The possibility of a person who was homeschooled as a child to become a professional has always been questioned by many.
However, notable science, mathematics and technology leaders such as Francis Collins, John Linsley, Erwin Schrodinger, Arran Fernandez, Soichiro Honda and others were homeschooled. Not to mention the African-American self-taught Astronomer, Benjamin Banneker.
These are homeschooled individuals who were very successful within their field. So yes, a home educated child can absolutely become a doctor.
Common homeschool misconceptions
So let’s attempt to address the common myths and misconceptions associated with homeschooling; why this is even a common question showing up in Google.
Conventionally, education is a socially organized and regulated process of transferring knowledge, skills and values with the aim of influencing a natural and lasting change in people’s views on different subjects.
A school setting is not the way a child can learn
In society, education is synonymous to schooling. Although schooling implicitly gives the notion that learning only takes place in a school environment, which is obviously not true as the positive statistics associated with various other methods of educating show. School is just a formal way of learning with a structured curriculum in an educational institution. School is not the only way nor is it the best environment for all children to learn.
Informal learning or alternative education is also a means of schooling or acquiring knowledge. Alternative schooling comes in different forms, such as home schooling (or home educating as many families prefer to call it), youth work or autodidacticism (self-teaching/child-led learning). Quality education is desired by all, especially parents, as they want a conducive learning environment that will contribute immensely to their child’s moral and mental development.
One size fits all doesn’t fit all.
Unfortunately, this is sometimes found wanting, as schools are now structured in a way that students focus more on achieving good grades while they neglect the acquisition of necessary social and life skills.
This shortcoming brought the idea of parents educating their children in the comfort of their homes (or outside of it). Althought each individual will have their own name for it and no two families setup or day will look the same, this concept is widely known as homeschooling.
Going by the popular saying, “one size does not fit all,” people now see formal education more as a disadvantage to some children for all manor of reasons. It is structured in a way that the same curriculum is implemented for students with varying abilities, learning speed, emotional and financial conditions.
A tailored learning experience has great benefits
Homeschooling gives the opportunity of tailoring the learning process according to the ability and available resources of the student so as to maximize his or her potential.
The arrival of technology thrust the idea of homeschooling as many educational institutes at different levels from elementary to tertiary institutions now have various learning platforms where people from different parts of the world can access the school’s curriculums at their convenience.
With the right guidance, these platforms are highly effective for children. Making the most out of the technology and access we have today would require the adult educating or supervising the child to be very hands on with the learning process.
A benefit here for homeschooled children is that much of university work is independent learning, you have lecturers there to guide you but nobody is holding your hand. You have to be a self-starter and get on with the work yourself.
A con or limitation here would be if the homeschooled child is only exposed to their parents’ or relatives’ limited knowledge. For this learning method to measure up with academic knowledge acquired from schools, parents need to be actively involved in the learning process and, in a sense, actively learning alongside their child.
For a field like medicine that requires strong practical experience, one might wonder whether a homeschooled doctor-in-the-making can sail through the field’s rigour. The medical field requires practical learning experiences, these are very commonplace in secondary schools and colleges as they have all the equipment to hand.
One typically does not have access to these facilities while learning from home. If this is the case, parents will want to make use of all out of home opportunities, science kits and subscriptions available to cover the practical elements of the sciences.
They will of course get the necessary training and practice once successfully in medical school so the only challenge here would be getting an adequate education to get them through the door.
How do I prep my homeschooled child for medical school?
For homeschooled students, who aim to pursue a career in the medical field, they need to have a strong standing in the three core sciences – biology, chemistry and physics, just as they would if they went through formal schooling.
They also need to prepare adequately to have strong GCSE’s and A-Levels, as admissions into good medical schools are highly competitive.
These preparations will help them get into university and also help build their critical thinking and writing skills as these are needed to be successful as a medical doctor.
Once a student passes the medical school’s standardized test requirements, no one really cares if the learning or preparations took place at home or in a traditional school.
It is said that pursuing a career in the medical will be easier if either of the child’s parents have a career in the field, this is not compulsory, but it is usually an advantage.
A homeschooled student whose parents are doctors can easily succeed in various standardized medical school exams with the help of high-quality resources such as lecture textbooks, lecture videos, workbooks and answer keys. In this case, the parents would be immensely involved in the learning process because they have had a similar experience and will be able to properly guide and encourage their children to go through the learning resources keenly.
Otherwise, focussing on the sciences throughout the home education journey and hiring a good quality tutor, whilst also making the most of those high-quality resources and lectures available will certainly suffice.
Are there social disadvantages to homeschooling?
Somebody who is unfamiliar with how homeschooling families actually operate may look at the idea of becoming a successful medical doctor as difficult for a home educated child.
This is because they usually assume that these children are unsocialised and have not had access to a healthy social life growing up. And as such, will struggle in this field which requires collaborative work and social interaction with colleagues and patients.
This is a common misconception because, in actual fact, homeschooling stats reveal that 98% of children educated at home tend to engage two or more activities outside of the home. With the average number being 5.2 activities outside of the home.
If a homeschooled child indeed has not socialised much with other children or been in very social environments growing up, it is true that they may struggle. But they will likely struggle with many aspects of the outside world so this would not be a specific barrier to becoming a doctor, rather a general developmental issue.
To summarise, there is really no barrier for a home educated child to pursue a career in medicine or any other medical field.