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May 18 2007

What is the best college major for a Pre-Med?


Author: Dr. James L Flowers
Category: Premedical Tips

There are answers, but there is no one best answer. I will give you my opinion and I emphasize OPINION.

Some factors to consider are “What makes my chances best of getting into medical school?”, “What do I really want to do after medical school?”, “What do I really like?”, and “Do I want to spend 5 or more years getting through medical school?”

What makes my chances best of getting into medical
  Based on the studies I have seen, students with degrees in engineering or physics have the highest percentage acceptance rates into medical schools. But, statistics may be deceiving as the numbers are smaller from these disciplines and possibly only the best students move on to consider medical school. This may also be responsible for the fact that humanities and some social science majors have higher percentage acceptance rates than biology majors. This is old data, from the 90’s, and I am uncertain if these rates have changed.

What do I really want to do after medical school? For most premedicals, if you “just” want to be good practicing physician, and nothing more, you should select biology as your major. If you have plans of academics or research or administration or politics, etc, you may as well select majors along those lines. Remember, you do not have to have a biology or science major to do well on the MCAT and get into medical school.

What do I really like? If you just love music, or history or art, then do it. Remember you don’t have to be a science major to get into medical school or do well on the MCAT. But, if you are a nonscience major, you had better make a point of doing well on the science portions of the MCAT…they will be looking!

Do I want to spend 5 or more years getting through medical
Or, this may be framed as what major do I need to
compete with my peers in medical school?
  Medical school is grueling, especially the first two years. Courses like biochemistry and physiology and others are stumbling blocks for many students. This is why my number one recommendation is to be a biology major. To compete and to be ready to most effectively learn the massive amount of information you will be taught in medical school, it is very important to come in with some foundation. That foundation is found in biology. Most of your classmates will be biology majors and have taken physiology, anatomy, cell biology, genetics, microbiology and other advanced course to satisfy the major. If they are smart, like you, they will have also taken a solid biochemistry course. The reason you take advanced biology courses in college IS NOT to do well on the MCAT, the reason is to ease your transition into medical school during those difficult first two years. It will make a difference. It will help you compete and maintain your sanity. It will help you finish in four years.


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