Resources for Parents

Does your student want to be a medical doctor?

Often what initially leads students to pursue medicine is a deep desire to help those in need, and what better way to help than to treat their medical problems! Doctors are in a unique position to directly treat many issues patients may be facing and indirectly treat others through avenues like advocacy or research. Moreover, in the Central Valley, there is a shortage of Doctors and many health disparities. Your child could have seen this become inspired to help combat these disparities and serve their community.

What does the road to medical school look like?

1. High School

In high school, your student should focus on establishing good study habits. Good grades will help open the doors to many college options. This would be a great time for your student to start volunteering in the medical field and exploring their passions.

 

How can I support my high school student?

  • Encourage your child that they can become a doctor if thats what they want to be. Sometimes young students can be full of doubt, let them know that you support them and that they are capable of becoming doctors!
  • Connect your child to pre-medical resources (like the ones listed here). These resources can offer valuable insight into what your student should be doing now and prepare them for a career in medicine. The process of becoming a doctor is very complicated with a lot of information that isn't easily available. Knowing someone familiar with the process is invaluable. *Link to CTE Health Pathway programs 
  • If possible, help your child pursue passion projects (such as volunteering, arts, community service, sports, research, etc.). Or help them get experience in the medical field, ask your doctor or your local hospital if there are any opportunities for students!

2. College

Once your student is in college, there are certain classes that medical schools require (such as biology), but pre-medical students can major in whatever they like in college! During this time it's recommended that students begin to explore the medical field (through volunteering, shadowing, etc) to ensure this is the path they want. As well as pursue other passions such as research or community service.

*Community colleges are also an option. Link to post-bacc programs.

How can I support my college student?

Even when your child has become an adult and/or moved out of the house to go to college and beyond, you can still support them!

  • Many students, particularly first generation college students may face difficulty transitioning from high school to college. Or even later from college to medical school. Reassure them that this is normal, and encourage them to seek help from school resources such as tutoring.
  • Be mindful and understanding that becoming a doctor can be very stressful at times. Have conversations with your child on how you can best partner and support them.
  • Medical school is 4 years. Generally the first 2 years of are spent in classes and studying. The last 2 years are still spent studying but instead of classes they will begin rotations and have hands on clinical training in various specialties. After medical school, they will enter a residency program for their specialty of choice. After 3-7 years of residency they are a fully fledged doctor! 

    3. Applying for Medical School

    Students may take the MCAT (a standardized test used by medical schools for admissions) and apply to medical school while still in college. However, most will take a few gap years in order to better prepare for the MCAT and make a stronger application. Grades and MCAT score are important, but a medical school applicant should be well rounded. Often students will use these gap years to do research projects, community service, or work in the medical field or another field they are passionate about.

    What If I cannot afford college and medical school for my child?

    Medical school and college can be very expensive but there are many ways to pay if you cannot afford the sticker price. Many schools now offer needs based financial aid that will help those with less income. There are also a variety of scholarships and loan repayment programs for doctors, particularly those who work in underserved communities. Lastly there are student loans that can be paid back after graduating.

    What if my child is undocumented or a DACA recipient, can they still go to medical school?

    Yes! There are many schools that accept students regardless of documentation status, and even more that accept DACA recipients.

    Is it normal to take gap years between college and medical school?

    Yes! The journey to medical school is long and many students elect to take a few years after college to work on other things, prepare for the MCAT, and build a stronger application. This is normal, and the average student begins medical school at 24 years old.