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Advice from a 1st year medical student..

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical Allopathic [ MD ]' started by GomerPyle, 09.26.14.

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  1. GomerPyle

    GomerPyle 7+ Year Member

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    The students I know in my class who are currently failing are those who lack a good science background from undergrad. Luckily, I took many science classes during undergrad and I am not studying nearly as much as some of my classmates yet I am doing better so far. I am sure this experience will change as medical school gets more difficult and we get into stuff that's not talked about in undergrad, but having exposure to those courses has helped me immensely in lecture and in my studies. You can be going through a lot of stress early on if you are new to the material when school starts. This has been my current experience and my background has helped me settle in easier than some..

    Classes I highly suggest (some are required by med schools, but some are not yet I still highly suggest):

    Anatomy - at least take general anatomy. This will help you in tackling the advanced questions you will get right away at the beginning of med school.
    Embryology - one of the most complained about subjects at my school
    Genetics - I would know general genetics before starting
    EPIDEMIOLOGY - I took a weak stats class. Lots of these questions in medical school and on the boards. I highly suggest taking this if you can. This is probably the most difficult, and boring, class.
    Physiology - I am sure this is required by medical schools - get an A in this class.
    Nutrition - believe it or not, having a basic understanding of nutrition has helped me a lot!
    Immunology - we have yet to tackle immunology in depth, but knowing a bit about immunology has helped in my other classes already. I would for sure take this course.

    Histology in medical school is not that hard - just takes practice looking at slides and you'll get it eventually. In my opinion, biochem is useful but not SUPER beneficial. If you take the above classes, you'll be fine in biochem.

    I am a first year medical student so maybe MS2's have a different feeling about this. I haven't gotten to their level of experience yet, but as of right now, you might thank me by having these classes under your belt before medical school starts!
     
    Last edited: 09.27.14
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  3. manofmen

    manofmen

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    The number of classes I have taken on your list (or lack thereof) is causing me great concern... :p The struggle is that real, eh?
     
  4. SouthernSurgeon

    SouthernSurgeon Lifetime Donor 7+ Year Member

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    :rolleyes:

    I had a BA and took only the required pre-med science courses. Did just fine in med school. Anecdotes are fun.

    Study what you're passionate about in college. Don't treat it as a four year pre-Game for med school.
     
    Last edited: 09.26.14
  5. darkjedi

    darkjedi how did this get here I am not good with computer 7+ Year Member

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    first year is just first year, any classes you take in undergrad for a leg up gives you an advantage for a couple weeks or months at most
     
  6. lmn

    lmn 2+ Year Member

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    Sure having taken those classes in the past helps, but I definitely don't agree that that the people failing are those who have weak science backgrounds. At my school there are people in my class who are Art or History majors who have some of the top grades for every test. If you are a science major in college and want to take these b/c you're interested and you think it might help in the future, go ahead. But if you'd rather major in something else or make yourself more well-rounded by learning other things, I recommend doing those things, you'll be able to make it in med school as long as you are decently smart, know how to study, and are willing/able to put in the necessary effort, enjoy your time in undergrad and expand your knowledge in all areas.
     
  7. Ismet

    Ismet PGY-fun SDN Administrator 5+ Year Member

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    This. You just started MS1, people are still adjusting, and I'd say that's a bigger contributor to performance than having the class in undergrad.

    You don't need to take those classes in undergrad in order to do well in med school. All I took was neuroscience, physio, and biochem and I did perfectly fine.
     
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  8. kittykattat

    kittykattat Meow 2+ Year Member

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    Physio is not a requirement for most MD schools.

    I could list 20 classes I took in UG that have helped me small bits so far this year (yesterday, in biochem for example, I already knew about ROS and CGD from a mycology class, alcohol metabolism from a Social Work class, and other stuff from a general biochem class) but I wouldnt say having to memorize a couple less facts (out of a seemingly infinite amount) for each exam would be worth taking whole semesters of certain subjects in undergrad. Take what you love and what interests you while in UG, because once you get to med school, there's no more choosing your own schedule again until 4th year.
     
