There’s good news for those of you out there who are thinking about pre-med: quality health care is a necessity, and there is always a need for talented and socially conscious health professionals. A career as a physician is a good option for students who have a strong desire to help and to heal, and also for those who have an aptitude for the sciences.
Most colleges will not have a “pre-med major,” but they will offer an advising program and a required curriculum for students who are interested in health professions. Pre-med advising varies widely, so it is worth asking the schools you are interested in for details about their specific programs.
In order to be pre-med, you have to fulfill the standard general education requirements for all undergraduates, in addition to taking the courses required for the pre-med curriculum. Many pre-med requirements are in the sciences, so you should expect to take courses in chemistry, biology, and physics. But many pre-med programs also require students to take courses in mathematics, computer science, humanities, and social sciences, as well. Contrary to popular belief, being pre-med is not all about science.
Since there is no “pre-med major,” many pre-med students will major in a science like biology or chemistry, especially because so many of the required courses overlap. But increasingly, medical schools are looking for students who will bring diverse academic perspectives to their programs. This means that majoring in a humanities or social science discipline may actually give you an advantage in the med school application process. Just because you may not be majoring in a science, however, you still have to perform at a high level in all of your science and math courses in order to be a competitive candidate for med school.
As you begin to research colleges in more depth, here are some questions you may want to ask the admissions offices at the schools you are considering.
- Do you have a pre-med or health professions advising program?
- How does your program work?
- Is there an application process to the program?
- How many students are pre-med?
- How many students are accepted into medical school?
- Do you have any restrictions regarding who may apply to med school?
- Are pre-med advisers (or is the pre-med adviser) easily accessible?
- How early do I have to start the pre-med program?
- Is there assistance to help undergrads find research, internship, and clinical experiences?
- Do you offer MCAT prep and med school application guidance as part of your program?
The bottom line about being pre-med in college is that the experience varies from school to school. Typically, you will not be able to major in pre-med, but there will most likely be advising and assistance available to you in your pursuit of a career in the health professions. If being pre-med is important to you, make sure to check with each school about their specific program to see if it’s a good fit for you.