send your professor this email “Dear Dr. ____, I plan to begin reviewing for finals during my Thanksgiving break week, do you have any suggestions as to where I should focus my efforts?” A good professor should not be unethical and provide you with extra information pertaining to the specifics of what will be on the exam, however, he or she should give you an idea of what they perceive to be the important “take home” points for their course.
  4. Draft a study plan which you will use for the next 2-3 weeks in preparation for finals. This does not have to be a detailed plan, but you should at least have a general idea of how you plan to prioritize your study time.  This task should take into consideration a thoughtful calculation of how your cGPA and sGPA will be affected by various grades in your various courses.  It should also take in consideration your weak and strong areas.
  5. Don’t do it alone. Get your study group on your same mental wavelength.  You want to make sure that when you come together, they’re ready to hit the ground running.  Don’t underestimate the importance of studying with people who are just as determined for success as you are.

Finals are important and yes, they can be nerve wrecking; however, they don’t have to be.  Prepare your plan ahead of time so when it’s your turn to get in the game, you’ll be ready!

The Waiting Game…What to do after the application???

The medical school application cycle is well under way. You’ve taken the MCAT and completed your application to medical school. CONGRATULATIONS!!! That’s a huge accomplishment. Many of us have gotten secondary invitations, some have received invitations for an interview and a few may have already received acceptance letters. No matter which stage of the application process you are in, waiting to hear back from medical schools can feel unbearable. While waiting you may wonder what to do next. Fortunately, there are some key things we can do while waiting.

  1. Continue participating in the activities that are important to you, especially those included on your medical school application. One key mistake that pre-med students make is to quit volunteering or shadowing because they’ve completed their application. However, continuing to participate in these activities can help to strengthen relationships with the people or organizations you are working with.  You never know these connections will come in handy down the line.
  1. Seek out new opportunities for growth and experience. Pre-med students often think there is a magic formula that they must follow to gain acceptance to medical school. There are some key experiences that every pre-med student should have such as clinical exposure and physician shadowing. However, being unique and participating in activities (i.e. learning a new language) that sets you apart from other applicants will not only get your application noticed but it will make for interesting conversations once you are invited to an interview
  1. Read, read, read! As pre-med students and future clinicians, it is very important for us to be aware of what is going on in the world of healthcare and other areas which affect our lives and livelihood. Stay current with what’s going on by reading the local newspaper and a global newspaper or magazine. Most subscriptions are available digitally, which makes it convenient to read at anytime that you have free time (i.e. waiting on the bus or right before class). Leisure reading is also important too, so get lost in your favorite book to take a break from your studies.
  1. Get to know schools of interest. Once you get to the interview stage, you need to know at least some basic information about their medical school. Key questions you can ask yourself include: What interested me in this school? How does their mission fit with my goals of becoming a physician? Why would you be an asset at this school?
  1. Update your application!  Don’t forget to update your application.  Many schools allow you to update your application after you have submitted. This is a great opportunity to include significant changes to your application, which may help to improve your chances of an interview or acceptance. Did your role in an organization change and you are now one of the leaders? Have you gotten your research published? Have you started a new position? These are significant changes that should be updated in your application.

 

Good luck, future Doc!  Don’t stop working towards your goal!  We’re going to make it!

Debunking the myths about Osteopathic Medicine

In my experience of applying to medical schools, I have come across a lot of prospective medical students who are unsure of which medical track to apply for. The most popular option best known to majority pre-medical students through their family members, friends, or primary care physician (since it is hard to tell the difference between a DO/MD in a clinical setting) is the allopathic or MD route. However, I feel that the osteopathic track, i.e. Doctor of Osteopathy (DO) perhaps does not get the same level of recognition or pre-med committees need to do more to educate prospective students regarding this 2nd type of medical schools in the U.S. Perhaps a common misconception among students hesitant to apply solely to DO schools is that DOs are students who do not get accepted into MD programs due to poor grades or a low MCAT score and that as a U.S. trained DO, they would be unable to volunteer internationally or specialize in their field of choice. However, the osteopathic philosophy has been around since the 1800s and according to the American Osteopathic Association, there are currently over 73,000 osteopathic physicians in practice in the United States and according to American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM), more than 20 percent of new medical students in the U.S. are training to be osteopathic physicians. A wonderful guide to Osteopathic Medicine created by two current DO students for prospective medical students can be found at the following link: http://www.aacom.org/docs/default-source/cib/bgom.pdf

