Updated: Jan 12, 2020
This is NOT a post about GPA and MCAT scores. It's about time that we admit that getting into medical school is more than just about those two factors. I previously posted about chemistry being at least one reason that pre-meds weed themselves out of being pre-med. Today, my question is, "What makes pre-meds successful?"
At some point, most pre-meds will face a challenge, usually an academic challenge. That's a given! But, only a few will overcome this challenge. Why? Given all the other distractions in the world, all the other things that we could do, why do we choose to go through the pain of a process that does not come easily?
Take me as an example. I delayed graduating from college so that I graduated in five years instead of four. I took the MCAT and bombed! Then, I became a post-bac student for almost four more years, all while, literally, working four jobs! I retook the MCAT and scored well. Putting this into perspective, it took me NINE years to get into medical school!
Sure, I'm a doctor today, but why did I do this to myself? I have other talents. I survived teaching high school science for one of those post-bac years. So, what was it about me that made this prolonged journey justifiable and eventually successful? What is it about the pre-meds that I speak to every week that will make some of their journeys successful?
7 Characteristics of Successful Pre-meds
They know what they want. A pre-med destined to be successful will be definitive in knowing that they want to be a doctor. There's no question about what they want to do. Many already have an idea of what kind of doctor they want to be.
They ask for help. Because being pre-med is no walk in the park, successful pre-meds put pride aside. They realize that asking for help allows them to make progress. Whether through tutoring, study groups, or mentoring, successful pre-meds place more importance on their goals than their egos.
They persevere. My wonderful high school chemistry teacher, the late Dr. Harold Afiriyie, used to say in his beautiful Ghanaian accent, "Renée, you must persevere!" Successful pre-meds know that a stumble is just a platform for a comeback. They don't give up because things didn't go as expected.
They evaluate and reevaluate. Successful pre-meds are constantly reassessing their situations. They look at what they've done and whether or not it resulted in a positive outcome. Often times, they will do this with their study and test-taking techniques.
They readjust. If at first they don't succeed, they don't just try again; they try a different way. Successful pre-meds are not afraid to switch things up especially if it will give them the desired result.
They're open to advice. To be successful, pre-meds must realize that they might not know everything there is to know about getting into medical school. When offered guidance and advice from others who have gone through it, successful pre-meds take heed.
They are strategic. A good plan only comes together with proper planning. Successful pre-meds study smarter, not harder. They write their personal statements well before the application is due and get it proofread. They request letters of recommendation early. They apply to medical school early. They research and apply to schools that are right for them. They do mock interviews. They get acceptance letters!
Many of you reading this post has exactly what it takes to be a successful pre-med. So, when you are faced with challenges (failing a class, bombing the MCAT, getting rejected from medical school, etc...), remember my story and remember this post.
The AAMC also has a section called Inspiring Stories that will help you realize that you are not alone in your journey. You must persevere!