A good health professional

A good health professional

The thing that surprised me the most was that even with a C on your transcript you have a chance of making it to medical school or that even if you’ve failed a class you can get admitted into the School of Public Health. So in general, that med school admissions are not just about your grades.

In the past couple of months I’ve had the chance to talk to the one or other pre-med/BME major. A hard path, as everyone keeps reminding me, that’s even harder on your grades. It’s generally known that engineering students don’t have the greatest GPA’s, which is fine if you plan on working in the engineering field. If you, however, plan on attending medical school having a good GPA is very important. Or at least that’s what I thought. Some of the people I’ve talked to are thinking of transferring out of engineering into the college of LS&A because they think that having a good GPA is worth more than majoring in something that truly interests them. I felt anxious when having such a conversation. Was I doing the right thing, staying in engineering and pursuing a degree that might make me a less competitive applicant for medical school?

After listening to the talks last Thursday I feel a lot more confident in what I’m doing. What a medical school wants to see is that you’re passionate. I feel like medical schools have finally realized that students with straight A’s might not be the people that make the best health professionals. It’s the people that are passionate about what they’re doing and that care about their communities that make good health professionals. A holistic approach to admissions allows schools to admit students based on the values that they think make for a good health professional.

What do you think makes a good health professional? How could you try and show that you have some of those traits that you thought about for the first question?

32 thoughts on “A good health professional

  1. I completely agree with you in that the talk with the panel reassured me that following my passions will ensure a path to success whether that is medical school or not. I think a good health professional is somebody who is proficient in whatever their job title says, but more importantly can interact with their patients in a way that positively improves their life and makes dealing with the healthcare system as easy as possible. I feel that showing those traits has to do with following whatever your passions may be, and definitely interacting with as many different types of people as possible. With experience comes knowledge and the best health professionals are those with experience.

  2. The fact that everyone on the panel had failed at one thing or another but still ended up where they wanted to be was also the most surprising and reassuring thing about the panel for me. Although medical schools say that they take a holistic approach to reviewing applications now, it is difficult to believe that without seeing actual proof. I believe that a good health professional is someone that is passionate not only about healthcare, but also about other unrelated activities that help keep their life balanced. This shows that you’re more than just a robot mindlessly following a stereotypical path to “success.” It shows that you’re a three-dimensional human with hobbies and interests that will make you more relatable to patients and make you a more creative innovator. In a more concrete and practical sense, I believe that having hobbies that you’re actually passionate about will make the path to becoming a doctor much more healthy mentally, since it definitely isn’t an easy path.

  3. I agree with you completely though the panel didn’t necessarily put me at ease. I was enlightened by hearing how failure shaped everyone’s success later on in each of their respective fields. Personally, I think a good health professional is a person who loves working with people and helping them. They are people who don’t necessarily work for the money but to improve the lifestyle of others. There are many things one can do to practice these traits such as volunteering or researching.

  4. I think a good health professional should be defined as someone who really cares about their profession. They obviously should know what they’re doing but I think that having the passion and willingness to be a health professional should definitely be considered. It was awesome and reassuring to know that people that were in my shoes failed in something that they believed would ruin their life. I agree with you that the holistic approach to admitting students into medical school is a good thing because not only are they getting the students that are interested and passionate for the medical fiend but they also are bringing in new perspectives and different people to further develop the school itself.

  5. Dilara, thanks so much for your comments! As a pre-med student, I have certainly wondered about the similar things – grades, med school, admission, residencies. I think that medical schools, as much as they strive to be holistic in their approach, will use grades/GPA as a baseline for delineating students who will be capable and suitable for future health careers. It is beneficial for medical schools to consider extracurricular activities and community involvement as both of these prospects deal more specifically with the individual’s ability to effectively communicate and empathize with populations and societies. I am pleased to see that admissions offices are directing increased attention toward these non-academic realms. Nevertheless, academic performance is a integral aspect of one’s application, a part that should not go unnoticed. Ultimately, the physicians and health care professionals that will perform the best are those who have special abilities to develop connections with patients by offering treatment that is established on a solid academic background.

