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  • Ethan Liebross

The Struggles of a Pre-Med Freshi

I badly want a magic glass ball that I can peer into, and it can tell me everything. (I’m sure many students, especially freshmen reading this, are feeling this way right now).


Dear shiny glass ball, am I going to be a doctor? Please don’t lie.


I met with a pre-med advisor three days ago. I was expecting him to say things like, "You're on the right track course-wise. Medicine is the career for you. It is a fulfilling career, and I can confidently say that you would make an amazing doctor."


Yeah—spoiler alert—it didn't go like that.


He told me how, out of all healthcare professions, M.D.'s have the lowest life satisfaction rating. He told me a story of this one girl who applied to thirty med schools, didn't get into any and said she dodged a bullet. Then, he barreled through medical school acceptance rate statistic after statistic showing how the odds were stacked against me.


Freeze. I know I would make a fantastic doctor. I can feel it. I'm caring, honest, empathetic, have the willingness and passion for learning. Most importantly, I know I want to do it for all of the right reasons. I WANT TO CARE FOR PEOPLE. MAKE THEM FEEL LOVED. EMPOWER MY PATIENTS. LISTEN TO MY PATIENTS. ADVOCATE FOR MY PATIENTS. Sorry for yelling. BUT why is it so hard to become a doctor? It often feels like someone is trying to stop me.


I told the advisor about two books I've read. How To Make Disease Disappear inspired me and showed me the power I could have as a doctor to change peoples' lives. I read another, Becoming a Doctor, which included a collection of short essays written by doctor-writers. All of them were depressing—stories of people who hated the long hours, struggled with death, couldn't live an ordinary life, etc..

One story, in particular, was about a ballerina. Her only escape during residency was to take ballet lessons after her grueling fifteen hour-long shifts. Another that still gives me nightmares was about this one doctor who cared for a dying thirteen-year-old cancer patient while simultaneously caring for her sick and dying best friend. I think you get the point.


I told the advisor about my plan. It’s a loophole: a way of avoiding the negative prophecies. “I want to live an untraditional life,” I confessed. What if I get my M.D. and do something unique with it? Maybe work for Google on one of their prothetic research teams, or work for a non-profit in West Africa, or better, start a non-profit? This way, I can live a fulfilling life, do something a little unique, and escape the whole “selling your soul to the profession” scheme.


This is my dilemma: I want to be a doctor, but I also want to be a human. I’m officially dedicating these next four years to find a way to be both.


If you have any advice, feel free to share.


Originally published: January 24th, 2019

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