It is common to take many things into account when making big life decisions. It is also common to give too much weight to things that don’t matter in the long run. If you have made a career choice based on what others thought you should do, what you thought made financial sense, or what you thought you were smart enough for, you may have shortchanged yourself.
Many people look to others in the medical field and would like to try that for themselves. Individuals who work in medicine are respected, in-demand, and well-compensated. The pinnacle of a successful medical career for many people is to become a medical doctor. Too often, the idea dies under pressure to finish school and enter the workforce. Pivoting into related careers, or moving away from medicine entirely, is common. If you considered becoming a physician and felt that you were not smart enough, wealthy enough, or dedicated enough, maybe it is time to reconsider.
Securing the Finances
There is no denying that the cost of medical school adds up. Keep in mind, very few people are paying out of pocket. Student loans are expected. If you are a non-traditional student, you may have advantages over medical students fresh from their undergraduate degrees. If you are considering medical school after working and living as an adult on your own for a few years, you may be a great candidate for private medical school loans. These loans have different criteria than money borrowed from the federal government. Because the loans are private, your credit score matters. If you have good to excellent credit, you will be able to borrow money at a lower interest rate than what is available through federal loans.
Passing Your Classes
If you set aside your dream of attending because you worried you were not smart enough, returning as a nontraditional student can be a benefit. After working at a full-time job, juggling work, and life responsibilities, you are more prepared to handle the rigors than you may have been immediately after completing your undergraduate degree. In addition to the time and life management skills you have picked up since completing your undergraduate degree, you will have more confidence in your abilities than in earlier years. You know you can do difficult and challenging things because you already have.
Making it Work
If you are concerned that you will not be able to balance with the rest of your life, you are probably right. During medical school, your education is the priority. There will not be much room for balance. There are things you can do to ease the transition into a full-time medical school student. The first is to understand that this is just temporary, it is not the rest of your life. Dedicating the time now will allow you to follow your passion and build the life you want in the future. The other thing you can do to help maintain somewhat of a balance during medical school is to stay on top of your work. Always look ahead to what exams are coming up and what assignments are due. You may have breezed through undergraduate by pulling last-minute all-nighters, but attempting that in medical school will create a cycle where you are constantly trying to catch up.