Over the past three years I've done extensive research about the pathway of becoming a doctor. I've always known since I was little that I wanted to be in the medical field (except when I was 9; I was determined to move to Australia and become a suba diver so I can swim with sharks). Over the course of a few years I've been looking into different careers within medicine. For a while it was a trauma surgeon, after that I switched to Emergency Physican, and now I've been very intrested in Pediatrics with a subspecialty of Emergency Medicine. That's like an Emergency Physician who's been trained to treat children and infants. Why? Because sick babies don't mean to be sick. Unlike adults who know that some of the things they're doing are harming their health (smoking, drinking, drug usage) children just want to feel better. So here's what I know about the road to becoming a doctor.
***Disclaimer: This is through personal research, don't take my advice as the bible.
I can't speak for anything much after high school because I'm still in high school...
During college you'll be taking your college degree requirment classes as well as the prerequisite medical school classes. Most students take 4 courses per semester.
College will give you a feel of what the rest of your educational-life will be like. If you hate those 3 hour science labs, if you can't keep up with classwork, then maybe medicine isn't for you?
College is a really good time to start doing internships relating to medicine, start looking around for job shadow oppurtunites for the specialties that intrest you, not what you think medical schools would like to see. Because they don't care. Anyone can get a shadowing oppurtunity. You want to impress medical school admissioners? Go cure cancer or something. Literally. You have to do something that takes more than just filling out a piece of paper.
During college you will have to take the MCAT which is similar to the SAT's but much, much more difficult.
Congrats! You're 99% done. Almost a doctor, just stick with it.
The first two years of medical school is all classroom. You basically learn a new language. You take classes to continue from your college classes such as anatomy, biochemistry, or microbiology. You'll also be taking classes that will help you study the human body. Classes like embryology and neuroscience. The way you learn these classes are different from college to college. Some will stick to a traditional academic calander of multiple classes at once while others may choose to focus on one subject at a time, around 4 weeks per subject, then move onto the next subject.
After the first two years of medical school, before you move on to clinicals and rotations, you'll have to take Step 1 of the USMLE. USMLE stands for United States Medical Licensing Examination. Step 1 of the USMLE, measures your ability to understand and apply basic science concepts to medicine. Once you've passed Step 1, you can now begin doing roations in hospitals or clinics.
The last two years of medical school is the fun/stressful part. You will have to take what you learned in the classroom and apply to real patients. You will still be taking some classes but most of your time will be spent doing rotations which are led and taught by residents. Rotations help expose medical students to the wide ranges of different career paths in medicine. The length of rotations can vary, as well as the difficulty. You may even need to relocate for rotations if the hospital is not near you. Typically, year 3 roations are the fundemntal specialties that student need to learn while year 4 are chosen by the student based on their intrest.
Between your 3rd and 4th year of medical school you will have to apply for a residency program. Like applying for college, you will have to write an essay explaining why the specialty is a good match for your personality, lifestyle, and goals as a physician. During the last two years of medical school, you will also have to take Step 2 of the USMLE. This evaluates your medical knowlege aa well as your diagnostic and clinical skills. Your exam scores on both Step 1 and Step 2 will play a large role in the residency you get placed on since medical schools often use the scores to rank their residency applicants. You'll be doing interviews during your fourth year and matches are announced on March of your fourth year.
You're a doctor now! Kind of... A resident is a physican that is under direct or indirect supervison of an attending. An attending is what you become after residency once you've passed all the tests.
Residency length depends on the specialty, click here to see the general amount of years for each specialty.
The first year of your residency is called your "internship year". This is the hardest year, you'll be working around 80 hour weeks.
Sometime during your residency you will have to take Step 3 of the USMLE. You can not take it past 7 years of the time you took Step 1. Once you've passed Step 3, you are now offically a licensed practicing physican.
If you were trained as a pediatric resident, you can only be a pedatrican. If you were trained as a general family physican, you can only be a general family physican. If you want to subspecialize in a different area to treat specific patients or illnesses then you will have to apply for a fellowship. Fellowships can include Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Surgery, Epilepsy, Oncology, etc. And can range from a vary amount of years. Competiton for fellowships can be stiff. Especially for popular ones like surgery. Getting accepted will be based of academic success, personal letters, and an interview.
Physicans who go complete a fellowship are payed more than physicians who have not.
Becoming a physician is a long and brutal journey. There'll be days, maybe even months, where you regret choosing this career. But at the end of the day if you have passion, if you have that flame in your heart for medicine, then you will succeed. Don't get discouraged if you have a few set backs, don't give up on your plan because it didn't go the way you wanted it to.
