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Suitable Major For A Premed

  1. Jun 9, 2014 #1
    Double major in Math and Physics as a premed or do Biochemical engineering as a premed??

    Math and Physics, because I love these subjects and I feel that from a research perspective ( radiation oncology, mathematical oncology, bio physics etc it really gives you a strong foundation.)

    Second choice is ( I really love chemistry ) Chemical engineering with a concentration in life sciences because I am absolutely fascinated by the new breakthroughs in nano medicine, nuclear medicine etc.

    So plan one : When I shift to a four year institution next year ( currently in a community college ) I can declare my major as Chemical engineering with concentration in life sciences or do a double major in physics and mathematics.

    Worst case scenario, if I don't get into medical school I can always go to grad school and pursue further studies.

    Also I know how much grades are important as an applicant for medical school and I'll do my best to get the best grades and have a stellar application but at the same time I don't want to rob myself of really exploring these areas as an undergrad and be a grade grubber as a premed.

    Advice would be greatly appreciated....
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 10, 2014 #2
    Sorry for the previous post's confusion. The reason for asking the above question was two fold. I had done a presentation in a science symposium regarding an anticancer drug and its mechanism in the human body which was well received by the peers. The HOD of chemistry department was telling me that I should major in chemical engineering with a focus on life sciences or do a double major in chemistry and mathematics with a minor in physics. Btw I also absolutely love sciences and mathematics.
    I certainly know that the major as a premed is irrelevant. My goal for getting into medicine is primarily research ( especially in a field like oncology, application of nano medicine, protein folding etc etc). If i don't get into medical school I would like to go to a top grad school and pursue a phd in either biochemical engineering or biophysics. What path should I take as an undergrad and how are these fields different from a perspective of research and their relevance in medicine?
  4. Jun 10, 2014 #3


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    I think we have different definitions of "worst case scenario" but I think I get your point.

    The real answer is that there's no one optimal path for you. If you're interested in nanotechnology, you can get into that through physics, material science, chemical engineering or several other paths. If you're not sure, you could simply try to start with a first year general science program that will qualify you for most of the different routes you're interested in and then make the decision as you move into your second or even your third year.

    One philosophy to steer clear of in my opinion is trying to take the easiest courses to get the highest mark. While a lot of medical school applicant have use this strategy (and some are even successful) it can really backfire badly. If you take a course because you think it will be easy, you could end up in a boring class that you find difficult to study for, or worse, the class could end up a lot harder than you thought, and there's a big risk of getting a high, but not high enough mark in a class that's otherwise of little use to you.
  5. Jun 10, 2014 #4
    Choppy! I have been intrigued by the idea of majoring in chemical engineering and then getting into a top grad school to get my phd, that is if medical school does not workout. Chem E with a focus on biological sciences incorporates all the sciences and math which I like plus I shall be open to take more electives as per the need. While medical school is something I am definitely considering the whole prospect of being well rounded applicant in undergrad and getting into a top tier phd program is even more appealing since my primary goal is research in oncology. My friend is studying in MIT currently. She is doing course 10 which is Chem E with biological conc.

    I am far from taking fluff classes to get a high GPA. For me undegrad is the time one really needs to explore, build a solid foundation and eventually get into grad school where you hone your skills, perfect your craft and eventually contribute to this society with all the knowledge which you have acquired over the years.
  6. Jun 10, 2014 #5


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    When I was in college, I had many friends who were pre-med. They tended to stay away from difficult courses/majors because med schools put considerable weight on GPA.

    But they also look at entrance exam scores (MCAT), and a more challenging undergraduate education might be an advantage with that requirement.

    In any case, you should be well aware of what med schools are looking for in their applicants. Good for you for thinking about a "Plan B" strategy, in case med school doesn't work out!
  7. Jun 10, 2014 #6
    Lisab! One of my friends did course 6 from MIT while doing premed which is electrical engineering and computer science double major. He went on to Harvard Medical School and now is a surgeon. :). This is an exception though since most kids aspiring to go in med school from MIT take course 7 or course 9 which is biological sciences or brain & cognitive science.
    My goal is to really build the necessary skill set required to conduct research in the field that I am interested in which means leaving no stones unturned in undergrad and working really hard to be as good as possible.
  8. Jun 10, 2014 #7


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    That's very impressive! I have heard some med schools look favorably on engineer-type undergrad degrees, but I've only heard that anecdotally. I don't blame them - it would be a change from all the Biology majors they usually see.

    I think your plan to prepare for research by taking a more difficult path is great! I wish you the best o:). Have you contacted anyone at med school to get their opinion? I bet they would be helpful.
  9. Jun 10, 2014 #8
    Lisab, thanks a lot. I have spoken to quite a few people who are currently in medical school. A friend of mine majored in mechanical engineering and now is a radiologist. Another friend of mine originally intended to major in engineering but found it incredibly difficult so he majored in microbiology and now is an anesthesiologist. The list goes on. I'll try to keep my GPA as high as possible while doing volunteering, shadowing, research and ec's. I will also try to get into internships later. Am really pumped up.
  10. Jun 10, 2014 #9

    George Jones

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    I know an ER doctor who majored in physics.
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