Doctor Dopers - how did you do at school?

For you doctors of medicine, how good were you at high school? Were you a whiz or were you average academically?

Just wondering - my daughter is 10 and wants to be a doctor like the neighbors(both are doctors). I’m telling here she needs to do really really good from now until 12th grade.

Since I’m a lowly engineer, I have no idea. :smack:

The time to do good is in College.

I wasn an above-average student (Think top 20% academically) in HS who learned to take tests well and scored very high on the SATs and ACTs. That got me into a pretty decent university.

Once there, I worked hard to get the grades, reseach experience, and extra-curriculars, which got me accepted at a lot of medical schools.

10 is a bit young to be pushing academics, IMHO. I’ve seen kids excel in middle and high school, only to burn out.

As a senior medical student, I was a non-voting member of the admissions committee, and got to interview candidates, review their applications, and participate in the debate about whether to offer them a spot or not. At Johns Hopkins, they expected impressive academic performance in college, but they were more interested in seeing how the student was more than just a pre-med grind. (I don’t know how I got in, I was mostly a pre-med grind).

All this was in the 70’s and early 80’s.

OK, you want the truth, right?

In grade 10 my average was more than fifty percent lower than it was in grade 12 (you may wish to reflect on that for a moment). Thankfully, I had my “wild and crazy” days when it didn’t matter too much and had no impact on university acceptance. So, when I buckled down afterwards, it was easy enough to get into university.

Once in university, I took courses where it was at least theoretically possible to get 100 (e.g. math) unlike, say, English, where the best you could do was get an 85 or so. In second year, I took six math courses! I was lucky to both enjoy math and be fairly good at it (but nowhere close enough to consider it for a career).

I can speak from the other side of the fence, as someone who didn’t make it through medical school. I was an overachiever at a younger age, skipped a couple of grades in school because everything came pretty easy for me, and aced the SATs without doing any prep/study.

Had my choice of top universities and opted for one that offered the BS/MD degree in a single six-year program.

I struggled immediately because I had never developed appropriate study skills. I wasn’t organized, couldn’t manage my time, and I had no idea what to do when coursework was challenging because I’d never been in that situation before. Also, because I had over-involved parents, I had a hard time fending for myself when I was finally on my own.

Looking back (I’m almost forty now), I see that despite my great grades and high scores on IQ tests and other standardaized exams, the focus on those things as meaningful metrics did me a huge disservice.

Kids who learn to take initiative and who have basic problem solving skills will always be succesful. Without that foundation, all the hard work in the world isn’t going to be enough, because the effort won’t be applied productively.

Yes, but what do you call someone who graduates last in their class from medical school?

Doctor, of course.

And since medical school grades are given to an absolute scale, rather than a curve, that’s how it should be.

I knew I wanted to be a physician at a young age and planned appropriately. I did above average but not great in high school (just withing the top 25% of my class), and actually had the guidance counselor suggest I looking at the wrong field. I did well on the SATs and went to the local State University. There I applied myself, worked hard, listened instead of doodled in class, and did well on the MCATs. Got into medical school without any difficulty. I don’t believe there are good or bad medical schools. Despite reputations that are based mainly on research money obtained, they are essentially trade schools. It is the student, not the school that produces good or mediocre physicians. In medical school I did good but not great (a little above the 50th percentile). Anyway, the idea is to do well in college, high school doesn’t matter. Going to a rigorous college is not necessarily adventageous, if the are hard without grade inflation, your GPA will be better in an easier school, and they are mainly looking at a good GPA (particularly in science courses) and good MCAT scores.

My high school and university marks were very high. But this is not needed for medical school. Good marks in college are very important, and these will be hard to get if some sort of academic foundation is not laid earlier. But I don’t think marks before high school, and even for the first few years of high school (unloess the college looks at these), matter at all. The work habits do.

As with most things in education placement, how you do now determines where you go later, but with less and less effect as time goes by.

As other people have said, getting into medical school is mostly dependent on college performance. That said, whether it’s “right” or not, you’ll look better making those med school applications from Yale or Harvard than from Salisbury State University.

