Dismiss Notice
Hey Texans—join us for a DFW meetup! Click here to learn more.

Undergrad courses, tips?

Discussion in 'Psychiatry' started by saint1569, Dec 9, 2008.

  1. saint1569

    2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2008
    Messages:
    31
    Likes Received:
    0
    Status:
    Pre-Medical
    Kay, so I'm a freshmen undergrad student (first year of college!).I don't even have a GPA yet (finals are this week O.O) but I'm a declared biology major, soon-to-be-declared psychology minor, premed, and on my way to applying to medical school. :)

    My interests heavily lie in psychiatry (neuropsychiatry) and neuropsychopharmacology. I've known that's what I've wanted to go into for awhile now.

    Apart from the big four and other typical premed courses, I'm wondering what would be some good ideas for classes to take to prepare me for med school and the specialty I want to go into.

    I know I'll be taking at least one course in neurology and psychopharmacology (my current school only offers one of each), but what else would help me later on? Should I look for more courses in (psycho)pharmacology and/or neurology at other institutions?

    Thanks!
     
  2. Note: SDN Members do not see this ad.

  3. OldPsychDoc

    OldPsychDoc Senior Curmudgeon
    Physician Moderator Emeritus SDN Advisor 10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2004
    Messages:
    6,121
    Likes Received:
    3,516
    Status:
    Attending Physician
    Take all the humanities that you have time for now--because you won't have this chance again. Any neuroscience or psychopharm you take now is likely to be a decade out of date by the time you make residencey, so take one course for the basics, and spend the rest of your time becoming an interesting person.

    Good luck! See you in 8 years! :D
     
  4. HCE

    HCE
    7+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2007
    Messages:
    518
    Likes Received:
    1
    Status:
    Non-Student

    Agree totally with OPD.....take literature courses...read the great books....pick up critical thinking skills...there's plenty of time to become a biology automaton...
     
  5. phorensic

    phorensic SDN Lifetime Donor
    Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2004
    Messages:
    601
    Likes Received:
    30
    Status:
    Attending Physician
    ditto on both responses. I majored in the humanities and it was the best decision I ever made. It improved my critical thinking, writing, reading, and speaking abilities...all things that are useful for any profession, ESPECIALLY medicine, and ESPECIALLY psychiatry. Once you start medical school...you don't really get a chance to improve upon those abilities, and you will learn more science in one semester of med school than all of undergrad ...so might as well do it while you can.
     
  6. saint1569

    2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2008
    Messages:
    31
    Likes Received:
    0
    Status:
    Pre-Medical
    Yeah but...I mean, I don't really have the time for other courses...I need science courses so I can even stand a chance of going to med school.

    Definitely getting mixed messages now... :(
     
  7. Doc Samson

    Doc Samson gamma irradiated
    Physician 10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2005
    Messages:
    1,963
    Likes Received:
    10
    Status:
    Attending Physician
    No, you don't. You need the basic pre-med requirements and a high GPA. More science courses (except maybe a semester of Biochem) are: a) useless and b) a way to make your application look like everyone elses. If you dig the sciences, then by all means, have at it - but if you want to look interesting and actually learn something that'll stand you in good stead for psychiatry, then look to the humanities.
     
  8. saint1569

    2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2008
    Messages:
    31
    Likes Received:
    0
    Status:
    Pre-Medical
    I guess that makes sense.
    So what sort of humanities would people recommend? Are there any courses I should definitely take now that could help me in psychiatry?
     
  9. Doc Samson

    Doc Samson gamma irradiated
    Physician 10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2005
    Messages:
    1,963
    Likes Received:
    10
    Status:
    Attending Physician
    If you can find courses on the works of Woody Allen or Philip Roth, that'd be a good place to start. ;)

    Find something that you love - we want to see interesting people doing what interests them. Philosophy, literature, sociology, anthropology, womyn's studies, african-american studies, near eastern studies, whatever - it all applies.
     
