Pre-Medicine

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Article by Rachelle Wiggins

“It is a privilege to be made by God in a certain way and…be able to serve his people, mirroring that Jesus was a healer and that we are following in His footsteps.” ~Nancy Shoenborn, M.D.

Some individuals are born with a strong affinity for the sciences, coupled with a passion to provide healing for the sick. From early on, they dream of putting on a “white coat” and earning the prestigious “M.D.” after their name. Maybe you can relate. A physician takes on a noble calling in a helping profession where the goal is to preserve well-being and restore what has been broken. Modern medicine is one-part science, one-part technology, one-part art.  Pre-medicine is an educational track that helps lay a strong foundation for those whose goal is medical school (or graduate school with similar requirements). Declaring yourself as “pre-med” helps distinguish you amongst the competition for these rigorous programs and ensures that you complete the prerequisite coursework required for admittance into the demanding world of medical school.

So, beyond a solid science/math aptitude and the stomach to tolerate “blood and guts,” what other skills and traits are necessary for success in this challenging field?

  • Driven. A pre-med student must be prepared for hard work, discipline and perseverance. This same motivation is needed throughout any medical career.
  • Attentive to detail. When you consider that people’s health and lives hang in the balance it is clearly important to be careful and aware at all times.
  • Compassionate. This is what drives excellent care. A successful doctor is one who acts with sincere empathy and listening.
  • Teachable. Medicine is an ever-evolving practice, with new treatment options and technological advancements. You learn trust by your competency. Confidence is important but so is the humility to admit what you don’t know.
  • Ethical. Not every decision you make as a physician is clear-cut; when called upon to make tough judgement calls, sound moral responsibility, honor and integrity are important.

Generally, a pre-med student from a Christian college should expect plenty of lab time, hours of research and a possible medical internship. While obtaining core classes in the humanities and social sciences you will also take plenty of math and science classes including:

  • Microbiology
  • Calculous or Statistics (sometimes both)
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Anatomy & Physiology

Typically, the word “pre-med” brings to mind a traditional family doctor who practices medicine in a private clinic. However, after obtaining a pre-med degree, students branch into all sorts of graduate-level learning including everything from veterinary science to dentistry to psychiatry to physical therapy to optometry to podiatry. No matter what your specialization or future career goal, you can rest assured that a pre-med trajectory will set you up for success in whichever healthcare path you choose next. There is no end to the huge range of medical-related career options that exist. With just bachelor’s level pre-medical training you are equipped for opportunities such as:

  • Pharmacy sales representative 
  • Research assistant
  • Lab technician
  • Environmental specialist
  • Public health specialist

Whether working in hospitals, laboratories, operating rooms, or physician offices, all types of healthcare professionals report that their careers are rewarding and satisfying. If you enjoy soaking up scientific information and possess a deep desire to help others achieve health and wholeness, then maybe the next adventure God has for you is the choice of pre-medicine!

 

A future in Pre-Medicine

By Amber Gragert

Your path to exciting and rewarding careers in the medical industry are about to begin! Pre-medicine is the yellow brick road that will take you to medical school and beyond. You should already know by now, it will be hard - grueling even. There will be long and possibly sleepless nights of studying and overwhelming course schedules, but you can do it and you will not regret it. As Mark Twain once said, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So, throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” So, get ready for the time of your life as a pre-med student!

It’s not surprising that most people who apply to medical school are biology majors; after all, these fields of study go hand in hand. However, there are a significant number of people entering medical school who majored in engineering, other sciences, or even the humanities. According to data published by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the five most popular undergraduate majors for students who enrolled in medical school for the 2016-2017 academic year are:

•  Biological Sciences

•  Other

•  Social Sciences

•  Physical Sciences

•  Humanities

The "Other" referenced above are majors not designated as biological, physical, social, health sciences, humanities or math/statistics, which leaves quite a few beyond that scope. The idea to keep in mind when choosing your degree major is there are options/areas you may excel at beyond a biology degree that will still suit well in future medical school applications. A degree specifically in biology does not give any clear advantage over other degrees when looking at GPA or MCAT scores according to the AAMC. All that said, do not abandon your passions but rather build upon them with medical school within the clear line of focus.

The pre-medicine path again should lead to medical school which leads to a career such as: Physician, surgeon or as another medical specialist. Or, if you are open to plot twists in life -- with pre-medicine under your belt, students are also then well prepared to take steps into graduate studies in dentistry, pharmaceuticals or veterinary studies. A pre-med program is the fuel and momentum to help you reach your ultimate goals in helping others.

Keep that goal in mind as you pursue it. You will need to be disciplined and tenacious, have patience and perseverance, willing and capable to study through sleep deprivation and exhaustion and a sturdy faith and sense of who (and whose) you are as you are taught to be a god of sorts and then ultimately rediscover that you are not. My only advice to you is even in the whirlwind of pre-medicine, practice keeping your eyes on the true Healer. In Exodus 15:22-26 He is referred to as Jahova-Rafa: The Lord Who Heals. The only God that has the ability to heal through and even without modern medicine and the same magnificent creator that put this passion for healing others in you. Many accomplish great things without Him, but you will find great joy and meaning in your studies if you do it with Him.