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Naomi Hardy

Half your peers who know what they want to be when they grow up will change their minds later. As a high schooler, I also had no idea what I wanted to do for a career or where I wanted to go to college, and now I'm a second year medical student. You question your intellect, but the fact that you're considering your future at such a young age shows great forethought and maturity. Kudos to you!

Becoming a surgeon is a long journey, so I would worry less about whether you have the intellect and more about whether you have the patience to put up with 4 years of college, 4 years of medical school, and 5+ years of residency. If you have the patience, then read on.

It doesn't matter where you go to college if you want to be a surgeon, only that you get good grades, participate in extracurriculars, and get good recommendations from your professors. It doesn't even matter what you major in as long as you are passionate about it and fulfill the necessary science pre-requisite courses that you need to apply for med school. Generally, aim for >3.5 overall and science GPA (meaning that you both your average GPA and that calculated for only your science classes is >3.5); so bare minimum B+/A- average. Yeah, you can get in with lower if you have great recommendations and extracurriculars, but these days it's pretty competitive and I'm not sure how many students realistically make it in with less.

Typically in the third year of college you will need to take a standardized medical exam called the MCAT that will test your knowledge of the basic sciences; you generally need 28+ on that exam to get into medical school. Acceptance rates are higher for certain minorities or economically disadvantaged individuals, which can somewhat change those figures (can change the GPA figures as well). Also, different medical schools have different stats regarding what you need to get in, so I would check that out online.

If you get accepted to medical school, then it's another four years before residency. During this time, you will still have to participate in extracurriculars while taking difficult classes and develop relationships with your professors so you can get good recommendations. It's like the college process all over again except you have less time. Generally in the second year you will have to take the USMLE, which will test your your medical knowledge and serve as one of the main indicators for where you get into residency. At this point, the scores you need really depend on what you want to specialize in--as a surgeon, you would need 220+ which is above the average across specialities. While it's not the most competitive speciality, it's more difficult than if you wanted to be a family doctor, for instance.

My suggestion is to go to college and really figure out what interests you and do well in your classes. Volunteer in a clinic or hospital to get a better feeling for the medical field. This is definitely not an easy path, but if you are passionate about the career choice then you will find the time.

Let me know if there is anything more I can do to help!

Answered 2 years ago

Naomi Hardy
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Elizabeth Lehto

There is no rush to figure out what you want to be, and even those who seem like they have everything figured out often change their minds. Take this time to talk to people around you about their professions and see what interests you.

There are a number of things you can do in the medical field, and all are equally important. Not feeling you are smart enough is common among future medical professionals, so don't let fear stand in your way. With hard work you can achieve great things.

As for becoming a surgeon, you need to first go to college and get a bachelors, which usually takes 4 years. After that is four years of medical school. There is no magic GPA you need to have to get into medical school, it's a combination of GPA, test scores, extracurricular activities, and research that impresses the medical admissions committees. After medical school is 5 years of general surgery residency with more training if you want to specialize further. Yes, it looks like a long time, but time flies when you are doing what you enjoy.

I hope this helps, let me know if there is anything else I can do to help you on your journey.

Answered 2 years ago

Elizabeth Lehto