Additionally, a US-licensed DO can prescribe medications, practice, and pursue medical specialties in the same manner that MDs do. In my own experiences of shadowing DO’s and in conversing with one of my mentors who is currently pursuing a residency in Internal Medicine, DOs have the option of taking the USMLE in addition to passing the COMPLEX exam required exclusively of DO students to be eligible to apply for allopathic residency programs. Also, the implementation of a single GME accreditation system in July of 2020, will allow graduates of osteopathic and allopathic medical schools to complete their residency and/or fellowship education in Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, ACGME-accredited programs and demonstrate achievement of common milestones and competencies. Through osteopathic-focused residency programs, the new system will recognize the unique full-body approach tenets and practices of the osteopathic medical profession and its significant contributions to health care. (See: http://www.osteopathic.org/inside-aoa/single-gme-accreditation-system/Pages/default.aspx)

I have a friend who is currently a 3rd year DO student at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine – Georgia Campus. She has a very inspiring blog that I would love to share with aspiring physicians (http://www.aspiringminoritydoctor.com). In her blog she explains her love and passion for medicine in addition to providing useful tips on how to succeed before and during medical school. In speaking with Danielle, she expressed and stated her interest in applying to DO schools which resonates with my own goals of reducing over-prescribing, allowing the body to selfheal through applications of Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT), and in utilizing scientific-based evidence in the effective treatment of pain.

So I hope that through this blog, I can encourage some if not most of you to consider DO programs as your medical school of choice. With 33 accredited osteopathic colleges in the United States with impressive rankings, numerous forums on SDN, and college recruitment events, students now have the knowledge and power at their fingertips to not fall for the common myths surrounding DO programs and hopefully they can make a well-informed decision regarding which medical track works best for their future goals.

How I Took Down the MCAT!

As aspiring physicians, there are many tests which we must face and overcome. However, the MCAT looms over many of us as one of the most terrifying and momentous tasks of all. But is the MCAT really that bad? As someone who has just battled and defeated this monster, I can speak to the difficulty of this test, but I can also attest to the fact that a great score can be accomplished with hard work and effective planning. In this brief discussion, I will share with you a short outline of the study methods which worked for me. Of course, these specific methods won’t work for everyone, but I hope that those of you on the dawn of preparing for the MCAT will find them helpful as you begin.

 

Planning Ahead is Key

One of the single most important things that you can do in preparing for the MCAT is make a plan! There are many, many topics covered on this test, and you need to ensure that you not only have time to review and master all of these topics, but continuously test yourself with practice questions and tests. I would suggest spending a good amount of time planning out a timeline including things such as, when you want to complete certain topics, do practice passages/problems, take practice tests, and such. Make sure that your plan is realistic to your schedule at the time, and be sure to know exactly when you want to take the exam. Before making this plan, decide how long you want to study for the MCAT. I personally took about a year to study for this exam; I started by slowly reviewing topics during my fall semester, then I really focused on mastering the material and taking practice exams in the spring, before taking my exam in June. In the end, it is up to you to decide how much time you need.

 

Execution

Once you have a plan ready, it’s time to get started! In my studying experience, I began by thoroughly reviewing the material. To do this, I delved into preparatory books as well as past course materials. I used Princeton Review and Kaplan books for a general overview, and followed up on topics that I still felt “shaky” on by reviewing my course notes and text books on those particular subjects. If I needed further explanation on any topic, I would often go to professors who taught those subjects at my university, or utilized the plethora of free videos on Khan Academy. Once I felt confident on a given topic, I would practice with various problem sets and passages. I would often use the Science Workbook by Princeton Review for practice passages, but there are a variety of other resources out there. For example, Khan Academy has a large selection of free practice questions, Next Step offers subject tests, Princeton and Kaplan review books have questions after each chapter, Exam Krackers (old or new additions) also offers a wide range of questions. Be sure to take full length practice tests throughout your studying as well—many of the aforementioned companies offer plenty of full length tests.

 

The Final Hour

As my test day approached, there were a few things that I found useful as I finalized my preparation. I started with a thorough review all of the MCAT topics listed on the AAMC website (https://students-residents.aamc.org/applying-medical-school/). At this point I felt pretty confident about the material and simply wanted to briefly talk myself through the topics one last time, and very quickly touch up on any weak spots that I found. After this, I went on to purchase and complete the question packs published by the AAMC—these questions are most similar to those on the MCAT, which is why I saved these for last. At last, just days before my exam, I was ready to take the Official AAMC MCAT practice exam. The purpose of this exam is to gauge how prepared you are for the real thing, so I would suggest you save this for last as well, and take the time to think about what your practice scores mean for you.

I hope that you found this brief article helpful as you prepare to take your MCAT exam. This was a very brief outline of what I found to be successful for me, and it is meant for the sole purpose of getting you thinking about how you would like to structure your own MCAT study plan. I wish you all the best of luck!

