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Advice for PreMed High Schooler?

nafisahinaboxnafisahinabox Registered User Posts: 11 New Member
edited July 2016 in Pre-Med Topics
Hi! So I'm currently going in to junior year, and my goal in the far, far future is to become a pediatrician because I love kids, and I would very much like to leave my mark on the world as having helped children. As college is coming up soon, I'm feeling very anxious and all, so I wanted to ask for advice and for specific questions.

Some background to help you answer my questions: I just took the new SATs and I scored a 1450. I'm ranked 17 in my grade of 960ish. I have only taken APUSH because that was the only AP I could take this past year, but I will be taking AP Bio, AP Chem, AP Stat, AP Calc AB, WHAP, and AP Eng Language and Composition this coming year. I plan to take Advanced Biology, AP Psychology, AP Physics, a Gifted Mentorship program at my school, AP Government, AP Eng Literature and Composition, and AP Calc BC in my senior year. I volunteer at my local hospital. I'm in Class Cabinet. I will be applying for NHS. I was an officer for NJHS. I am the PR officer for my Girl Up club at school. I do Best Buddies. I paint and play violin outside of school. I do religious courses at my mosque. I did a summer program called Discover Hopkins at Johns Hopkins University this past summer. I live about an hour from Philly.

My dreams: I would very much like to go to Johns Hopkins, because I have heard it is one of the best schools for medical. My parents want me to go to Penn or Princeton, but I'm not sure I could get into those. Or even JHU. I'm worried I've been misguided about thinking which schools are the best and whatnot, and I can't tell where I could succeed and have a good time. (Not a party animal, but I still like to chill.)

Okay so my questions/concerns:

1. It takes forever to become a doctor, but I like to think I'm smart and hardworking enough to go through with it. Bt I'm worried I won't have time to start a family and spend time with them. (Which I realize is forever away, but obviously kids are my passion, and I really want some of my own.)

2. Is not playing a sport going to hurt me?

3. I'm too poor to pay for all those expensive summer programs, but not poor enough to get financial aid. It worries me that everyone is going off to these cool camps and I'm at home.

4. I don't have a job.

5. I'm worried I don't have enough connections or whatever.

6. I'm also worried about having experience concerning research and labs and science fairs. I'm great at science, but not interested enough to do my own project and such. I like it enough to get through it to reach my main goal to be a pediatrician. I also would like to spend some part of my life doing research or in a lab, but definitely not forever. I'm much more interested in diagnosis and treatment and working with kids/patients.

7. The Gifted Mentorship is basically a program where gifted kids can find someone in the community that is in their desired profession and work with them for a year everyday after school. It seems really cool to me and very flexible, which can give me a lot of experience. Every website I visit about high schoolers becoming doctors advises me to shadow doctors. Would this program be enough to count as shadowing? My work would involve keeping reports what I do and how I help out, and giving a presentation nat the end of the year, as well as checkins every marking period.

8. I'm worried about the safety of my college campus, too. I'm a tiny Muslim woman, if that helps.

9. Accelerated programs?

10. How cool would it be to spend a year or even a summer abroad? I see all these advices to spend your summers doing something productive, like a job at a pharmacy or shadowing a doctor or research or volunteering abroad. I think these are so cool, and I wanna be productive like that. A lot of people do things just for college, but my philosophy is that colleges want you to show that experience so you can grow from it, and I wanna be able to grow from it and experience things like living abroad as well, not just because admissions officers want to see that.

Any advice about college or premed or high school programs or conferences or anything that would make me stand above the crowd would be really helpful. Thanks to everyone for the help!

Replies to: Advice for PreMed High Schooler?

  • nafisahinaboxnafisahinabox Registered User Posts: 11 New Member
    Edit: The summer course I did at Hopkins was called Intro to Bio and Med, and I get one credit for it.
  • user4321user4321 Registered User Posts: 114 Junior Member
    Get straight A's and get in the best school(s) you can. Even if you're not into sports get in a habit of regular exercise
  • WISdad23WISdad23 Registered User Posts: 837 Member
    You should relax.

