Making a New Year’s resolution is common practice with somewhere between one-third to half the population establishing a goal that they want to achieve during the coming year. Historically, the most popular resolutions include “to lose weight”, “to improve fitness”, and “to make more money”.
Unfortunately, a fourth of people who make a New Year’s resolution will quit by the end of the first week of January and nearly half by the end of the month. Although a government-sponsored poll reported that 87% of Americans felt they were likely to keep their resolution, researchers say its more like 10% that do.
The New York Post found that it takes just 32 days for the average person to break their resolution and one-in-seven Americans never actually believed they would see their resolution through in the first place. By demographics, younger adults between the age of 18 to 34 were the most likely to set a New Year’s resolution each year. That’s certainly the right age bracket for a majority of pre-med students applying for medical school.
Timely Goals for Aspiring Doctors
Whether you love the annual tradition of goal setting or argue it’s a waste of time because most resolutions fail, every aspiring pre-med student should be focused on the four New Year’s resolutions discussed below:
- High Score on Entrance Exams – There’s no need to sugar coat it – the MCAT is meant to be a tough test. But don’t worry, with a positive approach, you can score well. Balance a lower MCAT score, if need be, with a better GPA and real experiences to stand out with admissions committees. Remember, stats aren’t everything, but a strong academic history is important. With U.S. and Caribbean medical schools available, you have plenty of options.
- Get Accepted to Medical School – Applying to medical school can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Take it one step at a time, create a timeline, and stay organized. Don’t forget your “why” for pursuing medicine and make sure to research each school’s mission and resources. Strengthen your skills and become a knowledge expert to maximize your chance of acceptance to medical school.
- Create Good Study Schedule – As a medical student, you will spend a lot more time studying outside the classroom than you did as a pre-med student. Medical school is challenging, so it’s time to establish a study schedule that works best for you. If you have doubts about your study skills, seek professional resources for help and consider joining a study group once medical school starts.
- Adopt Healthy Mindset – Medical school is a significant commitment. The challenges that lie ahead require that you take good care of your physical and mental health – not just as a pre-med student or medical school student – but as a practicing physician. Remember, it’s your journey and your career. So, stay focused, stay determined, and you can make your dreams of becoming a doctor a reality.
Experts say the best way to ensure you are among the 10% who don’t give up on New Year’s goals is to realize there will be challenges and put in the hard work following your action plan. Surveys suggest that the more specific your strategy for success, the easier it will be for you to succeed. If you get off to a bad start, the second Friday of January is “Quitters Day”, which is dedicated to jump starting any failed resolutions.
Overview of the Medical School Timeline
Different medical schools offer unique opportunities and academic focus. Some students may choose to earn an MD (allopathic) degree while others choose to pursue a DO (osteopathic) degree. Either way, after four years you’ll need to enter a residency program to gain hands-on training in your field. Here’s what to expect:
- Year-One Med School: The first-half of med school focuses on a mixture of classroom lectures and hands-on lab time. The first-year is known to be challenging with the introduction to the medical sciences, such as anatomy, biochemistry, microbiology, pathology, and pharmacology. Curriculum, coursework, and modules for first-year med students vary by schools. But, students learn the basics of doctoring and develop interpersonal skills needed to behave professionally in a hospital setting.
- Year-Two Med School: The second year of medical school is arguably the hardest with a heavy course load and spending more time at the hospital developing clinical skills. Med students begin interacting with patients and performing physical examinations. It is important to find the balance between the more intense academic workload and increase in clinical responsibilities. Students tend to take the high-stakes USMLE Step 1 or COMLEX Level 1 exams at the end of their second year of medical school.
- Year-Three Med School: The second-half of med school begins the clinical experience phase where each student does rotations at hospitals and clinics. These provide a breadth of knowledge and help students identify potential career paths. During this time you may feel like a grunt performing basic procedures along with tasks the resident doesn’t want to do. Students demonstrate an understanding of the conditions affecting patients and DO students demonstrate what they’ve learned with COMLEX Level 2 exams.
- Year-Four Med School: Most med students think the fourth year of medical school is the most enjoyable. It is also one of the most important years as students shape the future for his or her professional career. Today’s fourth-year students have more freedom in choosing clinical rotations to prepare for residency. But, don’t think it is a breeze. The first-half of the final year can arguably be the hardest, as you take nearly full responsibility for patient care. Fourth year is when most MD students take USMLE Step 2 CK.
- Residency Internship PGY-1: DO graduates take COMLEX Level 3 exams after graduating from their osteopathic medical school and before the end of their first post graduate year (PGY-1) of residency. Computer-based tests are taken over two days that include clinical decision making cases. MD graduates take USMLE Step 3 after one training year in a U.S.-accredited graduate medical education program. Many American and foreign medical school graduates use this first year of residency to prepare for the exam.
- Residency PGY-2 thru Fellowship: Since clinical rotations alone do not provide the experience or expertise to practice medicine, students still need to pass their board exam and spend time as a resident in a teaching hospital. After four years of study at an allopathic (MD) or osteopathic (DO) medical school, resident doctors complete 3 to 7 years of residency before they can start practicing medicine. As an alternative, they can pursue subspecialty training for 1 to 3 years in a medical fellowship.
Medical school is no joke. The process of becoming a doctor takes time. It’s not like college, where you could get by with just attending class and cramming before tests. The courses are intense, focusing on anatomy, physiology, biology, and other science disciplines. From day one, students are expected to build upon their foundational knowledge and apply it. In medical school, you’ll have to really put in the hours of studying. Take it step by step, create a timeline, and celebrate your accomplishments along the way.
So, do med students get paid…
No. Despite all the hard work, medical students do not get paid while they earn hands-on experience through learning modules and clinical rotations at a teaching hospital. Some students choose to work part-time because they need to earn some extra income but most have to rely on loans, bursaries, or scholarships to pay the bills. But don’t worry. Once you reach residency, you’ll start earning a paycheck alongside your colleagues.
You’ll graduate medical school when you are around 26 years old, followed by three years of internship and residency. If you decide to specialize, add another three to seven years to that. So most doctors don’t start their careers until sometime in their thirties.
“You can reduce your time spent in education by earning your undergraduate degree in three years,” says Dr. Hans Wolf, the founder of WOLFPACC Physicians Achievement Concept Course. “So take control of your future and make the most of your premed journey by making your New Year’s resolutions come true.”
Don’t let age deter you from pursuing a medical career. There’s no such thing as being “too old” for medical school. While many physicians enter MD programs right after college, you can pursue a medical degree at any point. Whether you’re fresh out of college or venturing into medicine later in life, it’s never too late to chase your dream. Just be prepared to put in the hours, because success in medical school demands dedication and hard work.
It takes a while to become a full-fledged doctor. WOLFPACC physicians achievement concept course equips allopathic and osteopathic students with a powerful approach to practicing medicine. “Power 5” is structured around the basic sciences and a clinical understanding of the task at hand. If you are a medical student or IMG who wants to score well on any medical licensing exam, we look forward to assisting you.