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So you think you want to be a doctor: Pre-med at MIT by Melis A. '08

Does the smell of latex make you smile? Think Grey’s Anatomy is the coolest show ever? Can you imagine yourself becoming a cardio-thorasic surgeon like Dr. Burke or Chief of Surgery like Dr. Webber? (do NOT, I repeat, do NOT put yourself though being pre-med if you only want to hang out with McDreamy…there are plenty of Patrick Dempseys in the business world, I’m sure.)

A lot of MIT students enter their senior year without a clue as to what they want to do after graduation. Unfortunately, anyone who wants to go to medical school must make this decision very early on in college, probably around sophomore year. Why? Because medical schools require that applicants have taken certain classes that they feel are pre-requisites to the med school classes. If you’re planning to major in chemistry or biology, most of these classes will overlap with your major’s requirements. However, if you want to major in engineering, humanities, math (whatever, basically, though it makes it more difficult. I’m studying Mechanical Engineering with Biomedical Engineering, for instance), then you have to make sure your schedule accommodates these classes. Here’s a list of the requirements:

Biology:
-Introductory Biology:7.012, 7.013, or 7.014 (everyone takes this anyway, or doing well on the AP Biology test can give you credit)
-A biology laboratory (there are couple to choose from, focusing in either pure bio, biological engineering, chemical engineering, or neurobiology)

Chemistry:
-Principles in Chemical Science: 5.111/5.112 (everyone takes this anyway, too! You also have the option of taking 3.091 (Solid-State Chemistry), though it’s not recommended because the 5.11-s have a more biological approach while 3.091 is more applicable to materials.)
-Chemistry Lab
-Organic Chemistry I
-Organic Chemistry II

Biochemistry:
-General Biochemistry (7.05 or 5.07, depending on whether you want to focus on biology or chemistry)

Physics:
-1 year of physics with lab. Usually, 8.01 and 8.02 suffice.

Calculus:
-18.01/18.02 (which you have to take anyway)
-18.03 for the Harvard-HST Program

English:
-2 terms of Literature or Writing subjects

So those are the classes you have to take. Pretty simple. Unfortunately, I’ve faced a lot of scheduling conflicts, but hopefully you’ll be luckier!

When I told people I wanted to come to MIT, they said it wasn’t a good school for premeds. In some cases, this is regrettably true. Medical schools pay a lot of attention to your GPA and MIT doesn’t have grade inflation like many other universities (I’ve heard Harvard is B+/A- centered.) There is pressure to get good grades, but you’ll get a premed advisor who will help you find med schools that are right for you. I have spoken to my friends who have been through the admissions process and they say that during their interviews, they always got the same reaction: “Wow, you’re from MIT? I’m sure you can handle medical school.” Basically, med schools use your GPA to see if you’re hard-working, successful, and can handle the rigors of their program, and MIT has a reputation for preparing you well!

Also, you have to take the Medical College Assessment Test (MCAT) sometime before your senior year. It’s like the SAT’s for med school, basically, and it’s highly recommended that you take a prep class. I’m taking the class and test this summer, since I’ve finished the classes needed for the MCATs. Most MIT students I’ve talked to have taken the August MCAT either after their sophomore year, so keep this in mind.

Any other questions? Leave a comment or check out the Premed advising site.

(Image from amazon.com)

10 responses to “So you think you want to be a doctor: Pre-med at MIT”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Why did you choose those three study options?

  2. gm says:

    thanks melis for the post…

  3. Lena says:

    do med schools consider the fact that mit is not grade inflated while looking at an applicant’s gpa? Mollie said that grad schools will take an mit student w/ a lower gpa over a state school student w/ a perfect 4.0 because mit students have such a strong research background. is that true for competitive med schools as well?

  4. Anonymous says:

    Why does MIT have such a lower med school acceptance rate than other top schools, like Brown for example? Is it because the kids slack off and do not plan to do pre-med in the first place or is it just simply because MIT is a challenging school to get high GPAs in?

  5. Melis says:

    I don’t the answer to that for sure…but from my experience it’s because MIT is a challenging school! Also, pre-med students here take a bunch of classes outside of the pre-med requirements, so you get to learn a lot more amazing information but those classes are tough and you might be sacrificing a perfect GPA.

  6. Melis says:

    I’m not sure…unfortunately most medical schools’ admissions processes are not nearly as transparent as MIT’s =(

  7. Drew says:

    One thing to keep in mind is that as with any application its dependent on a group of people, and their impressions. Its not as if its put into a computer program with different values assigned to all the pieces of information. Some people will take those things into account, some people won’t, I guess we are the ones that really hope they do. My mom knows an individual involved with admissions to a med school at a nearby state university, and from her words it seemed as if she was the only one to look at the school in relation to GPA, but I’m not sure the people involved can really give you an accurate description of what the group as a whole looks for.

    With a combination of majors and focuses like that, are you planning on applying for an MD/PhD program, or was it just multiple interests and wanted to keep your options open? I met someone last summer that was in an MD/PhD program and its definately something that I am considering with the 10B and bio double major.

  8. Melis says:

    That’s a good point, thanks Drew.

    I’m not sure whether I want to do an MD/PhD. It’s a very long program and a big committment. I definitely want to do research in the future, but I’m not sure if a PhD is necessary for the sort of research I want.

  9. jOE says:

    dEAR SIR OR MANDAM

    pLEASE SEND US SOME FULL DATAILS ABOUT BEING AND BECAMING A DOCTOR

    tHANK YOU

  10. Rahil says:

    How good is the premed advising system at MIT? Thanks