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Premedical Advisors: What You Need to Know

Premedical advisors can have an important influence on your path to medical school. Colleges and universities have various kinds of advisors. At some universities, each freshman is paired with an advisor who will (hopefully) help them plan out their college curriculum and make important decisions along the way.

Other schools allow students to select their advisors in a particular department once they have decided on a major. Some schools also have specific advisors for premed students, known as pre-health advisors or premedical advisors. The most important thing to remember is that an advisor is someone who can help you but is not responsible for getting you into a professional school.

You Are Your Biggest Advocate

If you want to go to medical school, law school, graduate school or business school, you need to be your biggest advocate. Your premed advisor may be assigned to a couple dozen students who all want to go to medical school. As such, you need to do your best to succeed in your classes, score well on the MCAT and obtain good letters of recommendation. Your college advisor can be a major supporter for you, but remember to rely on yourself first.

If you want to go to medical school, law school, graduate school or business school, you need to be your own biggest advocate. Click To Tweet

Premedical Advisors: Not All Created Equal

The honest truth is also that some advisors are not very good. Their resources may be minimal, and in fact, they may have less information than what you can get on your own with websites like this one and my Premed Playbook series of books.

Take my wife Allison as an example: She went to McGill University and majored in Physiology, and she was assigned to a professor in the physiology department as her advisor in the fall of her freshman year. Being the eager student that she was, she scheduled an appointment with her new advisor early on in her freshman year, and she expressed her desire to go to medical school. What she could not have anticipated was her advisor’s utter lack of regard for her personal goals and dreams. Upon hearing that she wanted to go to medical school, the advisor basically told her that the most important thing that she could do was to come up with a back-up plan.

When my wife told her advisor that she wanted to go to medical school, the advisor told her that the most important thing she could do was to come up with a back-up plan.Click To Tweet

My wife’s advisor knew nothing of her academic success, her test scores, her extracurricular activities, or her reasons for wanting to go to medical school. All the advisor cared to talk about was having a back-up plan. This advisor was probably trying to help—it is exceedingly difficult to get into medical school in Canada because of the small number of schools and provincial influence—but this advisor didn’t even take the time to find out that my wife was from the USA and planning to apply to medical schools in the USA!

Another example is when I myself sought out a premed advisor, I was told that because I’m a white male, I shouldn’t even bother trying to apply to medical school. That was the first and last time that I met with that advisor!

When I sought out a premed advisor, I was told that because I am a white male, I shouldn't even bother trying to apply to medical school.Click To Tweet

[Related episode: Is the Role of Your Premed Advisor to Tell You No?]

Some schools have better advisors than others…

I remember talking to some of my friends at other colleges in the USA and being very jealous of the resources at their schools for students applying to medical school. They had regular feedback and help from their premed advisors, and they were given clear guidance on undergraduate course selection, studying tips for the MCAT, and interview resources once they started preparing for their interviews.

I remember talking to some of my friends at other colleges and being very jealous of the resources at their schools for premed students.Click To Tweet

Those students also had committees in their dean’s offices who put together a package for them with their secondary applications, letters of recommendation, and dean’s letters and sent these packages off to each medical school. I had to send each of these individual applications and spent lots of time with tracking slips making sure everything arrived okay—quite the headache!

Unhappy with Your Premedical Advisor? Here Are 4 Tips

In the end, my advice is the same for students at small liberal arts colleges and large universities alike:

1. Try to find a pre-health advisor you like and trust.

Try to switch advisors if you don’t like who you’re paired up with. Don’t feel bad about FIRING your current pre-health advisor if you just don’t mesh. Remember, your advisor is not there to be your friend. He or she is there to provide guidance, so if you are not working well with this person, find someone else.

2. Not happy with your school’s pre-health advisors? Find an advisor online.

Here at Medical School HQ we offer general premed advising as well as several other advising services like mock interview prep, application cycle coaching, and a personal statement course. See all our offerings here.

3. Use your premed advisor for all they’re worth.

Once you’ve found a good premed advisor, whether online or in person, mine them for advice, use their resources, and check-in with them about whether you’re doing all that you should be. And above all else…

4. Rely on YOURSELF.

If you want to go to medical school, YOU make it happen. Advisors are resources, but YOU are the applicant.

Rely on yourself. If you want to go to medical school, YOU make it happen. Advisors are resources, but YOU are the applicant.Click To Tweet

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