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what science should i major in to pursue being in the medical field?

i am currently a senior looking forward to enroll in hbcus. #majors #double-major

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John’s Answer

Jamesina, In the U.S., postsecondary schools don't offer a specific pre-med major. Students pursuing a bachelor's degree in almost any area can participate in a pre-med track. While there is no prerequisite for participating in a pre-med track, having an understanding of math and science is useful. Pre-med coursework is heavily science-based but it's common to find math classes included in the curriculum. Medical school prerequisites vary so it's important to work with a pre-med advisor during an undergraduate degree program. Although, if you are aspiring to become a physician or surgeon and eventually earn an M.D., a place to start is a bachelor's degree program in a scientific field like chemistry or biology. What you major in doesn’t matter nearly as much to admission committees as your:

GRADES – Yes, your grades are important. Along with your MCAT score, they often determine whether or not your application is accpeted. The average GPA of students matriculating to med school in 2019-2020 was 3.73 (overall) and 3.66 (science). They also look for a trend of improving grades over your undergrad career.

MCAT SCORE – This is the second part of that magical duo (along with your GPA) referred to as your “stats.” The average MCAT score for students matriculating to an MD program in the U.S. in 2019-20 was 511.5. A stellar MCAT score is particularly important if your GPA is below 3.5.

COMMUNITY VOLUNTEERING – This is considered a must-have by many medical schools, and for good reason. They want applicants who tend to put others’ welfare ahead of their own. Doctors give up a lot of personal time for the benefit of others. Take a look at your experiences so far. Have you been a selfless giver of your time? If not, what’s stopping you? You may feel too busy or too tired, but these are not good excuses. Med students, interns, and doctors are always busy and often tired, but they continue to push themselves.

CLINICAL EXPERIENCE – Shadowing as a premed is a good first step into the world of clinical experience, but it’s not enough to make you a strong candidate. It is passive and doesn’t help you develop any new skills. Shadowing may be a good way for you to decide what areas of medicine interest you, but then you need to look for a more active role through clinical experience.

LEADERSHIP – This is an important skill that’s often overlooked by applicants. As a physician, you will be leading a team of health professionals and guiding patients through difficult choices and options. You can start now by gaining the skills you will need to persuade, guide, and lead. You don’t have to be president of an organization to lead others. Some lead through teaching, coaching, or motivating others. Use your clinical experience, community volunteering, research, and paid work to hone your leadership skills. Say yes to leadership roles. Like anything else, practice makes perfect.

Jamesina it may be difficult to balance all of these activities in a busy premedical curriculum, but it is achievable with proper planning. You can bring together your passions and be more efficient by selecting activities that combine different elements listed above. For example, working at a clinic for the underserved offers clinical exposure and the opportunity to give to those who are less privileged at the same time. Taking this into account and demonstrating long-term commitment to each activity, you can maximize your time, learn and stand out on your application.

Hope this was Helpful Jamesina

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Bryce’s Answer

Hi Jamesina,

Most colleges will not have a specific pre-med major and in fact there technically is not a pre-med major, because you can major in anything and still get into med-school. Most of the pre-med students I know have been majoring in biology. Most biology programs require you to take in depth courses in math, biology, and chemistry which will best prepare you for the MCAT and medical school.

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Laura’s Answer

Hi Jamesina!

I completely agree with Cesar’s answer, he has outlined great points in his response.

You can definitely major in medical related courses such as biology, biochemistry, physiology, exercise science or nursing for your undergraduate degree. But since, medical schools are looking for a diverse cohort, you might want to consider and branch out (while still doing what you love). I personally think English can also be an interesting major to consider as communication with patients is an important aspect of working in the medical field.

Best of luck and hope this helps!

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Jane’s Answer

Hey Jamesina,

Only major in a science if you truly like the sciences, don't just pick a science major because all of the other pre-meds are doing that. Pick whatever major you love and can excel in. With that being said, since you are pursuing the medical field, make sure to take the pre-reqs for any medical path you choose. My recommendation is to pick any major you truly enjoy and take your science pre-reqs OR if you truly love the sciences, major in a hard science (biology, chemistry, biochemistry) and minor in something different (if you want).

In conclusion, major in anything, don't forget to include the science prerequisites for whatever medical program you choose, and do well in your courses.

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Cesar’s Answer

Hi! Medical schools do not have a required major you have to take. In fact, you can major in something that is not even in the science filed and still go to medical school. There are specific courses that you must take to go to medical school such as chemistry and biology, but you can take those classes while majoring in music, for example. I highly recommend that you major in something you are passionate about. Do something you love. Remember, you will be studying this for at least four years, so much sure you enjoy it. I studied chemical engineering, which is not very common for pre-med, and then I applied for medical school. Medical schools love seeing diversity in their applicants, so studying something like philosophy while taking the required science courses for medical school will make you a unique applicant.

Once you choose your major, make sure to talk with you academic advisor to plan how you will complete the required course work for you major and for medical school.

In summary, I suggest studying something you find interesting and motivating. Medical school like a diverse set of applicants and want to accept students who are well rounded in the sciences and in the arts.

Thank you so much this provided me with a lot of clarity. i have so many questions about college and really have no one to ask so thank you. jamesina C.

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Tracy’s Answer

Hello Jamesina!

Where in the medical field are you trying to be in? Are you trying to be a doctor, dentist, optometrist, nurse, or pharmacist? Depending on what you are trying to be, for the most part you can major in whatever interests you, but you just have to satisfy the pre-requisites of career path you plan on pursuing and the school of interest!

I know for the pre-medical path, you usually need these pre-requisite courses: General Biology with labs, General Chemistry with labs, Organic Chemistry with labs, Physics, Psychology, Sociology, Statistics, Calculus (dependent on school you apply to), and Biochemistry, along with some other courses that specific schools require (or "recommend"). It is usually the same with pre-dental path.

For the optometry path, here is a website with general requirements:

For the pharmacy path, here is a website with general requirements:

For nursing schools, it is also dependent in the program of your interest. Keep in mind that these are general requirements, and you have to look into the schools you are interest in applying to for the full requirements list.

I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any questions or concerns.

i would like to be a doctor a ogbyn to be specific. thank you for your feedback. jamesina C.

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Valerie’s Answer

I am currently in medical school. During my senior year of high school I took AP calculus, biobehavioral health, AP anatomy, and AP psychology. This helped prepare me for college! In college I majored in biology.
Best of luck

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Chau’s Answer

Hi! Also agree with Cesar's answer. My daughter is starting her freshman year at Duke University to pursue her medical degree and is concentrating on Chemistry. With both her and other members of my family in medicine, they have given similar advice as above. Whether the interest in your career post your studies is in medicine or otherwise, with your undergraduate studies, it is good for you to focus on the areas of interests as a starting point as you look to explore what you may be passionate about. Diversify your academic studies as well as extracurricular activities that may help to guide you as well - you'll be surprised where you may find areas of interests that you may not have even thought of (my daughter was co-captain of her school's Rocketry club - and yes, got a chance to be part of a Q&A Session with NASA astronauts)!

I also suggest speaking to your college counselor/advisors as well as they may be able to provide you guidance on which classes you may want to focus on to help lay the foundation if your focus is in medicine. If there is a program available at your school that offers one, my daughter has an upperclassman 'buddy' that she was paired up with based on her interests and he has, by far, been the best sounding board / advice-giverer :) since she started at the school. Best of luck to you!