Amareen Dhaliwal

Amareen, who started college at the age of 15 and medical school at 19, has been motivated by those who discouraged her from starting at such a young age.

Undergraduate: University of California San Diego, 2016
Major: Biochemistry/Cell Biology
Medical school: Boston University School of Medicine, 2020


What makes your story unique?

I started college at the age of 15 and now will be attending medical school at 19. I have spent a great deal of time creating and developing several different companies, including a nonprofit, ten-week premedical course at UCSD called JumpStart Med Ed, which has taught over 300 premedical students medicine along with holistic experiences in fields like religion in health, fitness/nutrition, and LGBT healthcare.

I also started a test-prep company. The profit generated has been used to develop a homeless shelter, the School for Gifted Youth, where homeless children and adolescents will have access to one-on-one tutoring from Harvard students. The shelter aims to open in September.

My third company, Metabolite MD, is currently under software development and will provide affordable, online personal training to large corporations to increase the health of employees who work at desks. As a placing competitive bodybuilder with a huge passion for fitness, I hope to use this company to provide free training for patients and healthcare workers who may need it.

I’ve found business to be the easiest way to lead change and express my interest in education. Consulting with others in areas outside my scope has been a very unique opportunity. I hope to further my involvement in healthcare and politics in Boston with secondary degrees, although I am currently unsure whether I will pursue a PhD or JD.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Medicine surrounded me, from the birthing clinic attached to my childhood home to the several doctors that shared their busy lives with me. Still, I had a list of careers I was interested in, including fashion designer, architect, and musician. Until junior year of high school, I was considering attending art school to learn fine oil painting.

What led to your interest in medicine?

I was hooked on learning medicine in the 6th grade, when I first began to review my mother’s stacks of USMLE Step 1 and Lippincott books. Having been fascinated with the human body through art, learning about it through science was MUCH more satisfying and still pretty fun. I began to share this basic knowledge at my high school premed club and then realized a passion for teaching.

Unsure between art, teaching, and other careers, I shadowed at my family’s hospital in India for two summers. Seeing the amount of work needed in the fast pace setting and being able to connect with patients one-on-one (even as a 13 year old) motivated me. Becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant at the earliest age possible, I spent upwards of 100 hour a week at patients’ bedsides, sometimes sleeping in my car before going to class. In addition, I was taking 6 courses over the summer along with conducting microfluidics research and volunteering for a new learning center for autistic children. Working 15 hours straight with hospice patients and seeing care from the “home-perspective” instilled in me the confidence needed to gain my patients’ trust and also the affirmation that, if needed, I would be capable of working long shifts. I continually question my motivation for medical school by reaching further into other fields such as engineering, business, and politics but have found that the interest in these fields only helps support my interest in medicine.

Who or what inspired you?

I feel most inspired by the students I work with and hearing their stories and contributions to medicine. My initial inspiration to dive into the field was watching my aunt work day and night, give up her paychecks, and skip lunches to care for her patients in India. Now, I am reaffirmed through working with hospice patients whose health and happiness can be greatly improved through medicine.

Did anyone encourage or discourage you from applying to medical school?

I was advised against going to medical school, being so young, but my advisors and peers agreed that my experience, maturity, and goals were comparable to older applicants. Discouragement has always been a positive thing for me; I love proving to myself and to others what we can achieve given enough education. My mother wanted me to pursue art school but I was lucky to have her support in anything I chose to to do.

Was there one person who stands above the others as your inspiration to go to medical school?

Paul Farmer is my inspiration. This single doctor’s strategic efforts have doubled the life expectancy of an entire country, (in his case, Rwanda) and show the large-scale effects physicians can bring to the world. I have watched ALL of his speeches and read his books.

Did you have any concerns about taking the MCAT exam?

I was EXCITED! I love biochemistry and psychology/sociology and was intrigued by the brand new exam! I was so stress free when studying for the MCAT and saw a huge rise in my GPA because the exam showed me how to be more confident, how to learn fast, and increased my internal locus of control. It is an amazing test and preparing for it was a great experience.

What advice do you have for applicants considering a career in medicine?

You have to take care of yourself and learn to give up what doesn’t matter as much to you so you don’t get burnt out. Make sure you love every day, even if it is all Organic Chem. Stress should never be used as a motivator.

If you had the opportunity to talk to a potential medical student, what would you tell him/her, off the top of your head?

Start now! Are you doing something to make yourself better as a future doctor? If not, get to it!

What advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing a career track similar to yours?

Don’t stress! Too much stress hinders you and makes you worse. There are ways to get rid of it. Learn what works for you. Do what you love (seriously). Do more than what is expected. Make sure never to compare yourself. Spend as much time as you can improving yourself as a future doctor.

Ask a Med Student Video Series

Medical students answer questions about their path to medical school, what med school courses are like, patient experiences, and more.

Aspiring Docs Diaries


Follow the AAMC

Like AAMC Pre-Med

Follow @AAMCpremed