second choice after pre-med at mcgill

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Dec 12, 2008
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Hey all, I'm a Quebecer applying to McGill Pre-Med in Fall 09. What should I put down as my second choice if I fail to get in; in other words, which program would be the best choice if I have to re-apply (I don't mind doing anything for a couple of years, since my ultimate goal is to eventually become a doctor). I really haven't researched much yet, so any info or advice is welcome :)(do I have to apply for a science program, or is any program fine, etc.).

Thanks in advance,

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you don't have to do a science undergrad to be able to apply to medical school later on. as long as you complete all the pre-requisite courses for each medical school that you'll be applying to, then you'll be fine.

however if you are doing your bachlors at mcgill if you don't get accepted to the med-P program, choose your program wisely (i did my bachlors at mcgill). if you're going the science route, choose a program that will give you high marks (i.e. probably not physiology or biochemistry; they're arguably the toughest programs at mcgill). if you're going non-science, choosing management will be tough because the faculty's curving policy will prevent you from getting great marks. any other program will do as long as you can get great marks.

I hope you get accepted to med-P, because it's much tougher (in my opinion) to get into med school afterwards.

If you don't get accepted and you want to apply after your bachlors, your GPA and MCAT scores count for a huge amount in the application process. for mcgill, if your GPA is below a 3.7, it'll be very tough to get accepted. they keep increasing the number of spots available for med-P, but not for the undergrads. so keep that in mind.

hope that helps.
Hi Hanmo, thanks for the reply. Your info is much appreciated, but I'm still a bit foggy on the first part of what you wrote. What exactly are the "pre-requisite courses for each medical school", because only talks about credit requirements - is that what you mean, or are there specific courses I would have to take in whatever bachelor degree I would be doing?
Also, out of curiosity, what bachelor did you do at mcgill and was it an easy one?
Thanks again for responding.
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Ah, sorry I wasn't very clear with that. Basically, 6 credits of general biology means two 3-credit biology courses, and 3 credits of organic chemistry means one 3-credit organic chemistry course.

Since you went to cegep, what you've done in cegep counts as equivalents. For example, having taken both General Bio I and General Bio II is equivalent to taking the two 100-level BIOL courses at mcgill. And for physics, the 3 physics courses you did in cegep are accepted as well. For mcgill, these requirements are there no matter what bachlor degree you choose to do. So if you decide to go into arts, you'd still have to complete the required courses before you apply to med.

However, if you apply to out-of-province or the US, you MAY have some problems with the cegep courses. For example, U of Alberta med school flat out does not recognize courses done at the cegep level. UBC med school has an extensive application section for your courses that can get very confusing. applying to the US schools via the AMCAS also can have problems with the cegep courses... at the time I applied, I called them and asked about what to do twice and got different answers each time. I'm not trying to make you paranoid lol, but it's just something to think about, because I'm from Quebec as well and I had all those problems.

Other med schools might have pre-requisites that include other areas, such as 6 credits of biochemistry, or more credits of organic chemistry. Some will also have humanities or social studies and English course requirements.

I did physiology at mcgill... it wasn't really a 'mistake' on my part in choosing to go with physiology, but I felt that I would've had a better chance of being accepted if I had gone into an easier program. my GPA was ~3.50 and my mcat was a 32P, and it was not competitive enough to get accepted anywhere in Canada. but if I had at least a 3.7, then it would be much better. mcgill gets particularly selective for applicants below 3.7.
Hi Indavidual,

Everything Hanmoli said is true, and I can further help you out on which Major to choose. I recommend you take Biology as a Major (B.Sc). I am presently a U3 in Biology at McGill and I was in a French CEGEP beforehand. I am also member of the McGill Biology Student Union. The major itself isn't that hard, some mandatory classes are a pain, but those are the ones that Med-P have to take, lol. (jk they're not that hard)

I really recommend you visit Anne Comeau, she is the advisor for Biology and can help out students who wish to go through Biology to get to Med school afterwards (in case you don't succeed on your first try). Her contact info is right here:

Anne Comeau,
Room W4/13 in Stewart Biology Building (1205 Docteur Penfield, Montreal)
[FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]514-398-4109
.[FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]anne.comeau at (change the at for @)

Here's the department website:

I met some students in Physiology and Molecular Cell Biology majors and they say it's hell, especially if you want to have easy As and go to med school. As for anatomy, well, Anne Comeau thinks you don't get enough of a broad education useful for med-school.

Finally, some of my friends went to UdeM after finishing a McGill degree and found it was way easier than McGill. So, if you are a francophone, that's something to consider. I personally don't regret going to McGill, I met fantastic people, I brushed up my English skills and even though it was apparently harder, I don't mind, because everytime I say to someone I'm at McGill, they're like "Whoa McGill", lol. I personally don't care about reputation, but future employers might. Also, most of the textbooks and articles are in english, and I wanted an education to be all in one language, I don't mind learning in "Franglais" but it can become pretty confusing at some point.

I hope I answered some of your questions, if you have any others, please don't hesitate to ask.
Biology is definitely a good route to go in. Psychology (science, not arts) is also another major you can consider, as it is quite easy compared to others. As for Anatomy & Cell Biology, a lot of people from physiology end up switching to it because they feel that it's easier. Its cell biology component overlaps a lot with courses that you'd have to take for a Biology major. But you don't don't get any of the important biochem background which is very useful to have.

