For the prospective medical student, deciding on an undergraduate major can feel like everything. After all, medical schools want to see that a student is well prepared; both for the pressures of medical school, and then a career in medicine. Yet, majoring in “pre-med” may not be the way to go. In fact, it’s not even an option at many colleges. Actually, a list of popular undergraduate majors for pre-med students doesn’t really exist… but with good reason. There are a number of more helpful factors to consider regarding future acceptance to medical school which in turn may help you decide on an undergraduate major. So, pre-med students, listen in!
No set rules
Know, first and foremost, that you do not have to pursue any particular major to gain admittance to medical school. While some majors are certainly more popular than others amongst medical students, this is not out of requirement for admittance. The most important thing is to do well in whatever major you choose.
Instead, subject proficiency
With that in mind, know that certain classes are required of you to gain admittance into medical school, and majors are often chosen around these classes. These classes include biology, chemistry, math, physics, and english. As a result, many future medical students choose majors that require these classes of their students. Biochemistry is a wildly popular choice for its ability to meet all of the requirements, but you may want to think beyond that.
Think of it this way. If every pre-med student is majoring in biochemistry, you can stand out amongst applicants by choosing to double major, or majoring in something else and minoring in a science to get these requirements in, for example.
Understand the standards
Another helpful consideration for pre-med students is the MCAT, or the Medical College Admission Test. The MCAT does more in determining your acceptance to medical school than your major does, so a field of study that will prepare you for that, or prepare you to be a good doctor in general, will go further.
The MCAT has a number of sections, and again, biochemistry clearly ranks high amongst them. But take note of how much psychology and critical thinking factor into the MCAT as well. Furthermore, biological science majors don’t seem to have an advantage when it comes to MCAT scores or GPA, so branching out in regards to your major may not make much of a difference in test results or admittance to medical school.
What’s your endgame?
Remember the endgame too: Is the endgame to get into medical school, or is it to be a doctor? While your goals for your career may shift, remember that getting into medical school isn’t the end goal. In fact, it’s important to think beyond it in order to get into medical school.
For example, say you want to study pediatric medicine. It can be just as important to remember the “pediatric” side as the “medicine” part, if not more so. With that in mind, perhaps you’d want to pursue a major or coursework that develops your understanding of working with kids, such as child psychology or early childhood development. This kind of forethought could go further when getting into medical school than thinking purely about the requirements of medical school itself.
In the end, what matters the most is that you pursue your interests, do well in school, and look ahead to what you’ll need to get into medical school. Anything beyond that is largely semantics. If you do these things, you’ll be a better person for it, and may find your calling much more easily than if you had follow any prescribed path. You may even discover your passion within medicine outside the classroom! No two people are the same, including doctors, and the better you understand that now, the better off you’ll be in the professional world.