Useful Classes Beyond the Requirements for Medical School

Originally posted March 16th, 2014 here with some additions from second year me.

If your going to medical school, you know the big 8 requirements to get in. If you don’t, go check ASAP.

But there are some classes that will not only be helpful on the MCAT but for your totally medical experience. These go for all majors, science and non-science.

This is my list of what I think. There’s probably tons of other options and directions people take and that’s works too! Also if you have any classes you think should be included, do so!

I can’t stand stats. Did I take up to stats 3? Yes I did. But it has been by far the most useful math I’ve taken. Wether it be in research or other science classes, statistics will always make a subtle (or right up in your face) appearance. The better you understand statistics the easier these concepts become. Do you need to understand how to run a multi-variate analysis of complexity algorithms? I don’t think you will. But should you understand what it means when someone says they ran a 2-way ANOVA? Probably.

Anatomy is one of the hardest classes I ever took. And It will probably be one of the hardest classes in med school simply because of the sheer amount of things you have to know. Having a background that you can build on will significantly help you not be so overwhelmed and learn the material faster

Take physio for pretty much the same reasons as anatomy, since they just go together (a lot of schools have then as one class regardless) but also because it’s pretty prevalent on the MCAT. Physio will help fill in the human biology information that tends to be glazed over in biology 2, so we can learn about fungi.

I’m not sure why genetics isn’t a requirement. It’s seems silly since it’s something you are definitely going to need for the future. And their is always a few questions on the MCAT that are strictly you-will-only-know-this-if-you-took-genetics questions.

If memorizing tons of letter and number sandwiches sounds like an awesome time, you’ll love immuno. If you don’t, you should take it anyways. Immuno is usually taught really well or not so great but really no where in-between when it comes to med school, I’ve found. The reasons are similar for genetics.

Most people take biochem already, but if your on the fence about it because your afraid of it, TAKE IT. Medical school biochem goes at light speed and never seeing it before can be extremely daunting. What’s worse that being afraid of a class in undergrad and then being thrown head first into the harder version of it in med school? Snakes are probably worse but eh.

Mmmm drugs. This is a good class for med school and take it for the same reasons as biochem. Plus there are so. many. drugs.

Besides the fact that’s supposedly on the new MCAT, psychology is actually important to know if not for human interaction skills but for the mental health diseases you can come across. Mental health isn’t the same as general health since you can’t (mostly) test the symptoms through a blood test. Understanding what say schizophrenia is now, can help you see it later.

Cultural psychology
I am not talking about a wine culture class, though that sounds really nice. One problem many physicians face is the difference in cultures and what is the norm across them. If you can understand even a small bit about how to most effectively treat and get through to those of other cultures, then you really will be able to help many, many people.

Public Speaking

Please do. I know it’s not a fun to do, but you will so thankful you will have tactics and techniques to help you when you have to give presentations (which happens a lot in med school). Trust me, it’s better to flub up in front a class of 20 than in front of your attending.

Creative Writing

Learn to express yourself in the written word! Why? Because you’ve got some personal statements to write, but more than that I personally think having a writing style and the ability to purposefully use advanced vocabulary are fantastic skills to have. In a world of non-stop emailing, being able to put a personal, well-rounded, educated sounding touch in a well written email is invaluable.

Technical Writing

Speaking of emails…the amount of people who don’t know how to correctly format and word’s a little unfortunate. I don’t know if this is an actual class you can take everywhere, but even if you can’t get some outlines or step-by-steps to writing technical/research style papers and emails.

At least one college nonsense class
Credit fillers, ahh! GPA booster, woah! But seriously. If there is a totally nonsense class that sounds like a ton of fun or you have a really tough semester take that silly class. It may seem like its a waste, but really it’s good for your sanity. I’m not saying do it every semester, but once won’t hurt your chances of getting in. I ended up taking self defense for women (and men). And I’m a second degree black belt (so it was EASY). But everyone in my class were pretty chill and it was an awesome workout. I learned a few things about law too. So other classes my friends took where yoga, the history of Disney, hip hop and some other cool stuff.

Remember, it’s your college experience and it’s up to you to choose what to do to in it. Just have a few suggestions that would have made my life easier had I known. Let me make your life easier!

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