One point that is constantly relayed over advice articles and blogs is that a pre-health advisor can provide guidance and support during a student’s academic career.
But what if your school lacks a specific pre-health advisory committee? What if you do not have any doctors in the family to turn to or anyone close to you whom you can candidly speak with? And more so, what if those general career center counselors end up being a source of discouragement?
Flashback to my third year of college: I had finally decided to make a trip to the daunting Career Center as I was struggling with what I wanted to do and where I was heading at the time. Armed with a few of my residents (I mean, the center was located off of the main campus next to the police station, so it wasn’t super approachable, y’know?), I went in to meet with a counselor for my scheduled appointment. Somehow, even though there were maybe 5 students in the room, I was skipped over and forgotten. The second time I went in, the counselors ended up not having enough time to get to me. The third and final time I walked into that building, I finally was able to speak to counselor. I opened my heart and spoke of my dreams and setbacks and everything else going through my mind as frankly as possible as I wanted her optimal advice. Her response – I was “too far behind at this point and had no hope for medical school”. That was it. She told me to look into some other fields like education, gave me some links to the CBEST, and told me my time was up. I kid you not. It was absolutely disheartening.
Looking back, the problem wasn’t simply that my counselor was inadequate. Sure, there are some problems with that career center in general that I hope are being ironed out. But more so, my counselor lacked the necessary knowledge needed to be a useful resource to me. If there aren’t going to be advisors dedicated to pre-health students specifically, then I think it is a necessity for general career counselors to do a bit of homework and learn all they can about the career fields out there. I was reading this article the other day and it resonates a similar sentiment:
“I have often seen students in premed advising be told they must take both biology and chemistry their freshman year. But given that the transition from high school to college can be a major adaptation, students may not want to register for two hard science courses with labs the first semester of college.”
It seems like the advisors themselves need to “smarten up” and realize that regardless of the technologically advanced era we live in today, more and more students come to counselors and advisors for both academic and emotional support. Students are multi-dimensional, and advisors need to consider their social, psychological, emotional, and physical well-being along with their academic record.
Personally, I just needed one. One person to sit down, hear my story, and guide me out of the hole I was digging myself into. Maybe that was too much to ask for at the time? But things may have turned out differently if I had just one person – one person explain to me that the road to medical school and beyond is a marathon, not a sprint.