How to Take an Active Role in Your Pre-Med School Experience
Each year, thousands of students enter their first year of college determined to become successful doctors. They’re dubbed pre-med students (not as a major but as a direction for their studies). While many colleges don’t offer pre-med degrees, you could be deemed a pre-med student if your program is heavy with biology and chemistry courses.
Many students declare for med school each year because they are passionate about medicine and making a difference in people’s health. And it’s a bit easier if you have the learning chops and stamina.
A pre-med degree program is difficult enough just by having so much to study usually within short spaces of time. Knowing how to take an active role in your pre-med experience can help you to learn more and immensely prepare you for taking the MCAT and applying to medical school after you graduate.
Here are some ways you can take an active role in your pre-med school experience.
1. Take inventory of your classes
As a pre-med student, you will be expected to complete a certain number of courses in math, biology, chemistry, health sciences, and English, among others. The coursework can be tedious and time-consuming, but with good time management, you can do it.
Don’t allow the coursework to go in one ear and out the other. In other words, don’t go through your classes passively. Think about the material even after class is over. Find something that interests you if you can and make sure you know what you’re getting into.
It would be a waste of time to go through nearly 10 years of schooling only to find out you’re not that passionate or interested in medicine to begin with. Outline your classes and make sure you know what you’re getting into.
2. Get involved in pre-med or non-pre-med student organizations and extracurricular activities
While it is true that pre-med school is very demanding, it does not have to take away from your social life or from being involved in useful out-of-the-classroom experiences. Such involvement will help to improve your communication and leadership skills. You will be able to learn from professionals in the field and seek support from students who are traveling the same path.
In addition to that, there is the very high possibility of networking and developing lifelong friendships. Not to mention that you may also meet your future spouse at one of these organizations. Beyond that, medical schools do look at your extracurricular activities and use it as a factor in determining admittance. So these opportunities are not to be underestimated.
3. Volunteer at a hospital or medical facility at which you would one day like to work
Medical schools want to see that you have the aptitude for the field through your GPA and courses. They also want to see that you’re an empathic person who is willing to listen to people’s needs and take care of them in the best possible way. One way to show this is to volunteer in the medical field before committing to medical school.
Volunteering at a hospital or in a surgeon’s office is a great experience, and at some schools, it is required. However, don’t pick a place just because you think it will look good on your resume. Pick a place where you will feel fulfilled and be able to make a difference.
All experience is good but an experience just for the sake of an experience is less useful. You’ll get more out of it if you enjoy it and are passionate about it. This will also shine through in your medical school applications and accompanying essays.
4. Shadow physicians in a variety of specialties
Similar to doing volunteer work is an experience called shadowing. Some pre-med students will shadow physicians to get as close to a hands-on experience as they can in different medical careers. Shadowing is basically following and observing someone closely.
Due to rules regarding privacy and confidentiality, some doctors will not allow shadowing. However, many will especially if you’re planning on going into the same field (e.g., a student planning to be a neurologist shadowing a neurologist).
A good place to begin is with your family or personal doctor. Some colleges have matching programs in which the college has connections with local doctors and hospitals and will help match student to doctor. If nothing else, take it upon yourself to email, call, or visit hospitals and doctors whom you have researched and ask about shadowing policies.
5. Start working on MCAT prep now
The MCAT is a cumulative test that covers much of the topics you studied in pre-med school including biology, chemistry, physics, and so forth. By the time most students begin even thinking about the MCAT in earnest, they’ve forgotten or vaguely remember introductory concepts from their freshman and sophomore classes.
So, to steer clear of that, start as soon as you can to study the MCAT. Get a MCAT prep book, flashcards, or even a tutor that you meet with for an hour a week. This will keep you in the mindset of taking the MCAT even if it is two years away.
College is an incredible time to learn and take advantage of so many opportunities. As you engage with other students and teachers, remember to prioritize your studies. Turn everything into a learning experience and grow, grow, grow.
Learn more about Kaplan’s test prep options and start building the confidence you need for Test Day.