  10. OldPsychDoc

    OldPsychDoc Senior Curmudgeon
    Physician Moderator Emeritus SDN Advisor 10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2004
    Messages:
    6,121
    Likes Received:
    3,516
    Status:
    Attending Physician
    It's a question of what floats your boat...

    First off, never underestimate the value of being literate in popular culture--sports, celebrities, sitcoms, video games. I can't imagine Frasier or Niles doing very well establishing rapport with 98% of psych patients!

    Beyond that, if you're interested in consciousness, epistemology, metaphysics--by all means take philosophy courses. If you're moved by words, take literature. If you're spiritual, study some religion and theology. If a culture fascinates you, take area studies, a language, study abroad. If you're a policy wonk, take political science. Martial arts, music, robotics--really it will all come in handy someday!

    Oh yeah--and learn to cook. For crying out loud, if you can pass an organic chem lab, you can cook. (It may not help you in psychiatry, but it will make you an interesting person, it might impress a date, and dang it, people--there's just no excuse for not being able to cook. :oops: Umm excuse me...was i ranting again?)
     
  11. HCE

    HCE
    7+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2007
    Messages:
    518
    Likes Received:
    1
    Status:
    Non-Student

    The cathartic benefits of cooking cannot be overstated...OldPsychDoc's advice on cooking is as significant as any advice ever published on these hallowed pages...
     
  12. silas2642

    silas2642 silas2642
    10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2005
    Messages:
    2,283
    Likes Received:
    14
    Status:
    Resident [Any Field]
    Yes, take the ones you're interested in.

    In all honesty, you're 18/19 years old and right now all you need to focus on is getting into med school. So make sure that you do well in the classes you do take. You need to fulfill the pre-med requirements, which means that for most med schools you will need to take a year of biology with lab, gen chem with lab, o-chem with lab, physics with lab, and a calculus I. I think some schools might require biochemistry, but that's pretty much it. You'll also need to do well on the mcat and maintain an overall gpa and science/math gpa of around 3.5 to be competitive. Other than that, take what you are interested in and pick a major that you're passionate about. This will make you stand out way more than trying to figure out what the admissions committees "want" or trying to figure out what will make you a "better psychiatrist" which won't happen for another 8 years.

    Right now you have the time to have a lot fun, develop as a person, get laid, learn to cook, meet new people, join stupid clubs, go streaking across campus (don't post pictures of this on the internet where adcoms could see when you interview), try new things, take weird and interesting classes, learn how to play a new instrument, and stuff like that. You probably won't have time to do a lot of these things in med school, so take these opportunities in undergrad.
     
  13. silas2642

    silas2642 silas2642
    10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2005
    Messages:
    2,283
    Likes Received:
    14
    Status:
    Resident [Any Field]
    Yes they can. Because after every cooking episode comes the cleanup episode.
     
  14. masterofmonkeys

    masterofmonkeys Angy Old Man
    7+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2008
    Messages:
    1,582
    Likes Received:
    255
    Status:
    Attending Physician
    just to echo everything else that's been said in this thread, figure out what floats your boat and study that. If it happens to be a biomedical science, more power to you. But if it's romanesque architecture or comparative lit or psychology or evolutionary biology pursue that too. I'd wager that in my interviews I've spent as much time responding to questions about my interest in philosophy and evolution as I ahve anything else.
     
  15. OldPsychDoc

    OldPsychDoc Senior Curmudgeon
    Physician Moderator Emeritus SDN Advisor 10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2004
    Messages:
    6,121
    Likes Received:
    3,516
    Status:
    Attending Physician
    Sadly, this is not on youtube, so you'll just have to enjoy the transcript. :D

    (God, I miss Phil Hartman...:()
     
  16. HCE

    HCE
    7+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2007
    Messages:
    518
    Likes Received:
    1
    Status:
    Non-Student
    I could use one more "Caveman Lawyer" scene
     
  17. saint1569

    2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2008
    Messages:
    31
    Likes Received:
    0
    Status:
    Pre-Medical
    Thanks for the tips everyone! I really appreciate it :)

    So what kinds of courses did you guys take as undergrads?
     
