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So You Want To Be A Doctor?

Posted by on Monday, May 19, 2014 in Academics, Freshman Life, Grad School, Pre-Med, Professors.

I’m not even sure I’m going to/want to go to med school. There are so many options (another wonderful thing Vanderbilt has helped me realize), and I am not only able to explore other areas of study—I am encouraged to, I guess you could say forced to, by the AXLE requirements and atmosphere at Vanderbilt. But what if, after my exploring, I remain determined to go to med school and be a doctor? What do I have to do, and how does Vanderbilt help?

Kirkland tower. I love VU's campus.

Vanderbilt has already helped me in countless ways to prepare for the already intimidating process of medical school applications, but here’s a basic list of the ways they helped me in my first year:

  • My CASPAR adviser. This seems counter-intuitive because these advisers are “pre-major” advisers, so they are here for all first years and sophomores before they declare their majors. But they are incredibly knowledgeable about all majors and wonderful support systems and resources as you plan your courses and try to figure out what really interests you. They know the pre-med prerequisites, and they have a lot of experience working with “pre-med” students (and helping them figure out if that’s what they want.)
  • The various student-run medical organizations. There’s a Vanderbilt chapter of AED, which is a national pre-med student honor society, and their meetings are open to freshmen, which is so helpful. The major clubs that are common for pre-med students (like Biology, Neuroscience, BME, Chemistry, etc.) have a lot of upperclassmen who are super helpful when it comes to picking classes or choosing majors.
  • The HPAO (Health Professions Advisory Office) holds meetings and has so many packets and pages of resources, some especially geared to first-years who are considering going to medical (or dentist or veterinary or nursing) school.
  • My professors. Especially the ones in pre-med requirement classes or science departments. They know so much and have so much experience advising and mentoring students, so take advantage of them.
  • Also, professors in the medical school/people at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. It is so easy to get hands on experience or observation being so close to such an incredible hospital. You can easily get research experience (I’ll post another blog specifically about getting research later), shadowing opportunities, mentoring and information from VUMC if you take the initiative to get connected.
    Monroe Carrell Children's Hospital is one venue for research and opportunities.

There are a bunch of other ways to get help or advice, but those are kind of some easy ones (and just talking to upperclassmen that you know) that I, and my friends, have taken advantage of this year. Vanderbilt is an incredible place for aspiring doctors, researchers, nurses, vets, dentists, and pretty much everything else, and in my experience so far it’s the professors and fellow students that make that happen. And they’re also incredibly helpful if you change your mind or are trying to make up your mind in terms of your goals. One of the best things about Vanderbilt is that you can change your mind between majors and career plans pretty easily. So don’t be afraid to reach out to professors and students because they really are your most valuable resources.

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