The following is a repost of an essay I submitted and that was published at social media's leading physician voice: KevinMD.com. How many students enter college and immediately proclaim that they are “pre-med?” Often this declaration is accompanied with an already well thought-out choice for his or her future specialty. This incredible ability to see into the future must be hereditary, as I have had 3 or 4 different parents tell me about how their kids are going to have to choose between medical school A and B, and/or how Johnny Premed “will probably end up in cardiology.” As a senior at my university, I have seen and known plenty of students who applied and got into medical school. However, what I find to be so surprising is the sheer number of pre-meds who never make it to the Promised Land due to the Medical College Admission Test or MCAT.
A bunch of undergraduates discover that following through with mom and dad’s dream for them to be a doctor is just not in the cards. Others get caught up in the whole “college experience” and never academically recover. But, in my opinion, too many pre-meds simply never look ahead to the MCAT. I don’t think it is a lack of desire, hard-work, or natural intellectual ability that holds back most hopeful college students. Rather, it is not knowing exactly what they are up against.
To be honest, up until sophomore year of college I couldn’t have told you the difference between a 25 and a 45 on the exam; much less the various subjects tested. At my school this information is not common knowledge, and professors rarely talk about the all-important medical school admissions test. However, every question I had was answered once I stumbled across The Student Doctor Network (SDN).
Imagine how much valuable information can be found from over a decade of posts from thousands of pre-health students who have gone down this path before me. I quickly found myself registering a username and using this amazing resource nearly everyday. I soon knew which test preparation books to purchase, and how long I needed to give myself to practice for the MCAT. My eyes were opened and I was truly motivated to one day post my own recommendations in the sacred “30+ MCAT Study Habits.”
I think the majority of students never realize how helpful social media can be for their future career. I have had friends blow thousands of dollars on MCAT test-prep classes and private tutors, only study for a week before they take the exam, or take the MCAT so late that their application is already behind others. Why do these things happen? It is because a lot of pre-meds never know up from down when it comes to issues with the MCAT, until it is too late. The interactive dialogue of SDN was basically a free tutor and pre-med counselor for me. The information put me ahead and introduced me to a community of current and future health professionals. Online forums, blogs, and even Twitter can fill in so many answers for pre-med students and help them plan ahead. Now….what’s Step 1 all about?