One of the best advice I ever got about my future is to give myself wiggle room. I'm that type of person to plan out year by year, what I need to have done by then. "Okay I graduate this year.. then I go off to medical school and graduate this year.. then I'll do this and that" but having that mindset is dangerous. Yes, you can say "I want to finish college and then go off to medical school" but to give yourself a time limit is just a disaster waiting to happen. If you don't finish college in time, don't get discourage. At least you will finish it. Give yourself wiggle room.
Greatness lives on the edge of destruction. The reason that someone is great is because they survived death. That's what made you great, you were almost over. The Phoenix rises from it's ashes. You are here and people look to you because in the face of destruction, you pounded on your chest and put your hands up and said I'm still here. I'm still standing. Bring it."
Funny story... I've been really slacking in AP Biology but determined to get my F up to a reasonable grade, I signed up to take two unit exams this Friday. Which is only two days away. Even funnier (I made this a word if it wasn't already) story.. I haven't read any of chapters for the whole school year and I'm suppose to be up to chapter 9 by Friday. No wonder I have an F. Anyways, I do plan on reading all the chapters by then. Hopefully. So for the students who are in my spot right now, here's my ultimate guide on how to read a textbook. How to get the most valuable information in the least amount of time. Meaning, you won't be reading all the "textbook fluff"
Step 1: Break the Chapter Apart
Textbook chapters are LONG. Really-stinking long and if you're like me, you can not just sit there and read a whole 25-page chapter about cellular respiration and fermentation. That's gonna take like 2 hours man. So intead, chunk off your chapter in a logical way. If your chapter is organized by concepts, go 3-5 concepts at a time. If it's a literature or history textbook organized by paragraphs, shoot for 5-8 pages at a time. After each chunk, give a very short break (less than 3 min.) to refresh.
This method is like breaking your studying hours in 45:15 increments. Where you do 45 minutes of hard work followed by a 15 minute break. This will make the chapter seem less than what it actually is; making you less overwhelmed. Your brain will stay focused longer since it knows there's a break soon. This also is helpful to break of the chapters within the day. So you can do part of it in the morning, part of it during lunch, and part of it after school; rather than all 25 or so pages at once.
Step 2: Read the Objectives (or Overview)
This gives you an outline of exactly what you should know by the end of the chapter. Go over these a few times, comprehend it.
Step 3: Read the Key Concepts
In my AP biology book, there's a key concept review section at the end of each chapter that essentially summarizes the whole chapter. The key concepts are the need-to-know informations. The really important stuff you should have down because they'll be the ones most likely on the test.
Step 4: Skim Through the Chapter
Once you've read through the objectives and key concepts, you will now have a good idea of what the focus of the chapter will be as well and what you need to know all together. Now, go and skim through the chapter. Pay attention to:
Also: Don't skip over illustrations. I've seen many of my friends do this. They will not take their time to make illustrations such as graphs, tables, and diagrams if they did not think it was important. Illustrations are visual explanations.
Step 5: Read The First Two Sentences In Each Paragraph
This is an important fact. This is why the fact is important.
Go back and read the first two sentences in each paragraph of the chapter. Usually, the first sentence of a paragraph in textbooks will give you a fact or an idea. The following sentence or two will explain that fact and why it is important.
Following these steps should give you all the need-to-know information and the key points.
!!! It may not give you complete understanding if you don't do previous chapters as some concepts or key points will use vocabulary already defined in the previous chapters.
Go back to steps 2 and steps 3, if you can not confidently give a good summary of each objective and concept then you are not prepared enough for the test.
If you find that you don't understand a concept, do your due diligence and read the whole paragraph as it will go more into details. Go watch a youtube video to have a visual explanation. If it's a certain word, go to previous chapters and see if it has been defined before.
The key word to this tip is enviornment. Not just study area, but rather all the factors around you while you study. This might include the music you listen to before and during your study session, the smells around you, lighting, and more.
Location: It's very typical to see hundreds of college and high school students with their macbook laptop at any given coffee shop around town. Or maybe you know of a local resturant that has a booth in the corner where you can sit alone and study while enjoying your favorite meal. While coffee shops and local diners are popular study hubs for many students, it's also one of the best ways to get distracted.
Understand the way you study and choose a location based on that. If you know you space off very easily, studying at a park might not be the best choice. If you feel the need to get a snack every 10 minutes, you should probably avoid the kitchen table. Where ever your study area might be, make sure you have a backup plan if things get too distracting.
Music: There seems to be a continous debate on whether or not music either helps or hurts your productivity and ability to focus. The answer is completely based on the indiviual. Some might get too distracted if they listen to songs with lyrics, while others might totally snooze out on that type of music. While there's research that shows studying with headphones actully lead to decrease of memory, that's how I personally study. So press shuffle on your playlist and see which suits you.