Stay Motivated!

The journey to medical school is often a roller coaster ride filled with highs and lows. The constant mix of emotions may leave you feeling frustrated. One day you are sure of your desire to become a physician and the next day you may wonder if you can truly accomplish this feat. Many pre-med students may begin to lose their confidence and motivation to pursue medical school. A low grade in a pre-med course, a low MCAT score, or unsupportive friends and family may cause you to doubt yourself. Despite these roadblocks you can push through and stay the course to accomplish your goal of becoming a physician. Here are some ways to stay motivated on your journey to becoming a doctor:

  1. Create a collage with your name written in big bold letter with the title Dr., M.D. or D.O. For example, Dr. (first name) (last name) or (first name) (last name) M.D. or D.O. Include photos of doctors on your collage, along with other medical areas of interest. This is supposed to be fun so include anything that inspires you. Keep it in a place where you can see it every day!
  2. Write down your goals in a notebook or journal. Everyday there should be at least one goal that will get you one step closer to becoming a doctor. For example, one goal maybe to complete 100 volunteer hours. Once you have achieved a goal mark it as completed. This simple process will be a huge boost to your confidence.
  3. Celebrate all of your successes, even the ones you think are small. Once you accomplish a goal celebrate it. Don’t wait for the big accomplishments. Celebrate the small steps that you’ve made towards achieving your goals as well. Did you earn an ‘A’ in Organic Chemistry? A ‘B’ in Physics? These accomplishments may seem small but every step you make towards your goal of becoming a doctor is huge and should be treated as such.
  4. Find a mentor. A mentor can be a great source of inspiration when you feel like giving up. A quick text or chat with your mentor can make a big difference.
  5. Stay focused. Keep your eyes on the end goal and don’t quit. When approaching difficult times, remember that just on the other side is the prize of becoming a doctor.

We all face difficulties at various points along our journey to medical school, but you can overcome them. When you are having a bad day look at your collage, your goals journal, or reach out to your mentor. These simple steps can help you to refocus and rekindle your motivation to continue on your path to becoming a doctor. Don’t give up future doc, there is a white coat with your name on it.

5 Things to Plan For The New School Year!

Summer break is over and it’s time to get back to school!  For many premeds, this time of year might be a bit daunting and worrisome.  Is this the semester that you have to get a 4.0?  Is this the semester you take the MCAT?  Is this the semester that you are premed club president? Is this the one semester that determines whether or not you will become a medical doctor?  We know you’re counting on this semester for a lot of things!  Don’t freak out, just plan!  Here are 5 things you absolutely must plan as the new academic year begins!

  1. Plan your courses wisely! This perhaps is the second most important thing to plan (the first will come later).  Many premedical students begin the semester taking generic classes that their friends are taking or simply because, “they’re supposed to take those classes”.  That’s a mistake.  As a premedical students you need to realize that your goal is to get into medical school. Not all medical schools have the same requirements to gain admissions.  In other words, you need to have a general idea of which medical schools you may want to apply to, and make sure that you are meeting their prerequisite course requirements.
  2. Plan your study! As the semester begins, you will have tons of distractions. A new club is popping up every week and you might be interested in taking on more leadership roles.  Intramural sports, research, parties; with so much going on, it’s easy to forget why you’re even in college.  Well, you’re there to learn and believe it or not, most of your learning in college comes from you and not from your professors.  This being the case, you must plan your study strategy.  This does not simply mean that you need to block out time in your schedule, but rather, you should sit down and really think about how you best learn, then create a strategy to maximize that throughout the semester.  After you have done this, you might decide to sign up for a tutor, study in a group with friends, study in a group with classmates who may not be your friends (some students are too easily distracted when studying with friends), or study alone.
  3. Plan your well-being! Excelling in the premedical field is not an easy thing to do. This takes a lot of effort and taking care of your own health can easily be overlooked.  Remember, your mind performs at its best when your body is at its best.  Planning for your well-being includes eating right, exercising, and relaxing.  These 3 things will definitely help to keep your stress level down which in turn will clear your mind.
  4. Plan your extracurricular activities. As mentioned in number two above, as the semester begins, you’ll be pulled in multiple directions to join various organizations and take on responsibility.  When choosing which activities to take part in, you must consider 3 things: 1) what you enjoy, 2) what looks good to medical schools, 3) what can have the greatest impact.  These 3 things will help you filter out the extracurricular activities that may not be right for you.  Depending on your year in college, your course load, and your leadership roles, the number of extracurricular activities you should take part should vary from 1-5.
  5. Plan to be successful! This is the most important thing to plan for!  It is strictly a thing of the mind which with enough faith, prayer, and effort, can translate into reality. You need to start the semester believing that you will do well!  This means that you need to hype yourself up and prepare for that 4.0!  Hype yourself up and prepare for that 528!  Hype yourself up and prepare to get recruited to medical school! Believe in your mind that you can, and that you will do it!  If you don’t, it’s okay, but at least start off planning for it!  Remember, aim for the moon…if you miss, at least you’ll be among the stars!

