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Debunking Med School Myths

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Debunking Common Medical School Myths

Medical school is more painful than stepping on a Lego

If you’re interested in going to medical school, you might have heard someone say something like this. Medical school has a reputation for being difficult, draining, and expensive. There are tons of rumors circulating, but the reality can be very different. Don’t trust everything you hear.

Sure, there are some harsh truths to acknowledge about how your four years of medical school will go. Knowing what experiences you can expect can help prepare you to make your decision of whether or not medical school is right for you.

This post will break down some of the most common myths and rumors that people hear when thinking about attending med school. I want you to approach your med school considerations with all the information so you can make a strong decision about your path. Let’s dive in!

Myth #1: Getting into medical school is hard

Not just anyone can go to medical school—you have to apply and get in. The application process can be daunting. Depending on where you’re applying, some of the hurdles you’ll have to deal with include pre-requisite courses, extra experiences, good grades, and standardized tests. However, getting into med school is not impossible. You can never guarantee that you will be accepted to med school, but there is a 0% chance you get accepted if you don’t try. If thousands of other people have made it into med school, so can you.

A related myth is that you have to be super smart to get into medical school. This is simply not true. While high grades and high test scores are helpful, many other factors are considered when med schools make admissions decisions. Admissions committees look at elements like extracurricular activities, research, volunteer work, and personal statements.

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Myth #2: You need a science major to get into medical school

While having a science major may offer you a slight advantage in the content you learn during medical school, you may still succeed without one. Regardless of your major, you need to have some fundamental understandings of science. Additionally, many medical schools have required courses that you must take before you can begin your medical education. The pre-health advisors at your college or university can help keep you on track to apply.

Our advice is to avoid choosing a major that you believe other people would find appealing. Scientific fields remain the most common degrees, but no preference is given to any particular undergraduate programs. Focus on a subject that you are enthusiastic about and you will succeed. This applies to medical schools that take applicants after a few years of college. This is in contrast to medical schools that take applicants directly after high school. For these schools, you generally have to score high on the final high school exam or an entry exam before getting into medical school.

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Myth #3: You have to study all day

There is no doubt that there’s a lot of content to learn in medical school. Your school will provide tons of resources, and there are more that you can find online. Your first two years of medical school will involve studying this material before you move into the clinic for third and fourth years. But it isn’t true that you have to slog all day through your anatomy books and cover all the available resources.

The volume of material covered in medical schools makes it difficult to learn, comprehend, and retain information. The best way to avoid studying all day is to study smarter, not longer. Many first-year medical students lack specific fundamental study skills. Learning about high yield resources and how to study correctly is the first action to take when you kick off your med school journey.

Tips to study effectively

Most new med students still rely on their old methods of studying from their undergraduate programs. These methods won’t support you in the long run. Learn about science-based studying techniques to help you in implementing effective study hours.

If you’re interested in learning more about effective, scientifically-backed studying, you can check out The Match Guy’s How to Study for Exams course.

Myth #4: Everything you learn is important

We all have seen these big and heavy books of medicine, but the truth is you don’t have to learn everything inside them. The myth is that everything you learn in medical school is essential to your career, but that’s false.

There are some lengthy chapters that you won’t even be using during your clinical practice. Whenever we imagine a doctor, we assume that doctor would have learned everything in these books by heart, but that’s simply not true. Doctors are specialized and know a lot about particular subjects, but even a single subject has a lot of information and it is not necessary or possible to read it all. You will be learning and researching constantly throughout your practice—you don’t need to know everything.

Myth #5: You have to be an over-achiever

The thought of starting medical school with a cohort of intelligent, well-rounded, and enthusiastic people can be daunting. You might hear people talking about all the extra reading they’ve done over the summer, crazy bits of work experience they’ve done, and so on. However, imposter syndrome is real and almost everyone experiences it from time to time.

It can be difficult, but you don’t need to compare yourself to others. Everyone occasionally wonders, “Am I good enough to be here?” Remember that you weren’t chosen for medical school by chance; you are there for a reason! Every day, you’ll be in the company of passionate, like-minded individuals, which is a fantastic setting for learning new things and expanding your horizons. Try to focus on your own path and don’t get too caught up in what everyone around you is doing.

