Maybe you already fulfilled your childhood dream, or you ended up on another path entirely. Perhaps the career you thought you wanted wasn’t what you expected, or you’re called to the medical profession because you want to make a difference.
Whatever the reason, you’re ready to move to a career in the healthcare field, and you want advice on making the transition easier.
Before we go any further, we want to let you know that you’re making an admirable decision. The healthcare field isn’t for everyone, and it needs more people like you who are passionate about helping others.
Depending on where you’re coming from, you could be making a lateral move or switching to something completely outside your comfort zone. No matter what your experience is, these tips can help you make the switch from your current career into the field of medicine.
1. Find the Best Way to Transfer Your Credits
If you already have a degree in anything, you’re a leg ahead of the starting point. Some of those credits will transfer to the next step in your education process; some won’t.
Students with any major can apply to medical school as long as they’ve already had the core courses. As a general rule, to receive a major, you’ll have to take the classes you need for med school, so if you have a bachelor’s or master’s in anything, you should be safe.
However, if your college background is from overseas, you can’t jump straight into practicing medicine. All international students need ECFMG certification (Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates) before they can become licensed to work in the medical field as a practitioner.
2. Decide Which Avenue You’re Passionate About
A career in medicine isn’t “easy.” You have someone else’s life in your hands, and you should always take that seriously.
With that said, though, when you’re passionate about what you do, your job becomes something you can enjoy doing. Even on the hard days, you know you’re making a difference, and that makes all the complex decisions and paperwork worth the effort.
If you aren’t sure which avenue screams for your attention, talk to your local hospitals and doctors’ offices to see if they have a volunteer list. Make room in your schedule to shadow people in different professions and ask them about their roles.
Eventually, one of the potential licenses will catch your attention as something you’d like to spend your future doing.
3. Get Informed About the Medical School Application Process
Switching to a career in medicine, unless you’re making a lateral move, isn’t an instant change. Regardless of your current situation, you’re going to have to do some prep work.
If you’ve never taken the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), that’s the first thing you should do. This exam should be completed as soon as possible since it can take more than one month to get the results, and you may need to take it multiple times.
While you’re waiting for the results, begin comparing the schools you can apply to and collecting your letters of recommendation. Complete the applications and have them ready to submit as soon as your MCAT results come back.
You’ll likely have a round of secondary applications and interviews to go through before you’re accepted. During this wait time, you can be working on any other course requirements you haven’t completed already.
4. Put Yourself on a Budget
Going to med school, either for the first time or as you change your license focus, means you aren’t going to be working for money for a while.
Figure out how long you’ll be in school and how much money you need to live on while you’re there. Then make a plan for your income and expenses.
You can live like a frugal student for a while. Just remind yourself that you’ll be able to buy what you want when you’re raking in a solid salary as a doctor.
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