Apply to Write for Uloop NewsJoin the Uloop News Team
Discuss This Article
More Uloop Business Articles
TUFTS TEST PREP LISTINGSSee all TUFTS Test Prep Listings
TUFTS Test Prep Listings
WRITE FOR ULOOPApply to Write for Uloop News
GET TOP STORIES DELIVERED WEEKLY
TOP 5 NEWS ARTICLES
BROWSE OTHER COLLEGES
- By CollegeBoston CollegeBoston UniversityBrandeis UniversityHarvard UniversityUniversity of Massachusetts-AmherstMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyNortheastern UniversityTufts UniversityClark UniversityUniversity of Massachusetts-LowellUniversity of Massachusetts-BostonWorcester State CollegeBentley CollegeWheaton CollegeMount Holyoke CollegeLesley UniversityHampshire CollegeSuffolk UniversityWestfield State CollegeUniversity of Massachusetts DartmouthWilliams CollegeAmerican International CollegeAmherst CollegeAnna Maria CollegeAssumption CollegeBabson CollegeBay Path CollegeBecker CollegeBerklee College of MusicBoston Architectural CollegeBridgewater State CollegeCambridge CollegeElms CollegeCollege of the Holy CrossCurry CollegeDean CollegeEastern Nazarene CollegeEmerson CollegeEmmanuel CollegeEndicott CollegeFisher CollegeFitchburg State CollegeFramingham State CollegeGordon CollegeGordon-Conwell Theological SeminaryLasell CollegeMassachusetts College of Art and DesignMassachusetts College of Liberal ArtsMassachusetts College of Pharmacy & Health ScienceMassachusetts Maritime AcademyMerrimack CollegeMount Ida CollegeNew England School of LawNewbury CollegeNichols CollegeRegis CollegeSalem State CollegeSimmons CollegeSmith CollegeSpringfield CollegeStonehill CollegeThe New England Institute of ArtUniversity of Massachusetts Medical School WorcesterWellesley CollegeWentworth Institute of TechnologyWestern New England CollegeWestfield State CollegeWheelock CollegeWorcester Polytechnic InstituteAndover Newton Theological SchoolBenjamin Franklin Institute of TechnologyBerkshire Community College Bristol Community College Bunker Hill Community College Cape Cod Community CollegeGreenfield Community College Massachusetts Bay Community CollegeMassasoit Community College Middlesex Community College (MA)Mount Wachusett Community CollegeNorth Shore Community College Northern Essex Community CollegeQuinsigamond Community College Springfield Technical Community CollegeAilano School of CosmetologyAlexander AcademyAssabet Valley Regional Technical SchoolBancroft School of Massage TherapyBay State School of TechnologyBentley UniversityBlackstone Valley Vocational Regional School DistrictBlue Hills Regional Technical SchoolBoston Baptist CollegeBoston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis IncBranford Hall Career Institute-Springfield CampusCatherine Hinds Institute of EstheticsCharles H McCann Technical SchoolConway School of Landscape DesignCortiva Institute-BostonDiGrigoli School of CosmetologyDiman Regional Technical InstituteEINE IncEmpire Beauty School-BostonEmpire Beauty School-FraminghamEmpire Beauty School-HyannisEmpire Beauty School-LowellEmpire Beauty School-MaldenEpiscopal Divinity SchoolEverest Institute-BrightonEverest Institute-ChelseaFINE Mortuary CollegeFranklin W Olin College of EngineeringGreater Lowell Technical SchoolHallmark Institute of PhotographyHellenic College-Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of TheologyHenris School of Hair DesignHult International Business SchoolITT Technical Institute-NorwoodITT Technical Institute-WilmingtonJolie Hair and Beauty Academy-LudlowJupiter Beauty AcademyLa Baron Hairdressing Academy-BrocktonLa Baron Hairdressing Academy-New BedfordLe Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts-CambridgeLincoln Technical Institute-BrocktonLincoln Technical Institute-SomervilleLowell Academy Hairstyling InstituteMansfield Beauty Schools-QuincyMansfield Beauty Schools-SpringfieldMarinello School of Beauty-NorthamptonMassachusetts General Hospital Dietetic InternshipMassachusetts School of LawMedical Professional InstituteMGH Institute of Health ProfessionsMildred Elley-Pittsfield CampusMillennium Training InstituteMontserrat College of ArtMotoring Technical Training InstituteNational Aviation Academy of New EnglandNational Graduate School of Quality ManagementNew England College of Business and FinanceNew England School of AcupunctureNew England Tractor Trailer Training School of MassachusettsNorth Bennet Street SchoolNorthpoint Bible CollegePope St John XXIII National SeminaryPorter and Chester Institute of CantonPorter and Chester Institute of ChicopeePorter and Chester Institute of WestboroughPorter and Chester Institute of WoburnPortfolio Center - WalthamRob Roy Academy-Fall RiverRob Roy Academy-TauntonSalter College-ChicopeeSalter College-West BoylstonSalter School-New BedfordSchool of the Museum of Fine Arts-BostonShawsheen Valley Regional Vocational Technical SchoolSignature Healthcare Brockton Hospital School of NursingSoutheastern Technical InstituteSouthern Worcester County Regional Voc School DistrictSpa Tech Institute-IpswichSpa Tech Institute-PlymouthThe New England Conservatory of MusicToni & Guy Hairdressing Academy-WorcesterUniversity of Phoenix-MassachusettsUrban College of Boston
- By State
- By City