How to decide if medical school is right for you

October 6, 2020

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

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Going to medical school is a big decision! You have to be ready to make the time and financial commitment to pursue a career as a doctor or physician. But how do you decide if medical school is right for you?

We recommend shadowing a doctor or physician, researching different medical careers and programs, and taking some time to ask yourself some honest questions.

At Global Pre-Meds, our programs are designed to give you a comprehensive learning experience so that you can decide if medicine is right for you and what specialties might suit your interests. Whether you have a path in mind or are just looking to explore what paths are available, we can support you along the way.

We have spent a lot of time enhancing our program to create a COVID resilient experience for high school and college students who are looking for shadowing hours on hospital frontlines. Learn more about how we can protect you from COVID-19 here.

Shadow a doctor or physician

Shadowing a healthcare professional is one of the most essential parts of entering the medical field. Experience in a hospital or clinic gives you a chance to put yourself in a doctor, nurse, of physician assistant’s shoes. You learn what a typical day looks like and how a medical institution works together. This experience is important if you are trying to decide if medical school is right for you.

At Global Pre-Meds, we provide doctor shadowing programs abroad for students interested in nursing, medicine, midwifery, or physician assistant. Although a medical doctor mentors you, we get to know you and your interests so that we can provide the right opportunities for observation. For example, if you are interested in midwifery, your mentor may have you observe a colleague working in the NICU.

Perhaps you’re interested in becoming a doctor, but after seeing a delivery or particularly interesting surgery, you’ve decided to change your specialty. That’s the beauty of the doctor shadowing experience – you get to know what work you find interesting and rule out what you don’t.

We guarantee a minimum of 40 hours of doctor shadowing, which gives you many opportunities to witness interesting medical cases and receive an authentic hospital experience.

The relationship you build with your mentor will have an enduring influence on you and your future as a healthcare professional. They will be the one you can ask all your questions to, get real honest answers about the nature of the profession, and they will write you a personal letter of recommendation on completion of the program. This is your chance to understand what life looks like for a healthcare professional. Prepare some of your most burning questions so that you make the most of your experience.

Our mentors are specifically chosen for their level of professionalism and willingness to share that with students. They are paid directly from your program fee, along with the hospital you are placed at, which incentivizes them to provide a wonderful learning experience for you and helps increase local access to healthcare.

The letter of recommendation written by your mentor will be an authentic reflection of your abilities in the healthcare field. Letters of recommendation and references like these will also aid you as you continue on your journey to university and future health programs.

Research different medical careers and programs

There are a variety of resources available to students who are interested in a healthcare profession. You can peruse the Association of American Medical Colleges or British Medical Association websites to learn more information about the different healthcare professions and programs that could be available to you.

You should look into the responsibilities of these different roles as well as the educational requirements for each job. They are not all the same. It’s important to understand what time and financial commitment you would be making upfront, and what benefits you would reap after you finish your schooling.

Many university programs require their premed students to have a minimum grade point average, a certain number of clinical experience hours, and letters of recommendation. Research programs that are within your reach, financially and academically, or find a way to make those programs feasible.

There are many ways to make your application stand out from the crowd, including completing a program with Global Pre-Meds. While you should always check the specific program requirements, our 40-hour shadowing programs give you an advantage over the other medical school applicants.

We can offer a global health perspective in addition to the traditional gains from doctor shadowing programs. By understanding healthcare from an international standpoint, and gaining experience with different patients, you will easily have a broader range than many other students applying to the same programs.

Be honest with yourself

A career in medicine or healthcare is challenging from start to finish. From applying to school, to succeeding through your classes, and then completing your residencies and fellowships. It’s a long road no matter which way you go. Be honest about your level of commitment and determination.

Use this time before applying to medical school to think about what drives you towards medicine. Are you doing it for the right reasons? And what are you willing to sacrifice to achieve it?

Many medical school applications will ask you these questions anyways, but it’s good to start thinking about them early. It’s never too soon to start getting that clinical experience and thinking through what you may want to do.

This is why we also offer Global Pre-Meds doctor shadowing programs for high school students. Take advantage of that in person experience by asking your mentoring doctor those tough questions. Consider what their day-to-day life looks like and decide if that’s something that appeals to you.

If you are trying to decide if medical school is right for you, consider the wonderful experience abroad you will have with us at Global Pre-Meds. You’ll meet students your age from all over the world and get to explore another culture as you enjoy our beautiful guesthouse. Because our program is comprehensive, you may see something that peaks your interests and takes you down another career path that better suits you.

Apply for Global Pre-Meds today!