If you’re planning to study medicine, then medical school applications will be a part of your life after graduating from college. To make that process easier, we put together some helpful tips and strategies you can use during pre-med studying.
Here are a number of pre med tips you can use while in undergraduate studies to make your medical school applications stronger.
Meet With A Pre-Med Advisor
Take advantage of the resource.
Most colleges offer pre-med advising services. If you want to follow a pre-med path, then meet with an advisor. These advisors help students with tasks like:
- Helping you choose a helpful class schedule
- Finding relevant extracurriculars to join
- Provide additional advice about applications
Find A Doctor To Shadow
Want to stay motivated? Shadow a doctor in the field.
Shadowing is one of the best ways to keep motivated while pursuing pre-med. You can see how all of your hard work pays off after graduation.
Find a doctor near your home or college to watch and learn from. If you’re not sure how then:
- Visit clinics and hospitals with your resume
- Explain your intentions
- Show that you’re there to help and learn
Sooner or later, you’ll find a doctor who will let you observe.
Take Classes For The MCAT Early
Good undergraduate grades save you time and money later on.
Take as many pre-med class requirements (such as biochemistry, biology, ethics) as you can. Not only that, but work hard on keeping those grades up.
Why? Because in those classes, you’ll learn almost everything you need for the MCAT exam. The better you understand those taught concepts, the easier and cheaper it’ll be for you to prepare for the MCAT itself.
At that point, all you’ll need to do is take practice tests and work on specific problem areas.
Don’t Overload Your Schedule
Don’t let ambition hurt your GPA.
It’s tempting to load up on every possible science course while pursuing a pre-med track. However, don’t bite off more than you can chew.
Why? Because if you take too many difficult science courses at once, your GPA will eventually suffer from weaker grades.
The rule of thumb is to take no more than 3 science courses per semester. Take other courses to keep your mind fresh and avoid burnout.
Look At Medical Specialties Early
Start looking at what you want to specialize in early.
There are many different career paths you choose in medicine. Each specialty has its own classes that’ll help along the way.
For example, if you’re interested in being a neurologist, then some helpful undergraduate classes include:
- Human Anatomy
Look around at what specialties interest you and talk to a pre-med advisor about what classes you should take to explore them.
Consider A Break After Graduation
You don’t HAVE to go straight into medical school after graduation.
Finishing up at least four years of undergraduate study is exhausting. Going straight from that to applying to medical programs and taking the MCAT isn’t easier.
Sometimes you need time to rest and regroup. Not only that but take that time to do the following:
- Rest up mentally
- Research potential medical programs
- Look into more volunteer/shadow opportunities
- Work on practicing for the MCAT
- Gain some real-life experience
All of these things will help you get into your eventual program.
Get Medical Volunteer Experience
Medical schools want to know you’re actually committed to helping people.
Besides having good grades, you have to show that you’re empathetic too. Remember the whole point is helping people. Medical schools look for clinical volunteering for two big reasons:
- Demonstrates your empathy and interest in helping real people
- Gives you a realistic look at what you’re getting into with medicine
You’ll gain the necessary real-world experience and also have a better idea of what specialty you want to pursue.
Introduce Yourself To Professors
Don’t be a stranger in their classes.
If you’re having problems in classes, go to office hours. Every professor has them to meet with students individually.
They’re great for these reasons:
- One-on-one clarification with difficult class material,
- Relationship development
Later on, when you need references and recommendation letters, these are people you can ask.
Pick An Interesting Major
Remember that “pre-med” is not an actual major.
Medical schools don’t really care what you study beforehand, as long as you meet their minimum requirements. They want students from diverse backgrounds to teach.
If you want to make things easier, then you have two general options:
- Pick a science-related major (one related to your desired specialty helps)
- Consider double-majoring
Double majoring is rough for anyone, but it can help you get pre-med requirements finished early, while also pursuing another unrelated interest.
Want to major in English and Chemistry? No problem, just be ready for the work.
Join A Pre-Medical Society
Network and meet other students with the same focus.
Every campus will have a pre-medical society or club you can join. These are great to join for several reasons:
- An easy way to meet other pre-med students
- Helps you find shadowing and volunteer opportunities
- Connect with doctor alumni
These organizations are a great resource to have when figuring out this path for yourself.
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