An Early Start: How High School Students Can Prepare for Medical School

HomeArticlesAn Early Start: How High School Students Can Prepare for Medical School

It’s never too early to start preparing for your career as a physician. This challenging, rewarding and often lucrative career offers excellent opportunities for some of the most talented and disciplined young minds, and you can start getting ready to pursue it when you’re still a teenager.

Get Some Experience

Start now with a part-time job at a doctor’s office or hospital. Find out if there is a program in your town that allows you to volunteer at a hospital, or ask your high school guidance counselor about such a program. In some states, you can take classes to become a certified nursing assistant when you are just 16 or 17. At 18, you can train as either a CNA or an emergency medical technician in any state. If none of these options are possible, find out if you can shadow a local doctor or other medical worker. 

Another option might be volunteering to work with older or disabled adults. There might be volunteer programs that involve visiting senior adults in nursing homes or assisted living and simply spending some time with them. Any kind of activity that involves some caregiving can teach you more about what you will be doing eventually as a physician.

Preparing for College

One of your first big steps in becoming a doctor is getting your undergraduate degree in a major such as biology, biochemistry, or anatomy. There is no single pre-med major but look for a college or university that offers a rigorous program in the biological sciences or a similar field that will prepare you well for medical school. Another thing you ‘ll need to look at is cost. 

You may be able to get some scholarships and grants, but another way of paying for part or all your education is by taking out student loans. Your first step should be to fill out a FAFSA to find out what kind of federal aid you may be eligible for. Many students supplement any available aid with private student loans, which are not capped or need-based as some federal loans are.


It’s important to take the classes in high school that will prepare you to succeed in getting your undergraduate degree. You should concentrate on trying to take as many AP classes in science and math as possible. This can help you learn how to cope with anxiety and study stress and have habits in place for all the higher education you will face. 

However, don’t overlook the soft skills that you will learn in English or communication classes. Being a good communicator is an important skill for most physicians. In addition, if your high school offers any classes in psychology, these will be helpful to you as well.


It will be a long time before you have to decide whether you’re going to pursue one of the many specialties available in your medical career. However, you can start thinking right now about what you might like to specialize in so that you can begin exploring your options. Being a pediatrician or focusing on geriatrics requires different skills from those you’ll need if you become a surgeon. You may change your mind over the years ahead but start to explore the specialties now and think about where you can see yourself in a decade or so.

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