The Most Important Factor in getting into Medical School

I went to a pre-med information session event at my alma mater UC Berkeley as a alumni panel speaker on Feb 5, 2016.  This was one of the most common questions among many aspiring doctors.


“So what does it take to get into medical school?“


A burning desire to become a doctor and visualization will keep you focused and get you into medical school.   Even when things get tough, if you have the burning desire to get into medical school, you will figure things out.  If you have the burning desire to get into medical school, the ideal GPA, MCAT score, research experiences, extracurricular activities and mentors, etc. will follow.


But first, I would strongly suggest that you spend lots of time reading about the lives of medical doctors,shadowing doctors, volunteering at a hospital or a clinic.  And sit in silence first meditating on the reason “WHY” you want to become a doctor.


The reason why you want to become a doctor BETTER NOT be about the MONEY, PRESTIGE or JOB SECURITY because nowadays none of those are guaranteed to doctors anymore.  If you go into medicine thinking that becoming a doctor will make you rich, have a secure job for the rest of your life or make you well respected by others, you may likely become very disappointed and may not be happy later on even if you make it to medical school and become a doctor.  So if these are your reasons,then don’t go to medical school.  You maybe much happier going into other fields such as business, law, engineering, research,government, entertainment, arts and humanities, etc.


On the other hand, if you want to become a doctor because:

  • You love the intellectual and emotional challenges of being a doctor
  • You love talking about blood and guts and feces over dinner table and don’t even feel queasy
  • You love learning about diseases and finding solutions for them
  • You like interacting with people on an intimate level learning all about their illnesses, sex life, psychosocial problems
  • You love dealing with various kinds of personalities of supervisors, co-workers and patients
  • You love helping sick or injured people in even their worst moments
  • You love working hard and for long hours for at least the next 7 years (4years of medical school + >3 years of residency +/-fellowship training)
  • You don’t mind paying for the expensive tuition even if it means taking out >$100K loans
  • You don’t mind earning a salary only slightly above minimum wage during residency ($12-$15/hr for medical residents, $10/hr is minimum wage in California) for the sake of your medical training
  • You love being of service to others
  • You don’t mind dealing with the bureaucracy of the current health care system
  • You have great people skills and are an extremely positive and persisent person despite negative people or situations around you


Then by all means go for it!  These intrinsic reasons all make the career as a doctor immensely rewarding.


Being a doctor is still one of the noblest and most humanistic profession one can have in one’s lifetime.


If you decide that that is what you want to do above everything else, then keep daydreaming about going to medical school and becoming a doctor.


Visualization will lead to manifesting what you want as a reality. 


In August of 2002, I was a freshman taking General Chemistry, I remember sitting on the Memorial Glade in front of Doe library on UC Berkeley campus doing my chemistry homework problem sets and then sipping my ice coffee and then looking up at the blue sky daydreaming about going to medical school.  I would tell myself, “One day, I will become a doctor in this sunny California.”  I did that almost everyday.  When I was sitting at a computer in the library, I would go onto the UC Davis Medical School website and surf around reading all the webpages and think to myself “Wouldn’t be nice if I can get into this medical school?”


At that time, I was barely taking the first baby steps of being pre-med taking Calculus, General Chemistry, Reading and Composition and American History.   I was still in community college and had not yet transferred to UC Berkeley yet nor had any clinical experiences or research experiences yet.  I had not taken the harder pre-med courses like organic chemistry or physics and was not even sure if I was good enough at science to get into medical school.


But because I had a burning desire to go to medical school and kept visualizing, even though there were setbacks and obstacles, and against all odds, I gradually attracted the right opportunities,resources and people that became steppingstones for me to get to where I wanted to be.


Eventually, I got into my dream UC Davis Medical School and then on Aug2, 2013, indeed I became a licensed physician in the state of California.  So this technique of visualizing the end goal works!



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Jinhee Park MD

Integrative Medicine Physician, Physician Entrepreneur, Creator of Community College Pre-Med Guide, LLC.

2 thoughts on “The Most Important Factor in getting into Medical School

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