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Work hard or Coast in Medical School?

One quote you'll always hear (or you probably already heard at least once) is:

Pass = Doctor.

As long as you pass all of your courses in medical school and the board exams, you will be a physician in the end. Nobody will ever ask you about your grades or board scores once your are practicing medicine.
So, some students may set their goal to pass their classes, rather than achieving honors or being in the top 10% of their class.

In reality, it is probably not possible to just "coast" in medical school. "Just passing" your courses and the boards takes a lot of effort and hard work. Passing classes and boards with higher scores and grades above "Pass" takes even more effort and hard work.

Passing may work just fine if you are less concerned about scoring a top rated residency spot or a residency in one of the very competitive specialties such as Dermatology, Orthopedic Surgery, Plastic Surgery, ENT (ear-nose-throat), or Neurosurgery, to name just a few.

These and other very competitive specialty choices are almost inaccessible with average grades and board scores. Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Family Medicine, Psychiatry and others are examples of specialties which are "easier" to get into. There are many more residency spots available in these specialties and they are much less competitive as a result. They typically do not require top grades and board scores either, unless you are interested in the top residency programs in the country for those specific specialties, in which case these are also very competitive.

So, how hard you work in medical school, as reflected by grades (e.g. "honors") and high board scores, is important in some residency considerations. Some medical schools are on a straight pass-fail system which, obviously, makes actual grades less important and board scores even more important.

Read more about residency considerations in the Residency Thoughts section and about grading systems in the medical experience section.


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