Jul 26, 2017
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Pre-Medical
Hello friends,

You can see more of my background in my other posts, but I'm basically just a little bit off the usual schedule and I have a more specific question. Lots of people on SDN say that biochem is almost necessary to do well on the MCAT, but I currently don't plan on taking it. There's a full year biochem course at my university and it requires that you finish Orgo II first. I'm taking orgo during the year so that's not an option. There's a semester course that's at night and meant for nontrads but it's at the same time as orchestra, which is an activity I care deeply about and would like to be consistent in. I don't really have the funds to take any more courses outside of the school year. What should I do?
 

DocJanItor

2+ Year Member
Jun 6, 2017
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You need to have Biochemistry to do well on the MCAT. There's literally an entire section of the test called "Biological and Biochemical Foundations", so it's pretty important. At this point you have to choose to either 1) borrow money and take the course at a later date or 2) put your hobby on hold and do what you need to pursue medicine. I understand that it's hard to give up something that you enjoy, but this is just a temporary measure.
 

DocJanItor

2+ Year Member
Jun 6, 2017
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So I actually went back and read your other posts, and I have some additional thoughts.

First, not sure why you're posting in the non-traditional forums. From your first post, it seems like you're only a year removed from a regular student. Non-trad refers generally to career changes, older (late 20s-30s) students, vets, etc.

Second, you need to REALLY evaluate if med school is what you want to do. I say this because you've shown significant interest in other activities (activism, orchestra, etc.) but haven't shown much progress towards normal pre-requisites. In one post you said you were deciding between volunteering and research. You will not be a competitive applicant without some type of clinical and/or non-clinical volunteering with the underserved. Research is not required per se, but it's always a plus. Your post implies that you'd like to skip biochem, despite it being a significant and well publicized portion of the MCAT.

Third, you've also mentioned your mental health regarding stress in your university. Let me assure you that no matter how hard you think undergrad is, it's nothing compared to med school. If you have any lingering concerns about your mental health, now is the time to address them.

I would implore you to think about yourself and decide if medicine is really what you want to do. And maybe it is, but you're just not ready for it right now. You can take a few years off, get things stabilized, create a really strong application, and apply when you're ready. No one says you have to go to med school before 25. It's far better to prepare and be ready for the challenge than it would be to fail because you're unprepared.

I hope this helps, and feel free to message me.
 
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Crayola227

The Oncoming Storm
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Oct 22, 2013
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maybe just as importantly, you're likely to not do so well on Biochem in med school - often it's a college level year's worth crammed into 3 mos, and not as well taught
 
OP
prairiemusic
Jul 26, 2017
213
207
Status
Pre-Medical
Hey, thanks for the responses and the honesty - I really appreciate it.

My concern is more that if I don't stay involved in my major extracurricular it won't demonstrate the passion/commitment that I would like to show. I used to play an instrument competitively and it's kind of my 'hook' as far as those are still applicable. If it were just a club conflict I'd drop it without a second thought. Orchestra is also a course that I take for a letter grade and it's been helping my cGPA all of these years... a little scared to give that up.

I've talked to a couple of admissions offices and they consider me nontraditional, although I agree that I'm not sold on the label. I did take some time off undergrad to get my mental health together and I've finally found the right medications. I wouldn't be jumping back into this process if I weren't sure I could handle it mentally, and I do thank you for your concern (not sarcastic). I am sure at this point that medicine is for me. Walking into an operating room just feels right, and I can't imagine doing anything else with my life (including music!). I've applied for a volunteer program and I start training in a couple of weeks. I was deciding before I received more feedback on whether research is necessary, because I won't have enough time for both during the next year and I'm trying to prioritize.

My school claims our Biology covers enough Biochem to prepare us for the MCAT, and it isn't one of the hard requirements for schools so I didn't try to fit it into my schedule. I was just looking over MCAT prep schedules tonight and noticed that taking Biochem is a common theme there, despite not having been advised to take it prior to reading those threads.

The problem with taking time off is that I'm pretty much only given support from my family to live out of state if I'm in school or applying for school. If I'm taking more time off I'll have to move back home and away from my friends and girlfriend, and this year has been hard enough on me emotionally that I'll do pretty much anything to avoid doing that again. It's complicated.
 

workaholic181

2+ Year Member
May 29, 2017
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Hey, thanks for the responses and the honesty - I really appreciate it.

My concern is more that if I don't stay involved in my major extracurricular it won't demonstrate the passion/commitment that I would like to show. I used to play an instrument competitively and it's kind of my 'hook' as far as those are still applicable. If it were just a club conflict I'd drop it without a second thought. Orchestra is also a course that I take for a letter grade and it's been helping my cGPA all of these years... a little scared to give that up.

I've talked to a couple of admissions offices and they consider me nontraditional, although I agree that I'm not sold on the label. I did take some time off undergrad to get my mental health together and I've finally found the right medications. I wouldn't be jumping back into this process if I weren't sure I could handle it mentally, and I do thank you for your concern (not sarcastic). I am sure at this point that medicine is for me. Walking into an operating room just feels right, and I can't imagine doing anything else with my life (including music!). I've applied for a volunteer program and I start training in a couple of weeks. I was deciding before I received more feedback on whether research is necessary, because I won't have enough time for both during the next year and I'm trying to prioritize.