There are definitely hard courses in the easier programs, but you can do well in them if you tried hard enough. On the other hand, in physiology, PHGY-311 is the death course where a bunch of people fail each year because you'll probably do bad regardless of how much you study. Other very difficult courses are PHGY-312, 313, 314. In biochem, analytical chemistry is a deadly course where the failure rate is just staggering. There is also biochem-311 and 312 that are rather difficult, along with a bunch of upper level lab courses. Microbio & Immuno is also a challenging program (some people do Interdepartmental Honours Immunology and they like it better, but it's more work).

There were quite a few professors in the McGill admissions committee that are from the Anatomy & Cell Biology department. For example, Dr. Mandato was one of the interviewers. And Dr. Hermo is on the executive committee. Doing anatomy gives you more of a chance to know those professors, and COULD potentially make you stand out a bit more. However, since McGill is getting rid of individual interviews and switching to MMIs, this is less important. But their letters of recommendation are still worth a lot.

In the end however, it's your grades that matter the most. if you do not have a 3.7+ GPA, your chances are very limited. You'll probably get offered an interview even if your GPA is 3.4 (provided that your MCAT score is 30+), but your extra-curriculars and references and your interviews must go Flawlessly. This is because for their final evaluation in the application process, they give you a score for your interviews and your extra-curriculars, and give you another score for your academic side (GPA + MCAT). Then they use the 2 scores and make a single final score to rank all the applicants. So if you have very good academics, a slightly bad interview won't be very bad. But if your grades aren't good, even if you have an amazing interview, you're still not safe.
Hello and sorry for barging in on the conversation like this. However, while reading this post, a few questions came in mind which i would like to ask.

I am currently in cegep, first semester of health science and currently volunteering at the hospital. After alot of "soul searching", I do not see myself working anywhere else than in a Hospital. My goal is to ultimately become a physician. However, I am a realistic person and I do know that becoming a doctor is hard to achieve. My back up plan is to become a Nurse if i do not become a Doctor. I have thought about going through Med-P, my grades for med-p are pretty much border line for now. At the moment, im more interested in getting an undergrad's degree then going on to pursue medicine instead of going through Med-P.

After reading HanmoLi's post that many programs in Mcgill can be hard and not the best option to pick, if one's ultimate goal is to go to Med school ( mcgill ). I am curious to know if getting a BSN ( Nursing ) is a good option.

What is your opinion on this? and why?

thank you for your time and have a good evening.

p.s sorry for any grammar mistakes i may of written.
No worries! Questions are good; saves headaches later on :)

To answer your question, doing a Nursing degree is actually pretty good. First and foremost, you get plenty of clinical exposure and patient contact, and med schools love that. And although Nursing is not an easy program by any means, it is not the most difficult either. So if you work hard, you can do well. It also serves as a great backup in case you don't get accepted to medical school.

On the other hand, although not many people like to admit this, medical schools in north america tend to be somewhat elitist (some schools more than others). They may hold your nursing degree against you. But if they choose to do that, especially during an interview, you just need to be prepared with some good responses and some counter-arguments.

I don't know anyone personally who had gone to med school through this route, but I have heard some success stories. So you might want to do a bit more digging yourself or start a new thread with this question.


As for your med-P chances, if your Cote R is below a 35, then it'll be very tough. But since you're only in your first semester, you still have a lot of time to pull that score up.

Med-P vs. doing a bachlor's degree first:
Based on what I have seen and experienced, I think it's very important for everyone to have the experience as an undergrad. I feel that if you go the Med-P route, you miss out on too much life because essentially as soon as you're out of your teenage years, you're in med school. And once you're in med school, the social aspect of your life is gone. Sure you'll get to socialize, but it'll mostly be with other med students. I just think that you'll miss the chance to experience things in life that don't involve studying or medicine.

There is also the age issue -- if you graduate from cegep at age 18 and go into med-P, you're graduating from med school at the age of 23. I'm not saying that you won't be mature enough at 23, but ageism does exist. You will encounter some patients who would not trust the younger doctors.


Just to clarify something, I'm not saying all these horrible things to want to scare any of you away from the hard programs at mcgill, I'm just telling you what I and some of my friends had gone through during the past few years with the whole med school process. Most of us who did physiology weren't able to get accepted because our GPAs were too low to be competitive in Canada. But some of us are doing med school in Australia now (whole other sub-forum for that). There are always options to achieve your goal if what you really want to do is to become a doctor. Don't fall on your backup plans too easily. Don't give up until it's absolutely necessary.
thank you for your reply, i really admire your honest input regarding my question. It's very hard for me to find people to ask these questions to let alone find someone who can actually reply them with an answer hehe.
I am very apreciative of the information and help you have given.:)
Hey all, and welcome to the thread a1b1! I haven't been active on this forum for a while, so I'm sorry if I'm beating a dead horse. Anyways, if I understand correctly:

1. If I were to re-apply to Pre-Med later on specifically at McGill, the reason I can do any bachelor's is that I've already done the prerequisite courses for Pre-Med at Mcgill in CEGEP.

2. Biology for a bachelor is a good second choice if my only goal in mind is to get into pre-med.

Thanks again infinitely for everyone who has contributed to this thread (and good luck next year a1b1, work hard!).