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The Pressure to Succeed: Why Passion is Paramount

Updated: May 7, 2020

The thought of medical school can be daunting. Knowing that you are applying to a prestigious profession along with many other intelligent and capable people can sometimes create reservations or doubts about the journey you are on. This pressure to succeed can lead people astray from otherwise fun and successful experiences in their undergraduate careers and even in medical school. I want to briefly address these concerns and give my take on how to manage these feelings. As aspiring medical students, many people think to hold themselves to a higher standard than the average person – perfection in the classroom, diversity in extracurriculars, participation in research, perfect track record with the deans, etc.

When it comes to medical school, some medical students assume that they must be involved in as many groups/organizations as possible in order to appear to be active in the medical community. Although I don’t disagree that all of these points make for a good medical student, I argue that it is absolutely not necessary to check all of these boxes. I believe it is just as important to follow your passions and enjoy your time in both undergrad and medical school. That’s not to say – “Ignore the future, focus on the present”. Rather, I think it’s important to focus on your present to benefit your future.

As a college student, you have the opportunity to choose any major and any activities to participate in that you’d like. The fact that being “pre-med” is only a track, and not a major, supports that idea. As a student, you have the chance to major in geology, psychology, ballet, communications or anything else that you find interesting. If you’re interested in chemistry or biology, choose that! What I’m trying to say is, I believe it’s more important to follow your passions in undergrad than it is to do something you think you’re supposed to do in order to get into medical school. It is much easier to sit in an interview and explain your passions than it is to talk about something you felt you had to do.

Furthermore, join groups and extracurriculars that spark your interest. There is a running joke in medicine that students all say they want to go into medicine because they “enjoy helping people”. Although this might not be the best approach as a personal statement topic, I do encourage you to prove this idea through your actions. Finding groups/activities geared at working with and helping others is always a great way to show that you are a good applicant, and being a medical school applicant, I don’t doubt that you can find groups like this about which you are passionate. Once you get into medical school, as I firmly believe that all those reading this can do, follow this same principle – join the groups/organizations that you are passionate about and be very involved in those few groups. It is much more attractive to hear a lot about a few passionate experiences than to hear little information about a million.

In short, don’t let the pressure to succeed rain on the parade that could be the best 4 years of your life in undergrad and another amazing 4 years in medical school. Follow your interests and passions. Do what you love and that will pay off ten-fold in the present as well as the future. Try to drown out the noise of what other students are doing or thoughts of you not being good enough. Remember that you don’t need to be perfect; no one is. Be yourself and let that shine in your medical school application. I wish you all the best of luck in your application process, and I hope that Prescribe it Forward can help you in your journey to becoming a future physician!

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