The rituals of a pre-med

31 12 2007

One of the standard rituals that all pre-med students go through is the padding up of your application by cramming as many useless extracurricular activities as possible. I am sure it was once a useful idea, as you would ideally do things depending on your interests and demonstrate your well roundedness as an applicant. Unfortunately, now you need to pass out condoms or teach inner city kids English just to fit in to the applicant pool, and not doing it opens up a red flag. You are interested in something else? Too bad – feign sympathy and go help out that drug addict/inner city kid/old lady. Obviously, you will be so moved by this act of selflessness that you will devote at least two paragraphs of your personal statement describing how medicine is a calling and how you snub your nose at the selfish bastards in healthcare industry who are not in it solely out of the purity of their hearts.

Then, you have to file papers in the Emergency Department at a local hospital and pretend that such an act showed you how residents and attendings really feel and you are going into the career with the full knowledge of what it will be like. Obviously, you didn’t actually talk to anyone while you’re there and played Tetris on your cell phone, but at least you were thinking about the patients while doing it. Then you shadow a doctor in a specialty you care nothing about and feign excitement as he performs routine tasks. After sufficient amount of sucking up, he writes you a letter of recommendation, knowing that you were always in it for the letter, but because he did the same thing as a pre-med, he just writes it anyway. Finally, you pretend you want to practice rural family medicine in Podunk, Kansas because you really care about the under-served population, when everyone in the world knows you’ll end up in a major metro with more doctors than patients.

Ah well. Time to go to the Emergency Department.




2 responses

1 01 2008

True for many. I like it. You forgot to mention where most of the motivation is coming these days: Scrubs, House, Grays Anatomy etc. Anyways, passion is something that is an exception rather than rule in any field so it is pretty much the same story everywhere.

1 01 2008

Very true. In an ideal world, the required clinical experience should serve as a counterpoint to the dramatization of medicine on TV, which should theoretically discourage someone from picking the field based on fictional characters. The problem is that most clinical experience is quite shallow, mainly because people are afraid to go far from the beaten path so it doesn’t mess up their application.

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