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Pre-Medicine Major...A Closer Look
By Misty Sneddon
While Pre-Medicine is not a specified major, it is a guidelines based program which assists students who want to eventually become doctors. Essentially, a student chooses a major, usually one that goes hand-in-hand with all the pre-medical classes required in order to be accepted into medical school. Usually, Pre-Medicine students choose majors like Chemistry and Biology, as required pre-med classes are primarily science and math based. However, med schools accept students with all different kinds of majors, providing all the prerequisite classes to get into med school were taken and passed with an acceptable GPA. Becoming a doctor is quite labor-and time-intensive so some students use an undergraduate degree to pursue other interests like music, performing arts, business, liberal arts, etcetera.
Pre-Med students will take classes such as organic chemistry, biochemistry, biology, technical writing, physics, calculus, genetics and genomics, molecular biology, probability and statistics, embryology, human anatomy and physiology, cell biology, and medicinal chemistry. Once a student graduates with a Bachelor’s degree, the next step is to take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) while simultaneously applying to medical school. These two processes can take some time, and getting accepted by a medical school is difficult because of the competition for available spaces. Medical students spend the next four years in class and getting hands-on experience in clinicals. After graduating, a three-to seven-year residency is required. The final step is passing the U.S. Medical Licensing Exam. After an educational journey of at least eleven years, the new doctor is able to practice.
Students in Pre-med need to have a strong desire to help others heal as well as to teach others how to prevent disease. Compassion, self-confidence, motivation, and a thirst for knowledge are key characteristics of successful doctors. It’s also important to be aware of the long hours doctors work. Not only do they have office hours, they are also often called into hospitals or emergency rooms when patients need care. Depending upon the kind of doctor one chooses to become, there is also the potential for surgery and procedure hours. Many doctors are on call during evenings and weekends. Shift work can be a reality for those working in a hospital or nursing home.
Physician’s salaries are very good, but it takes a lot of education and time to get to this point. Doctors also have to pay malpractice insurance, which is very costly. Depending upon the kind of doctor one becomes, annual salaries range from $150,000 to $350,000. The more specialized the doctor’s skills, the more compensation is offered.
Careers for those with a degree in Pre-Med (and those who have continued education to become doctors):