Education

What Degree Do You Get From Medical School

By David Krug David Krug is the CEO & President of Bankovia. He's a lifelong expat who has lived in the Philippines, Mexico, Thailand, and Colombia. When he's not reading about cryptocurrencies, he's researching the latest personal finance software. 7 minute read

If you want to go to medical school after college, you may be thinking which degree will best prepare you for the job. If you’re thinking about going to medical school, you’ve probably heard that there are “right” and “wrong” majors you may pick from. Medical school candidates may have a preference for particular undergraduate majors, but a bachelor’s degree in any area might theoretically lead to a medical career.

Here’s what prospective medical students need to know about pre-medicine programs and majors in preparation for medical school.

What coursework is required for a pre-medicine undergraduate program?

In spite of the lack of a degree in pre-med, this academic pathway nevertheless requires students to take a number of prerequisite courses. Prerequisite coursework for medical school, which all candidates must have taken as undergraduates and on which the PhD program is built, are often found in these courses.

Pre-medical course prerequisites might vary widely from institution to university. In colleges and institutions linked with medical schools, students should expect pre-medical track courses to reflect the prerequisites for the medical school in question. A more general set of medical school requirements could be met by colleges offering pre-med courses.

Biology, biochemistry, cell biology, genetics, vertebrates, organic chemistry, general chemistry, and physics are some of the lab subjects that pre-med students might anticipate to take. The study of psychology, sociology, ethics, and statistics may be recommended or obligatory for aspiring doctors.

Is it necessary to have a pre-medical major to attend medical school?

Completing the required courses for a pre-med program can help you enter and succeed in medical school. Formally declaring a pre-med track may have some advantages.

Official pre-med students may have a more comprehensive plan to ensure they finish all pre-med courses on time, as well as greater advisor help. Being a member of a formal pre-medical studies program may help you discover classmates and alumni who are also applying to medical school, allowing you to share your experiences with them. While it is possible to take all of the same pre-med courses without formally declaring the track, some students may take the pre-med requirements more seriously when they are held responsible through enrollment in an official academic track.

Since there is no medical major, technically speaking, official participation in the track is not the most crucial aspect of pre-medicine study. The term “pre-medicine” will not appear anywhere on your degree. Taking the appropriate courses to satisfy common medical school prerequisites is the most important factor for medical school candidates, and this may be achieved with or without a formal pre-med program.

Since teachers are likely to believe that pre-med students are preparing for medical school, you may need to make your medical school aspirations known if you do not major in pre-med, particularly to science professors from whom you may later need a letter of reference for medical school.

What Undergraduate Degree is Required for Medical School?

A bachelor’s degree in any field is generally acceptable for consideration by medical schools. If you have a Bachelor of Science (BS), Bachelor of Arts (BA), or a more specialized Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degree, it doesn’t really matter what sort of degree you have.

Aside from looking for specific majors, medical school admissions staff are more interested in whether or not an applicant has completed all of the prerequisites for the program, as well as other considerations.

What kind of GPA does the candidate have that shows they’ll be able to endure the rigors of medical school? What evidence do their letters of recommendation provide that they will succeed in medical school and afterwards as doctors? Did they do well on the MCAT exam to get into a medical school? Is it true that they have the extracurricular activities, volunteer work, laboratory research, and work experience in the healthcare business or experience shadowing a physician that will help them be a better doctor aside from their grades and exam scores?

You should focus on these aspects while applying for medical school, as long as you can satisfy the course prerequisites required for entrance.

You may major in anything and still be a doctor, according to the rules. Medical school candidates, on the other hand, have a preference for certain majors. In addition to these reasons, students may pick these majors because:

  • Prerequisite courses for medical school are included in degree program curricula, so students are not required to take them on top of their major curriculum.
  • Preparation for the MCAT and medical school that is (or at least is believed to be) more effective
  • The idea that a future doctor “ought to” major in a certain subject

Choosing a degree program that incorporates many of the necessary courses within the curriculum might make scheduling and coursework easier for a student, in general. Because you won’t have to divert your free elective possibilities to achieve medical school criteria, you’ll have greater flexibility in picking electives that will benefit your future as a doctor. 

