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Anyone Starting Out With NO Math/Science Background?

Discussion in 'Nontraditional Students' started by Starphoenix, Mar 7, 2007.

  1. Starphoenix

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    I want to return for prereqs next year. I feel like a kindergartener trying to enter third grade, though!

    I have a math deficit, for one. I haven't even had basic algebra! :eek: I'll need some math courses to catch up.

    My B.A. is in psychology. No hard science.

    I'm 39 now. I feel like such a dope, but I know I shouldn't. I mean, I was following a different path. So be it.

    Seems I'll be 80 by the time I get done, though! :scared:
     
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  3. Nasem

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    Well, my situation is "kind" of similar to yours.

    When I did my undergrad (class of 2004), I had taken zero biology / chemistry. I did have a ton of math though (I have a minors in math). so this is where we are different.

    So for me, all I have to take is:
    general chem with lab
    general chem II with lab
    Orgo I with lab
    Orgo II with lab
    Biology I with lab and finallly
    Biology II with lab

    In your case, your going to take these same classes along with Algebra (easy), trig (easy), pre-calc (easy), and finally Calc-I (easy).

    The reason I mention Calc-I is because you will also need to take calc based physics I and physics II.

    This may sound a little over loaded, but its actually not and its doable in a 2 year program if you decide to take 14-15 credit hours per semester.
     
  4. Starphoenix

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    I hope the math is easy! I won't need calc, though, only pre-calc. I'm taking non-calc physics. I don't think DO schools require the calc, and I'm going DO.
     
  5. Soonerbird

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  6. jcs307

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    I don't have much of a science/math background outside of high school, which was years ago. I'm finishing my MSW this semester and looking to start taking prereqs (maybe a post-bacc) next fall. I didn't take any math or hard science in college...Fortunately, my engineer husband loves math and physics. I'm pretty thrilled about that!
     
  7. Starphoenix

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    Soonerbird: Not all schools require calc-based physics. You have to look at individual school websites to check, I think.

    jcs307: You have a perk there with that husband of yours!

    I didn't even take most of this in high school. No chemistry or physics. Not even algebra. I did take a year of biology. It was ages ago: 1981-2!
     
  8. HereIAm

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    I have no math or science at all besides a basic algebra class taken at a CC about 100 years ago. I don't even have my bachelor's degree yet.

    I'll definitely be an old geezer by the time I'm through!
     
  9. Nasem

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  10. Nasrudin

    Nasrudin Apropos of Nothing

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    A very prevalent pre-med myth is that you need calc. Not true!!! This myth is propagated by the fact most science majors have to take it anyway, as well as nimrod premed advisors. Calc-based physics is not even suggested let alone required. Some people find that the physics without calc is deficient from their perspective. These people are probably good at math and modeling the physical world while tactfully avoiding calculus seems ridiculous. I can appreciate that. But math is not a strength for me, so the isolation of the physics concepts without being overwhelmed by the calc is perfect for me and fulfills the medical pre-req's without exception. There are a handful of schools that require calc. its up to the applicant if the investment of working up to and through calculus is an investment that is worth it. We're on a non-traditional board...I think most of us just want an acceptance as efficiently as possible.

    I really don't get how people can dish out casual advice to people when they don't have their facts straight. Evidence based posts only please.

    OP you will need to be proficient in college level algebra. Trigonometry for physics could be learned on your own or with some help.
     
  11. redheadmed

    redheadmed Soulless Gingerhead

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    The calc requirement depends on the school. Scripps requires calculus before you takes physics. I was a theater major :) as an undergrad and just got into medical school through linkage with Drexel, so it can be done without ANY science background, but it wasn't easy. I helped myself by taking all the math prereqs at a comm college before doing my post-bacc. Turned out to be a good idea and was cheaper in the long run. Good luck with everything!
     
