Doctors and other health workers are at the frontlines in the fight against Covid-19. They consider this as their regular duty. People hail them as heroes, and rightly so. In the current scenario, they are like soldiers who put their lives at risk while doing their duty. This time the enemy is the deadly virus. It is a fearsome foe as it can and has indeed changed into more contagious variants.
The rest of society is staying away from possible infection. People are staying home. They work from home if possible, avoid crowds, and practice social distancing. They wear masks and wash their hands frequently. People want to stay away from hospitals.
Amid all these came unexpected news from the American Medical Association (AMA). It cited records of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). The number of students who applied to start medical school in 2021 rose 18% from the previous year. Such an increase was not seen before.
New Heroes in the Making
The world is struggling through a pandemic, with doctors among those at the highest risk. Then we have this surge in young people eager to serve in the frontlines. They know the danger, and yet they are ready to face it. Is it because of the danger posed to humanity that they feel the need to do combat duty?
We can speculate that there may be even younger people who have the same aspirations today. This increasing interest in the medical profession can become a trend. There is an enormous and increasing need for more doctors. Let us hope that there is also a deep reserve of forces who want to fill that need.
Preparing Reserve Forces
Sometimes children already know what they want to be when they grow up. This may not always come true. It would still be good to provide them with knowledge related to their interest. If a child expresses the desire to be a doctor, it would be beneficial to expose them to the sciences. As the child grows, they would be in a better position to assess if this path is still compelling.
A student’s performance in school would be another determinant. It can show if true commitment and capability support his or her desire to be a doctor. By middle school, check if the student’s goal has not changed. In high school, the student must start honing the skills needed for medical school.
No specific undergraduate major provides an advantage for medical school application. Instead, a student must have certain core competencies to enter medical school. These include natural and social science competencies, thinking and reasoning competencies, and communication. The student must show service orientation, ethical responsibility, teamwork, social skills, and cultural competence. The student is also expected to be reliable, dependable, resilient, and adaptable. They must have the capacity for improvement.
A student can start developing these as early as high school and through university. Grades must be excellent. The student’s activities must display strong leadership. A student aspiring to be a doctor must choose involvement wisely.
The pandemic has imposed many restrictions. Students must be creative to get involved in relevant activities. Being digital natives, they can find ways to do this online.
Taking the MCAT
The medical college admission test (MCAT) administered by the AAMC has four sections. These are biological and biochemical sciences; chemical and physical sciences; psychological, social, and behavioral sciences; and critical analysis and reasoning skills. The test lasts for seven-and-a-half hours.
Some young people take a gap year or several years after graduation before taking the MCAT. They use the time to bolster the required competencies. A student can take emergency medical technician (EMT) classes and volunteer as an EMT. This shows a service orientation and capability for teamwork. Handling emergencies shows reliability, dependability, resilience, and adaptability.
A student can then do research related to medicine or community service. This balances the student’s capabilities.
Before taking the actual MCAT, it would be best to avail of the free practice tests offered online. This will show the applicant what areas need further review. It is crucial to study these areas.
Forging on Through Obstacles
Failing the MCAT does not mean the end of the road. Many factors could affect a test taker’s performance. An applicant can take the test up to seven times. An aspiring doctor has determination. He or she has already invested so much time, effort, and money into the dream at this point. It will be a waste to stop.
The next generation of heroes could now already be marching toward the frontlines.