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Courses What courses in high school should i take to become a doctor?

  1. Jun 16, 2012 #1
    I am in grade 9 right now and I am starting to think about my doctor career. Of course i am planning on talking to my counselor about it, but what courses should i concentrate on? What marks do usually colledges and medical schools require? Are my marks in high school THAT important? I have 93% in math (i got 95% in the final exam) and i have 95% in science (i got 96% in the final exam) but my parents are dissapointed and they think i have to score 100% in order to get into medical school or colledge. Help please! Give me as much information as u can on courses, grades, steps, and volunteering,required to become a doctor! Thank you!
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 16, 2012 #2
    Congratulations on the great grades! Just take lots of science and math. Biology, Chemistry, and Physics would all be useful. Anatomy is a good thing to read up on too.
  4. Jun 16, 2012 #3


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    You can start at pretty much any 4-year college or university. Major in anything and take the premed classes in bio, chem, physics, math, English, psychology, and sociology. Any of those you can take in high school is fine, but med schools don't ask or care what you took in high school, and you can't use AP classes to get out of premed requirements.
  5. Jun 17, 2012 #4
    Since you are only in grade 9, you still have plenty of time to decide what you want to do. I would recommend taking AP chemistry, AP Biology, and AP Physics at some point during your high school career. Try to get through AP Chemistry as soon as possible.

    Also, if you are really ambitious, look up some nearby university professors and tell them you would like to do research with them over the summer. Since you are a 9th grader, they will likely be inspired by your ambition and one of them will almost certainly make room for you to volunteer in his or her lab. If this isn't possible, see if you can start volunteering at a local hospital. This will be valuable experience years from now on your medical school application. It will also give you valuable insight on how medicine is actually practiced.

    Make sure you maintain high grades. (Try to maintain at least 90% on everything you do, but realize that grades are not everything. Also, 95% is high -- contrary to what your parents may think.)

    After taking AP Chem, try to sit in on some organic chemistry classes at a local community college or watch some lectures on organic chemistry online. It's okay if you don't remember everything. Merely being exposed to this stuff before taking it at the university will give you an incredible advantage. Try to understand a little of the language and the jargon. Learn some simple reaction mechanisms.

    Similarly, after doing AP Biology, look for a copy of "Molecular Biology of the Cell" by Alberts online or at your local library. It's a famous biology textbook that is reasonably self contained. Try to skim it over the summer, and make sure you try to follow what is being said conceptually. Don't turn it into the memorization game where you remember a bunch of vocabulary and forget it later. Focus on the concepts. Again, merely exposing yourself to this stuff before taking it at the university level will help you dramatically. (Even just looking at the diagrams and reading what some of the words mean will help!)

    If you somehow get through all of this without a problem, start reading any textbook on Biochemistry.

    Do well on your SAT/ACT, have a high GPA, nail your college apps by talking about your goal of becoming a doctor and shamelessly plugging how you volunteered over your summer breaks and how you have taken the initiative to study so much more to learn the fundamentals of medicine, and you will likely find your way into a good university.

    Then the real studying begins, but since you have seen some of this stuff before, you will have an advantage, and instead of freaking out during organic chemistry like most premeds, you will be well prepared to succeed. (Also, make sure you continue research at the university. Medical schools LOVE applicants with high grades, research experience, and a demonstrated commitment to medicine from volunteering.)

    Also, at any point during this laundry list of things to do, if you ever feel like maybe you don't want to be a doctor, that is 100% okay. Don't let your parents decide your future for you. Listen to them when they want you to do well in school, but you do not HAVE to be a doctor to succeed, and if you do not like medicine, you likely won't succeed in it anyway. So if at any point you decide you don't want to do it, switch early and save yourself the grief.

    If I had to stress one thing, it is that you show initiative and try to do research or volunteer ASAP. This is the thing that really raises eyebrows and will distinguish you from everyone else. This is also the thing that will demonstrate your maturity and capacity to succeed as a doctor. It will also show you the difficulties involved in practicing medicine. It isn't like TV!
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2012
  6. Jun 17, 2012 #5
    If you mean becoming a physician, I think you would be better suited to posting for advice on the studentdoctor.net forums. Be forewarned, I find that users on here (PhysicsForums) are much kinder than those over on the pre-med/med forum. It's just a certain vibe I get from pre-med/medical students in general. So probably just mostly a matter of personal opinion. But I think you'd get better advice from them.
  7. Jun 17, 2012 #6
    Wish I had this ambition when I was in high school, I'd be a working Engineer by now. But basically just take what everyone else said, biology, chemistry, physics and try to get into Calculus by your senior year. You're high school grades are important so try and do the best you can in ALL your classes, not just the "pre-pre-Med" classes, hehe.
  8. Jun 17, 2012 #7


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    i think this advice is quite reasonable. my wife is a physician.
  9. Jun 18, 2012 #8
    Also do something productive over the summers, like now. See if you can find a doctor to volunteer for over the summer, maybe 3-4 hours a week. Given you're 14 or so, prolly wont find more hours a week, so 3-4 a week over a summer is about 36-48 over a 3 month period. Do that over 4 summers, you can have almost 200 volunteer hours.
  10. Jun 20, 2012 #9

    OH MY GOD, thank you soo much! I will defenetly follow your instructions.
  11. Jun 22, 2012 #10
    Hey Nattie, my two cents:
    nucl344g's advice is very sound and practical. Most of my friends are med/pre med right now. So my "two cents" is really regurgitating their experiences:
    1) Your most important priority should be learning everything there is to be learned about the human body. You should be curious, and be able to satisfy that curiosity by asking questions or finding out for yourself. If something pique's your interest, see to it till the end.
    2) Don't get stuck doing only the homework that your teachers assign. Reach further and deeper. Don't try too hard to stand out or to impress your peers; just follow your heart and you'll stand out naturally.
    3) Parents are mostly like this. They are never satisfied haha. Yes marks maybe are important but first you have to be able. If you are able, success will follow wherever you go instead of you chasing it.
    4) Don't be scared to put more time into things you love. Spend more time with biology and chemistry and less time with English and History etc. My marks coming out of high school were something like this: Math: 100 Physics: 97 Chemistry: 94 English: 73 French: 71 Anthropology: 70. Do you see a general trend? I devoted a lot of time to math and physics and obviously did well in those areas; those are the areas I have deep passion for. For the rest, I did the minimum and got by. After highschool I have never even needed the things I didn't have a passion for.
    5) Read Read Read. Get Molecular Biology of the Cell by Alberts and read it. Frequent websites with information on latest discoveries in fields that seem interesting to you. Get in a habit of reviewing what you have learned each day and keep making progress. :)

    I hope you turn out to be a wonderful doctor/surgeon.

    Best wishes~

    PS: Do physics and math sometime during your high school. I think most universities require you to do first year Calculus and Physics to get a degree in Human Biology. Getting through these two courses have been one of the greatest challenges for my med/pre-med friends. So, prepare yourself! :D
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