Picking a Major
I’m going to come out and say it: there is no perfect major that will make the medical school admissions committee choose you. Pick your major based on your interests. If you’re interested in studying how overpopulation has impacted food supply in certain countries, choose public health. If you’re interested in the role of RNAse in Arabidopsis plants, choose biochemistry. If you’re interested in studying Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, choose sociology or psychology. You get the point. I chose to be a Pharmaceutical Sciences major as a freshman, but after dissecting cadavers during anatomy lab, I realized I LOVED BIOLOGY. I ended up pursing a dual-degree in both Pharmaceutical Sciences and Biology. It may seem obvious, but the major you choose to pursue is ultimately going to lead you to the classes you’re going to spend hours and hours studying in the library for. Pick the major you’re going to be hungry to learn about.
“Pre-med” is an umbrella term encompassing every student who is interested in pursuing a career in medicine. This includes any major or minor. There are specific classes that a student on the pre-med track needs to take in order to fulfill class requirements or prerequisites needed for medical school. There are a few catches, however. Depending on your major, some of these classes may be taken outside of the major or minor requirements. It is imperative that you research the medical schools you are interested in and determine their specific prerequisites as there may be small differences for each medical school.
Below is a sample of list of classes needed to apply*:
- General Chemistry with laboratory experience (One year)
- Organic Chemistry with laboratory experience (One year)
- Physics with laboratory experience (One year)
- Biology with laboratory experience (One year)
- Biochemistry (One semester/quarter)
Be mindful that some of these courses need to be taken before an interview is offered and some of these courses need to be taken before matriculation. Thus, you can be offered a seat in medical school without completing all of the prerequisites, but in order to matriculate you MUST successfully complete the course before the start date. In most cases, medical schools are more lenient on a 3-credit English Literature class that needs to be taken as opposed to a 5-credit hour organic chemistry course, so if you have not taken the course, the committee may not have enough information to compare you to other applicants.
Most medical schools also release a recommended course list. Here is a sample list of recommended classes*:
- English Composition and Literature
- Social Sciences
Put simply, you can still get into a medical school without taking these classes, BUT I would be wary. Most medical schools release a highly recommended course list versus a recommended list. If you have the time and opportunity, I would take the highly recommended courses. The medical schools I interviewed at asked about my anatomy experience, even though the class was a highly recommended prerequisite. Fortunately, I was able to take anatomy with lab, but I know some of my fellow interviewees were explicitly asked why they did not take anatomy. Some undergraduate institutions do not offer the recommended classes, but others do so be sure to look into it before you graduate.
*DISCLAIMER: The sample list of classes is not consistent for every medical school across America. This is just an example.
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If you have any questions regarding choosing a major or becoming a pre-med student, please feel free to reach out to me!