My school claims our Biology covers enough Biochem to prepare us for the MCAT, and it isn't one of the hard requirements for schools so I didn't try to fit it into my schedule. I was just looking over MCAT prep schedules tonight and noticed that taking Biochem is a common theme there, despite not having been advised to take it prior to reading those threads.

The problem with taking time off is that I'm pretty much only given support from my family to live out of state if I'm in school or applying for school. If I'm taking more time off I'll have to move back home and away from my friends and girlfriend, and this year has been hard enough on me emotionally that I'll do pretty much anything to avoid doing that again. It's complicated.
Good for you for overcoming your struggles and returning to this pursuit OP.

The above posters are absolutely not wrong, biochemistry is a huge component of the MCAT since you can see it in both C/P and B/B sections. I for one was very grateful I took biochemistry 6 weeks before my MCAT; I feel it's a big reason why I scored 129 in each.

With that said, I'm a firm believer that test takers CAN teach themselves a pre req they didn't get a chance to take. I did this with physics 2. I also used Khan academy biochemistry vids to shore up some of my iffy areas. They're fantastic and I really think Kahn videos coupled with a TPR biochem book could, with a lot of hardwork, make you successful in this area on the MCAT.

Also, on each AAMC FL and on my real MCAT like half of the biochemistry questions asked were just straight up "do you know what the classification of this amino acid is" and how that A.A. would thus associate itself in a proteins folds. That may sound daunting but once you get the hang of it, these questions are pretty easy.

One thing to consider also though is that biochemistry is usually recommended by most med schools these days.

Final point; I took biochemistry not at the institution I graduate from. Could you maybe just take it a a CC in a summer session nearby wherever you're trying to stay? It's usually easy to enroll in these classes.

Good luck OP.
 

operaman

7+ Year Member
Jun 7, 2010
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From one musician to another: if you want to do medicine, it will inevitably cost you artistic opportunities down the road. Dropping it to take biochem doesn't show a lack of commitment, it shows maturity and intelligence.

Be careful overestimating how the orchestral involvement will be perceived. There are many students who have done that and many who have done it at a fairly high professional level. If it's an amateur or student ensemble, it will get you a nod for well roundedness but does not really stand out. Same goes for pretty much any other EC. You will be competing against some people who have done some truly high level things.

All that said, you don't need a biochem class to do well. You can just as easily do the coursework online for no credit and learn the material. That's what I did for biochem and every other science course before I took my MCAT and it worked just fine. So you can easily keep your orchestra gig and just work biochem study into your own spare time.
 
OP
prairiemusic
Jul 26, 2017
213
207
Status
Pre-Medical
Hey props to you for self-teaching Physics 2 - I'm taking it right now and I can't imagine learning it on my own. I've actually done the kind of AA questions you mention there before so maybe all hope isn't lost? Lol. I don't have the funds on my own to take more classes - already taking Physics this summer was a stretch. Thanks for the words of encouragement :)
 

workaholic181

2+ Year Member
May 29, 2017
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Hey props to you for self-teaching Physics 2 - I'm taking it right now and I can't imagine learning it on my own. I've actually done the kind of AA questions you mention there before so maybe all hope isn't lost? Lol. I don't have the funds on my own to take more classes - already taking Physics this summer was a stretch. Thanks for the words of encouragement :)
You can teach it to yourself OP. You got this
 
OP
prairiemusic
Jul 26, 2017
213
207
Status
Pre-Medical
From one musician to another: if you want to do medicine, it will inevitably cost you artistic opportunities down the road. Dropping it to take biochem doesn't show a lack of commitment, it shows maturity and intelligence.

Be careful overestimating how the orchestral involvement will be perceived. There are many students who have done that and many who have done it at a fairly high professional level. If it's an amateur or student ensemble, it will get you a nod for well roundedness but does not really stand out. Same goes for pretty much any other EC. You will be competing against some people who have done some truly high level things.

All that said, you don't need a biochem class to do well. You can just as easily do the coursework online for no credit and learn the material. That's what I did for biochem and every other science course before I took my MCAT and it worked just fine. So you can easily keep your orchestra gig and just work biochem study into your own spare time.
Ayyyy music friends! I've already accepted that I don't want a career in music; I'm just not quite ready to give up playing. I've also done some higher-level things (trying to stay somewhat anonymous but my school orchestra has conservatory students in it). I do love medicine more, and I am willing to drop orchestra if that's what it takes.
 

DocJanItor

2+ Year Member
Jun 6, 2017
257
285
Status
Medical Student
From one musician to another: if you want to do medicine, it will inevitably cost you artistic opportunities down the road. Dropping it to take biochem doesn't show a lack of commitment, it shows maturity and intelligence.

Be careful overestimating how the orchestral involvement will be perceived. There are many students who have done that and many who have done it at a fairly high professional level. If it's an amateur or student ensemble, it will get you a nod for well roundedness but does not really stand out. Same goes for pretty much any other EC. You will be competing against some people who have done some truly high level things.

All that said, you don't need a biochem class to do well. You can just as easily do the coursework online for no credit and learn the material. That's what I did for biochem and every other science course before I took my MCAT and it worked just fine. So you can easily keep your orchestra gig and just work biochem study into your own spare time.
Let me guess, banjo?