THE PRE-MED TIMELINE
by Samantha Hernandez, 2017-2018 AMSA Media Coordinator
At some point in your pre-med journey, you've asked yourself "what am I supposed to be doing" or "am I doing the right things to get me noticed by medical schools/ to be a good applicant". It's okay to admit it, we've all done it. The biggest mistake made by pre-med students, however, is not asking themselves this question but rather thinking that they all have to do the same things to get themselves noticed. In the following sections, you'll find general guidelines for each year of your undergraduate career.
*the "freshmen" section may also be useful for any students transferring into pre-med!
The first thing to remember as a freshmen student is to NOT PANIC! Transitioning from high school to college is not easy, and you shouldn't try to down-play it! Don't try to take a ton of hours or join a ton of organization for any reason, whether that be to impress people or prove to yourself that you can "handle it". Yes, in high school you may have been able to be the president of 10 organizations while still keeping a perfect GPA, but that's just not how college works. Freshmen year will kick your butt if you bite off more than you can chew, so take things SLOW!
As a pre-med student, it's important to get your medical school pre-requisites out of the way as soon as possible. Most science majors have these courses built in to their degree plan, since they are basic science courses. Some of the courses, however, may not be built it; and for non-science majors, they might not be built in at all. It's important to talk to your academic advisor and let them know you're pre-med early on, so that they're able to recommend when to take the medical school pre-reqs. For most students, the classes that you'll take during your freshmen year will be very similar to everyone else's because everyone has to get through the basic "core curriculum"; having said that, you will probably take an "into to (your major)" class. If through this class or any other major-specific class, you happen to find that your major doesn't feel like the right fit for you, don't be afraid to explore different majors! You will also want to develop good study habits that you can use throughout your undergraduate career.
In addition to your classes, you'll want to get involved in your school and community! This is the time to try out 1-3 organizations that interest you. Medical schools aren't necessarily interested in the quantity of your activities, but rather the quality! This is why it's important to find and join organizations that genuinely INTEREST you; your dedication and level of involvement in your organization and community are what medical schools are going to notice. So go out and explore the plethora or organizations Texas A&M has to offer, and find orgs or activities that you love. During your second semester of freshmen year, start looking for ways to increase your involvement in the organization. This could potentially help your case as a future officer for an organization!
So, you've made it through freshmen year and still want to pursue medicine? Okay, well make sure that you're still on track to get all of your med school pre-reqs out of the way. During your freshmen year, you should have developed some good study habits; the following years will rely heavily on these skills. If you haven't settled on a major yet, now would be the time to do so. In doing so, don't fall under the misconception that only science majors can be accepted into medical school. As long as you have completed the medical school pre-reqs, your major doesn't matter; choose to major in what interests you, since you'll be studying it for the rest of your undergraduate career.
This is also the time to develop good relationships with your professors; get to know them and make sure they know you. This is important because you might reach out to them one day for research opportunities, a letter of rec, etc. Take advantage of their office hours, and other such opportunities to get to know them and reach out for academic help!
As far as extracurriculars, don't try to spread yourself too thin! Remember, quality over quantity. This is also the time to start getting some leadership experience and become a leader of some sort in your orgs.
You're halfway through your coursework and still standing. WHOOP! During the first semester, keep doing what you've been doing and keep those grades up because junior year grades are the last grades that go to AMCAS (application service for allopathic schools) and AACOMAS (application service for osteopathic schools). You might alsostart studying and begin scheduling to take your MCAT. During your second semester is when the application process begins (if you plan on matriculating immediately)!
Don't stop striving for good grades and participating in clubs just because your applications have already been sent out! After all, you're still not done with the application process (See the Application Process article for the timeline). Stay on track, and finally, relax and enjoy your senior year.
Thank you for allowing AMSA to guide you through this journey; it's been a pleasure to serve you as a member.
Thanks and Gig' Em,