Getting Into Medical School

Get Into Medical School Pt. II – Best Undergraduate Major for Medical School

Get Into Medical School Pt. II: Find Me a Major!

In the last blog (Part I of this five-part series), I went over the least you should know about the med school applications process. In this blog, I will begin supplying all you potential matriculants with some helpful websites, ebooks and pdfs, and most importantly – charts! Yes, charts are great evaluation tools for putting the schools into perspective for you. For instance, if you are an Asian American female with a 3.2 GPA and a 28 MCAT score, you can evaluate the percentage of others in this exact demographic group and situation that got into medical school last year from the AAMC charts below. You can also assess your application to see how it stacks up against the competition at various schools based upon their average GPAs and MCAT scores (most schools publish this info) if you would like.

Click here for OFFICIAL charts galore!

But, please do yourself a favor and DO NOT base whether or not you apply to a school SOLELY on the charts! There are so many other factors that trump GPA and MCAT score. REMEMBER – GPAs and MCATs are used for initial screening most of the time. Whether or not your personal goals and mission(s) align with that of the medical school’s is far more important for your admission decision.

a) MCAT and GPA are to help you get through the door.

b) Personal statement and application is to get you a secondary application (supplied by each individual medical school).

c) Secondary applications get you the interview, and…

d) the interview makes or breaks you for admittance. This is a good way to look at the whole process at this point.

Which Major?

It truly does not matter which major you choose as long as you take the minimum required courses listed below. Other than that, you can major in anything from biomedical engineering to classical culture (seriously, I’ve seen a classical culture and music major get in over Bio majors)! Take me for instance – my main degree is a Liberal Arts degree (Religion & Philosophy).

Biology and Chemistry majors are the most plentiful applicants, so naturally the majority of matriculants are Bio. or Chem. majors. Plus, most of the required courses to get into medical school are classes that fit well into the course requirements for most Bio. or Chem. majors; therefore, many pre-med advisors mistakenly tell their students that Bio. or Chem. is the best way to go, as far as majors, for getting into medical school. Makes sense right? They pre-med advisors have read the charts displaying that the majority of matriculants were Bio. or Chem. majors, and they know that this pathway has traditionally been what all doctors have taken (previously, to be a doctor meant that you were basically a scientist first). WRONG! Not in this day and age…remember: cookie-cutter doctors are now boring and horrible and communication with their patients.

I chose religion because I am interested in it, and if you want to know about a person and his or her culture, learn about his or her religion. Religions affects every aspect of the human experience. Even for atheists – the way they vote, what they feel is relevant to the societal framework, is all somewhat governed by even their lack of religion. And, no, I am not one of the fanatics that says atheists have no moral values and are not good, etc. I majored in religion to combat these types of mentalities and view people as a beautiful product of what they believe and the experiences they have encountered. Anyway, enough about why I chose religion and philosophy as my major. What do you like?

 *Interesting Fact*

Did you know that according to the MSAR (2000 – 2001), only .5% of med school applicants were philosophy majors in 1998; however, a little more than 50% of them were accepted! Compare this to only 39.9% acceptance of Biology majors!

Read about it here on Clemson University’s website

 Read here from the State University of New York’s website about the low acceptance rate of Bio majors for med school from 2006 stats

Click here to see how 2011 applicants and matriculants did on the MCAT by major

What Courses?

The minimum courses every  pre-med student should take are:

BIOLOGY I

BIOLOGY II

CHEMISTRY I

CHEMISTRY II

ORGANIC CHEMISTRY I

ORGANIC CHEMISTRY II

PHYSICS I

PHYSICS II

2 math classes

2 English classes

For the most part, the second parts of chemistry and biology are a continuation of the first part. For instance: BIOLOGY 102 might follow BIOLOGY 101; however, sometimes a student may choose to take BIOLOGY 101 and then General Zoology as the second biology. Check with the medical schools for which you intend to apply to see how they feel about it. Most medical schools will tell you all they care about is two classes of general biology, chemistry, physics, and organic chemistry. Some schools, like Medical College of Georgia, even affords the option for a student to take Organic Chem. I and Biochem. In lieu of taking the Organic Chem. II class.

If you want to just add a cherry on top of things, throw in these classes and the admissions board will love it:

GENETICS

BIOCHEMISTRY

ANATOMY & PHYSIOLOGY

MICROBIOLOGY

But, never take a class to impress the admissions board at the expense of declining in GPA. As the Oracle of Delphi said: “Gnothi sauton” or “Know Thyself” and never pile on more than you can handle. This raises more questions than lauds from the committee.

*Next Blog* In the next blog I will discuss the difference between DOs and MDs and possible alternatives just in case you change interest and direction career-wise at some point during the process.