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5 Things to Keep in Mind When Choosing Med School

Jul 11, 2018 by

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More and more eminent high school graduates and future college students nowadays gravitate toward medical school. The appeal behind the profession is understandable. Not only is the satisfaction of bettering countless human lives worth the hard work, but the paycheck is rather attractive as well.

For example, on average a young gynecologist’s yearly salary is $200,000 per year in the United States of America. Other branches of medicine offer salaries that are even higher than that. A dermatologist will bring home around $400,000 per year, while the salary of cardiologists exceeds half a million dollars.

What to Consider

When taking a look at the raw numbers, the growing number of medical school applicants is understandable. However, when it comes to such a difficult and challenging domain, it’s critical to closely consider several aspects before taking a decision. Here are the five most important ones, in no particular order.

 

1.      Cost

Unfortunately, one of the main concerns of any college-age individual nowadays is the cost of attending a respected school. In the field of medicine, the cost can climb to $30,000-$50,000 per year, depending on whether you choose to attend a public institution or a private one.

If you are from another state than your school, as much as $20,000 per year can be added to these already considerable expenses. Airline ticket prices are steep, and so is accommodation in high-profile cities such as San Francisco or New York. Of course, this is true mostly for the U.S., where tuition is known to be of astronomical proportions.

However, the situation isn’t much more different in European or Asian countries. Medical school is usually the most expensive type of educational institution to attend, and many students from smaller towns move to the costlier capital to attend good ones. All in all, becoming a doctor isn’t cheap, which is why you need to be willing to make such a huge investment.

2.      Prestige

Another thing to ponder upon closely is the value of prestige for your particular educational purposes. For some families, attending a medical school that has a pedigree is seen as mandatory if you choose to go down this path. But are status and history important to you? Before deciding on a posh and esteemed school, just think about that.

Newer institutions usually have lower tuition costs and are located in less prominent cities, which means that you can cut your expenses in half if you know how to manage the situation. Still, this also raises additional questions regarding recognition and proper accreditation. After all, you will always be better regarded when you’re a Harvard or Johns Hopkins graduate.

3.      Grades

The harsh reality is that getting accepted into medical school is a challenge that not everyone is equipped to face. First of all, you need exemplary grades as far as your GPA is concerned. Moreover, the hard work doesn’t end there. To prove that you are completely qualified, you also need to shine on your Medical College Admission Test, or MCAT for short.

The Career Center of the Berkeley University of California recommends checking the Medical School Admission Requirement (MSAR) online database to see what the required scores are for the schools you have been considering. You should do this early on in the game, as it’s important to focus on maintaining a desirable GPA throughout.

The website displays averages based on recent admission scores. Regrettably, these are not available for free. You need to purchase access from the Association of American Colleges for the price of 15 dollars. Of course, this is only useful if you live in the United States. For universities outside this territory, it is best to check with local sources.

4.      Housing

After bearing in mind the factors that pertain to the educational facet of your decision, it’s time to take a look at the potential quality of life that you will be offered. The most important aspect to investigate from this point of view is that of the housing. If you choose the medical school you’ve been considering, where will you be living during college years?

This issue isn’t about the costs alone. What are the accommodation conditions? Will you be staying on campus, or do you have to rent an apartment in the city? Are there any facilities nearby? Answer all these questions before hurrying to apply. Becoming a doctor is hard work, and you don’t need the additional stress of improper living conditions to add to that.

5.      Lifestyle

The final aspect to keep in mind when choosing to attend medical school has to do with the overall lifestyle offered by such an institution. As illustrated by The Princeton Review, this doesn’t include only campus life, add pressure and academic focus to the mix. The more competitive the university is, the harder it will be for some people to adapt.

You might also want to get a glimpse of how your future colleagues behave. To do so, the best solution is to take a trip to the school and take a campus tour. Since you might spend the next few years under academic pressure, it’s important to be surrounded by warm and welcoming people that are willing to help you adjust.

Final Thoughts

Regardless of their specialization, physicians earn hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. For this reason, more and more young people are attracted by the prospect of medical school. However, applying to it, as well as getting admitted and finishing it successfully are no walk in the park. A lot of effort is necessary, which is why prior consideration is essential.

The first thing most people worry about is the cost of everything. Fortunately, if you are driven by success, it will pay for itself after your first fruitful year on the job. Factors such as prestige, housing, and overall quality of life are also essential in the decision-making process. But after all, the choice is entirely yours at the end of the day.

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