science major advantages?

I know it doesn't matter what major you have in the applicaton process, but what or how much advantage do science majors have in med school? Do they do better because they've had an undergrad intro class in the subject (like physio, neurobiology, immunology, endocrinology, anatomy, etc)?

QUOTE (jenn9237 @ Jun 27 2003, 06:55 AM)
I know it doesn't matter what major you have in the applicaton process, but what or how much advantage do science majors have in med school? Do they do better because they've had an undergrad intro class in the subject (like physio, neurobiology, immunology, endocrinology, anatomy, etc)?

Hi there,
Medicine is applied SCIENCE. There is no way to study medicine without studying science. Do you need to be an science major to study medicine? No, you need to be able to perform well in the core pre-medical studies but beyond that, you don't NEED to be a science major. If you have a study method that enables you to efficiently learn any discipline, you can excell in medical school. You HAVE to be an efficient student that can digest and apply large amounts of information (some of it science based) in a short period of time.
If you cannot read, study and comprehend biochemistry, you are not going to be able to get through medical school. If you cannot read, study and comprehend anatomy, you are not going to get through medical school. Do science majors have a special advantage? There is some familiarity which may or may not be an advantage. Medical school is not a review of undergraduate biology, chemistry or physics. Medical school presents subject matter that will enable you to practice medicine as a physician. There are no undergraduate majors in medicine so almost ANY major plus the core pre-med courses can prepare you for medical school.
I have a graduate degree in biochemistry but the subject matter that I studied in intricate detail in graduate school was totally different than the applied biochemistry that I learned in medical school. I often had more insight into the various processes that were presented but in the end, I had to color in the same circles that my classmates colored in. Was biochemistry any easier for me? Subjectively, yes but objectively probably not as on some tests I scored higher than the rest of my class and on some tests, some outscored me.
You have to be an efficient student of something. That something can be any discipline in addition to your pre-med classes. I had classmates that were engineers, physicists and high school drama teachers. In the end, we are all physicians. There will be something in medical school that will be a struggle and there will be something that will be easier. You can barely pass all of your pre-clinical sciences and ace your rotations or you can ace your pre-clinical sciences but struggle with your clinical rotations. In the end, everyone ends up with a medical degree if everyone passes their coursework.
You have to decide where your interests lie and choose a major based on your interests. You have to do well in your pre-medical classes and you have to do well on the MCAT. There are as many routes to medical school as there are medical students. If you choose a major based on what you perceive as giving advantage in medical school admissions but bomb in the coursework because of lack of interest, you won't be going to medical school.
Sure the greater proportion of medical students are science majors but they were not selected to attend medical school because they were science majors. They were selected because they had proven themselves capable of mastering the medical school curriculum. The year that I received my undergraduate degree in chemistry from GWU (1994), every one of us has now attended medical school. I was the last. There were six chemistry majors that year. On the other hand, there were 96 biology majors but not all of them have attended medical school. Not even one third of them have attended medical school. Does that mean that if you graduated from GWU in 1994 with a degree in Chemistry, you had an advantage over someone who graduated from GWU in 1994 with a degree in Biology? I don't think so.
I love the path that I have taken to medical school. I believe that my past experiences make me a better physician. I believe my understanding of scientific principles aid in my understanding of the practice of surgery but I could be just as good a surgeon with a degree in American Studies and a minor in Spanish along with solid performance in my pre-medical classes. At times, I wish I had taken the second route because the Spanish would be infinitely more useful than my coursework in Applied Differential Equations and Higher Algebra Theory.

I agree 100% with Natalie. Study something in undergrad that you enjoy. If I had been a biology or chemistry major in undergrad, I can pretty much guarentee that I would not be in med school today. The thought of spending hours looking at and classifying plant and insect cells or fretting over physical chemistry does not (and did not) appeal to me in any manner and as a result, I probably would have gotten rotten grades. Instead, I attended an undergraduate school that required that I take many humanities class that broadened my horizons while I majored in something (Mathematical Science) that I loved and was good at (which came first, the chicken or the egg, I don't know). The required pre-requisites prepare you to think/study in the way that you need to in order to synthesize the material in med school.
Good luck,

I totally agree with Natalie and Tara. And I wanted to throw a common mistake some science majors tend to make when they go to med school. If they enter med school thinking they have a good grasp of the material as it is sometimes they won’t study as hard and end up not doing as well as they could or should have. I personally am majoring in both biology and chemistry, but realize that just cuz I’ll have taken intro classes in some of these subjects doesn’t mean I have a clue on what we’re gonna be taught in med school. My main reason for choosing a science over something non-science was two-fold: 1. I enjoy it (biology first, and now chemistry), and 2. I hate having to write essay exams/term papers for every single class hehe. I’m still taking tons of humanities because I have interests in other disciplines, but they aren’t things I’d want to spend all 4 years studying like lit, his, philosophy, psychology. By the time I graduate in 2006 I’ll probably have enough credits in about 5 different disciplines to have minors in them, but may be missing a specific class or two to officially list them as a minor (like another writing class for lit, possibly psych stats if I can’t get my biostats to crossover, stuff like that). Yes I’m going to have way too many credits when I graduate (even in biology) and have to pick and choose which ones will actually count toward my degrees but I will be able to say that I truly got the most out of my undergraduate education as I possibly could.
Long story short, don’t worry about choosing a major your first year. Take a variety of classes and figure out what it is you truly enjoy and could handle studying for 4 years (or more if going part-time) and go for it. You’ll do better, and have more fun biggrin.gif
–Jessica, UCCS

thanks for the insight everyone.
I also talked to one of the doctors I work for and she majored in biology. I asked her if she found it helpful in med school and she said no. Only a few of the classes she took helped her…anatomy, immunology, and biochem. She said she wishes that she majored in something other than science like her cousin (who's also a doctor) who majored in Economics. She said she feels like she's not well-rounded because that's all she knows…science.

Thanks for all the input. I have been trying to really decide if I want to be a science major or not. I think I will be majoring in biology because I do love that subject so much. I am not sure about chemistry but I think if I apply myself and study I shouldn't have too much trouble with it!!
All of you are so awsome and I appreciate this board so much. It has helped me to make the decision to do what I have always wanted to do go to medical school.