Big Dreams,  School & Organization

The Worst Pre Med Advice I Received…And What To Do Instead

I received lots of advice from lots of different people before applying to med school. Some of it was good, some of it was not. These two pieces of advice are the worst pre med advice I received. They are the things that looking back I wished I had just completely ignored.

Worst pre med advice

Don’t Worry about Volunteering in a Clinical Environment

This was the first piece of bad advice I received. It was actually from a med student, that was talking to a group of high school students that were interested in going into healthcare. We were told that having more hours of volunteering in something we liked and could talk about on our applications was more important that volunteering in a clinical setting.

It wasn’t until I was doing my undergraduate degree that I thought more about this and decided I needed to get more clinical experience. When it came to applications I wished I had had this realization sooner so that I could showing a longer history of clinically based experiences.

You don’t have to volunteer in a clinical setting but some kind of experience in a clinical setting is important (and required if you are planning on applying to a school in the uk). Having volunteering or shadowing experience before applying gives you a more realistic understanding of what it is your are getting into. If you don’t want to be in a clinical setting, then you should consider that medicine is perhaps not the right field for you.

RELATED: 7 Essential Online Resources for Medical Students

Manage Your Expectations

This was something I heard from my degree advisor. It was one of the worst and one of the most impactful advising sessions I had during my undergraduate degree. I had scheduled the meeting to look at my courses and plan the rest of my degree. I hadn’t had much contact with this advisor before and when we first sat down she looked over my transcripts so far (I was going into my 3rd year at this point) the first thing I out of her mouth at was “well based on your grades I assume you’re not planning on applying to medicine”. I was shocked, I knew my GPA wasn’t stellar but it wasn’t awful (I think at that point I was sitting at a 3.4). My face must have dropped because she quickly started talking and saying well you might be but it’s just we see people with 3.9s and perfect resumes that don’t get in, so you need to start managing your expectations. Manage your expectations. What I took away was my grades weren’t good enough, so I shouldn’t expect to get in. This was also not the last time I would hear this.

It destroyed my confidence, and I honestly started to believe that I wasn’t going to get in to med school. My mom noticed first, that I was doubting myself. I even got defensive when she told me I needed to have more confidence. But she was right, I had started to believe that no matter how hard I worked I was never going to get my grades high enough to get in. And that I needed to prepare myself for that.

My GPA never actually ended up getting much better. Instead by December of that year I was overwhelmed and struggling with burnout.

Applying to medicine is a competitive process, I’m not saying it isn’t. In Canada most schools have about a 10% acceptance rate and on average students go through 3 applications cycles before they are accepted. My point is that telling someone to manage their expectations is so incredibly unhelpful.

If medicine is truly something you want to do then do it. And if you don’t have a prefect GPA, that’s ok it’s not the only part of your application that med schools look at. If you have to take a non-traditional route, that is also ok. But believe in yourself and you abilities.

My advice to you is take everything you hear with a grain of salt, do your own research and if medicine is something you are truly passionate about then be persistent.

If you are interested in attending med school in the UK, I recommend checking out They are a free advising service that helps students who are interested in studying in the UK.

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