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  9. Snoopy2006

    Snoopy2006 7+ Year Member

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    There's definitely two schools of thought here. In my anecdotal experience, during M1 year I was only above average, and I remember thinking I knew who the "geniuses" and those at the top of the class were. Turns out they just had stronger pre-med science backgrounds. M2 years the playing field was completely level, and most of the M1 superstars sank back to average while a completely different set of people were at the top of the class (and those are the ones who ended up killing Step 1, AOA, for the most part).

    There's merits to both sides. I already wish I'd taken some econ/finance classes in undergrad. Use the time to branch out. At the same time, it's not a bad idea to take some of the big subjects and invest a lot of time in them. If you have 10 subjects M1 year and no background in anatomy, biochem, neuroscience, and histology, the adjustment will naturally be a bigger struggle. It evens out over time, but that first year might be more difficult.
     
  10. SouthernSurgeon

    SouthernSurgeon Lifetime Donor 7+ Year Member

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    There's lots of schools of thought, in which people inappropriately attempt to generalize their own individual successes or struggles to an entire group of people.

    Every year there are threads like this..."oh having a strong basic science background is really critical to success in med school"..."oh having a really strong liberal arts background is really critical to success in med school since it teaches you to think critically"..."oh being a non-trad is really critical to success in medical school since you have more real world experience"..."oh being a music major is really critical to success in med school since you unlock a creative side of your brain"...etc, etc.

    Turns out there are superstars and flameouts in every group.
     
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  11. CrimsonKing

    CrimsonKing Living the dream 2+ Year Member

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    lol as an M3 disagree on all of those recommendations. You'll learn the material in medical school, and (as someone who actually took most of these in undergrad for my major) the knowledge base is helpful for first year, but absolutely not necessary. It will make no difference once you start M2 and then clinical years.

    The people who fail in medical school are the people who are LAZY, NOT the people who don't have strong premedical science backgrounds. If you work hard and you met the prereqs and had the MCAT to get into medical schoo, you can succeed if you put in the effort.

    As an M3 I'd recommend people take the prereqs in college and spend the rest of time taking courses they actually enjoy, that might actually broaden their knowledge, instead of more science classes simply because they think it might give them an advantage.
     
  12. Doctor Strange

    Doctor Strange Sorcerer Supreme Lifetime Donor 2+ Year Member

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    While taking some of the classes you mentioned might be helpful, it is certainly not vital to success in medical school nor is it required to be able to ace classes. The classes that will actually help you all throughout medical school are few and far between. The amount of time you spend going out of your way to take these courses does not at all justify how much (if at all) it will help you in medical school. If they're part of your major or you have a genuine interest, then go ahead, but don't expect to be cruising through MS1 just because you've got a semester of immunology under your belt.
     
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  13. Mad Jack

    Mad Jack Critically Caring Gold Donor 2+ Year Member

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    Taking those classes might help you out a bit in med school, but honestly, you'll probably have forgotten most of the important stuff by the time MS1 rolls around and you'll be learning it all over. One of the guys in my class is a freakin' biochem major and he has just as much trouble with the pathways as everyone else because he didn't use the knowledge for a year and he lost it.
     
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  14. WillburCobb

    WillburCobb I am the pull out king Banned Account on Hold 5+ Year Member

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    ...and most of the ones struggling in my class were bio/chem/biochem majors...
     
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  15. Strudel19

    Strudel19 5+ Year Member

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    Aside from taking several upper-level bio classes purely for enjoyment, I also take them because I'm hoping the background knowledge will at least come in some use at the next level. This was good to see! Good luck with everything
     
  16. mcloaf

    mcloaf 2+ Year Member

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    I only had one of the courses on that list and I thought M1 was fine. Time in undergrad is a limited commodity and I wouldn't waste it on non-required classes that probably won't make much of a difference in the long run anyway. Why are you giving people advice about classes to take in undergrad based on what you think is on boards?
     
