Career Exploration and Development

Deciding to go to Medical School

Oberlin College provides students with a strong foundation in the sciences and liberal arts, backgrounds that are especially helpful for a career in medicine. Historically, Oberlin graduates have been extremely successful in applying to medical schools. Those that work closely with the Premedical Program Director are even more successful. This is because students are informed about what they need to do, how to best present themselves, and what steps are required during the application process. Students and alumni are encouraged to contact the Premedical Program Director for guidance in applying to medical schools, as well as programs in allied health fields.

Going to medical school is not a decision to be made lightly. For one thing, it involves a substantial time commitment: four years of medical school, plus additional years of graduate study (residency). Second, medical school may be very expensive. Tuition can amount to more than $40,000 per year, depending on the school and your state residency status. You can easily spend over $2,000 simply applying to medical school. Moreover, competition for places in medical schools has never been greater. No matter what your grades are, there is no guarantee of acceptance.

So, make sure you know what you're getting into. Spend time with doctors and other members of the health care team. Learn as much as you can about your chosen profession and the lives of the professionals in it by working or shadowing in a hospital, clinic, private office, or nursing home. While being a doctor can be exciting, challenging and fulfilling, it can also be very tedious. Medicine makes enormous demands on your time, energy, and patience. Find out as much about the profession as possible, so that you go into it with your eyes open.

Talk to the Premedical Program Director or one of the health career committee members (see contact list). Visit Career Exploration and Development to obtain information about careers, especially medical and health care careers, and how to decide if medicine is for you. Use LinkedIn and OberLink to contact Oberlin alumni who are currently in, or have recently completed, medical school to get their views of the whole experience.

You will also have to do a lot of soul searching on your own. Advisors, friends, parents and books are great, but they are not you. You are the only one who knows what you want out of life. And if you aren’t certain by the time you graduate, take a year or more after graduation to figure it out. Taking a “gap year” or two is not a bad idea. It not only gives you time to decide if you really are committed to a career in medicine, but it also gives you more time to gain experience in the health care field and enhance your application.