finished prereqs BUT staying in school: SURVEY

New discussion topic: I would like to hear what people are doing academically in their application year. As a non-science major I thought I should take a couple more courses while applying to medical school for Sept. 2006 entrance.
Calculus 1 (my número uno school Albert Einstein requires a year of college math)
Cell and Molecular Biology

I took some immunology and then worked in an immunology lab for that year. A great choice for me.
Make sure to get the time during this year to do things you feel passionately about–they’ll be a big part of what you talk about in your interviews, plus of course life is better when lived passionately.

Matt, Cell and Molecular Bio is a great choice. I echo what Joe said - it should be stuff you really want to sink your teeth into, so that you enjoy it and are excited about it. I made the mistake of signing up for biochemistry “because I should probably do that.” It was boring, I was distracted, and the end result was I dropped the class and lost $$$ because I just couldn’t stick with it. Try not to do that!

The most important prep I did was non-academic, but it was very important and took a lot of time.

I was really glad I did things like this to get my life in order before med school:

- renovated and sold my house (if you’re keeping your house, then get all those repairs and stuff out of the way now)

- got rid of piles of stuff that I would not really need for the next 7-8 years, and didn’t want to pay to store or move. This was absolutely worth the effort and time it took.

- got my finances and investments in order, set up all my bills on auto pay

- got an absolutely reliable vehicle that would need near-zero maintenance over next few years

- spent plenty of quality time with significant other and family esp. older family members

- took some trips I had always wanted to take to visit friends, family in Europe

As far as preparing for med school directly:

- clinic time was very useful (worked as MA) - got very comfortable with basic vitals and taking chief complaint - I used these skills a lot in our first-year patient contact - gave me the basis for a lot of interview discussions

- shadowing time was great - got a ton of questions about this in my interviews, learned a lot and made great contacts - interviewers were generally impressed I had spent so much time shadowing (100 hours) and had seen a variety of practices and specialties

- the more Spanish the better - this takes time, and you will not have much time during med school

- I was required to take 2 English courses. Complete waste of time.

- I wished I had had more molecular biology, because they blaze through it at school and a lot of people have strong backgrounds, so I always felt behind. It seems esoteric, but it seems to show up on boards much more now. I was profoundly grateful for my one-semester genetics course. But I don’t think I would have given up all the other things I did, just to complete another semester of mol bio.

I agree with meowmix. Definitely get a lot of those little things taken care of before school. I did a pre-matriculation summer program offered at my school for students who have been out of school a while and those who want to get a head start (we did 3 weeks each anatomy and biochem). At the same time, I also was packing to move, settling on my house and unpacking, all while my husband was in Korea. Fortunately, this was just a voluntary summer program, but I managed to get into some very bad study habits during that time. And if I didn’t learn the first time, I refinanced my house at the beginning of second year, again with my husband overseas. Take my word, these are not things you want to do while trying to swallow the large volumes of information given to you in med school.
I too worked as a nursing assistant during my glide year. I agree that it was a huge help in getting me accustomed to working with patients and understanding how a hospital works. However, I only took one class that entire year- one semester of biochem, which I really enjoyed and helped me in med school. If I had it over to do again, I would have taken histology, immunology and a higher level cell and molecular biology course (I took a lower level one as my pre-reqs). It’s much easier to take those classes at an undergrad pace and have that solid foundation when it comes flying at you in med school.
Good luck,