  12. Phoenix.

    Phoenix. Emdee Jaydee
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    I'm 32 and will be finishing all my pre-reqs within one year come this summer. I had NO math and no real science in undergrad (does a 1 credit "dinosaurs and other failures count? hah!). I've never taken trig or calc (not even in high school). All I had was high school geometry and algebra, and have negative natural math skills. If you hate math like I do, it can be done, even without taking any math classes now, but you'll have to find somewhere that will let you take chem and physics without any math prereqs, or teach yourself and then "place" out of those classes by taking a test (which some colleges offer in order to satisfy math prereqs to take science classes). Others might suggest taking the math classes, which is not unwise, but I decided not to.

    So, let's just say that I have successfully avoided taking math, and am in my last semester of prereqs. I had to work REALLY hard in Physics I since I had no trig or algebra, but it can be done (I got an A). I really just needed to learn sin/cosine, and how to use log, as well as how to solve an equation for x, which I vaguely remembered from high school. There's also a little algebra brushing up you'll need for chem, but not much. The other difficulty I ran into was interpreting graphs of 1/x or log x in both chem and physics. BUT, if you don't mind putting in the extra time to figure these things out, or going to a tutor, you can still get As in chem and physics without ANY math. It's not easy, but it's doable. If you're not averse to taking the math, I'd say you could probably just take it at the same time you start your prereqs. Good luck!
     
  13. NonTradMed

    NonTradMed Perpetual Student

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    Just leafing through MSAR (b/c I'm that bored with my physio), quite a few med schools require or recommend some college level math so it's probably just easiest to take a math course in college. Why restrict your choices? Especially given the competitive nature of med school admissions.

    Also, I want to add that as future doctors, science is your tool and math helps to explain the science. I highly recommend a biostatistics course in college if you have a chance. Although calculus level math is not required, med schools do expect a certain level of proficiency in basic maths pertaining to statistics and biology related mathematics. There is a small biostats component on the USMLE and at our med school, biostats is a required math course. No multivariable calculus but if you a poor math background, it may help to prepare in college.
     
  14. kronickm

    kronickm even par.

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    1. You don't need calc.
    2. You really really need algebra to understand general physics and chem.
    3. Don't even bother with general physics and chem if you don't know algebra, as well as geometry and trigonometry. (Physics really just is the application of these things)
    4. Luckily algebra isn't really that hard.
     
  15. Phoenix.

    Phoenix. Emdee Jaydee
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    I agree that there are some schools that require calculus or college level math, but it's a bit random, and sometimes seems to depend on geography (i.e., a lot of the California schools seem to, as well as Texas (calc)), so I recommend picking up a copy of the MSAR and checking your state med schools, or schools you know you definitely want to apply to and check if they require calculus or other college level math.

    I live in IL, and none of the IL schools require math. Regardless, I think there are more than enough schools out there to apply to that don't require math. For instance, I identified about 30-40 schools that require some level of college math from the MSAR, and eliminated them from my list. I also eliminated schools that require an upper level bio course like biochem or genetics (about 10), and those schools that aren't good matches because they only take in-state or have other requirements (17 schools), then I eliminated ones that I am not interested in geographically (15), and am left with a list of 40 schools over a very broad range both in terms of rank and geography. I think that's more than enough to choose from for applications once I know my MCAT score. And IF I decide to apply to a school that requires math or an upper level bio course, and I get an interview there, I figure that I can always sign up to take that class over the summer (or spring semester) before enrollment (if I get accepted to that school). From everything I've read so far, you don't have to have those prereqs complete before applying, just before enrollment.

    Anyway, since I already made up this list, here's what I compiled for math requirements. Just an fyi, some of these might have been reported incorrectly in MSAR. They listed MCW as requiring college math, while if you go to their web site, they only require high school math. So take this list with a grain of salt, and check out any school you're really interested in:

