Can a Type B Personality Get Into Med School?

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about medicine during the past two semesters. Discovering the field of psychiatry forced me to re-evaluate my future and to rethink what direction I wanted to go in with my life. Since I started my transition out of the business school and into the sciences, I can’t even begin to recount the number of comments I’ve heard about “how the nature of medicine is changing” and “becoming a doctor is a million dollar mistake.”

It doesn’t make me feel any better that my own DOCTORS have tried talking me out of it. Jeez.

The stuff I’ve heard really makes me question my own judgement. If doctors are as hyper-competitive and money-hungry as they’re made out to be, will I be able to be happy as a psychiatrist? And before psychiatry is even made an option to me, I have to endure the rest of my undergraduate pre-medical education and then survive medical school with a ton of people who will most likely fit that stereotypical doctor-personality.

My two questions are: is that what I want? And can I make it?

My ambitious-side says yes. It is and I will.
However, my reflective-side still ponders.

I was surprised to discover through a personality test that I am supposedly a “Type B” personality. This came as quite a surprise to me as I had always thought of myself as a “Type A.” My initial reaction was that the personality test had to be wrong and that it must have misjudged my true colors.

However, I chose to keep an open mind and to further explore the meaning behind “type A” and “type B” personalities. After all, I learned not to dismiss personality tests after I took the MBTI freshman year and discovered the 16 different personality types. That one test alone completely revolutionized the way I look at the world.

From what I could gather online and in my old Management Skills textbook, this is a simplified breakdown of Type A vs Type B personalities.

Type A

-Enjoy achievement of goals, especially difficult ones.
-Constantly working hard to achieve goals.
-Feel the pressure of time, constantly working.
-Highly competitive and create competition.
-Hate failure and work hard to avoid it.
-Oftentimes fit and well-educated.

Type B

Generally more laid-back.
Work steadily, enjoying achievement along the way.
Do not become stressed when goals are not achieved.
Creative and explore ideas and concepts.
Reflective, thinking about their inner and outer worlds.

After going through both types, I think I lie somewhere in the middle. I think I actually relate to everything under Type A except for “highly competitive and create competition” and everything under type B aside from “do not become stressed when goals are not achieved” which is funny since both are significant defining characteristics for both types.

It’s black and white.

This theory forces participants into an A/B dichotomy and it seems I lean more towards B than A. Which I guess is a good thing since it means I statistically have fewer heart-related health risks to worry about… but on the other end, it also means being a little different from most of my peers. (Though I think most INFJs are already used to that.)

It’s unfortunate that various professions tend to attract such a uniform group of workers. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a work-place with more diversity? I feel like the system is set up so that only certain personality types can even make it through.

27 Comments

    1. Interesting! I actually saw somewhere online that there is a “Type AB” but a lot of people criticize it because it contradicts the idea that people have to be “A” or “B.” One lady said, “think of it as a continuum. Most people will not be entirely laid back or go-getters. Rather, they will be somewhere near the middle with a slight preference for one or the other.” So according to her logic, I’m “slightly type B” and maybe you’re “slightly type A.” Who knows!

  1. My husband is a Banker. .. in a big city… in a competitive world. Never in his dreams (or nightmares depending on how one sees it) would he have thought at 33 this is where he’d be.

    This husband of mine is competitive by nature… prideful… and desires respect. He is also an up right man… honest… lover of his family (he’d much more prefer to be with us 4 crazies than at work) and submitted… in love with his Creator.

    He struggles continually with the pull… the intensity of what the world tells him he needs to do… be… to be successful. Even the definition of successful is daunting. Money… power… respect… These are how his work defines it. My husband’s Creator defines success as love.

    So… day after day my husband goes to work, is judged by the profession that honestly chose him (another story), is assumed to be a money hungry. .. womamizing… dishonest around the edges… banker. But what those who are brought into his life find is a refreshing. .. peace-filled… fighting to stay focused on the important… loving man and they are confused. .. taken back… and dumb founded.

    I write all this to say that maybe there are more doctors that are different than what the world at large portrays.

    And if not… you my friend might be called by your Creator to be such a man in such a world!!

  2. This was an interesting post and I liked how you fully explained each personality type. I find myself being more of a type B as I enjoy being laid back and not stressing to much over things. I think anyone could make it to med school, but the one thing that separates us is how dedicated we are to the subject.

  3. seyforrester

    I agree with your idea that you lie in the middle. Achieving goals are so important to me, but I also take time to reflect. If I do not achieve a goal or an obstacle appears, I find it stressful most times. Sometimes, I’m laid back. Right now I have no career goal, but I have goals that I can achieve in the very near future that I worry about, while I’m laid back about my future career.

    Cool post!

    1. Thanks, seyforrester! Consider yourself lucky- there are days when I wish I would stop planning ahead so I could enjoy the here-and-now instead. I think you’ve got a good skill since you take things step-by-step! Besides, I believe everything falls into place eventually anyway. We shouldn’t stress too much, it’s not healthy. 🙂

  4. carmenaliu

    Hi Rocky,

    It’s interesting that you talked about this because I actually find myself to be a type A person. I’m currently a nursing major and find that although the major itself requires many of the type A traits to be successful in school. However, I know someone who is older and a nursing student and she told me that even people who are very successful in nursing school, could be really bad nurses because at the end of the day, how well you deal with patients is not correlated with how competitive you are as a person. In the end, you aren’t competing with anyone but yourself. So, I think that even though you have a type B personality, it doesn’t mean that you won’t get into med school or be successful as a psychiatrist. At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that people aren’t easily categorized. Every person has unique traits that can be beneficial to whatever career they choose to pursue. Don’t be discouraged!

