Pre-health Clinical Experience: 4 defining outcomes you need most!
Before engaging your pre-health (be it premed or pre-dent, or other) clinical experiences, you should know why you are there. What’s the point? Why are you doing the experience? You should be asking yourself what you are supposed to be getting out of the experience. How it will grow you. And how it will inform your future decisions.
But where students often go wrong is in treating the experience as a To-Do to be competitive rather than the information packed opportunity it is! When you take on your clinical experience, you are there to do a lot more than build hours toward your application. You are there to try on the fit. To see what you are getting yourself into. To learn whether you really like the practice, or whether the idea of being a doctor or dentist just looks exciting and fulfilling from the outside looking in.
What should I be getting out of my clinical experience?
- You should be learning about whether or not you like helping people using practices and methodologies that affect their health. And why helping people this way is important to you. Why do you want to help people? Specifically, why do you want to help people with their health using the healthcare profession you are choosing?
- You should be deepening your understanding of what health is, how it is achieved, and how it is threatened.
- You need to be learning about the career field you are considering:
- The impact it will have on your life
- What options it offers you for your future growth and development
- Whether it is able to meet your expectations for what you want to be able to do for your future patients
- The limitations of the practice
- Current science, tools, and practices
- Political / Policy
- And with all of these (and any other factors you deem important), can you live with them? Will you be able to find the success and happiness you desire? Will you be able to achieve what you want to achieve? And do for your patients what you want to be able to do for them?
- You should be building skills and personal attributes necessary to be a successful healthcare professional, along with gaining important lessons learned, and developing values resonant with best practice healthcare
Why are these outcomes so important? Again, to help ensure you are making the right choice for you, your future career, your future life, your future success, and even your future happiness. But beyond you, and arguably more important (since to choose healthcare is to choose a profession of service to others by taking care of their health and their lives) is making sure you are making the right choice for your future patients to help ensure their well-being.
Being a pre-health and success coach, I’ve known about doctors and dentists regretting their choices. So much so, that it’s not uncommon for some to leave their practice and switch to a second career (what a costly unhappiness).
Or worse, the ones who realize they don’t like it, but stay anyway.
Ever been unhappy in something you’ve done? Were you still able to give it your all, day in and day out doing that thing? Your 100%? Think about a time when you’ve received service from someone for something and that someone was a jerk. Maybe they weren’t nice, or they were simply unpleasant. They didn’t appear to care. Maybe they didn’t care. And it was clear to you that they most definitely were NOT thinking about you, the receiver of the dis-service they were providing.
It’s no surprise this happens. It’s human. It’s human to grow apathetic, or worse,antagonistic, while doing something you don’t want to do or don’t like doing.
Now think about that in a healthcare environment. An unhappy care provider is likely to lead to unhappy patient care experiences. And that’s just not good for anyone involved.
Medical and dental schools know this. And they are trying to prevent it from happening to you as best they can. They do this by requiring you to get patient care and clinical experience in the field you are considering.
Something to think about – quotes from current practitioners who are unhappy with their field when asked whether medical school was worth it:
“Unless you can’t imagine yourself doing anything else, don’t!”
“All you do is prescribe drugs and push vaccines. Healthcare is not your main concern or training. You have to learn functional medicine on your own.”
“I have five children. None of them are becoming doctors. What does that tell you?”
See. The trick is: Until you do it, how can you possibly know? Until you’ve tried something out with your whole heart committed to the endeavor and seeking to learn as much as you can, how can you possibly know whether it is for you?
The hardest part about figuring out what you want to do with your career is accurately predicting how you will actually feel once you get there. Looking forward can be dreamy, idealistic, and filled with happy visions of success and financial security. Looking forward, it is easy NOT to be realistic. It’s a challenge, and honestly, there simply is no way to truly know until you get there. Until you’ve been doing it for some lengthy period of time. You just can’t know. The best you can do is to get informed and get experience, and try it out as much as you can. With as much depth as you can. The more you do, the more you engage, the more questions you ask, the more you learn about the environment and how you do in it, the more you understand the ups, the downs, the goodness, the not-so-goodness – this is how you make the most informed decision you can. And that’s what medical and dental schools expect you to do!
Becoming competitive isn’t about adding a checklist item to your application. It’s about you growing and learning who you are and what you have to offer, getting the education and experience you need, and making sure you have a mature, reality-based understanding of the choice you are making to pursue healthcare. Adding a checklist item isn’t going to help you. Being an educated, experienced, and skilled applicant with desirable personal attributes, lessons learned, and values is going to make you Stand Up, Stand Out, and Shine … and it is what will help you make the right choice for you and your future patients, and that will help you be competitive and Get In.
Big Hugs! Wishing you happiness and success in your patient care and clinical experiences!!! Mary Kate :0)