Is Medical School Right For You?

Going into the path of medicine is a formative decision that results in many questions. Is medical school the right path for you? What kind of degree or career is the best for your needs? What prerequisites do you need to succeed? These questions and more were answered in a recent collaboration webinar with BeyondDreams, Panther Creek Medical Careers Club, and Green Hope Future Medical Professionals of America. In this webinar, Meghana Ganapathiraju, an alumna of UNC-Chapel Hill and current medical school student at the University of South Florida, shares her personal experience and advice on the path to medical school. The full webinar is posted on the BeyondDreams YouTube channel, but here are a few summarized tips and tricks!

The Rigor of Medical School

Meghana Ganapathiraju explained that the difficulty of medical school is not overstated, as per her own experience. She describes it as “drinking from a fire hydrant,” since at medical school, they throw a bunch of information and terms and you try to soak up the most you can. If you are considering a curated medicine, particularly Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO), you are setting yourself up for a lifetime of study. When you are applying to medical school, you need to be doing it not for the money or prestige, but because it is what you really want. Try activities like volunteering and job shadowing in your prospective medical field to see if this is truly fit for you.

Deciding The Right Type of Medical Path For You

Going to medical school will give you the opportunity to be a Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO). This allows you to do anything within your license or specialty. MDs and DOs are more specialized, compared to Physicians Assistants (PA) and Nurse Practitioners (NP), who are more involved in primary care, usually overseen by an MD or DO, and are not as expensive as a physician’s license.

An alternative to medical school is PA school, which is usually two to three years of full-time graduate study like most master’s degrees. Before being considered as a serious applicant to PA school, you may need to take a couple of years to get clinical experience like empty training, working as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), or volunteering at hospitals.

Nursing is a completely different aspect of medicine. Nurses are more concerned with patient comfort, hospital stays, and supporting the family and patient through their medical journey, less so about finding what’s wrong with the patient and how to treat them.

Typical Majors for Medical School

According to Ganapathiraju, the most common majors are chemistry and biology since you finish half the major just by doing your prerequisites for medical school. However, people have also taken physics, english, philosophy, and more. Meghana herself has a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Quantitative Biology, along with a minor in Neuroscience. Therefore, your admission to medical school is not dependent on the undergraduate major, and you can major in anything!

What if You are Taking a Pre-Medical Path but Do Not Want to Attend Medical School?

Pre-medical (pre-med) is the term used for a collection of courses that will make you eligible for medical school. It is common for people to wait to go to medical school and then change their minds. Instead of pursuing the medical school path, you can use a biology degree to attain a higher degree and work in research labs at biotechnology companies or other research labs. However, many students end up doing a master’s degree or Ph.D. in another field because they are interested in something else.