Jsmith34

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Hey guys I am actually a pre-med student but I felt this was the appropriate forum to post this question in. I recently switched from biology to psychology in undergrad due to personal choices/interests. I obviously realize that medical school don't care what you major in as long as you do well and finish your pre reqs. However, if you were a non-science major in undergrad how did this affect you with the med school curriculum? Were you just as capable to understand and learn the material as science majors? And on the other hand, anybody who was a science major in undergrad, did you feel that it gave you an advantage? Thanks guys for any replies!
 

DrYoda

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And on the other hand, anybody who was a science major in undergrad, did you feel that it gave you an advantage?
I think it made biochem/cell bio pretty easy. Occasionally it's helpful in other subjects (this also depends on what courses you took in ugrad) but nothing to write home about.
 

sonofva

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i was a poli-sci major and i am in the top 1/4 of my class.
 

Tizoc

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I was a business major (and if I could do it again, I'd be an English major). A lot of the science is new to me, but it just means I work a little harder than my classmates and ask more questions. Other than that, I don't think it's had a huge affect on me.
 

ama75

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I was an English major and I'm doing really well in med school. I've got two recommendations: 1) don't just do the prerequisite courses and call it a day; take a few upper-division science courses (e.g. biochem). 2) Get involved in basic science research. Find an area you're interested in and a professor who's willing to work with you and you won't regret it. It's good for your CV (experience, chance at having your name on a publication) and hones your scientific thinking.
 

TexasMDtobe

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I was a psych major - It hasn't affected my ability to learn the material. I seem to study less than some and more than others. I have noticed that my non-science background gives me a different perspective than a lot of my science-major classmates, though this could be chalked up to individual differences. The old question of which came first - perspective or college major. No way to know.

If you like psych, then major in psych - you'll be fine in med school. I'll second ama75's recommendation, though, to take biochemistry (it'll make first year much more bearable).
 

Bayonetwork

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Im doing a B.S. in Psychology and am finding it to be a perfect degree for pre-med in undergrad. It lets me take whatever 30 some hours of science I want and I get to take all these psychology courses which I love: health psych, social psych, neuropsych, cognitive processes, neuroanatomy, abnormal psych, etc. and classes such as research methods which really helps sharpen your reading/writing skills.

What Ive noticed most between my major and science majors is the type of student and their overall approach to medical school. While not ALWAYS the case, a lot of science majors are hardcore students, they eat, breath and sleep science and since they are so consumed with their school work, their extracurriculars and healthcare experience becomes less a priority. It seems they just check them off like a pre-req. Many also tend to be boring to talk to unless its about science. Again, it seems many of them spend so much time in the science world and dont keep up with current events and dont seem as well rounded in other topics including the healthcare system as a whole.

My advice, well Ill say my approach to this whole pre-med/doctor journey, is to find out EXACTLY why you want to be a doctor. You WONT figure that out in a science class alone, and you dont want to figure it out in med school. My healthcare experience which includes 3 years EMT, 6 months of mission trips, 500+ hours as home health aid for quadriplegic, hundreds of hours at free clinics, and lots of hospital grunt work has help me discover I have both a passion for patient care, the dynamics the patient-provider relationship, and a desire to educate and promote preventative care to patients most in need. I know this because Ive actually had my own patients and gotten my hands dirty, not just claimed shadowing as some sort of magnificent experience that made me want to be a doctor. Hopsital work has helped me learn and understand the relationship between medical professionals and the healthcare system, not just doctors. Finally, my science classes have simply helped me learn I have a passion and awe for science and the human body and really the entire world around us. Additionally, strong extracurriculars gives you a well roundedness a lot of applicants dont have and it gives you tons of talking points in an interview.

This is more than I originally intended to write but I felt like ranting so in short, keep the psych degree and love every minute of undergrad!

BTW is your degree set up similar to mine?
 
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Jsmith34

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Thank you everyone for all the responses! My question was in a way influenced by a retired doctor I talked to yesterday while volunteering at a hospital. He basically told me not to take the "soft sciences" but to take the "hard sciences" such as biology and chemistry. He pretty much told me in so many words that it was paramount that I be a biology or chemistry major to succeed in med school. However, could this be because times have changed since he went through undergrad/med school?

Bayonetwork: the psych degree at my school is a B.A. rather than a B.S. (which I would prefer) although I don't believe they offer that here. Even starting late with psychology however, I find that as long as I take a few summer courses I have alot of extra credit hours to experiment with so yes I am in fairly the same boat. Such as, I will definitely earn a Chem. minor once I take both semesters of Biochem, and I could possibly earn a Bio minor. I do plan on taking Molecular Genetics and Cell Bio at least on top of my prereqs and biochem.
 

arroser

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Thank you everyone for all the responses! My question was in a way influenced by a retired doctor I talked to yesterday while volunteering at a hospital. He basically told me not to take the "soft sciences" but to take the "hard sciences" such as biology and chemistry. He pretty much told me in so many words that it was paramount that I be a biology or chemistry major to succeed in med school. However, could this be because times have changed since he went through undergrad/med school?

