This week, we are doing something a little different. Based on some recent events, I decided to talk about plan Bs and when you should quit the premed journey.
Questions answered here on the podcast are taken directly from the Nontrad Premed Forum over at premedforums.com. Please go ahead and register for an account, ask your question, and have fun with the community.
Also, please be sure to check out all our other podcasts on Meded Media as we try to bring you as many resources as you need on this journey.
Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.
[00:48] The MCAT Minute
The MCAT Minute is brought to you by Blueprint MCAT.
Are you struggling to figure out your timeline of when you’re going to fit in all of your classes and take the MCAT? Maybe you’re deciding on whether to skip physics or any class and just self-teach yourself that information. Well, just be very careful with that plan.
It’s possible to teach yourself content, especially content for the MCAT. That being said, MCAT knowledge is a mile wide and an inch deep. So it’s just a lot of stuff that you’ll have to learn. Depending on your schedule, it’s possible to self-teach.
We’ve done several episodes on The MCAT Podcast all about the hidden prereqs for the MCAT, what prereqs you can miss for the MCAT, and many more. And don’t forget Blueprint MCAT for all of your MCAT prep needs. Get access to full-length exams, or an online course with live online instruction for that accountability by signing up for a free account.
[02:08] Is It Time to Quit?
This podcast is all about answering your questions from the Nontrad Premed Forum. But today, I want to go on a little bit of a rant based on some things that have happened on Instagram lately. With some of my what is supposed to be “motivational” content that people have, now all of a sudden, they’re saying it’s toxic and lots of other things.
And so, how do you know when it’s time to quit?
Now, this is perfect for nontraditional students, because you potentially are already in a situation where the odds are stacked against you.
For a traditional student, you may have struggled in undergrad or lacked activities for one reason or another. Maybe you applied once or twice and you haven’t gotten in. And so, when do you know when to quit?'I have said all along that you shouldn't have a plan B.'Click To Tweet
[03:45] The People Who Get Into Medical School and Those Who Don’t
From a human psychology standpoint, if you are thinking you really want to be a doctor but it’s okay if you don’t get in because then you can just do xyz, that’s okay. There are nontraditional students who struggled in undergrad for one reason or another. So they had to do a postbac or an SMP to prove they are academically capable to get into medical school and they got in.“Getting into medical school is hard. And each individual out there has their own struggles and sacrifices.“Click To Tweet
There are career changers out there who have finally figured out what they want to do with their life – and that’s to be a physician. And so, they are now going back to school to get their prereqs, take the MCAT, get their extracurricular activities. And it’s all to prove to themselves that this is what they want – which is applying to medical school.
There are the nontraditional career changers, who have lived with regret for the last 10 years, 15 years, 20 years of their lives. They know they wanted to go to medical school originally, and they were told they couldn’t do it. They doubted themselves because they didn’t think they could do it, or for whatever reason. Or maybe life just got in the way. They had families and responsibilities to take care of. And so, they sacrificed medical school for those other things.
And now that life has allowed them to do what they want to do, they’re now back to being a premed student on their path to medical school. But then there’s just something missing in your application, then you need to figure it out and ask for all the help you need to get into medical school.
People who get into medical school have proven to themselves and to the schools that this is what they want. Maybe they’ve known they want to be a doctor but they didn’t get in the first time or the second time. Then they did some self-reflection to figure out why they didn’t get it. They know they’re smart enough, the grades show it, and they’re good enough on the MCAT. They’ve also put in the work to get their extracurriculars.
On the other hand, there are also people that will never get into medical school. It’s unrealistic to say that a 1.0 student who gets a higher than the minimum score on the MCAT, and who has never stepped foot in a hospital or clinical environment will get into medical school. That person will never get into medical school.
[07:46] Should You Have a Plan B?
If this is what you want, and you are capable of proving academic capability, you don’t have to have a 4.0. to get into medical school. If you are somewhat capable of having a good MCAT score, you don’t need a 520 to get into medical school. If you are capable of spending time in a clinical environment to prove to yourself that you want to be a physician, then you can probably get into medical school.
