Steps to a successful medical school application: Step 1 Knowing if medical school is really for you.

For most if not all science students, getting into medical school is their ultimate goal. However, over half of the population do not know the struggles and pain medical school students undergo. Too many students, especially high school and freshmen, think medical school equals to a secured wealthy living. Indeed, the average salary a family doctor earns is $241,077 in Canada and $175,000 in the States1,2. However, what are not shown are high expenses spent on room rental, receptionist/assistant salaries and equipment. They also have to pay off the high tuition fees and student loans accumulated over their medical school career. To find if medical school is right for you, here are some guidance/questions to clarify the mist.


  1. NO GO: going to medical school will generate loads of money.

In US, doctors graduate with $500K debt which are generally paid off during their 40s3. Thus, In their first 10 years of practice, a significant amount of money goes to pay off their loans and clinic expenses. To see what a doctor’s job is like, here is an awesome article outlining the details of a doctor’s life and job:

  1. GO: you enjoy learning anatomy, patient interaction and problem solving.

It’s not just the anatomy or patient interaction or problem solving. It is a combination of them, by having an interest in just one area may not make a doctor’s life enjoyable. In a typical clinic, doctors spend ~70% talking to patients while spending the rest on paperwork2. During that large chunk of time, you are selecting pieces of information from the vastly learned knowledge to diagnose the patient. This may not be enjoyable for those who don’t like puzzle solving.

  1. NO GO:Once I’m out of medical school, I don’t need to study again!

That’s a general myth shared among premedical students. They think medical school covers all necessary content and they don’t need to touch the thick textbook again. They are right in a way because they do not need to dig in their textbook. However, learning comes in different ways. Throughout a doctor’s career, s/he have to stay up-to-date on current medical news, including new treatment methods and outbreaks. If you don’t have a consistent desire to learn, medical school is not the right path for you.

  1. GO: you have the determination to study long hours, even when you friends are having a great time.

Not only does medical school tests your knowledge, they also test your mentality and determination. You are studying when everyone else is gathering, partying and having fun. You may sometimes doubt if you made the right decision but you should have a strong willpower to stay focused in the long run.

With the above points, I hope you have some guidance on deciding if medical school is right for you. In my next post, I’ll talk about how to prepare for medical from scratch.


  1. National Physician Database, Canadian Institute for Health Information. Retrieved from:
  2. Family Physician Compensation Report 2013, Medscape, Retrieved from:
  3. Dan Munro, Med Student gives sober assessment of Future With $500k in Student debt, Jan 30, 2014. Retrieved from:
  4. Shadowing observation from family doctors and clinic doctors.

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