Becoming a doctor takes years of hard work and dedication. While you may feel far from beginning medical school as a high school student, there are several key steps you can start taking now to set yourself up for success down the road. Follow this advice to make the most of your high school years if you hope to one day wear that white coat.
Determine If a Career in Medicine Is Right for You
The first critical step is honestly evaluating if a career as a physician is the right path for you. At this early stage, it’s impossible to fully understand what being a doctor entails on a daily basis. But you can begin your research by watching videos and documentaries that showcase real doctors at work.
Observe physicians in different specialties to start understanding the pros and cons of each area of medicine. No career is perfect or glamorous all the time, so keep an open mind about the realities. Shadowing local doctors will also provide invaluable exposure to clinical settings.
Take time to reflect after these experiences. Be honest with yourself. Does the thought of having a long career in healthcare still excite you? Medicine requires true passion and commitment. It’s not worth pursuing for money or prestige alone.
If you realize your interests may be better aligned with other healthcare careers like nursing, don’t be discouraged. Focus on finding your true calling, even if that means pivoting from your original plan.
Master Effective Study Strategies
Success in medical school requires exceptional study skills and work ethic. Passive studying by simply rereading notes is ineffective. You need to adopt active learning techniques like active recall, interleaving, and desirable difficulties.
These challenging strategies take work to implement, but they cement information for the long-term by engaging your brain. Start integrating strategies like flashcards and practice questions into your routines now. It will give you a huge advantage over peers who delay mastering effective study methods until college.
Strong study skills also free up more time and boost your GPA. Higher grades open more opportunities. Effective strategies you build early in your education will compound over the years into more successful outcomes.
Build Relationships and Interpersonal Skills
In medicine, professional connections are critically important. Take time to build authentic relationships with mentors like teachers, coaches, and healthcare workers in your community. Go out of your way to be helpful, engaged, and professional.
Making an effort to remember names and personal details about people you meet also helps form connections. Building relationships and influencing others are skills requiring practice. Work on projecting warmth and positivity when you interact with others.
While the mentors you meet now likely won’t write your letters of recommendation for medical school, they can still provide valuable guidance and support. Strong interpersonal abilities will also make you stand out in future medical school interviews.
Step Outside Your Comfort Zone
Pushing beyond your comfort zone fosters adaptability and resilience—critical traits for aspiring doctors. Take opportunities to try new things like public speaking, volunteering abroad, learning an instrument, or joining a sport outside your wheelhouse.
Varied life experiences make you a more well-rounded and appealing candidate to medical schools seeking diversity. Keep an open mind to change and different viewpoints. The ability to update your perspectives based on new information is the mark of a great physician.
Prioritize Financial Literacy
Doctors earn substantial salaries but that doesn’t equal guaranteed financial security. Many physicians live paycheck to paycheck due to poor financial literacy. Get educated on personal finance basics like loans, budgeting, investing, and saving as early as possible.
Small actions like minimizing expenses, avoiding credit card debt, and saving a portion of income add up thanks to compound interest. Building healthy money habits now prevents debt from spiraling out of control during medical school and beyond.
Choose the Right Premed Major
Premed isn’t its own designated major. You simply need to fulfill prerequisite courses required by medical schools. This means you can major in anything as long as you complete key classes like biology, chemistry, physics, and math.
Popular majors for premed students include biological sciences, biochemistry, neuroscience, and chemistry. But don’t limit yourself. If you’re truly passionate about economics, music, or linguistics, pursue it. Unique majors make applications stand out.
Just know that a non-science major requires more work to check off med school prerequisites. If you love biology already, sticking with a traditional science major streamlines the premed path.
You’ll have your whole career to immerse yourself in medical science. Take this time to explore other interests before your schedule becomes packed with patient care.
Preparing for medical school as a high school student requires self-reflection, strategic planning, and a strong work ethic. But taking these steps now sets you up for greater success. Identify if a career in medicine aligns with your interests and abilities.
Then work on building relationships, effective study skills, resilience, financial literacy and choosing the ideal premed major. With early preparation, you’ll enter college poised to excel on the path to medical school.