  6. Great point Dilara! I also was surprised by the fact that you can get C’s or even fail a class and still get into grad school. I too have felt crushing stress because I thought only an amazing GPA will qualify you to get into medical school. The panel taught me that grad schools like to see that students have other interests, not just that they are spending all their time trying to get a good GPA. I can see why grades are important, as they are a standardized, concrete way of measuring academic success. However, I think that if you are doing what you love, it will show on your application. It will show that you care about something important and that you have dedication to something bigger than yourself. I think having passion and perseverance is what really makes a good grad student and a good health professional.

  7. I agree and am relieved to hear that some poor grades, (or a string of poor grades) does not completely ruin one’s chances at medical school. This was a very relieving class for me as I just came out of a very difficult chemistry exam. It is a relieving feeling to know that there is a margin to “screw things up” in a class or two. I also really appreciated Dana’s speech, which showed the numerous opportunities in health care besides being a doctor. Although my current path is for medicine, I am now more comfortable with the idea of moving to a different branch should it fit me more. I have found a common theme in the speakers: have a true love for what you’re doing, and the grades and opportunities will in fact come.

  8. Hearing everyone in the panel talk about failing or getting C’s at one point in their college career was pretty reassuring to me also. I’ve always been told that getting good grades is the most important thing of getting into medical school. I’ve been pretty conflicted too between sticking straight to the pre-med track and focusing on those grades and following what I really want to do, which is going to Ross while still being pre-med. Everyone I have ever talked to said that it’s important to show your interest in medicine in undergrad, which means not only getting good grades, but also doing research and joining other health clubs. So I’ve really been questioning whether or not I should also do Ross because it might cause an image that I’m not that interested in medicine. However, I think that following your passions and being well-rounded help make you a better health professional. Becoming a doctor is not an easy process and I think if you have other interests and passions on top of just medicine, that just goes to show how dedicated you are to medicine because you chose to stick by it rather than picking another field that you are just as passionate about.

  9. I agree with you completely Dilara. I constantly find myself lying awake at night thinking about my grades and how they’ll have such a huge impact on my future, but Thursday’s talk changed that quite a bit and opened my eyes. I realized that my grades are still very important, but shouldn’t be the only thing I focus on and I need to start becoming a more active and involved student and member of the communities I’m a part of. In high school, I was one of those kids that wouldn’t accept a B on my report card, so coming to college has definitely been an adjustment period but I think it has also been a period of growth and personal development. I’ve come to understand that I can’t always be the best and that an A or a C on a bio exam won’t determine my future and, more importantly, my worth.

  10. As someone who has no interest in doing anything in the medical field anymore, I wasn’t thrilled to be listening to people in health care talk about how they were able to achieve their goal of getting into medical school or other master’s program. However, this talk was very applicable to me. I hope to apply to a master’s of management graduate program. With my first semester being a very tough one, it is a big stress reliever to know that graduate schools look at more than just grades when considering an applicant. I have always been very involved in organizations I was passionate about in high school, and after my horrible first semester, I hope to continue this at the University Michigan. Having aspects other than my grades will help me get into a good graduate program, just as it helped me get into the University of Michigan. I also like that they care about how passionate you are. I currently hope to pursue a degree in organizational studies with a focus in business/leadership. Even though I was not able to get into the Ross School of Business, this avenue is a better fit for me based on the curriculum. Even though Michigan’s business school is more prestigious than Michigan’s college of LSA, my passion will be evident, and I will be able to use this degree to have a successful job.

  11. I too at first thought that only straight A students got into medical school. Knowing that this is not necessarily true makes me feel better about my grades, but grades are also a big influence into your application review for med school which is unfortunate. I don’t think I felt better after hearing this because it kind of put more pressure on me. I think that the holistic review process weeds out the students who are not totally passionate about becoming a health professional. By showing what you do outside of classes, it really shows what you are interested in and it shows your personality more. A good health professional is diverse and familiar with learning new things and being in difficult situations. A student who has all A’s might not necessarily show all of these characteristics.

