Premed and Health Care Majors
No one in my family has ever gone to college or a university before, so I am very new to this! I want to know if I can major in medicine at Stanford. If so, what are the guidelines to become a doctor? Can you please help me out?
It’s great that you’re the first one in your family to attend college!
You don’t major in “medicine” when you’re an undergraduate, but rather you take a pre-med program. While you’ll have to take certain science and math courses to apply to medical school, you actually can pick almost any major, as long as you get in the courses required by medical schools. While you can certainly major in pre-med at Stanford, there are a lot of good schools for a pre-med student. It’s smart to apply to several schools.
Keep in mind that Stanford is one of the most competitive schools in the country, which can’t accept anywhere near the number of qualified students that apply. So, make sure you apply to a number of schools, including some “safety” schools.
Also, remember that you don’t have to attend Stanford as an undergraduate to apply and/or be accepted into Stanford Medical School. There are many fine medical schools, and I suggest not worrying about which one you might go to at this point. Instead, look at the best schools for your undergraduate education, remembering to consider not just the academics, such as the quality of the pre-med program, but factors such as size, location, student mix and financial aid availability.
The guidelines to becoming a doctor can vary, but generally students obtain an undergraduate degree and then take a standardized test (MCAT) to get into a four-year medical school. After graduation from medical school, students then enter into a “residency” at a hospital, which usually lasts two or three years. You then would need to pass the licensing exam for the state in which you want to practice.
I’ve read in one of your responses that a student looking to go eventually to medical school should look for undergraduate pre-med programs that have a high acceptance rate for their students. How do you identify those schools with strong pre-med programs and high medical school acceptance rates?
Typically, schools will make note of their high rate of medical school acceptances somewhere in the literature about their pre-med programs. You can also speak with admissions counselors at the schools which you’re interested in attending to learn about their success at getting students into medical school.
That said, you should be wary of schools that boast of high acceptance rates. Often schools inflate these numbers by telling students who are unlikely to get into medical school to withdraw from the program and find another major. Likewise, these statistics don’t typically account for students who take time off before applying to medical school.
Hello, I’m looking for a college that offers either an undergraduate or graduate program in Social Work, specializing in HIV prevention and counseling. I’d like to work as a social worker or case manager for people living with HIV/AIDS, specifically in a hospital/hospice setting or for an AIDS Service Organization. All of the schools in my state don’t seem to offer that kind of specialization. Can you tell me if there are any that you know of (perhaps in a larger area)? I’ve searched online, but it is extremely tough wading through all the “online school” ads. Thanks.
The truth about AIDS care and HIV prevention is that it is needed in almost every community you run across. One potential path you might take is to study social work as an undergraduate, and then work to specialize in HIV or AIDS prevention in your community whenever possible. Volunteer or take an internship at an AIDS care facility, at a hospital, or with an AIDS education community program. There are lots of hospice care opportunities if you do a little poking around. (An important tip is to try to get volunteer experience in the very places you want to be working in the future!)
Then, when you begin a master’s program, you will most likely want to do your emphasis in HIV/AIDS prevention and counseling. Plan to do your master’s thesis and proposal on the topic. Work in your community to start an awareness project or help to improve programs that may already exist but need some help. It may or may not be the specific school you attend as much as what YOU choose to do with your education and what initiatives you plan to take.
If you still need a starting base, though, I have included a link to the top social work schools in the country, ranked by the Princeton Review and publicized by the Social Psychology Network and the Gourman Report:
You might want to click through these programs, check out the school-specific websites, and see if any of them do offer a specialization in this particular area. Or, if any of them seem to catch your eye in general, e-mail some professors and inquire with them about options for HIV/AIDS counseling. Or e-mail some professors at the schools in your state and inquire about the same, if you want to stay close to home.
Above all, be creative with your planning and your pursuit of your desires. I wish you the best as you work to help improve society in this very beneficial way. Good luck.
I am a senior in high school, and I want to be a pediatrician. What can I do right now to start my career in the medical field?
Thanks for your question. The first thing you can do is to read up about pediatricians in the Occupational Outlook Handbook, which is updated every two years. Write down answers to these questions:
– Who does a pediatrician work with?
– What are the daily tasks of a pediatrician?
– Where do pediatricians work and what is the work environment like?
Think about these questions. Now consider, how can you start putting yourself in these situations right now, as a high school student? For example, you already know that pediatricians work with children. Are you volunteering with children in an after-school program? Helping out in a local church’s nursery? Babysitting?
You might also know that doctors of any kind need to have a broad background knowledge of the sciences. You could join the school’s science club, work on an independent study project for biology or chemistry, or volunteer at the local science museum. In short, think about what being a pediatrician will “look like,” what you’ll experience, then see if you can bring similar sorts of experiences into your life right now. You can also ask community physicians to job shadow them for a day.
