Dreaming of a future in health care is one thing; taking steps to create a realistic plan that you can follow through with is quite another. It is easy to talk about what if and if only. But you don’t have to get stuck in that mired self pity if you set goals in a way that ensures success – or at least gives you a decent shot at it. Becoming a doctor is a noble and lofty goal. If you start small, each goal you achieve can lead you to the ultimate MD title.
Look at the big picture and break it down into pieces. Check out the requirements for medical school and set a goal to finish all the coursework. Your next goal is to pass the MCATs, the medical school admissions test to get into med school. Attend and pass medical school.
Perfect where you are. For example, if you’re in the early stages of your education and you’re not achieving good grades, step up your studying, take remedial classes or get tutoring to improve your grades. Without better grades, you aren’t going to get into medical school. Your first goal is to ace those biology, math and science courses. If you’re doing a rotation you don’t like, buck up and bring your A-game to every task at hand. Make the most of your situation.
Choose a hospital where you would like to do your residency. Do a residency, pick a specialty and get your license – one step at a time. By having your future planned far in advance, you can take advantage of opportunities as they arise. For example, in your early premed schooling, you might meet a professor who works at the hospital you would like to work at some day. Foster a relationship that will prove helpful when you’re ready for a job.
- Check your motivation before you start on the long journey of becoming a doctor. You need to have a strong desire to help people to make it through the 11 or more years of schooling and training it’s going to take before you can call yourself a doctor.
- Don’t forget to plan for a social and family life while you are setting your lofty goals. Include your family in the goal-setting process, especially if you are a mother or in a committed relationship. You are going to be away from your family a lot in the coming years. You need to give your family the time they need as well. Set goals with your kids for example, to spend at least one or two evenings a week together at the dinner table and half a day on Sundays. Include goals for such things as annual vacations with your significant other and at least one holiday with your parents or siblings.
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."