Frame of Mind for Pre Reqs

Hi all,

A question about pre-req’s. I will be taking 2 higher level bio classes; physics I and II; chem I and II and organic I and II this year. I’m not dreading these per se, well maybe a little, but I’m certainly NOT passionate about any of them. Trying to get in the right frame of mind about these classes…are they a “means to an end” and hoop to jump through or do some people really enjoy Organic? I guess the deep fear is that lack my of enthusiasm for these basic classes is an indication of what sort of med student I will be…surely not, right?

Next question, I’m retaking physics b/c it’s been 15 years, and I won’t be able to step into physics II seamlessly with a shaky foundation. I don’t want to retake regular biology, but would like some advice on how to refresh (meaning, self study from beginning to end…too long ago on this one too) so that I will be prepared for biology on the MCAT. Thought about taking one of the MIT free online courses for a refresher. Any advice on how to approach bio refresher would be fantastic.

Freshman biology is the one sequence I would strongly recommend in retaking for two important reasons.

First, the advances in molecular biology, genetics, DNA technology have very quickly made it into the textbooks and curriculum. Unlike chemistry and physics, the material in freshman biology has greatly changed.

Second, the MCAT biology is based solely on freshman biology classes. While advanced classes such as in genetics and biochemistry would be helpful for MCAT, they are overkill.

Taking advance biology is important to show ability to advanced work, improve GPA, etc. However, to do well in these courses as well as do well on the MCAT, my suggestion is to retake freshman biology.

  • TxOPM Said:

I guess the deep fear is that lack my of enthusiasm for these basic classes is an indication of what sort of med student I will be...surely not, right?

There are two different ways or attitudes to look at this question:

First from a "zen" perspective there is a difference between lack of passion and being dispassionate. Lack of passion implies looking at these courses, or rather having to take these courses as a necessary but distasteful path. That is negative. Once you have made the passionate decision to take the path the medical school, you may approach all these tasks dispassionately. That is you find a process to accomplishment without using their difficulty to question your decision to go medical school. The goal has been set, that is where the passion lies. The path, as you said, is simply a means to ends.

The second way to view this is the "rational" or "business" approach. You are considering training to be a doctor. That can be 10 or more years of your life and with debt and lost income, several hundred thousand dollars of investment. Taking premed/postbacc is 2 or 3 years part time (less full time) and perhaps ten or twenty thousand dollars is in comparison to full medical training, a small investment. You may find that perhaps the courses are difficult and is not the life you want to lead. All you have lost is basically a little time and little money (in comparison to what you are considering in full medical training)

But, imagine that you do a few years of post-bacc and do well, you go thru the work of prepping and scoring high on the MCAT, you fill out the applications, and you do all that and stick with it, I think that will have shown yourself that you truly want this.

Remember, until you actually have the letter of acceptance in your hand, you do not have to really decide that this is the life you want. But if you do all of the above and get accepted, then I think you have proven to yourself, that this is the life you want

I think that is very profound advice Mr. Levy. If you set the goal to get into med school and then accomplish that, you have proven to yourself that it is possible, until then, you can’t really know… I guess that is the entire point.

TXopm: As for the lack of enthusiasm for chemistry/ physics/ biology being an indicator of lack of future success, it is an interesting question. Luckily, I love chemistry and biology, and I hope this indicates I will be passionate about the material in medical school.

Many years ago, I was a civil engineering student, but realized after a while that I didn’t really care much about the constituents of concrete and the load capabilities of steel, etc. Although I was interested in bridges and skyscrapers! I liked the macro perspective, but I decided this wasn’t enough to compel me thorough an entire career in engineering that would require intensive technical detail. I’m assuming the subjects biology and chemistry, are analogous to a career in medicine? Isn’t medicine really about biology – cells, tissues, organs, and systems; and chemistry – pharmacology, energy, disease processes, etc. I’m hoping so, because I love this stuff. It seems like it would be hard be a doctor without a passionate interest in them. Maybe it is enough to just be interested in the big picture - patients? I guess the real doctors out there could speak to how important chemistry and biology fundamentals come into play an on a daily basis performing as a doctor…I would like to know actually – am I making an erroneous assumption that my interest in this stuff indicates an aptitude for medicine?

  • kangoroo Said:
I think that is very profound advice Mr. Levy.

Mr. Levy was my father, call me Richard

Isn’t medicine really about biology – cells, tissues, organs, and systems; and chemistry – pharmacology, energy, disease processes, etc.

From what I have seen, medicine is fundamentally about helping some sick people become well, helping other sick people cope with their sickness, and helping yet other sick people live and die with dignity. If you’re doing it right, it’s all about helping people. The chemistry and biology just give you the tool set to help people, the way materials science and physics give you the toolset to build bridges and skyscrapers.

Do you passionately enjoy helping people become healthier? Will that passion carry you through the patients who insist on eating themselves into obesity? Giving themselves lung cancer through smoking? Contracting AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases because they lack the self-control to keep from sleeping around and the common sense to use a latex prophylactic in their promiscuity? Can you love, care about, and serve people despite their self-destructive behaviors, and still enjoy your life and job? If so, medicine might be a good fit. If not, if you’re just looking for a six-figure salary and bragging rights at parties, find a line of business you like and do that instead. Less trouble and work all the way around.

Clink, clank – my 2 m$.

I work in health care right now, while I’m taking my prerequisites, and I’ve found that the things I’m learning are directly applicable to the care I’m giving.

For instance, a patient with a high potassium level was ordered 10units of regular insulin and an amp of 50% dextrose. From my class work, I assumed that there was some kind of co-transport channel involved that inspired that order, and after discussing with the doctor, I learned that I was correct.

In physics I learned about force and torque, which is applicable for my patients with orthopedic injuries.

Chemistry applies to biology directly, and the chemical bonds and properties I’m learning in chemistry directly inform my learning of biology. And math, which I love, shows up everywhere.

There’s a reason that these classes are pre-requisites for medical school, and I’m enjoying them very much.

there is a difference between motivation to become a doctor and ability to actually do it. I think my motivations are sound. The question of wether or not having a natural interest and aptitude in science indicates likely medical school success and success in medical practice is worth asking.