Undergrad electives that help the most in Med School?

Discussion in 'Medical Students - MD' started by SailCrazy, Mar 21, 2005.

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  1. SailCrazy

    SailCrazy I gotta have more cowbell 10+ Year Member

    Feb 26, 2004
    Procrastination Island
    I have the flexibility in my schedule next year to take 3 electives. I'm trying to determine which classes I could take in undergrad that would actually make things a little easier in medical school. (I know that they won't make a huge difference, but it might be nice to have some familiarity with the more challenging classes.)

    In addition to the standard pre-reqs, I will have completed BioChem I, Physiology, Genetics, and an undergrad level Human Anatomy Lab.

    Which classes do you think would best prepare me for medical school? I've made a list of those that I think might be good. With a PA and other health science programs offered here at my school, I can probably find most any class that might be helpful.

    Here is my list. Which would be your top 3 choices?
    My Top 3:
    • Regional anatomy (cadaver dissection)
    • Cell/Molecular Biology
    • Histology
    The rest (not ordered):
    • Neuroanatomy / Neurosciences
    • Pathophysiology
    • Immunology
    • Clinical Nutrition
    • Embryology
    • Pharmacology
    • BioChem II
    • Hematology
    • Advanced Physiology (emphasis on cell and molecular mechanisms - A 500 level graduate class. I'm not sure I want to put in that much time!)
    • Genetics of development and cancer
    • Molecular biology of the gene
    • Advanced genetics laboratory
    • Something I missed ?!?
    Thanks for your help. I really appreciate it.
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  3. debvz

    debvz Wandering Spleen 7+ Year Member

    Apr 13, 2004
    Try doing a search on this topic. I know its come up several times before.

    That said, my undergrad institution did not allow pre-meds to take Anatomy & Physiology - it was restricted to nursing students. If it was offered, I definitely would've taken it. Instead, I spent some time with the Rohen atlas before starting med so I wouldnt be far behind those who had taken anatomy before. Immunology is also pretty complex, and I wish I'd seen more of it prior to having to cram it in med school. No matter what you take in undergrad, you'll likely have to know 10x the detail later.

    Although med is alot of info, you'll have more than enough time to learn what you need to learn. Take some electives you enjoy, not necessarily med-school prep. It'll be your last opportunity to do so.

  4. phoenixsupra

    phoenixsupra Banned Banned

    Sep 3, 2004
    moral high ground
    Take all of them. And don't forget to deny it when you get to medschool and claim straight out that you "never had to study in undergrad" :laugh:
  5. thackl

    thackl 1K Member 7+ Year Member

    Jul 9, 2003
    Austin, TX
    Based on what you have provided, I would recommend
    1.) Human Gross (anything upper level)
    2.) Nueroscience
    3.) Embryo (usually poorly taught, but over-represented)

    Aything related to bichem/genetics as an undergrad seems to be a waste for med school.

    If you're feeling really ambitious, throw in Imunno and Histo. IMHO, the rest is either easy at md school, mostly irrelavent or too far off (2nd yr stuff).
  6. AStudent

    AStudent Senior Member 5+ Year Member

    Jan 24, 2005
    1) Music

    I took 2 years of music theory, 2 years of campus band, 1 year of wind ensemble, and 4 years of marching band. EVERY one of my interviewers asked me about it.

    Plus, it'll help you relax
  7. Vincristine

    Vincristine 7+ Year Member

    Jan 29, 2004
    Do something you enjoy. Undergrad should be experience in itself, not a means to getting into medical school. I still gush when I talk about how much I enjoyed undergrad, and while I have a chemistry degree, it really had nothing to do with medical school....or surgery. Nonetheless, even in residency interviews I could talk about what a fabulous time MIT was.
  8. zeloc

    zeloc Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Aug 22, 2003
    Nothing I took in undergrad really helped for medical school. For some classes, people who took it before actually do worse because they think they know the material, and consequently fall behind. I would take the 3 classes you've always wanted to take, but perhaps never had time for because of premed classes.
  9. SailCrazy

    SailCrazy I gotta have more cowbell 10+ Year Member

    Feb 26, 2004
    Procrastination Island
    I figured that it had, but when I do a search with just a few key words, I get a bunch of crap and can't find the tread I want. When I add more key words, I just end up with a blank screen! :eek:
  10. SailCrazy

    SailCrazy I gotta have more cowbell 10+ Year Member

    Feb 26, 2004
    Procrastination Island
    The situation is a little different for me because I'm a non-trad. I definitely enjoyed my (1st) undergraduate experience, and I too still talk about how much I enjoyed Penn. :horns:

    Right now, I'm really excited to be done with my lower-level science class and to have the opportunity to take some biomedical classes that are much more interesting!

    I did also schedule Spanish for this summer, next fall, and next winter - just for fun. :)
  11. efex101

    efex101 attending Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Apr 19, 2002
  12. Sharkfan

    Sharkfan Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Jan 25, 2004
    Southeast USA
    I like your top 3. They should all help during 1st year.
  13. Elysium

    Elysium Not Really An Old Beaver 7+ Year Member

    Dec 5, 2001
    I would definetly take a good anatomy course (not anatomy/phys, which is bullsh1t), get as much of that stuff in as you can. Everyone in my class who has taken a good anatomy course is way ahead of the game in our course, which is really, really tough. I find it's easier to relearn stuff that to learn it for the first time.