Also to encourage you to develop a mindset of perseverance, remember that the education and training needed for a physician, according to the OOH, is 4 years of college, 4 years of medical school, and anywhere from 3 to 8 years of internship and residency. You’ll want to select a pre-med or science major in college. The classes you’ll need to take range from physics, biology, and chemistry to English and math. You’re already thinking ahead, so that’s a good step. Your next steps will be to look into applying to schools that offer accredited pre-med and/or science programs. Good luck as you pursue a rewarding career.
Hi, I’m a sophomore at a public high school. I take a very rigorous class schedule and maintain an GPA of above 4.0. I really want to get into a prestigious school! I play basketball and am involved in my church. However, the area I lack in is community service. I want to become a surgeon, so I thought of maybe volunteering at a hospital. My friends who have volunteered there say that all they do is paperwork and mail. This isn’t what I want to do. Do you have any suggestions of where to volunteer? Also, is it bad that I have very few volunteer hours up to now? Sorry this is long-winded, but one more question. Can mission trips with church be counted as community service on an application? Thanks so much!
Have you thought about finding a surgeon to job shadow? Many medical centers have opportunities for students to job shadow and observe what happens. You may not be allowed inside an operating room, but you could probably gain a lot of observational experience from something like this. You might even want to ask one of your teachers to figure out a way that this could happen.
You could also volunteer at a hospital but specifically request a certain wing or area of the place. I don’t see why you would have to do only paperwork and mail. Usually you’re able to make a request between a few areas. Hospitals have tons of needs. They need volunteers to take patients to their rooms and down to their cars. They need people to run the gift shop and people that go around and read to patients. If you play a musical instrument, arrange to take it to a hospital or a group home and play it! There are options you may not have thought of. I volunteered at a hospital the summer after high school: I played with little kids while they were waiting for their doctor’s appointments. It wasn’t anything I’d heard of before then, but it was a really fun way to help out. You can probably ask around in a hospital to see if there is an opportunity that you really enjoy. Don’t be afraid to take the initiative.
Oh — and yes, you can certainly count mission trips as community service. You may even want to explain briefly how you served the communities you traveled to.
I’m looking into going to medical school for anesthesiology someday. I’m still in high school but next year will be my last year. I don’t have much volunteer experience or other extracurriculars other than sports. My grades are good, but I haven’t taken any AP classes. Should I forget about medical school, or do I still have a chance at getting in to a decent one? Also, if I were to plan on going to med-school I would first go to a less expensive state university. Would that too hurt my chances of getting into medical school or do they not pay attention to what school you went to for your bachelor’s so much as how your grades were?
If you really want to go to medical school, forgetting about your dream should not even be an option. None of the things you listed will rule you out from going to medical school except giving up and deciding on something else. You’ll want to strengthen your extracurricular record by joining some groups or clubs that speak to your interest. And, if you feel ready for a more rigorous study schedule, start by trying out an AP class or two. Plenty of students attend strong state schools and go to medical school from there. Medical schools will pay attention to everything in your record when you apply, including undergraduate grades, extracurriculars in college, MCAT scores and your personality and goals during an in-person interview. It’s great that you’ve set this goal early. Focus on building a well-rounded profile as a student, and start engaging in activities that speak to your interests. You might try volunteering at a hospital or clinic to get your feet wet and understand the climate of the medical industry. Good luck, and don’t give up!
What majors can help you get into molecular biology research?
If you’re just starting out, you could consider a biology major which will give you the fundamental knowledge you need to branch into a more specific area of biology. But check with the particular school you want to attend, as some schools do have specific science majors within the fields of biology and chemistry, and there may be a track designed for students like you who want to pursue a research career. The best sources of information will be the websites and admissions offices of the schools you want to attend. Good luck!
I have a lot of people steering me towards biomedical engineering as an undergrad degree before dental school. However, I really am not interested in building anything. I hate gadgets and computer programming. The more I’m exposed to engineering, the more I feel out of place. I don’t have anything in common with any of the other engineering students. Is this a bad sign, or just nerves do you think?
It’s great that you are practicing awareness and noticing that the subjects you are studying don’t stimulate you. Many students simply float through classes and give little thought to whether they are pursuing the right career path. Here is my advice: Talk to a few professors in the engineering program, and ask them what it is really like to work the in various fields of engineering. Perhaps there is a facet of engineering that you haven’t studied yet which will be of deep interest to you. Or, perhaps you are currently taking the basic fundamental courses, and there are more interesting topics ahead. However, you may also realize that this field just isn’t for you. If that’s the case, speak with an advisor at your school about paths you can take to dental school. Biomedical engineering isn’t the only major that can prepare you for dental school. Many colleges have pre-health majors, biology, chemistry, and other similar majors that will prepare you for a health and science career. The more advice you can gain from those who actually work in the field of engineering, the better you will be able to determine your next step. While you’re at it, consider what environments you do find stimulating. Do you enjoy learning about health? What about chemistry? Knowing what does interest you will help in choosing the right path. Good luck!