Deciding where and if you should go to medical school can be difficult. Often it’s helpful to learn how practicing physicians made the decision to attend medical school. 

Aakanksha Khanna remembers almost every step in her decision to attend medical school. While she excelled at dancing (at one point she was a Bollywood dance instructor), she had a passion for the sciences and caring for her elderly grandfather, who lived with the family. 

In high school at the Ryan International School in India, she started exploring the question: “Should I go to medical school?” 

Now, almost 13 years later, Khanna, 29, a 2017 graduate of Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM), is a chief resident physician at the University at Buffalo Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Buffalo, New York. She has been a research fellow at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and did her clinicals at Mount Sinai Hospital in Chicago. 

While majoring in physiology at the University of Toronto at Mississauga-Erindale College, her question, “Should I go to medical school?” transitioned into “Why should I go to medical school?” Finally, she asked: “Where should I go to medical school?” Ultimately, she answered that question by choosing Ross University School of Medicine.

Now in her third year of residency, Khanna is asked similar questions by friends and family interested in a career in medicine. Here, she shares her take on questions to ask yourself before going to medical school.  

Should I go to medical school, and what if I don’t know which field of medicine I want to practice?

“The biggest question you have to ask yourself is: ‘Is this your dream or not?’ ” says Khanna. “Your curiosity about medicine and your passion for helping people have to come from inside. I always tell people that if you’re uncertain, spend some time shadowing a doctor. And, I say that if you are interested in using your brainpower to make money, consider Wall Street.”

Once you’ve decided where to go to medical school, you may start thinking about what type of doctor you want to be. Students aren’t required to choose a specialty when they enter medical school. Many wait until later in medical school—after they’ve trained under different physician specialists—to determine the best fit.   

What are my chances of getting into medical school?

Applications to medical schools in 2020 were at an all-time high, according to the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC). The AAMC reported in October 2020 that nearly two dozen medical schools experienced an application increase of at least 25%. That’s a huge jump compared with the average 3% year-over-year application increase in the past decade. In 2019, approximately 41% of applicants were accepted to a medical school program. 

Applying to medical school is no simple task. Candidates spend months preparing for the entrance exam, writing essays, and collecting recommendations. According to AAMC, key requirements for acceptance include:

  • Maintain a high GPA: Most students accepted into medical school have an above average grade point average.
  • Nail the MCAT: Medical schools require students to score highly on the Medical College Admission Test. 
  • Submit a stand-out application: The American Medical College Application Service form (AMCAS) allows you to stand out from the competition by showcasing your experience, honors, and recommendations.

Reasons Why You Should Go to Medical School

As the world’s population ages and new health crises like COVID-19 emerge, there is a growing need for more doctors to help patients and communities. According to the AAMC, the United States will see a shortage of nearly 139,000 physicians by 2033. The AAMC projects shortfalls in primary care doctors of up to 55,000 physicians, and in specialty care of up to 87,000 physicians. 

If you’re from a diverse background, you also have the opportunity to help address health inequities with your practice. Medical schools are making gains in attracting women and racially and ethnically diverse students. In 2019, women accounted for the majority of medical students for the first time, according to the AAMC . Medical schools also made gains in attracting applicants from diverse populations in 2019, including:

  • Applicants of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin increased 5.1%, to 5,858, and accepted enrollees from this group grew 6.3%, to 2,466.
  • The number of Black applicants rose 0.6%, to 5,193, and enrollees increased by 3.2%, to 1,916. 
  • Among Black men, applicants increased 0.5%, and the total enrollment of Black men rose 3.7%, to 3,189

Ross University School of Medicine surpasses most other institutions in accepting students from underrepresented backgrounds. Appriximately 24% of RUSM students are from racially and ethnically diverse populations.

Success starts at Ross University School of Medicine

When Khanna looks back on the days when she asked herself, “Should I go to medical school?,” she only needs to reflect on her experiences at Ross University School of Medicine for a resounding answer of “yes.”  Soon after she began at RUSM, she had an experience that convinced her that medicine was the right career for her.

“I had a patient when I was on ER rotation who was really sick, and it turned out I was able to diagnose him as having a very inflamed gallbladder,” she says. “I was able to take charge and share this with the attendee. We got him into surgery, and it was so wonderful to see him afterward when he was all better and so grateful for our care.”

Additional resources:

 

In 2020, 91% of RUSM students passed the initial step of the United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) on the first attempt. And in 2021-2022, results show yet another strong year for RUSM with a 96% first-time residency attainment rate* thus far. Located on the island of Barbados and with a network of more than 15,000 alumni, RUSM is one of the largest providers of doctors for the U.S. healthcare system. RUSM graduates practice in all 50 states and in Puerto Rico.

*First time residency attainment rate is the percent of students attaining a 2022-23 residency position out of all graduates or expected graduates in 2021-22 who were active applicants in the 2022 NRMP match or who attained a residency position outside the NRMP match.