    I'd also say that taking something interesting like pathophys would be a good idea, just to get yourself exposed to some basic pathology so that you can make some clinical correlations when you get to first year. I'm a first year med student with a film degree
    and I wish I had taken anatomy before I got to med school.

    Good luck!
  14. GasPundit

    GasPundit Member 5+ Year Member

    Dec 17, 2004
    Let's step back and think about the purpose of the basic science education in medical school.

    It's not to teach you everything you'll ever need to know to take care of patients. Actually, it teaches you very little of what you need to take care of patients, fill out forms, do procedures, and most of whatever else doctoring is about.

    Think of it as a "first-pass". Do I remember every single outcropping off the brachial plexus? The Cori cycle? Alas, no, and neither do most of my classmates. It's why we specialize. But it does give us some perspective, and the "first pass".

    Why is the first pass imporant? Even though I don't remember the Cori cycle, those connections are still (weakly) present. It's a framework with which to go back and relearn the material in an appropriate depth when needed. I may not know it well enough to actively synthesize the material, but I can recognize when it is presented.

    Medical school is about preparing you for lifelong learning. It certainly doesn't teach you everything you need to know, but instead provides a framework under which you can keep current for the rest of your practicing life.

    As for grades...they matter very little in the grand scheme of things. Focus on being able to learn well and work well in teams.

    Take archeology, advanced physics, English lit, electrical engineering, modern American/World history, and intro to law.
  15. bigfrank

    bigfrank SDN Donor 7+ Year Member

    Feb 20, 2002
    Histology, Histology, Histology -- makes 2nd year Pathology much easier
    Molecular Biology

    would be (were) my top three and they were GREAT to have had.

    I'll stray from the others and discourage an anatomy class. I took a comparative vertebral anatomy class and it was a complete waste. I'd focus more on subjects that are more "cerebral" and less rote memorization.

    Concepts will stick with you longer than at what level the aorta passes the ovaries.
  16. rmp

    rmp Member 10+ Year Member

    Dec 3, 2002
    Biochem II
    Advanced Phys

    All first year courses. See some of it now, see a lot more of it later. But at least you've seen it.

    Good luck with whatever you decide.

  17. KidDr

    KidDr Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Jul 16, 2004
    someplace warm
    This is one of the best things you can do for yourself. I'm jealous--I can't tell you how many times I've wished I could go back and take Spanish. It's incredibly useful in any medical field.
  18. OSUdoc08

    OSUdoc08 Banned Banned

    Sep 30, 2003
    Gross (Regional) Anatomy

    (these were the 3 most difficult courses in the first year for me)
  19. Tiki

    Tiki Girl named after a Giant 10+ Year Member

    Jan 6, 2004
    East Coast
    I took Immuno during undergrad and found it very easy in medical school while alot of my classmates thought it was hard if they had never seen it before. So my vote is for immuno.
    jb94mg likes this.
  20. HouseHead

    HouseHead Powdered Floor Queen 10+ Year Member

    Dec 7, 2002
    I agree w/ cell/molec and immuno. Neuro if you have ZERO knowledge of it- in my experience med school neuro is all about anatomy and has very little to do with what neuroscience teaches (that's more physio than neuro in my experience).
  21. needsadvice

    needsadvice Junior Member 5+ Year Member

    Mar 25, 2005
    I think the following classes would be helpful:


    good luck!
  22. SirTony76

    SirTony76 Senior Member 5+ Year Member

    Dec 21, 2004
    Take a math class. You wouldn't believe how many people die each year from docotrs making a mistake on the order of magnitude of a medicine perscribed.

    Or take Java.

  23. edgesofsanity

    edgesofsanity just some guy 10+ Year Member

    Jun 22, 2004
    is without a doubt Physiology. A great grasp on Physiology will save you time and time again, especially in Pathology and Pharmacology classes. However, learning the cellular pathways isn't heavily emphasized in medicine. I'd look at Pathophysiology if it seemed to relate to primate problems; if it doesn't or your course that you already took was solid, you can't really go wrong with familiarity in Histology.

    On the other hand, go by the reputations of the professors and the courses as well. We had a terrific professor in Embryology at my undergrad; as such, I didn't have to study for the correlate classwork in medical school and still aced it.
  24. ptolemy

    ptolemy Member 7+ Year Member

    Dec 13, 2004
    I hate to sound like a broken record, but courses in undergrad will REALLY not help much in medical school. You will have ample time to learn everything you NEED to learn while in medical school. I would recommend you take either easy courses so you have time to have fun or something not science related that you would enjoy. Remember, the next four years of your life will be devoted to science and medicine, you'll be a better doctor if you take something that is interesting and have something to talk about besides medicine, though I assume you already have some sort of humanities degree if you're getting a second undergrad degree. If this is the case, you probably have other interests, so induldge them while you still can.

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