What Comes After
For this blog post, I would like to take the time to focus on what comes after school for those pursuing a career in medicine. If you’re not pursuing a career in medicine, maybe you know someone that is and may be able to learn something that can help them!
There are many careers in medicine, such as becoming; a physician, nurse, nurse practioner, physician assistant, radiology tech, IV therapist, respiratory therapist, nurse tech, etc. Within nursing there are many levels of practice, from an associate’s level education all the way up to a doctorate in nursing. Some of these careers can be in different specialties, such as emergency medicine, family medicine, etc.
I will be focusing on those of us following the path of becoming a physician for this post, as that’s the one I’m on and know best. Becoming a physician starts as early as possible. While in high school, taking advanced classes, taking on extracurricular activities, and volunteering are important activities to see if you are interested in a career in medicine. I volunteered for some time at the Washington Adventist Hospital, where I got my first exposure to medicine, and loved it! Following high school, college will play a very important part on where you pursue of medicine goes. While in college it’s important to be proactive. Above all else, focus on your grades and slowly layer on different things such as volunteering, shadowing, extracurricular activities, and clinical activities. Take it nice and easy, talking from experience taking on too many things at once will cause your grades to suffer or burn you out. Know your limits and expand them over time.
After college comes the moment of truth, you have a two of choices at this stage which include, applying to medical school and taking a gap year (or two) off. Applying right away is a good fit for some people but for others, taking some time before applying is a better option. You may need the break before more school, or you may need to spice up your application for the next rounds of applications. I happen to fall in that latter. So, what can you do in your gap year to boast your chances of success in applying? You can volunteer, shadow, do some research, gain clinical experience, complete a SMP, or obtain a Master’s in a related interested field. Essentially the same as you were doing while in college but with two extra options, a SMP or a Master’s. A SMP stands for a Special Master’s Program, usually a Master’s in Medical Science, where students take advanced science courses and even some medical school courses with actual medical school students and gain a boast to their applications when applying to medical school. These programs are designed for students who need a little help before applying to medical school. A SMP takes about 4 semesters, 1 year in some cases, to complete and can cause as much as 1 year of medical school education so take that into account. By some school accounts, about 80% of students go on to successfully entering medical school following completion of this program. A Master’s program is another path to medical school, although it is important not to think of it as such. Unlike a SMP, a Master’s can be a double edge sword. While obtaining one shows that you can handle higher level of education, it also shows that you used the degree primarily as a stepping stone towards a medical education. Be careful, a research how many students entered the medical school you’re interested in with a Master’s. Thank you for your time and I wish you well!!