How to Decide if Med School is the Right Career For You – Decision Theory

Hey, what’s up you guys? My name is Buck Parker. I’m a board certified general surgeon.

In this video, we’re gonna talk about how to decide to go to medical school or not. I get a lot of questions about this all the time on my Instagram or just YouTube. If you’re in high school or college, people ask me all the time, “How do I decide? I think I wanna go to med school, but maybe I have these issues. Maybe I did crappy in school for a few years. I took the MCAT; I did really poor on the MCAT. Should I decide to continue to pursue medicine even though I have these issues?” You know me. You know my story.

If you don’t know me, my quick story is I did crappy in the first couple years of college. I didn’t do great on the MCAT. I went to a Caribbean medical school. I went from a Caribbean medical school, got some rotations in the states as, basically, an IMG. Then I got a residency in general surgery, and now I’m a general surgeon. I’ve been a general surgeon for seven years. Goes fast. That’s my quick story. I made a lot of those mistakes and then I continued to pursue medicine, so that’s why people ask me this a lot. That’s why I wanna talk about it.

First, before…I have a little tool for you to decide, and it’s a really neat little tool. First, I wanna go over what influences you. How did you- How were you exposed to maybe going to medicine- into medicine. I’ll tell you that, really, it’s the mentors. For me, I had a family friend who was a doctor I really respected. That’s what sparked my interest. It was a couple of other things too, but that’s what kept me going. Then in medical school, I just decided what path I was gonna take based on…There was a couple surgeons that I really respected and I thought were really cool, so that’s what generally people do is they have some sort of mentor or an inspiration and they go into that field.

My point of this is that you should really pay attention to whether that matches up with the rest of your life and it matches up with your skillset. ‘Cause if you really like basketball and you are like, “Kobe Bryant’s my inspiration”, but you’re 5’2”, you’re not gonna play professional basketball. That is something that you need to pay attention to. There’s another guy, Ty Lopez, I listen to a lot. Actually, you can find him on YouTube. He’s got some ridiculous videos, but he has some good insights.

One of the insights is that you should pay attention to your advantage. What is your advantage in life? There’s seven billion people on the planet. Essentially, these are all your competitors. What is your advantage over these people in life? If that matches up with medicine, that’s great. That’s another thing saying, “This is the right path for you.”

If you have a mentor that you really respect, and you see what they’re doing. You really wanna do that. That’s great, but that must match up with your advantage. If it doesn’t match up with your advantage, then maybe you should be looking for something else.

Let’s go over this tool. This tool is pretty neat, and I did not find this. Somebody- This is actually a branch of mathematics, if you can believe that. It’s called Decision Theory, and this Decision Theory is a branch of mathematics. I did not take this class. I think it’s actually, make it Physics, class. I did not take this, but somebody taught me this. It’s really cool.

Basically, this is…The tool is called regret minimization. I hope I spelled that right, and essentially it’s exactly what it says. It says, “What are you going to regret the least in three to five to 10 to 20 years?” That’s what you need to keep in mind when you’re making this decision. It’s very simple.

Option one is you go to med school or let’s just say you go on the path to getting to med school or to the path of being a doctor. If you’re in high school or you’re in college, you’re going to chase after this. Option two is to not go. This is simple. We don’t have to say anything else. If you have another career path in mind, you can put this in here. “Not go to med school.”

Then you choose a timeframe. Med school is a little more because…Usually when you read this, you say, “Two to three years.” But for med school, it’s really like…When you’re a doctor, it’s 10 years. Maybe we could say, like, five to 10 years from now. Five to 10 years. Now, what happens is that…This is where it’s a little bit funky. You say, “If I chase med school and it doesn’t work out…” So no go. I try and get into med school let’s say for three years, and I don’t get in. Or five years, and I don’t get in. Or I go to med school, and I can’t get in a residency or something like that. Then you have to stop that path, so no go on that. How much do you regret that on a scale of one to 10? Scale one to 10.

If you really, really regret trying to go to med school, then that’s an eight or so. What if you don’t go to med school? What if you decide, “I’m not going”? You choose something else. You become an engineer. When you become an engineer in three to five years, you go, “Wow, this really sucks. I am not gonna be an engineer anymore. I’m gonna change into something else. I’m gonna go back to school. I’m gonna get a different job. I’m gonna freaking mow lawns. I don’t know what.” If you regret not going to med school not very much, you’re like, “Well, I’m an engineer and it didn’t work out. I mow lawns, and I’m pretty happy. Thank God I didn’t go to med school.” That’s a three.

Which choice do you take? You should take that route because you didn’t regret it as much.

Now if you switch these and this is an eight. In five to whatever years you’re like, “Goddamnit, I should’ve went to med school.” You go to med school, and you can’t get in or whatever happens and you’re like, “You know what? Hey, I tried. I gave my all. I tried. It didn’t work out for me. I don’t regret not trying.” That’s a three. You don’t go to med school, you become an engineer, it does not work out, that’s the trick about this tool. It doesn’t work out, then you go, “Oh (bleep). I should’ve went to med school. I regret it really bad.” That’s the catch.

That’s the tool. I hope that helps you guys make the decision whether to go or not. The asshole people…What would they do different? They would try more stuff. They wouldn’t not do things; they would just…They would go after stuff more. That’s what they regret, and that’s at the end of the day…That’s what’s gonna hurt you in the long run. When you’re 40, I’m 43, when you’re 40, you’re like, “Oh Goddamn, I should’ve done x.”

I think it’s really helpful. I make decisions- a lot of decisions like this, and it really, really helps a lot. Then you can always be satisfied that you didn’t do one way and your regret is minimized, and it’s not that bad. You went the other way, it didn’t work out. But if you didn’t do that, you couldn’t live with yourself because it would just be eating you alive.

The regret minimization tool is awesome. Hey, I hope you guys like these videos. If you do, it’d be sweet if you subscribe to my channel. Maybe like the video, share it with a friend. That’d be great too. I will see you in the next one. Take care.

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