Should I Change My Major to Something More ‘Premed’?

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Session 108

Today, we have a student who is worried that her current major isn’t preparing herself for medical school and is wondering if she should change majors.

The questions on this podcast are taken directly from the OldPreMeds forums. If you haven’t yet, check it out and join the community. Ask your questions. Collaborate with each other and have a good time!

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[01:58] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

“I’m a Texas resident. I will be applying in-state. I recently spoke to my premed advisor, a very stand up guy who genuinely wants his student to pursue medical school. He informed me that the school is rolling out a new BS Biochemistry degree that is tailored to premeds in Fall 2018. But that I could switch to it now in the Spring of 2018. And my graduation target which follows the Spring 2019 would not be delayed.

My predicament:

I’m currently enrolled as a bio major. Unfortunately, this degree plan at my school offers very little in the way of preparing a student for the MCAT, much less a future as a physician. Physiology, immunology, and microbiology are considered majors electives and are not required for the degree. Often, these classes are only offered once a year and fill up within five minutes of the Seniors being given priority signup. Essentially, I’m in a degree that offers classes such as biogeography, bioevolution, vertebrate history, plant taxonomy, and almost no human biology classes to speak of. Even my gen bio classes taught me little more than the basic dichotomous keys and cladograms. This is very disheartening as these classes do not pertain, in the least, to what I wish to accomplish as I complete my bachelor’s degree. I have no interest in these classes other than the relatively easily obtained high GPA they offer.

The bio department here is much more focused on their grad students. I think research would be better found as a biochem student. These classes are “easy” relative to me when compared to the classes in the biochemistry degree. I’ve taken OChem so far and loved it. I am strong when it comes to concepts but mathematically, I probably have a mild form of dyscalculia. So the idea of of taking heavy math classes concerns me. However, the idea of taking classes that pertain to the area of science that actually interests me is exciting.

My question: do I risk a hit in GPA from PChem, Calc2, etc. for classes that interest me and might/will be useful on the MCAT and make a future as a physician? Or do I stay in biology memorizing the taxonomy of the xyz and his many cousins?”

[05:01] Is It Preparing Your for Medical School? for the MCAT?

None of the classes you’re taking are going to prepare you for medical school. None of the classes are going to prepare you for life as a physician. These classes are just there to prepare you to take the MCAT.

Things like anatomy and physiology will help you obviously. But biochemistry in medical school is so much more in depth that biochemistry in undergrad.

So don’t think from a standpoint of whether this is going to prepare you for medical school.

There are a lot of students out there who take Humanities as a major. And they take the prereqs and they do great on the MCAT.

[Tweet “”You don’t need the hard sciences that are all around the human body to do well on the MCAT. It’s not necessary.””]

[06:24] What Do You Want?

Ultimately, the question is what do you want? Don’t worry about MCAT prep. You can take the prereqs to do well on the MCAT. Don’t worry about how it’s going to prepare you for medical school. Don’t worry how it’s going to prepare you for being a physician.

What do you want? Are you interested in biochemistry? Is that fun for you? Are you going to be excited to get up and study that? It may be harder so are you going to be okay with that? Are you up for the challenge? If yes, go for it. It may take a hit on your GPA or it may not because you like it so much so you put in the extra effort and do great.

At the end of the day, the question is – what do you want?  And not how it’s going to prepare you or help you on the MCAT.

The same goes for almost every choice along this journey. When it comes to research, what do you want? Don’t think about whether it’s going to prepare you for medical school or if it’s going to help you get into medical school. Go ahead and try it to see if it’s interesting for you. If you’re not interested, don’t do it. So it’s not that big of a deal. Although there are a few schools that “require” it (University of Utah for instance), out side of that, don’t worry about it.

[Tweet “”There are plenty of students out there who apply and don’t have research and doing well.””]

[08:20] To Change Majors or Not?

At the end of the day, understand that the decisions you’re making most of the time aren’t going to have any big effect on your ability to get into medical school or to be a good medical student, or to be a great physician. The decisions that most students worry about don’t matter. And they focus too much on them and they stop focusing on the big picture. And this is one of those questions.

[Tweet “”The decisions that most students worry about don’t matter. And they focus too much on them and they stop focusing on the big picture.””]


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