    Albert Einstein (6 hrs college math)
    Universities of CA (most - math)
    Wash U (calc)
    Duke (math)
    Georgetown (math)
    Dartmouth (calc)
    Johns Hopkins (calc)
    U of Colorado (math)
    Mount Sinai (math)
    Penn State (math)
    Virginia Commonwealth (math)
    Univ of Wisc (math)
    Harvard (calc)
    Univ of Iowa (math)
    Univ of Kansas (math)
    Univ of Louisville (math)
    Univ of Mississippi (math)
    Univ of Missouri (math)
    Robert Wood Johnson Med School (Piscataway, NJ) (math)
    Univ of North Dakota (math)
    Univ of South Dakota (math)
    Medical Univ of Ohio (Toledo) (math)
    Wright State (Dayton, OH) (math)
    U of Texas Schools (calc)
    Univ of Alabama (math)
    Univ of South Alabama (math)
    Univ of Arkansas (math)
    Morehouse School of Medicine (Atlanta) (math)
     
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  17. Starphoenix

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    Thank you for the responses and well wishes!

    I know I'll be taking Basic and Intermediate Algebra, as well as precalc. I'll be learning Geometry on my own. Hopefully, high-school level is good enough, because I bought a high-school level CD-ROM set for different math subjects.

    Phoenix: Thanks for all of that input! That was very kind of you!
     
  18. droyd78

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    This has basically been beat to death, but the info I got from a pre-med advisor (who I don't believe to be a nimrod) is that, while not always required, calc is really helpful in med school and as a doctor. Basically, writing things out using calc vs. algebra will save you pages of math.

    For me, I will take calculus, but I see that as a great class to take after I get the basic pre-med requirements done. Maybe during my application year.
     
  19. Nasem

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    I always say this and people think its silly...

    "math is the base of ALL sciences"

    In my opinion, no doctor should ever be a doctor without a strong mathematical background...... but then again, I happen to enjoy math a lot and I underestand that most people don't like it.... so you better hope I don't one day become the leader of a commitee that is in charge of handling pre-requirements for all doctors :)
     
  20. Nasrudin

    Nasrudin Apropos of Nothing

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  21. musashi

    musashi Ninja Paramedic

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  22. Starphoenix

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    Well, I know what I'm going to have to do, anyway.

    I'll be taking non-calc physics, but I will need precalc. In order to take precalc, though, I'll be required to take two algebra classes (since I never did have them). I'll have to pick up some geometry on my own, too. I have a CD-ROM for it, so I'll just have to do that.
     
  23. NonTradMed

    NonTradMed Perpetual Student

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    Well, this may vary from med school to med school.

    For one thing, biostatistics is tested on the USMLE and some med schools (including mine) will require you to study it for credit/class. It's not hard but I took an engineering statistics course which was much more in depth so I suggest people take a biostatistics or general stats course if given the chance (I'm glad I did).

    Chemistry is used in med school, just not the extent that one is used to in a chem class. Our knowledge of chemistry is used in biochemistry and CMB classes, and currently, some aspects of physiology requires chemistry as well. It's not the hard chemistry that a chem major may be required to know, but a high school kid who've never taken a freshmen chemistry class would probably flounder.

    Med schools have a lot of hoops but the pre-reqs are there for a reason. Just keep in mind that the professor will be teaching to people with the expectation that everything you learn as a premed is still in your head. Some schools will review them (very quickly), mine did not. And med school moves very fast so you won't have much time to tease out missing pieces from a textbook.

    I was not a biology major and and even though the pre-reqs covered everything I was suppose to know for the MCAT, I found that the upper level classes in biology really helped in my understanding the med school classes.

    Med school classes moves quickly enough that a good background in the sciences will go a long way to helping you pass your courses. I know many nontrads are eager to start med school but it's better to take some extra time and be overly prepared then to try for shortcuts and failing out of your classes.
     
  24. Doctor Bagel

    Doctor Bagel so cheap and juicy
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    Huh? I'm admittedly only a first year medical student, but I don't foresee calculus being at all useful. I would recommend that most premeds take it just because calculus is a good class for a well-rounded education, but it's not particularly useful in the medical field for your standard physician or medical student.
     
  25. DrMidlife

    DrMidlife has an opinion

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    Um, nimrod alert on that advisor. Neither of you know what you're talking about, no offense. Any actual med students or practicing physicians want to describe the "pages of math" they have to do? I bet there aren't any - maybe a 3x5 card's worth. We'll do dilution calcs, titrations, mg/kg calcs, and once in a great while, a Fourier transform (which isn't calculus). Maybe some statistical analyses, which again are not calculus. You'll need calculus if you do research in biophysics or bioengineering or anything where you need to define a generalized rate of change, or sum of multiple forces, or anything fun like that.

