So for first semester I’m planning on taking chem 130 w/ lab, stats 250, clciv (fywr) and UROP. How does this look for the schedule of someone who potentially wants to pursue a premed track? Also what extracurriculars would you recommend pursuing starting early on? General advice?
Congrats and welcome to the University of Michigan!
On your schedule: I definitely think this is a manageable and well-balanced schedule for your first semester. Both General Chemistry and Statistics should keep you sufficiently busy, but still allow you to explore and become accustomed to the University. Many pre-med students start off with a schedule similar to the one you are pursuing. If you’d like a references, we also have a section dedicated to the past undergraduate schedules of previous Pre-Med Hub advisors here and we have a blog post comparing different pre-med courses here.
There are many ways pre-med students get involved on campus. There isn’t a specific formula or guideline for organizations or activities you should pursue. Many pre-med students engage in medical and non-medical related volunteering, shadowing, campus orgs, research, etc.
It’s important to remember that many volunteering opportunities may be limited due to COVID-19. So if you can’t find opportunities off the bat, I would not worry too much about it. Instead, I’d suggest making a list of institutions or organizations you’d like to volunteer with and follow-up when it’s safe.
Campus Organizations: There isn’t really a specific organization I’d recommend joining off the bat. There are so many different organizations on campus, it all really boils down to your interests. If you’re looking for specific types of orgs on campus, Maize Pages is very useful! Also, we have Festifall (basically a bunch of orgs set up posters and get people to subscribe to their email newsletter), but I am not sure how that will play out this Fall. I would say that pre-med oriented orgs are helpful in that they provide resources and pass on events, workshops, or volunteer opportunities. Many pre-med students get involved in health profession-based sororities or fraternities as well (we have some more info on those here)! Most freshmen don’t hold leadership positions so early on, so I’d recommend finding a club you’d like to attain a leadership position in and dedicating time to it.
Research: There are plenty of ways to get involved in research. I see that you’re involved in UROP, which is definitely a great way to get into the “research scene.” If you end up enjoying the program, UROP also accepts sophomores. Or, many people continue working with the lab they find through UROP even after their freshman year (all depends on you and the PI/grad student you’re working with). You can also find research assistant positions through the student employment website. In some cases, students feel they don’t get the most out of their UROP experience because they don’t end up engaging in any actual research. If you find that’s your experience with UROP, I would recommend searching for and making a list of labs you’d be interested in working in. In my experience, many labs and professors are very receptive and willing to take on undergraduates. It may take a couple of tries however before getting a response. We cover more on research in these posts: , .
Volunteering: Typically pre-med students do both non-medical related volunteering and medical related volunteering (it is highly recommended). Many students do the latter in order to gain patient interaction hours. This can be done by volunteering at clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, etc. There are also many ways to get involved in non-medical volunteering as well. You can find volunteering opportunities here. Volunteering is something you can start early. If you’re interested in volunteering at the University Hospital, freshmen can’t register first semester. You can register for an information session in the winter, so I’d keep a look out for the register dates for Winter 2021. The slots often go pretty quickly, so I’d recommend setting a reminder if this is something you’re interested in doing. Note, volunteering at Michigan Medicine is pretty competitive, and many end up trying two-three times before getting a slot. Don’t be discouraged because there are still plenty of ways to get involved.
Shadowing: Shadowing is a great way to gain a better understanding of what it means to be a doctor and the dynamics between a team of healthcare professionals (nurses, doctors, etc.). I really enjoyed shadowing and learned a lot from the doctor I was shadowing prior to University shut-down. It also allows you to explore different careers and connect with physicians. Many people struggle to find a physician to shadow (i.e. doctor may be very busy). Like this advisor said, I’d also recommend gaining some experience prior to cold emailing physicians about shadowing because they will be more likely to respond (this is my experience). You can find physicians you’re interested in shadowing here. We also address shadowing more in some prior Q&As that you can view here.
Some general tips:
- Most importantly: Don’t overload and stress yourself out too much and risk burn-out. Enjoy your first semester at university! Take courses you are interested in if your schedule permits it and pursue your hobbies beyond medicine!
- Schedule a meeting with your academic advisor and a pre-med advisor so that you have a general idea of what a pre-med track looks like. You can also gain insight into the “pre-med experience” by reading through our past Pre-Med Hub advisors “exit tickets.” We also have blog posts dedicated to navigating “life as a pre-med.”
- Get to know your professors by going to office hours, asking insightful questions, etc. Building relationships early on (and maintaining them through minor, but continuous contact in the future) is useful (i.e. for writing recommendation letters).
- If you’re struggling with your coursework, the University has various resources to help. For example, SLC groups/tutoring, Math Lab, Physics Help Room, Sweetland Writing Center, etc.
- Study abroad when it is safe again! Many pre-meds I know regretted not doing study abroads because they thought it was not possible for pre-meds to do so.