Over the years I have been asked this question many times. What’s the secret? How do I get into medical school? What’s the secret??? Well, as a member of the good old boys club, I have been selective with who I choose to share this secret with. So, for the first time ever, on DiverseMedicine.org, I will share this secret with everyone. In order optimize your chance of getting into medical school, you must work hard!!! That’s it! It is really that simple!
Something that people do not know about doctors is that not all of us are that smart. But on the other hand, all of us have some level of work ethic above the average individual. Using myself as an example, I do not think I am really all that intelligent. What I do have is common sense. Throughout college, I had enough common sense to know that if I spent more nights studying than partying, I would score higher on tests that my classmates who didn’t understand that simple principle. As a freshman, I memorized my notes from class verbatim and went over them numerous times so that on the day of the test, it was a cake walk. In other words, I worked hard!
So perhaps working hard is easier said than done. Staying motivated and focused is a challenge. Here are 5 tips to ensure that you do!
1) Make friends who have similar goals. This is crucial to your success. If both you and your best friend want to go to medical school, you will push one another to remain focused. During my college years, a lot of my close friends were premeds as well. We would compete to see who could score the highest on test (seems nerdy in retrospect but paid off). When feeling too tired to sit down and study, all it took was a glance at a buddy studying to get me up.
2) Post motivational reminders in your room. At the start of every year, I would decorate a push pin board and write all sorts of motivational quotes on it. That board was right next to my bed and each day the quotes screamed success at me. I had “failure is not an option”, “4.0”, and “don’t let them down” on that board. These among other things kept me focused.
3) Find good mentors. I cannot emphasize the importance of this. You absolutely MUST have someone guiding you who knows what he or she is talking about. Don’t trust just any old Jim Bob on the street to tell you how to get into medical school. Find someone who has either done it, or is on the way there! And keep in mind, that’s why DiverseMedicine.org exist, to provide you with mentors!
4) Set Goals! It’s rather difficult to work to accomplish something if you don’t have goals in place. Getting into medical school is a process, not just a single step. Set goals along the way! EVERY student should start off each semester with a GPA goal! Why not aim for a 4.0? If you miss maybe you’ll get a 3.7! Set the goal and take it seriously! Keep your eye on the prize! Set study goals (e.g. I will learn topics x,y, and z tonight), set summer goals (e.g. I will apply for these summer programs). Just set goals!!!
5) Believe in something more important than Medicine itself! In other words, rely on God! There will be plenty of times that things don’t go your way. You will fail a test, not have enough money to pay semester dues, and lose loved ones. Life happens and you cannot change that fact! So, those nights when you are stressed, crying, hungry, etc; those nights when you wonder why you are chasing this dream of becoming a medical doctor; those nights when you tell yourself that you’d rather die than not be a doctor; remember that “after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you!” (1 Peter 5:10). Also remember, one day, after you’ve achieved your goal of becoming a physician, life will continue. Then what will you look forward to? Medicine is great, but it isn’t the end all be all!
These are the things that will allow you to persist and work hard to get into medical school! Stick to them and hopefully we’ll be welcoming you into the field in only a few short years!