  18. OldPsychDoc

    OldPsychDoc Senior Curmudgeon
    Physician Moderator Emeritus SDN Advisor 10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2004
    Messages:
    6,121
    Likes Received:
    3,516
    Status:
    Attending Physician
    Caveman Law
    Advanced Abacus
    Intro to Stone Carving
    Recreational Mammoth Hunting

    (Hey, it was a LOOONNG time ago!) :laugh:
     
  19. masterofmonkeys

    masterofmonkeys Angy Old Man
    7+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2008
    Messages:
    1,582
    Likes Received:
    255
    Status:
    Attending Physician
    Hey some of us actually DID study this stuff in undergrad.:eek:

    I took a lot of comparative lit/english, some psych, some art history, a little philosophy, and a ton of bioanthropology and evolution (went to grad school in that afterward--hence the handle).

    I majored in neurobiology
     
  20. silas2642

    silas2642 silas2642
    10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2005
    Messages:
    2,283
    Likes Received:
    14
    Status:
    Resident [Any Field]
    A lot of english literature courses because I'm a good bullshidder. I actually ended up being a biology major though, because I really enjoy biology and the sciences too. There were also a few psychology courses thrown in there besides just psych 101, a philosophy course, etc. It was fun. I kind of miss my english courses where you could be really creative with your style and whatever you wanted to write was acceptable. In medicine, I'm learning that everything is done in a very certain order and written in a very certain style EVERY SINGLE FRICKIN' TIME, which means that some of the progress reports that you read aren't very interesting.

    I'm just saying that having a little bit more of literary freedom when writing progress notes, particularly with the cluster B patients, could be a lot of fun and maybe spice psychiatry up a little bit.
     
  21. OldPsychDoc

    OldPsychDoc Senior Curmudgeon
    Physician Moderator Emeritus SDN Advisor 10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2004
    Messages:
    6,121
    Likes Received:
    3,516
    Status:
    Attending Physician

    I'd welcome a psych progress note thread such as this one--"If A Christmas Carol had been written by someone else" --that is, if any of you all are having slow days... :D

    (BillyP--note the leadoff posting!)
     
  22. whopper

    whopper Former jolly good fellow
    Physician Faculty 10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2004
    Messages:
    6,640
    Likes Received:
    1,287
    Status:
    Attending Physician
    Pre-Med-
    Take your pre-med courses, make sure you don't get blown out of the water. While I was at Rutgers, the pre-med office told students to take Calculus, Biology, Chemistry and the Freshman writing/English class all at once. They were all weed out classes and designed to destroy most pre-meds. Yes even the writing class was too. There was a recent Rhodes Scholar at Rutgers who couldn't get an A in that class. My brother, who got an SAT score of over 1200 in 8th grade (using the old grading system where 1000 was an average score) got a C in it. Don't ask me what's going on there. Former roommate in college--was the valedictorian of his high school--he got a B in the course & said it was the hardest class he took in his life.

    Several big universities that have large pre-med populations often have a weed out curriculum, not designed to teach but to destroy. Other schools I've heard of with similar pre-med philosophies are NYU, UCLA & Cornell. A graduate of one school may have gone out with a 3.8 while at another school a 2.9 while putting in the same amount of effort. I remember getting about a 40% on my Chemistry Lab final exam, and the class average was a 40% which suggested to me that the exam had no validity in terms of it trying to gauge how much we knew our chemistry. I worked my tail off for it, didn't feel I learned much and hated the experience.

    I went to Syracuse U, didn't work much, actually enjoyed the classes I took & left there with a GPA >3.5. I transferred to RU, was working my tail off and didn't feel I was learning much. Several of the classes I took, the only way to do well in the class was to get a hold of the old exams & memorize all the answers. If you actually tried to learn it for real--forget about it-C or worse. IMHO it was a product of the school trying to weed out several of its students & at the same time having several professors that were generating a lot of money in research & publications, so the school didn't mind if they gave subpar teaching.

