Maybe you’ve always preferred a few episodes of Life in the ER over the persistent drama of Gossip Girl, or you sat in bio lab itching to use the microscope instead of picking up your copy of Othello. Whatever made you choose pre-med out of the mile-long major list, you could be questioning if the MD life is really for you. Check out 10 signs that you’re ready for a set of scrubs.
1. You’ve got a thing for long term goals
If you’re aching for a degree to get your career rolling ASAP, pre-med isn’t for you. “To jump through all the hoops that medical schools throw at you just to get in [means that] you just really need to be able to see the long term picture,” said Florida State junior Nick Arias. After an undergrad degree, medical school and a residency you’ll be around peers that have been settled in careers for almost a decade. Pre-med students don’t let the late payoff lessen their enthusiasm.
2. You don’t see dollar signs
Let’s be real: We get degrees to fill our bank accounts. A doctor’s salary may get you that L.A. beach house, but that’s no reason to go through the grueling studies. Becoming a doctor for the money is like dating someone just because his puppy is cute; it’s not going to last. “Regardless of specialty, doctors make a great living, but there are many ways to make as much money as a doctor for much less than $200,000 in debt and four years of med school,” said Arias. If “get rich or die trying” is your motto, you might need to stick to lotto tickets.
3. You’ve got top-notch people skills
If you think a career in medicine gets you a free pass out of customer service, you couldn’t be more wrong. Whether you’re a dermatologist or a surgeon, your job is the human body. How many of us have cursed at a cranky ophthalmologist under our breath, or felt like our surgeon barely saw us as human? Feeling salty about our doctor results in an exhausting office visit.
4. You think beneath the surface
“Being alive just kind of blows my mind. You pretty much do all this stuff automatically, so I just want to understand it. What’s cooler than knowing who you are and how that works?” said Tanner Weaver, a Florida State junior studying exercise science. Most of us just look around and see a cashier at Walmart or 200 other sleepy students in our lecture. Pre-med students see organs, muscle and bone with a curiosity on how it all operates.
5. You’re not afraid to ask for help
Get ready for office hours instead of happy hour. A close relationship with your professor -and a tutor on speed dial are prime ways to keep your GPA afloat each semester. Even with perfect attendance, textbooks and flawless notes, many pre-meds have to suck up their pride and ask for more help. Lucky for them, professors understand, and extra tutoring is usually only a phone call away.
6. You need to know the unknown
A crucial power doctors have is discovering new cures and medicines. “I think that the human body is really interesting and there’s still a lot we don’t know. We don’t even have a cure for the common cold, we’re not even close to figuring out everything,” said Weaver. The world of healthcare is a constant cycle with persistent upkeep. The more diseases we stumble upon, the more vaccines and treatments need to be discovered along the way. Pre-med students contemplate the what, the how and the why every second of the day.
7. You find a “B” unacceptable
Getting a “B” in chemistry should have you skipping down the hallway preparing to celebrate with a beer as soon as you get home. Kids looking at med school know that less than perfect GPAs are a death sentence, so “B’s” are the new “D’s.” “The kids that are pre-med are the ones that are in the library all night two weeks before a final or making over 150 flashcards for a quiz,” said Weaver. Most college students slack on their easiest final or sleep through a quiz without a second thought. Med schools put on the pressure by only giving elite GPA’s the time of day.
8. You can detach at the drop of a hat
Doctors’ lives are basically one huge awkward moment. Their daily discussions consist of bowel movements, sexual activity and pimples. When it’s time to get up close and personal, the pros see it as a job to be done. Docs have a precise balance between compassion toward the person and total professionalism. Most of us end up blushing from telling our doctor about our last weird poop, while they keep a completely straight face. Pre-meds can sit through the uncomfortable convos and exams like they’re discussing the weather.
9. You have a stomach of steel
Students looking to stay away from medicine probably can’t stomach things like a broken bone peeking out of a limb (cue cringing). Pre-med students dream of popping pimples for a living or cutting open a bleeding organ. A lot of things that are generally labeled as repulsive are seen as a cool new experiment or a fun story to tell at dinner. It may not be the most popular topic, but that strong stomach will come in handy down the line.
10. You’ve seen things in action
“Right now I am shadowing [my pediatrician] and seeing how much fun she has talking with her parents and patients. [I’m] seeing the impact she has had on their lives [and it] really motivates me,” said Arias. Shadowing can make or break your dream. If the bio labs don’t send you running in the other direction, dealing with crying kids with ear infections could. Appreciating the recovering and thankful patients makes med school seem a worthy aspiration.