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What major do I need to become a doctor?

Do I need a pre medicine major?

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Paul’s Answer

As I recall there is not a set major for you to become a doctor. For example, one of my physicians was a history major, while another majored in sociology.

But, you need to meet the requirements to enter medical school, and be able to pass the medical school entry exams. This means taking the required pre-med courses (including science, biology, chemistry, math, social sciences...etc).

If you obtain your bachelors, and your GPA, and grades in your major courses (and the pre-med courses), meet the requirements, then you can begin the application process to become a medical student.
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Midwest’s Answer

While you do need to take prerequisite classes in order to apply to medical school, you can choose any major(s) that you wish! Furthermore, you will be more successful if you choose one or more majors that you will be passionate about and can fully commit yourself to. This will not only make you happier and more successful academically but will make you a better medical school applicant.

An important point to remember is that medical schools receive numerous applications and unfortunately will look for ways to filter applicants out. An easy way to do this is through one's GPA or other forms of academic resume. For this reason, it is vital to prioritize academic excellence while an undergraduate to make sure you cannot get filtered out. Beyond this, the most successful applicants will have impactful, meaningful life experience to write and talk about. This may be coursework, volunteering experiences, shadowing, research, work experience, hobbies, or any other experience that 1) impacts your life 2) improves the lives of others 3) provides a meaningful talking point for your future application processes.

Next steps:

Midwest recommends the following next steps:

Choose a major that most interests you and is least like a chore
Focus on academic excellence
Expand your life experiences
Make sure you satisfy all medical school prerequisite coursework
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Martha’s Answer

Hello Rebeca. Pre-med typically consists of courses like biology, chemistry, and biochemistry that you take during your undergraduate studies to prepare for med school. If you choose a life science major, like biology, these courses can count for both your major and pre-med requirements.

However, you can still become a successful doctor even if you major in something different. Some majors, like public health, can broaden your understanding of medicine. Others, like literature or history, can improve your critical reading and research abilities, which are valuable in medicine and life overall.

Martha recommends the following next steps:

Talk with a pre-med advisor at your college/university
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Garrett’s Answer

The simple answer is absolutely NOT. I know people who had mechanical engineering degrees, business, math etc. You need to have the required prerequisites for consideration but otherwise chose a major you like. I didn't do pre-med bc I was an athlete and did not want to be in the pre-med dorm with nonathletes so my major was Cell and Molecular Biology with a minor in Chemistry. Now the University asked me to declare myself pre-med when applying for med schools bc I was number one in the entire school of science and they wanted me to boost their acceptance rate into medical schools bc they knew I was going to be accepted. This is something to consider as well bc when a school says they have a 98% acceptance rate into med schools it's bc they cut any students in the premed program out who they do not believe stand a strong chance of acceptance and add students who they believe will get in. There were at least 20 students who were premed up until senior year and then the University removed them from the program so it would not affect the University's advertised acceptance rate.
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Audrey’s Answer

Hi Rebeca,

You can get into medical school with any 4-year degree, which means you can major in anything.

However, some majors make getting into medical school easier than others. The MCAT, the big test for medical school admissions, has four major subjects: Biology and Biochemistry, Physics and Chemistry, Psychology and Sociology, and Critical Analysis, Reasoning, and Thinking. In addition to that, most medical schools have classes that you're required to take in undergrad and pass with a certain GPA. My medical school required general chemistry, organic chemistry, biochemistry, biology, microbiology, general physics, calculus, and statistics. If you pursue a major in one of those subjects, as mine was biochemistry, it becomes a lot easier for your schedule because the classes you need for your degree and for your medical school admissions overlap. But that doesn't mean you need to pursue a science or math degree if that isn't something that appeals to you. What looks best on your medical school admissions is a good GPA, so if you're going to do better in your classes when you're majoring in a different subject, you should absolutely pursue something that you will succeed at. Half of the MCAT is basic hard science and math, but half of it involves soft/social sciences and critical analysis - which is basically the same as the reading portion of the SAT.

Here are some actual majors I know that my peers in medical school got their degrees in: nursing, EMT, sociology, psychology, neuroscience, biology, biochemistry, biology+chemistry double major, chemistry, communications, English, history, philosophy and ethics, Spanish, political science, and music theory.

So while the majority do pursue a science degree, you can really study anything so long as you get a good grade in those basic science and math requirements.

I hope this helps!
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Waseem’s Answer

You have to study biology as a premedical student.
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James Constantine’s Answer

Dear Rebeca,

What academic path should I follow to become a doctor?

To embark on a journey towards becoming a doctor, it's typically recommended to pursue a major in a field associated with medical sciences. While there isn't a specific pre-medicine major, many students opt for biology, chemistry, or a blend of the two. These subjects lay a solid groundwork in the scientific principles vital for comprehending the human body and its workings.

Alongside a major in biology or chemistry, it's important to enroll in prerequisite courses such as physics, calculus, organic chemistry, and psychology. These courses contribute to a well-rounded comprehension of the diverse facets of medicine and healthcare.

Upon obtaining a bachelor’s degree, the next step for future doctors is medical school, which usually lasts four years. Medical schools generally expect applicants to have fulfilled the necessary prerequisites and to have attained competitive scores on standardized tests like the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).

Is a pre-medicine major required?

No, a pre-medicine major isn't a necessity to become a doctor. As previously mentioned, students often prefer to major in biology, chemistry, or a blend of both, as these subjects lay a solid groundwork in the scientific principles vital for comprehending the human body and its workings.

To summarize, to become a doctor, you should pursue a major in a field associated with medical sciences, such as biology or chemistry, while also enrolling in necessary prerequisite courses in other relevant subjects. After obtaining your undergraduate degree, you'll need to attend medical school to earn your Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) degree.

Recommended Resources

Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) - A distinguished organization that offers resources and guidance for medical school applicants. Their website provides information on the pre-medical curriculum, medical school admissions, and other relevant topics to help aspiring doctors navigate the process.

American Medical Association (AMA) - A professional organization that represents physicians and medical students in the United States. Their website offers information on the education and training required to become a doctor, including details on choosing a major, prerequisite courses, and medical school admissions.

United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) - A three-step medical licensure examination required for medical doctors in the United States. The National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME), which administers the USMLE, provides resources and information on the examination process and the knowledge and skills required to become a licensed physician.

May God bless you!
James Constantine.
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