    Bottom line is, you got to make sure you are doing well in your pre-med classes. If you are in an environment where you can do well & real teaching & learning are encouraged-good for you, take advantage of it. If you were in a situation like I was in pre-med at RU, you're going to have to be a bit more cynical, investigate which classes to take before you sign up for them to make sure they're not the weed out classes. There are several weed out classes you cannot avoid, in which case take them during the summer at a nearby college where they don't have a weed out mentality. Also try to figure out if your pre-med advisor has a weed out mentality or is someone who really wants to help you get into medical school. Unfortunately that too followed parallel paths with both schools I attended. RU told you to take the hardest classes not caring if you could survive--SU, they treated you like you were a paying client wanting the best advice.

    To get a taste of the mental health-several psychology classes may be of interest to you.

    General Psychology
    Abnormal Psychology
    Psychopharmacology
    Physiological Psychology
    Child Psychology
    Adult Development & Aging
    Endocrinological Psychology
    Social Psychology

    I felt I learned a lot of useful things taking these classes for the psychiatric profession that are not typically taught in a psychiatric curriculum.
     
    #21 whopper, Dec 13, 2008
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2008
  23. saint1569

    2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2008
    Messages:
    31
    Likes Received:
    0
    Status:
    Pre-Medical
    Learning to cook definitely sounds like a good idea! =D

    Thanks for that quick list of classes whopper, those do interest me.

    So does anyone have any specific recommendations for any philosophy courses? I want to take courses like Ethics and Logic.
     
  24. masterofmonkeys

    masterofmonkeys Angy Old Man
    7+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2008
    Messages:
    1,582
    Likes Received:
    255
    Status:
    Attending Physician
    To be fair, Cornell has that philosophy about ALL classes at ALL levels for ALL art&sci and engineering majors. I was 3 standard deviations above the mean in a mid-level non-premed bio course and had an A BEFORE any sort of curving. It was a B after the curve.

    Also, my fixed female dog just spent 10 minutes trying to hump my arm. I am traumatized.
     
  25. OldPsychDoc

    OldPsychDoc Senior Curmudgeon
    Physician Moderator Emeritus SDN Advisor 10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2004
    Messages:
    6,121
    Likes Received:
    3,516
    Status:
    Attending Physician
    Logic is a great place to start with philosophy, after that I'd just pick something interesting from your college's course catalog. Most philosophy depts have a biomedical ethics or scientific ethics offering. I really enjoyed a Philosophy of the Social Sciences course back in the day, too.
     
  26. michaelrack

    michaelrack All In at the wrong time
    Physician SDN Advisor 10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2007
    Messages:
    3,835
    Likes Received:
    954
    Status:
    Attending Physician
    take some psychology courses
     
  27. masterofmonkeys

    masterofmonkeys Angy Old Man
    7+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2008
    Messages:
    1,582
    Likes Received:
    255
    Status:
    Attending Physician
    I have found that my history and philosophy of science courses paid the biggest dividends in critical thinking about medical issues.
     
  28. notdeadyet

    notdeadyet Still in California
    Moderator 10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2004
    Messages:
    11,643
    Likes Received:
    1,775
    Status:
    Attending Physician
    Ditto everyone's advice on taking liberal arts and social science classes. Take the four year-tracks required by medical schools, plus a biochem (which is required at many places). Beyond that, only take the science classes that interest you.

    No one in admissions will care what you major in. There is no bias for or against science or humanities majors. They will look to see that you did well and that you have a passion for what you do.

    You are requesting specific courses, but the best recommendation I can make is this: ask locally.

    Many colleges and universities have a little syllabus-type book they sell at the bookstore that has student ratings/reviews of every class that's offered and taught by every professor (I'm old; this may be mostly done line now).

    This is huge. The best and most impactful courses I took in college I took because a particular professor was known for being amazing in a particular subject. Follow these people. I was a literature/linguistics major whose favorite single course in college was an obscure philosophy class I took because the professor was know for being so good.
     
