A typical pre-medical student enters college focused on all the hard science classes such as biochemistry and the dreaded organic chemistry course. While this might help them become a better future physician, how much does it help them become an effective communicator and a more confident person? These science courses cannot truly teach students these types of skills, so pre-medical students have to develop them through various other means. Here are a few skills to help pre-medical students become more well-rounded and help to develop them for their future career as a physician.

Communication

Communication is one of the most important skills a pre-med student should learn. From presenting new ideas to effectively communicating with a patient, this skill sets a student up to gain trust and respect from others. In a sea of doctors, the ones that stand out the most are the ones who can interact and interpret their patients’ behaviors. This includes being able to read body language; for example, this can be helpful to understand when patients are confused about their diagnosis or if they are too overwhelmed from hearing it. With a well-developed sense of communication, a physician can establish a link of empathy to guide patients, developing that vital trusting patient-physician bond. Pre-medical students cannot learn this through their science classes; they must turn to extracurricular activities or other types of classes focused on group work to really learn how to communicate well with others.

Basic Medical and Technological Skills

While a majority of medical skills can be learned in medical school, there are a variety of smaller medical/technological skills that are not taught. For example, an EMT once stated that she was surprised at how some medical students did not know how to read a monitor correctly. When the monitor displayed a wrong reading, the student assumed there was a medical emergency, but the problem was that one of the wires had not been properly attached to the monitor. In this way, if a student learns how to perform a venipuncture or read these new technological innovations, they will be better off than the students who have not yet learned it. Suggested ways to learn these skills include becoming an emergency medical technician, shadowing doctors, becoming a phlebotomist, and more!

Financial Management

This is another important skill that should be taught to everyone, but especially pre-medical students. CBS news report that “…the cost of becoming a doctor has soared, with higher education expenses leaving the average newly minted physician with $166,750 in medical school debt…”, which leaves those students in a bad position if they do not know how to plan and pay off the loans. By learning how to manage finances, either from classes or leadership positions that manage money, pre-med students can set themselves up to pay off their loans and help to secure their future.

Leadership and Collaboration Skills

This goes hand in hand with communication; a physician has to be able to communicate well with other healthcare professionals as well as with patients. If a physician, or even a student, cannot explain ideas or possible solutions clearly, then that person cannot collaborate to advance patient care. Again, this is one skill that is more so learnt through extracurricular activities, but some colleges are starting programs for this, such as Loyola’s Leadership Development Program.