Chapter One Thinking About Med School? Think Again . . . Know thyself. Socrates Choosing a vocation, particularly one like medicine, is a daunting task. Our social programming starts early in childhood, through role modeling, media portrayals, and questions like: "What do you want to be when you grow up?" Some people have an early, seemingly innately directed passion for a particular field that they pursue headlong from day one. For the rest of us, the path is more circuitous. Whatever your own course has been thus far, if you now find yourself contemplating a life in medicine, you must take the time to consider how it is that you got here. Find a quiet place where you can be undisturbed for the next twenty minutes or so. Turn off your cell phone, your MP3 player, and anything else that can disturb you. We're about to ask you a series of very serious questions, the answers to which will reveal much about your readiness for medical school. After reading each question, write in stream of consciousness, in the space provided, everything that comes to mind. Do not organize, filter, or censor your thoughts. And don't worry about writing in the book! This book will be your tool and your guide through medical school and residency. Break it in and make it your own. Get everything down on paper. You may be surprised at what you're about to learn. Take a deep breath and try to relax. Ready? Go. The Four Questions to Ask to Assess Your Readiness for Med School 1. How did you end up considering medical school? 2. Have you considered other career paths? Why or why not? Which other careers have you considered, and why did you abandon them? 3. What are your three primary motivations for pursuing a career in medicine? 4. What do you imagine a career in medicine would be like? The amazing thing you'll discover as you get deeper and deeper into a medical career is the great variety of answers to these seemingly basic questions. What is it that attracts people from all avenues of life, and all stages of life, to a field that involves such incredible sacrificea commitment of seven or more years of your life and an investment of hundreds of thousands of dollars? While it is impossible to catalogue all the reasons advocating for or against a career in medicine, there are some common threads that bear discussion. The Top Five Reasons Not to Go for It The easiest place to start is with some of the common myths and misconceptions that often drive people toward a career in medicine. Go back and look at your responses to the questions above. If any of the following reasons appear in your responses, you may want to more thoroughly examine your decision to explore medicine. My parents were physicians Family traditions are great, but if you're contemplating med school just because someone else in your family is a doctor, think again! A career in medicine requires such deep personal commitment that the mere desire to carry on family tradition will pale in comparison. If you have physicians in your family and find yourself intrigued by their lives and careers, then by all means draw on them as resources, talk candidly with them about their experiencesand then reach your own conclusions. You're charting your own course here, though, so make choices that work for you. If you're getting pressure to pursue medicine from doctors in the family, ask them for an honest response to the question, "Would you do it all again if you knew you were going to start your career in medicine in the world as it is today?" RememMiller, Robert H. is the author of 'Med School Confidential A Complete Guide to the Medical School Experience', published 2006 under ISBN 9780312330088 and ISBN 0312330081.