As mentioned in another thread, this is an anesthesia residents reply to a 16 y/o fellow who was inquiring about going to medical school. I thought it was classic and absolutely echoed the reasons my buddies used to deter me from doing so even after acceptance.
You are sixteen. I admire your vision. But, do not - for the sake of your own sanity and happiness of being - go into medicine. Pick business. Get a top notch MBA from a big B-school, and sail into the corporate world working half the time and making ten times the money when you get to the top of your game. Sure, you'll have to start your way at an entry job and work-up, but with a top 25 B-school degree, you'll be pulling $100-$125k in your first corporate job at the age of 24-25. By the time you're 35, you'll be making 5 times that if you play your cards right. You'll be able to travel, have a life, and not spend every day fixing other people's problems under the constant threat of getting sued or being someone else's byQtch.
But, if you are steadfast and earnest in your quest and you remain undeterred, let me lay it out there for you...
1) You've probably already started too late. You need to kill the SAT's and get into a top 25 undergrad program somewhere. So, if you're under 1300 aggregate right now, you gotta tell your friends you can't hang with them next weekend because you're working on getting your score up at Sylvan. Start pimping the teachers in school who'll sponsor you for a spot in NHS, if you aren't already in it... (another leg down, I might add).
2) Next, get into college and go pre-med with a Biochem or P Chem major. Sure, you can do Biology, but you better shine brighter than Jesus on Easter if you want to get into a competitive med school. Now, don't party on the weekends... okay, maybe once a month or so and after exams... and study, study, study. Give up the best four years of your life to ensure that you get an "A" in all of your undergrad pre-reqs. Whatever you do, don't f-up 2nd semester Organic Chemistry. First semester ain't that hard. If you get anything less than a B+ in second semester, you're going to have a hard time getting into the med school of your choice. And, this is just the first two years of college.
3) Keep busting your ass in your junior and senior years of college. Remember, you gotta keep that GPA above 3.5 to have a realistic shot at the better programs. And, you better score at least a 32 (or higher) on the MCAT. Oh, the MCAT! That's right. That thing, if you have a bad day, can screw it all up for you. And, don't forget about your extra-curriculars. You know? Volunteering at the homeless shelter, working extra hours shadowing a doc in the local hospital, etc., etc. And, you can't get jealous because some of your friends from home are reporting they're having the time of their lives. Your friends will be co-pre-meds, and they will be the most vicious, back-stabbing, competitive, two-faced people who exist only to make you miserable you've ever met. But, remember, they're your friends. Which, if you think about it, is actually pretty good training for learning how to deal with the type of people who will be future professional colleauges.
4) Apply for school through AMCAS, and fund this by getting in line with all the crack addicts at the local blood bank and selling your plasma. Don't worry, you can do this twice a month and it pays pretty well. You'll realize that, when they take your plasma, they're also probably taking that last little piece of what's left of your soul. That is, the part that you didn't give away while shoving your noise up some a-hole Ivory Tower professor's arse just so he'd give you a good med school recommendation.
5) Now, you're in med school. Think you were miserable before? Be prepared for the hardest two years of your life. You will feel like jumping off of a bridge at certain points because there is no way that anyone can actually expect you to learn the volume of information coming at you in the time it is coming at you. Somehow, you get through it, though. And, now you are faced with the first of the "Steps". You'll spend 6-12 weeks preparing for this, and the next four waiting for your score afterwards in a complete panic that you failed it. Because, you know, so much rides on what you get on that test. You can pass it, but you better at least get a 220 or better, or your probably not going to get your spot at that top tier anesthesia program you've been eyeing since you were sixteen.
6) Third and fourth year teach you about the abuse you're going to take as an intern. Sure, you'll be fresh off learning all of this medical knowledge in the first two years of school and ready to apply it. Problem is, no one will let you because they know that you have no earthly idea how to apply it and, you will soon learn, they are right. Soon, you'll figure out that the first two years of med school were - for all intents and purposes - one big masturbatory session that has little to do with actually practicing medicine.
7) Now, you'll apply to anesthesia residency. You'll waste another huge chunk of money applying to 30 or 40 programs, get tons of interviews, and drag yourself all over the country trying to impress people you don't know and don't really care about all over again. You'll wonder to yourself, "when does this end?" to which someday you'll sadly realize in a moment of brilliant insight, an epiphany if you will, that it never does. You'll Match into a spot, maybe your top choice, after you ride the angst once again.
8) Suddenly, you find yourself at age 26 - the prime of your life - in residency. You'll be expected to know and do everything, but you'll quickly realize that you don't really have any authority. You'll be working 90-100 hours (but only allowed to report 80 hours... wink, wink) a week making $38,000/year while your buddy who went to B-school just got promoted to Director of Some Department in a Manhattan business and is now pulling $175k. Your Friday night consists of disimpacting a 89-year-old man's rectum of retained stool. His Friday night consists of partying with a bunch of hotties looking to score a B-school grad and wondering where his doctor buddy is... if only he was there. This goes on for the next four years. It doesn't get better as you progress through residency. You just get more responsibility with the same level of authority: none.
9) Towards the end of your residency, you go on more interviews with people you don't really care about and, somehow everywhere you go you are vaguely reminded of those back-stabbing college "friends" that said to your face "congratulations" when you got accepted to Top Choice School of Medicine, but then discussed how much they hated you when you walked away with their next breaths. Guess what? These are your professional "colleagues" now, AND your future "partners".
So, then there's ...
10) CONGRATULATIONS! Now you're finished college, med school, and residency! You're a board-eligible anesthesiologist! And, you're thirty! You've just given the biggest part of your soul and the best years of your life away to be bombarded by people who think you're "not really a doctor" and battles with midlevels who think they can do your job just as well - if not better - than you can.
Welcome to anesthesiology! If you remain undeterred by what I just wrote, you may actually have a chance at being successful. But, I'll tell you at 16 I was in no way prepared for all of this. And, if I had to do it all over again knowing what I know now, I can't say I would. But, can't say I wouldn't either...