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  17. Baron Samedi

    Baron Samedi 5+ Year Member

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    The courses I took in college consisted of bird-watching, indoor plants, human sexuality, and meditation. I did well above average on my boards and matched into the top program in my field.
     
  18. Baron Samedi

    Baron Samedi 5+ Year Member

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    Also OP you have been in medical school for about fifteen minutes. Hardly long enough to be giving advice.
     
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  19. WillburCobb

    WillburCobb I am the pull out king Banned Account on Hold 5+ Year Member

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    There's quite a bit of heterogeneity in the science backgrounds of my classmates, and a sizeable portion of my classmates have non-science degrees.
     
  20. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

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    This. Pretty much 100% of those who actually failed and had to remediate things when I was in med school were bio majors. All of the non-science majors in my year passed. So OP is probably trying to validate his path as the right one without any real evidence. Don't fall for it. There will be science and non-science majors pretty evenly distributed throughout the bell curve. You may get a Momentary benefit in a class you took in undergrad, but it's short lived. And sometimes it makes people less motivated to study things they think they already know. There are many many many threads on this and OPs view isn't the consensus.
     
  21. NoDakDok

    NoDakDok 2+ Year Member

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    Certainly, Biology and Chemistry majors are the largest proportion of people struggling. But that's because Biology and Chemistry majors are the most common.

    My anecdotal experience is that there is no real correlation between major/concentration and success. The people doing well are the people putting in the time and effort to learn the material that is provided. This is primarily because the material is far from difficult to conceptualize, there is simply a lot of it.

    Do whatever you want. Taking science courses will at most give you a familiarity with the material you are presented with in medical school. You are not expected to know anything beyond your prerequisite courses for a reason, everything else it taught to you. Regardless of what you studied, it will not make you internalize that information for your exams.
     
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  22. Goro

    Goro 5+ Year Member

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    Good advice here. But non-trads and non-science majors shouldn't start slitting wrists just yet. In our experience, we've found that non-science majors struggle in the first semester, then find the right learning style and do as well as the science majors. One of our Valedictorians was a Psych major.

     
  23. BadHorse

    BadHorse I meant Gandhi 5+ Year Member

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    Of the courses discussed, the only one I would recommend taking prior to med school is Nutrition, simply because it is not well covered in med school and you'll be a better doctor if you can tell patients what to eat.
     
  24. DermViser

    DermViser 5+ Year Member

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    Yes, it's obvious you're having an MS-1 freakout, hence your solution to take every undergraduate course that relates to medical school. Bad idea.
     
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  25. DermViser

    DermViser 5+ Year Member

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    And this is why the first year is P/F at many schools bc students are coming in with different backgrounds. It's one thing if you enjoy above classes, another thing entirely if you're doing it for some perceived advantage in medical school.
     
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  26. DermViser

    DermViser 5+ Year Member

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    THIS. Oh God, THIS.

    I think a lot of people's perceptions are also heavily influenced by the medical school curriculum, student body culture, etc. Using MS-1 as some type of barometer as to what you should take in college is a bad idea. If we incorporated all of these things above as far as what premeds should come in with, undergrad would take 8 years rather than 4.
     
  27. NoDakDok

    NoDakDok 2+ Year Member

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    I suppose this is important to emphasize. If you prepare adequately (this may take significant effort) in medical school you will pass. In the end, that's all that matters. There is no internal ranking system (at least not at my school) so regardless of whether you are receiving Low Pass or Honors Pass level scores, you are looked at exactly the same on your resume.

    The distinction between students comes with Step I and clinical years. I'm not familiar with either of those as of yet, but I imagine anything you gained from undergrad will be so far buried under minutiae at that point that you might as well have majored in Custodial Engineering.
     
