I'm a 24-year-old medical student. Here's what my parents did right to help me successfully pursue my education.

I'm a 24-year-old medical student. Here's what my parents did right to help me successfully pursue my education.
Darian Dozier.Darian Dozier
  • Darian Dozier is a writer, creator of the medical school admissions and wellness blog Melanated and Meducated, and current osteopathic medical student based in Houston.
  • From a young age, Dozier knew she wanted to become a doctor, and says her parents' lessons of studying hard, staying focused, and always trying her best helped her stay motivated throughout the journey to med school.
  • Certain practices, like insisting she finished high school homework on Friday instead of Sunday, taught Dozier the importance of not procrastinating or turning in subpar work.
  • Regardless of your child's age, Darian says instilling in them good values, a solid work ethic, and an aim of excellence will lead them to success in any career path.

It takes a special kind of person to want to go into medicine. The path is really hard, expensive, and incredibly self-doubting. One mitigating factor in all of that is having the right support system. Not only can a good support system really help with getting through medical school, but also the process of getting in.

The journey to medical school, and really any profession, doesn't develop overnight.

Preparation, planning, and execution starts years before you ever start that first application. When you're still a child or young adult with all of these challenging, long-term goals, it's easy to be nearsighted and just live in the moment.

You know that eventually you want to become a doctor, lawyer, nurse, professional athlete, etc. At the same time, you don't want to be studying, training, or going to professional development camps all the time. You want to hang with friends, go out, and have fun. This was definitely how I was in high school, and well into college.
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I'd known that I wanted to be a doctor since I was 15.

In high school I had good grades, strong extracurriculars, and the drive to do well. I have always been a competitive and determined person, but I also always had my parents there to push me just a little harder. As self-motivated as I was, there were several times where I got complacent, or just didn't really understand the work it would take to get where I wanted to go.

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My parents always taught me to give my best effort and work as hard as I could.

As simple as this message is, there are a lot of kids who don't get that push to just give their best effort no matter what. My parents and I had this conversation several times in regards to sports, academics, and any other aspects of my life. Without this encouragement and direction, I'm not sure I ever would have had the work ethic that it takes to pursue something as challenging and selective as medical school.
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My parents also put a lot of value on education, which was also really important. I've worked with and studied with many kids who didn't care about school. It was merely a formality, or a legal obligation. When I spoke with many of them, they said their parents didn't put a lot of emphasis on attending school, and they just wanted to work, make money, and support their families.

This is a common value, and a very understandable one considering the socioeconomic background that my patients or friends came from. However, in the world we are in now, higher education can be the bridge to better health, social, and economical life. Almost any form of higher education is positively correlated with a better predicted life outcome. This is something my parents understood and instilled into me and my brothers.

When I was in high school, I would actually get in trouble if I was caught doing homework on Sunday because it should have been finished on Friday.

This sounds extreme (it's the weekend, who cares when it gets done) and at the time I felt it was. But I realized later that my parents were trying to teach me the value of not procrastinating, and waiting until the last minute. There's a breath of fresh air you can breathe on Sunday night knowing that all of your assignments are done and you're not cramming and turning in subpar work. These are skills that they wanted me to carry through college, and eventually, medical school.
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In my mom, I was also given a strong example of what it means to pursue higher education.

I'm a 24-year-old medical student. Here's what my parents did right to help me successfully pursue my education.
Dozier and her mom on family vacation in Las Vegas in September 2019.Darian Dozier

My mom went on to get her PhD while working a full-time job and taking care of my family. It was inspiring to watch her balance everything and still excel in a very challenging doctorate program. Was everything perfect all the time? No. But she tried her best in every aspect of her life, and that's the important value she wanted me to understand. You don't have to be perfect, you just have to try your best, and eventually, that will translate into being one of the best.

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Getting into medical school does require a level of perfection and high performance.

It's stressful, and questionable if that's the best approach, but when someone like a doctor has your life in their hands, you would hope that they have the mindset of trying to be their very best every day. You would hope that in the light of adversity, they would have the grit and resilience to problem-solve, and do everything they can to keep you alive and well.

These are just a few of the skills and lessons my parents wanted me to learn, and I really didn't understand it as a child. I thought they were being unnecessarily hard and putting a lot of pressure on me. Sometimes, I still feel that way. But I know, at the end of the day, it's so I can go out into a world that cares nothing about my feelings and excel no matter what.

Parents shouldn't feel bad about pushing their kids to do their best and teaching them to value education, hard work, and excellence.

It's these attributes that will help children become extraordinary and pursue the seemingly impossible. You don't have to have a PhD or even a Bachelor's or high school diploma to show your kids what's important. Just instill in them good values, a solid work ethic, and let them know the world is theirs for the taking, and they will excel in anything they put their minds to.
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