How Can I Fight The Fear I’ve Destroyed My Chances?

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ADG 247: How Can I Fight The Fear I've Destroyed My Chances?

Session 247

The premed student is struggling with confidence after having a lower GPA in their first two years of undergrad. What can she do to plan the rest of her coursework and prepare for medical school?

Ask Dr. Gray: Premed Q&A is brought to you by Blueprint MCAT. Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.

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Question of the Day:

As a premed student transitioning from an engineering background, my initial academic performance in the first two years of my undergraduate studies was not ideal, resulting in a GPA of approximately 2.5. However, I have recently changed my major to chemistry and am seeking guidance on how to compensate for this setback. I am currently grappling with doubts and lack confidence in the possibility of achieving my goals. Any advice or recommendations would be greatly appreciated.”

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

Your question has nothing to do with course planning. Your question has everything to do with imposter syndrome, or fears that you’ve blown your chance.

It’s Never Too Late to Pivot Your Career Path

In the journey to academic success, it’s never too late to change course. The key is not giving up; when you’re struggling with grades, the solution may be as simple as taking more classes that align with your interests and passions to show medical schools your true potential.

It’s never too late. The only time it’s too late is when you give up.”

How a Misaligned Career Choice Can Affect Your Grades

Often, students struggle with their grades because they’re on a career path that doesn’t resonate with them. For instance, being in a major like engineering, which is career-defining, might lead to subpar performance if you’re not genuinely interested in it.

Shifting Majors and Discovering Your True Passion

The moment of realization that you’re on the wrong path can be transformative. Switching from a career you’re not passionate about, such as engineering, to one you truly want, like medicine, can drastically improve your academic performance.

When you’re passionate and motivated about your chosen field, it reflects in your grades. Medical schools appreciate this enthusiasm and dedication, seeing past early struggles to the committed student you’ve become.

How Recent Grades Reflect Your Commitment and Potential

While your overall GPA might not be exceptional, recent grades reflecting consistent improvement can speak volumes about your potential. Medical schools value this upward trend and understand that it represents your true abilities more accurately.

The Importance of Authenticity: Embracing Your Truth

The student mentions that she has ADHD which she wasn’t aware of earlier. She believes her ADHD may have contributed to struggling in her first two years as a mechanical engineering major. She realized after an internship that she did not actually care about machines and preferred working with people instead. That said, recognizing her ADHD has helped her find better coping mechanisms.

The narrative we spin about ourselves significantly shapes our life experiences. However, it’s crucial to align this narrative with our truth. If you’re pursuing a path that doesn’t resonate with you, struggle is inevitable. But remember, it’s your journey – you have the power to redefine it.

The Common Struggle: Misalignment with Career Paths

Time and again, I’ve seen students grapple with their academic performance, not because they lack capability, but because they’re not where they want to be. They’re stuck in majors or careers that don’t spark joy or interest, leading to a lack of motivation and subsequent struggles.

This student said it herself – “I don’t care about machines, I care about people.” This realization is the first step towards aligning passion with profession. When you care deeply about what you do, success naturally follows.

Making a career shift might seem daunting, but it’s often the best decision for individuals who find themselves unfulfilled. By pivoting towards a career that allows you to work with people, as per your passion, you can improve not only your academic performance but also your overall satisfaction and happiness.

When you’re passionate about your work, it shows in your performance. By aligning your interests with your career, you can overcome academic struggles and thrive in a field that truly resonates with you. Ultimately, the right choices lead to better outcomes, both academically and professionally.

“We are allowed as human beings to change our mind… Equating changing your mind to giving up is not the same thing.”

Her Three Goals as a Premed

The first goal is to become a well-rounded individual who prioritizes personal care and wellness, as well as the well-being of those who are important to them. This includes maintaining physical health, emotional stability, and fostering strong relationships.

The second goal is to excel academically. This student aims to achieve high grades, understanding that this is a crucial step towards their future career aspirations. Balancing academic commitments with personal well-being is essential to ensure neither is compromised.

The third goal is to gain practical experience in the medical field and confirm their passion for becoming a physician. This involves obtaining clinical experience, even if it’s just a few hours per week, and shadowing physicians to understand the day-to-day realities of the profession. The student understands the need to validate their interest in taking care of sick people and their readiness to commit to the demanding role of a physician.

What Consistency Means

This student is also concerned about being consistent with her experiences. Consistency in clinical experience and shadowing does not necessarily mean doing the same activity the whole time. Consistency means being exposed to patients in any way possible, regularly over an extended period. 

So if the student needs to stop one activity like scribing because they dislike it, they can switch to something else like becoming an EMT instead, to maintain consistency in gaining clinical experience. The goal is continual exposure to medicine, not sticking with the same role or activity if they become unhappy with it.

“Consistency doesn’t mean the same thing the whole time. It means that you’re exposing yourself to patients in any way possible, consistently over time.”

Taking the MCAT

The student mentions they plan to wait to take the MCAT until after taking more coursework, as they don’t want to take it now and risk a bad score that would be submitted to medical schools. They understand not to wait until the last minute either.

I recommend starting MCAT prep around January-April of the year prior to when you plan to start medical school. Check out Blueprint MCAT‘s free online study planner tool to help plan their MCAT study schedule.

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome Through Reframing and Self-Compassion

The student has a tendency to frame everything in terms of “giving up”, likely due to pressure from family/friends and internalized expectations. If you’re also like her, stop giving yourself such a hard time and being so self-critical.

Switching majors or activities is about constant course correction, not giving up. At the end of the day, you have to give yourself grace, stop being so hard on yourself, and reframe your mindset from one of “giving up” to one of ongoing “pivoting” or adjusting as needed for your goals and well-being.



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