Introduction to Medical School (Pre-medical)
Pre-medical (often shortened to pre-med) is a term used to describe a track an undergraduate student in the United States pursues prior to becoming a medical student. It refers to the activities that prepare an undergraduate student for medical school, such as pre-med coursework, volunteer activities, clinical experience, research, and the application process.
In most colleges and universities, students do not have the option of a pre-medical major. A student on a pre-med track is permitted to choose any undergraduate major in any field of study, so long as certain required courses are completed. Such courses are generally focused in scientific fields of biology and chemistry and are necessary for an individual to be permitted to take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) and satisfy medical school pre-requisite requirements. It is for this reason students on a pre-med track generally undertake a major associated with one of those fields, however a large percentage of medical school applicants do not major in a science field at all as an undergraduate and still be able to apply to medical schools if they satisfied the pre-medical requirements. Nevertheless, it is preferable to major in scientific fields.
The following list is a compilation of all credits/courses that students must acquire in order to study Medical sciences to become a doctor (M.D) in USA. Regardless of a student’s major, he/she may enroll in a Medical major upon the completion of all of the listed courses:
- General Chemistry 1 with Lab
- General Chemistry 2 with Lab
- Organic Chemistry 1 with Lab
- Organic Chemistry 2 with Lab
- Biochemistry with Lab
- General Biology 1 with Lab
- General Biology 2 with Lab
- Physics 1
- Physics 2
- Math 1 OR Advanced Calculus
- Math 2
- Human Physiology
- Molecular Biology
The courses should include adequate laboratory experience. Mathematics course work is also required or strongly recommended by most schools. Some schools also require that you take Biochemistry, Psychology, and Philosophy. In addition, studies in the humanities and the social and behavioral sciences, with an emphasis on the development of effective writing skills, are suggested or even required in some instances. Make sure that you have a well-rounded undergraduate experience. More emphasis is placed on your ability to meet the basic requirements than your major. Consult particular medical schools (or look at their web sites) to find out the specifics.
Pre-med requirements play a very important role in admissions for several reasons. Pre-med requirements make the bulk of the science classes you will take in college and determine your Science GPA, which one of the determinants of your chances of admission. While it's not bad to have one particular school in mind, there is a lot of competition for admission, so be careful not to limit your options. Also, remember to keep the admission requirements in mind when planning your academic schedule and make sure you can meet these requirements once application time rolls around.
Before You Apply
Before choosing medical school as a path to your career goal, you should ask yourself some questions:
- Why do I really want to become a doctor?
- Do I care deeply about other people, their problems, and their pain?
- Do I often dig deeper into a subject than my professor requires? Do I understand the value of learning beyond just making good grades?
- Am I interested in how the human body functions? Am I intrigued by the ways medical science can improve life?
- What kind of physician do I want to be?
- Is there something I like about this job that can be found in another medically related field? Could I be happy doing one of these other health-related jobs?
- Am I committed to the time and work demands of a medical school student?
- Am I committed to the time and work of a physician? Veterinarian? Dentist?
These questions are all a part of evaluating your skills, identifying your values and seeing how your interests relate to your potential career choice of medical doctor. Answering these questions will also allow you to explore some of your options as you determine the full range of choices available to you.