This is a guest post by Amanda Mitchell.
Choosing a Premed Major That Reflects Who You Are
One of the first decisions a premed student must make is what their undergraduate major is going to be. For some, this is an easy decision. For me, choosing my major as a premed took several attempts. I know I am in the minority here when I say that I am a type-A perfectionistic altruist, right? I didn’t think so.
While our ambition and determination are great attributes in the world of medicine, it is also easy to fall into the trap of constantly comparing ourselves to other overachievers. We want to see how other people are being successful, so we can do what they’re doing, except better.I could have saved myself a lot of time if I would have just followed my heart, instead of constantly reading medical forums and making pros and cons lists in my head.Click To Tweet
Choose the Premed Major You’re Most Passionate About
It wasn’t until I posted my own question about what my major should be in a public premed forum that it finally clicked in my head. I was torn between choosing what admissions committees saw as the “best” premed major and what I actually wanted to study. I will never forget the moment when a medical school advisor made this statement in reference to my question:
“We don’t care what your major is—but YOU should.”
What would I say if an interviewer asked me why I majored in biology or chemistry? I could think of some answers, but would I be able to answer with the same passion as if I were questioned about the non-science major I was considering? The truth is, as future physicians, it’s extremely important that we cultivate our individuality. This will give us a deeper understanding of who we are, as well as who our future patients will be.Pick an undergraduate major that genuinely reflects your passions and interests, not just what everyone else is doing.Click To Tweet
Why I Majored in Social Work as a Premed
Three major changes and hundreds of dollars later, I finally decided to major in the subject that I was most drawn to, which was social work. I knew I would get all the science I needed by taking my prerequisites and then going to medical school. But it was extremely important to me that I learn how to serve the underserved and oppressed communities in my area.
I wanted to learn how socioeconomic and environmental factors influenced people, and I wanted to learn good interviewing skills that I could apply later on as a doctor.
While there is absolutely no harm in being a science major, you shouldn’t just do it because it is what everyone else is doing. You shouldn’t do it because it will impress your interviewer during your medical school interview. I’m not trying to hate on all the science majors out there. If it’s what you’re most interested in studying, then you chose right!You should only major in a subject because it's what YOU are interested in.Click To Tweet
What Are You Most Passionate About Learning?
It may seem elementary to some folks, but I would encourage you to spend time thinking about what you’re most interested in and most passionate about. Let that guide your decision.
Though we are trained to be analytical thinkers and overachievers, don’t let that overshadow your own uniqueness and personality. Those individual passions are not only what will set you apart from other applicants, it will also help you grow in understanding yourself and those around you. Ultimately, that is what will make you the “best” physician you can be.
Dr. Gray’s Take on Choosing a Premed Major
You’d be surprised how many times students ask these questions: “What is the best major?” “What major will increase my chances at getting into medical school?” I don’t think students actually believe me when I tell them to major in anything they want.
You have to major in something that excites you, not something you think will look good to the adcoms. They don’t care. They truly don’t care what you major in. Every medical school has a list of required prereq classes that you need to take. Beyond that, what you study is for you—not for them.Medical schools truly don't care what you major in.Click To Tweet
Links and Other Resources
- Check out my Premed Playbook series of books (available on Amazon), with installments on the personal statement, the medical school interview, and the MCAT.
- Related episode: Premed 101: What You Need to Do to Get into Medical School.
- Related episode: MD vs DO: What Are the Differences (and Similarities)?
- Need MCAT Prep? Save on tutoring, classes, and full-length practice tests by using promo code “MSHQ” for 10% off Next Step full-length practice tests or “MSHQTOC” for $50 off MCAT tutoring or the Next Step MCAT Course at Next Step Test Prep!
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