Why am I not premed?

After this week’s general body meeting, I stuck around a little bit and listened to a story that was very similar to my own. The story inspired me to share this. Why am I not premed? ( spoiler alert, this is not about me trashing the pre-meds, & it’s a long one)

Although I do consider myself a pre-health student, mental health just isn’t quite  in the picture when one mentions pre-health (I’ll post about that later). So I come back to that first part, why am I not premed? Because I want to go to grad school. Switching over (mentally & physically) was probably the toughest and easiest thing I have had to do in my undergrad thus far.

I started off great, I was on that pre-med route. I took a practice MCAT my freshman year, I got tutors, I went to the career center, I started volunteering at a hospital, I was speaking to other physicians. I didn’t even have a major completely declared but it didn’t matter because I was going to med school and you can major in anything.  I was pumped.

But then my life changed (half way through sophomore yr) when I got involved with a research lab in the clinical department of psychology. On top of that, I began exploring this field of psychology.  My favorite teacher/new mentor was a 6th year phd student on the verge of graduating in the clinical-community department of psychology. The topics I found most interesting were topics that pertained to the research in the psychology field.  And then I declared my psychology major. I really started to love it.

So then I compromised, “I’ll be a psychiatrist.” I still get to go to medical school, and then residency, I just need to add in another oh 3 years probably and I can still do that psych stuff. & they get paid so much more!! What’s another 3 years? Yea, I’ll be fine.

And then it got harder. And I wasn’t doing too hot. I loved mcb 244/45… And I hated it too. How do you hate and love a class at the same time? This happened while I still liked this psychology stuff.  “Maybe I shouldn’t be a doctor anymore…”

But what was going on? Was this my new way of picking the easy route? Sure classes were getting tough, but was I giving up? I wanted this so bad for so long. I mean really, it seemed sooo right. I also told like a zillion people I was pre-med. They’re expecting me to be premed. My parents, family friends, my old friends, I mean they were all backing me up, all very excited for me to attend medical school and to become a nice bilingual doctor. “You’ll be a great doctor Karina” they’d say. Is it the classes that are getting harder? Am I really going to let a few classes stop me from my dream? [ I’ll be honest, I was discouraged] Or my friends that I recently had that were also premed kept asking me about when I’d take the MCAT or if I was going to take one of those Kaplan classes. What am I going to say to them now? I hate giving up or backing out on things I have already committed myself into becoming. What if I regret not going?

And then I went to Peru. Being a doctor seemed so amazing. I loved it. And I wanted to soak up every piece of knowledge that medical school would give me, as well as all of the real life experiences I’d be sure to have.  All of that discouragement really went out the door. It could be done, this is an awesome career….And it pained me to watch this knowing that this was what I had wanted all along. But still something didn’t seem quite right.

So I listened to myself. I thought about my strengths and about the things I really loved right now. I pretended to forget about what that little 8 year old envisioned about curing everyone, or about being one of those doctors that help cure her tiny brother when he was sick. I realized that I really do love research. And that I really do love people. And that I need to interact with people, but maybe in a different way. And all of that talk in the past, well it didn’t quite matter at the moment because I’ve found my true path. The questions I wanted to answer, the field that was calling me, and the solutions I had to offer, just weren’t pre-med anymore.

I am so excited to become a psychologist. Although I still have a while to go, it seems so natural. Sometimes I still feel like I failed myself, but that’s the way I am. I’m really big on keeping my own personal promises to myself/others and I have this feeling like I had promised myself to go through with it for a while. But when I look at my new career choice, I just can’t wait to start already. I feel like I was born to do it. Maybe I’ll change my mind in the longer run, but that would only mean that I further developed my talents and interests.  I can’t help but feel like I have all the time in the world to figure it all out.

We think we are so good at predicting what we are going to want in the future, but actually most of the time we are wrong because we use our current conditions to compare to the future ones with undoubtedly will be different.  I read that in a psych study somewhere. It’s more complicated than what I made it sound.

So why did I post this?

Because I want you guys to know that it’s okay to change your mind, you are not alone. At least I think it’s okay. I really do want you to follow your dreams, and your ideal career path. Make sure you listen to what you want and what you’d like and  check in with yourself from time to time. Check out all of your options or don’t.

But seriously, we really do need more doctors, nurses, physician assistants, and physical therapist out there. & I’d like to get to know some more dentists so I can have an unlimited supply of toothpaste and dental floss (kidding). So I hope it’s you, I just realized it wasn’t me.

Author: Karina Diaz

Senior in Psychology at the U of I


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