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Advice on Surviving the Pre-Med Years

Updated: Mar 8, 2021

So, you have made the decision: I want to be a doctor. Next thought is okay, now I need to get into medical school. You start your science classes and immediately are flooded with people who have the same idea and goals you do. You sit there quietly in class and overhear how everyone is doing amazing things, making connections, and even maybe already studying for the MCAT. You start to compare, become overwhelmed, and believe you are so far behind. If you had any similar thoughts to these you are not alone. I knew I wanted to pursue the path to becoming a physician very early on, and when I entered undergrad almost everyone I met in my classes wanted the same goals. I sat there as a freshman overhearing what everyone is doing, how they are preparing, comparing myself to those around me. I had immense anxiety and wondered if I would ever do it all. I remember sitting in Pre-Med meetings listening to speakers and presentations on all that needs to be done to make your application competitive, and then hearing how other members already had those experiences in place. I had so much anxiety I had to stop going to those meetings. This was one pivotal moment in questioning will it ever happen, will I ever get into medical school.

My advice that I can now pass on looking back is to create your own path and don’t let others intimate you or define your path. If you really want this career you will find a way. I know this sounds clique and you have probably heard this one million times, but it can never be closer to the truth. Find what makes you happy, yes I said happy, you don’t have to give up the college experience or be miserable to get into med school. For example, I loved mentoring and research and found my passions in those which then helped to connect me to faculty and experiences that help me in my application. Please do not do an activity or experience because you think it will make the admissions team like you more. Find your passions and stick with it, you will be surprised how everything else kind of falls into place. It also does not have to be on anyone’s timeline but your own. I was not ready to take the MCAT when it was time and I wanted more experiences in my undergrad years so I took an extra year. It was the best decision I ever made. Do not rush your experiences or your journey, med school will always be there. Make sure you enjoy and love your time/experiences and it will show when it comes down to applying.

Now the big thing that gets all of us pre-meds is competiveness and comparing. We do not dare say it but we all have those thoughts. “Wow she is doing so much research, they have done so much shadowing, their MCAT is super high, he has so many experiences compared to me”. You even get the ones that say it to your face. For example, I had some peers give me looks and tell me straight to my face, “you will never get in with that score”. I cannot express enough please do not listen to those people. Take yourself out of those conversations and environments, any group or club that expresses those negative thoughts are not worth your time or energy. You know your worth and know that you are going to get into med school to become a doctor. Those people are not needed in your journey. With that being said, I am not going to lie it is hard to keep up grades, volunteer, be involved, and fitting in activities that are just plain fun. There have been so many tears, exhaustion, and wondering if my goals will really become a reality. No matter what happens or how hard it gets you have that flame inside you. You know that you will make it happen and see your goals come to life. If you have to take a different path or if it takes three times just pull down within yourself, find that flame, and know you can and will make it happen.

Lastly, my biggest advice from my journey thus far is remembering that this is not everything. Do not forget to pay attention to your life, friends, and having fun in undergrad. It is all about balance, yes you will have to say no to parties and hanging out with friends but just remember to turn that no into a yes sometimes. Your people and well-being are essential into continuing the fight into medical school. When things get hard or do not go according to plan they will be there for when you fail that exam (yes it does happen) and will be there when you get accepted into medical school. Do not give up, remember your passions, and have fun on this journey!


Megan Kabara, OMS-IV

Megan Kabara is a 4th year medical student at Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine applying for otolaryngology residency. In undergrad and medical school she had two big passions that included mentoring and research. She enjoys sharing her experiences with others and helping them along their journeys. In her spare time she enjoys spinning, kayaking, and yoga. One fact she loves to share is that she is obsessed with penguins and would love to meet one in real life face to face.

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