So how do you get into a top college, particularly one with a strong pre-med program or its analogue? You do great in high school. Private or prep schools like Andover and Exeter are great, but public schools in most of Maryland are pretty good. If you’re in Montgomery County, for instance, then getting into Blair is a big boost.

Of course, you can get into medical school mostly on doing well in college and you don’t need to go to a big fancy college for that. It’s just a bit easier. How you do in high school largely determines how good a college you get into, but as other people here have said, it’s nothing you can’t recover from if you slack off a bit. Of course, if you slack off now, how likely is it you’ll be the sort of person to pull up and put in the extra work later?

Geez, I think you must be my long-lost twin or something …

Let the kid be. Just say, “That’s great!” and move on to the next topic.

The main thing right now is to let her exercise all her passions. Encourage them all. The correlation between what you want to be when you are ten and what you want to be when you are 20 is not that high. If she’s baseline bright enough and she finds her passion in life she’ll be more content than if she gets (any) advanced degree just because she’s bright enough to get it, but it doesn’t wake her up in the morning excited.

What you don’t want is to navigate her down a path without her having ever explored other options. We see a few of those in the physician world and they aren’t always content. It’s a long road to go down and find out that the destination isn’t where you want to be. These days Med School is a lot more expensive than when I went, and that can also limit your choices once you are a doctor b/c you gotta get them debts paid off… you don’t get to suddenly decide you always wanted to be a fireman.

Assuming you are caucasian or Asian she will also have to have pretty good marks and standardized scores, along with some sorta “extras” but if you are worrying about that at age ten, she’s got problems. I sat on a Med School Admissions Committee for five years in the 80’s and it was a pretty competetive environment for non-minority applicants. Having said that, the admissions process really is geared, on average, to looking at folks as individuals.

There’s no rush. I was a good student but I didn’t take a single science course until I was a junior in college (I did have to double up some intro and advanced courses). I smoked the MCATS in part because I had just finished all the basic sciences and didn’t have time to forget stuff. Not the brightest strategy, but it worked for me. Unless she is a top-tier student it’s a better strategy to get all A’s at a second-tier school than be mediocre at a slightly better school.

By the time she’s 17, some of the luster of medicine might have worn off, but perhaps that’s the geezer in me talking.

Did horribly in middle school, progressively better in high school, but never a standout. I graduated as the second-to-last in the top 10% of my class, which was important because that meant I got into University of Texas without a big to-do.

In college, I was quite similar. Graduated at the tail-end of the “with honors” crowd, not with high or highest honors. (cum laude versus magna/summa).

Classes in medical school were also nothing to write home about, I passed everything and “honored” (the equivalent of an A) about 1/3. Where I stood out, I think, was in my clinical ward rotations. I honored and high passed (A-) all of those. That’s what really counts for residency, anyway. That, combined with a (substandard) PhD placed me very well for residency, in which I currently toil.

What saved my ass is I have always had a strange knack for standardized tests, something which I cannot explain. I did very well on both the SAT and the MCAT, and quite well on the USMLEs.

I would encourage your daughter to do some candy-striping/volunteering and, if possible, research. There are numerous programs for high schoolers. This will open her eyes to the biomedical world early. There are many different career paths and physician is not the only one.

The other thing is that there are many paths here. I’m at one of the top rated residencies in the country (down the road from you), and while there are a share of Harvard/Stanford trained people, there are just as many small liberal art school guys and big public university guys (like me).

There’s plenty of time for a 10-year-old to explore different interests and career paths, health-related and otherwise. It isn’t too soon to develop good study habits and to read voraciously about all kinds of things. If she still has a big interest in medicine by the time she starts college, that’s when a push for excellent grades (within reason) is expected.

I did very well in grammar school, mediocre in high school (some semi-burnout), and decently but not great in college as a premed - then went into another line of work entirely for eight years before returning to graduate school. My interest in medicine was rekindled there, and grad school and MCAT performance were enough to get me into med school.

My heavily nontraditional pathway worked out well. It’s probably not a great idea for a ten-year-old and her family to get fixated on med school at this point.