    1. Hi Carmenaliu! I’ve heard before that school is very different from the workforce. I think your friend is wise for recognizing that and it’s good to know since nursing is such a closely related discipline. What you’ve pointed out makes sense so thanks for that! 🙂

  5. Rocky,

    I definitely enjoyed reading this post! It was a little different than what I’m used to seeing you write but I liked it for that reason. It was a bit more reflective and also gave me a better sense of your personality! I liked that you broke down both personality types and explained them. Even though I have never considered med school myself, I see what you’re talking about in that it’s assumed only Type A people succeed in that environment. I think with the right amount of drive and motivation, though, it shouldn’t stop a Type B person from having as much success. Good luck!

    Brooke

  6. I disagree with your idea that medicine attracts such a uniform group of people. Sure, to be successful requires many of the Type A characteristics, but such A or B typology rarely describes the full person. I also don’t think that all doctors are money hungry. I think society, several years ago, built up the medical profession to be “a rich mans life”, society judges all doctors to be rich, and that is not true. As a consequence, many premedical students from 20-30 years ago were in it for the money, and that generation is “money grubbing”. That doesn’t mean that the profession is inherently so. It is changing, I think it’s changing for the better, for more giving and kindly people to take over the field.

    1. Hi Valeriya! I hope I didn’t send the wrong message about doctors through my post because that was absolutely not my intention. In describing the prevailing “image” of doctors in society, I was simply trying to emphasize that most students who get accepted into medical school tend to be Type A. I did not mean to suggest that all doctors have such and such a characteristic and that that is a bad thing.

      I guess my primary concern is that my Type B tendencies may put me at a disadvantage when thrown into a crowd of Type A applicants. I hope that medical schools will recognize the differences in my personality and see the advantages to having a person with a more “laid back” demeanor. Perhaps I’m close enough to having “Type A” characteristics that none of this will even matter anyway.

  7. I relate to this so much! I’ve come to realize that the medical field is kind of a paradox: we all want to help people, but we’re willing to push people down to get there. The competition to get into medical school is crazy! It’s funny you mention the A/B typing- I thought you were talking about blood types! I know the connection between blood type and personality is big in Asia; I’m technically AB (and INFJ, I’m a complete weirdo). I think anyone can become a doctor, and doctor is such a broad career term because there are so many different jobs. If you want to stick with this A/B personality typing, technically my mom’s B and my dad’s A. They’re both doctors yet they live very different day-to-day lives in their jobs. Sometimes I have the same worries that I won’t be cut-throat enough for it all, but follow your ambitious gut!

    1. Hey Melissa! I’m glad you found this post. I actually thought of you as I was writing it and wondered what you’d say if you read it. Then when I saw you responded, I was even happier! 🙂 The medical field IS a paradox and I get extremely frustrated by people who pursue it for less-than-ideal reasons. I do believe it’s something we should stick with for the time being.

      I’ve actually never heard of blood type being related to personality… that sounds cool though. I’ll have to look it up!

  8. This will be short because I have to get back to studying for psychiatry finals, but when I started med school I was convinced that all my colleagues would be “Type A”. I most certainly self-identified as that and just assumed that everyone would be the same.
    Surprise surprise when it turned out not to be the fact, and when some of the highest achievers in the class were not necessarily Type A!
    I got an even bigger surprise when I realised three years later that my personality had changed a lot and that I now had more Type B traits than Type A.
    Personality is not static (and in psychiatry, when a person’s personality traits become rigid and counter-productive they can go so far as constituting a disorder). In my second year I tested as INTJ, this year I tested as INFJ. Expect that your traits will evolve as you go through college (and med school) and you will be constantly surprised by what your mind can achieve (wow, that sounded way more zen than I intended.)
    Anyway, my point is: yes, Type B can absolutely get into med school, and FLOURISH. Contrary to popular opinion, I do believe that there is a lot more than personality that affects our success 🙂 [and let’s not confuse personality with character, of course]

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  10. Devan Calistyo

    hi there fellow INFJ! i think we are the same 😐 i can relate to both type a and type b! by the way i am still in hgih school and i planned to be a psychologist and i am really really really interested in personality psychology especially mbti and other theories but mbti will always be my favourite. i have read a quarter of your blog already and i really like it! keep the good work 🙂

    1. Hi Devan! That’s fantastic! I’m glad you’re enjoying my blog 🙂 As you can probably tell, I find the MBTI very fascinating as well. Personality psychology is great and if I didn’t have my heart set on mental illness, I’d probably pursue that subject as well. Good luck in your studies! 😀

  11. hi there! i think we are the same 😐 i am somewhere between type a and type b too. by the way i am also an INFJ 🙂 i planned to be a psychologist. i really really really like personality psychology especially mbti and other theories but mbti will always be my favourite :). i am still in highschool but i have always wanted to study psychology instead of math or physics and other subjects like ugh why do i have to study something that i wont use later in my life, but im starting to like and study chemistry because i need it later, right? PS: i am attending one of few top schools in my country and u have to study literally every single day to make it. *but i didnt anyway 😀

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