Medicine is a highly respected career which brings many rewards. Physicians and surgeons diagnose and treat injuries or illnesses. Physicians examine patients, take medical histories, prescribe medications, and order, perform and interpret diagnostic tests. They counsel patients on diet, hygiene, and preventive healthcare. Surgeons operate on patients to treat injuries (such as broken bones) and disease (such as cancerous tumors and deformities, e.g., as cleft palates). Career outlook is strong. Employment is expected to grow by 13% from the period of 2016–2026, faster than the average for all occupations. (US Bureau of Labor Statistics and Occupational Handbook)
"It is an extraordinary time to be a doctor. You will be entering medicine at a time when the country needs your services most, given predicted physician shortages in coming years, and when national attention is focused like never before on the need to improve health care delivery. It is also a time when our profession is undergoing an exciting period of transformative change, with clinical care becoming increasingly patient-centered and team –based, biomedical research more technically sophisticated and collaborative, and medical education itself evolving into a continuum of lifelong learning."
Darrell Kirch, MD
President and CEO, Association of American Medical Colleges
The physician of the future will value diversity (from personal experience getting out of their comfort zone), be culturally competent, understand the social dimensions of health, will think critically like a scientist, will understand research design, will meet most of the competencies, especially the ability to be resourceful and resilient, and will be a team player. They will be chosen holistically, taking into account their family background.
Individuals interested in medicine can answer "Yes" to the following questions: Do you like challenges? Are you interested in science and how the body works? Do you care deeply about other people, their problems, and their pain? Are you a good listener? Do you enjoy learning? Are you intrigued by the ways medicine can be used to improve life? (Association of American Medical Colleges)
The OSU pre-med program provides extensive resources to support our applicants through all aspects of their preparation and application, and this is reflected in the high success rate of our students who are admitted to medical schools.
There is no preferred major for pre-meds. Common majors include those in Science (e.g., Biology, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Chemistry, and Microbiology), Engineering (e.g., Bioengineering, Chemical Engineering, Radiation Health Physics, etc.), Public health and Human Sciences (e.g., Kinesiology, Nutrition, Public Health), Agricultural Science (e.g., Bioresource Research), and Liberal Arts (e.g., Philosophy, Psychology, Spanish, etc.). Medical schools are looking for academic rigor and depth, so choose a major that interests you.
For most medical schools, the prerequisite courses needed include a year each of the following:
- General Chemistry: CH 231/261 series
- General Biology: BI 211 series
- Organic Chemistry: CH 331, 332, 337, or CH 334 series
- General Physics: PH 201 or 211 series
OHSU (as well as other schools) also requires Biochemistry (BB 450 or BB 490 series) and Genetics (BI 311 or MB 310). Many schools also require some liberal arts courses. General Psychology (PSY 201, 202) and Introduction to Sociology (SOC 204) in particular are good preparation for the MCAT. You might also consider a minor, or the Medical Humanities Certificate. It can be beneficial for students in the more technical majors to enhance their curriculum to incorporate more humanities courses relating to health and medicine.