It has been estimated that, by 2025, there will be a shortage of 130,000 doctors in the United States. This striking number can be explained by three main reasons. First and foremost, the population is rapidly growing and aging, and, owing to recent medical advances, the life expectancy is much higher now than it was a century, or even a few decades ago. However, this also means that the prevalence of age-related chronic diseases is higher as well, and consequently, so is the need for doctors. Second, as the general population ages, so do the doctors. It is anticipated that, within the next decade, almost one third of all American physicians will retire. Lastly, with the introduction of Obamacare, several million Americans that were previously uninsured will become covered, adding immense additional strain on the medical system.
While you would think that the best solution to this problem would be to increase the number of medical students, it is unfortunately not that straightforward. Although there are now approximately 7000 additional medical students graduating each year, the number of federally supported residency positions has remained unchanged.
If you are considering a career in medicine, there are a few things worth keeping in mind:
First, the workload and stress associated with this field are extremely high compared to most other fields of study. To become a physician, not only will you need to go to university for four years, medical school for four years, and complete a residency program of between 3-7 years; but you will also, unless you are rich or lucky enough to get a full scholarship, go into heavy debt. Even after all this, your workload will be consistently heavy, and it is likely that your personal relationships and free time will suffer; so if you are not truly passionate about becoming a physician, it may be a good idea to consider your alternatives, such as becoming a physician assistant or nurse practitioner.
However, if you are certain that medical school is the right choice for you, keep these tips in mind for how to maximize your chances of getting in:
– High grades and MCAT scores are the first thing that the medical school selection committee will look for. However, even if you have perfect grades and test scores, this does not necessarily mean that you are a good candidate; and even if your grades are not perfect, there is still a chance that you may get in if you tick all other boxes.
– Volunteering experience is another thing commonly looked for. This not only shows that you are altruistic and care about others, but also that you are able to balance your studies with demanding extracurricular activities.
– The term “leadership skills” will guaranteed come up during the selection process, and there are numerous ways to demonstrate this characteristic, including having leadership positions in campus organizations or having taken charge over the planning of certain events. If this can tie in with your volunteering experience – even better!
– Finally, but potentially most importantly, work on your interview skills. If you have all the relevant qualifications but are unable to get these points across during the interview, your chances of getting accepted are greatly diminished. However, if you can speak confidently, and show that you are passionate, driven, and have the right attitude towards medicine and hard work, you’re half way there already.
Similarly, when applying for physician jobs, your interview skills are extremely important. Furthermore, any contacts and connections made during your time in medical school or during your residency may come in handy, so keep an open mind and try to network as much as possible during this time. Of course, your chosen specialty will greatly influence your chances of getting a physician job as well. Due to the aging population, certain specialties are now in greater demand than others, including primary and family physicians, internal specialists, and emergency doctors.
So, while the road to get there may be long, physicians and other healthcare professionals have never been needed more urgently; and if you are passionate about medicine, science, and helping people, I can guarantee that it will all be worth the hard work.
Here are some additional resources to help get you physician career started:
How to Wite a C.V.:http://www.acponline.org/medical_students/residency/borg.htm
Physician Jobs: http://www.soliant.com/physicians/