SHOULD I GO TO MEDICAL SCHOOL?
For Andrew Iskandar, MD, a 2016 graduate of the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine, becoming a doctor was a calling. But it was not a career he initially chose — it chose him.
As a first-generation son of parents from Baghdad growing up in San Jose, Calif., there were always high expectations for him to “be something,” he says.
Through college and his studies in engineering, architecture and pharmaceutical chemistry, the question, “Should I go to medical school?” kept beckoning. It took a volunteer stint at Mercy General Hospital in Sacramento, Calif., his “lightbulb moment,” to prompt his new question — “Where should I go to medical school?”
“(After the volunteer work), I fell in love with medicine,” he says. Fast-forward to today — Dr. Iskandar is an attending hospitalist at Eisenhower Health in Rancho Mirage, Calif., a recent graduate of its Internal Medicine residency program.
REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD GO TO MEDICAL SCHOOL
The question, “Should I go to medical school?” is one about what you want to do with your life, says Dr. Iskandar. He knows that a decision on your purpose, and whether to go to medical school, are not made overnight.
“I really loved science and thought I wanted to be in pharmacy, but when I was a student shadowing at a local pharmacy, I realized it just wasn’t for me,” he says. “When I was volunteering with cancer patients I learned that for me the heart of medicine was the patients and nurses and people that I loved interacting with.”
“Should I go to medical school?” was a question that eventually answered itself as he discovered medicine as his calling. If you cannot see yourself doing anything else, then you have your answer, he says. And, when you take the leap, life will show you made the right decision, he adds.
“When I was in my second year of medical school, I was with a friend on a hike in San Diego when a hiker fell 20 feet into a ravine,” he says. “We saw people hollering for help as he had evidently fallen on his wrist and leg and there was no safe way to get him to help. I went to help and could tell he had broken his wrist, sprained his ankle and his leg was pretty scraped up, but I was able to clean out his wounds as much as possible and walk with him and text the paramedics to get him to urgent care. During that experience, I felt like I had really made the right decision to do something that was the best decision for me, to go to medical school.”
His advice for people asking, “Should I go to medical school?” is to realize it’s going to be hard work, that the studies are really challenging — but to “keep chasing your dreams.”
“I love what I do and am so inspired every day by the patients and people I meet, who face their health challenges with such courage,” he says.
Dr. Iskandar knows that the decision to go to medical school is a very personal one. Having experienced the journey firsthand, he also offers other considerations to think about when asking the question ‘Should I go to medical school?’
DO I HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO GET INTO MEDICAL SCHOOL?
Medical school is more popular than ever, but the competition is stiff. The number of applicants to medical schools rose by 1.1% from 2018 to 2019 to a record 53,371, according to the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC). However, only 41% of medical school applicants were enrolled in the 2019–2020 school year.
First thing to consider — surviving pre-med requirements:
- Maintaining your Grade Point Average — the average GPA for direct admits at AUC School of Medicine is 3.27.
- Mastering the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) — 496 is the average MCAT score for direct admits to AUC School of Medicine.
- Submitting your American Medical College Application Service tests (AMCAs), the primary first-round submission for most medical schools.
- Nailing your interviews
WHAT DOES THE JOB MARKET LOOK LIKE FOR DOCTORS?
Medical school is more popular than ever, but the competition is stiff. The number of applicants to medical schools rose by 1.1% from 2018 to 2019 to a record 53,371, according to the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC). However, only 41% of medical school applicants were accepted and enrolled in the 2019–2020 school year.
Should I go to medical school? You’re not the first person to ask yourself this difficult question and you won’t be the last. This is a big decision and you should take the time to make sure you are ready to take this on. But who wouldn’t want to save lives for a living?