Is medical school worth it?
I get it, you know that medical school is not something to take lightly. You probably knew about the long hours you have to study, the stressful and high stakes exams you have to take, and the countless years in training you have to spend before becoming a doctor.
So is medical school really worth it?
A quick background on myself if you are new to TheMDJourney. My name is Lakshya (Luck-sh) and I’m a 4th-year med student currently applying to residency.
As a 4th year, your schedule is much more relaxed. Thus you have time to enjoy yourself. (Check out a typical day in my life here).
But you also have time to reflect on the past few years.
Today I was able to do just as I caught up with some of my closest med school friends and we reminisced about the good old days of anatomy and biochem.
On the drive home I realized I had the perfect amount of insight to write this post and tell you whether or not I’d go through medical school again.
If you want a video format of this video then check out the YouTube video below (coming soon)! Subscribe if you enjoy the content!
If you want to know how med school actually is, check out this post. (It’s one of the most popular posts on the website!
What Are The Best Parts About Medical School?
1. You Become The Expert:
Let’s face it. If you like medicine and are considering going into the field, then you like being the person people go to.
You enjoy when people ask you for help. This can be helping for a class, life advice, etc – you enjoy being the go-to person.
Going to medical school gives you that opportunity.
Every month you are learning more about the human body than most people will ever hope to know in their entire lifetime.
You will be the person in your family and friend group who will be consulted for the smallest rashes to the most severe of diagnosis.
That’s pretty damn powerful.
Sure there’s a bit of ego involved, but we all enjoy being needed in some sense.
Learning to become a physician teaches you a skill that you will always be counted on for.
Thus when you’re a third-year med student – your patients will rely on the 20-year student to explain diabetes, heart failure, cancer, etc. to them. How freaking cool is that?
Name another profession where you can bed trusted upon for advice regardless of your young age?
That’s what makes med school so cool!
2. You Will Meet The Most Amazing People
Your classmates are going to be some of the smartest people you will ever meet.
They also are some of the most inspirational and motivating figures these 4 years.
Your definition of hard work will change when you see your peers go to work.
Thus (assuming you’re humble) you will also be motivated to work harder, learn more, and provide better care for your patients.
It’s not only the motivating factor. Medical school is by no means easy. Your classmates are going to be what get you through these next 4 years.
They will be the source of your smiles and laughter. You will spend what free time you have with them.
They will see you at your best and worst – as you will for them.
But they will always be there.
Having this source of community – a group of peers who are going through exactly what you make the process much less daunting and dare I say a little more fun!
3. You Will Become An Improved Person
I don’t remember what I was like before med school.
But I will tell you one thing – he wasn’t as put together as the individual I am today.
I’m currently 25 and not only am I going to be a doctor, but I’m also engaged, a self-published author, a coach, and the healthiest I’ve ever been.
I know my future is bright and it’s because of the challenges I’ve faced here in med school.
I’m sure that if I took a different route – I would not be challenged the way I was and hence would have not become the person I currently am.
Medical school will make you smarter – that’s obvious. But you will also be more caring, organized, a better communicator, and humble.
As much as it is a 4-year medical journey – there is a lot of personal growth which occurs as well.
What Are The Worst Parts About Medical School?
1. Have To Be Okay Being Good Enough
This is something we all struggle with.
We’re used to the high SAT, MCAT, etc.
But remember this fact – 50% of your class will be in the bottom half of their med school class.
So when people ask me “is medical school worth it”, I respond with – “are you okay with being in the bottom 50%?”.
That’s not to say that you should be okay with being in the 3rd and 4th quartile. You should always aim for your best.
But med school will remind you time in and time out that there are people smarter than you.
Your classmates will likely do better on exams and study less than you. You have to be okay with that.
Ultimately med school forces you to be okay with not caring so much about what other people think.
Below is one of more popular YouTube videos on what makes a med student stress free. I think you’ll find it helpful.
2. The Cost of Med School is High
This is often overlooked until we have to pay our med school loans back, but it’s important to keep in mind.
Every day you go to class or your rotations – you are paying to be there.
But is every day in med school equal quality? Absolutely not! In fact, there are some days you don’t learn effectively and it’s a wasted day.
On the surface it may seem cool to say “Sweet, I got out early today”, but you still likely paid $200-300 of your tuition for that day.
Perhaps it’s just me, but the financial stress is always on my mind. I’m paying for med school completely with loans and scholarships. Thus I have to be vigilant of my spending.
Even with effective budgeting, there are expenses for med school which are unavoidable.
This includes board exams. Step 2 CK (one of your board exams), for example, costs over $1,000!
Your residency interviews can cost you anywhere from $300-1500 just to hit the submit button! This is even more for inferential medical graduates.
And you may say, “Well you’ll make that money back as a doctor.” You’d be right but remember that you don’t make an attending salary until you finish residency which can take anywhere from 3-7 years! During this time your loan continues to accrue interest!
So med school is by no means cheap and the cost will always be a reason for stress and doubt.
3. Delayed Gratification is a Big Reason For Doubt
I talked above about some of the best parts about medical school, but there’s a nasty word which is associated with much of it – delayed gratification.
So you want to go to med school and work with patients. What if I told you that for many schools you would have to wait 2 years before you began your rotations? Until then you are spending a majority of your time in the classroom?
Doesn’t sound so nice huh? But it’s the nasty truth.
While it’s done for your best interest, it can be easy to lose motivation in medical school. Spending 2 years in your classes and textbooks is not what you signed up for right?
Now I know we don’t like talking about money, but that’s another element.
You want to live a decent lifestyle and there’s no doubt a doctor’s salary allows you that luxury.
But having to wait 3-7 years after med school for it? Remember that residency is no cake walk either!
Yes being a doctor sounds nice. You save and change lives. But not enough people talk about the lack of sleep, the long hours of studying, the expensive board exams, and the years you have to put in before reaching the hypothetical finish line.
So yes – delayed gratification sucks. It’s often what I see the most often in my classmates who begin to reconsider their decision to go into medicine. They didn’t expect to put this much hard work by this point with very little to show for it.
So ask yourself, can you put in the time and then wait on time to gift you for your hard work?
Is Medical School Worth It For Me?
So is medical school worth it?
I’ve found a field that I belong in. It complements my strengths and desires perfectly.
But it’s not for everyone. If the cons I listed sound like deal breakers then you may want to consider a different career path.
Would I go to medical school again? Heck yes!
Would I be excited to study for anatomy and pharmacology again? Not really (but it’s part of the process).
Just remember that if you think being a care provider is what you want to do – then the patients you meet during your rotations will make it all worth it.
If you enjoyed this post then make sure to check out my post and video on how hard medical school actually is. Check it out here.
If you are a premed you can check out more tips and advice for you here.
If you are in your first few years of med school then check out these helpful blog posts.
That’s it for this blog post. Comment below with any questions you have.
I hope this post was helpful for any of you on the fence or find yourself in a slump on your medical journey.
Yes medical school is worth it, but it’s not for everyone.
Until next time my friends…