The reality of fear is that most of us are only afraid when we are not prepared.  We feel unprepared when we have no plan that we can believe in to lead us to success.  As this academic year begins, plan your way to success.  And remember, those who fail to plan, plan to fail!

Choosing the Right Medical School

Medical schools are looking for the brightest and best premed students that are best fit for their program’s mission. Premed students likewise are searching for the best medical school which will allow them to thrive academically as well as in other endeavors.  The school you choose will not only dictate your academic path but will also lead to lifelong relationships. These are a couple of factors which one should keep in mind when researching and deciding on a medical program.

  1. Geography: This will be highly dependent on the type of person you are. Medical school can be very stressful. If you have very supportive family and hometown friends that will understand why you’re often absent from events, then consider staying close to home but if the opposite is true then run for your life.  I have seen this go both ways. A friend of mine cried her way through her first year of medical school because she was homesick and yet another friend of mine nearly flunked out of medical school due to distractions from family and friends. If you are a disciplined and independent individual, you can consider an out of state school, but remember you will likely have to pay a higher tuition than your state public institution.  My personal choice was to attend a local medical school for lower costs and familiarity. Subsequently, I travel for fellowship which allowed a change in scenery and served as a great growing experience.
  1. School Ranking: Attending a highly ranked school will certainly look good on any resume and increase your chances to enter a competitive residency. Many of these programs will offer you great opportunities to do cutting edge research and learn from some of the top physicians the country has to offer. At the same time, you can also become very competitive after attending a less prestigious program if you work hard, make very good grades, and especially if you earn entrance into the distinguished Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society. Be realistic when applying to these highly ranked programs. Compare your MCAT score and GPA to the average acceptance scores at the schools you are interested in. Do not let these scores prohibit you from applying since these averages include numbers below and above that number. Be sure to research the residency match rate for the schools you are interested in.
  1. Class Size: Small classes typically have about 50 students (Mayo- 53) while large classes may have up to 300 students (UIC- 315). Your experience in undergrad has probably allowed you to see if you do better in a smaller, intimate setting or in a larger, more diverse group. It is very important that you feel comfortable at your program so the student and faculty make-up may be important in your decision.
  1. Costs: We can all agree on this one. Minimizing costs is a plus. Medical school tuition can be expensive but don’t forget to figure in those living expenses. Your cheapest option would most likely be to attend an in-state, public institution close to home. This was my choice and I came out with a lot less debt than many other students since I did not need to pay for flight tickets during holidays and I was always home for mom’s good cooking. Private schools do tend to offer more scholarships so do not let this be a deal breaker. Seek and you will find.
  1. Curriculum: Spend some time researching prospective schools’ curricula. Most schools will provide similar content which will prepare you for your board exams and to become a competent physician. Schools will vary on the organization of the material. Some will use a block schedule (one course at a time) and split these into organ system (cardiology, endocrinology, pulmonology, etc.) or into subjects (pharmacology, anatomy, histology, etc). The first two years (preclinical years) of medical school are spent in class with didactic lectures. Some programs integrate patient care during this time and some offer problem-based learning (small student groups). Make sure to check if class attendance is mandatory. Some students do better if forced to attend lecture while others do better studying on their own.

 

Applying to Medical School – 5 Must Do’s

Year by year, medical school admissions is becoming more competitive.  According to AMCAS data, in 2006, the average gpa for matriculating into medical school was a 3.64.  In 2016, the average gpa has increased to 3.7 and it will likely continue to rise.  Students have more leadership roles, spend more time overseas, and are all around great candidates.  The unfortunate thing is that we have more qualified students than we do positions to fill.  So, if a 4.0 and 528 are no longer guarantees you admission into medical school, what strategies can be used when applying?  Here are 5 tips.

1) Identify your target schools early. This is pretty basic and most premedical students do a good job at it.  Nowadays, it is very easy to find information about your various medical schools online (e.g. PreMed StAR).  Be sure to use all of your resources to learn as much as you can about your schools of interest.  Every applicant should try to have 3 categories of schools to apply to.  Reach schools (school that have gpa/mcat/extracurriculars averages better than the applicants), reality schools (your credentials match well with the schools’ averages), and safety schools (your credentials are better than the averages).