    Why on earth would you take calculus after physics? Physics is the only time you'll get to use calculus unless you go into engineering. Or you go into, you know, math or physics. Take calculus because you like math and/or want to use your brain in ways it hasn't been used before. Along the lines of "that which doesn't kill you makes you stronger."

    I'm speaking from my BS in math, but I'm just a premed. Caveat emptor.
     
  26. DrMidlife

    DrMidlife has an opinion

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    Care to wander back over to pre-dental? This is premed. Buh bye.
     
  27. gridiron

    Moderator Emeritus

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    Don't feel like that and you are not old. If medicine is your passion go ahead with it. Your experience of life will be a positive and can only help you to become a better doctor.
     
  28. Starphoenix

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    Thanks, Gridiron. I appreciate your perspective. :love:
     
  29. Nasem

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    lol… speaking of nimrods..

    ever wondered why this is the ONLY non-traditional form in all of SDN? Yes I know its under “premed” but that doesn’t necessarily make it ONLY FOR PREMEDS.
    Heres the explanation of this forum:

    “For students that have entered the health professions from a different path, either as a career change, after military service, or just later than the average pre-health student.”

    And you make it sound like pre-dental IS SOOO different that pre-med lol…. News flash… ITS NOT…. The requirements for pre-dental and pre-med are 99% the same (physics, biology, gen chem., orgo). Only difference is the application process and MCAT vs DAT.
     
  30. Doctor Bagel

    Doctor Bagel so cheap and juicy
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    You're right -- this forum is for all nontrads regardless of medical discipline. However, this particular thread seemed to be about premed issues so pre-dental issues might be less useful.
     
  31. Nasem

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    Doctor Bagel~

    Your right, this thread is more from a pre-med than a pre-dental, but I was only trying to say that whatever Advice I give regarding pre-requirements for medical school would have been the same for either medical or dental. Since the "pre" for both schools is nearly identical.
     
  32. amindwalker

    amindwalker Forgetful omniscient

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    Starphoenix,
    I am a 38 year old husband and father who returned to school three years ago to begin my pre-med education. I graduated in December and will be going to Med-school in the fall. I too had no math preparation, so I have been where you are. The lower level math courses at the university where I went were very hard and were designed as weed-out classes. I highly recommend that you find, purchase and study a book called Painless Algebra http://www.amazon.com/Painless-Algebra-Lynette-Long-Ph-D/dp/0764106767. It made the subject understandable and prepared me well. It took about a week to do the whole book which I did just before the begginning of the semester. I went from knowing nothing about algebra ("When did they put letters in it?") to being ready to hit the ground running in the Intermediate Algebra course. I went on to take a total of five math courses in college including Calc I and stats. I got 4 "A"s and a B.

    I would also strongly suggest that you complete intermediate algebra PRIOR to beginning Gen Chem I, and college algebra BEFORE starting Gen Chem II. I took Int. Algebra before GCI and I'm glad I did. I did not however have Colege Algebra before GCII and I ended up getting a B in GCII as a result.
     
  33. Doctor Bagel

    Doctor Bagel so cheap and juicy
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    That's true -- they are pretty similar from my understanding, except maybe the calculus based physics, which I don't think any med school requires. I disagree with you on the math thing, but that's got nothing to do with the predent/premed issue. :)
     
  34. Flopotomist

    Flopotomist I love the Chicago USPS

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    Uhm - just another vote in favor of the "calculus is NOT required everywhere" camp. If you need a "college level" math - I would say statistics is much more helpful.

    And anything above high-school level algebra is pretty much over kill. Can anybody think of anything we do in med school that requires an integral? The MCAT doesn't even let you have a calculator - so you won't need it then either.
     