  28. DermViser

    DermViser 5+ Year Member

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    If you have Low Pass and Honors grades, you are not looked at exactly the same.
     
  29. WillburCobb

    WillburCobb I am the pull out king Banned Account on Hold 5+ Year Member

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    We are internally ranked, they just aren't up front about it. Even though year one is P/F we're still ranked by % on block exams. It's factored in when they calculate official/final ranks in year four.
     
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  30. NoDakDok

    NoDakDok 2+ Year Member

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    I was saying that "Low Pass" and "Honors" levels, not grades. It's strictly P/F for first year.

    Got a source? I explicitly asked for this information and was told that we're strictly P/F without any pre-clinical internal ranking. In fact, it was expressed that they would not even know how to appropriately weight the pre-clinical examinations if they were to do such a thing.
     
  31. WillburCobb

    WillburCobb I am the pull out king Banned Account on Hold 5+ Year Member

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    PMed you.
     
  32. DermViser

    DermViser 5+ Year Member

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    Oopsie. Looks like someone drank the Kool-Aid the med school was serving.

    If your school has Honors or Low Pass as "levels" then yes they are ranking you.
     
  33. NoDakDok

    NoDakDok 2+ Year Member

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    I just said that they do not have Honors or Low Pass in the first year. I meant those two designations as in getting a percentage that is barely passing is treated the same as someone who received a perfect score, otherwise known as P/F.

    As for the internal ranking, it would not be to my dismay. I was just curious as I was told otherwise, since I had assumed we were internally ranked. It may just be that someone was misinformed.
     
  34. DermViser

    DermViser 5+ Year Member

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    Yes, it's worse: you're ranked by percentage - see above.
     
  35. WillburCobb

    WillburCobb I am the pull out king Banned Account on Hold 5+ Year Member

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    To be fair there is some ambiguity about the system at our school and they aren't very upfront about it with students. I'm nearly positive it's for mental well being as students acclimate to med school so I personally don't mind, but I can appreciate how other may take issue with it.
     
  36. DermViser

    DermViser 5+ Year Member

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    No, I agree. I don't think medical schools do it for nefarious reasons: "Ha, ha WillburCobb, thinks he's not being ranked but in all actuality he will find out in MS-4, that he's been ranked this entire time!! Muahaha!!" Medical school administrators know tensions are already at a high in med students and they don't want to add to the cutthroat nature of the school, when the process already causes problems with mental well being.

    That being said, I believe medical students should ALWAYS get the truth as they are paying huge sums of money for that education. Medical schools should be honest and say we have to balance Pass/Fail grading with ranking you in a meaningful way so that residencies can evaluate who to select for interviews, etc. etc. and then students can decide whether they still want to come or not. Medical students should know this BEFORE they make a matriculation decision, not find out afterwards. If it wasn't for SDN, a lot of students wouldn't even know this information.

    Schools like Pritzker (and others) are very direct on their website, about being a "true" P/F school in the first 2 years and all schools should be just as clear.

    You'll always have that one medical student who thinks his school is not ranking him based on what some shmuck medical school administrator said, and then they see their medical school MSPE and realize there is a code word that gives away where they stand in their class (although yes, technically not a specific rank).
     
  37. GomerPyle

    GomerPyle 7+ Year Member

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    Lol I am definitely not having an MS1 freakout - I'm actually doing really well despite studying much less than all of my classmates and even working a part-time job. I am just letting people know that having a strong science background has made it easy on me and some of my classmates, while the people who are currently having a rough time are the ones who haven't taken the majority of classes I suggested and are having a difficult time settling in. This is just my MS1 experience - you obviously know more about the rest of the med school experience, but so far, at my particular school, this is what I have learned.
     
