For those who lean towards an affinity for the health industry, the decision to attend medical school often comes easily. However, in many cases that is really where the ease ends. The road toward becoming a health professional can be daunting and certainly difficult in many regards. The good news though is that with the correct level of preparation you can set yourself up nicely to minimize some of the most common hardships.
Understand the Financial Commitment
Attending med school is not cheap and there is simply no other way to say it. The odds that you are able to pay for this out of pocket are extremely low and you need to come to grips early on with the fact that you are likely going to need to borrow money to make this dream a reality. Your personal network can help you with the loan process by acting as a cosigner where applicable. By having a cosigner, you are likely to get favorable rates and terms that perhaps you might not be able to get on your own. Taking out private student loans with a cosigner also tells your lender that although you are perhaps not financially established enough yet to garner trust, you have someone in your life who is willing to put up their money to prove that you in fact do deserve that trust and are capable of managing the terms of the loan.
Related: How Do Medical Students Pay For Living Expenses? (Crucial Money Saving Tips)
Take Your Grades Seriously
If going to med school is a dream that starts young for you, then your care and attention to your education need to follow suit. For some of your peers, grades in high school might not be high on the priority list but for you they need to be. You should take your grades seriously and educate yourself on how what you are doing today will matter regarding what you are able to do in the future. The grades you earn in high school are going to be what gets you into the undergraduate college of your choice, which is best suited to increase your chances of getting into the medical school you hope to attend.
It is important that you also realize that this is a critical time to develop educational skills that will serve you along the rest of your journey. Finding the best ways to stay organized, improving your time management skills, and learning how to write essays and take good notes are all great examples. Of course, you need to also learn at this stage how to balance your life and your studies, so don’t think that you need to be all business. Part of learning how to take your grades seriously is recognizing that you will also need an occasional infusion of fun and outside activity to keep yourself from reaching burnout.
Find a Mentor
If you know someone in the medical field who you look up to already, consider asking this person to be your mentor. If you don’t, no need to worry, as there are plenty of ways to find a mentor that you can utilize. One thing to remember is that this person does not necessarily have to hold the specific position you wish to have in the future. Rather, he or she can be someone within any sector of the health industry who has a career, a presence, and a reputation that you look up to.
With many online platforms designed to foster mentor/mentee relationships, you will be happy to know that you are also not limited by geography. Many of these sites are free to join and the best part is that you can be assured in advance that the people who are on these sites to become mentors are already in the market to take on that responsibility, whereas going in blind and asking someone another way does not have the same guarantee.
Get to Know Current Students
As you will eventually find out, med school students do not have a ton of free time, however, many colleges have clubs or departments set up where current students can offer help or perspective to potential ones. One of the best things to do before med school starts is to get as much real-life perspective as you can. Talk to those who are in the thick of it and truly listen to all the things they are experiencing.
One of the best ways to avoid mistakes is to learn from the missteps of other people. In many cases, people who made decisions that they wish they had gone in a different direction will be happy to tell you their story in an effort to prevent the same thing from happening to someone else. Your mentor should be someone who is older and more established in the medical community for good reason, but don’t forsake the advice that active students can also provide. When someone is really in the thick of it, they have a fresh and current take on all the details involved.
Born and raised in the UK, Will went into medicine late (31) after a career in journalism. He’s into football (soccer), learned Spanish after 5 years in Spain, and has had his work published all over the web. Read more.