How to Pick Your Pre-Med Major
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The Classic Question of How to Pick Your Pre-Med Major...
If there was a ratio of ‘most asked’ to ‘least important’, the question “which major should I do?” would have a very high score.
Maybe a surprising statement to make, especially in regards to the words that will show up on your diploma, transcript and CV for the rest of your life. So let’s take a step back and expand on that.
In the context of obtaining an advantage to medical school, which major you pick does not matter. It truly doesn’t. This is coming from someone who majored in Supply Chain Management and knows people in medical school with majors that range from Philosophy to Geography. Even members of the admissions committee have admitted that the major in it of itself is not important.1
With that said, your major is important, just for different reasons. That coursework will serve as the foundation of not only your GPA and undergraduate career, but your passions and development in the future.
In a less fancy way, the decision you make for your major should be based on subject matter that are interesting to you, and the very first step in making that decision is entirely predicated on your future goals and your passions. Let’s break down why.
Passion Breeds Learning
The more interested you are in the subject matter, the more likely you will be able to soak up the information, study for the tests, and ultimately learn the skill sets being taught. If you have zero interest in genetics, taking a genetics course makes no sense. Even if it is lauded as an “easy course” (hypothetically), you will have wasted a semester waltzing through a class that will have no long-term benefit to you. However if you take a class on Epidemiology and you find it vastly interesting, not only will you likely excel in the course because you’d be much more willing to put in the work, but you’ll be able to find its application in medicine. Medicine as a whole is a very vast field, with implications in public health, politics, technology, administration, research and so much more. All of these different sub-sectors require its own unique approaches and skills. Many of the majors available will fit within the realm of medicine and can serve as a cornerstone for your future endeavors, regardless if its a traditional science major or not.
To put it simply, choosing something you are actually interested will help you learn more, do better in school, find new opportunities, and ultimately help you maintain a high GPA (unless your passion is Engineering, then good luck).
Diverse Backgrounds = Well-Rounded Applicants
This is not a knock on biological sciences by any means. If you truly love chemistry, pursue that chem degree and immerse yourself in that world. This is more so for the students who are afraid of what it would look like to major in business administration, journalism, computer science, etc.
Having a non-science degree will not put you at a disadvantage unless you let it do so. There are people majoring in computer science because they want to play a role in the application of Artificial Intelligence in medicine. That kind of bridge is valuable in making you well-rounded. However, if you’re unable to make the connection as to why what you studied will help you be a better physician, then maybe it’s time to revisit your game plan.
At the end of the day, what you study for ~4 years in your undergraduate career will likely play a big role in your foundation, and having a strong knowledge base in the field of your interest will pay itself back as you progress in your career. Your biological sciences background may open up doors for research. Your business degree may give you a step up if you end up managing a practice or center. That political science degree might come in handy if you take a role in healthcare politics and advocacy. Like mentioned above,, medicine is broad, and as long as your interests can work synergistically with your goal of being a physician, then that is what is truly important in this decision making process.
So it doesn’t 100% matter if you settle on neuroscience, public health, economics, physics or biomathematics. The key is creating a foundation that will bolster your ability to take care of your future patients and play a positive role in the healthcare system. With a good GPA, solid MCAT, extracurriculars and everything else on the checklist, your major will serve to tie that all in together for your final pitch to medical school.
- Which undergrad majors are best for med school? (2019, April 11). Retrieved October 02, 2020, from https://www.ama-assn.org/residents-students/preparing-medical-school/which-undergrad-majors-are-best-med-school
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