William The Coroner’s Forensic Files

Friday, 18, April, 2008

Applying to Health Professional School

Filed under: Medicine,Teaching — williamthecoroner @ 15:02

The other day, I gave my talk “Applying to Health Professional Schools” at Small Liberal Arts College. The administration there have tasked me with helping their students get in to professional schools and get in to more presigeous professional schools. SLAC has a very strong thesis program in the junior and senior years, called “Independent Study”; or IS. This program tends to select folks who are interested in research, and funnels students from SLAC into PhD programs rather than professional programs.

Nothing wrong with that, you go with what you know. The trick though, is to have SLAC students market the IS, and their entire college career to health professional schools. There are significant strengths to this program, as it trains people in independence and problem solving. Now, to get the message across.

I got some feedback, though, that some students, I’m not sure what year, were upset by one part of my presentation. I can see why it would be upsetting, but it is the part of the spiel that I give to every applicant, as I don’t feel it’s fair not to.

Health professional schools cost a LOT of money. I had my first panic attack when I signed over my first, $8,000 loan check. (Now, if I ONLY had $8,000 in loans…sheesh). As a physician (or dentist, or vet, it holds true for all of them) you are more likely to 1. get addicted to drugs 2. get divorced, 3. get sued, 4. successfully complete your suicide than the average person.  It’s awful hard to change schools, and trying to change residencies or schools further limits your already limited support structure.  So do it carefully.

Funny, when I started my clinical rotations, our Dean of Students stood up and said “Whatever you do this year, don’t get married, don’t get pregnant, and don’t move house.”  It sounded harsh at the time, but it was very good advice.

My spiel upset some of the students.  They found it frightening, and wanted to know more about being “a healer”.  Personally, I think they’ve been watching too many reruns of ER.

On thing you do have to consider, which came as a surprise to me, that as a health professional, you end up being the “face” of medicine.  People will spontaneously tell you their medical problems, their problems with poor service, their fears, their hopes, their frustrations.  One of my fellow students got lectured for reading a Tom Clancy novel in the laundry room instead of his “Book of Medicine”–evidently there’s only one book, and it covers all of health care.  Totally.

1 Comment »

  1. They SHOULD learn about what they’re getting into, even if it’s scary. And they should be way more scared about most PhD programs, because in most fields, academic employment opportunities are few and far between and pay way less well than medical, dental, law, etc. There’s a huge opportunity cost to spending 8 years in graduate school when only 1/3rd of PhDs can find academic employment. While some PhD fields feed readily into industry, many don’t, so those people are in difficult positions.

    Comment by Bardiac — Saturday, 19, April, 2008 @ 06:26 | Reply


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