2) Network with recruiters from your target schools. Students very often overlook this essential aspect of the application process.  Recruiters are your friends!  They want to be! Their goal is to find you, and you should make it easy for them.

3) Ensure you application is flawless. Did you catch the typo in the preceding sentence? One flaw, can ruin your credibility and cause an admissions committee member to toss your application out.

4) Submit your application early. Many medical schools will admit students on a rolling admissions basis.  This means that you can be accepted to that medical school even before some students have applied or interviewed.  So in theory, by applying early, you have less competition.  If possible, submit your application within 2 months of the application opening.

5) Be on your best behavior before, during, and after the interview process. It is very important to understand that on interview day; everyone is interviewing you! The receptionist, the medical students, the waiter, the chauffeur, oh, and of course the doctor.  Word gets around fast, so if you mistreat any one of these individuals, count yourself out!

These 5 suggestions will not guarantee that you gain admission into medical school, but doing them is a lot better than not doing them.  The playing field is more and more competitive each year so all applicants need to stay on their ‘A’ game!

The Healthy Premed!

It’s no secret that the premed journey is rough. The stress of exams, managing time, and making life decisions can take a huge toll on you. Furthermore, these things all happen during some of the most important years of your life.  It is during this time that you will be away from your parents and begin to establish your own foundations. You will pick up habits (good and bad) that will ultimately make or break you. There is so much information out there pertaining to how premeds should study, how to do well on exams, and how to get into medical school, but we often neglect what is arguably the most important aspects of the premedical student’s life, his or her personal health.  Bad health equals bad future!  Here are a few suggestions to help you stay healthy:

  1. Maintain a healthy diet. Multiple sources predict on average a college freshman will gain somewhere between 10-20 lbs in that year. If you are like me during college, your diet probably consists of ramen noodles, ravioli, hot pockets, pizza, sandwiches, and plenty of soft drinks. This is a very unhealthy diet. It will serve you well to begin adapting to a more balanced diet, even if you have to set aside a little time to incorporate this. I suggest you be very thoughtful while grocery shopping. If you have access to a stove, spend 1 or 2 days in the week preparing a cooked meal and save your left overs in the freezer or in Tupperware for the week. Buy nuts, granola bars, and fresh fruits for snacks. Limit or avoid soft drinks all together. Taking a stance on this will not only improve your health but also allow you to set a strong example for others around you as well as for your future patients.
  1. Work out. It is recommended by the World Health Organization that adults age 18-64 should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week or at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week or an equivalent combination of this. Doing this can improve heart and lung function, keep bones strong, and reduce risks of noncommunicable diseases and depression. I have always found this to be one of the best stress relieving techniques out there.
  1. Pay mind to your mental health. This unfortunately is one of those areas that has been swept under the rug for far too long. There remains a stigma that keeps this issue from being dealt with appropriately. Doctors and med students are human beings who witness emotional loss of lives and failures which may lead to PTSD. Doctors offer a lot of time and emotional sacrifices for their patients day-in and day-out and some may feel this is not reciprocated. This is partly why the depression, divorce and suicide rates are higher for medical doctors than the general population. I recall two medical students taking their lives while I was a student. So does this trend hold for premedical students? Unfortunately, it does. Based on a study by Fang et al. looking at 647 premedical students at University of California, San Diego, there was a significantly increased prevalence of screened positive major depressive disorder in premedical students than their non-premedical counterparts. The pressures placed on you by friends, family, and even yourself can be overwhelming at times. Remember to take time for yourself, take care of your health and get professional help if you need it. You must be your biggest advocate because no one else will know exactly how you feel.
  1. Don’t do drugs. I cannot stress this enough. It is again very unfortunate that statistically, doctors are more likely to suffer from substance abuse problems significantly more than the general population. We are much more vulnerable to this due to easier access to these potentially harmful agents but this dependence tends to start while in college. Drugs are anything that alters your normal state. This does include alcohol in excess, stimulants, and sedatives. The pressure of school can get to many students so much that they eventually begin to rely on external agents to function and to sleep. We have all seen the TV show’s Dr. Gregory House of House M.D. and his reliance on pain meds to get by. I have witnessed too many students and doctors damaging their futures this way. It would be best not to start any potentially addicting agents unless medically necessary and if so, only while under the care of a medical profession.
  1. Don’t neglect your spiritual health. Often times this is put on the back burner for many premedical students when times get tough. However, I can attest to the benefits of spending time in prayer and attending church service. Sometimes, it is helpful to see past the premedical trees to appreciate how beautiful life is and how grand is the world in which we live!

 

 

 

 

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