... Such as, I will definitely earn a Chem. minor once I take both semesters of Biochem, and I could possibly earn a Bio minor. I do plan on taking Molecular Genetics and Cell Bio at least on top of my prereqs and biochem.
I was a History and Literature major with a French minor and did essentially the minimum science requirements for med school and the MCAT (one extra upper-level bio course since my second bio grade was a measly B-), and now I'm a fourth year, AOA with a great Step 1 and 2. Although my friends who majored in biochemistry/biology or took micro back in undergrad didn't have to work as hard as I did in those courses, I am so glad I majored in what I wanted to major in. I can promise you that being a bio major or taking those courses would have absolutely no impact on what I am doing now, which is applying to general surgery. Even surgeons on interviews like to hear that you know your own mind and are able to take advantage of the opportunities available.

Also, I've said it before and I will say it again - don't worry about not taking those "hard sciences" to the degree that others are. You are going to be in medical school - they call it that because they teach you things there. In fact, they teach you what they think you need to know. Why learn it twice? If you'd rather major in psych than bio, then do it. Why waste a semester on something you will see again when you have the opportunity to learn something you will never get to do again?
 

Evergrey

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Thank you everyone for all the responses! My question was in a way influenced by a retired doctor I talked to yesterday while volunteering at a hospital. He basically told me not to take the "soft sciences" but to take the "hard sciences" such as biology and chemistry. He pretty much told me in so many words that it was paramount that I be a biology or chemistry major to succeed in med school. However, could this be because times have changed since he went through undergrad/med school?
.
That doc is part of the "old guard." As far as I know, medical schools realized that making their students focus exclusively on science to the exclusion of more humanistic concerns (sensitivity, compassion, good communications skills) ended up producing a lot of bad doctors. So they stopped doing that and started allowing us nonscience majors to get into medical school. It was wildly successful :)
 

Adaggiote

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That's the thing though...Will a non-science major give you something to talk about in your interviews???
 

Bayonetwork

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:confused: No degree is going to inherently give you something great to talk about at interviews.

True, my point was that it helps broaden your scope of material you are exposed to. For example, in my health psych class or medical ethics class, fierce debates arise about all types of modern medical, political, scientific, and even religious debates. This exposure is a lot different than memorizing microbiology notes for the next exam. It helps develop communication skills, critical thinking, personality, objectivity, humility, perspective, cultural disparity, etc. Not that you cant get some of that in a science class.

In the end you will have taken plenty of hard science classes either way, but my classes outside of this and my extracurriculars/healthcare experience/etc are going to provide a lot to talk about vs the hardcore science student whose head was face down in hard sciences for four years and they're not even sure why.

Definately take your upper division science classes to though.
 

cpants

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That doc is part of the "old guard." As far as I know, medical schools realized that making their students focus exclusively on science to the exclusion of more humanistic concerns (sensitivity, compassion, good communications skills) ended up producing a lot of bad doctors. So they stopped doing that and started allowing us nonscience majors to get into medical school. It was wildly successful :)
Yeah I would take any advice about med school coming from an old school doc with a big grain of salt. Medical students in the old days spent extensive time in labs doing hard science work. That's just not the case anymore. If Biochem or other advanced science were needed to succeed, they would make you take it. There is some advantage to having seen the material before, but med school biochem for example, is likely significantly different from an undergraduate biochem course both in scope and level of detail.
 

BWSTW

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How well do your science scores correlate to your med school science scores?

I know the grading and scale and classes are different, but I'm curious to know if you are scoring b's in the biology courses vs. a's in chemistry, is that how you end up doing in med school? Or is med school so different from undergrand that it's possible to do better?
 

bamtuba

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I did music and have had no trouble in med school so far. People seem to be more interested in me once they hear about my background and most surgeons have made comments about how being a more mature (ie. older) student gives one a significant advantage.

But that is just my experience.
 

DrYoda

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How well do your science scores correlate to your med school science scores?

I know the grading and scale and classes are different, but I'm curious to know if you are scoring b's in the biology courses vs. a's in chemistry, is that how you end up doing in med school? Or is med school so different from undergrand that it's possible to do better?
I don't think colleges grade hard enough to be able to come up with a good answer for this. Med school takes a bunch of A college students and then divides them into little subcategories. So you end up with great undergrad science students who do the whole range of work quality in med school.
 

2012mdc

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Hey guys I am actually a pre-med student but I felt this was the appropriate forum to post this question in. I recently switched from biology to psychology in undergrad due to personal choices/interests. I obviously realize that medical school don't care what you major in as long as you do well and finish your pre reqs. However, if you were a non-science major in undergrad how did this affect you with the med school curriculum? Were you just as capable to understand and learn the material as science majors? And on the other hand, anybody who was a science major in undergrad, did you feel that it gave you an advantage? Thanks guys for any replies!
At my school the first module of first year was basically a super fast review of premed stuff that's obviously more advanced. I believe I had a decent advantage because I had taken classes like biochem, physio, and anatomy in college (all of which you can take as a non science major) but the playing field levels very quickly. I actually think the biggest advantage was the study skills/habits I gained when I had to survive heavy science course loads during certain quarters.

