We All Have Our Own Path

As a premedical student, I find myself constantly comparing myself to others. It is no secret that pursuing a career in medicine, or the health field, in general, is no easy task. Each year that goes by, applying and getting into medical school becomes more and more competitive. With that, I find myself questioning whether or not I even have a chance to pursue the career I have always dreamed of. It’s overwhelming to think about all the things medical schools expect from their applicants. Oftentimes I feel as if they expected me to start preparing in first grade. Medical schools want to see students with decent grades, a good MCAT score, extracurricular activities, volunteering/community service, leadership, shadowing, field experiences, and a list that seems to go on forever. 

This upcoming fall I will be a senior at Michigan State, and if there is one piece of advice I would give to an incoming student who plans to pursue a career in the health industry it would be: don’t compare your journey to others. This past spring I scheduled a meeting with my academic advisor to discuss my schedule for senior year, and seriously talk to her about my plan for applying to medical schools. If there is anything I took away from that meeting, as I was basically in tears talking to her, was “everyone has their own path.”

Everyone is going to have a different journey. You may need to work a part-time job to help pay for school, and not have time to obtain all the community service hours you think you need. You may have transferred schools during college and struggled to adjust to a new place. You may have decided to pursue a career in the health industry a few years after pursuing another degree. You may have had a family tragedy that inhibited your abilities to perform well in your classes. You might have a learning disability that causes you to struggle more in your classes than others do. Perhaps you are terrible at standardized tests and didn’t do well on the MCAT. Maybe you don’t have all the connections other students have, and you don’t have a family member who owns their own medical practice to shadow. There are countless circumstances that may change the way your journey is portrayed to an admissions committee. There are also countless ways we also think we are less than someone else. 

At the end of the day, that girl who comes to class wearing scrubs every day may have just started shadowing. Maybe she feels behind too. It can be so hard as a pre-health student to stop comparing ourselves to others and take some pressure off ourselves. If you are working hard and want a career in health, you can achieve it. Perhaps you need to take a gap year to get some more field experience or take your MCAT again. I am here to tell you that, it’s okay. We all have our own path.