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PreMed 101 for College of Arts and Sciences Students

Q: Is there a PreMed major at UVM?
A: No. Students interested in PreMed can major in just about anything!

Q: Anything? I thought I had to major in a science, like Biology or Chemistry?
A: Medical Schools are looking for broadly educated applicants with diverse interests. As long as you have taken the appropriate coursework in science and mathematics, you can major in whatever you wish.

Q:  What “appropriate coursework” is required?
A:   Consult the Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR) guide, published annually by the AAMC.  What follows lists the usual required coursework and the UVM courses that match the requirement.

  • Biology: 2 semesters with labs.
    BIOL 1 & 2, or
    BCOR 11 & 12
  • Chemistry:  2 semesters of general chemistry with labs and 2 semester of organic chemistry with labs.
    CHEM 31 & 32 (CHEM 35 & 36 for chemistry majors)=general chemistry
    CHEM 141 & 142 (CHEM 143 & 144 for chemistry majors)=organic chemistry
  • Biochemistry:  Most schools require 1 semester or recommend it.  One semester should be completed in preparation for MCAT 2015.
    BIOC 205 or 211
  • Physics:  2 semesters with labs
    PHYS 11 & 12 (PHYS 51 & 152 for majors)
  • Math:  Requirements and recommendations vary widely by school. Most require 2 semesters of Calculus. Consult MSAR.
    MATH 19 & Math 20
    (or MATH 21 and MATH 22)
  • Statisics: 1 semester of statistics should be completed in preparation for MCAT 2015.
    STAT 111 or STAT 141
    Statistics-heavy courses in other disciplines may be satisfactory
  • English:  Requirements and recommendations vary by school. Many require 2 semesters of English or equivalent. Consult MSAR.  Select writing intensive courses, i.e. ENGS 1, 6, 50, 57, etc.  Some TAP and Honors College Seminars may fulfill the requirement.
  • Behavioral Sciences:  1 semester of Psychology and 1 semester of Sociology should be completed in preparation for MCAT 2015.                                                                  

Q: Does all this science and math count for any requirements other than PreMed?
A: It can. These courses easily satisfy the B.A. distribution requirements in Mathematical Sciences and in the Natural Sciences. Also, if you take one additional Chemistry course (CHEM 121 or 131) you will complete the requirements for a minor in Chemistry.

Q: I want a broad-based education in the liberal arts but I am not entirely certain as to what major I will end up choosing. Should I just start out taking these PreMed requirement courses?
A: Absolutely not. Take a wide array of courses that satisfy distribution requirements, but also include some of these PreMed requirements. For example: continue on with the Mathematics that you took in high school until you have completed two semesters of calculus. If you do not have to take CHEM or BIOL for your major, wait until at least the second semester of your first year to add in BIOL 002 (yes, you can take BIOL 002 before BIOL 001). Start taking CHEM during your 2nd year (it must be taken in a fall-spring sequence) and wait until your 3rd year to take PHYS (also a fall-spring sequence).

Q: But won't that hurt my chances for programs like PEP (the Premedical Enhancement Program)* and not prepare me to take my MCATs on time?
A: No, PEP only requires that you take at least ONE of the following: intro BIOL, intro CHEM, or calculus during your first semester. It is most important that when you do take the math and science PreMed courses that you do well in them and waiting until you have a semester or two under your belt at UVM increases the likelihood that you will be able to earn the high grades necessary to be competitive for admission to medical school. If you begin adding science courses into your schedule in your second semester at UVM, you should be able to complete the PreMed course requirements by the end of your junior year, in time to take the MCATs before the start of your senior year if this is your plan.

*For more information about PEP, check out the website at:
http://www.uvm.edu/~career/?Page=med_resources.html#premed_enhancement

Q: I like science. Are there any majors that include all of these PreMed course requirements?
A: There are a few that include all of these courses, but many include almost all of the coursework. Take a look at majors in Biology (including the Biological Science B.S.), Biochemistry, and Chemistry (particularly the Biomolecular concentration B.A.) - majors in most any science (including Neuroscience and Environmental Sciences) will get you pretty close, too! The most important thing is to major in something about which you are passionate and for which you have an aptitude.

Q: What kind of grades do I need to be competitive for Medical School?
A: Medical schools look at your overall GPA (the average of all of your grades in college-level coursework) as well as your BCMP (the average of all of your college grades in Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics and Physics coursework). A 4.00 GPA/BCMP would be most competitive and anything below a 3.33 (B+) GPA/BCMP would be decidedly non-competitive. You should be striving for mostly grades of A or A- in your science and math courses, with only the occasional grade of B+ or B.

Q: If I have a high GPA and BCMP, am I assured of getting in Medical School?
A: Not quite. Your scores on the MCAT exam are also important (and quite often a reflection of how much you have learned in the required science and math courses and how well you are able to apply that knowledge).

Q: Is that all I need to do? Study hard and get exceptional grades in science and math courses and on the MCAT?
A: That's a good start, but not nearly enough. Medical schools are looking for more than just smart applicants; they are looking for leaders who are devoted to helping those who are in need of medical assistance. They want students who can problem-solve, who can apply critical thinking skills to tackle complex problems, who understand science-based medicine. They want students who are compassionate and can communicate complex medical/scientific concepts to patients, and who have a broad appreciation for and understanding of the cultural and societal diversity that defines humanity.

Q: I know how to study hard and excel at academics, but how do I do all that other stuff?
A: Be involved. Volunteer at hospitals and community organizations. Participate in campus activities that are important to you. Get involved in research or some form of scholarly or creative activity either at UVM or in the community. Don't just follow what others have done; when appropriate, take responsibility for something and lead others in that activity. Doctors are not passive; they do not sit back and let someone else figure things out. They jump in and work with others to figure things out and then show others what they have found. They are engaged and proactive. YOU need to begin (or continue) acting this way and it will be clear by your activities that you take it upon yourself to get things done when you see things that need attention.

Q: There is only so much time! How do I balance studying and everything else I am involved in?
A: Prioritize. Too much of any one thing can detract from your ability to do other things that are important to you. Don't spread yourself too thin; learn to focus and to make meaningful contributions in fewer areas than you might like. Get feedback from those who can act as honest sounding boards for you: friends, teachers, advisors, and family.

Q: Do I need to apply to medical school immediately after my junior year at UVM?
A: Not at all! You may consider application to medical school or health programs after graduation. Many students delay some required courses until their senior year or later and plan to enter medical school or health programs after a year or more of work or graduate study. Many students undertake post-graduate experiences that solidify their interests in medicine and strengthen their application credentials. Follow your own interests and do not sacrifice any courses, off-campus programs, or extracurricular activities in order to rush through the pre-health requirements. Get the very best undergraduate education the University of Vermont offers.

Q: Is there anyone here at UVM who can help guide me? Someone who is knowledgeable about the opportunities, the common pitfalls, and who can help me critically assess my focus?
A: Yes, UVM's Pre-Health Advisor is available to consult with you and should be someone you establish a relationship with as soon as you know you want to pursue a career in medicine. The Pre-Health Advisor's office is located at Career Services, E Building, Living and Learning.

Last modified September 10 2013 04:46 PM

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