The "Love Test" For Pre-Med Students

by Allen Chiou Dr. David Svec, Joyce Ho, Manuel Lam, and Dr. David Iberri

This chapter is a free excerpt from The Best Book on Med School Admissions.

In order to get into medical school, and in order to someday be the best doctor you can be, what should you study as an undergrad? This is a perennial question, and one for which everyone has their own answer.

The importance of life sciences?

Typically, people think that they should study some kind of life science – something that’s related to medicine. The truth is that it is not necessary. The organic chemistry that you learn as an undergrad might help you a little bit on the MCAT, but understanding sophomore-year Biochem isn’t really going to make or break your career as a doctor.

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In order to get into medical school, and in order to someday be the best doctor you can be, what should you study as an undergrad? This is a perennial question, and one for which everyone has their own answer.

The importance of life sciences?

Typically, people think that they should study some kind of life science – something that’s related to medicine. The truth is that it is not necessary. The organic chemistry that you learn as an undergrad might help you a little bit on the MCAT, but understanding sophomore-year Biochem isn’t really going to make or break your career as a doctor.

Anything goes

In fact, in my experience, I’ve found that it doesn’t really matter at all what you study as an undergraduate, so long as you finish all your pre-med requirements and do what you need to do to excel on the MCAT. Medical schools keep track of the undergraduate majors held by their students, and the year that I started at Vermont, the number one undergraduate major was French.

You can basically study whatever your heart desires, as long as you make sure to finish your requirements. The requirements are not really too difficult. You can take a few classes on the side and get them done without any problems.

A lot of people I’ve known, both in Medical School and in Residency, were Liberal Arts majors. At Stanford, some of my favorite people to work with studied Women’s Studies, which you would not typically think of as being related to a successful career in Medicine. Yet, they’re phenomenal doctors. However, that is not to say that you should study Liberal Arts because it will help you get into Medical School.

Do Something You Love

It sounds like a cliché, and it probably is, but study something that you love. I studied Physiology because I love Physiology, not because I thought it would get me accepted to medical school. Not only will you enjoy your time as an undergrad more, but you’ll be much more successful if you’re studying something that you enjoy.

If you can find something that you enjoy, and that you can really excel at, you’re much better off than you are studying something that you hate because you think it will look nice on your application. You only get to be an undergraduate once, so make the most of your undergraduate years.
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