  38. DermViser

    DermViser 5+ Year Member

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    Yes, in MS-1 only, correct. Not exactly mindblowing, and definitely not worth taking in undergrad bc any advantage disappears quickly. And now you know why "true" P/F in the first 2 years exists. I like how you say, "Lots of these questions in medical school and on the boards." as if you somehow know.
     
  39. NoDakDok

    NoDakDok 2+ Year Member

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    No need to be inflammatory. My assumption was that they were still internally ranking. I knew they had done it in the past, but was told they had done away with it. Since I had assumed they were internally ranking from the beginning, it doesn't bother me if they are and I will not be surprised. However, you are right, they should be completely honest with their assessments. Students have a right to know how they are being evaluated without ambiguity.

    Beyond standardization, this adds emphasis to why residencies are preferential toward Step I scores and numerous other factors over pre-clinical grading.
     
  40. DermViser

    DermViser 5+ Year Member

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    I wasn't referring to you. It was someone on SDN that GuyWhoDoesStuff was referring to that was suddenly surprised on viewing his MSPE.

    No, they don't bc ranking is ranking. Program Directors (on average) have said they don't give a **** about preclinical grades in terms of selecting for residents, so schools have largely done away with grades in the first 2 years. The only reason they are kept at some is bc schools don't want their Step scores to drop and a state school would get massacred in the match if that were to happen. Thus the shift to Step scores and clinical grades.
     
  41. GomerPyle

    GomerPyle 7+ Year Member

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    Lol, as if I don't talk to students at my school who are years ahead of me. Yes, I am an MS1 - a chicken with no head. I'll leave it at that with you.
     
  42. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

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    Trust me, there are likely many people in your class doing as well as you who would say they are quite happy they didn't waste time in undergrad taking all the courses you suggest and that they wouldn't be particularly vital to their success. You are extrapolating from your own experience but most of your class will have different experiences, learn differently and will find different things to have been helpful or not. what is a truism in med school is that the non-science people tend not to fail out en masse, and that because of the sheer percentage of science majors in each school, it's almost guaranteed that the majority of people doing worst in your class are in fact science majors, many of whom took many or all of the courses you described. So what you find helpful they didn't. Again, this is a personal journey, don't pretend you have some magic secret the thousands of med students who came before you didnt figure out.

    There has been a big move since the 1980s to admit more non-science people to med school, both because they bring more diverse perspectives to the field but also because, despite early concerns, they actually didn't seem to struggle in med school any worse than anyone else. Many thrived, and there's usually someone with a very non-science background in the top couple spots in most med school classes. Med school teaches you all you need to know, and then some. No point trying to learn med school before med school. There is no "gaming" of med school. All you do is make your knowledge base smaller by having taken lots of courses you are going to just retake again anyhow in much more detail. Don't waste college this way. You will go farther in med school and more importantly in life if you use those credits on a business course and a foreign language, rather than preview microbiology at the college level.

    Sorry but yours is pretty questionable "advice", more opinion than based on any semblance of evidence. and saying "maybe people years ahead of me think differently" misses the point. There are dozens of people IN your class who would think differently. Your vantage point is fine, you just seem to be having trouble separating the "this is what worked for me" from the "this is what everybody should do". Maybe that's the "critical thinking" you lost out on by not taking a broader course base in college, as was suggested earlier in this thread. :)

    IMHO, you should lose the Einstein picture for your avatar -- he wouldn't have been an advocate for previewing med school coursework in college to try and give yourself a (false hope at a) leg up. He was into always challenging ones mind with new ideas.
     
    Last edited: 09.27.14
  43. GomerPyle

    GomerPyle 7+ Year Member

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    Lmao - personal attacks....I don't even know where to start. I never said don't challenge yourself with new ideas. I never said this will work for everybody. I never said "this has worked for me and must work for you". I said from MY EXPERIENCE, having taken science undergrad courses has helped me in getting comfortably settled into medical school and it has also worked for many others I have spoken to at my school as well. This is MY experience. I am not saying people have to take these classes to do well. I also didn't say you have to major in science to do well - in fact, I was an engineering major. I suggested 6 or 7 classes for crying out loud, not an entire curriculum lol. And of course - these classes will not teach you everything. Not even close...but they have given me a good foundation and familiarity of terms and ideas that has helped me, and that's why I suggested that if people can, they should consider taking some of these classes if they have the time.
     
