In today’s world, so many college students dream of acquiring a medical degree in the near future, but medical school isn’t for everyone. Not only is it extremely expensive and time consuming, it also has a highly competitive application process where not everyone makes the cut.
Over the past decade, the number of people applying to medical school has increased by more than 35 percent, which makes it more challenging for someone to acquire admission. Luckily, those with an interest in the medical field can pursue a number of other careers that will still enable them to follow their passions.
For those who have difficulty getting into medical school but still want to have the prestige of being considered a doctor, podiatry school is an excellent option. Podiatry focuses on treating any conditions related to the foot, ankle and other parts of the leg and, in some cases, even involves surgery. Additionally, podiatrists have the opportunity to further specialize within this field, and diabetic foot care is a popular focus due to a recent increase in diabetics. Entrance to podiatry school requires a high GPA as well as a decent MCAT score, and many of the college level prerequisite courses are similar to those required for medical school. Just like medical school, it is a four-year program.
Another prestigious career that is very similar to general medicine but slightly less common is dentistry. While most dentists have their own general practices, it is possible to specialize in fields such as periodontology or orthopedics. In addition, a dentist’s work schedule is much more stable compared to that of a doctor, as life-threatening emergencies are quite rare in this field. Dental school is four years long, just like medical school, and requires a high GPA. Applicants are also required to take the Dental Admissions Test (DAT), which consists of four sections: natural sciences, perceptual ability, reading comprehension and quantitative reasoning.
Those who desire to spend their lives working with patients should consider becoming a physician’s assistant (PA). With a few exceptions, like surgical procedures, PAs are capable of performing the same medical procedures as a doctor would. The biggest difference between a doctor and a PA is that, unlike a doctor, a PA cannot have his or her own private practice. In terms of education, PA school is not only less time consuming, but also is more cost-efficient in comparison to medical school. Additionally, PA school does not require the MCAT as an entrance exam in most cases; instead applicants must submit a GRE score. However, a PA school applicant should have a certain amount of clinical exposure prior to applying.
Another healthcare profession that serves as an excellent alternative to medical school is optometry. Optometrists specialize in the examination, diagnosis and treatment of the ocular system; duties include the prescribing and fitting of glasses and contact lenses, as well as treating common eye conditions like glaucoma. Like medical schools, optometry schools also require an entrance exam, the Optometry Admission Test (OAT), but the test is much shorter than the MCAT, only four hours and 40 minutes long. It is divided into four sections: natural sciences, physics, reading comprehension and quantitative reasoning. While optometry school is no walk in the park, the path to becoming an optometrist is significantly shorter than that of other medical professions.
For those who do not enjoy the science involved in the medical profession but still want to play a role in the world of healthcare, a service administrator is the perfect career choice. The job covers a wide range of professions, including, but not limited to, business managers and case workers. This career does not require a whole lot of medical knowledge; however, it does require the ability to communicate with patients and their families. It is an extremely important role in any healthcare field because no hospital can function without its service administrators. It is an excellent way to help those in need, and unlike the other jobs mentioned, this career does not require a specific degree or graduate program, but many of them have at least completed their associate’s or bachelor's degree.
While students with perfect GPAs as well as research experience and other extracurriculars who spend their weekends volunteering at hospitals are clearly meant to become doctors, not every student is able to create the perfect medical school resume during their four years in college. So, while it is incredibly difficult to get into medical school, there are plenty of other options available.