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What should I do as a college freshmen to prepare for med school?

Hi, my name is Jenny! I am curious to know what I should do as of freshmen year in college to be fully prepped when applying to med school. #doctor #medicine #pre-med #doctorate-degree

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Richard’s Answer

1) Pick a major that interests you. You will need to get good grades in college in order to apply for medical school. At the medical school I attended, the average GPA is reported to be 3.85, so even one or two B's can hurt your chances of acceptance.

Aside from this, any major is acceptable as long as you complete the prerequisite courses.

Typical medical school prerequisites include:
Biology: Lecture – 4 semesters; Lab – 1 semester
General Chemistry: Lecture – 2 semesters; Lab – 1 semester
Organic Chemistry: Lecture – 2 semesters; Lab – 1 semester
Biochemistry: Lecture – 1 semester
General Physics: Lecture – 2 semesters; Lab – 1 semester
Math: Statistics – 1 semester
English: Rhetoric (Composition) and Literature – 2 semesters

Some medical schools require humanities and social/behavioral science courses.

2) Create a 4 year plan. Pick an MCAT date. Make sure you have all the MCAT courses under your belt by that date. Plan on taking the summer off to self study or pay for an MCAT prep course.

3) Start learning interview skills. Apply for any scholarship or internship that requires an interview. You might not get the scholarship or internship but at least you have a chance to improve. Ask for help. Many colleges offer mock interview sessions

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Rachel’s Answer

Major in whatever field interests you and will allow you to maintain an excellent GPA. I majored in Spanish literature and had no trouble with my med school applications. You do need to complete the pre-med requirements that vary from school to school. These include at least a year of biology, 1 year inorganic chemistry, 1 year organic chemistry + labs, physics, calculus, and biochemistry. Your junior year, you will need to take an MCAT study course prior to taking the MCAT. With a solid GPA and MCAT score, you should be a competitive applicant.

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Estelle’s Answer

A few recommendations:
-Get high grades & study hard for the MCAT
-Assist in medical research
-volunteer at a free clinic
-Shadow as many physicians as you can
-Follow some passions that make you a more well-rounded, interesting person for interviews

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James’s Answer

hi jennifer,

i graduated med school in 1993. but i'm pretty sure the following still applies. but it's always a good idea to check with your college's health professions adviser.

  1. complete all med school prerequisites.

strongly consider adding to that list: Biochemistry, Physiology, and Immunology. depending on your degree plan this may mean going to summer school or taking 5 years to complete college. other courses that would be helpful: medical ethics, medical terminology, etc.

  1. excellent grades

don't get bent out of shape on this one. of course straight As are impressive. but i got in with a 3.1 GPA.

  1. excellent MCAT score

like it or not this one is important. strongly consider taking a semester-long review course. take lots of practice MCATs. take the review courses early, maybe Sophomore year. if you have test anxiety issues do whatever it takes to overcome that. test taking skills are vital. there are helpful books in your library.

  1. research medical fields

interviewers are laser focused on determining if you truly know what you're getting yourself into. are you someone who prefers working in a lab? do you like working with technology? do you crave human interaction? do you like hands-on activity or intellectual activity? knowing answers to those questions about yourself will help determine whether you're suited to Pathology, Radiology, Family Medicine, Surgery, etc. One way to shine in this area is reading up on medical history, such as biographies of famous physicians. Anything by Sir William Osler is gold.

interviewers will be listening to your answers for buzz words like "residency", "fellowship", "internship". let them know you understand how many years of medical school and post graduate training you're looking at. the more detailed you can be the better. so, for instance, let's say you want to go into Anesthesiology. you will look like a star if you casually drop into conversation that the top rated area Anesthesiology program is at ____.

speak with physicians, residents, nurses, just about anyone in the medical profession. again, make sure the interviewers know that you've spent the time learning what you can about your career choice.

  1. research medical schools

your health professions adviser can help with this. you should know early what your options are. private vs public. internal medicine oriented, research oriented, etc. some schools start clinical programs early. some emphasize rural medicine. some don't have family medicine departments.

Try to befriend upper class pre-meds so they can later tell you their experiences with interviewing, testing, and their experiences at particular medical schools.

you should at least vaguely know what courses you'd be taking in medical school.

  1. work/volunteer experience

most pre-meds go overboard on this one. my advice is to find a job in the medical field that is customer oriented. perhaps a receptionist at a doctor's office. or a phlebotomist, or hospital transporter, etc. An interviewer needs to be able to believe that you got a taste of day to day medical life.

however, it should also be noted that just about any job experience can be presented in a way that shows that you've learned valuable skills that will serve you well in your medical career.

as for volunteer activities, most interviewers regard those as fluff for resumes. except perhaps medical mission trips.

  1. interview preparation. incredibly important and probably the most overlooked area. all of the applicants will have good grades and test scores. so here's your chance to separate yourself from the pack. interviewers want to hear your story. tell them your dreams, your hardships, whatever motivates you. BE PASSIONATE. your health professions advisor should be able to give you a list of possible interview questions. put in the time to prepare your answers. find an adult to practice with. give plenty of consideration to your appearance. clothes/shoes should fit and be comfortable, tattoos & piercing should probably be concealed. SMILE.

  2. optional: Spanish or sign language. bonus points if you've gone the extra mile to learn another way to communicate with your patients.

hope that helps. and good luck to you!