    I once thought I wanted to be a pediatrician. As a medical student the first patient I had to deal with was a terminal 10 year old with leukemia who knew he was dying, had been poked for blood hundreds of times, had no interest in participating in my learning curve, and made it clear that he hated me. Turns out I am not a pediatrician.

    In any case, you are way ahead of yourself. Just do your best in all of your high school classes, do EC's that are meaningful to you and not simply resume fluffers, and then go to an affordable college. As long as you go to a decent college (e.g. a state flagship school) and do well you will have your best chance. Save your glory days for residency and beyond.
  • mikemacmikemac Registered User Posts: 9,635 Senior Member
    edited July 2016
    My dreams: I would very much like to go to Johns Hopkins, because I have heard it is one of the best schools for medical. My parents want me to go to Penn or Princeton, but I'm not sure I could get into those. Or even JHU
    When the day comes for you to apply to med school you are going to be overjoyed to get an acceptance letter from any US school, and you'll have a quiet chuckle about the HS version of yourself that already had the med school picked out.
  • mom2collegekidsmom2collegekids Registered User Posts: 82,683 Senior Member
    edited July 2016
    @mikemac I think she's talking about undergrad.


    That said.... @mikemac is right....once it's time to apply to med school, you will be THRILLED to get into ANY med school. I still remember EXACTLY where I was when my son called to tell me about his first med school acceptance. If that had been his only acceptance, that would have been FINE!!!


    <<<
    My dreams: I would very much like to go to Johns Hopkins, because I have heard it is one of the best schools for medical. My parents want me to go to Penn or Princeton, but I'm not sure I could get into those. Or even JHU. I'm worried I've been misguided about thinking which schools are the best and whatnot, and I can't tell where I could succeed and have a good time. (Not a party animal, but I still like to chill.)
    <<<


    JHU has a top med school, but I don't know if it's so great as a premed. Tons of premeds, probably some heavy weeding.

    Undergrad isn't "medical"? There isn't any "medical learning" going on as an undergrad. You just pick a major and complete the premed prereqs which are REGULAR LOW LEVEL classes of bio, Chem, physics and math.

    Your new SAT is equivalent to an ACT 32, so you wouldn't be a top student at those schools.

    IF you're SERIOUS about going to medical school......

    Pick an undergrad where YOUR stats would put you well within the top 25% so that you will less likely get weeded.
  • mom2collegekidsmom2collegekids Registered User Posts: 82,683 Senior Member
    edited July 2016
    Also....while I don't know specifically about JHU, many/most/all private med schools show no or very little loyalty to their own undergrads who are applying.
  • nafisahinaboxnafisahinabox Registered User Posts: 11 New Member
    thanks everyone
  • MiamiDAPMiamiDAP Registered User Posts: 16,184 Senior Member
    There are no general best school for pre-meds. Every applicant has a college that matches this student the best. And if this college also happen to be free or the cheapest for this specific applicant, then it is a clear choice for a pre-med. One thing to check is the strength of pre-med advisory that may play a crucial role in the medical school application cycle. The rest of the success is strictly in the hands of the student, no place will make much difference at all and no UG will prepare you for medical school either, you just going to get some background and show to medical school adcoms that you have a great interest in medicine and know how and able to work extremely hard. These will depend only on you and not the place. And that is why medical school adcoms largely ignore the name of your college but rather focus on your college GPA (as close to 4.0 as possible is a definite preference), your MCAT score, your medical ECs during college (HS experiences are ignored) and your preferably somewhat social personality. More so, your future university does not even need to have a medical school at all. The medical research opportunities are available at every college including the lowest of the lowest ranked. Again, obtaining these positions will be entirely up to you, no place will put you automatically into medical research lab, volunteering, etc. Best wishes deciding!
  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 Registered User Posts: 32,449 Senior Member
    First, next year's schedule will kill you and your GPA.
    Taking AP calculus AND AP stats is overkill.
    Taking both AP bio and AP chemistry the same year will be insane - each is among the most time consuming science classes , with all the labs - and unlikely to end well. On top of it, it's entirely un necessary to get into a good college, as they expect 6-8 AP 's TOTAL and are very clear it's not, as Stanford put it, 'a game of Ho has the most AP's, wins '.
    Take AP chemistry, AP English language, AP wh, and calculus ab. Add one art class, foreign language, and you're good. Senior year, take calculus bc, AP bio, AP physics 1, Gifted Mentorship, and either AP gov or AP psych, plus whatever you enjoy learning about (non AP).
    If you live children, putting probably won't become a pediatrician. It's just too hard, day in day out, seeing dying kids, unless you mean as part of family practice in which case it's mostly be sniffles and tummy aches and checking growth etc. You could also exile a pediatric nurse.
    For college, you'll want a school that's nurturing and supportive, mostly cooperative, and where your stats place you in the top 25% students. You'll also want that school to be affordable with minimal borrowing on your part (zero if possible) and none at all from our parents.
    Look at our state's flagship honors program, and schools as diverse as Dickinson, St Olaf, Earlham, Lewis and Clark, Hendrix, Agnes Scott, Mount Holyoke...
  • Era991Era991 Registered User Posts: 122 Junior Member
    @mom2collegekids There are some notable exceptions though. Yale and Harvard are two that come to mind, which always have high Yale/Harvard undergrad representation in each matriculating med class. Stanford historically has been the same, although our new Dean of Admissions may change things up now...too soon to say.

