Pre-Medicine

Medicine as a Career

A physician examining a patient. 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)

  • Pre-med students should meet with the pre-health advisor at least once every semester and ask to be added to the pre-med email distribution list.
    • "Pre-Med" is not a major; it is a series of coursework that satisfies med school prerequisites and prepares you for success on the MCAT and as a medical student. 
    • The Pre-Health Advisor serves as a supplemental advisor to the students' primary (major/degree) advisor, and assists students by offering guidance in selecting appropriate courses, connecting with resources both on and off campus, ensuring that they are on track with their career goals, and addressing questions and concerns.
    • 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.
    • 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 includes: Intro Sociology, Intro Psychology,  General Chemistry, Physics, Biology, and Biochemistry.
    • 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. 
    • As a general rule, plan to 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.
    • A group of students studying on campusDon’t overload during your freshman year—develop your study skills and keep your grades up!
    • A typical first-year sequence for a new freshman could be:

      • Fall semesterChem 111 (Principles of Chemistry I), Math (course depends upon placement and degree requirements), English, ISEM, and courses for your major.  Consider an introductory sociology or psychology course to meet MCAT 2015 requirements.
      • Spring semesterChem 112 (Principles of Chemistry II), Bio 115 (Cells and the Evolution of Life) , and courses for your major.   Consider an introductory sociology or psychology course.
  • 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).
    • 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 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