At a glance, the path you choose if you want a medical school future during undergrad seems obvious: Register as a pre-med student, take all of the required courses and then entry to a respected medical school will be simple. After all, the pre-med concentration wouldn’t exist if it weren’t explicitly designed to prepare students for the challenges that face them in medical school, right?
Well, the time has come to rethink how we look at preparing for a medical school education. While a pre-med or biomedical sciences degree may have been the old standard for preparing for medical school, this is simply no longer the case. “The Association of American Medical Colleges has data to suggest that your major simply does not matter when it comes to getting accepted to medical school,” reports the US News. “According to their data, only 51 percent of students who enrolled in medical school in 2012 majored in biological sciences.”
These days, students with a myriad of concentrations and majors, from English to theater, are being admitted to even the top medical schools in the country. To help you decide what academic path will best prepare you for a medical school education, here are some things to keep in mind when planning your undergraduate education.
Medical Schools Have Course Requirements, Not Major Requirements
Medical schools will require that an applicant has taken a certain amount of credits in biology and chemistry. However, they have absolutely no requirements about a student’s major, contrary to popular belief. Many students can take all the courses that they’ll need for medical school in one semester, leaving them three and a half years to study something that interests them and is wholly unrelated to the sciences. Check with your adviser to determine which courses you’ll need in preparation for medical school, but don’t feel that you have to select a biology- or chemistry-related major to be competitive.
Medical Schools Like Well-Rounded Applicants
Medical schools are flooded each admission season with applications from students who are ideal candidates at a glance. These students have devoted both their high school and university careers to the sciences. However, in this time, they have devoted themselves to little else and have, unfortunately, few interesting qualities outside of their scientific prowess. Even if you do end up majoring in the sciences, a minor in something unrelated can make you stand out to the admissions boards. Extra-curricular activities unrelated to science are helpful as well.
Ultimately, GPA and MCAT Scores are King
When it comes down to it, medical schools want students who have proven their hard work and intellect via a high GPA and excellent MCAT scores. Your time in undergraduate should be spent achieving these two things. If a medical school has to choose between a Spanish major with an excellent GPA and MCAT and a biomedical science major with an average GPA and MCAT, the Spanish major will win every time.
Ultimately, you need not worry about appearing to be exceedingly knowledgeable about chemistry or biomedical sciences. If you were able to garner all of the knowledge that you need to be a doctor during undergrad, medical schools wouldn’t exist. Your best bet is to demonstrate basic scientific knowledge, in addition to showing that you are hard-working and well-rounded. If you can achieve this, you will be a competitive applicant when you begin applying to medical schools.