I am currently a freshman in the university of michigan, Stamps school of arts & design. Next semester is will be my third semester for personal reasons, so I guess I am a rising sophomore. So that makes me an art student in pre-med, which is not a common choice to make. I also thought about changing majors into something like neuroscience, but I also want to keep my degree in Arts & Design just in case I do not make it until the end.
I have recently discovered my interest in becoming a doctor, or a health professional, probably because of my family background of being surrounded by doctors and PAs. But the problem is, the more I dig into ways of becoming a doctor, I feel like I am getting more and more lost. I have no idea what science courses to take, what volunteering I should do, what clubs I shoud join, when I should start studying for MCAT and all that. I was wondering if someone can give me a overall idea of how the process of getting into a med school is like, and what science courses I should take next semester. Since my next term is a lot reserved by stamps courses, I am currently planning to take a full 18 credit with 2 stem courses: CHEM130 & BIO171/172. What should I do? 🙁
First of all, I want to sympathize with you. The path to being a doctor is really overwhelming, especially at the beginning. I felt this way my freshman year too so don’t feel like these feelings are uncommon.
In terms of being a non-traditional major, I think that is great! Having a passion outside of medicine/stem is not something medical schools frown upon, as long as you get all of your pre-med requirements done.
The basic requirements are:
- Intro bio (171/172/173 or 195/173)
- Gen chem (130)
- Organic chemistry + lab (2 semesters, 210/211, 215/216)
- Physics + lab (2 semesters)
- Pchem (chem 230/260)
- Biochem (MCDB 310/Chem 351)
- Intro Psychology (not always required)
- Intro Sociology (not always required)
- Clinical Experience: anything that involves patient interaction, can be paid or non-paid (Medical Assistant, Phlebotomy, Nursing Assistant, Nursing Home, Etc.)
- Volunteering: This does not have to be strictly related to medicine, this is a great place to show your diverse interests in your application.
- Shadowing: Taking the time to shadow doctors in different fields and learning from those experiences shows medical schools that you know what it means to be a doctor.
- Research: This is not technically required, especially if research isn’t something that interests you, but being at a research institution like Michigan, it isn’t a bad idea. Again, doesn’t have to be a medical-based lab.
- Clubs: Joining clubs should be about what you enjoy doing first and foremost. Doing this will make you happier and allow you to be authentic about your experiences in an interview. Joining orgs that help connect you to shadowing, volunteering, or leadership opproutnites are also a good idea.
To apply to medical school, you also need to take the MCAT. This standardized test consists of 4 different sections (Chem/Phys, CARS, Biology/Biochem, Psych/Soc). The required courses theoretically contain all of the information you need for the MCAT, but most people spend 3 or more months doing additional studying.
The medical school application opens in May/June and is a year-long cycle. You want to apply a year before you want to matriculate (ex. people who applied this past May will matriculate in fall 2022). This will help you to determine when you should take your MCAT (before May of the cycle you want to apply). Many people take the MCAT in August after studying the whole summer so they don’t have to study during the school year.
The medical school application has a couple of parts: primary application (which contains your personal statement, MCAT scores, extracurriculars, letters of recommendation, other basic info), secondary application (writing specific essays for schools that send you their secondaries, they are not always guaranteed), interviews (which can happen anytime between oct-mar), and then finally a commitment to a school in May.
A sample 4 year plan that outlines all of this can be found here.
Our website has many different blog posts that go more in-depth into the MCAT, the Application process/timeline, and other common questions among pre-med students, so I would definitely recommend that you check them out!
To answer your last question, I think taking chem 130 and bio 171 or 172 next semester is a good choice. Since you are on to your third semester, you need to start getting the prerequisites done and chem 130 with one of the intro bio courses is a common combination that many people succeed with.
I tried to outline the process to the best of my ability without overloading/complicating it with too much detail. If you have more questions please do not hesitate to ask here or during our virtual advising hours (link found on our home page).
I hope this was helpful!
PMH Advisor Allison