Advice to Pre-Meds, 17th Ed: Majors, Majors, Majors
So I have recently spoken to a few different people about what majors that would set me up for a Doctor. But then I have also heard the route of a degree in something you are interested in to show diversity but still get your pre-reqs done. What is your take on that? I have heard that doing a bio/chem based class could burn you out before you even reach medical school. What you have any personal advice too? -hunterworth
(sorry, been wanting to use that gif for a while).
My advice on majors has always been to do what you love. Yes, schools look for diversity, but if you love biology or chemistry, do it and don’t be shamed. And remember, diversity doesn’t have to come from a weird major.
I’m sure I’ve told this story before, but I can’t find it, so I’ll tell it again. I initially majored in chemistry because I thought med schools were tired of biology majors. But then I realized (with my advisor’s help) that I HATED chemistry. My advisor suggested I spend some quality time with my college’s course catalog, pick out all the classes I was interested in, and then go with the major that contained the most classes I was really interested in taking. I did that, and I ended up having to pick between English and Biology. I picked Biology because even though I loved to read I hated writing papers.
Med schools don’t really care what you major in. Sure, they welcome diversity in majors, but they don’t shun traditional science minded folks either. If you really think you need to be more balanced, grab some minors in non-science subjects or participate in extracurriculars that are non-science related. For example, my minor was photography and I spent most of my extracurricular time volunteering with my church and one of my school’s religious organizations. Those things can help distinguish you from other applicants just as well as a major in Latin or underwater basket weaving can.
As for the burnout point, that is true. A science major can definitely burn you out early (as evidenced by a recent post from wordsididntsay), but it can also make your first year of medical school go a little smoother. There’s a trade off there for sure. Personally, I never felt burned out in undergrad, but I took a fairly balanced schedule, went to a school that was very supportive, and I have a very high threshold for burnout.
TL;dr: Major in whatever you wanna major in, get those pre-med pre-reqs done, and hakuna matata the rest.
MCAT Doesn’t Always Matter
I first met Lindsey my junior year. We had a class together, though I don’t think we talked much. She asked for tutoring help after finding out that I tutored students in the past. What started as purely a business relationship has turned into a mentorship of sorts and, more importantly, a friendship.
I spent a year tutoring her through organic chem I and II. After she blew through those it was time to take her MCAT, which I also tried to help with. More or less I gave insights, feedback and advice from my own experience. Despite our best efforts she was relatively disappointed with her score, which was a 24.
PREACH. I cannot stress how accurate the conclusion of this post is. If YOU don’t want this enough, if you don’t show it, even a perfect MCAT won’t get you in.
fabulousqueerys asked: Hi md-admissions, I'm going into my second year at a prestigious all women's liberal arts college. I plan to go to medical school right after college. My problem is my grades. I'm currently getting a 3.36 GPA, which is pretty low to get into med school- I'm president of our college's EMS corps, involved in the student government association. I'm really worried I won't get into medical school because my grades aren't the best and I don't test well. Any advice? Thanks! Fabulousqueerys
While GPA is an important component, remember that schools are not only looking at your GPA but also your MCAT, personal statement, extracurriculars, volunteering, and shadowing!
If I had to give any advice, it would be reassurance. You still have three years to change the face of your GPA, so use these next few years wisely! Take challenging courses, but remember to give yourself breathing space and time to relax. Don’t be afraid of asking for help, admitting your mistakes, or changing paths. Do what you love to recharge your intellectual curiosity. And don’t fall under the peer pressure of pre-med. Do what is best for YOU; do what you love. You can’t go wrong :)
Best of luck! Let me know how things go :)
My two cents on medical school applications (primaries and secondaries).
The end of medical school applications round two is in sight! And good thing too with school beginning again in two weeks; I won’t be dealing with essays once school starts and I’ll have other things to distract me while I’m waiting with painful anticipation.
The main reason I’m getting this out is because I went through this application thing essentially blind. I’m sort of disconnected from my resources at school as well as have no pre-med upperclassman friends to help me out here. So if nothing else, if one person has an easier time at it after reading this, then yay.
(Applicable to AMCAS and AACOMAS, and which other common applications exist out there).
- Begin early. As early as you’d like. Please do not wait until the application begins online to start getting everything down. Keep track of your extracurriculars as you go— type of activity, dates, and blurbs about what the experience was and what you got out of it. Same with your personal statement— “Explain why you want to go to medical school in approx. 5300 characters (including spaces).” This is not an easy question to answer, and you will go through several angles, several drafts, several long panicky nights to get this done.
Exactly on point about everything!
‘The new MCAT is a monster exam’—article
‘The new MCAT is a monster exam,’ said Dr. Armstrong in a keynote address here at the National Medical Association 2012 Annual Convention and Scientific Assembly. Dr. Armstrong is also professor of pediatrics and pediatric cardiovascular medicine at Duke.
The test, she noted, will not only ask far more about the field of natural sciences, it will also ask about aspects of psychosocial health, the humanities, and other nonmedical issues.
The recommendations of the M5 Committee of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) describe 4 test sections: biological and biochemical foundations of living systems; chemical and physical foundations of biological systems; psychological, social, and biological foundations of behavior; and critical analysis and reasoning skills.
Dr. Armstrong noted that the natural sciences sections of the exam will test not only introductory biology, but also organic and inorganic chemistry and concepts of physics; highly rated biochemistry concepts at the level taught in most first-semester biochemistry courses; cellular/molecular biology topics at the level taught in most introductory biology sequences; and basic research methods and statistical concepts described by many baccalaureate faculty as important to success in an introductory science course.
The test will also ask applicants to use their knowledge of natural science concepts to demonstrate skill in scientific inquiry and reasoning, research methods, and statistics.
The section on critical analysis and reasoning skills will test examinees’ reasoning by asking them to critically analyze information provided by passages from a wide range of social and behavioral sciences and humanities. It will not require specific knowledge in these disciplines but, by calling them out, might prompt students to read broadly as they prepare for medical school. The test will include passages about ethics and philosophy, cross-cultural studies, and population health, she said.”
As much as I am a fan of the changes, the truth is that the MCAT will never stop being one of those obstacles that winnows people out of the medical tract. It’s going to be rough, but it never was easy. Best of luck to all those who will be taking the new MCAT; you can do it!