We myth-bust five popular misconceptions about med school, separating fact from fiction.
For most people, perceptions of life in medical school are forged by images of med students and doctors in popular culture, along with common assumptions often presented as truths. Television and movies tend to play up certain aspects of life as a med student or resident, but hardly give people the full picture.
Here are five common misconceptions about med school that may have you feeling concerned about the prospect of stepping into a medical program.
You’ll face intense competition with your peers
Getting into med school is hard work, there’s no doubt about it. While that initial process may feel in itself highly competitive, many students carry the misconception that med school itself will be, too.
Yet pretty quickly, most students will experience a strong sense of camaraderie, and recognition of healthy ambition, with their peers. You’re there to support each other through the challenging times, and celebrate the moments that deserve to be celebrated.
After all, your med school peers will understand the struggles you face like few others in your life because they’ll be living through them at the exact same time. Regardless of what field within medicine you pursue, you’ll find that med school friends and connections will continue to play a big role in both your life, and career.
You’ll have no life outside of studying
While studying will definitely take up a huge portion of your time, that doesn’t mean you’ll be forever chained to your laptop or textbooks.
In fact, taking breaks from study will almost certainly help keep you fresh, focused, and with the perspective required to take on such an impressive challenge.
If you love to run, cook, or paint, incorporate those activities into your med school routine. You’ll miss them if they aren’t there, seeing clearly their function in your life. Likewise, growing med school friendships with your peers and staying connected with old friends will give you a strong support system.
Learning is an individual pursuit
In med school, learning becomes more collaborative than ever before. As an undergrad, classes are more often focused on individual efforts. In med school, success—both yours and others—will depend on teamwork and communication.
From constructive feedback, effective delegation, and the importance of hearing your team members perspectives, you’ll quickly come to depend on your fellow med school students, as they will on you.
Only the most brilliant minds will make it
While medical school does require a high level of intelligence, it’s not true that only absolute geniuses make the cut.
Like with most things in life, high levels of discipline, work ethic, and humility are often more important than intellect when it comes to becoming a great doctor. Knowing how to stay positive and committed to your goals when times get tough are equally important assets at med school.
No matter how brilliant people are, it’s unlikely that they’ll persevere without a strong selection of the traits above.
Medical schools work hard to weed out struggling students
In reality, most med schools want all their students to succeed. They’ll do everything they can to nurture their med students’ growth, like teaching effective study skills and offering peer tutoring, in preparation for the inevitable challenges.
Medical school may be the most demanding experience you’ve ever gone through, but for the vast majority of students, it’s also the most rewarding. All students face self-doubt and uncertainty at some point, but having a strong support network and the ability to give yourself positive affirmations will keep you on track!