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Myth #6: Medical school is boring

Medical school is commonly perceived as boring. Studying all the time might become boring, but remember other myths we discussed above. You do not have to study all day—study smarter, not harder. You also should learn time management skills to make time for your hobbies. Join a club, a sports team, or go out for a trivia night with your friends. Your medical school will likely also host activities throughout the year—pay attention to your emails and take advantage of opportunities that come your way.

Also, you will be learning exciting content throughout your education. Every lecture might not be riveting, but noting which subjects you find exciting is a great way to think about what specialty to choose. And as soon as you hit your clinical years, it becomes more interesting when you start interacting with patients, seeing different pathologies, and observing different surgeries while the doctors perform them.

Myth #7: You must know your specialization when you start

There is no need to panic if you don’t know what you want to specialize in. Most people enter medical school without knowing their area of interest. It might be advantageous to enter your clerkships with an open mind so that you can sample a variety of specialties before choosing and committing to a line of work that you find fulfilling.

Your interests will change as you rotate in different specialties. Take the opportunity to try everything and you will figure out your way. It’s better to explore your interests as a medical student than to change your mind a few years into a residency.

Myth #8: Medical school is only for the rich

The truth is, depending on the school you wish to attend and which country you want to attend school in, the tuition varies. In the United States, most students rely on student loans throughout med school. These debts can be paid off after your residency or after you get a job. There are ways to pay for med school; never let your dream be stopped by money.

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Myth #9: You won’t be good at diagnosing illnesses

Of course, any doctor needs to be exceptionally proficient at diagnosis. However, it is important to keep in mind that they had ample opportunities to train and practice diagnosis. You will, too! At the beginning, everyone feels like they won’t be able to diagnose. However, you can learn these skills if you’re prepared to put in the effort.

It won’t be enough to read books to learn how to diagnose a patient. That’s why the med school curriculum is divided into two sections: pre-clinical and clinical. In the clinical years, you get a hands-on chance to learn about different pathologies and their diagnoses. You will also have a number of years of residency to continue learning!

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Myth #10: You are too old to start a career in medicine

The idea that it’s “too late” to start prevents many people from pursuing their dream of becoming physicians. A variety of people of different backgrounds enroll in medical school every year. Some came right from undergrad and others have taken time off. Many who take time off come to school with a more disciplined mindset because they have had other opportunities that helped prepare them for the rigor of med school.

You should not let the false notion that it’s too late stop you. If you want to become a physician, you should give your goal a chance.

Myth #11: You will have no hobbies in medical school

Who doesn’t love extracurricular activities? How would you feel working on your hobbies, running your side business, and doing what you love along with your medical studies?

As discussed above, you might have heard the myth of studying non-stop every day. Just as the studying myth is wrong, so too is the myth that you can’t have hobbies or make time to do what you love to do. Time management and prioritization are important skills to master in med school. Managing your time and making time to do activities that you enjoy will help your mental health as you complete your studies.

Myth #12: There’s no time for relationships and friendships

Another myth is that you won’t have time for relationships and friends during medical school. The truth is that friends make your med school experience more exciting. The memories you make with your friends during medical school will stay with you for your whole life. Connect with people who share your interests so you can have people to do things with outside of class.

Additionally, medical school can be challenging. Having friends inside and outside medical school can provide you with strong emotional support to help get you through tough times. There’s nothing like getting lunch with friends after a tough exam or studying together at a coffee shop

Is it all worth it? Is Medical School worth it?

 

It seems hard until it’s done” is a famous saying among medical students. The long hours, challenging classes, and grueling studying can take a toll on even the most dedicated student. But when you see your first patient, hold a baby that was just born, or save someone’s life, you’ll know that all the hard work was worth it.

If you’ve decided that you want to follow your goals of becoming a physician, check out The Match Guy’s Medical School Services. The Match Guy offers everything from personal statement editing to interview preparation and medical school advising to make sure you have the best chances of getting accepted!

Written By: Shariq Azeem

I am Shariq Azeem, a second year med student from Pakistan (Khyber medical university). Along with medicine I enjoy writing blogs and also love to play with python programming.

Edited By: Cody Januszko

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