Medical School Advice

Hi, I'm a new follower and I saw your post about family medicine. What do you think my chances are of getting into Med School? I'm 22, a sophomore (it's hard paying out of pocket), I've already failed one Biology course, a C in another, and 3 Withdraws - 2 in CHEM, and 1 in the same BIOL course. These occurred during my freshman year. Some constructive advice would be nice?

Refocus & Restructure

Thank you for your question!

I don't think all is lost at all and I think you very much have a chance to go to medical school.

What you really need to do is refocus and restructure.  


The focus comes from what you really want to do with your life.  If you really want to go go medical school, focus on why- if you can identify it as your most important goal, then you're fine.   Find a role model, a doc you can shadow, or volunteer somewhere in a medical setting.  I don't mean just a hospital ER (although that is fine), but somewhere with a specific population- Peace Corps, a diabetes camp for children, hospice, etc., someplace with a mission.  Immerse yourself in the work and if you find a passion for it and you feel like a career in medicine is the most important step- then go for it.  This will be your motivation for the next years of training so make sure it's meaningful.


Once there you'll need to really commit to school, because it does take good grades and a reasonable MCAT score to get in.  If finances and time are an issue, you need to reprioritize your schedule, take out the loans, and do school full time.  Consider it taking a loan from your future self to pay your current self to study.  No part-time jobs, just take loans and focus on school.  

Learn to Study

It sounds like you need to develop some study habits.  While pre-med is a lot of learning facts to take the MCAT, it's really about learning how to study because medical school is so much information in such a short amount of time that study skills are essential.  I would focus most effort on how to read, learn, and test.  And once you learn how to learn these science topics you can apply the learning skills to anything- foreign language development, how to use computer software, whatever- rapid learning acquisition is a skill that makes your whole life better!

Grades Aren't Everything

Grades are essential, but they are not everything.  You'll need to be an interesting person.  How do you be a more interesting person?  Lead a more interesting life!  Two of the most important aspects of getting into medical school are passions and service.   Passions are the things you care about and devote yourself to- skiing, photography, kickboxing, knitting- whatever.  They're the thing that keep you going.  Anyone who applies to medical school and says 'all I think about 100% of the day is medicine, practicing medicine, and getting into medical school' is scary.  And one-dimensional.  Everybody has to have hobbies and passions that move them forward as people.  If you have some develop them.  Medicine is a high-pressure career, and having a balanced lifestyle before you start is a good indicator you'll make it through the training and the job.  

Service is obvious.  You need to be volunteering and it needs to be meaningful for you.  It's going to take a little time and a little work to find something that resonates with you.  This doesn't necessarily have to be something medically related but it does have to be meaningful.  Take that as you read it.  And this volunteering can't take place 3 months before you apply to med school- it needs to be longitudinal.  

You'll also need to have shadowing experience with docs in the hospital, or in the clinic.  If you are applying to become an Osteopathic Physician (like myself), you need to shadow an Osteopathic Physician (D.O.)  Shadowing is really important because it'll let you know if this is what you really want to do.  When I first started out I thought I wanted to be a vet but I consistently had shadowing experiences that showed me I didn't want to at all and I'm glad I did and was able to refocus my career to something I adore.

Last Words Of Advice

Medicine is a totally awesome career.  It takes a lot of work to get here but there is nothing like it.

Anybody can get into medical school if they are passionate about helping others and work hard for the grades.  That is all it takes. However, finding the passion to put in the hard work is the challenging part, and what you really should focus most of your efforts on right now.

Don't let the fact that you are an older student discourage you.  You're actually very young.  There is never any rush towards a career you are truly meant for.  Let any urgency go away.  

If you find it's not for you, that's great!  It's just as important to know what you don't want to do as much as what you do want to do.   You don't want to work so hard for something and then arrive at your career and find you hate it.  This happens to many physicians, lawyers, nurses, engineers, and PhD's!  Work hard now to find out what you want to be doing by volunteering locally or abroad.  Work hard to find those experiences.

You'll need to explain your poor grades from your freshman year, but I assure you there are more than a few applicants to medical school with poor freshman grades.  Just explain it honestly in your med school application when you apply 'I had to find my passion', 'Partyyy!' or, 'I had to learn how to study'.  Explain any financial or time hardships you were facing.

Refocus and restructure.  It is your full-time job to do this and it's the top priority in your life besides your family and spiritual life.  I promise if you work hard to refocus this as your passion, and make it a full-time job of study and learning how to study/take exams that you will succeed.  Make sure you take breaks in there to have fun and enjoy life, and devote time to your passions and volunteering.  It's a worthwhile path if it's the right one for you.

Good luck to you and all of the others pursuing their passions.

Thanks for following!