A (future) non-trad seeking reassurance

Hey guys! My name is Cindy, and I’m a undergraduate student at UT Austin. I know, I know, you’re thinking “undergrad? does she know what a non-trad is?” but hear me out.

I love to push myself. I always have, and I probably always will. I’m the embodiment of Daft Punk’s “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger.” This is a weakness as much as it is a strength! This all is to say that I really hate being mediocre at anything and often have way too much on my plate (typical pre-med much?). I’ve always pushed myself EXTREMELY hard in school, including a very demanding high school career filled with APs, independent research, a thesis project, leading multiple clubs &c, and then I hopped straight into UT, where I major in neuroscience and minor in business and will be graduating in three years, freshly turned 20 years old (also graduated high school at 17). All the while, athletically, I train and compete at an international level for 60-80 hours a week, often on the road for weeks at a time traveling to competitions. Disclaimer: I do all of these things because I love them! I truly love every moment of every day and I’m having a blast. I’m not insane, it just sounds like it on paper. :sweat_smile:

I love medicine, especially sports medicine and orthopedics, as one might expect. I’ve had incredible experiences shadowing and have a lot of family in medicine/STEM fields. That said, I am not 100% sure this is the path for me (I know this will be a crucial fact for most of you when offering advice). I am self-aware enough to know that part of my attraction to medicine is a desire to know I can do the hard thing (how well can I do on the MCAT? what schools can I get into?) and so on. I don’t want to enter the field with that motivation. I do adore the practice of medicine and believe I could provide unique strengths in patient care, but as an introspective person and someone who studies neuro development, I know I can’t make that decision truthfully right now. I mean, I’m 19 for crying out loud :slight_smile:

I’ve been offered multiple AMAZING opportunities as a professional athlete upon graduation. This is something I’ve always loved and always wanted to do, so I’m almost certain I will bite the bullet and do it. However, I’m scared that if or when I decide to finish my last few prerequisites, take the MCAT, and apply to medical schools, this could put me at a disadvantage. I don’t want it to look like medicine is my second choice, in short.

On the other hand, I also think it will paint me as a unique applicant. If I decide to go back to school and pursue this career, I likely will have been a pro athlete for 4-5 years and that could bring some really individual perspective to ortho, sports med, fam med, etc. Additionally, I have a phenomenal research position at a prestigious institution that has already landed me a few publications which I plan to continue in while working professionally. Therefore, I’d likely be applying with a LARGE number of research hours, publications, etc by the time a few years roll past. I also plan to continue to shadow/volunteer a few times a month while working. I hope that all of this will make it clear that I’ve “maintained interest” in medicine during my gap, however long it is. Additionally, I’ll have one semester of courses to take before taking MCAT/applying, which should serve to show that I’m still academically capable at the time. I’m not super worried about that because my transcript thankfully looks pretty good (18-19 hours a semester, full time athletics, part time research, almost straight A’s, very tough coursework).

TLDR; Basically, I just want to feel like I’m not ruining my chances by not applying to medical school right now. I know that I need the time to mature and that I’d regret not taking these opportunities. If I become a doctor, I think these experiences will make me a better one. I’m just trying to get rid of the feeling that the other train might leave the station while I do it. Reassurance, please?!

Hey Cindy,
It sounds like you are feeling as though you have to decide between the two. However, there are numerous examples of professional athletes/Olympians that compete then become physicians. I can’t imagine any medical school seeing it as your ‘second choice.’ Athletics is a small window of time in your life even if you compete until you are 40, barring something tragic happening, that is half of your life. This is my third career between military, college coaching, and now medicine. I don’t see them as separate, they are all chain links on the same chain that led me where I am. They are all necessary experiences. You still have three years of college as you said, but even then it isn’t picking one over the other, but rather it may just mean one before the other. When I have had to make decisions more specifically I think about enlisting in the military my thought was, “if you don’t do this, will you always wonder or regret it?” My answer to that question was ‘yes.’ Along with taking inventory of your own motives, yes you do need to gain some amount of experience. It may even mean shadowing your team physician if you can, or volunteering every now and then in a hospital. It seems as though you are so conflicted, because you are not really sure what being a physician means to you. It’s hard as an athlete, I was a college athlete at one time, but finding a couple hours here or there when you can will go a long way. All of the research and prestige of publications is great, but it’s a profession of people. I think through just doing the volunteering and gaining clinical experience the answer will become more obvious.

Coach Tree
Hook em