March 19, 2013

Is it necessary to go to medical school immediately after college?

When people think about pursuing a medical profession, it is almost impossible to exclude long years of hard core studying and training from our minds. You hear from doctors and medical students that medical school is tough. It will extract your sweat, blood and tears, and, can either make you, or break you, depending on how you respond to stress.

Is it necessary to go to medical school immediately after graduating from college? We all know that the answer to this is no. But a lot of medical doctor aspirants who go to medical school are fresh college graduates.

Are you wondering if you could take a break first before medical school, but afraid to do so? I don’t blame you. A lot of things can contribute to your apprehension to postpone going to medical school.

Among these are:

Pressure with age. 

You might be one of those people who don’t like the idea of getting too old before you finish medical school, and this scares you. Questions like when will you get married, how old will you be when you start earning money, will you be able to finish medical school, and a lot of other questions might run in your minds, driving you nuts!

Yes we have to cooperate with time, but will we allow the society’s imposed finish lines to limit us?

Being left behind. 

Maybe you want to go to medical school immediately after college because a lot of your batchmates are going! It’s hard not to feel left behind when most of your batchmates are working on their medical school application and you are left a spectator. When your time comes, you’ll be behind your friends, and you might feel left out because of that.

Yes we will not be in the same batch as our friends (unless they’ll get retained, but I don’t think you’d wish for that!), but will we lose them just because of that?

Other people’s expectations. 

If people learn that you’re aspiring to be a medical doctor, some, especially those closest to you, will expect you to go to medical school immediately. My grandfather was frustrated when he learned that I’ll be taking a gap year before medical school. But he had no choice but to accept my decision because I was determined to take a rest.

Yes, people have expectations, but will we allow others to dictate to us what to do?

Your expectations.

Before deciding to take a year off, I thought about it carefully first. Ever since I was a child I knew I wanted to become a medical doctor, and I intended to go to medical school right away after college. I wanted to become a medical doctor the quickest way possible (intarmed was out of the question, because I did not get in the program). These were my expectations for myself, and maybe you have the same expectations for yourself too!

Yes we might have some expectations, but wouldn’t we, of all people, loosen up with ourselves and understand?

Brain atrophy.

So maybe I’m just exaggerating, but I’ve heard this from people. After a two-month summer break, you would hear someone say, “I’m not used to writing anymore.” or “I’m not sure if I remember how to study.” People are scared that they’ll lose the studying momentum they gained in college.

Yes our brains may rest from hard core studying and sleepless nights, but can’t we learn things outside the classroom?

Dwindling passion.

You might be afraid that if you’ll work first before medical school, there is a great chance of you losing interest in pursuing a medical profession. You’ll be earning your own money, which you won’t be able to do anymore once you start medical school. Or you’re afraid that you might just lose interest in pursuing a medical profession even if you will not be working. That’s what people who are determined to become medical doctors are avoiding.

Yes, that might be a little risky, but, if you really want to go to medical school, and if you are really passionate about being a doctor, would not you chase after it no matter what?

The point is, taking a break isn’t that bad. If you want to take a break, or work first, then do so. I’ve heard of people who managed to come back to school after several years, even after getting married and having kids! (To learn more, check out this article by Julia Chang - Returning to School after a Decade-long Break?) I also know people who worked first before going to medical school and people who, like me, just wanted to rest for a while before studying again.

I’m not trying to convince those of you who want to go to medical school immediately after you graduate from college to delay going to medical school. I just want to give a slight push to those who want to take a rest first but don’t have the guts to act. I was once in that position, and I was hesitant. Even during the first few months of my rest, I was not sure if I did the right thing. But I realized, if I’m determined to become a medical doctor, I should take time to prepare my heart and mind for it. As I have said, medical school is serious, and I should not go to medical school unprepared. A year has passed, and I’ve had all the rest I had, saw and learned things I never thought I would, and did things I’ve never done before.

After everything, I thank God for giving me the idea to take a rest before going to medical school, and for giving me the courage to act on it. I also thank Him for planning the year for me, surprising me with unexpected happenings and learnings. I believe it was His will for me to delay going to medical school, so that I will be fully prepared for it. Indeed, His timing is always the best and I must say, I don't regeret anything.


  1. Hello :)

    I am so thankful that I came across this blog. It's nice to know that someone out there understands my situation. I can totally relate to you although I wasn't able to redeem myself yet.

    Thank you so much. This article, indeed, inspired me.

  2. Thanks for the inspiring article Karla,inspiring I say in a way that at my age of, ehem excuse me, 33 I still have my passion to pursue enrolling myself in a med school, not in UP for sure (not so wise and intelligent like you),wondering why it took this long?well usual story I worked first/still working actually in a call center to send my two siblings to college and have them graduated (recently) and supported their children (diapers and infant milk if you know what I mean?)and yeah wedding just to add(not playing a martyr here)I'm planning (seriously)applyng for a med school somewhere in Pangasinan (financial considerations)this year..and your article just keeps me in high spirits that I'm going to be an MD no matter what :)

    1. Welcome! It's never too late :) if it's you're dream, and most of all if it's God's plan, it will happen. Your story inspired me to study even harder. Your dedication to your family and your dream is even more inspiring, Thanks for dropping by my blog. Im glad to have touched someone. Thank you :)

    2. than you miss karla for this article, you know i also have this dwindling mind wehther to push med school or just to expans my nursing career or a full time mom. everytime i think of my son, i always have second thoughts.. and yeah i will surely read julia chang's article.. i have been stucked for five years thinking if i will push my MD dreams. i took my NMAT right after my graduation wayback 2010 . and im planning to take it again this year, since Medical Schools require an NMAT result taken atleast for the past three years? is that true?

    3. From what I know, the NMAT result is valid for around 3 years, but you can always take it again. Don't worry, I've heard success stories of people doing med later in life. Although it will really be challenging with the demands of motherhood and all, but if you really want it, and if you are willing to work hard for it, then getting that MD is possible. :)

  3. Hi, Ms. Karla Mae! May I ask what age you were when you entered medical school?

    1. 21. I took a school year off from school after graduating from college. :)

  4. Hi Karla! This is encouraging. I am currently working and plans to go to med school next year. I have to say, working has really changed my attitude and working ethics. I felt like I am more prepared now than I was after I graduated a year ago. Btw, your blog is really is amazing!!


Let us hear your thoughts...

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...