A pre-medical degree does not guarantee that you will be accepted into medical school. Pre-medicine is a curriculum designed to best prepare you for the MCATs (the Medical College Admission Test) and for the rigors of medical school. Rich in biology and chemistry, this major dovetails neatly into several other related areas of study (such as chemistry, biology, and biochemistry). It also provides a solid background in physics and mathematics.
If you declare pre-medicine as your major, be prepared to forget about a social life from time to time. Colleges design pre-med programs to weed out prospective applicants to medical school (read: organic chemistry). Med schools can only accept a certain number of students a year because a limited number of doctors may be licensed in the United States each year.
So if the thought of hundreds of hours spent poring over organic chemistry notes appeals to you in a strange way, if you refer to ER as one of your “stories,” if you think that the unabridged Gray’s Anatomy makes for some interesting reading, or if you think you can really study harder than most of your friends for four years, then pre-medicine just might be the major for you.
WHAT SHOULD I MAJOR IN?
UW-Milwaukee’s Pre-Professional Advising:
While many pre-med students choose a natural science undergraduate major, medical schools do not specify or favor any particular major. Therefore, pre-med students are encouraged to select a major that is of interest to them.
Pre-med students have majored in humanities (e.g. history, philosophy, English), social sciences (e.g. psychology, anthropology, and sociology) as well as the natural sciences (e.g. biological sciences, chemistry, and physics). Students also may major in an area outside the College of Letters and Science such as nursing or kinesiology. The required pre-medical science courses are integrated into the student's undergraduate program of studies
Medical schools accept applicants of any major, provided that they've completed the requisite pre-med coursework. Typically, the vast majority of accepted college students are science majors, but this tendency is changing as medical colleges seek to diversify their student bodies. “If you do well in your science courses, it's probably to your advantage to be a non-science major because you're contributing to the school's diversity,” says Caitlin, who majored in religion at Harvard College.
Here’s a rundown of majors of applicants/accepted applicants from MSAR 2005:
Applicants: Math and Statistics (<1%) Specialized Health Sciences (<4%) Humanities (<4%) Social Sciences (11.2%) Physical Sciences (11.7%) Other (11.8%) Biological Sciences (57.6%)
Accepted Applicants: Math and Statistics (<1%) Specialized Health Sciences (<4%) Humanities (<5%) Social Sciences (11.9%) Physical Sciences (12.9%) Other (10.7%) Biological Sciences (56.8%)
PRE-MEDICAL COURSE REQUIREMENTS
If you are considering medical school, UW-Milwaukee will provide you with a solid foundation to help you reach your goal. Of course, you must do your part by meeting the rigorous admission standards of the medical schools to which you apply.
UWM pre-med students have consistently been admitted to medical schools at a rate equal to or greater than the national average. Many have gone on to attend top-ranked medical schools and have built promising careers in a number of medical specialties.
These are guidelines for general pre-requisites:
Some useful courses to have beyond the requirements:
Naturally, taking only the pre-requisite courses prepare you to apply to medical school but don’t necessarily prepare you for medical school courses. So, you may want to take additional courses for your own benefit if you have the time, tuition money and interest.
Highly recommended: Biochemistry Anatomy Physiology Genetics Calculus Other Upper-level biology courses Also recommended: Histology Microbiology Immunology Statistics Embryology Neuroscience Pathophysiology Pharmacology
Some courses specific to certain schools:
Find out the hard and fast details about pre-requisites and degree requirements for specific schools. Some have “non-traditional” yet required coursework you may not expect, such as additional courses in psychology, the humanities, social sciences, statistics, math, etc.
OTHER PRE-MEDICAL REQUIREMENTS
Almost all medical schools require taking the MCAT, specific course work and obtaining a degree.
There are also many extra-curricular activities that may not be "required" or spelled out anywhere per se, but that are absolutely necessary to be a competitive applicant. Some schools will not only consider you a weak applicant if you cannot show some of the activities on your application, but will deny an interview if they don't see enough of it.
Generally, the following are the main areas used by admissions committees to evaluate candidates:
2) MCAT scores
The weaker your MCAT score and GPA, the more important are all the other areas to strengthen your overall application. If your MCAT or GPA are average or below average, you will need to make your application stand out in other areas. This allows you to prove to the admissions committee that you have something to offer that is not reflected by your MCAT score and GPA alone.
3) Application materials
4) Recommendation letters
Start gathering these early! Most schools require letters from a combination of science and non-science professors – the number of each varies. There are also options for others such as employers, volunteer supervisors, healthcare providers you have shadowed, etc.
UW-Milwaukee’s pre-medical advising office has a free service for collecting and distributing recommendation letters while you’re a student at UWM.
(Place this as a link with title “Find out more about UWM’s Letters of Evaluation Credential Service”)
5) Personal interview
Your application, scores, grades and recommendation letters will get you the interview. Your personality, character and the overall impression you leave at the interview will get you the spot in the class.
WHAT ABOUT CLINICAL & RESEARCH EXPERIENCE?
To be seriously considered by a medical school, you must have some experience in a clinical setting. After all, how would you know what physicians do and that you want to do that if you haven’t? How much of it depends on the school you are applying to.
Also, some schools have an absolute requirement that you do some sort of research. Other schools may not have any. Again, it depends on the school.
Whatever you do, covering both of these bases will makes you a strong applicant either way. Just make sure you’re interested in what you’re spending your time on and that you make a real commitment to those activities. Otherwise, it’s a lose-lose situation for everyone, especially you.
Stop by our office at Union 366 during our office hours to ask any questions or to fill out a membership application. You may also obtain an application or any of our informative flyers and brochures from our bulletin boards. You can visit our bulletin boards located outside of our office in the Union, across from the main lecture halls in the Physics building, or on the west end of Lapham Hall (the entrances facing the chemistry building).
The American Medical Student Association home page is written and edited by students of the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee and they are solely responsible for its editorial policy and content. The University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee is not liable for debts incurred by the student organization.
This page was last updated on: 12/04/2007
This page is still under construction, please check back later for updates.