March 21, 2007 at 2:28 pm (Applying to med school)
When you apply to medical school, you’ll have to write a personal statement in which you give reasons why you want to practice medicine, your preparation for going to medical school, and what future plans you have for the field. When writing this essay, you’ll have to demonstrate that you’ve seriously considered why you’re going into medicine and what the life entails. You’ll also have to show maturity in stating your personal reason for wanting to undertake such a hard—yet financially rewarding—life. Every year, applicants cite their desire to help others or some other vague statement as to why they want to become doctors. I’ll leave other authors with the task of teaching you how to write the perfect personal statement. My goal here is to challenge students who say that they are pursuing medicine for reasons other than money.
Look at the graph below :
The blue line gives the total number of people applying for medical school each year. The green line shows the number of acceptances. You’ll instantly notice that admissions were harder in mid 90’s than today. Various reasons are thrown out for the decline and subsequent rise in applicants over the past decade. Some theorists point to malpractice insurance or even T.V. shows. While there might be some validity to these claims, I have a different idea: economics.
Now look at this second graph :
Here we see the quarterly change in the American gross domestic product since 1991. You can instantly spot the tech boom and stock market bubble of the late 90’s. You can also see the recession of 2001 and the slow economic growth thereafter. Instead of
claiming that pre-meds are following malpractice treads, I maintain that people are following the money.
Whatever the trend in the U.S. economy, there is a 2-3 year delay in the actions of the applicants. When the economy is strong—as it was during the latter half of the 90’s—entering college students realized that they could make a quick buck in computer science. Instead of killing themselves with pre-med courses, followed by rigorous training in medical school, followed by more training in residency, people could quickly achieve similar earnings by learning how to write code. All of the people who would have
originally pursued medicine to get rich bailed out and chased after the tech boom. After the market bottomed out, the next round of college students realized that the safety of the Internet bubble was gone and that they could go into medicine for a stable, predictable income.
My prediction is that in the coming years, if the U.S. economy continues growing, the number of applicants to medical school will plateau around 2009 or 2010. At that time, the cycle will be repeated as college students once again realize that jobs in business and engineering yield high incomes without sacrificing 10 years to achieve the same result.
My question to you, the reader: are you going into medicine for the right reason?