  35. Flopotomist

    Flopotomist I love the Chicago USPS

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    Gotta disagree here. The OP is running against the clock in her effort to get these prereqs done. As long as you can manipulate simple equations around, you can do gen-chem and non-calc physics. Perhaps you can give me an example of an "intermediate" algebra problem that you face in gen chem? All the problems I can think of are just regular plain simple algebra.
     
  36. Starphoenix

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    Amindwalker: Thank you so much! I'm glad to know that someone in my shoes has come out the other side. Congrats on med-school acceptance, too! :hardy:

    I'll take Bio I and Intermediate Algebra, Bio II and Applied Algebraic Methods (their version of College Algebra). Then, I'll take Gen Chem second year.

    At this school, you have to take the IA for Gen Chem, and you have to take both algebra classes for precalc. You have to have precalc for physics. At least at this school.

    Thanks for the link. As it happens, I bought a CD-ROM set of junior-high and high-school math subjects. I'll be going through the algebras and geometry prior to school.
     
  37. droyd78

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    While you're undoubtedly right in regards to me, the adviser in question is an MD who clearly has no vested interest in providing bad advice to students. In response to your question, I'll take calculus after physics mostly for me. I want to take the class (re-take, actually, but my first time around was in '97), and since some schools require it, I don't see the harm.
     
  38. Nasrudin

    Nasrudin Apropos of Nothing

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    Interesting. Nothing against calculus on our parts for supplemental knowledge--taken as such I would recommend everyone learn 2-3 languages have a superb knowledge of history and philosophy and be an expert in a chosen hobby that you are passionate about.....sure these and many other things are wonderful in and of themselves. And if I was perched comfortably within the ivory tower of academic medicine having graduated in the 70's at the age of 22, i would probably casually recommend lots of extra study to any young pup that came along.
    The thing is....the op is 38 if i recall. You and your adviser cohort have a textbook scenario that does not apply to the uniqueness and demands of this situation. This is a skill we must learn as hopeful physicians in training--information and the application of it are often not the same thing.

    Now...I have taken statistics and beyond some simple idea about the effect of sample size on significance of error I don't remember a whole lot the equations and operations. I may even take calculus to not rule out some California schools for my applications. But for the love of Allah lets not get lost in the details here. Nobody remembers that much from specific classes they've taken. You learn some concepts and principles and perhaps the details that you will need to use regularly and you move on to the doing part of it--being a physician if we're lucky. You just look up whatever you need. Including some obscure application of integrals that you might just need to impress somebody.
     
  39. droyd78

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    I agree completely. I was only answering when someone asked why I planned to take calculus and in particular why I planned to take it after physics.

    As the OP is 38, I understand a time crunch. But we all will have an application year, when the pre-reqs are done and we have a little time to take some extra classes if we want. Since calculus is required at some schools, it seems like a good option.
     
  40. Nasrudin

    Nasrudin Apropos of Nothing

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    Sure I here you, me too. Good luck.
     
  41. Starphoenix

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    This has been some interesting debate!

    OP here; I'll be 40 in September. I'm going to take what I absolutely need for math, and that's it. I will, however, take some upper-level science.
     
  42. apnea

    apnea Forgot the safe word...

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    +1000000000
    this book saved me in the math department, i raised my COMPASS (college placement exam, tests students' proficiency in math, reading, and english) math score from a rather embarassing elementary algebra level to well into college algebra. saved me about a year of classes, and i really understand the material now.
    oddly, though, the book i have is exactly the same as the link above (down to the ISBN), but mine is yellowish :confused:
     
  43. RevGood

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    I am sooooo in the beginning stages of all of this (and this forum has increased my desire even more to go for it!), but I went to a Bible College and took only a basic science and a basic biology (no lab) course.

    Do to my low GPA I am going to go back to school for a B.S. in Biology.
     
  44. MIGLdr

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    Similar Situation but with some math (Calc I & II a looooong time ago, so long it's not meaningful anymore lol).

    I think however that a good solid grounding on pre-calc math will get you the quantitative skills needed for the bio, chem, and physics prereqs. I find that a lot of the math I see in Chem (currently taking General Chem I) is just Algebra, and the challenge lies in the logical thinking of breaking down a problem and understanding what's going on and what's being asked for that is important.
     
