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I am so confused in becoming a pathologist


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I am currently in high school (Grade 10) and I am interested in a career in the health field. I would love to become a pathologist and I have been looking at how to become one and I am so lost. Once I finish high school, do I attend a standard university, then medical school and then residency? I have been using my blueprint to help with some of the universities that I can attend to become a pathologist and one of the universities my parents would like me to go to is Mcmaster's University. I saw on my blueprint that under the requirements section, McMaster's three-year medicine program was listed there. Is that three-year program university or is it med school. Here is the link of the program

Another question I have is that before applying for medical schools, you need to attain an undergraduate degree or a bachelor's degree. Where and how do you achieve a bachelor's degree and what is an undergraduate degree? I also saw that there is something called the MCAT test, is this test taken after your university degree or is it after you've completed medical school.

Sorry for all the questions but it will really be appreciated if you can answer them to the best of your abilities. Thank you:D

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ha - ok that is a lot of questions

the usual pathway is to complete high school, then take any undergraduate degree - which is basically any standard university degree (sometimes called a Bachelors degree - they are the same thing) - basically a typical 4 year university program in something. Most people do one in a science field but that isn't necessary. For most schools you have to finish that first undergraduate degree before you can start medical school (you will find there are often small exceptions to almost every rule in the application system). 

then you apply to get into medical school - that is 3-4 more years of training. McMaster is one of the few schools that is 3 years long. Now to be a bit confusing medical school is actually another undergraduate degree. It is just one you cannot apply into directly for the most part from high school. After medical school is residency which is 2-6 years long depending on what type of doctor you want to be. Pathology is 5 years. Residency is more schooling but it is also a job and you earn not a small amount of money while doing it. 

MCAT is a test taken during your first undergraduate degree in order to apply for medical school. It is a standardized test to let the schools deal with all the various programs and have some form of equalization. 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Twist said:

Thank you so much for helping me. One final question is it a good idea to attend McMaster's for all my years of studying. For example, I can go to McMaster's Uni, then McMaster's Med school and then McMaster's General Pathology Residency. 

The short answer is it doesn't really matter. Becoming an excellent pathologist is more determined by the individual (you), and less so on what school you attend. At each stage the factors that influence your decision and the availability of choices will change.

Your choice of undergrad should ultimately be based on which program is the most suitable to you. There are many factors to consider, you want a program you can thrive in based on interests (enjoyment of your environment and what you're learning typically leads to success), location, finances (some universities will offer you more money in scholarships/bursaries), support systems (how far will you be from family and friends).

At the med school level, things change because this is where the bottleneck in the system occurs. It's more competitive, so you can want a certain school, but they also have to want you back. Generally when people apply, the goal is to keep as many doors open as possible so that you can have SOME choice of where to go - this doesn't always happen. Every school will provide you with an excellent education, so if you're lucky enough to have multiple acceptances, the other factors are usually the game changers for most people. 

By the time you get to residency, you might have completely different priorities such as starting a family or buying a house. Who knows how things will be for you 10 years from now haha.

It's good that you have a clear sense of where you want to go. With that said, I wouldn't limit myself to one strict path, especially while planning so many years in advance. Know where you want to go, but understand that how you get there is much more subject to change. And that's fine. If you think about med school too much, you might get overwhelmed with all the other adjustments you'll have to make. So don't worry about it too much now, but definitely keep your vision in mind. I started thinking (and worrying haha) about it summer after first year of undergrad.

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  • 4 weeks later...
1 hour ago, Pippa756 said:

I think this is the best post I have ever seen :-) And the most useful - it has now all become so clear!!!!

we used to have a complete flow chart of  the entire process on the forum but it went out of date and we didn't have the source files to bring it back. Maybe we should create a new one from scratch to help with this. 

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17 hours ago, rmorelan said:

we used to have a complete flow chart of  the entire process on the forum but it went out of date and we didn't have the source files to bring it back. Maybe we should create a new one from scratch to help with this. 

I would definitely be happy to see that come back!

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  • 3 years later...

Thank you for the information posted in this thread. I am a parent and my daughter is determined to become a pathologist.

She is now in Grade 12 and in the process of applying for her undergraduate program. She has 3 programs that she's looking at as a pre-med undergrad program: health science, nursing and medical lab science. She wants to take into consideration being able to find a job during her summer break, thus taking nursing came to the picture.

My question is: what do you think of these undergrad programs in prep to medicine and pathology? As a parent, I'm also looking at in case she would decide not to pursue because of future reasons we have no control of, she would still be able (easily) to find a job.  

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In my opinion, the prospects of having a summer job should be irrelevant in determining a program of study as short term gain may be detrimental to her long term future. From what I understand, it is difficult to obtain high grades to be competitive for medical school from nursing. Obviously, she should study a program where there is a high degree of interest as she will likely do better and be strongly motivated. 

In my case, I studied exercise science and was able to do internships where I worked with the elderly chronically ill, thereby using and reinforcing my theoretical knowledge. My due diligence prior to starting the program revealed that very few of the students in this program were straight A students, but it was possible by working smart and hard, which is what I did. I treated my studies professionally, was totally exhausted by the end of every semester, however, I was a straight A student and competitive for med school, and got in of my first attempt. It does not matter what she studies so long as she has a competitive GPA as there are far more applicants than seats. I wish your daughter every success. :P

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On 12/1/2020 at 3:37 PM, jobie said:

Thank you for the information posted in this thread. I am a parent and my daughter is determined to become a pathologist.

She is now in Grade 12 and in the process of applying for her undergraduate program. She has 3 programs that she's looking at as a pre-med undergrad program: health science, nursing and medical lab science. She wants to take into consideration being able to find a job during her summer break, thus taking nursing came to the picture.

My question is: what do you think of these undergrad programs in prep to medicine and pathology? As a parent, I'm also looking at in case she would decide not to pursue because of future reasons we have no control of, she would still be able (easily) to find a job.  

Nursing will certainly help with your communication skills and bedside manner and help prepare you in that department, but it won't do you many favours in the grades department depending on how your assignments are assessed. I did nursing at McMaster and a number of our courses were graded heavily based on essay writing. You had a coin toss chance to do well or poorly based on whether or not the instructor wants to follow the rubrics . Just to give you an idea: I've had situations where they would say they don't believe anybody deserves an A+ on an assignment because there's always room for improvement, but neglect the fact that an A+ is a 90-100% (they are taking 10% off your mark just like that). The grades I received in these classes significantly hampered my, and many others', GPA. 

As far as jobs go, it will be quite easy to find a job. However, the ceiling for earnings is quite low and it requires an increasing amount of physical labour when working at the bedside. A number of my colleagues have undergone surgeries largely thanks to our work. It seems like nursing is becoming less and less of a career with every passing year. I finished my undergrad 3 years ago now and a surprising number of my colleagues I graduated with are working on their exit strategies already. Friends who graduated from other programs (ie: business, math) who were worried about finding jobs are doing very well for themselves.

Feel free to send me a message with more questions, if you have any. Choosing an undergrad is a tough decision to make.

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