However, preparing for medical school while majoring in anything else is entirely achievable if you’re devoted to both being a non-traditional student and fulfilling your prerequisites.
Graduation from your pre-medical school courses and other science coursework will have a significant impact on your chances of getting into a reputable medical school. Maintaining a high GPA of at least 3.5 will increase your chances of being accepted to college.

List of Doctor Majors

Here are the best majors for ambitious medical students to consider:

1. Biology

In medical school, biology is the most often chosen major, according to the American Medical Association. Twelve thousand eight hundred forty-five of the twenty-two thousand three hundred forty-nine admitted students to medical school in 2020, or 52 percent, plan to major in biological sciences.

For one thing, most if not all of the prerequisites required by medical schools are covered in an undergraduate biology degree program, which is why many people think it’s advantageous to take biology as preparation for a career in medicine.

In order to do well in medical school, you should take courses in cell biology, molecular biology, genetics, biochemistry, and human anatomy and physiology. Plant biology, ecology, evolution, and categorization in biology are additional required courses for biology majors.

Many medical school applicants major in biology, so you’d expect that people with this background would have an edge when applying to medical school. According to the American Medical Association, this is not the case. Medical school candidates with a background in biological sciences were matriculated to medical school in 2020, however only roughly 40% of the 30,921 biological sciences majors who applied were accepted, according to the American Medical Association.

Students who majored in biology aren’t always better placed than those who majored in other fields when it comes to matriculation and MCAT scores.

2. Chemistry

Chemistry might also be a good choice for a student hoping to become a doctor. In 2020, the second-largest group of students matriculated by major was those who studied physical sciences, including chemistry as well as physics and other disciplines of science, according to statistics from the American Medical Association (AMA).

General chemistry, organic chemistry, physical chemistry, analytic and research in chemistry are just few of the many types of chemistry courses available. Each of these disciplines, as well as biology, physics, and mathematics, is often needed for chemistry majors at the undergraduate level.

In addition, studies like biochemistry are sometimes needed, and mastering these skills will be helpful in future medical school coursework.

3. Environmental Science

At first look, it may appear that environmental science has nothing to do with the healthcare business. Environmental science, on the other hand, is a subfield of biology and, as a result, a major in this field frequently includes all of the prerequisites for a biological science degree.

Even if you’re not planning to go to medical school, the courses you take as an environmental science major can help you acquire the skills you’ll need for classes that have heavy laboratory requirements.

4. Medical Technology

An MD or DO degree is not required for every position in healthcare, and certain positions can be filled by people with less advanced degrees (DO). Entry into a medical school may also benefit students who have earned a certificate or degree in medical technology, a field that prepares them for jobs other than medicine.

The required courses for medical school are often included in the degree requirements for medical technology majors, and you may also be able to take additional courses that focus on medicine and healthcare. Medical technologist training is also included in this degree, which may come in handy if you don’t get into medical school in the time frame you’d want.

5. Nursing

It’s not just their various functions in clinical healthcare facilities that make nurses and doctors distinct. Unlike the medical paradigm used to teach doctors, the nursing model focuses on prevention and therapy rather than diagnosis and cure.

For those who want to work in the healthcare profession or who want to take a break from school after graduation to get job experience and earn money before applying to medical schools, a nursing degree may be the best option.

It is safe to say that earning a nursing degree will better equip you to take care of patients. In addition to the classes you’ll need to get into medical school, a nursing degree will provide you the opportunity to begin gaining clinical experience while you’re still in college.

Despite the fact that the American Medical Association does not recognize nursing as a separate field of study, the 2020 class of matriculated medical students had 784 candidates who declared a major in “specialized health sciences.”

Nursing is a viable career option if your medical school studies don’t go according to plan. The number of bachelor’s degrees in registered nursing programs conferred for the 2017-2018 academic year was 139,952, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

A career in nursing may be a better option than attending medical school if you are more certain about your desire to work in healthcare in general and with patients than you are about your ability to fulfill the job of a physician.

6. Exercise Science

Doctors usually tell their patients to do more regular exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle. It’s understandable that students interested in pursuing a career in sports medicine would find an emphasis in exercise science appealing.

A degree in exercise science sometimes necessitates studying classes in human anatomy, cell biology, nutrition, and other medical requirements.

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