The Joy Behind Pre-Med
Whether it's because of the desire to reduce human suffering one life at a time or merely finding a career that provides economic assurance, every pre-med student has his or her own unique reasons as to why they want to pursue medicine. Some pre-med students share an obsession with the marvels of the human body. Some have a deep intrinsic desire to help others in their darkest moments. Some find medicine as a way to better their own lives both personally and financially.
Whatever your reasons, medicine is a field of privilege and altruism. Other's are depending on physicians to be there for their health and well-being. In dire cases, a patient's life could be in hands of his or her physician. The patient maybe a 5-year old pediatric patient in need of a bone marrow transplant. The patient could be someone's mother who is experiencing an aggressive form of lung cancer. Or perhaps a younger sibling who was caught in a severe automobile accident. And in happier cases, physicians are often first to hold a mother's newborn child; the first to hear about a patient's internal struggles and qualms; the first to have a say in how a patient should manage their health and well-being. Physicians are not only the healers, but also the counselors, the advice givers, and sources of second sober thoughts. The role of being physician is an awe-inspiring responsibility that comes with both unimaginable fulfillment and tragic heartbreak. You could easily save one life while easily losing another in an instant.
That is why the road to becoming a physician is anything but for the faint of heart. 4 years of undergraduate studies. 4 years of medical school. 3+ years of additional residency training and fellowship experience. Shockingly enough, those are only the bare minimum steps. Specialties like cardiothoracic surgery or radiation oncology can easily take up 15 years of an aspiring doctor's life. Hence, why doctors earn relatively lucrative paycheck and have stable jobs for the rest of their lives. Sadly, not everyone is qualified in terms becoming a physician despite how altruistic intentions maybe. Socially speaking, no one would ever want to encounter an incompetent or insensitive physician. Even more so, no one would ever feel comfortable with their heath and well-being if physicians hadn't went through extensive training and education.
This is where reality comes in. And for every aspiring doctor and pre-med, you are expected by patients to be perfect and infallible. No one cares about a doctor's altruism if he or she appears incompetent. No one cares about a doctor's passions to reduce human suffering if he or she does not meet required and expected technical standards. Such reasons are why medicine is such a demanding and competitive profession. Everyone wants to do it. The wealth. The prestige. The guaranteed economic stability- people are inevitably going to get sick after all. And because everyone wants to become a physician, it means brutal competition that requires every pre-med student to be better than all of their competitors. From a medical school's perspective, your hopes, your aspirations, and your dreams mean nothing. You as a pre-med student are merely a number. True, medical schools "supposedly" look at applicants holistically. But that's if you can meet the bare minimum qualifiers, including GPA standards and MCAT scores. Let's be brutally honest, would a person with 3.0 GPA and a 70% percentile really survive medical school and have what it intellectually takes to become a physician? Which aspiring doctor would you have care for your well-being, a medical school applicant with a B-average GPA and mediocre MCAT score or another applicant with a 3.9 GPA with an outstanding MCAT score? People do not care how hard you work. People do not care what you endured throughout your education. It's a sad reality but that's what you're up against. Once you get past the minimum qualifiers, there's the worry of interviews and having to impress medical school faculty members who are actively trying break you. Once you get into medical school, you're still going to be suffering trying to survive and pass. You have to keep fighting for the specialties and residency programs that you desire. More competition with your peers who are likely smarter and harder working than you ever could be. More exams and standardized evaluations like the Step 1 to keep you up at night. More professors to impress in efforts to write the recommendation letters you desperately need in order to move onto the next step of your medical journey. But those situations will only concern you if you ever can get into medical school. Most likely, you won't.
The undergraduate process of getting into medical school is, in short, brutal. Things only get worse after freshman year. Courses progressively more difficult as you progress throughout pre-med. MCAT's come to haunt. People will do anything to make sure that you fail. People will cheat. People will lie. People will fight dirty. Organic chemistry and physics struggles are the least of a pre- med's worries. The constant volunteering expectations; the needlessly incessant emphasis on undergraduate research; the unspoken requirement of having to gain clinical experience are things that should also concern you. Probably winning a gold medal in the Olympics or potentially winning a Nobel Peace Prize may boost your likely hood of getting into medical school.
Who wouldn't want to make at least $200,000 a year and be part of society's most valued members? Who wouldn't want to have the privelege of being able to better the lives of others? Who wouldn't want to wake up to a job that is rewarding and always in demand? Medicine offers such promises, if you can survive the heartache of the education process, the despairs of residency and fellowships, and the crippling six-figure debt that will be accumulated.