  12. Unlike it seems most people, my main takeaway from the panel was not about getting Cs or about grades in general. Grades are an incredibly important part of your application and while having a poor GPA may not totally prevent you from getting in to medical school, it definitely won’t help. Data from the Association of American Medical Colleges shows that the average GPA for a medical school matriculant in 2015-2016 was 3.70 and that number has been increasing. https://www.aamc.org/download/321494/data/factstablea16.pdf

    Instead, the thing I found most interesting about the panel was that only one person was in medical school. I know the panel isn’t necessarily representative of all HSSP alumni, but it does seem inconsistent that there was only one med student on the panel, while half of the people in HSSP currently seem to want to go to medical school. I found this a little frightening, but I think there is also comfort in knowing that the people on the panel seemed to have found something that changed their career and life goals and that failure to reach the goals one has as a freshman doesn’t really mean much.

  13. Hello,
    This panel reassured me that in the end everything will be alright. Although we may not have the greatest GPAs when time comes, if we show improvement, we should be good. I think that if you do not start as strong as you like and only improve, characteristics like determination are shown. You can stand higher than you ever stood, if you fall lower than you ever fell. Everyone has their days, their exams, and their classes, but that should not keep us from continuing to strive towards our goals. I am experiencing some hardship in a couple classes, but I will continue to push through and do what I told myself I can. The panel all had some similarities, but each their owns struggles. I think that is what was most surprising to me and it was greatly appreciated that they shared these struggles.

  14. I think to be a great health care professional, you need to be caring. Anyone can go to school, learn the material, and practice some form of health care profession, but what truly separates those who do health care for a job and those who do it as a passion and calling are those who genuinely know how to care for the patient’s physical and emotional needs. You can show this to graduate schools, if your job requires graduate school, or potential employers by volunteering at organizations which really mean something to you. If you find an organization that hands out food to the homeless and you enjoy it, then spend more of your time there and record it. Build a relationship with the leaders, and the place to which you are applying can contact them to hear about your character.

  15. Although, I am going into dentistry and not public health or pre-med, a lot of the advice given by the panel relates to any pre-health profession. I agree that it was surprising that you were able to get into med school/school of public health with a bad grade in a class. I learned that holistic review is becoming more popular in grad schools, so community service and personality are being factored into the admission decisions. I’m happy you cleared up your misunderstandings and that you are pursing your passions! The panel taught us that being passionate in something/what you’re pursing is very important to grad schools when looking at applications. A good health professional should be VERY passionate about what they are doing. Being involved in many health organizations and community service in health environments can show that you are passionate about a health profession.

  16. I completely agree with you Dilara. We put so much stress on grades, yet in the long run, it is who we are and what we do outside of class that truly matters and will get us in to our future grad schools. Like one of the students on the panel said, we put so much pressure on our grades because it is the one tangible thing we can use to compare ourselves against others. We can’t tell which one of us is holistically better than the other. I think that it’s important to keep perspective on what really matters to us and make sure that we pursue what we are passionate about. Easier said than done, but that is what will get us furthest in life.

  17. The fact that all of the people on the panel had received a C at one time of another during there undergraduate experience surprised me as well. In high school, getting a C was almost unthinkable and would most likely ruin our chances of getting into a good school, so it was reassuring to see all of these successful professionals say that it’s not to end of the world to get a C. It was also reassuring to hear that most of them had failed at something during undergrad. This was encouraging because seeing that they recovered from these failures made me hopeful. It also encouraged me to try everything that I want to in undergrad because they showed me that it is very possible to recover from any type of failure. I’m also glad that they said that medical schools consider who you are as a person instead of just looking at your grades and test scores.

  18. This pre-health myth busting panel was definitely a great help by explaining that even went things don’t go your way you still have a chance to achieve your dreams. I also find it pleasing that many health schools are using a more holistic approach to judging applicants. As for the question “what makes a good health professional”, I have to say it is the passion that one has while on the job. If someone is happy and truly enjoys what he/she are doing then they are more likely going to give better attention and care to their patients. If I absolutely hate my job that I would probably be doing worse than a normal person would whether it is consciously or unconsciously. So that’s the big one.

