A Few Questions About Surgeons & Medical School

Mar 25, 2010
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Hi, I will soon be a High school student, and I have always wanted to pursue a career where I can go home at night knowing that I have done my part to help someone, or make a difference in the world. I still have a few years until I really need to start worrying about this, but I like to prepare. I have a few questions, and you do not have to answer all of them.

-Can a student with a 4.0 GPA and obviously straight A's make it into Medical School even if they are in all regular classes?
-Now that I am in High school, what classes should I take that would benefit me in the future?
-In addition to summer school, and volunteering at my local hospital, what other free opportunities can I take advantage of? I.E. Books, Websites, ETC.
-I would prefer to be a surgeon, what is the least riskiest type of surgeon with an annual salary of $100,000-$300,000?

Thank you for your time!

-Shifmaster :cool:
 

Therapist4Chnge

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During your undergraduate training you will have more opportunities to improve your extra-curriculars, so don't worry about them now. You will also have more classes that will give you a basic understand of some of the areas you'll need to know for medical school, but at the high school level you should probably just focus on doing well and getting into a good undergraduate program. Oh yeah...and have fun, which also pertains to your undergraduate experience.

Burning yourself out before you hit college will make the road much longer, and many bright students set themselves up for this because they push too hard too soon. It is important to develop your interests and explore things outside of the subject areas related to medicine. Some of the best physicians I know (who went to top medical schools) had very different interests in addition to things you'll see in medicine. A good portion of them even had degrees in non-science areas during college, though they made sure to take the required pre-med classes to apply. I honestly believe that a well rounded student can turn into a well rounded physician, and while focusing on one area can be helpful, it can also have drawbacks.

I think having outside interests will help balance out your experiences, and let you decide if what you think now is still what you think 8 years down the road when you are considering applying for medical school. When I was in high school I had similar interests to you because I loved biology, chemistry, anatomy, etc....though I quickly realized there was far more out there in the world I enjoyed too. I was actually quite bored and unmotivated in high school (even in honors/AP/etc classes), and only later when I was in college did I fully realize what I enjoyed. You don't need to take all honors/AP/etc. classes at the high school level to get into medical school, nor do you have to "declare" your path until you are in college. Don't get too caught up in grades, SATs, etc...because as long as you get into a halfway decent college/university, you will have an opportunity to apply to medical school. Your focus in high school should be on developing as a person and trying to pick up some good study habits for college. Once you are in college you can work on some of the more medical school specific stuff, but even then it shouldn't run your life.
 

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Thanks for your great advice, I will definitely take that into consideration.
I agree with Therapist. Becoming a doctor is a very long road, so enjoy life and stop and smell the roses. Being a well-rounded person will make you happier, which will make you a better doctor.

For volunteering, maybe spend some time doing work at a hospital or maybe a nursing home. Just get a feel for spending time with strangers and make sure you're comfortable hanging out with sick people. It's not for everyone, but it definitely has its rewards. But don't push too hard. You'll have a full 4 years of undergraduate to volunteer and whatnot, so no need to pack your weekends full quite yet.

As for salary, most doctors make 150K+. Primary care (family practice, pediatrics, etc.) make the lowest and still usually make over that figure. Pretty much any surgeon will make 200K+.

What do you mean by "least risky?" Do you mean danger to the surgeon? If that's the case, I feel like most of them are not in significant danger during their work.
 

Ischemic

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Hi, I will soon be a High school student, and I have always wanted to pursue a career where I can go home at night knowing that I have done my part to help someone, or make a difference in the world. I still have a few years until I really need to start worrying about this, but I like to prepare. I have a few questions, and you do not have to answer all of them.

-Can a student with a 4.0 GPA and obviously straight A's make it into Medical School even if they are in all regular classes?
-Now that I am in High school, what classes should I take that would benefit me in the future?
-In addition to summer school, and volunteering at my local hospital, what other free opportunities can I take advantage of? I.E. Books, Websites, ETC.
-I would prefer to be a surgeon, what is the least riskiest type of surgeon with an annual salary of $100,000-$300,000?

Thank you for your time!

-Shifmaster :cool:
1. Yes, med schools don't really care if you take honors or regular classes. They want to see a good GPA and MCAT which indicates you're a hard worker and can handle the first year course load. This also means that the college you go to doesn't really matter either. Obviously this doesn't mean take classes like smoke pot 101 or stare at dirt 103 but take classes you are interested in and do well in them. Especially when you're in college don't think that just cause you take Honors pchem is going to make you look any different to the adcom. A C in honors pchem will hurt you more than an A in basic gen chem.
2. Any classes you take in high school should be geared at making your life in college (at least first year) easier. Take all the AP sciences and maths but don't take the AP test because it's useless. Those AP credits get you out of general classes that are easy As and will help boost your GPA. So opting out of them to take "harder classes" will only hurt you ... see post #1. I personally would only make exceptions for APs for English or Foreign Language classes since they're often required for graduation and entails a lot of busy work and the grading tends to be subjective. But that's me.
3. Any and all EC activities you do BEFORE college WON'T MATTER. You can't and shouldn't put them in your AMCAS while applying. Not to say don't do anything but do it to gain contacts so you'll have someone that can write a good rec for you later and a place to do stuff during the summer of your college years.
4. Don't know, see someone else's post.

