You might be thinking about having a career in medicine. It’s best to be prepared, so you understand all of the steps. The more you research, the process won’t seem so daunting. Consider these three things you need to know about a future in medicine.
1. Classes to Take in Undergrad
The basic elements for pre-medical school education require you have a well-rounded undergrad career. You will need a year’s worth of various courses that pertain to your future career in the medical field. The courses that are recommended include:
- General (inorganic) chemistry with laboratory, one year: provides a strong basis for understanding acid-base imbalances with the body and how different medications work. Also, the foundation for understanding biochemistry.
- Biology, Chemistry-minimum of 24 semester hours in areas of humanities
- Mathematics (Calculus or Statistics), one year (6-8 semester hours): important for daily life as a physician or any health professional-from determining proper medicine dosage to reading lab results
- General college physics with laboratory, one year (8 semester hours): introduces key medical concepts, such as laws of pressure and volume, which are important for cardiology and understanding how forces operate in the body.
In addition to the recommended undergrad courses, other classes are encouraged to be taken by potential law school applicants:
- English: most medical schools want you to have critical thinking, reading, and writing skills.
- Biochemistry: increased emphasis on the MCAT
- Psychology and sociology: critical since the revision of the MCAT in 2015 that has a section on these subjects
- Medical anthropology/history: know-how medicine has changed over the years and appreciate the evolution of medical knowledge
- Foreign language: broader career opportunities and connect with a more diverse population and be a better medical provider
2. Extracurriculars, Volunteer, and Work
It’s wise to show your diversity when you’re not studying during undergrad. While you should look for employment opportunities that are closely related to the medical field, feel free to explore other interests to show medical schools, you have a diverse background.
You can also add any volunteer work, such as working at a medical office or clinic. Look into doing physician shadowing where you can see what a career in medicine might include. You might also want to gain some clinical experience during undergrad. Call hospitals or health centers in your community and ask to speak with a representative from the volunteer services office. They will direct you to a department you can work in. Pick a place that interests you and where you might want to focus your medical school career.
Consider participating in a research project that shows your love for science. Choose a faculty member whose research interests you. Work hard, read, and understand what you are doing and why you are doing it. You should be able to explain and defend your work to an education scientist in the field of the research you’re doing.
No matter what you choose to do during your undergrad years, you will want to show that you are willing and capable of working hard enough to accomplish an important goal.
3. Study, Prepare and Take the MCAT
You’re going to have to take an exam to go to medical school. It’s administered 14 times each a year at one of the Prometric testing sites. It’s done through the computer so you can do this at home. However, now it takes eight hours a day instead of five as it did years ago. You no longer have to submit an essay or turn in a writing sample. A new section has been added to exam to test the level of competence when it comes to delivering services around the globe and to particular sociological groups.
When studying for the exam, make sure to design an effective schedule. You should plan on starting to study for the test at least 12 weeks ahead of time. You must take the test when you are either a junior or senior. Make sure you work with materials that benefit your skills. They should be easy to work with and further your talent. Consider taking a lot of practice tests, so you’ll be at the top of your game.
These are three things to know if you want a future in medicine. Make sure to take the appropriate classes during your undergrad years. You’ll need to have a tight grasp on biology, chemistry and math, and physics. Share your volunteer work that shows how diverse you are in outside activities. If you work close to a job in your field be sure to mention it. Take prep exams and get prepared to study hard. Create the best schedule you can adhere to that brings you success on the test date. Pay attention to the new section so you don’t trip yourself up. Don’t forget your test dates for the MCAT.