To change majors, or not..

Greetings, all!
I hope I’m posting in the right place…

Please bear with me as I lay out my predicament as succinctly as possible. All advice is highly valued and appreciated.

(I am a Texas resident and will be applying in-State)

I recently spoke to my pre-med advisor, a very stand-up guy who genuinely wants his students to pursue medical school. He informed me that the school is rolling out a new B.S. Biochemistry degree (that is tailored to pre-meds) in Fall 2018, but that I could switch to it now (Spring 2018) and my graduation target (which follows the Spring 2019 semester) would not be delayed.

My predicament: I am currently enrolled as a Biology major. Unfortunately, this degree plan at my school offers very little in way of preparing a student for the MCAT, much less a future as a physician. Physiology, Immunology, and Microbiology are considered “major’s electives” and are not required for the degree. Often, these classes are only offered once a year and fill up within 5 minutes of the seniors being given priority sign-up.

Essentially, I am in a degree that offers classes such as biogeography, bioevolution, vertebrate history, plant taxonomy, and almost no “human” biology classes to speak of. Even my gen bio classes taught little more than the basics dichotomous keys and cladograms. This is very disheartening, as these classes do not pertain in the least to what I wish to accomplish as I complete my bachelor’s degree. I have no interest in these classes other than the relatively easily obtained high-GPA they offer. The Bio dept here is much more focused on their grad-students. I think research would be better found as a biochem student.

These classes are “easy” (relative to me) when compared to the classes in the biochemistry degree (cal II, P-chem, molecular disease, microbiology, etc). I’ve taken O-chem I so far and loved it. I am strong when it comes to concepts, but mathematically I probably have a mild form of dyscalculia. So, the idea of taking heavy math classes concerns me. However, the idea of taking classes that pertain to the area of science that actually interests me, is exciting.

My question: Do I risk a hit in GPA (P-chem, Cal II, etc) for classes that interest me and might/will be useful on the MCAT and my future as a physician? Or do I stay in biology, memorizing the taxonomy of the

    Megaceryle alcyon
and his many, many cousins?

Biochem = hard, high-interest/good preparation (fill in holes left by poor gen bio classes) + research?
Biology = easy, low-interest/no prep besides prereqs (where gen bio was useless) + maybe research?
What should I choose?

Thank you!

I would say that your major matters less than a) how much you enjoy whatever course of study and b) how well you do in said course of study. Usually, a and b are related in that people tend to do better when they’re learning things they’re enjoying. As long as you get the prereqs in for the schools to which you’re applying, the rest of the courses would be icing on the cake and really not that necessary. If you’re worried about the MCAT, look into some commercial prep options (I did one and it was crucial to me succeeding on the test). Medical school will teach you everything you need to know (for the most part) once you get accepted. Taking those courses in undergrad may minimally lessen the pain of medical school. However, most everyone gets through all of the classes, whether they have any background in them at all or not.

The cautious realist in me knows that not everyone will get into medical school. That’s not a ding on the individual at all. Study what you enjoy because, in the worst case scenario, it’s the knowledge you will need to pursue a career outside of medical school. You might as well be happy with your alternative future while you can kind of control it now. My vote is for you to switch since you seem to have more interest in the other major.

For reference: I majored in engineering, got an MBA, and worked for 11 years in not-medicine. I had the bare minimums + biochem for the “old” requirements (2013), and have done just fine in medical school through the first 2.5 years.

Thank you for your advice!

I am currently trying to get in contact with my pre-med advisor. If he can guarantee that switching majors will not delay my graduation timeline, I will switch. I’ve also spent substantial time looking into the major prep courses and will probably go with Next Step when the time comes.

As for not making it into medical school, I definitely understand. I’ve talked to several of my professors about my options should I not get in (though my EC’s and GPA are both solid), and I’ve come to the conclusion that I would pursue a Ph.D that would land me in the field of biotechnology, as the field interests me greatly as well. However, I have a hard time seeing myself doing anything other than being a physician.

Again, thank you for your reply!

I answered this on tomorrow’s (Session 108) OldPreMeds podcast!