Sounds like the workload is super intense! Does it really help to have taken undergrad classes like microbio, immunology, etc.? Or are you referring to your master's level classes? It seems like a lot of people say not to bother with taking more science classes in undergrad because the focus and volume in med school will be very different... but I'm wondering if it's true?
I was asked this question about a month ago, and I promised I would expand further upon my initial answer. The workload in medical school will be intense regardless of whether or not you have had previous exposure. I took anatomy and microbiology solely on an undergraduate level, and the exposure did help, but very little. Understanding the terminology is a huge part of anatomy, and without any previous knowledge, it can make things a bit harder once you hit medical school, although you will probably make out just fine. I previously took anatomy back in 2006 and retained very little of the information I was taught. What did help was being familiar with terms such as prone, supine, origin, insertion, etc. This was not taught to us in lecture in medical school, but instead it was provided as a very large word document full of common terms. Since I remembered these terms, I was able to spend more time actually learning and retaining the material than trying to understand what every other word meant. The same applies for microbiology. We are now taking it this term, and I can say with almost one hundred percent certainty that I retained less than 1% of the material taught in undergrad, but being familiar with it helps.
When it comes to classes I took in my master’s program, I can say that they are super helpful! Last term, practically every course (with the exception of anatomy) was brand new to me, and I actually had to force myself to really learn the material. This term, practically every single subject we are covering (minus pathology) was taught to me in my master’s program. In my graduate program, I focused more on learning than memorizing, and it is paying off really well for me this term. I actually feel like I have more free time this term, because I get to skip the basics. I can also say that medical school is not more difficult than graduate school in the level of the course work. In grad school, I had to literally write out mechanisms in biochemistry and I needed to learn, what felt like to me, every single, small detail about a subject. Biochemistry is way more enjoyable when you only have to know the major steps and components of glycolysis, versus having to know and be able to draw out the complete mechanisms like I did in grad school.
So what is it that makes medical school so intense? THE WORKLOAD!!!!!! Pretty much what might have taken me a month or two of graduate school to learn, we cover in about two weeks or less. This pretty much applies to every subject, so imagine an entire month of maybe 19 credit hours in undergrad, double that, condense it into one week, and you have how fast we cover everything in medical school. It is extremely overwhelming, and enough to make even the brightest students struggle. The focus is also different, but only in the sense that everything is now more clinically-oriented. This is a positive aspect to me though, because I feel like I am actually learning about stuff that is relevant to my goals as a future physician.
So, if you’re currently a pre-medical student considering taking advanced science courses, my recommendations are below. If you are not able to take some of these courses, please do not stress about it. Even if it means you will have to put in a little more effort than your peers, chances are that you will make out just fine with or without taking them. I hope this helped answer the question, and if there is anything else you want to know, feel free to ask!
Recommended Courses to Take Before Medical School
And I’ll add to the list as the terms progress!
Oh wow, a post answering my question, thank you! :)ReplyDelete
It's really helpful to see concrete examples and differences between undergrad and med school classes. I'm taking biochem this semester so I'm glad it might be somewhat useful. It seems like medical school is hard no matter what but having those classes under your belt can at least make it a little bit less stressful? When I started taking postbac premed classes, I really didn't know how to study science. Even if I don't retain much from those few upper level bio classes I'm taking now, at least I'm learning what works for me in terms of studying (for example, flashcards, reviewing ppt slides, etc.). It was a big shift for me from studying humanities where it's all about writing papers and your opinions and intuition, etc. So I'm trying to take more upper level classes if only to just improve my confidence :)
Thanks again for writing this up!
PS. I'm still waiting to hear back from PCOM-GA, would you recommend calling them to "ask about my application"? I sent my updated transcript but still no ii... I don't have any ties to GA, I'm worried the admissions committee will think I'm not truly planning on going there.
You're welcome :-) Glad you're learning what works for studying, but keep in mind that this probably will change in med school, so don't be afraid to adjust.Delete
I wouldn't recommend calling admissions about your application. This is a super busy time for them, so just use the portal to make sure all your application materials have been received. They interview through March, so there is still time, but the wait can be tough. We have people in our class from as far as California with no ties to the state, so don't stress about that. They are more focused on producing physicians who will stay in the South, but it is not a requirement.
Ok, thanks! Some people were saying that it's good to call just to show your interest but I think sending an email does the same trick and is less annoying to the busy admissions office. The wait is tough though!Delete
Hey Dr. D, great post and GREAT advice!! I'd only that medical terminology (which you touched upon), would also be a good course to have before med school.ReplyDelete
Ah, yes! Medical terminology is a beast, but it wasn't offered at my previous schools :-( Definitely would have helped though.Delete
This was soooo soooo helpful. Thank you so much.ReplyDelete
You're welcome, and glad I could help! Let me know if you would like something else covered :-)Delete
You mentioned that its more enjoyable to learn medical biochemistry vs. route memorization on pathways in grad school. Thats how I hear it is here at MC. I took biochem twice..Got a F, then a C. that was back in 08. Do you think its best to just wait to see it again in Medical school and make good grades in my other classes or go back and take biochem 1 and 2 before medical school? I've heard a few medical school admissions people say they don't like re-takes.ReplyDelete
For what it's worth, I had a ton of re-takes on my transcript, including biochem. If you plan on applying DO, the retakes can only help you as they will replace the previous bad grade. If MC offers it, then definitely take it on a graduate level.Delete
So Im in my first semester in a special Masters of Medical Sciences Program at Mississippi College. Alot of the classes here are taught at a medical level including Histology, Gross Anatomy, Neuroanatomy, Medical Physiology1 and 2. Obviously because they are worth 5 or more hours each grad school full time load is much less than undergrad. In your opinion, as far as GPA-wise/ what medical students like to see, is it best to just take a couple of classes for min. full time status and get A's or do they want to see a real heavy course load? I know the goal is to get the highest GPA to "get in" medical school. I know once you get accepted, you'll get the whole kitchen sink thrown at you.ReplyDelete
For a Master's program, the couple of classes that will make you a full-time student is more than enough. I only took 6 hours a semester in grad school and that was considered full-time by both the school's and financial aid purposes. I have a couple of classmates that attended the MC program, and I have heard nothing but good things about it, so take the advice that they give you and you should be fine.Delete
Any MCAT advice for new mcat? Im taking it in august and planning on taking a couple of summer courses as well. Thanks.ReplyDelete
To be honest, a lot of medical schools aren't sure how they are going to approach it yet. I am going try and compile some new information so that I can do a blog post on it hopefully in the near future.Delete
Really helpful, thanks. I was thinking to take Biochemistry next semester, suppose I'll consider you advice.ReplyDelete
You're welcome and biochemistry is awesome! Although I am a bit biased lolDelete