Lighting: Although Hollywood shows people hunced over a wooden desk studying with only one source of light and everything else dimmed, you'll strain your eyes if you try that. Who even thinks Hollywood protrays life accurately anyways, sheesh. Good, evenly-distrubuted lighting will help keep your eyes open longer. Especially if you're pulling an all nighter. So instead of turing on just your desk lamp, turn your room light on too.
Study Groups: I'm very "in-between" with study groups because I've had sucess with some and failure with others. Whether you choose to study in a group or by yourself should be determined case-by-case. Some people already know off the bat that they get too side tracked when they're in a study group while others love how you can get peer tutoring. But lets keep it real dude..
Feng Shui: Clean up your room, organize your desk, stack up your paperwork in a systematic order. If your environment is a mess, your mind will be too. Now, there are those very rare individuals who happen to actually think better in a messy room but the general public just say that as an excuse not to clean (me included, sorry mom) So when you find yourself lacking motivation, having a hard time focusing, or just really stressed out- go unclutter your enviornment to free your mind.
With finals coming soon, failing a test can really strain your grade as well as your confidence for the actual final. So stock up on your favorite caffinated beverages, here are my two study tips to get you started on becoming the best student you can be!
1. Find Your Motivation
Studying is hard, there'll be moments where you just want to quit and relax. Watch netflix all day, go out with your friends, or just lay on the couch and stream on your phones. When you have to study hours upon hours for 6-7 classes, it can feel like such a chore. Without a good source of motivation, you'll be more prone to giving up. Find something that motivates you enough to get through those tough moments. It can be:
- A certain college you want to attend
- Your dream job
- Not disappointing your friends or family
- Proving others wrong
The more the better, you can even invest in a vison board so you can see your goals every time you open that textbook.
2. Change Your Mindest
Do you snore every time your math teacher opens their mouth? How often do you say "Why do we even need to know this"? Do you believe that you can acheive straight A's? If you're failing a class, is it because you can't understand it or because you haven't worked hard enough to understand it?
Your mindset has a big role on whether or not you'll succeed; not just in academic success but life in general. Once your recognize your two "mindset voices" you'll be more aware that you actually can do anything.
Fixed Mindset vs. Growth Mindset
Those with a fixed mindset do not believe they can improve on their given talents and skills, viewing challenges not as positive, rather as negative.
Many students are fortunate enough to pass all of their classes and enjoy their summer break. I could've been one of those students. But I chose a different way to spend summer. Hunched over in my bedroom desk 12am -7am every day for 8 weeks doing mathematics. So let's be real.. most of the reasons why I had a bad experience with summer school is all my fault and could've been avoidable if I had self-control. So here's my story. Hopefully, you learn from my mistakes.
Freshman year of high school: straight A's, math class was a breeze, I had so much free time. This is what every typical high school student wants and this is what I had. Only problem? I didn't like it.. I wanted to be challenged. So I did what any over achiever would do, take a math class over the summer. Pre-Calculus, to be specific. I was actually debating whether or not I should do it for at least 6 months before I actually enrolled. I started ninth grade in Algebra 2 and the logical step after that would be Pre-Calculus. I knew I was capable of understanding math at a fast pace but I wasn't confident with my skils/ I was worried that I'd end up so confused and then going into AP Calculus AB without the proper knowledge.
After months and months of asking for people's opinion, I jumped the gun and enrolled in an online summer school. My motivation? Not disappointing Mr. Hanson (my math teacher) and the $500 price tag my mom paid to enroll me. I specifically remember the night before my final, I called my mom to talk to her about my grade (because it was below passing) and telling her how I wanted to give up. Like always, she gave me a motivational speech; good enough for me to fight through the last few days. That night I turned in two weeks worth of work, took a 4 hour nap before studying for my final and the same day I took my final and scored a 94%.
Don't let that little underdog story fool you. The reason why I was struggling so bad, the reason why I always did my school work at 12am in the morning until I pass out at 7am, the reason why I had to turn in two weeks worth of work in 6 hours was all my fault. I made really bad decisions that I knew was bad and instead of learning from my mistakes, I kept repeating it. Things like:
This is how summer school worked; you learn one topic every day resulting in one whole unit learned every week, at the end of every week you get tested on the unit you just learned and then go onto the next unit next week.
Its 7 units, 8 weeks.
With the last week used to review all topics.
Well lets just say I took a different route. I did pretty good for the first four weeks. Week 5 was completely late because of our house move. Sixth and seventh week? Those were the schoolwork I crammed in the night before the final. So as you can tell my time management was horrible.
Summer school isn't for everyone and while some students don't get to choose to whether they take it or not,
here are my main tips:
RIANNE DEL CARMEN
My biggest goal in life is to just live it. To enjoy every moment and find the beauty in all things. So I write to inspire others. Not to just enjoy life but to better themselves. To become a better student, a happier person, and a more loving human. With tips and stories, I hope to help you through all the rough edges.