There’s more to being ready to apply to medical school than having the MCAT out of the way, your recommendations lined up, and your resume in order. Are you sure that medicine is what you really want? Have you spent time in a variety of patient care settings and satisfied yourself that you’ll be comfortable, happy, and productive in the clinical environment? Have you considered, and perhaps even explored, other careers? Can you honestly say that the decision to go into medicine is yours alone and not the product of what others want or believe will be right for you?
If you’ve arrived at “opening day” for the AMCAS application and have managed somehow to spend little or no time around patients and health facilities, stop and think. If you’re a science major whose resume is heavy on research projects and light on service and/or people-oriented activities, stop and think. If your family has never encouraged you to consider any career other than medicine, stop and think. Family pressure needn’t be overt, as in “Of course you’ll be a doctor.” It may take such subtle forms as deafening silence when you mention that a study abroad program in Art History sounds good to you, or having a summer internship in a hospital arranged for you before you have a chance to say that you’re hoping to be hired for your college’s freshman orientation program.
If any of this sounds uncomfortably familiar, stop and think. Deciding not to apply now doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll never apply at all. You just need to be certain about what you’re doing if and when you apply. The rest of your life is a long time to be miserable.
By Joan Davis. She has years of experience in medical school admissions. You can tap it with Accepted’smedical school admissions consulting and essay editing.