Ask Dr. Gray: Premed Q&A: Is it Bad to Take Prereqs in the Summer?

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Ask Dr. Gray: Premed Q&A: Is it Bad to Take Prereqs in the Summer?

Session 84

Time is a precious commodity when you’re a nontraditional student like today’s caller. How should you spend your time as a nontraditional premed?

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[00:50] Question From Mohammad

“I am a nontraditional premed. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree In mass media, so I don’t have many sciences at all. So I’m going into the first year of premed currently hoping to do it in two years and apply to medical school, hopefully, in the cycle of 2021. 

Currently, I am a full-time TV producer. I can stay working full time while being a full-time student. I plan to be a full-time student obviously. That’s the priority. 

However, it would be a little bit of a stressful situation having to obviously work full time and go to school full time. I can actually allocate the time to study and things like that, but I’m just worried about the accumulated stress and burning out. 

Then on the other side of things, I’m looking to maybe work part-time, which would give me a lot of time for extracurriculars. Obviously, volunteering, maybe even trying to have that part-time job within the medical field and be a scribe or something like that. 

But I don’t know if the financial stress will take a toll on me in terms of not being able to take enough classes or not being able to keep up with my expenses.”

[03:02] Concern on Expenses

The biggest question is what do those expenses look like? Are you driving a car that has a lease? If so, can you get rid of it by a junker and drive around in a junker that you don’t have to make monthly payments on?

Can you get out of your lease for your apartment or rent for your house and go move back in with your parents? Or get 10 roommates to significantly reduce the cost of your living expenses.

If you are in your job now and you can’t leave your job or you can’t feasibly go down to part-time because of your lifestyle, then you need to adjust your lifestyle. That’s assuming that becoming a physician is what you want and you’re willing to sacrifice to do it.

'That's the biggest question – how much flexibility do you have?'Click To Tweet

[04:35] Tele-Scribing as Clinical Experience

It’s a good experience to learn the language and to see what’s going on but I don’t really see virtual scribing as valid clinical experience.

[06:02] Consistency is Key

The majority of schools out there just care that you do well in your classes. And if you take the summer off from classes and cram all of your extracurriculars into the summer to make room for your scholastic stuff during fall and spring, that may not necessarily look good on application either. Because it’s like you have this patchwork extracurriculars, and you’re not focusing on those the rest of the time.

So I’m a huge advocate of consistency, whether it’s consistency over time with extracurriculars. And that compound effect really helps with the extracurriculars.

“Too many students think that shadowing means having to do 20 hours a week. But shadowing means you do five hours a month over the course of two years, and that's a lot of hours.'Click To Tweet

[08:32] What to Consider When Taking Summer Classes

Another potential thing to think about with summer classes, obviously, is that it’s such a condensed amount of time. A lot of students struggle with the increased amount of testing and the increased amount of knowledge that you have to learn in a shorter amount of time. 

So if you feel like you’re going to be a student who’s going to struggle in that type of environment, then stay away from summer classes.

But outside of that, don’t stay away from summer classes just because that’s when you should be doing all extracurriculars. 

“Don't stay away from summer classes just because you think that medical schools aren't going to like summer classes more than any other class.”Click To Tweet

[09:11] Research Experience

“Research doesn't have to be about medicine specifically.”Click To Tweet

Psychology is a big part of medicine and if you know you’ll enjoy it, then go for it. Consequently, just be prepared in case they ask you why not be a psychologist if you’re doing all this research on psychology. But if that’s an easy answer for you, then move forward with it.


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