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PRE-MEDICAL STUDIES

WHAT IS PRE-MEDICAL STUDIES?

Pre-medical studies is the course of study you take to prepare for admission to medical school. Not a major, per se, pre-med is rather a guiding principle for your education designed to increase your chances for admission to one of this country's 144 medical schools. If you are interested in applying to medical school, meet with your pre-med advisor early in your freshman year. Gaining admission to medical schools is highly competitive, and you will want to begin planning your undergraduate curriculum with this in mind.

WHAT COURSES DO YOU NEED TO TAKE?

While biology remains one of the most popular pre-medical studies majors (because it allows you to easily fill medical school prerequisites), you do not have to major in biology to gain acceptance to medical school. Understanding that physicians need a broad worldview, medical schools look for students with diverse educational experiences. Medical schools do, however, require certain courses for admission. You will need at least one year of general biology with labs, one year of organic chemistry with labs, one year of inorganic chemistry with labs, one year of general physics with labs, and one year of English. Some medical schools also require calculus. Be sure and check with each medical school to find out their individual requirements for admission.

Medical schools also look at your extracurricular involvement and your commitment to the medical profession. Many students volunteer in hospitals, conduct undergraduate research in the sciences, or shadow doctors as a way to learn more about the profession.

These classes might also be helpful when it comes time to taking the MCAT, medical school entrance exam:

  • Biochemistry
  • Genetics
  • Human Anatomy
  • Human Physiology
  • Microbiology

WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH A PRE-MED MAJOR?

If you choose a biology major, there are some thoughts about what you can do with it:

Most individuals use an undergraduate degree in biology for a background to further their education for health careers in medicine, physical therapy, dentistry, and optometry, to name a few. A bachelor's degree in biology with a teaching certification qualifies you to teach at the middle school and high school levels. Many undergraduates are employed as lab technicians for hospitals, medical schools, and pharmaceutical companies. At the local, state, and federal levels, governments hire biology majors for positions with the forest service, fish and wildlife divisions, and the Bureau of Land Management. In addition, private industries employ biology majors to monitor environment concerns, such as factory locations and waste dumping.

Reeves, D./Bradbury, M., MAJORS EXPLORATION: A Search and Find Guide for College & Career Direction, c. 1999

Electronically reproduced by permission of Pearson Education, Inc., Upper Saddle River, New Jersey.

 
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