If you’ve always dreamed of being a doctor, you’ve likely spent many years preparing for your opportunity to attend a prestigious medical school. Between taking the right preparatory classes, getting good grades, and doing your part for your community, hobbies likely never cross your mind. However, there’s some evidence suggesting that medical schools prefer students with musical abilities for a few different reasons.
What Does Music Have to Do with Medical School?
If you think that your ability to play a guitar, saxophone, or piano will get you into medical school alone, then you have been sadly misinformed. Unfortunately, there’s a lot more to admission into medical school than playing a musical instrument. However, if you meet all the other requirements and you play an instrument, there’s some data to show that your chances of gaining entry will likely be much higher. It’s not about the ability or the knowledge of the notes; it’s about the self-discipline it takes to learn an instrument in the first place.
Dr. Doug Angel, a surgeon who carefully removes cancerous tumors of the head and neck, didn’t take the usual route to medical school. Dr. Angel and several other of Canada’s medical professionals started their journeys with degrees in music. Though he majored in piano and created beautiful melodies with his hands, he now spends his days removing cancerous tumors from his patients’ heads and necks. Though music and medicine may not have an apparent and immediate link, there are traits shared between doctors and musicians that can help predict professional success.
- Avoiding Complacency – Complacency is often described as the lack of desire to improve one’s skills and overcome plateaus. Musicians push past these plateaus by reassessing their skills and focusing on what they could do better. This translates well in medicine, too. By constantly assessing one’s skills and how they could be improved, patient outcomes also improve.
- Preparedness – Musicians who performed as part of chamber groups also have an advantage. They learned early on to work together on their own time to do the best work possible and be prepared for their performances. Once again, this will also serve students well in medical school; they will be expected to study on their own time and prepare themselves for exams.
- Matching Technical Skill with Art – A career as a musician is founded in technical skill just as a career in medicine is founded in knowledge of the human body. However, at some point, both of these will coalesce into something greater – something in which both the musician and the physician will give it his or her own signature and make it an artform. Art and science complement each other perfectly, and musicians who have taken the time to learn the foundations and apply their own personal touches are almost always successful doctors for the same reasons.
Medical schools are catching on, too. After all, professors put a lot of time and energy into developing the world’s next generation of doctors and surgeons, ensuring that previous generations’ work and research is expanded into the future. These days, medical schools look at much more than your GPA, so if you are musically inclined, be sure to put this on your application.