  19. The debunking of this health myth relieved me the most out of the myths. Although I don’t plan on attending medical school in the future, I do want to continue my nursing education in order to get a master’s and doctorate degree. I used to always be worried about my grades. From elementary school all the way through high school, I felt constantly pressured to do well academically at all costs, at the expense of almost everything else. It was a relief to hear from older students that if you get a C, your life is not over. That doesn’t mean don’t do the best you can do, but it’s not as serious as us students make it out to be.

  20. I agree with what you are saying. Especially in High School I remember everyone freaking out about how they have to have perfect grades or they weren’t going to be able to get into their top schools. While I did do well in High School, I did not have a perfect GPA or perfect test scores. I think it was through the essays that I wrote that I got to show the University of Michigan who I am and what I am truly passionate about. At the end of the day, you should look back and be happy with what you are doing. Not having an amazing GPA isn’t what is going to keep you from become a health professional. Not having the passion to work and achieve will. A good health professional of course needs to be competent. However, their work is for other people. A desire to help people and work with people to fix medical issues is what a good health professional must have.

  21. I, like you Dilara, also am taking the engineering/ pre-med track. I also have the same fears about having a low GPA because of all the engineering classes. I was very reassured to hear that getting a C or having a slightly lower GPA does not ruin my chances of getting into med school. A good health professional is someone who listens to their patients and shows compassion, they do not judge them, they just want to help them. A want to help people in anyway possible and the medical field allows that.

  22. I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiments you expressed above. A GPA is not the only thing that admissions officers look at when accepting students.

    What makes a good healthcare professional, yes is someone who is passionate about the subject. Yet healthcare is a particularly tumultuous, ever-changing industry. Someone going into the field must be well equipped to always be able to learn and handle the whatever new situations that they would come across.

    Showing these traits would be shadowing and studying abroad.

  23. I was also surprised to find out that you don’t need to have perfect grades to get into med school. This was great for me because I know that my grades are far from perfect already and that it doesn’t just take grades to be a doctor. However, I was not completely at ease from hearing the panel because it seems like you need to do something really amazing if your grades are not up to par. I’m still unsure about what amazing experience that I will be able to do.

  24. I was surprised also at the fact that you don’t need perfect grades to get into medical school. For me, I am always so worried about maintaining a perfect academic record that I didn’t even consider what I activities I could participate in that would add to my application. I like the point you brought up about how medical schools want to see passion in their applicants, not just high numbers. I’ve always been passionate about health and sciences for as long as I can remember. I just have to find an opportunity for me to really showcase this passion.

  25. Growing up and going through middle and high school, I always set the highest expectations for myself regarding grades and never accepted the idea of a B let alone a C. Coming into college and hearing the panel talk on Thursday opened my eyes and totally changed my view. I have wanted to work in the medical field since I was young so good grades were always in the back of mind during all of my school career. I never imagined any medical school accepting students with imperfect GPAs and Cs on their transcripts. I was wrong, and I am glad I was. I was definitely surprised at the beginning when the panel of successful graduates said that they got Cs and some even failed orgo. It made me think how much students, especially the ones planning to go into the medical field, hold the ideal of their grades and how stressful that is on every individual student to try and earn high grades throughout all of college. It showed me that who you are as an individual matters and pursuing something you are passionate about and being involved in organizations that mean something to you are just as important as grades. It also showed that grades do not define who you are as a person. Every one on that panel is successful in their own way even though some of them failed classes more than once.
    When it comes to any career, passion is the key to happiness. If someone is passionate about what they are doing as a career for the majority of their lifetime then they will be successful, happy and will love their job. Thus, a good health professional has to have passion for his or her profession. They also need to be caring, patient and need to have compassion in order to succeed.

