Opinion: Medical school isn’t always worth your time


Graphic by Christa Jophy

I’ve heard it too many times now: “My parents want me to go to medical school.” This particular statement always triggers a red flag in my mind. It’s not that going to medical school isn’t a great choice — it just has to be your choice. If a student does not have a passion for medicine, then medical school simply is not worth it.

Some students know as early as freshman year that they are going to medical school. They take AP course after AP course and fill their schedule with extracurriculars in order to appear as shiny and dedicated as possible on their resumes for colleges. 

However, when talking to some of my peers, I got the sense that it wasn’t necessarily their dream to go to medical school. Sure, they liked the idea of wearing a white coat, carrying around a stethoscope and having the title “Dr.” attached to their names, but there was no mention of the road it took to get to such a position. Others simply want to make their parents proud, which is reasonable, but not a good enough reason to dedicate their lives to medicine. The amount of effort it takes to study from sunup to sundown on a daily basis needs to be fueled by more than just a wish to please one’s parents. 

To many high schoolers, medical school is a dream — except it’s not. There’s nothing magical about waking up to study for an entire day, and then studying even more. In addition, medical school is not the end of the educational path for future doctors; after the four grueling years, there is still an internship, residency and fellowship to complete before becoming a high-paid doctor. Medical school is just the beginning of a long road. For students who cannot imagine spending the majority of their 20s studying, and then working even harder to climb up to their dream position well into their 30s, medical school is just not the right path. 

There are major benefits of medical school. The medical field is expanding and it’s well-known that medical professionals have high salaries. However, along with this comes longer hours dedicated to work. Essentially, someone who is choosing to enter medical school should expect to put work and studying above everything else until they get to the point where they can have a rewarding salary and are able to spend less hours at a hospital. 

I know what it’s like to be pressured to go to medical school — and for a while I believe it to be the only option for me. It was only when I spoke to one of my friends, whose sister is currently in medical school, that I realized I may not be cut out for it. Her sister graduated from Hebron with a great academic profile and she attended a prestigious college, but medical school was a whole different game for her. Even though she was sure she wanted to be in medical school as a high schooler, the reality of medical school and the amount of stress that comes with it were drastic changes that she had to get used to. She often says that if a person wants to go into medical school, they have to be more than 100% sure about their passion for the field. It was when I heard this that I knew that it would take more than pressure from my parents or from myself to go into the medical field.

Without a personal drive to go to medical school and a passion for the actual field of medicine, instead of just a desire for the paycheck that comes with the job, the dream of going to medical school will be nothing more than just that — a dream. Parents can not decide a child’s personal lifestyle choice; it has to be a decision reached by the person pursuing the career path. As seniors are now into college applications season, they should consider carefully what kind of work-life balance they prefer when choosing majors and pre-professional tracks. If a student thinks that the hours of dedication to medical school is not something that is worth the payoff in the end, then it should be a clear indicator that medical school is probably not the future they should force themselves into.