Doing a self-assessment before applying to med school

November 14, 2014

Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.

See current opportunities

Practical teaching from a student mentor in the general medical wards Maybe you have been considering becoming a doctor since you were a little kid, or maybe you recently became interested in a career in medicine. Either way, if you are thinking about becoming a doctor, it is a big commitment. Before you apply to med school, it is important to take some time and do a self-assessment. Taking an honest look at your goals, strengths and weaknesses may help you make a decision.


Factors to consider

A self-assessment involves thinking about several aspects of your personality and the direction you want your life to go in. It involves asking yourself a number of questions and answering them honestly.

Assess your desire to help people. Most physicians will spend at least some of their career working directly with patients. If you have a strong desire to help people, you may be going in the right direction. But if you do not consider yourself a people person, but are interested in the science of medicine, there may be better ways to meet your career goals. 

Consider the length of schooling. In addition to undergrad schooling, med school takes four years. Additional training in the form of a residency is next. There is nothing wrong with realizing all that school is not for you.

Review your financial situation. There is no doubt about it; med school is costly. Decide how you will pay for school. If student loans are part of the plan, consider how you feel about all that debt.

Determine if you have a reasonable shot at getting accepted. Review criteria for getting into med school and consider your chances. While you don’t have to be the strongest candidate to get an acceptance, if your grades are very low, you may need to consider putting medical school on hold until you can raise your GPA.


Questions to ask yourself

Are you in it for the long haul? As mentioned above, becoming a doctor is not the quickest career choice. Although it’s not the end of the world if you quit half way through, you probably want to avoid doing that. If you are unsure about the commitment, give yourself a gap year and think it over.

Are you doing it for yourself? Some people become a doctor for others. For example, they may pursue med school due to family expectations. Keep in mind; it should be your decision, which you make for the right reasons.   

Do you have any experience in the medical field? Have you worked in the medical field, volunteered at a clinic or shadowed a doctor? If you have not seen first hand what a doctor does, you may want to get some experience before applying to medical school. Your impression of what a physician does and the reality may not be the same. 

Are you willing to make some sacrifices? Med students, residents and attending physicians often have busy schedules. Depending on your specialty, you may be on call many hours a week, work weekends and miss spending holidays with your family and friends. Not everyone is willing to make that type of commitment and sacrifices for their career.