  26. Personally, I think a health professional is first and foremost an individual with a huge commitment to improving the health of others. They’re people who don’t shy from the intensity and heavy demands that come hand in hand with ensuring the well-being of another human being. And I’d like to think that medical schools recognize this quality – that dedication and passion play a huge role in determining whether or not someone is capable of entering the health sciences. If that’s the case, medical schools may be more receptive to a student who decided to take on an academically challenging major over a student who decided to switch to an easier one. After all, when physicians are faced with handling the life of another person, they aren’t given the luxury of just switching out to another job when things start to go sour.
    In terms of expressing this level of commitment, I think a good deal of it can go into the essay or interview portions of an application to grad school. Having a passion to take a certain major, while also maintaining a desire to rise up in the face of adversity are qualities that are extremely attractive, and would manage to explain why certain grades may not be up to par.

  27. Although the health professionals on the panel assured us that a top GPA was not everything and that a lack thereof would not make or break one’s med school hopes, I personally am not entirely reassured. As I’ve learned from the college process, to stand the best chances, one has to maximize the probability of acceptance, by being strong across all or most categories. However, just because one has a 4.0 GPA does not make them qualified or even a good fit to be a doctor and to serve patients. Perhaps the applicant with the more interesting resume or the unusual choice of major might warrant a second look. It is difficult to compare the GPA’s of a BME major with that of non-engineering major. Instead of asking why engineering pre-meds do not choose an easier major, it should be remarkable that they are willing to follow what they want to study and use it to help patients and improve lives.

  28. I agree, though students who achieve straight A’s in their academic careers appear qualified to be health professionals, there are also people who are incredibly passionate about their communities and helping others that are equally as qualified. Even so, it was still surprising to hear that the GPA we have is not the biggest defining factor on our applications to medical school. This idea has seemed to surround and create an almost elite atmosphere surrounding medical school, but diversity and well-roundedness would be limited through this perspective. Comparing the GPA that two different applicants have when they might have completely different majors and courses taken throughout their academic careers and making that the factor of utmost importance does not appear to be a logical step towards finding the ideal candidate for medical school. The field of healthcare is ever expanding and changing, and a diverse pool of professionals would better aid in problem solving when encountering challenges.

  29. I definitely agree with you that the panel’s opinion on the importance of grades made me feel better about college in general. I have been so accustomed to demanding perfection out of myself, that the idea of anything less than a 4.0 seemed like a failure. I found myself thinking more about the grade and less about what I am passionate about. The panel made me realize that a doctor is not an assortment of transcripts that date back to high school. What makes a good medical professional is the fact that they have a passion for improving the lives of others. They are driven not by money, not by status, but by the fact that they are able to go out and save lives. Yes, a doctor who received a 4.0 might look better on paper than a doctor who got a 3.0, but there are so many other things that are important in the medical field other than grades. A person who has been volunteering there time at hospitals, food drives, and fundraisers and has demonstrated a passion for helping others is just as deserving of a spot in medical school as someone who is riding on just their GPA and test scores.

  30. you seem to be sharing great insight and it is comforting to hear about some of the struggles that other students have had that are either graduated from medical school or are currently in medical school. although it shocked me that people with ranges from 2.8 to 4.0 G.P.A were getting admitted, it also did not come to surprise that medical school look for a mixture of students with different backgrounds and viewpoints. Not everyone that has straight A’s all throughout college is fit to be a doctor. making good grades may be half the battle, who is to say that someone that has a 4.0 can handle the pressure of a life in their hands. As you mentioned i also feel far more confident in myself and the goal of becoming an Anesthesiologist seems to be that much more achievable. Being a first generation doctor in my family can be a motivating thought but having speakers come and talk is very motivating as well

  31. Dilara,

    I have the same mindset. Whenever someone asks me what I plan to major, I answer English and I always get dubious looks:

    “English, what are you planning to do with that?”

    When I say pre-med, most don’t understand. Wouldn’t majoring in a science be easier. As much as I like chemistry and physics (honestly), I am most passionate about English. I love reading, writing and gaining deeper critical thinking skills. I want to continue to pursue a degree where I am so passionate about. I do not want to lose that. What I like about Joyce’s thing was that everyone on the panal continued to stress “do what you love” not what you think medical schools want to see.

    I still want to become a specialist in medicine, but I love how literature and medicine can become intertwined. I want to be able to apply my passion for reading into medical work. I like how the panals helped foster that thinking.

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