  29. notdeadyet

    notdeadyet Still in California
    Moderator 10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2004
    Messages:
    11,643
    Likes Received:
    1,775
    Status:
    Attending Physician
    Also, for the love of God, use your undergrad experience to grow as a person and have a good time. I think everyone is sort of alluding to this. Do not use undergrad as four years of trying to get in to medical school.

    Nothing more tiring to interview than an overly serious pre-med. Have fun and live a little and it will pay off both on the med school interview trail and (much more importantly) life.
     
  30. Still Kickin

    Still Kickin Attending
    10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2005
    Messages:
    209
    Likes Received:
    15
    Status:
    Attending Physician
    I was a bio major but not specifically pre-med so took all the required courses for my bio degree (which also ended up being the med school prerequisites).
    Although I was at a LARGE state university with a tad bit of a "weedout" mentality, the "weeding out" was not too bad (like - if you were destined to be an art major making clay pots on a pottery wheel, you probably weren't going to do so well in those big science classes. but anyone who was destined for any science major would do ok.) (In general - kind of the "lowest level" course in every field that all science majors were required to take was NOT a weed-out course. But if you took MORE ADVANCED classes in that dept THEN you were being weeded out for that specific major. [ie - Calculus 1&2 - all sciences majors could handle. more advanced math weeded out everyone except the math majors. The required Physics class for all science majors was algebra-based. The calculus-based Physics was a weed-out course for Physics majors. etc. etc.] Biology, Chemistry, Biochem - all science majors were required to take several courses in each of these fields and those first several "lower-level" courses were all very do-able.)
    Anyway, I actually enjoyed all of thoses classes.


    Here's some of the non-science stuff I took:

    (Again, some of it was to fill degree requirements [EVERYONE was expected to be "well-rounded"] - but within the different categories of "requirements" [Social Science, Fine Arts, Philosophy, English, Foreign Language, etc. - there was still a lot of room to pick-and-choose.])

    Marching Band
    Pep Band (Basketball season)
    Political Science
    Sociology 101, Anthropology 101, Psychology 101
    An advanced Psychology course in "Brain, Mind, and Behavior" (had a very biological emphasis - we studied action potentials and neurotransmitters, etc. I was like a sophmore & everyone else in the class was a senior Psychology major & I guess it was their "required" Biologically-based Psych class. They mostly hated it. I loved it.)
    Appreciation of Art (Was like a bit of a European Art-History course. I only took this because it was the only thing that fit in my schedule & filled a certain requirement. [I wasn't too excited about it going into the course.] But the class actually did what it was supposed to - I *did* gain some appreciate of art & enjoyed the class a lot.)
    History of America in the 1960's
    Introduction to Ethics
    Medical Ethics
    Genetics and Society
    (was from the bio dept but rather "philosophical")
    many Spanish courses (many more than were required) - including semester abroad in Mexico, Spanish Literature, Spanish Composition, etc. - ended up with a Spanish minor
    Freshman English (writing) class - I got to take a special "honors" section. They figured we honors students already knew about paragraphs and topic sentences, etc. so rather than waste our time on that, each honors section had a "theme". Mine was "fiction into film". We read books (and discussed them in class) and then saw the film version and then wrote a paper comparing/contrasting the 2.
     
    #29 Still Kickin, Dec 16, 2008
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2008
  31. OldPsychDoc

    OldPsychDoc Senior Curmudgeon
    Physician Moderator Emeritus SDN Advisor 10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2004
    Messages:
    6,121
    Likes Received:
    3,516
    Status:
    Attending Physician
    I was in Chorus--got to do all the "great works", many obscure ones, and met Mrs. PsychDoc there, to boot! :love:

    You can get college credit for doing this???? Man--did I miss out!
     
  32. Still Kickin

    Still Kickin Attending
    10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2005
    Messages:
    209
    Likes Received:
    15
    Status:
    Attending Physician
    :laugh: This was too funny. (And is exactly why I hate cooking...) (Although, in all fairness, my kitchen really is a bit of a bio-hazard zone; I doubt the Anal Retentive Chef's kitchen looks like mine...)
     

Share This Page