Most high schoolers may have an idealized and romanticized vision of what it is to be a doctor. Their perceptions may be shaped by elements of popular culture, as seen in television shows or movies. These often fictionalized portrayals depict doctors as uber attractive individuals with a burning passion to help others. They carry stethoscopes around their necks, wear fancy suits and dresses, and spend their outrageously high salaries on the latest Ferrari or Lamborghini model. Sorry folks, that’s not reality. The National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC) hosts seminars on medical school admissions. They have concluded that the following criteria are indicators of whether or not a student is ready to enter the field of medicine:
- Meaningful exposure to a hospital or clinical setting
- Shadowing of practicing physicians in a clinical setting
- Involvement in experimental research
Is Medicine What You Want to Do For the Rest of Your Life?The path to become a physician is full of obstacles ranging from competitive exams to periods of anxiety and self doubt. Just ask any medical student or resident. If you want to be a physician, a deep passion for helping others is essential, as is the ability to care for others with compassion. As a doctor, you are expected to be there for your patient through some of their worst moments. If you can get through the rigorous and taxing training, you will become part of one of the most noble professions. Medicine is a highly rewarding field, and not just in monetary terms. Helping others through pain and illness brings a sense of satisfaction and reward that few other careers provide.
Clinical Exposure – Shadow a DoctorIf you want to know what it’s like to be a doctor, shadow one. Reach out to local doctors in a variety of practice settings and ask if they would be willing to have a high school student shadow them. You will get some rejections, but many will happily educate an enthusiastic high school student on what it means to be a doctor. To get the most out of your experience shadowing, ask relevant questions to the physician. Some examples of things you can ask include:
- What factors motivated you to become a doctor?
- Could you please describe your experience with medical school and residency?
- How did you overcome the challenges that came with the rigorous training?
- What led you to pick your current specialty?
- What are your favorite and least favorite parts about being a doctor?