When I began telling people that I wanted to be a doctor, I’m going to be honest – I panicked. I hadn’t actually completed all the things I needed to do to get into medical school, and it felt like I was taking on something that was much better than anything I had ever done before.

What saved me was thinking about things differently and taking on the challenge of building a “brand” for myself – my own personal brand. Then I realized, this was probably the best think I could do for myself and give me the opportunity to go through an exercise that would force me to be extremely self-reflective. In the end I realized that the things that made me stand out from everyone else are the things that would ultimately make me shine as a medical school candidate. Here are a few reasons why it’s very necessary, to have a personal brand if you’re a millennial premed:

YOUR PASSION, PERSONAL MISSION AND VALUES MATTER TO MEDICAL SCHOOLS.

A lot. If you way you want to go to medical school today and declare yourself a premed, you stand a 32% chance of getting accepted. Smart premeds realize early on that getting into medical school is no walk in the park. And, if you can’t really say what your passion for medicine is and what your personal mission is, how can you hope to move forward in a meaningful way and present yourself to medical schools as such? Just going through the exercise of thinking about a personal mission, coming up with a vision for yourself in the medical world and being aware of your values may very well give you tons of clarity about who you are and where you want to go. You might be surprise how many thoughts and feelings you have inside of you that – when organized in a systematic way and put on paper, come together to form a practical way to move through your medical school admissions journey. I’ve talked to many successful medical students and practicing physicians. How did they become successful, and remain happy and sane? The number one thing that drove their success was passion. When most successful premeds start out, their passion was to pursue medicine and succeed at getting into medical school. Their passion for succeeding and avoiding failure causes them to learn things they didn’t want to learn or do, like taking Organic Chemistry and studying for the MCAT. Because they were so passionate about becoming a doctor, the things they didn’t like about the process became their “friends.” Passion in medicine is important if you want to be a successful medical student. But, is passion really necessary?

HAVING PASSION WILL BE WHAT WILL DRIVE YOU.

There may come many times when you’ll want to throw up your arms and simply give up, but your passion will help you to keep going. The point is – you’ll need to have some sort of passion. Whether you are passionate about serving others, or if you’re passionate about finding a treatment for a disease affecting someone in your family, make sure that passion is present. Your passion for something will ultimately lead to your success. Your passion for pursuing medicine will be one of those intangible things that drives you as a premed, getting you through the ups and downs of getting into medical school, and ultimately dictates the success of any premed. In the end, if you’re not passionate about what you’re working toward, you might as well change your career path now.

YOU’RE PUTTING YOURSELF AT A DISADVANTAGE IF YOU DON’T ESTABLISH A PERSONAL BRAND.

If you don’t have a strong and visible personal brand, you are essentially putting yourself at a disadvantage when it comes to being successful at getting into medical school. Personal branding is becoming a requirement for anyone student looking to get into medical school, get a better internship, get noticed by professors, take their extracurricular life to the next level, or even meet new mentors. If you haven’t already figured it out, personal branding is a way for you to “market” yourself and your passion for medicine as a brand. Everyone has a uniqueness about them and a unique personal brand, even if you don’t realize it – yet. But what should be your goal is getting to a place where your personal brand is not only powerful, but also “attractive” and visible to the world. So, what does your personal brand look like? It would simply be an authentic display of who you are when you are engaged in various aspects of your academic and personal lives.

Developing your personal brand when it comes to presenting yourself as the best medical school candidate possible will require that you find your true voice. When you ultimately find your voice, those around you will start to notice, which in turn will help build your self confidence and self-esteem, which in turn will put you more in touch with your passion in a more meaningful way. In the end, the best way to start figuring out your personal premed brand is to identify who you are not.

DON’T UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF YOUR ONLINE PRESENCE.

According to the AAMC, some admissions committees do search for applicants online. The first question to ask: do you even know how you’re appearing and coming across online? This is something that’s very important and if you haven’t done so already, you’re going to want to take a look. Chances are, you are using at least one social media platform, so you’re going to want to make sure they present you in the best light possible, and make you look like a great candidate for medical school. Why not go ahead and make an ‘About Me’ page if you haven’t already done so. This will give you considerably more control over your online presence and can give you the ability to have some control over your personal brand. Personal branding is not a difficult concept to grasp. What you’ll basically want to do is be known as a great candidate for medical school, and you want to be able to stand out in the minds of admissions committees. And when it comes to displaying your personal brand online or virtually, you’ll need to determine how to make your personal brand memorable. This can often be done by highlighting aspects of your background and/or personality. Highlight some part of who you are or an ability that will help your personal brand stick in the mind of those who you want to make a good impression on.

 Look around and see how you may be able to get involved with different opportunities, events, and activities that may ultimately help you create a strong, memorable personal brand as you prepare to present yourself to medical schools for admission.

GETTING STARTED ON CREATING YOUR PERSONAL BRAND IS EASY.

Getting started on creating your personal brand is easy. Just start by asking yourself these questions.

  1. What are you truly passionate about? Here’s where you are going to want to take a moment to think deeply about what energizes you when it comes to pursuing a career in medicine, and what things you truly enjoy doing.
  2. What do you strongly believe in? This is very important because it’s sort of like your life mission statement. It will help you think about your approach to pushing forward and achieving your goals.
  3. What are your top three strengths? This will help you talk about what you feel you do better than other premeds, to set you apart from other applicants.
  4. Are you a strong leader or a good follower – or both? This will be a good thing to know because it is a way to highlight the types of roles and positions that mesh well with your strengths.
  5. What do other people say about you? Ask family, friends, classmates! You may have strengths that others are aware of that you may not be quite aware of, or skills you need to showcase more so that others know they exists. If you are serious about creating a personal brand as a premed, this exercise is designed to help you solidify your personal branding efforts. So, take a few moments to answer the questions, thinking and writing what comes to mind.