    @nafisahinabox , first figure out whether or not you actually really do want to do medicine. Many high school students--including me, back in the day--like the "idea" of medicine and think, sure, I could probably be happy doing that. Realize that, if your sole motivation for becoming a physician is to "leave [your] mark on the world as having helped children," there are many many other professions both inside and outside of healthcare that can help you achieve that goal. Believe it or not, some of them will have better pay, and practically all of them follow an easier path. See my post here for some reasons why this is not lifelong commitment you want to take lightly: http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/college-majors/1907118-computer-science-really-in-demand.html#latest

    As for your specific questions:

    1. Yes, medicine is not the profession you want to go into if you value family time and raising kids most. It's harder in some specialties like neurosurg (7 year residency, surgeon's hours, lots of call and charting), than others like derm (4 year residency, clinic hours, little call and fewer actual calls when on call). That said, peds can be one of the nicer and family-friendly specialties, although ymmv depending on your practice setting (rural vs. urban, clinic vs. hospital, etc.).

    2. Nope. If you're excellent at a sport, being recruited as a D1 varsity athlete with a scholarship obviously helps. But there are plenty of us who get in via the "hard route" outside of the sports and performing arts programs.

    3. If you're actually considering medicine, expensive summer camps are not how you should be spending your summers. Shadow physicians, volunteer in a clinic/hospital, and especially volunteer with a local hospice organization. In hospice, you will learn whether or not you're okay with death, and indeed, whether or not you view death as the ultimate enemy or just as natural part of life as birth. Because medicine is not all about the glamour of the latest magic bullet, and every physician will need to come to terms with their patients' mortality, sooner or later.

    4. You don't need a job. If you want to help your family contribute to your education, good on you, but having a job is no requirement to get into college. Stanford certainly didn't mind that I hadn't worked for money a day in my life (still haven't, unless you count dorm RAing).

    5. Connections are not necessary at this point. That said, they can be very helpful, and you may have more than you realize. Do you have a primary care doctor whom you see for your annual physical/immunizations/when you get sick? There's a connection right there, one who can link you up to a plethora of physician shadowing opportunities, and possibly clinical volunteering opportunities. You don't need connections for hospice volunteering, as they are federally mandated to have at least 5% of their work be carried out by volunteers in order to receive Medicare funding; as such, they are among the most volunteer-friendly clinical organizations.

    6. Research is not necessary to get into college, not even a research-heavy institution like Stanford. It can obviously help, but it's not required. Later on down the line, research can help for medical school (especially if you apply MSTP).

    7. Following a doctor around when he's on duty=shadowing. There's an med school adcom online who has in her signature, "If you're close enough to smell the patient, then it's a clinical experience."

    8. Certainly an important thing to consider. Be sure to visit college in person if you can afford it, or research them/take virtual tours online to ensure your safety. Even as a male, I chose not to apply to a particular "giant" medical school that nearly all pre-meds apply to because I didn't want to look over my shoulder and be on edge every time I walked home in the dark from my 3rd and 4th year rotations.

