Deciding to go to Medical School

Deciding | Preparing | Timeline | MCAT | Choosing | Contacts

Going to medical school is not a decision to be made lightly. For one thing, it involves a substantial time commitment: four years of medical school, plus additional years of graduate study (residency). Second, medical school may be very expensive. Tuition can amount to more than $40,000 per year, depending on the school and your state residency status. You can easily spend over $2,000 simply applying to medical school. Moreover, competition for places in medical schools has never been greater. No matter what your grades are, there is no guarantee of acceptance.

So, make sure you know what you're getting into. Spend time with doctors and other members of the health care team. Learn as much as you can about your chosen profession and the lives of the professionals in it by working or shadowing in a hospital, clinic, private office, or nursing home. While being a doctor can be exciting, challenging and fulfilling, it can also be very tedious. Medicine makes enormous demands on your time, energy, and patience. Find out as much about the profession as possible, so that you go into it with your eyes open.

Visit the Career Center to obtain information about careers, especially medical and health care careers, and how to decide if medicine is for you. Talk to a Health Careers Advisor (see contact list), and use ObieWEB to contact Oberlin alumni who are currently in, or have recently completed, medical school to get the straight story on the whole experience.

You will also have to do a lot of soul searching on your own. Advisors, friends, parents and books are great, but they are not you. You are the only one who knows what you want out of life.  And if you aren’t certain by the time you graduate, take a year or more after graduation to figure it out. Taking a “gap year” or two is not a bad idea.  It not only gives you time to decide if you really are committed to a career in medicine, but it also gives you more time to gain experience in the health care field and enhance your application.