What Your Premed Wishes You Knew

If you’re reading this, you might be the parent, spouse, or friend of a premed student who is hoping that we can help you understand everything they’re going through. This process can be complicated to understand even for students in the middle of it, but hopefully, we can make things more transparent for premed students and their loved ones.

Below are a few of the things premeds in our Instagram community want their friends and family to know about the life of a premed.

1. How Long the Premed Process Can Be

Because every student’s journey is different, the number of years between deciding to become a physician and applying to medical school can vary widely. Typical ranges are 2-5 years, but the journey can be much longer for career changers or other non-traditional students. You can learn more about the expected premed timeline here.

2. How Long the Application Cycle Is

Once your premed student has completed all of their prerequisite coursework, accumulated hours in various experiences, and taken the MCAT, it’s time to apply to medical school! The application cycle lasts roughly a year, but a well-prepared student will begin working on their application materials months before the cycle properly kicks off.

As long as it may feel to you, this waiting game and months of preparation feel much longer for them. We’ve laid out the ideal application timeline and some of the steps needed to prepare.

3. Medical School Admissions are Highly Competitive

In the 2021-2022 application year, only 36% percent of medical school applicants matriculated into medical school. Keep in mind that many students are applying to anywhere between 15-30 schools, with some being lower and some being higher. Each school receives thousands of applications, and the acceptance rate for each school is much lower.

Now, don’t let this freak you or your student out. Instead, use it as motivation to take this process very seriously and to celebrate every win along the way! Many students every year end the application cycle with no interviews or acceptances, so celebrate every accomplishment and everything your premed has done to get to this point.

4. Premeds Really Do Study All the Time

Many premeds have been high-achieving students for much of their life and could excel with little to no studying outside of class. This has almost certainly changed between the transition to college and the rigor of medical school prerequisite courses, this has almost certainly changed. Many premeds find themselves drowning in the sheer amount of material covered in many of these classes. So cut them some slack when they say for the 3rd time that they can’t come to a family function because they’re studying.

If your premed is learning to study for the first time, we’ve compiled some of the best study skills and resources to help them succeed.

5. Premeds are Spinning 5 Plates at a Time

Premeds have a lot on their plates between trying to excel in all of their classes, gaining clinical experience, shadowing physicians, and getting involved on campus and in their communities. Some students might also be working on top of this. You don’t need to be an expert on everything your student is doing, but it’s helpful to have a sense of everything involved in getting into medical school.

6. DOs are Physicians, Too

DO stands for doctor of osteopathic medicine, and you may have never heard of one before. Many students first learn about them when researching which medical schools to apply to. The key points to know is that in the US, DOs are equal in education and qualification to MDs, but if you want to learn more, check out our post on MDs vs DOs.

7. It’s Normal and Okay to Take a Gap Year

Taking a year or more between undergrad and medical school is becoming more and more common. Some students use this time to work or gain clinical experience, some use it to complete postbac coursework, and others use it to travel. I recommend students stay plugged into the premed world and continue gaining shadowing and/or clinical experience, but each student will have a unique plan for their gap year(s).

How Can You Learn More About the Premed World?

Listen to The Premed Years where we cover a variety of topics like how-to episodes, Q&A, and success stories from current medical students.

Read The Premed Playbook Guide to the Medical School Application Process.