What taking the pre-med track means for aspiring doctors and why a BS/MD degree could be a better option
What does it mean to be “pre-med”?
So you want to be a doctor? Well guess what, your track to saving lives may have to start sooner than you anticipated.
It’s common knowledge that as an undergrad in America, you can’t study medicine at every university, however, the pre-med track is an option at most universities countrywide. While you may not graduate with a bachelor's degree in ophthalmology, you will be equipped with the information needed to get into a top medical school and prove yourself as a competitive candidate.
Being “pre-med” requires you take a steady amount of core requirements through the duration of your college years. You can choose any major you’d like and still maintain these pre-med requirements. Generally, students interested pick majors in scientific fields including biology, chemistry, neurosciences, behavioral sciences and physics.
Students taking this track are often encouraged to take all prerequisite coursework required to get into med school. Each university has slightly different requirements, but in general most med schools expect you to have taken:
- Biology with lab
- General and organic chemistry with lab
- Physics with lab
- Some type of math class (calculus, statistics, or both)
Remember that med schools are competitive, so doing the bare minimum is never enough to gain admission. Take the time during your undergraduate bachelor’s degree to get experience in the medical field, whether it be volunteering at a medical clinic or shadowing a doctor for a few weeks, getting hands on experience is crucial when applying to medical school. Many universities also require a minimum amount of clinical hours to even apply.
So… what exactly are the medical school requirements
As noted above, pursuing an undergraduate degree (if it’s even available) in pre-med or any subject is definitely not enough to gain admission. Medical school, particularly in the US, is even more competitive than admission to the Ivy League.
We’ve developed a list of the most common requirements from medical schools across the US.
- Bachelor’s Degree from an accredited institution.
- MCAT score: The MCAT is a standardized test for medical school that assesses problem solving, critical thinking, and specific knowledge of certain topics
- Academic work from an accredited institution: This means you need to have completed your undergraduate degree (Bachelor’s) in order to apply to medical school.
- Specific Courses: College Biology w/ Lab, College Chemistry w/ Lab, Organic Chemistry, Biochemistry, Calculus and/or Statistics, 24 units in the Humanities or Social Sciences, College Physics,
- Letters of Recommendation.
- Computer literacy.
What is a joint BS/MD degree?
BS/MD degrees are accelerated medical programs in which you apply and are locked in for medical school after your undergraduate degree (aka you don’t have to re-apply).
Some popular BS/MD Programs include:
- Brown, Rice, Case Western, Wash U St. Louis, Rochester Early Medical Scholars
- Northwestern, Penn State, U of Miami, RPI, Boston U
- NEOMED BS, Medical Scholars at St. Louis, U Missouri - Kansas, California Northstate, Sidney Kimmel
What are the pros/cons to doing a BS/MD program
- Reduces stress by not having to apply twice and stand out against the competition both with GPA and MCAT.
- With some programs like Brown PLME, you have more flexibility in course selection during undergrad: you don’t need to pad your transcript with all science courses to impress an admissions officer so you have the flexibility to take more humanities or business courses.
- Accelerated programs allow you to become a doctor more quickly.
- Surround yourself with more like-minded people and have many medically-oriented opportunities.
- Less options because not every school offers BS/MD programs.
- Lower acceptance rates. Programs like this are more difficult to get into because they need to be sure you are serious about going into medicine. Many people go to school thinking they want to be a doctor but then change majors during undergrad
- Fewer chances for opportunities to study abroad during college.
- Significantly more rigid schedule with accelerated programs, particularly with your summer options which can limit internships or non-medically related opportunities.
- Locked in with less time to explore other career paths.
Top medicine programs in the US & UK Below are a list of the best medical school programs across the US and UK. To read more about these amazing programs, read our blog on the top 10 best medical schools in the world.
Top med schools in the US
- Carnegie Mellon
- Johns Hopkins
- Harvey Mudd
Top med schools in the UK
- King’s College
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