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I have NO IDEA where to start! Please help!

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by marzen, Mar 5, 2007.

  1. marzen


    Dec 13, 2006
    Hey guys. I still want to go premed, and I've improved my grades a lot since I last posted here. First off, I have no idea where to start. I don't know what classes I should take, and when should I start studying for the MCAT? I don't even know what's on the MCAT!!! :laugh: I'm just looking for a lot of advice, and hopefully everyone on here can point me in the right direction. I'm going to be getting my Phlebottomy (major spelling) license, and I'm going to shadow my doctor at his office in next few months, but besides that, I have no clue where to start! I'm also going to make an appointment with my school counsler.

    Thanks guys,

    Robert Monaghan
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  3. Robizzle

    Robizzle 1K Member 2+ Year Member

    May 28, 2006
    Boston & NYC
    First, you shouldn't post your real name on an internet forum.

    Second, your school counselor or pre-med advisor will definitely steer you in the right direction regarding what classes to take in order to fulfill your pre-med requirements. They usually are: 2 semesters of bio, 2 semesters of physics, 2 semesters of gen chem, 2 semesters of orgo, maybe some math, and some english.

    Third, MCAT can be taken at any time. People usually take it during the second semester of their junior year. It contains material from all the classes I listed above, besides math.

    Good luck,
    Robizzle Forshizzle
  4. almo88

    almo88 double frick 2+ Year Member

    Jan 29, 2007
    Hi there! Wow, where to start? First of all, to know what courses you need to take, you need to look at the school you want to apply to. Usually they are Physics I & II, Chem I & II, Organic I & II, and a Biology or Zoology course. That's just the basics. Once you have taken the above courses, you are supposedly ready for the MCAT. There is still the option of an MCAT course (kaplan, princeton...). After taking the MCAT you can apply to medical school! yay! This is just a start! Sorry I couldn't be of anymore help! Good luck! :thumbup:
  5. spicedmanna

    spicedmanna Moderator Emeritus 7+ Year Member

    Certainly a premedical advisor is a good place to start. It's good that you are going to make an appointment. An advisor can point you in the right direction.

    Pick up a copy of the MSAR, either from your premedical advisor's office, or through the AAMC website. It's a great resource that presents vital data and requirements for each of the allopathic schools in the US and Canada. Check out the individual requirements of the schools in which you are interested; however, in general, most schools have these as premedical prerequisites:

    1 year of General Chemistry + Lab
    1 year of Organic Chemistry + Lab
    1 year of College Physics + Lab
    1 year of English
    1 year of Biology + Lab

    Some schools require Biochemistry and other advanced Biology classes, such as Genetics and Cell and Molecular Biology; others might require social and behavioral sciences. Some schools also require some math. Again, it's best to check the MSAR for details.

    The MCAT has changed since I last took it. However, what hasn't changed is that it is a test of your knowledge of the basic sciences and your test-taking abilities. It is primarily passage-based, but also has discrete questions in the science sections. It is comprised of four sections: Verbal Reasoning, Physical Sciences (Gen. Chemistry and Physics), Biological Sciences (Gen. Biology, and basic Physiology, Genetics, and Organic Chemistry), and a writing/essay section. Check out the AAMC website and the MCAT forum for further details. Preparation time varies, but it's wise to devote between 3-4 months to study. You will want to take many practice tests under real conditions. The AAMC website offers a free MCAT practice test and there are various commercial test prep companies, such as Princeton Review and Kaplan, that claim to prepare you for the MCAT for a substantial fee. Most people take it in April of the application year, although now that it is offered 22 times a year, there is much more flexibility.

    In general, your undergraduate GPA and MCAT are important factors in getting your foot into the door. You want both to be in the best shape they can be. This generally means, UGPA > 3.5 and MCAT >30. Some schools screen based on these factors. All schools will look at your entire application at the end of the process. Also, if you didn't perform as well in your classes early in your undergraduate education, it's a good idea to show an upward trend in your grades.

    Your EC's, recommendations, essays, and interview are also important. Get help in writing your personal statement. Although there are no "official" requirements for EC's, most schools like you to have volunteer/community service, clinical, leadership, and research experiences, depending on the school. Again, the MSAR is a good reference for this. Shadowing is good to have because you want to be able to talk intelligently about working as a physician; schools want you to know what you are getting into. Begin collecting recommendations as soon as you can; most colleges and universities have a premedical committee that collect recommendations from professors, etc. Check with your premedical advisor/office for details on how to proceed with recommendation letters and in obtaining a committee evaluation (if one is available at your school).

    Apply when you are in your best position and not any sooner. This is not a race to the finish line. You want to apply once and get in.

