This premed mom is doubting if she should be pursuing her goal of becoming a doctor. Should she pursue her goal or should she just let it go?
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[00:52] The MCAT Minute
The MCAT Minute is brought to you by Blueprint MCAT.
Something common that has been coming up more and more, especially with the MSAR updating recently for new stats from 2021. And it looks like MCAT scores are going up from the medical school side of things. The immediate conclusion to jump to is that it’s getting harder to get into medical school because medical schools care about higher stats. But you cannot jump to that conclusion.
The MCAT, on average, is getting higher scores. All test takers, on average, are getting higher scores. The average now for the MCAT when this new 2015 MCAT started went from an average of 500 to now, 501.5. It has gone up one and a half points on average. But the increase of accepted students in medical school has gone up less than 1.5 over the same years.'It's not that medical schools are getting pickier and only choosing students who have higher stats. It's that students are doing better and the schools have higher stats to choose from.'Click To Tweet
The reason students are improving is that they’ve probably got better tools in place now than what has been available in the past. Blueprint MCAT, for example, offers free study planner tools as well as their amazing new flashcard platform. They also have access to the different full-length practice exams. All of that gives students a better chance at rocking the MCAT because they’re able to come more prepared.'Don't jump to an immediate conclusion that the world is ending and medical schools only care about higher stats.'Click To Tweet
[03:51] OldPreMeds Question of the Week
“About 10 years ago, I decided I wanted to be a doctor, specifically an ob-gyn or a pediatrician. I was a new mom and I thought the whole thing was so fascinating.
For a lot of reasons (namely the time involved and how soon I’d be able to support my family if necessary), I decided to become a nurse with the goal of eventually becoming a nurse-midwife.
How COVID Has Impacted a Lot of Healthcare Professionals
Well fast-forward to 2020, I’m in a nurse-midwifery program, working as a nurse, and then a pandemic hits.
I have to take care of COVID patients and it does what it did to a lot of us – breaks my spirit and completely decimates my desire for direct patient care.
During all this time, I never stopped wishing I was a doctor instead. But as I’m very practical, I knew that it was financially a better choice due to the speed with which I’d be able to make money. Except now it isn’t.
My kids are a bit older – 11 and 13 – and I hate being a nurse. I’ve changed my program from midwifery to public health. And I have so much debt from nursing school that I may as well have gone to medical school.
The Dream to Pursue Medicine
None of my interactions with med students, residents, or attendings over the years have dissuaded me from wanting to be a physician. Although the type of physician I want to be has changed a bit.
The thought of starting over, though, is … well, daunting is an understatement. I can’t imagine the amount of debt I would be in and then what if I didn’t match? Not to mention, my husband is nice and supportive. But we are likely going to be divorced for reasons unrelated to my career path.
To Pursue or Not to Pursue – That’s the Question!
I know nobody can make my decision for me. But I do wish someone would once and for all tell me that it’s a stupid idea and I should stop wishing for it and figure out some less ridiculous career option. OR that people would tell me in so many ways that it’s difficult but absolutely doable.
I’m in limbo and I can’t do what I’m doing anymore. I hate being a nurse. I love public health, but being an MD or DO who does public health seems like the best possible option. I can’t do what I’m doing, though. I have to make a change. And I’m hoping someone here could give me at least a little insight.”
[05:57] Leave the Logic Behind
This student obviously, is going through a lot of relationship stuff, as well as being a nurse and being burnt out from that career path. This obviously decimated a lot of healthcare, in general, going through the pandemic.
But there are a lot of things in what was said here that are telling this person has to bite the bullet and go to medical school. They just have to leave some of the logic behind.
[06:41] Do We Have a Shortage of Physicians?'The fears around not matching are blown way out of proportion.'Click To Tweet
We have a lot of people going into subspecialties when we need more primary care doctors. But they go into subspecialties because of the debt. And so there’s a lot of backward stuff with our healthcare system. Obviously, we have an aging population and we need to be able to take care of them.
And so, when you see numbers about the need for more residency spots or more medical schools, 10,000 students didn’t match. Just take a step back, slow down a little bit.
In the U.S., less than 2,000 or a little bit more rather than 2,000 U.S. students did not match in MD and DO. A lot of those students were able to soap into at least a one-year program, meaning they had somewhere to go after medical school for at least one year.
Ultimately, residency interviews are very different than medical school interviews. Because you are going to be working in that hospital 60 To 80 to 100 hours a week with your co-residents and the attendings. And they definitely want to make sure that you are someone that they can see themselves hanging out with for a long time.
[11:58] Reasons Students Are Not Matching
And so, do we need more physicians? Potentially? Do we have a crisis that we need 100,000 more residency spots? Absolutely not. Are students not matching? Yes. Are well-qualified students with no issues in their records not matching? Yes.
Now the next question is, who are they? They’re probably students who are applying for the best residency programs where there are limitations and those training spots are limited.
Ultimately, there is a chance that you won’t match. It’s possible, but not probable. So I would put that one to the side.
If you work hard, if you’re great at what you do, you’re a good person, and you’ve been a nurse, then you probably will not have any issues matching.
[13:41] The Issue of Debt
Uncle Sam loves to defer your debt as long as possible racking up interest. And so, that can get scary. That is just a financial decision that you have to make. Are you okay with having financial debt for a long time?
Now with Public Service Loan Forgiveness, maybe there’s some potential for freedom after your 10 years of public service.
Look into different options, talk to as many people as possible, and see what opportunities are out there.
Maybe there’s something like the National Health Service Corps that you can look into to help pay for medical school. The VA now has a VA HPSP program, the Health Professions Scholarship Program, to pay for medical school and you go work at the VA.'There are options out there that may help with the debt, but the debt will likely be there. And you'll just have to be okay with it.'Click To Tweet
[15:42] Final Thoughts
In so many ways, getting into medical school is difficult, but it is absolutely doable. And if this is what you want, keep pushing forward. Talk to as many people as possible.