Many students are interested in a career in the medical field but aren’t sure what they can do to prepare before they even graduate high school. You might be surprised to learn there’s actually a lot you can do to give yourself a head start. Even as a high school student, you should be thinking about how your choices will impact your ability to get into the college of your choice. Those who intend to go to medical school after college should be even more proactive about their educational choices. If you’re not sure where to start, read on to learn what high school students can do to prepare for a career in medicine.
What can high school students do to prepare for a career in medicine?
Anyone who knows they want a career in the medical field should definitely start preparing early. Competition to get into the best premed programs can be steep, and medical school is even more difficult to get into, if you plan to attend. Ask hospitals or medical offices in your area if there are opportunities available to volunteer or get some experience. They may be able to give you some advice on which extracurricular activities and classes will best prepare you for college and your career.
Given how expensive a quality education can be, you may want to look into scholarships for high school students. The cost of college is, in many cases, only going to end up being a portion of the total price of your schooling. While there are some careers that only require an associate degree or bachelor’s degree, if you want to be a doctor, you’ll need more extensive training.
After college, you’ll need to complete medical school. The amount of training you’ll have to do after that depends on your specialty. Typically, med students move on to a residency, which can take anywhere from three to seven years. After completing your residency, you’ll have to take and pass your final boards before you’ll be able to practice independently. After residency, some students pursue a fellowship to deepen their clinical knowledge or gain additional training, though this isn’t required.
What are some popular medical career paths?
While becoming a doctor is often the most-discussed medical career path, there are many other jobs to consider. Those with a medical degree who don’t want to practice medicine could go into research science and help to cure or improve treatments for some of the most challenging medical problems out there. There are also many medical jobs that don’t require a graduate degree, like working as a medical assistant, medical records coder, or emergency medical technician (EMT).
If you like working with patients, you could consider pursuing a nursing degree. There are several degrees that qualify you for different jobs within the nursing field. Take the time to research which degree program will best prepare you for the career you want. Pursuing a master’s degree that qualifies you for even more advanced practice can also be a good idea for anyone interested in taking the next step in their career. You can even earn a graduate degree like an MSN to become a family nurse practitioner online.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed or intimidated thinking about going from being a high school student to working in medicine. The amount of education and training you need is more substantial than in many other fields, and the competition can be tough. However, there’s a lot you can do to give yourself an edge, starting as early as high school. Engaging with professionals in the field, especially those whose specialties you’re interested in, can be invaluable. You’ll also want to be proactive about scholarships and other opportunities outside the classroom. Once you know what you want to do and what type of education you’ll need, you can make a more specific plan to help you achieve your goals.