Are you motivated by challenges? Are you compassionate toward people and their pain? Do biology and scientific knowledge about the human body inspire you? If that sounds like you, Dr. Michael Brisman, a Harvard-educated neurosurgeon, has some tips for your future career in medicine.
1. Work hard
Be prepared to work hard. You’ll need to maintain a high GPA and test well on standardized exams while in high school and in college. Academic excellence is necessary for acceptance into a premier medical school and beyond. Those long hours as an undergraduate continue during residency as well. So if you prefer to coast through classes and skip assignments, think twice before pursuing a career in medicine.
2. Attend a college with a strong medical school
An undergraduate program at an institution with a strong medical school will provide you with more opportunities to explore the medical field. You can get to know some of the professors, and it may increase the likelihood of acceptance into medical school.
3. Work in labs
Become knowledgeable about how medical labs operate by working in one, perhaps as an intern. The more experience you get, the better. You’ll become experienced in handling biofluids and become familiar with medical terminology. Summer research programs or on-campus medical clinical research provide active participation in biomedical exploration and biotechnology education.
4. Get excellent SAT scores
Research what the top 10% of SAT scores are for your top college choices, and then aim for those numbers. Be sure to prepare vigorously; these exams often factor into admission as much as your GPA. So study, take pre-SATs, and get a good night’s sleep before the test!
5. Shadow and interview doctors
Whatever your medical interests—pediatrics, sports medicine, oncology—make a point to seek out doctors in those specialties so you can interview and perhaps even shadow them for an afternoon. Not sure which medical specialties to pursue? Start by thinking about what aspects of biology and medicine appeal most to you, and then do your research.
Maybe working with adult patients in a private practice is more suited to your personality, or working in a busy hospital with fast-paced medical emergencies is perfect for you. Maybe becoming a social worker, scientific researcher, physical therapist, or even yoga teacher would actually be a better fit for your goals and desires. Maybe you want to be a world-renowned expert in your field. Me? My interests led to becoming a specialist in treating rare neurological conditions. Where will your passion for medicine take you?