If you watch any of my Application Renovation videos, there are amazing students out there being rejected every single day. Why is that? Well, that’s because they didn’t know what the heck they were doing. Watch these videos and listen to my podcasts. You don’t have to spend a dime to get these resources. They’re all free for you to make use of and take advantage of, so please do!“When you are on this journey, and you understand ‘Yes, I am capable of being a physician. Yes, I want to be a physician, then NO, you should not have a plan B.”Click To Tweet
Having a Plan B means you’ll settle with being a nurse or a PA. I’m not demeaning those other careers. We need all healthcare professionals. But what I mean is that if you want to be a physician, then be a physician. Don’t settle or you may regret it later on because regret is something I don’t want you to live with.
I get emails from students all the time, who have lived with regret and are finally back on their journey and happy. There are people out there who write today that they want to be a physician But their life circumstances don’t allow them to chase that dream.
That’s not having a plan B, that’s just knowing they can’t do it right now. When you figure out that this is what you want, go for it with all of your effort.
[11:06] You Need to Put Some Effort In
Medicine is hard. There are lots of barriers that I don’t agree with in the path to medical school and residency and beyond. And it’s hard for everyone. It should be hard for everyone. Financial barriers aren’t hard. Those are just ridiculous, in fact. The cost of applying to medical school is ridiculous. Hopefully, with Mappd, it’s going to change the premed landscape and change the future.
There are things I completely disagree with in this process and some struggles and obstacles and barriers that shouldn’t be there. What should be there is that it should be hard, which means more effort from you. You need to work for this.'Students should be putting in effort to get clinical experiences to prove to themselves that they want to be physicians.'Click To Tweet
You should not get into medical school just because you have good stats. You need to prove to yourself that you want to be a physician. That means spending time with patients and taking care of patients. You have to enjoy that.
You have to make sure you understand and enjoy the role of a physician. Where most of your time isn’t spent with patients. It’s arguing with insurance companies. It’s putting data entry into electronic medical records. It’s interacting with your colleagues and having really intellectual conversations. It’s great, but it’s not patient care.
[14:03] When Should You Give Up?
When should you give up? I don’t know. Not getting into medical school the first time is not a reason for you to give up. There are people who apply again and again and they don’t get in and get depressed. Now, we can’t control that. So you need to know your own limitations. Whether it’s financial, time-related, or mental health or physical health for that matter, you need to know your own limitations.
Ultimately, if this is what you want, then you should go for it. Obviously, you need to dig into your GPA, your MCAT, and the root problem of you not getting in. But you need to figure that out for yourself.
It all means that you need to reflect on your journey and understand what your limitations are.
Either fix those limitations by sacrificing in one way or another, or delaying this journey so you can work on whatever those limitations are. Or pivot and give up the dream of being a physician, and go do something else. And that’s okay.
[16:10] Letting Go Instead of Giving Up
Giving up has a negative connotation to it, and so it could mean just letting go. Maybe you understand that you really want to be a physician. But because of your anxiety and mental health, you know you’re just not going to be happy because of the work, the stress, the time commitment, the responsibility, whatever it may be.
Or maybe you’re struggling from an academic standpoint, and you’ve put in all the work and gotten all the help possible but you just can’t get good grades. Then you should probably just move on.
Now, the MCAT is its own test all by itself. The MCAT is the hardest test on this journey. And if you are going through this journey, and you have great grades, and you are terrible at the MCAT, there are still options for you. The Caribbean is a very good option for you because you’ve proven you can do well in classes, you just can’t do well on the MCAT.'If you are not willing to sacrifice on this journey, then this journey is probably not for you.'Click To Tweet
I’ve seen students from every walk of life, from every individual situation, who do what they need to do to get into medical school. And if they can do it, you can too! It just needs to start with you believing that you can do it.
Maybe you just need to be thinking outside the box a little bit to figure out how to do it. Or understand that it’s not going to happen now or next year, but maybe two years or three years down the line. But if this is what you want, don’t give up on that dream until you realize that either you can’t do it or you don’t want it anymore.