Written by Amy Wang (PEACE Advisor)
- Do I have a relatively clear idea of what day-to-day life as a physician is like, and can I imagine living that life? This is why getting clinical/shadowing experience is essential. It’s not just a box to check off on your applications; it’s a necessary experience to understand what you’re getting yourself into and whether or not it’s right for you. Spend time in a hospital and/or clinic and really observe what doctors are doing throughout the day. Perhaps they’re tending to serious cases, solving an interesting one, or seeing the umpteenth patient with a flu that day. Even though there’s a lot of variety in what you can do in medicine, not every moment will be exciting in and of itself. But if you have reasons for why those occasional mundane days and tiring nights will be worth it, then you can be confident in your decision to pursue medicine. Which brings me to...
- For what reasons do I want to pursue medicine? Ah, the million dollar question. For the purposes of your personal statement and interviews, you will most definitely need an answer to this question. But that’s not the best way to think about it, because you should want to truly answer that question for yourself before you decide to apply to medical school. The application process is expensive and time-intensive, so you want to be certain of what you want before you drop several grand and invest countless hours. Whether it’s because you want to help people, because you’re fascinated by how the human body works, because you love problem solving, etc. etc. etc. -- make sure you know why you’re taking this path. You don’t have to have it all figured out while you’re a pre-med, but definitely put some serious thought into it before you make the decision to apply.
- Who am I doing this for? It’s no secret that many parents pressure their children to become doctors. And even though you’ve heard this likely too many times, I’m going to say it anyway because it’s true and it’s worth acknowledging as true: this is your life. The road to becoming a physician is long, and it requires dedication in the face of tough times and stressful situations. But if you know what you want to do and why you want to do it, you’ll always find a way to get through the how.
These questions might seem extremely broad and vague, but only because there is no one right answer. Medicine is not a one size fits all type of deal, and everyone goes through their own journey. Furthermore, these questions are not always easy to answer, but I hope I’ve given at least a tidbit of insight into the things you might want to think about and how you might find those answers within yourself. Remember, it’s okay if you’re still not sure, as long as you’re trying to figure it out. There are so many opportunities at Cal to explore your interests in medicine and healthcare, so be sure to take advantage of those in your personal journey of discovering what you want to do with your future. And don’t forget that even though it’s your personal journey, you don’t have to go through it alone! Reach out to your friends, family, and interest groups on campus. Choosing a career is a daunting task, but it’s something nearly everyone struggles with at some point, so don’t feel embarrassed. In the end, whether you decide to pursue medicine or not, I wish you the best of luck in all your future endeavors!