6 Common Misconceptions About Pre-Med

By Eric Zhu - Sylvania Southview High School - NextGenVest Club Director - Sylvania, OH

Was Pre-med made for you?  Learn what the program really means for your college career with these pre-med myths debunked.To most students, the life of a doctor seems to be ideal: high payroll and flexible hours. But, in reality, the road to this goal is extremely tough. The infamous gauntlet of undergraduate work, medical school applications, residencies, and the dreaded MCATs have all spawned countless numbers of rumors and stories depicting a grueling lifestyle for anyone attempting the pre-med track. But which of these myths are actually based in truth and which are simply exaggerations fueled by sleep deprivation, 1500-page textbooks, and gallons of coffee?  I investigated to find out.

Pre-Med Is A Major.

First and foremost, pre-med is not a major. In the vast majority of college brochures you will not see “pre-med” as an available major or even a minor. Pre-med is nothing more than an educational track for medical school with a common set of prerequisite courses. Most “pre-med” students are actually majoring in biology, chemistry, or any branch of those.

Pre-Med Has To Be A Science Major.

Emphasis on most pre-med students are biology or chemistry majors. In actuality, any major is acceptable for medical school, so long as they have completed the pre-requisite courses. Most medical schools actually prefer diverse academic backgrounds. Indeed, in some circumstances, applicants with a statistics or math majors are looked upon more favorably for that reason: schools are not exclusively whetted by the generic biology major.

If I Bury Myself In My Studies, I Will Get Into Medical School More Easily.

Just like the undergraduate admissions officers are looking for well-rounded students, medical schools are looking for the same. Simply achieving that 4.0 will not guarantee admission to a top-tier medical school. In fact, a 2011 report from the Association of American Medical Colleges found that while GPA and MCAT scores are important, they rank shoulder to shoulder with letters of recommendation, medical community service, personal statements, and in-field experience.  Thus, make it a priority to pursue your interests outside of the classroom as well.  Not only will it make your college years much more enjoyable, it will positively showcase your dynamic abilities and interests to your post-graduate school of choice.

The Required Classes Are Impossible.

While the coursework is challenging, most pre-med students spend a considerable amount of time in extracurriculars, shadowing at local hospitals, conducting lab research, and even attending social events; all of which, again, add to their total resume as a future medical school candidate. Furthermore, even if your grades are not the absolute best, your application is viewed holistically.

As A Pre-Med Student I’m On An Elite Track.

This is perhaps one of the biggest assumptions pre-meds make. In reality, the pre-med track is entrenched in competition for medical school, for research and employment opportunities, and then again for residencies. Only after completing all of these components are you then employable. Assuming pre-meds are better off than, for example, journalism majors, is simply misinformed.

Pre-Med Is The Perfect Choice In The Long Term.

For some, yes, but not for all. Pre-med, by definition, prepares you for medical school. If you end up deciding to pursue another career, your resume has a very specific focus that may not be useful in your alternate choice. Not to say that the track makes shifting later on impossible, but potentially more difficult - especially since a large number of pre-med students undertake mainly science courses, resulting in a siloed education.  If you think a medical career is the one for you, look into what the pre-med track looks like at your school, meet with current students, and even see about shadowing a doctor or researcher before starting college. That way, you enter into the program knowing as much as you can about what you’re committing to.

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