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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Williams chapter.

Being a first-generation premed student, as hard as it may be to believe, has its pros and cons. On one hand, you see your peers shadowing family friends or aunts from a single phone call, while you email 10+ doctors just to get a single “no.” It can be challenging, and at times, very isolating. On the other hand, though, you bring an incredibly unique perspective to education, medicine, and healthcare. Your experiences will shape the way you empathize with and advocate for your patients and peers. All of this is just to say: don’t be discouraged. While the road may be turbulent, the destination will be so worth it, and here are some tips to make the trip even smoother:

1. Be resourceful.

Take advantage of ALL resources, whether they be school workshops, networking events, your own family doctor, social media, or Internet search engines. If your school is hosting a premed workshop, there will most likely be doctors or medical students there. Ask them questions, get to know the lifestyle, and connect with like-minded people. You can even ask your own PCP to set up a shadowing opportunity. Start by volunteering at nearby hospitals, and see if they have established observership programs. Email everyone on those hospital or laboratory directories. Even Tiktok is a great way to learn about medicine from a realistic and honest perspective. Having a mentor will make it much easier to make sure this is the right job for you and implant yourself into the field.

2. Work smarter, not harder.

The immediate goal for a premed student is to get into medical school. Unfortunately, this can look very formulaic. I’m sure you all have your own personal reasons for wanting to be a doctor. But, oftentimes, medical schools have their own standards on whether you’re fit for the position. Realistically, you don’t have to do everything related to medicine to become a doctor. Know what it is that these schools are looking for, and adjust those expectations according to your own interests and abilities. Know when you should continue doing something and when you should stop and redirect. Talk to mentors and others who have gone through the process, learn, and adapt.

3. Don’t be intimidated.

I know I found it difficult to treat healthcare professionals the way I treat everyone else. After all, I didn’t have any doctors or nurses in my family. These were people I had idolized at a young age and learned to treat with so much respect that their word became the single objective truth. However, these people are human beings just as anyone else, and while it takes time and experience to become comfortable with this type of clinical environment, don’t let the unfamiliarity of it prevent you from getting involved. Everyone starts somewhere.

4. Go easy on yourself.

Comparison is the thief of joy. Everyone’s journey looks different. Someone’s experiences are not more invaluable than yours just because they have more of them. You’re doing great as you are right now, and it is okay to take breaks or detours. Go easy on yourself. Don’t beat yourself up over a bad grade or compare yourself to that friend who started clinical work 2 years before you. It’s okay to not constantly be in motion.

Most importantly, take care of yourself. As rewarding as this process can be, there are times when it feels harder than usual and times when you feel like bursting into tears. Take time to feel your emotions, but try not to fixate on them. Take comfort in the fact that you are not alone; everything will work out. I know all of you will be great doctors. We’re all in this together.

Annabelle Kim

Williams '24

Hi! I'm Annabelle Kim, and I'm from NYC. I'm a senior at Williams majoring in Sociology, concentrating in STS. I'm a huge foodie and wellness advocate.