It’s not too early: preparing for med school in high school

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Students break in their Gap Medics t-shirts on Gangilonga Rock in Iringa, Tanzania It’s not too early to start thinking about how you can prepare for medical school while still in high school. Preparing early will not only help you academically, but it may provide you with a better idea of what kind of medicine you want to practice.

Building a strong foundation

One of the best things you can do academically is to work on building a strong foundation in science and math. Although you may choose any college major in which you are interested, you will still need to take certain science classes. Medical school admissions requirements may vary, but almost all schools require some science and math classes, such as chemistry, calculus and biology.

If your school offers advanced placement (AP) classes, consider taking a few classes in science and math. Taking an advanced placement class allows you to earn college credit if you score well on the advanced placement exam.

Another thing you can do during high school is develop good study habits. Medical school can be a challenge, even for the best students. In the past, if you got by with minimal studying and completing projects at the last minute, you should probably consider changing your habits. Develop ways to manage your time effectively. Learn to organize your school work to avoid falling behind. The strong study habits you develop in high school will come in handy in med school.

Participating in extracurricular activities

When you are a high school student, you may have the opportunity to participate in a variety of extracurricular activities. Being involved in leadership activities, such as student government, may help you get into the pre-med program of your choice. Participating in various extracurricular activities may also help you determine what you enjoy and want to continue to do in college. Medical school admissions panels consider how well-rounded a student is and what types of extracurricular activities he or she was involved in.

Exploring the field

High school is the perfect time to learn more about the field of medicine and what being a doctor is really like. Ask a counselor or teacher at your school if there is a career exploration program or summer enrichment program where you could learn more about the medical field. Some companies, like Gap Medics, offer physician shadowing programs abroad. These opportunities often combine travel and clinical experience.

Some ambulance companies will let high school students volunteer, which would also be good experience. Consider contacting local health clinics or hospitals and determine if they accept high school volunteers. If you have the opportunity to talk with anyone who is in medical school, take advantage of it. The more you learn about med school and the field of medicine, the more likely you are to make a career choice that is the right fit.

Don’t overdo it

One thing to keep in mind is not to go overboard while preparing for medical school. Preparing for a career as a doctor early will give you an advantage later on, but try to avoid being so focused that you lose sight of other opportunities and possibilities. High school and college are times to discover your talents and interests. If you are too closed-minded about other career possibilities, you may miss out on your true passion.

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