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Would it be better for me to take AP or IB if I want to be a pediatrician?

I am currently a freshman taking an IB course, but I have the opportunity to switch to AP. However, if I choose AP, I would need to take Latin. Unfortunately, my school does not offer many AP courses that align with my intended major, with the exception of Biology.

The available AP courses offered by my school are: African American Studies, Art History, Biology, Calculus AB, Computer Science, English Language & Composition, English Literature & Composition, Environmental Science, Microeconomics, Pre-Calculus, Statistics, U.S. Government, U.S. History, and World History.

After researching both options, I found limited and mixed opinions about IB online. Some sources suggest that IB does not guarantee a diploma and is exceptionally challenging. Additionally, my school requires students to stay after school each day to attend classes, which I am not sure I am willing to commit to. However, if IB is the recommended pathway for pursuing pediatrics, I am willing to take the risk. However, admission to the program is not guaranteed, and I would need to pass an exam.

Given these factors, I am genuinely undecided about which path to choose. (If I should pick AP, can you please select the APs that would best suit me.)

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Atul’s Answer

While I'm not a doctor myself, I've been privileged to know many who have journeyed down the path of medicine. To secure a spot in a reputable medical institution, acing your MCAT exam is crucial.

As for schools in NJ offering IB, I'm not entirely sure, but I can confidently say that most schools provide AP courses. Strive to excel in these courses as they can be a stepping stone towards your undergraduate degree, potentially shortening your study duration.

Consider challenging yourself with AP exams in subjects like English, Latin (if available), Calculus, Biology, Computer Science, and Chemistry. Excelling in these areas can significantly boost your chances of admission. If you manage to achieve perfect grades, ace your AP courses, and score highly on SAT or ACT, you might even secure a premed admission, fast-tracking your journey to becoming a doctor.

However, remember that you may not have the final say in your specialization, whether it's pediatrics, internal medicine, dermatology, or any other field. You might have preferences, but acceptance comes first, and you might be assigned to a field that isn't your top choice.

Make sure to craft a compelling, original essay and engage in volunteer work to demonstrate your dedication to the medical field.

And most importantly, be certain that this is the path you want to tread. Being a doctor can be financially rewarding, but it's a long journey that includes graduation, residency, and fellowship, taking at least a decade post-high school. Understand the realities before making your decision.

I don't mean to dampen your enthusiasm, but it's worth noting that pediatricians typically earn less compared to other medical professionals. I say this from personal experience, as I have two nephews who are pediatricians.
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Michel’s Answer

Taking AP classes or IB classes can be helpful for getting into a good school. The most important part of becoming a MD or DO is getting into a school that allows you to learn content to take the MCAT exam which is the entrance exam. Either path is going to be beneficial and helpful, but it is also going to be important to learn skills that you enjoy and will be able to do in college. Some of the things that schools are going to look for for getting into medical school is research, volunteering, leadership, and experience in general. All of these things are important to the overall application so if I had to make a choice something I would be working towards is gaining confidence and volunteering and leadership positions in school government or other extra curricular activities that look good to big name schools.
Thank you comment icon I appreciate this, thank you for the advice. Veronica
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Scott’s Answer

Hi Atul! I agree with much of what Michel says but with a caveat. While taking the AP class could possibly help you get into a "better" school and do better in those college classes directly related to that class, in the long run, it is not likely to make a difference. Getting into a decent college and then doing exceedingly well at that school is far more important in general than any other consideration although as Michel points out, participating in other meaningful activities is important as well. All that being said, I personally feel it is important to experience many different areas of study as you are young and getting a broad sense of the world is important before making such an important decision as your career choice. One does not even need to major in a science for entrance into medical school. It is required though that in college you take a year of biology, math, physics and 2 years of chemistry including organic chemistry. Best of luck!
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Chris’s Answer

Although I am not a medical professional I went through HS with the intention of being a Pharmacy major. Since pharmacy schools (like Med Schools) are highly competitive you want to make sure that you are putting together a well-rounded HS experience that shows you are willing to challenge yourself. AP/IB classes are certainly something that can contribute to a strong resume but I would start by checking what the individual colleges that you are looking at require. As far as what AP/IB classes you take (if you decide that you want to) you want to take AP classes that you are related to your interest as it will be easier to be fully engaged with something you enjoy than something that you don't.

One final note of advice, some colleges are no longer giving the same weight to AP classes as they once did. You would need to check with the individual college to determine if they accept AP scores, what scores they accept (3, 4, 5s, or some combination of those), and what classes you would bypass if you get an eligible score.

I wish you the best of luck!
Thank you comment icon Your advice was so helpful! Veronica
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