by Sanford J. Brown M.D.



You can get into medical scool COVER


Who's in Charge Here? Or, Parental Pressures

Letters from anxious students are expected, but occasionally I get correspondence from anxious parents. Consider this letter from a father concerned about his daughter's premedical progress:

Dear Dr. Brown:

Sorry to bother you, but I need the favor of your advice.My daughter is a premed in her junior year at Cornell University. She made the very mistakes in her first two undergraduate years that you have advised to avoid inure book. She was brilliant in her high school studies even though she began school in this country in the 8th grade(we immigrated from India about 8 years ago). She got accepted at Cornell University as an Early Decision student in 1977. At Cornell she took a chemistry major. She thought this would help her to get admitted to medical school.This involved taking higher chemistry, math and physics courses. She got C in chemistry, C+ in physics and B in math. Her grades in non-science subjects are B+. Her grades in biology average B. In her junior year she changed her major from chemistry to micro-biology and she did better academically last semester. She wants to repeat some courses to raise her GPA but she is being advised that,after completing higher science courses, she should not retake lower courses (although the lower courses meet the requirements of medical college and her new major). We shall appreciate your advice and guidance in the matter as we are totally ignorant of the system in this country. We do not mind if she spends an extra year repeating her courses.

Raj Mulati

Although I can appreciate this father's concern I somehow wonder why this letter didn't come from his daughter. I am always suspicious of queries that come not from the premedical students themselves but from family members or friends. I ask   myself, what is the source of this person's desire to study medicine? Is she self-directed or other-directed? Is she pursuing a premedical program because she wants to be a physician or just to please her parents? Admissions committees ask the same questions. Studies show that attrition among medical students has more to do with motivation than any other single factor. If a person genuinely wants to become a physician the medical school curriculum is a minor obstacle. The major obstacle is getting into medical school in the first place. Academically, medical students are sound. But if a physician parent is pressuring a son or daughter to follow in the same footsteps, or a parent wants a physician in the family, and that student would rather be sailing, then flunking out is a real possibility. My medical school classmates were not geniuses; they were hard workers. Medical school is long hours, tedious work, and requires a high degree of personal sacrifice. With proper motivation it can also be highly rewarding and a lot of fun.





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