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What courses in college do you need to take to get into medical school?

I am a cognitive-science freshman in community college, interested in becoming a medical researcher into learning disorders among children.

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James Constantine’s Answer

Hello Micah,

A Roadmap to Medical School for Aspiring Medical Researchers in Learning Disorders

As a freshman in cognitive science at your community college, your aspiration to become a medical researcher specializing in children's learning disorders is admirable. To reach your goal, you'll need to navigate a series of undergraduate courses that will prepare you for medical school. Although specific course requirements may differ from one medical school to another, there are some universally recommended courses for pre-med students. Here's a list of courses you should aim to take:

Biology: Medical school requires a robust understanding of biology. Enroll in general biology, cellular biology, genetics, and molecular biology. These classes will give you a comprehensive understanding of life processes, including cell structure, genetic inheritance, and biological evolution.

Chemistry: Chemistry is another pillar of pre-med studies. Aim for classes in general chemistry, organic chemistry, and biochemistry. These will help you grasp the structure and function of biological molecules like proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, and nucleic acids.

Physics: Physics is also vital for pre-med students. Take general physics and physics for life sciences to understand the basic principles of motion, energy, and thermodynamics, which are fundamental to understanding human physiology and pathophysiology.

Mathematics: Mathematics is key to understanding scientific concepts and analyzing data in medical research. Calculus and statistics courses will enhance your analytical skills and teach you to interpret data from scientific studies.

Psychology: Given your interest in learning disorders among children, psychology is a must. Developmental psychology, abnormal psychology, and cognitive psychology will help you understand children's development, learning processes, and the impact of learning disorders on their cognition and behavior.

Research Methods: To excel as a medical researcher, you need to master research study design and conduct. Courses in research methods, experimental design, and data analysis will teach you how to formulate research questions, design studies to answer these questions, collect and analyze data, and interpret results.

Medical Terminology: This specialized language used by healthcare professionals will help you communicate about patients' conditions and treatments. A course in medical terminology will familiarize you with common medical terms and abbreviations.

English: Strong communication skills are vital for success in medical school and beyond. English composition and literature courses will enhance your writing skills and critical thinking abilities.

Social Sciences: Sociology or anthropology courses will help you understand the social determinants of health and disease, crucial for researching learning disorders among children from diverse backgrounds.

Electives: Consider electives that align with your career goals. Courses in education or special education will teach you about teaching strategies for children with learning disabilities, while neuroscience courses will give you insights into brain development and function.

Beyond academics, hands-on research experience is crucial. This could mean working as a research assistant in a faculty lab or conducting your own independent research project under a faculty mentor's guidance.

Engaging in research will help you hone critical skills like critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration, and communication, all of which are essential for a successful career as a medical researcher in children's learning disorders.

May God bless you on your journey!
James Constantine.
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Pamela’s Answer

Hi Micah,
When I was pre-med I had to take physics, cell biology, organic chemistry, statistics, calculus, etc. Prerequisites have likely changed a bit but there is a general pre-med curriculum that will guide you on the right academic path. As some others have mentioned, make sure to stay well-rounded when it comes to your courses; this will not only give you a chance to express the other side of your brain and allow you to relax a bit, but will show others on your path (admissions folks, doctors interviewing you, etc) that you are not one-dimensional. Med school and residency admissions application reviewers and interviewers will want to see that you are human and have interests outside medicine, so feel free to take fun electives and pursue interests outside of medicine and science. It looks great on applications when you have creative hobbies, participate in sports or music, and have done some type of community service/volunteer work. You can't study 100% of the time!
Hope this helps.
Pam
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Carri’s Answer

Great question! Every medical school will have slightly different requirements, so if you are interested in a particular school, it’s always a good idea to reach out to them to ask for their admission criteria. However, if you aren’t sure which school you want to go to, most colleges have pre-med advisors that you can talk to, who will give you great advice on which courses to take. Most med school candidates will major in either biology, chemistry, or biochemistry, but I even had classmates at my med school who majored in history, psychology, music, etc. Your major doesn’t matter (and in fact, may be something that can make you stand out) as long as you take the required courses, make good grades, and do well on your MCAT. I do recommend against majoring in “pre-med” though, because if you change your mind about medicine or aren’t able to get in to medical school, there isn’t much else that you can do with a “pre-med” degree. So I recommend going for biology, chemistry, or biochemistry if you decide to stick to a science major.
Thank you comment icon Thank you Carri! I'll look into specific med schools to see their requirements. Thanks, Micah
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Tyrae’s Answer

Great question to ask, my degree isn’t in medicine but fortunately my son is pre-med so I might have some insight. My son told me that your college classes should focus on science classes such as biology, chemistry, physics, biochemistry and psychology. Those classes will get you headed in the right direction.
Thank you comment icon Thanks Tyrae! I will look into biochemistry classes. Micah
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Eric’s Answer

To get into medical school, there are several courses that you will need to take in college, which will provide you with the foundational knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in medical school. Here are some of the essential courses:

Biology: You will need to take multiple courses in biology, including general biology, cell biology, and genetics.

Chemistry: You will need to take multiple courses in chemistry, including general chemistry, organic chemistry, and biochemistry.

Physics: You will need to take at least one course in physics, which will help you understand the physical principles behind medical procedures and technologies.

Mathematics: You will need to take at least one course in calculus, which will help you understand the mathematical principles behind medical research and analysis.

English: You will need to take at least one course in English or writing, which will help you develop your communication skills and prepare you for the written and verbal components of medical school.

In addition to these courses, medical schools often require or recommend courses in social sciences, such as psychology and sociology, as well as courses in humanities, such as ethics and philosophy. It is also recommended that you participate in extracurricular activities related to healthcare, such as volunteering or shadowing, to demonstrate your commitment to the field. It is essential to research the specific requirements of the medical schools you are interested in to ensure that you are meeting all of the necessary prerequisites.
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