Some quick dos and don'ts for premeds

By Aum

As an MD-PhD Candidate, I’ve spent a lot of time working with premed students on their journeys into medicine. Here are some dos and don'ts that I’ve gathered along the way - please note that this list isn’t all-inclusive! 

The Dos

  1. Build connections. "Networking" might sound like a dirty word, but meeting people -- classmates, professors, PIs -- will become the community that you'll have for life.
  2. Have fun! "Fun" doesn't mean blowing off work: even though lab time, research, and studying will involve long hours and stress, all of the components of becoming a doctor can and should be enjoyable, too.
  3. Keep a balanced diet and lifestyle (eat, exercise, and sleep!). By now it's become a cliché to say this, but it's always worth remembering: you don't take care of yourself, you won't be able to take care of others. 
  4. Take every learning opportunity you can, both within and outside of medicine. Many of the most memorable moments of your intellectual life in college will come from outside a premed setting: that revelation in calculus class, that introduction to architecture lecture, your roommate's linguistics textbook, your teammate's computer science project. Stay curious!
  5. Explore your interests, whether it be through coursework, hobbies, or something else.
  6. Seek the advice of older students at your university. Finding mentor figures is key to navigating the ins and outs of medical studies. 
  7. Be cognizant of premedical requirements and other aspects to build your application. The AAMC compiles really useful data every year, which you can find here.
  8. Make sure you incorporate research, clinical and non-clinical volunteering, and shadowing gradually yet steadily into your schedule.
  9. Take advantage of leadership opportunities.
  10. Take advantage of teaching opportunities.
  11. Give yourself enough time to study for the MCAT. Over the summer can be a great option, as well as incorporating test prep as another "class" during a lighter semester.
  12. Remember professors or mentors that you connect with whom you would like to ask for a letter of recommendation. Stay in touch!
  13. Remember to thank those who got you where you are and who are helping you get where you want to go.

The Don'ts

  1. Don't avoid taking important but difficult classes for the sake of GPA preservation.
  2. But also don't burden yourself with overloading your course schedule. Play it smart: there are extracurriculars and other things you need to be on top of as well. 
  3. Don't become single-minded and only do things to boost your application.
  4. Remember not to neglect building "soft skills" -- communication and empathy are also crucial components of becoming a medical practitioner. 
  5. Don't forget this is a marathon, not a sprint. You should take breaks and preserve/replenish your mental and physical health.

Aum majored in Microbiology and minored in Anthropology and Health Disparities in Society at the University of Florida. Aum believes in the importance of research to drive medicine forward and improve health outcomes. As such, he is pursuing an MD/PhD at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.


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