One of my good friends was an art major and got one of the highest Step 1 scores in our class. In contrast, a friend who majored in neuroscience still had difficulty with neuro 1st year
 
Sep 1, 2009
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The most important skill you will graduate is clinical judgement. Any major that emphasizes critical thinking skills works better IMHO than a super rote memorizer who can't think his way out of a paper bag. One of my best residents was an english major who wrote a critical analysis of Dostoevsky's "Crime and Punishment" for his senior thesis.
 

Bayonetwork

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Feb 15, 2010
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How well do your science scores correlate to your med school science scores?
From the 5 schools I have visited...the admissions personnel all mentioned how undergrad science grades overall were a better indicator of med school success than the MCAT. They mentioned the MCAT was important because it was the great equalizer meaning someone with a good science GPA should have a good MCAT and if not then maybe a red flag.

In fact, my schools committee wont write you a LOR if your MCAT/GPA do not mesh.

I would assume that if you do well in your undergrad science classes as in have good study skills and think conceptually then you should do fine in med school sciences.
 
Nov 17, 2010
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I'll tell you right now that I've seen very little correlation between undergrad major and ability to do well in medical school, at least among first years. Some schools have equalizers early first year, as one poster has already mentioned, but even those that don't usually have some sort of non-science major accommodations and the like. I've taught gross anatomy for three years and in that time I've seen science majors ace the course and struggle with the course the same way I've seen classical literature majors ace and struggle with it. Do something you'll enjoy now and worry about medical school later. If non-science majors couldn't do it, they wouldn't let them in!
 

Dral

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From the 5 schools I have visited...the admissions personnel all mentioned how undergrad science grades overall were a better indicator of med school success than the MCAT. They mentioned the MCAT was important because it was the great equalizer meaning someone with a good science GPA should have a good MCAT and if not then maybe a red flag.

In fact, my schools committee wont write you a LOR if your MCAT/GPA do not mesh.

I would assume that if you do well in your undergrad science classes as in have good study skills and think conceptually then you should do fine in med school sciences.
The problem with this is that undergrad institutions vary so much in quality and difficulty of their courses/grading. So in general, I guess this could be the case, but MCAT is still the standardized measure. Med schools like to tout their Step I scores and standardized exam scores such as MCAT probably predict performance... Step I performance often has a relatively big influence on landing quality residencies which reflects well on the medical school...aaaaand again, med schools vary in their grading, AOA selection processes, etc, with Step I being pretty much the only reliable objective measure...and Step scores can generally predict performance on Boards...well, you get it (as you probably already know)...the standardized test thing goes on and on.
 
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Jsmith34

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One poster briefly mentioned it up above, but for those of you who were non-science undergrad majors, how much science courses did you take besides the pre-reqs? And how did this translate to your MCAT score?
 

Quinone

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The most important skill you will graduate is clinical judgement. Any major that emphasizes critical thinking skills works better IMHO than a super rote memorizer who can't think his way out of a paper bag. One of my best residents was an english major who wrote a critical analysis of Dostoevsky's "Crime and Punishment" for his senior thesis.

Speaking of English majors...

We have one girl who never fails to ask long, drawn-out questions in class...and she was an English major:
"So, um, I was looking at the notes from yesterday, and I wasn't quite sure I understood this concept, and now you're talking about it again in a different context, and I was wondering if you could explain it again, because it seems to be important for our general understanding of this topic, which is probably important for our general understanding of medicine?"
:bang:
 

Mean Muggin

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Dec 1, 2010
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"So, um, I was looking at the notes from yesterday, and I wasn't quite sure I understood this concept, and now you're talking about it again in a different context, and I was wondering if you could explain it again, because it seems to be important for our general understanding of this topic, which is probably important for our general understanding of medicine?"
:bang:
:thumbup::thumbup:
 

2662

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Nov 18, 2010
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History major, French minor 3.81 GPA - took basic sciences for non-Life Sciences majors including core requirements for med school; 35 on MCAT, made AOA, and did well on Steps 1 and 2K/S.
 
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pingouin

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moving to pre-allo for further discussion. many medical students and residents post there and will be able to answer this question.
 

kdburton

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Hey guys I am actually a pre-med student but I felt this was the appropriate forum to post this question in. I recently switched from biology to psychology in undergrad due to personal choices/interests. I obviously realize that medical school don't care what you major in as long as you do well and finish your pre reqs. However, if you were a non-science major in undergrad how did this affect you with the med school curriculum? Were you just as capable to understand and learn the material as science majors? And on the other hand, anybody who was a science major in undergrad, did you feel that it gave you an advantage? Thanks guys for any replies!
I double majored in marketing and finance during undergrad and I've done well during medical school. I don't think it would have given me much of an advantage if I was a science major.