    Last edited: 09.27.14
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  44. DermViser

    DermViser 5+ Year Member

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    @Law2Doc did not attack you personally. Good grief...
     
  45. GomerPyle

    GomerPyle 7+ Year Member

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    If you reread his post, it sounded to me as if he is challenging my critical thinking abilities and thought process. He also told me I am not worthy of having Einstein as my avatar, lmao. Anyways, it would be helpful to fully understand someone's reasoning and personal experience before speaking out of your butt and criticizing one's experience and abilities...
     
    Last edited: 09.27.14
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  46. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

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    1. I didn't personally attack you, other than perhaps indirectly suggest you were no Einstein.
    2. You entitled this thread as "advice", not your own personal journey/experience, so the clear assumption is that you are offering something that will work for the reader.
    3. I stand by my assertion that these classes don't help as much as you are suggesting, and maybe not at all.
    4. By virtue of telling people to waste college credits taking things they will retake in med school you are absolutely telling them to take a curriculum that limits exposure to new ideas, sorry. You only get to be in college once, you shouldn't squander it trying to pre-learn med school.
     
    Last edited: 09.27.14
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  47. DermViser

    DermViser 5+ Year Member

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    The entire premise of your OP is that somehow previewing medical school coursework through undergrad is a good idea and will somehow put you way ahead in medical school or at least give you an edge. It won't bc 1) the emphasis is quite different 2) the level of depth is so much deeper and you'll cover your entire undergraduate course in like a week. You're magnifying the benefit much greater than it is based on your very narrow experience. You aren't the first person to INITIALLY feel this way, but you'll realize very quickly that it would not have made a difference. The only reason you think you're getting an advantage is bc you feel the euphoria from familiarity of having heard the words and concepts before.

    @Law2Doc is very much correct as to why medical schools have been admitting non-science majors to medical school. They've done studies to show that by the end of MS-2, those who were science majors were no further ahead. I realize you think the system can be gamed, but it can't. You aren't the first premed to think that the med school rat race can be gamed earlier. You'll realize soon enough that it can't.

    GomerPyle fits you well.
     
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  48. DermViser

    DermViser 5+ Year Member

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    It could have been worse. He could have recommended that undergrads read thru First Aid during the undergrad years and commit it to memory.
     
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  49. LChristmas

    LChristmas 2+ Year Member

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    I took all of those classes in UG because they genuinely interested me... I'm hoping that it gives me strong base of knowledge, but I am certainly not expecting that it will allow me to coast through MS1, or give me any sort of leg up on anyone who is more committed to learning the material.
     
    DermViser likes this.
  50. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

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    If he started a thread entitled "I'm just starting first year and probably don't know what I'm talking about but here's what is seeming to work for me," I'd have less of a problem with it and tone down the response. He'd still be wrong, but he's not holding it out as anything other than a novice guess. But once you start an "Advice" thread, and it's bad advice I think you invite the heavy handed responses and can't be thin skinned about it.
     
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  51. mcloaf

    mcloaf 2+ Year Member

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    Dude 7 classes is nearly a year of undergrad (at least where I went you generally took 4 classes/semester). You didn't really think that giving advice on classes worth taking before med school was going to go uncommented on in a forum full of other med students and residents?

    I had a similar experience in that being a biochem major made the first few courses of med school easier, but I would never tell other people to waste their time taking classes they wouldn't have otherwise taken just so that they can study less the first couple of months of med school. Whatever advantage you feel you have now will quickly fade as you progress in school.
     
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