You’re going to have to write whether you like it or not, so you might as well get good at it. It is essential that you can express your thoughts, ideas, and stories in a well-crafted piece of writing. While they may excel in many areas, there are pre-medical students who are often deficient in their communication and writing skills.
Taking an Expository Writing class may help you learn how to develop and present ideas in a cohesive manner. You can show a medical school committee your writing and analytical skills better than you can tell them. Taking classes in writing composition will put you in a good position to know what it takes to produce a well-written, well-organized essay or statement. It may also be worth your while to take a course that will give you the tools you need to switch to an argumentative style of writing also, one that you’ll need to get a point of view across or persuade your reader.
Sociology (Recommended Courses- Intro to Sociology, Human Development, Health & Society)
If you haven’t already heard, the MCAT is undergoing a significant overhaul in 2015. One of the changes to the MCAT come 2015 will be the addition of a social and behavioral sciences sectional of the test. For those planning to sit for the MCAT in 2015, taking a sociology course is something that you’re going to want to do without a doubt. If you’re taking the MCAT before the big changes get picked up, there’s still good reason for you to take at least one course in this discipline. Students who take a course in sociology or even choose to major or minor in sociology are looked upon in a positive light among medical school admission committees since studying the subject gives students a different view of the things around them. Studies have shown that with a background in Sociology, students look at patients not only in terms of symptoms but also consider social context that may be relevant.
Logic and Critical Reasoning
In your future life as a doctor, having the ability to use logic and think critically will be important in your daily life as need to use “logic and critical thinking in medical reasoning, in understanding health problems, and in making correct decision about clinical cases and situations.” As a doctor, knowledge an experience may not always be enough. There are parts of the MCAT that are used to get a sense of your logic and reasoning skills. The Wall Street Journal ran an article about the new version of the MCAT being focused less on a student’s scientific knowledge but instead emphasis being placed on their critical analysis and reasoning.
Even if you take an art course just to satisfy your school’s core competency requirements, having some knowledge within this discipline may actually be more useful than you may think. More and more colleges and universities are offering courses that give pre-medical students the opportunity to use art as a way to expose them to the practice of medicine in a whole new way. Courses like these and other art-themed courses can teach pre-medical students the observational skills that are so important for their future as doctors. In a course offered at Baylor University, pre-medical students get the chance to scrutinize pieces by artists like Rembrandt and Picasso in a class called “Healing Art.” According to the school’s Web site, “besides ‘diagnosing’ the people in works of art, the students create self-portraits to gain empathy for future patients, design art for a clinic. Art courses are a good way of honing creative thinking, dexterity, and observation skills useful in careers as doctors. Here’s an article profiling a pre-medical art major who “speaks out” about blending her dual interest in art and medicine.
Medical Ethics or Health Care Policy
Believe it or not, there are not many pre-medical student who can hold a knowledgeable conversation about current issues in health care delivery, policy and ethics. Making an effort to become a broadly-education individual will be a surefire way to set yourself apart from other pre-medical students. Being well versed in topics relevant to medical ethics or health care policy may come in handy if during your medical school admissions interviewer springs a question on you about a “hot topic” in the news or maybe some other reform issue directly impacting medical students or simply asks “so, what do you know about health care policy?”
If you plan on working as a doctor in the US, you’re going to want to study a foreign language, namely Spanish, for as many years as you can. If you already speak Spanish, then great – study Latin. You don’t have to become completely fluent in the foreign language you study, but it’s important that you have the tools to be conversational. Even though taking a second language is not required for medical school admission, if you do well it won’t do anything but strengthen your application. Some schools offer “Spanish for Pre-Medical and Health Students” or “Medical Spanish” courses – if yours does, take it! When medical school admission committee’s look at their pile of applicants from prospective students, they look to see how students differentiate from one another. Having a second language under your belt, even if it’s only on the conversation-level, is one of the things that will make you stand out.