Med school admissions is a game. You have to be smart about it.
 

88pich14

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1. Yes, med schools don't really care if you take honors or regular classes. They want to see a good GPA and MCAT which indicates you're a hard worker and can handle the first year course load. This also means that the college you go to doesn't really matter either. Obviously this doesn't mean take classes like smoke pot 101 or stare at dirt 103 but take classes you are interested in and do well in them. Especially when you're in college don't think that just cause you take Honors pchem is going to make you look any different to the adcom. A C in honors pchem will hurt you more than an A in basic gen chem.
2. Any classes you take in high school should be geared at making your life in college (at least first year) easier. Take all the AP sciences and maths but don't take the AP test because it's useless. Those AP credits get you out of general classes that are easy As and will help boost your GPA. So opting out of them to take "harder classes" will only hurt you ... see post #1. I personally would only make exceptions for APs for English or Foreign Language classes since they're often required for graduation and entails a lot of busy work and the grading tends to be subjective. But that's me.
3. Any and all EC activities you do BEFORE college WON'T MATTER. You can't and shouldn't put them in your AMCAS while applying. Not to say don't do anything but do it to gain contacts so you'll have someone that can write a good rec for you later and a place to do stuff during the summer of your college years.
4. Don't know, see someone else's post.

Med school admissions is a game. You have to be smart about it.

This is great advice. The only thing I would add is to take the AP physics and Calc tests. Most schools accept AP credit for these courses, and they are usually much easier in high school than in college (at least in my experience).
 

orthomyxo

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Hi, I will soon be a High school student, and I have always wanted to pursue a career where I can go home at night knowing that I have done my part to help someone, or make a difference in the world. I still have a few years until I really need to start worrying about this, but I like to prepare. I have a few questions, and you do not have to answer all of them.

-Can a student with a 4.0 GPA and obviously straight A's make it into Medical School even if they are in all regular classes?
-Now that I am in High school, what classes should I take that would benefit me in the future?
-In addition to summer school, and volunteering at my local hospital, what other free opportunities can I take advantage of? I.E. Books, Websites, ETC.
-I would prefer to be a surgeon, what is the least riskiest type of surgeon with an annual salary of $100,000-$300,000?

Thank you for your time!

-Shifmaster :cool:
Don't take this the wrong way, but if you are still in middle school, the last thing you should be thinking about right now is medical school. Just focus on having fun for the next four years and getting into a good college. You are way way ahead of yourself.

As for your questions:

1. Something gives me the impression that you are referring to regular high school classes. If so, note that high school means absolutely nothing to medical schools. They will look at your undergraduate (college) grades when considering to accept you.

2. There are no classes in high school that will help you for medical schools per se, but you should try to get an extremely firm grasp on all of your subjects.

3. Unless you are referring to something else, summer school is usually reserved for students who make mediocre/borderline failing grades. You should definitely avoid this. You can volunteer at a hospital, but it won't help you for medical school. If you are consistent in doing so, it will however, be a nice addition to your college application resume.

4. Again, you are way ahead of yourself. You'll have tons of time to think about medical specialties when you actually get to med school. I'm not sure what you mean by "risky," but all surgeons sit comfortably in (or beyond) that salary range.
 

psipsina

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The best thing you can do right now (in high school) is get into a good college. Get great grades and do some interesting extracurriculars. Once you're in college re-visit your desire to go to medschool, but for now just focus on the next step (college). Medschool doesn't care what you did in college but they do care where you went to college to some degree.
 

vasca

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First, it's likely you won't even end up studying medicine after you finish highschool. I decided to "try it out for a semester" after graduating highschool. I was firm on studying computer programming and switched in the last minute. The only classes you have the time in highschool that could be of use in med school could be language classes. Learn as much spanish as you can now, because you won't have the time in med school.

As for me, I don't regret doing it. I'm currently working in rural central Mexico working as a village doctor living in my little clinic (has a kitchen, bedroom, place to wash clothes.. everything except tv and internet). I'm kind of supposed to be in the clinic right now (I'm supposed to not be granted any freebee days for spring break), but I'm sort of sneaking out to the big city without permission for 3 days. If I get caught, my coordinator will defend me now that i had a few drinks with him at a meeting/party/his birthday/excuse to drink free alcohol during working hours.

Save for the sucky pay and cold showers, my job is awesome! I even set my own working hours. Saved a guy's life just 2 nights ago from a deadly scorpion venom intoxication.