Long answer: Here’s your typical timeline, from my experience interviewing prospective medical students applying to a US school. Their stories go like this. They “always knew” they wanted to be a physician so in high school they focused on life sciences, competed in science fairs, participated in science clubs, and observed working physicians and PAs (physician assistants) in action. All this went on their resume which they started compiling in high school (yes, high school!) So at your point in life, you have 2 or 3 years to get going.
When they applied for undergrad, they again focused in life sciences, connected with a supportive professor/researcher and worked in that person’s research lab, whether as a work study or unpaid assistant. So 4 more years. All that went on the resume.
Then the clock keeps on ticking and they applied immediately for admission to a med school (and interviewed with some like me before getting accepted), and if they were accepted on the first try, they invested 4 years getting their MD. Then a variable amount of time in grad school, say 2-4 years.
So for you, (so far now you’ve been at this for 2 years, right?) add 4 years to get your bachelor’s degree. Then you’ll spend 4 years in med school in an accredited MD or DO program. ***Note: graduating from med school depends on you passing all the mandatory licensure exams while in school and finally “matching” with a desirable residency program, because now you have to go on for a graduate degree.*** If any of THAT goes sideways, where you don’t pass exams, have to take a leave of absence or a gap year for any reason, or don’t get matched to a residency on your first try, add more years to your total. Figure somewhere in the neighborhood of 2-7 years tacked onto your 4 years of med school.
Some good news about matching to a pediatrics residency is that Pediatrics is one of the least desirable match options, along with family practice, general practitioner programs. so there’s perhaps slightly less worry of not matching IF you are a good student applicant and really demonstrate a passion for pediatrics and a strong desire for that particular program you’re applying at. But keep in mind your match to a pediatric program includes a lot of international students, family medicine applicants, applicants in “the scramble” (the ones that were too optimistic in their chances at matching with competitive programs so now there’s a lot of horse-trading to get them in somewhere/anywhere so they don’t screw up their school’s match rate), and second-attempt applicants.
I hope this is helpful—I’ve tried to be realistic and honest about it. Here’s something to consider though: perhaps pursue a PA path instead of an MD. You will get to engage with your little patients sooner, be able to do almost if not all of what MD/DO physicians typically need to do in their practice, and likely have a lot more work/life balance opportunities with employment options, at least that’s what my PA friends tend to say.
Good luck to you!
Bonnie recommends the following next steps:
This process will last all week, mostly on Monday med students will get an email that will say you have matched, if they don't match - which can be the case in some situations- then there is SOAP, meaning they have a chance to match again. SOAP is basically where residency programs are filling out positions for their programs, wanting to essentially hire resident physicians and fill their spots. So ANY students who don't match first time, go into SOAP and in this process they apply to more programs, and the whole week they are on call to get interview invites and eventually get their final results. This process may sound stressful but I know someone who waited for SOAP and matched into surgery. Of course specialities vary, pediatrics, family medicine, etc., are a little bit on the less competitive side, but we are in crucial need of primary care physicians so it is more likely there is more room for these specialities. There is always going to be more competition for specific specialties such as surgery, anesthesiology, dermatology, etc., but they are not unreachable. Medical schools have great advisers that from the first day of med school you sit down and prep for residency. I once read a comment that said as a premed you are preparing for med school apps/med school and as a med student you are preparing for residency.
For now, it is very early but take it one step at a time, medicine is hard but it is worthwhile; see if you can shadow a physician, do some volunteer work (both clinical and nonclinical) and take some science classes, especially in college and see if you feel like medicine is right for you. For me my journey began with my family relative becoming sick then I just fell more in love with it in each different experience I had.
I hope this helps!
I wish you the best!
Yasemin recommends the following next steps: