Welcome to the majority of UR’s student population — the pre-meds. To start off, I’m no better off than the lot of you reading this right now. We’re all eager to finally achieve that title one day, Dr. insert-your-name-here, and a whole lot of us have been dreaming of it since we had the arm strength to carry around a play “doctor kit.” Regardless of how many hurdles are thrown our way and the number of times we’re told by every single parent, professor, advisor, and “friend” that it’s the hardest career path to endure and we probably won’t make it, we keep persevering.
A lot of us just want to be out there and help people, some of us have family members who were in medicine and inspired us, others are just attracted to the possibility of that paycheck — and honestly, all those reasons sound fair enough to me. If you want to work this occupation, just like any other one, you shouldn’t have to be discouraged solely by your hopeless Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) score, excessively heavy course load and resulting deteriorating GPA, or lack of extracurriculars because you barely have time to breathe on top of your three labs, four workshops, and nine lectures a week. Trust me, I get it. I know a lot of different pre-professional paths deal with similar hassles, but one thing’s for sure — with every passing day, it’s getting harder and harder to become a physician in this country. And that’s something we need to talk about.
A doctor once told me that in his day and age (which was only 25 years ago) all he needed to get into medical school was his decent-ish GPA and subpar MCAT score. Nowadays, a “decent-ish” GPA and “subpar” MCAT score won’t suffice in the cutthroat world of medical school admissions. The secret sauce to success has become money — money to pay for unique internships at “top colleges,” money to enroll in prestigious universities with tuition bills the size of mortgages, money to pay for the best of the best MCAT coaching, money to pay for lab fees in every STEM course you take, money for tutoring so your GPA never plummets and only “gradually increases along an upward curve,” money for every single expensive medical school application — because apparently we need to apply to at least 25-30 to even have a chance of getting in — need I continue?
Even if we ignore the financial aspect for a second, you’re supposed to be figuring out what you want to do with your life in college. Dreading your next exam or paper due, planning out research, doing clinical shadowing, volunteering, gaining experience and clinical hours, and participating in extracurriculars, all while trying to figure out why on Earth you’ve committed to this program, takes an immense toll. And yet, when you ask any passionate, driven, determined pre-med why they’re still pre-med, they’ll tell you they hate it, but they’d give the world to do it all over again exactly the same way. And that’s all there is to it.
It’s not an easy path you’ve chosen, and you know that too. But one thing is for sure, especially in medicine — there’s infinite possibilities to get from point A to point B. The key to succeeding at UR, and more importantly succeeding in securing a seat on the path towards a physician, is perseverance. With every missed opportunity, every rejection, every single blow to your self-esteem, comes another avenue to try harder. Never stop searching for that “one last chance.” Because in a world like this where every corner of the planet is bubbling with innovation, where there’s several accredited and well-resourced medical schools even in what we refer to as “third world countries,” there’s always going to be another way. And hey, if you end up tapping out, there’s no shame in that. There are tons of careers in medicine if you want to stay here, and if not, you’ll always find something else you love. That’s what’s beautiful about being human. We always survive.