  45. hilseb

    Joined:
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    If this is what you really want to do, go for it. Just make sure you really want it and are willing to work for it, because you run into many naysayers if your path is anything like mine, and you may need to reflect on your own passion a lot. (I even got told by the doctor writing my recommendation letter that a med school wouldn't want to make the time investment into someone my age.)

    I had an art degree with one finite math class and no hard sciences when I decided to do my pre med. (With NO calc, by the way. I haven't done calc since 1990 and I don't plan on doing it ever again.) Since I decided to go, it has been about a 10 year journey in which I had two kids. I got accepted last Friday and I can say it was all worth it, and I am ecstatic about becoming a doctor.

    Good luck, and it can be done. I am 34 now, and I am happy to hear I am not the oldest person working on this dream. There was a grandfather interviewing in my group. No idea if he made it in, but I was proud of him for going for it.
     
  46. Discovery01

    Discovery01 Member

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    Dear OP,
    Sorry I did not have time to read everyone's comments. In short, PLEASE do not be discouraged by having limited math/science background in order to complete your pre-requs. I have been a Math/science phobe for most of my child/adolesent and young adulthood life. I started taking the pre-ques when I was 23 years old and am now in my last semester of pre-requs. It was difficult at first for me because I did not take enough QULAITY time to study. In other words, I mean quality because I studied the same way for my science courses as I used to study for my literature/social science courses. BAD IDEA. You cannot study them in the same way. I had to learn how to study math/science more than learning the acutal math and science. Here are some tips from my journey:

    1) Remember that you DO NOT have to know anything really until the day before (or a coupe fo days before) the test. DO NOT be discouraged if you see things on the board or powerpoint that are TOTALLY new to you. That's hwy you are in school. This was hard for me to understand because when I studied scoial science courses, I had some idea of what the lecture was going to contain (even from common sense or just from life in general..past courses..experiences). This may not be the case in science courses.
    2) DETAIL DETAIL DETAIL. MEMORIZE the details not just the big picture.
    3) KNOW HOW THE DETAIL fits into the big picture of what you are learning
    4) UNDERSTAND the material--do not just memorize. This means that you should be able to teach the material to someone else ... differnet from pure regurgitation.
    5) Practice practice practice. REmember. they are not going to ask you to create a new theory... you just have to be able to do what you have been studying.
    6) DO NOT procrastinate. This will really just be the end of it for you if you procrastinate. Do not work hard to ruin your efforst wiht procrastination.
    7) DO NOT compare yourself with ohters. It does NOT matter if someone else in the class can do the math or science in a quarter of the time as you can... nor does it matter if someone else get things faster or in more depth. AT the end of the day,
    8) Take notes of your notes (preferably with another classmate soon after the lecture) so that you can make sure you got all the information covered in lecture and correleate it iwth the book.
    9) Study teh lecture materials. Make sure you go to class. This is key in science classes. There is too much material for htem to just lecture of on the entire book; therefore GO TO CLASS. Do not miss one single class.
    10) HAVE A POSITIVE OUTLOOK. I found that this is really the key. Know why you are taking these classes. You really won't need a lot of them when you are a doctor. I have a friend who just got into ortho surgery at Hopkins for his residency. I was telling him how much I despised a certain pre-requ and he said, "ah man that stuff was sucky. i don't remember it or care about it anymore"... regardless though, to get yourself through the time, have a positive outlook and remembe that this is a measn to an end... not your whole life.You do not have to be a MATH/SCIENCE genuius or lover in order to be a doctor. You just have to ace those classes!
    11) SEEK HELP!!! Do not suffer in silence when you do not understand soemthing. SEEK HELP!!! People are there to help you... including hte prof, TA, classmates. Please seek help when you do not understand information early on... the earlier you seek help, the earlier you will understand.

    Good luck. If you have the will, patience, and tiem dedication and are HONEST with yourself, you will DO GREAT. Best wishes
     

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