    Good luck. I'm sure as you get into the process, you'll find out what you need and ask more focused questions.
  6. DocWoodyBear


    Feb 21, 2007
    I preferred the Princeton Review book. HOWEVER, it's a matter of personal preference. Go to Barnes and Noble (or whatever book store) and sit down at the coffee table and read both. Whichever one speaks to you and helps you understand, get that one.

    As for the MCAT studying, everyone will give you advice on that. Don't wait until the last semester to do it. When you are done reviewing the book buy the old exams off ...they really helped me! The score I got off the old exams was basically the same score that I got in the actual exam.

    Best wishes to you. It's gonna take a lot of brains and a lot of willpower, but it's worth it :)
  7. luv2sd

    luv2sd 2+ Year Member

    Oct 22, 2006
    everyone's so helpful here :luck:
  8. pyrois

    pyrois 2+ Year Member

    Nov 22, 2006
    Berkeley, CA
    It's probably partly that we're pre-med.

    It's possibly also partly that it's just barely post-application cycle and we're all stuffed full of information that we've used for 6 months and may never need to use again.

    As a result we want to unload as much as we can to the next generation of applicants so that we feel like we haven't wasted all our efforts learning the stuff in the first place:p
  9. Disinence2

    Disinence2 Emergency Medicine Physician 7+ Year Member

    Aug 11, 2006
    Theres a certain Darwinian survival of the fittest pre-med mentality. I think if your not smart enough to look up this easily accessable information by your self, you don't have much of a chance when it comes to the rest of the process.

    Go to your local book store and pick one of the many "Pre-med" Books.
  10. Ibn Sina

    Ibn Sina The Weary Voyager 2+ Year Member

    Jan 22, 2007
    "Survival of the fittest" mentality is a "Self-Centered" mentality. If you believe that this mentality constitutes the mentality of a pre-med individual, I think you should reconsider your motivations for getting into medicine in the first place as we all know that this field requires doctors to make numerous sacrifices, something which the self-centered selection theory of Darwin doesn't quite justify.
  11. gary5

    gary5 Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Sep 24, 2003
    Get a premed advisor at your school and discuss your situation. Do everything that they recommend.
  12. TheRealDrDorian

    TheRealDrDorian Dr. Acula SDN Advisor 10+ Year Member

    Nov 4, 2006
    Basically you will want to study the basic basic sciences / introductory course material at the very least. I managed to do fine on the MCAT having the bare essentials. I would highly recommend taking a basic physiology course if you could. Basically, you should know as much as you can about everything found here.

    I went off this, it's from the AAMC, and it's what is topically on the MCAT. Beyond that, it's just practice exams. Good luck.
  13. Haemulon

    Haemulon Slippery When Wet Moderator Emeritus 7+ Year Member

    Jun 1, 2006
    On SDN
    There has been some great advice/suggestions on here. I recommend checking out the AMCAS/MCAT websites to get a feel for the process and to also look at some of the extra info they provide. Also, as another poster suggested, check into schools that you are particularly interested in (most all have websites with information about requirements and application procedures). Also start thinking about who you may be able to get solid letters of recommendation from (you may need to develop some more relationships if you don't have a number of professors that know you well and are willing to support you).

    As for finding schools, I knew of a few that I definitely wanted to apply to. But the rest I chose by pulling out a map and going through the list of schools to see where they all were located. A lot of it is location (where are you willing to live if you have to? Where do you want to live?). Some of it is curriculum (do they have problem based or traditional learning? What is their grading system? What is the clinical exposure and training like? What are their success rates on the USMLE exams? Placement success for residency?). Also, some of it is overall quality/ranking (depending on whether you are most interested in primary care or research/academics). Is school name recognition important to you? What is the competitiveness of the applicant pool for each particular school and how do you stack up?

    There is lots and lots to think about, but you should have plenty of time. Good luck!!!
  14. NN11

    NN11 7+ Year Member

    Mar 9, 2006
    ^This is the OPs first post on this forum. OP, I can see why you don't know what to do next. Unfortunately, most JCs don't have pre-med advisors. Are you going to transfer to a four-year University? If yes, that's where you should be able to find a pre-med advisor to speak with.
  15. DocWoodyBear


    Feb 21, 2007
    If that's your view of life I wouldn't advise you to become a doctor. You are supposed to give in this profession.

