Don't Feel Locked In: Video Transcript

Dr. Deborah Wilson (Miami, 1984) [family medicine practitioner]: I have been asked by people, so I think I want to be a doctor or I want to go to medical school, what do I have to do? Well, the first thing you have to do is, you have to study. You need the grade point: 3.4, 3.5, 3.6 to be in the mix. And the science GPA, for the required science courses, because you don't have to be a science major. And that's probably the mistake that we make. I'm on the Mallory-Wilson [Center for Healthcare Education] advisory board and I'm very pro-science majors, but I also recognize you can be a great doctor and be a journalism major. You simply have to take those basic, required science classes, and you need to ace them.

So, you have to do well. You do have to study, but you also have to have that balance. You have to have some other activities. You need to show some leadership in some other activities. And they really, nowadays, do want to see that you've done research. They do want to see that you've done something in medicine. You're an undergrad. Maybe you're lucky and you can go and be a part-time EMT or something like that, but the reality is they need to volunteer at a hospital, take a medical mission, work in a doctor's office, or work at a free clinic. Do something that says, okay, you've sort of seen the nuts-and-bolts side of being a doctor and maybe a hint of medical life and, yeah, you really still want to do it.

And then the other piece of advice that I would give is, don't feel locked in. If you're a ZOO major, that's great. Most pre-meds here are ZOO majors, but you don't have to be. I was a chemistry major. I've met students who have been non-science majors. I've met students who have been neuroscience, psychology, exercise science. All of these work. Frankly, nowadays, medicine is a business. Having some business classes is not a bad idea. So, you have to take the basic sciences, but beyond that, have a college degree and have a good GPA, study for your MCATs.

I think the biggest mistake I made was feeling too locked into I had to follow a certain path to get from Point A to Point B. And the reality is you don't. I'm a better doctor because I ended up being a 'bent arrow' and not going from high school to college to medical school, but I did other things. Don't lose sight of grades and test scores and stuff, but enjoy college for the experience.

[March 2011]