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Can introverts get into med school? Should they be doctors?


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I had a meeting with an admissions person at a med school. When asked about my activities, I mentioned that I tend to like to do activities alone quite a bit: read, hike, yoga, pottery, paint. The admissions guy then said that an "introvert" would have a hard time at med school because the program is structured around small groups working closely together, and they even have group interviews. He also said that they'd have to see some evidence that an applicant can work successfully in small groups. I never called myself an introvert during the meeting, but it seemed that he thought I was. I personally don't think I'm a huge introvert because I'm on the phone ALL day and I owned a coffee shop, etc. But I guess I DO have a tendency to need some downtime from working with people all day.

I was wondering if introverts can get into med school? Should they be doctors?

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I think the main advice here is just that if you can work well in small groups you should include ample evidence in your application that you can work well in small groups. Probably whoever you talked to should have emphasized that rather than that confusing thing about introverts. Being introverted and working well in small groups are not mutually exclusive. 

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Customer service, sports, and some types of volunteer work and many other activities can highlight ability to work with others. Just emphasize any groups based activities in your application, or consider trying to join something new if that’s an aspect of you application that’s really lacking.

I would say a significant number of med students are introverts - it’s easy to forget in view of all the parties and social activities because introverts don’t generally publicize when they aren’t going out.

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Of course. Your definition of introversion (recharging through some alone downtime) is what's accepted for the term, and the admission person's implication that there is any adverse relationship with how well one works with others, or with med school/interview performance is most likely unfounded. People all have their own biases, often preferring those who they see as similar to themselves (same hobbies or outward personality), so don't be disheartened by such comments even if they seem to come from an "official" source - if it doesn't make it into the formula for med school admissions, it ultimately won't make a difference.

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for some reason people tend to falsely equate introverts with socially awkward people. As long as you work well with others being an introvert is totally fine.

And yes, you can be "extroverted" and be terribly socially. Those people are even worse because they tend to be obnoxious/annoying instead of just awkward.

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1 hour ago, beeboop said:

for some reason people tend to falsely equate introverts with socially awkward people. As long as you work well with others being an introvert is totally fine.

And yes, you can be "extroverted" and be terribly socially. Those people are even worse because they tend to be obnoxious/annoying instead of just awkward.

It is interesting how often those are confused. 

By most standards I am an introvert - I had absolutely no issues at all in medical school, and was heavily involved in school politics. I would resist strongly the notion that introverts would do poorly in medicine. Some of the best doctors I know are introverts. 

You have to be able to interact well with people which is not something owned by extroverts by any means ha. Plus there are quite a number of branches in medicine where having a constant need for social interaction will get in the way (and not just the ones you might usually think of like radiology or pathology). 

 

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11 hours ago, diethealthstudent said:

I had a meeting with an admissions person at a med school. When asked about my activities, I mentioned that I tend to like to do activities alone quite a bit: read, hike, yoga, pottery, paint. The admissions guy then said that an "introvert" would have a hard time at med school because the program is structured around small groups working closely together, and they even have group interviews. He also said that they'd have to see some evidence that an applicant can work successfully in small groups. I never called myself an introvert during the meeting, but it seemed that he thought I was. I personally don't think I'm a huge introvert because I'm on the phone ALL day and I owned a coffee shop, etc. But I guess I DO have a tendency to need some downtime from working with people all day.

I was wondering if introverts can get into med school? Should they be doctors?

Its normal and common to be introverted, but i think they were referring to you being someone who spends too much time alone. Admissions makes quick judgements on people and the admissions person probably saw a little too much alone and not enough social in your application. 

I think what they are trying to get at is emphasize the more social aspects of yourself in your app/interview. Med school is like a gem stone polisher, they take rough edges and polish them whether you like it or not. Sometimes you have to fit the peg to pass to the next stage and in this case what they are getting at is you should try to sell yourself as a well rounded person. 

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Honestly, I think introverts are better at interpersonal and teams. If you use the definition that they just need alone time to recharge. I have found often in groups through medical school that introverts are more to the point in communicating their roles and discussing a project. They are still pleasant and nice, but certainly more to the point. Extroverts have a much larger propensity to get off topic, discuss things outside the project, or just enjoy the process of talking and therefore less efficient. 

I think though that both are obviously well suited for medicine. 

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I agree with MarsRover.  

In medical school, I've found it's much better to have introverts in your group than extroverts.  Extroverts often talk over each other and interrupt others, and tend speak in run-on sentences or go off on tangents.  Introverts tend to say what's necessary, and not much more than that.  Everyone is nice enough.  But a group with 2 or more extroverts can be painfully inefficient.

Also in patient interactions, I've generally been more impressed with introverts' listening skills and careful question selection.  Whereas it's not uncommon to see extroverts finishing patients' sentences for them, interrupting to get to the next question, and then missing pertinent details because of their impatience.

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3 hours ago, DMDollars said:

Most definitely. That being said, I went into dentistry solely because dental schools put more weight on academics compared to med schools which value communication/interpersonal skills a lot more (interview, references, ECs etc.) which are not my strength.

And yet, somehow, we have terrible interpersonal and communication skills by the time we finish. 

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2 hours ago, Lactic Folly said:

Burnout will do that to us. Perhaps it balances out dentistry, where I'd think that communication and interpersonal skills would be crucial to building rapport with patients once graduated.

I would imagine it's more important than medicine since it's a competative, private, industry. It's hard to choose your family doc, almost impossible to choose your specialist, but very easy to choose your dentist.

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