Many students aspire to go to medical school, but most universities do not offer “Pre-Med” majors. So what do you study as an undergrad? Part 1 of this post will give you the DL on general Pre-Med tracks & Part 2 will cover accelerated medical programs. (If you are interested in law school, check back soon for a post that will give you the skinny preparing to be Pre-Law.)
The term “Pre-Med” simply refers to a track many undergrads take to prepare for medical school – this includes coursework, extracurriculars, experience in the field, and the actual application process.
Pre-med students can choose any undergrad major (yes – even Bassoon Performance), but specific course requirements (mostly in the scientific fields) are necessary. Subjects like biology, chemistry, and physics are needed to prepare for the MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test) and to fulfill the pre-reqs. Because of this, many pre-med students major in a field of science, but students could major in Religion or any other field as long as they complete the necessary requirements. Because medical schools want to diversify their programs, they are beginning to accept more students with less conventional backgrounds that include humanities degrees.
Find an Adviser That Can Recommend Courses
Meet with an adviser that can suggest appropriate pre-med coursework. It’s important to do well in these courses, so don’t overload yourself, and schedule your courses in a way that allows you to really invest in each class. Med schools may not see you as a stellar candidate if you’re consistently making C’s in your bio classes.
Also, check with the Association of American Medical Colleges for a list of required courses for all medical schools, and look up the individual universities you are applying for to determine if they require any additional classes.
Become Friendly With Professors
Like with any major, networking is essential. It is important to establish lasting relationships with professors early in your undergraduate career, so they can write you distinctive letters of recommendation. (They might also be able to hook you up with great research positions or internships!)
Look for Pre-Med Student Groups
Many schools have Pre-Med student groups that provide great opportunities for support and networking. As with any extracurricular activities, think quality not quantity. Don’t join every group on campus just to lengthen your resume; instead, find groups and activities that actually provide quality experiences that will set you apart from other applicants.
Pursue Activities That Show a Commitment to the Medical Field
Look for internships or volunteer work that shows your interest in medicine. Summer programs, research assistantships, or hospital volunteer work can make you stand out if you commit to them.
Find out about Pre-Med Fast Track Programs in Part 2 of this post.