    Marzen came here looking for help, that's already very smart.
  16. jillibean

    jillibean Senior Member 2+ Year Member

    Apr 21, 2006
    A lot of schools also have specific course requirements beyond the basics--ususally some combination calculus, biochem, genetics or psych. You might want to check out the schools you are interested in (ie your state school for sure) in the MSAR for the specifics.
  17. Krisss17

    Krisss17 2+ Year Member

    You don't even have to buy the PR book. Do a search on Princeton Review and you can look at the averages in GPA and MCAT that different schools have admitted their students, along with their admissions requirements and curriculums.
  18. odrade1

    odrade1 UASOM alum 5+ Year Member

    Nov 4, 2005
    There is a lot of truth in your statement; one has to be skilled at self-directed learning to succeed and survive the MCAT/application/medschool/board exam thing. People who don't take responsibility for their own learning and their own fate have a lot more difficulty going through this. It needs to be said that going online and asking for advice from people who have gone before you is, in fact, one way to take such responsibility. So kudos to the OP for taking the first step.

    And all you people who were bitching at Disinence over his comment need to be reminded of the fact that the premed process MUCH more closely resembles a darwinian (popularly conceived) culling/high selection pressure scenario than it resembles a campfire singalong or a togetherness retreat. It is designed to weed out weak students, lazy students, people who don't have enough self-motivation, people with personal problems, and crazy people.

    The way that med school is structured also gets in the way of a high degree of cooperation among students. I do feel a strong sense of solidarity & shared experience with my classmates, but I also am aware that all of us are similarly qualified & that I am in a high-stakes competition with my friends for very scarce resources (class rank & residencies). We get along with each other & help each other (to various degrees), but every day they are praying that they do better than me on the exam & I am praying that I am doing better than they are on the exam.

    If you spend tons of time helping others out in med school, your Karma will be in great shape, but you will end up with your last choice on Match Day. I try to be honest and helpful with my classmates, even as I experience regular feelings of Schadenfreude.
  19. marzen


    Dec 13, 2006
    This place is great! Thanks for the info guys, it really helps.
  20. Disinence2

    Disinence2 Emergency Medicine Physician 7+ Year Member

    Aug 11, 2006
    The application process is a very strong power of selection. If you consider the drastic number of poeple who enter college wanting to be doctors to the number that even make it to filling out an AMCAS im sure there would be a high descrepancy. On top of that consider the 40 something% of poeple this cycle who will not find a place anywhere. Fortunatly it is the most sucessfull students who will find themselfs a seat in med school and go onto becoming a doctor.

    So yes, my desire to succeed must mean my motivation for becoming a doctor is invalid...

    I am by no means some "evil" pre-med my school alone which isn't "cut throat" I've still seen "study guides" with intentionaly incorrect information passed out, poeple assure that the test was pushed back a week, and intentional exclusion from group projects to force a lower grade. You cannot deny that this mentality exists. And according to your post just believing this is a mentality means i need to re-evaluate my motivation.... OK...
  21. DocWoodyBear


    Feb 21, 2007
    I wasn't talking about the Princeton Review book of the Best 3xx medical schools. I'm talking about the MCAT REVIEW book from "Princeton Review" by Flowers and Silver (or whoever writes them now).
  22. Ibn Sina

    Ibn Sina The Weary Voyager 2+ Year Member

    Jan 22, 2007
    Disinence, don't get me wrong, and God forbid, I'm not trying to be rude to anyone. I also re-evaluate my motivation and goals from time to time to make sure they are in line with my values and beliefs. I also concur that med school and the whole application process are competitive in nature. But, I try to draw a distinction between "healthy competition" and "unhealthy (ruthless) competition." Healthy competition boils down to competing with your competitor, rather than competing against him or her. The nasty cases which you mention (e.g. study guides with intentionally incorrect information) are examples of "unhealthy competition."

    When we compete, it should be to push ourselves to excel, not to make others look or do bad. Healthy competition doesn't leave room for intimidation, trash talk, or dirty play. Our individualistic society has made us look at most things from a win-lose perspective, and, granted, many situations do involve win-lose scenarios. But, how should the winner win? Or, to put it differently, how should the winner "beat" his or her competitor? Do the Ends justify the Means? The win should come at what cost to the winner? These are the questions that one has to ponder before launching an all-out competition.

    I believe that human integrity, dignity, and morality (things that make us different from other animals) are too precious to be trampled on by unhealthy competitors. And, if there exists a prevalent cutthroat mentality among our fellow premeds, let's not take it for granted and accept it as the "normal behavior" typical of all premeds. This unhealthy, nasty competition CAN be replaced with a healthy one where cooperation is part of the game. Getting into top residencies and whatnot are commendable, but does exemplary achievements always guarantee us true happiness at the end that we are eager to go "dog eat dog" to achieve them? Aren't there more important goals in life?

    Sorry for the rambling.:)

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