Know Your Requirements (an occasional series): New Prereqs Coming

With the new MCAT (known as MR5) coming in 2015 to include social sciences amongst other significant changes (Link to AAMC MR5 News Release) , Johns Hopkins released new admissions requirements this past September. It is likely indicative of things to comes for most schools ( Link to Johns Hopkins Course Requirements )

BTW, just to give everyone some “sticker shock” on the cost of medical school, Johns Hopkins requires international students, who are not eligible for federal aid or loans, to put on escrow or in a line of credit to cover all anticipated costs for 4 years $291,500

Attached files 1320424251-Johns_Hopkins_Course_Requrements_2011.pdf (20.2 KB)Â

Being such a completely non-traditional student I went through some under grad prereq challenges when I returned to university last year. I had been admitted 20 years ago with minimal HS math, no sciences, three years of HS foreign language. I had to take university PE classes back then too!

When I came back we had to go quite a way up the chain to see what I had to do. All my PE credits got thrown out. I don’t meet the current foreign language requirement, but they don’t seem to care. And now I get to start right at Calc after a 20 year math hiatus.

I mention all this as context to the fact that I may end up straddling the MCAT changes, but haven’t really been worrying that much about it yet. (Perhaps I am being myopically obtuse . . . I don’t know). It seems part of college that requirements morp. Some of the poor buggers where I work are trying to get into nursing school. They have 1.5 years of pre-reqs done while they wait there turn for an opening. The school threw out 20 hours of prereqs this year and put in 24 different new ones. I’d be seriously bent.

Anyway, if the significant issue is the 24 hours of humanity/social science/behavioral classes, aren’t most people picking up that and some more as electives getting their BA’s/BS’s?

Thanks for the info Gonnif, as always!


  • Crepitus Said:

Anyway, if the significant issue is the 24 hours of humanity/social science/behavioral classes, aren't most people picking up that and some more as electives getting their BA's/BS's?


Traditional premeds still are overwhelmingly science majors and often load up on advanced bio courses. It seems that the MCAT and med schools are finally making these "extra" courses all but formally required, such as biochem, genetics, cell biology, etc. The course loads for biology degrees have so many required core courses in bio and related in chemistry, math, physics, that these students often only get the minimum number of humanity and social science credits to graduate. And I would suggest many of these are considered "fluff" courses by the premeds; just take the exam, and forget whatever you learned. It's not like its gonna be on the MCAT? at least until now

It also creates students that are heavily concentrated in the "technical" aspects of premed studies and are perceived to lack theory, content, inter-relationships and skill sets in communication, writing and social aspects for medicine. (BTW, my graduate work is in sociology). Part of this seems the general lack of indepth social and classroom discourse (when news headlines that the kim kardashian divorce is announced prior to the greek debt crisis, is my favorite example this week). How to talk to patients, how to write and document medical records, and how to understand the social impacts, the culture variations, the psychological nature, are all important to the practice of medicine. The MCAT and med schools are now forcing students to take this seriously.

Dear gonnif

as always, many thanks for all the info you provide us with.

I guess the folks who thought I wasted time getting a degree in humanities aren’t laughing much anymore, LOL!!!

I don’t know how I feel about the new MCAT. Putting behavioral sciences in there is a good idea, especially since many med students I’ve talked to feel that their exposure is inadequate compared to what they could use in the clinic. Adding psych and whatnot to the test would encourage students to learn more about the field. But social issues in medicine? As much as I’d like to support individuals in learning about the field they intend to enter, it’s virtually impossible to know everything in such a dynamic vocation!

Besides, with all the stuff they want docs-to-be to know, students wouldn’t be able to have the time to be three-dimensional people, with things like hobbies and relationships. Which adcoms seem to be interested in. Odd, no?

It’s also irritating that the partially unfounded stereotype that budding scientists are not social persists. Science is a collaborative field which requires a lot of interpersonal communication to succeed. Therefore, someone who does science should not be immediately expected to lack social skills. I’d be seriously concerned that some of the “perceptions” of the decision makers may be partly informed by pop culture. If the AAMC would like to see students who are more adequately equipped with interpersonal skills, they should pressure colleges to start restructuring the lecture-heavy science classes, changing them to include pertinent discussion and focus on enabling the students to create study groups, which studies have shown to be more effective anyway.

If they had to change the MCAT to indicate a measure of social skills, they could probably reinforce the reasoning-by-analogy approach to the test. Working through a quesion this way causes the test taker to process the information in part as language.

Finally, putting social sciences back on the MCAT won’t make students interested in the material. I hate to accuse scientists of academic bigotry, but it’s true – the students will just think of SS as “fluff” they can forget later instead of “fluff” they can forget now.

Don’t mean to rag on all this, but I seriously doubt how effective these changes will be in achieving the objectives outlined by the AAMC.

  • gonnif Said:
Traditional premeds still are overwhelmingly science majors and often load up on advanced bio courses.

While nerdy non-trads take "Science Fiction Studies" to lighten up the semester that has upper level Bio and Organic.