Medicine as a Career
Most med schools require an undergraduate degree prior to matriculation, and then students complete a 4-yr MD (Doctor of Medicine) program and then typically 3-8 additional years of clinical residency and specialization. For more information, see Explore Health Careers.org (Medicine Overview and Physician (M.D.)) and the Association of American Medical Schools (Prospective Medical Students and Considering a Medical Career)
University Course Work
- Meet with your pre-med adviser twice every semester and add your name to the pre-med email distribution list. The pre-med adviser assists students in choosing courses, developing class schedules, preparing a strong resume, navigating the very complicated application process, reviewing personal statements, and conducting mock interviews.Contact Dr. Alton Campbell (Ph.D.) at firstname.lastname@example.org, 208-885-7702, UI Commons room 315. To schedule an appointment, email email@example.com.
- Choose a major that you enjoy and that provides a good “back-up plan” and career options in case you change your mind about medicine. Common majors include biology, microbiology, chemistry, biochemistry, exercise science, psychology, nutrition, etc.
- Carefully check admission requirements at med schools of most interest and take the required coursework. In general, most medical schools require at a minimum:
- A year of general chemistry (Chem 111 and 112) with labs
- A year of general physics (Phys 111 and 112 or Phys 211 and 212 ) with labs
- A year of organic chemistry (Chem 277 and 372) with labs
- A year of biology (Bio 115 and 116 or 312) with labs
- A year of English
- Biochem 300 or 380 is required preparation for the MCAT 2015; and Psych 101, Soc 101, and Stats 250 are also highly recommended. The MCAT 2015 will include a new section on “psychological, social, and biochemical foundations of behavior.” Additional MCAT preparatory courses could include cognitive psych and developmental psych; or you could do some self-study using MCAT prep materials.
- Additional courses that may be required or highly recommended by medical schools include microbiology, genetics, cell biology, anatomy, physiology, statistics, calculus etc.
- If you are only able to take two biology courses for med school, consider Bio 115 and Bio 312 (Molecular and Cellular Biology, fall only), as Bio 312 will provide better preparation for the MCAT than Bio 116. Since Bio 312 is a challenging upper division course, you may wish to take it in fall of your junior year rather than in fall of your sophomore year
- MMBB 380 (Introductory Biochem, 4 cr, fall and possibly summer only) will give you a stronger background than MMBB 300 (Survey of Biochem, 3 cr fall and summer); but MMBB 300 is OK as preparation for the MCAT and med school.
- Review medical programs of interest (Medical School Directory) and consider purchasing Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR)
- The MCAT for spring 2015 will change significantly and will include a new section on “psychological, social, and biochemical foundations of behavior.” Recommended coursework for the MCAT 2015 should include introductory sociology (Soc. 101), psychology (psych 101) and biochemistry courses.
- Be aware that some med schools do not accept AP credit for physics, chemistry, biology and english and may require college-level credits. You have the choice to retake the courses at the UI or to take upper-level courses in those subject areas. Review individual med school requirements and also see the UI Premed Manual (pdf)
- As a generalization, take 15-18 credits each semester. Take your pre-med courses early and evaluate whether medicine is right for you—test your interest and your aptitude. Be sure to learn and remember your coursework in preparation for the MCAT.
- Don’t overload during your freshman year—develop your study skills and make good grades!
- A typical first-year sequence for a new freshman could be:
- Fall semester: Chem 111 (Principles of Chemistry I), math, English, ISEM, and courses for your major. Consider an introductory sociology or psychology course to meet MCAT 2015 requirements.
- Spring semester: Chem 112 (Principles of Chemistry II), Bio 115 (Cells and the Evolution of Life) or wait and take biology during your sophomore year, and courses for your major. Consider an introductory sociology or psychology course.
- Maintain a high GPA. Successful applicants to MD programs have an average GPA of 3.65-3.70. See med school acceptance rates with different GPA and MCAT scores for applicants and accepted applicants (pdf)
School (Your Time at the University)
- Get significant shadowing and clinical experience. Find out firsthand what the profession is like, decide if it is right for you, explore different areas of the medical field and in different settings, and be sure to meet clinical experience requirements of your preferred schools. Maintain a formal work, volunteer, and shadowing log (Professional Development Activities Log (Word)); and see UI bulletin on “Clinical, Volunteer and Research Experiences (pdf).”
- Find meaningful summer work and internships and consider the Summer Medical and Dental Education Program (SMDEP) for freshman/sophomores in underrepresented groups and the Idaho WWAMI Physician Shadowing Program.
- If of interest, consider getting your CNA and/or EMT certification.
- Consider getting involved in medically-related undergraduate research and/or in a summer research experience through INBRE or a summer NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates.
- Begin to develop a unique resume that makes you competitive and unique for med school and that is both enjoyable and meaningful.
- Develop strong relationships with faculty mentors, health care professionals and others who will be writing letters of reference
- Have fun, develop strong social networks, and keep school and academics in “perspective.”
- Join the UI Premed Club (get a WWAMI student mentor) and get involved in extracurricular, leadership, and volunteer activities
- Complete the University of Utah Med School Self Assessment (pdf) to assist in developing your resume.
Applying to Medical School
- The med school application process consists of extensive preparing for the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT), applying through the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS), submitting college transcripts and letters of reference, submitting secondary applications, and then participating in invited interviews. MCAT scores are good for three years. Students commonly take the MCAT in late spring of their junior or senior year and then apply in June/July, which is about 12-15 months before they intend to enroll in med school.
- FYI, it’s OK to skip a year or two between graduating and enrolling in med school. The average age of med school matriculates is 24. Consider the Peace Corps, Teach for America, AmeriCorps or other health experiences.