What does it mean to be a pre-med?
Not all colleges and universities around the United States offer a specific pre-med degree or pre-med major. Students who plan to pursue medical school may be deemed pre-med simply because of their course load: hours and hours of chemistry and biology.
Two things should be at the top of any pre-med’s list of things to obsess about: acing the MCAT and getting the best possible Grade Point Average. Class schedules heavy on chemistry and biology can best prepare pre-med students for the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) and the demands of medical school. Students should try to establish solid backgrounds in chemistry, biology, and biochemistry as well as other courses of study like math and physics. A thorough grounding in these fields can give students a leg up as they go on to face the rigors of medical school and the long journey toward a medical degree.
While undergrad programs are the most common route for pre-med students, post-baccalaureate pre-med programs are gaining popularity. Enrolling in a post-baccalaureate program allows students who are changing careers to take the necessasry classes for applying to medical school. And post-bac programs can help improve GPAs and MCAT scores.
Keep in mind that a chemistry-heavy pre-med load is not the only option for prospective medical students. Many medical schools take a keen interest in candidates with a more varied background, reflecting diverse interests. So long as all the medical school requirements are met, students should feel free to pursue other majors, from literature to philosophy to music.
Undergrads should be sure to have met the general admission requirements as laid out by the Association of American Medical Colleges – the folks who administer the MCAT. While medical school admission standards vary from school to school, most will expect pre-med applicants to have the following courses under their belt:
One year of biology One year of physics One year of English Two years of chemistry (through organic chemistry)