For many, being on a pre-med track usually means being a science major. The two most common pre-med majors are Biology and Chemistry. It is usually said that being a science major helps you with making it to medical school. I am a currently majoring in Biology, mainly because of that common misconception. Like how everything in life has pros and cons, being a science or non-science major definitely has pros and cons as well. I wouldn't want you or anyone you know who wants to take that path to choose a major based on any misconception.
Now, I am not an expert, but I have learned a few things along the way (mostly the hard way), so here is what I think you or anyone you know should be aware of if they are going to take the pre-med track in college.
1. Pre-Med is not a major.
It is usually mistaken that being "pre-med" is a major; it is not, it's just a pathway or track (like many schools call it).
2. You can major in ANYTHING!
Yes, you can definitely major in anything you are passionate about and still be Pre-med (remember it is just a pathway). When I found out about this I was so shocked and kinda upset.
3. Choose your major wisely.
Like I mentioned above you can major in anything, but you want to be wise about it.
4. Pros and cons of being a science major.
Being a science major is great because some of the courses you will be taking are somewhat related to the subjects on the MCAT exm, and you also get exposed to the all science course load that is common for medical schools. Now, the other side of that is that your GPA might get affected somewhere along the way because being a science major is not the easiest thing to do, no matter how smart you might be. The good news is that it's doable because people have already done it, so hang in there.
5. Pros and cons of being a non-science major.
I have heard that this might be the best route when it comes to caring about your GPA since a lot of classes are easier, but I can't say I know this for sure since I never majored in anything else other than Biology. Well, I'm doing a minor in psychology I don't think that counts, but my psych classes are definitely a lot easier. The other side of this is that you have less science course exposure except for your med school pre-reqs or none at all which makes it harder when it comes to studying for the MCAT. But again, it's doable because people have done it before and succeeded.
6. Volunteering is a must.
Medical schools want to see you helping in your community. You say you want to help people in the future, so why not start now? But, you also you want to do things that you find joy in; don't do things just to get the hours and call it a day. You will have to go through a couple of things to find what is it that you find joy in. For me, it is anything with kids. I love volunteering at the Miami Book Fair in the Children's Alley. I just love it! So when I sign up to volunteer for the book fair I always make sure that I spend a day or two there. I also volunteer at Nicklaus Childrens' Hospital. I am a "Bedside Buddy." My job is to play with the kids and bring them joy. You have no idea how I countdown the days till I get to go to the hospital. So, you want to do something that makes you excited and anxious in a good way, not something you that you can't wait to leave when you are there.
7. Clinical experience is encouraged.
I have heard that medical schools want to see you having some kind of clinical experience which makes sense because you want to know what you are getting into more or less. With that I will say don't be picky if you find an opportunity just seize it. It's one of the hardest things to find, but if you look hard you will find some.
8. TAKE THE MCAT WHEN YOU ARE READY, NOT WHEN SOCIETY EXPECTs YOU TO.
One's MCAT score is his/her ticket to medical school, so you don't want to take it when society expects you too. Most pre-med students take their MCAT as juniors; which is fine if YOU are ready. If you are not, YOU don't have to take it just because everyone else is. YOU don't have to take it just because you feel like you are running out of time or feel behind. YOU want to take it when you are completely ready to study hard and do well. YOU know yourself better than society knows you, so YOU will know when it's your turn to take it. Some people take a semester or a year off; some people don't apply until later on in life. So you are just fine. I am about to be a senior and I haven't taken my MCAT, so you will be just fine.
9. Get involved with pre-health organizations and clubs.
This is very important because most of the things I am sharing with you I learned from either my fraternity or some other pre-health club that I am a part of.
10.Med school is not guaranteed.
I know at times we don't want to think about this just because it hurts, but it is the reality. You should wake up everyday giving it your all by taking all the steps necessary to make it, but you have to remember MED SCHOOL IS NOT GUARANTEED!!! With that being said, you want to have a "Plan B." You don't want to feel miserable if you don't make it. If that gives you any consolation as a pre-med, I have heard stories of amazing students that didn't make it; not because they were failures, it just wasn't for them. Also, some students make it and don't stay because they found out it wasn't for them.
So, before you take all the risks and go through all of stress that comes with going to medical school, you want to pray about it to ask God if this is the right career for you. Forget all the things that come with being a doctor and ask him if this is His plan for you. If you ask Him truthfully, He will answer you. The good news is, if it is in God's plan for you to be a medical doctor you will be one.
In all, whatever your major is, you should always remember that your pathway is pre-med and you should give it your all.
Let me tell you one thing about me that a lot of people don't know: had I known that I could major in anything and still go to medical school I would have majored in teaching or something down the line of education. I really like teaching, and I fell in love with it even more when I started to tutor. I enjoy most of my Biology courses, but I would prefer teaching.
One thing that keeps me going is to know that I might get the opportunity to make a difference in others' lives. I just can't wait for the day I will get to take care of tiny little human beings if that's the Lord's willing. Even if I don't become a medical doctor, I will not let that stop me from helping and making a difference.
I hope these few tips will help you or a loved one who is taking the pre-med path.