Premeds don’t acquire information the same way they did 10-20 years ago. Just think about it, how many times have you actually gotten up and gone to the library to get information about medical school? With the advent of YouTube, Facebook, and various other social media platforms, the ability to obtain information is easier now than ever. That’s a wonderful thing…well, it’s wonderful assuming you know how to vet the information. In this day and age, how can the 21st century premedical student know what’s reliable on the internet? The truth is, you may never know if everything you read is solid, but there are some things you can do to make sure you’re on the right track.
1) Know the basics! As a premedical student, there are certain basic things that you must know. For example, what is the average grade point average of a medical school applicant? What is the average gpa of a medical school matriculant? What are the prerequisite courses necessary to apply to medical school? Do these courses vary from school to school? These are some fundamental bits of knowledge that all premedical students should research on their own, directly from the sources that produce the primary data. For allopathic medical schools, you need to find this information at the AAMC website. For osteopathic, this information will be on AACOM’s website.
2) Know the credentials of the people providing the information. All of your information does not need to come directly from a doctor, admission committee member, or premed advisor, but you should have an idea of who the people communicating with you are. Knowing the credentials of these individuals allows you to ask the right questions to the right people. For example, there’s only one group of people you’d want to ask the question, “What is it really like to be a doctor?” Yes, you can ask anyone and they can tell you what they’ve heard or read, but only doctors can give you an answer based on actual experience.
3) Confirm with a trusted source. Every premedical student needs to have at least one mentor who is a trusted resource. This person should have a proven track record of navigating the premedical journey (either as an advisor, medical student, or doctor). Anytime you come across something you are not certain about, ask your trusted source. There’s too much on the line for you to accept bad advice!
In this day and age of the internet, there is a lot of inaccurate information circulating in the premed world. You can’t avoid it, but you can be wise and protect yourself from bad advice. Remember, it’s your responsibility to fact check everything. Not using online forums to acquire information would probably be a very bad choice in the 21st century. Take advantage of your access to information, but be sure to do so wisely!
Disclaimer: This post was originally written for PreMed StAR by Dr. Dale