    9. Meh. Those accelerated/guaranteed programs (PLME, HPME, etc.) are good for people who are 100% they want to commit their lives to medicine and deal with all of the good and the bad that comes with it--again, see my link to a previous post above. Not necessary. I didn't do one. Knowing that you have a guaranteed in to at least one medical school would certainly be nice for peace of mind, but don't let that be the only factor for choosing your undergrad; you should choose a college where you'd be happy, first and foremost.

    10. Abroad can be great, and global health is certainly one of the noblest causes in medicine. But if you choose to do it, do it because you want to, not because you think it would improve your chances. Adcoms actively look down upon "voluntourism," wherein a pre-med will take a nice little 1-2 week vacation in a nice country and spend a little bit of time shadowing a doc here and a doc there. Spending a year somewhere educating adolescents about STI prevention is an entirely different matter.


    Good luck with college! Don't be afraid to leave the pre-med track if you find something you love more.
  • nafisahinaboxnafisahinabox Registered User Posts: 11 New Member
    @Era991 wow, thank you so much!! that was really helpful, actually, and you really eased a lot of fears and worries without sounding like a jerk lol. anytime i ask questions, everyone brushes it off and tells me to stop worrying, but your response really makes me realize i'm thinking way too ahead. for now, i don't see anything else that would make me happier than becoming a physician, so i think i'll just focus on good grades in sciences and extracurriculars. thanks again!!!
  • Era991Era991 Registered User Posts: 122 Junior Member
    @nafisahinabox You're welcome. Being brushed off is simply one of the inherent risks of asking questions on anonymous online forums, even if the brushers offers may not do so intentionally and lack malicious intent. Don't ignore what they have to say, but don't let them spoil your day either.

    In my opinion, and yes CC I'm aware that not everyone agrees, there is no such thing as starting to think about medicine too early. Stressing about it too early may not necessarily be healthy or productive, but there's nothing wrong with contemplating it early--certainly better than contemplating it too late and being locked in to a path you wouldn't have otherwise chosen. The way I see it, seriously thinking about and exploring a career in medicine leads to one of two general possible results: 1) You realize that you love it, and get to become involved through shadowing/volunteering/employment in a field that you love earlier, or 2) You realize that you don't want to do it, in which case you just saved yourself a whole bunch of misery. I know people who thought they were pre-med for 3 years of college, completing 3 years of not-at-all trivial pre-med requirements, only to decide to go into another profession when they had literally only one pre-med requirement left to complete. You will also hear horror stories of medical students and even sometimes residents who decide to quit medicine halfway through--that's a LOT of time and money that they poured into their training which won't ever get back.

    I would really strongly advise you to speak with multiple physicians face-to-face though; the only people who can really tell you what it's like and how best to get there are the ones who already completed their journey to becoming an attending. They're invaluable sources of information about the de-glamourized reality of medicine. You'll probably be surprised by how many of them--especially those dissatisfied with the decreasing reimbursements coupled with increased bureaucratic red tape following the ACA--will expressly tell you NOT to go into medicine. But if you're a crazy like me, you'll do it anyway since you can't imagine being happier and more fulfilled in any other profession.

    At the same time, explore anything else that you think there's even a slight chance you might be interested in doing. Some things which come to mind:

    -Physician Assistant/Nurse Practitioner--mid-level providers, better hours, less training, almost as good pay in some cases.

    -Nursing, EMT/paramedic, physical therapist, etc.--allied health professions where you will still very much be making a difference in healthcare, but just be in a different role.

    -Clinical psychologist--great field. Much needed field. That's all I have to say.

    -Various science research jobs in basic research, translational research, or clinical research, with positions in both academia and industry (e.g., pharma)--if you want to make a difference in children's lives, but are more interested in the science behind healthcare rather than the actual patient interaction, consider a PhD instead of an MD. You could potentially affect far more children by helping to develop one breakthrough drug, as there is only a finite number of patients you will see during your entire life as a clinician.
  • nafisahinaboxnafisahinabox Registered User Posts: 11 New Member
    Thanks for the extra career options! But I genuinely can't imagine being more happy working in a lab or behind a desk than being with actual children as patients. But who knows, I might change my mind? Thanks again, everyone!!
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