Anyone who knows me knows I am premed. I love to talk to people and I am fascinated with the human body. I work hard in school for A’s because they are necessary if I want to go to medical school. It was natural for me to go to premed orientation during my first few weeks of being here in school. However, what I was told at the premed orientation wasn’t completely true and has led me to believe that more support should be offered to our students here.
First and foremost, I was shocked when the premed advisor told us that we did not need math. When I looked on various websites for different schools I am planning to apply to in two years, I know that I was told that both Calculus I and Statistics were necessary for me to take. If I didn’t take these classes, then there was a significantly higher chance that I would not get into medical school as it is a requirement and I would not be able to be successful on the MCAT, which contains some math, despite the fact that no calculators are allowed. I had fortunately taken Calculus already, but it is extremely important for students to know the requirements they have well outside of the science classes needed and this needs to not be a secret. For example, the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine requires 24 credits of humanities courses to be taken while in college. Harvard’s School of Medicine states that they like to see foreign language courses for their applicants. If I had not done the research on my own and had only gone to premed orientation, I probably would not know that I needed math courses as well as humanities and courses in languages outside of English.
Additionally at premed orientation, research was made out to appear as if it were optional. There is not a single doctor I know, and I know many, who has not engaged in some type of research at some point in their lives prior to becoming a doctor. Not only is research powerful, it is almost impossible to be considered for medical schools if you have not engaged in it. If students here were told that, I am sure that more would be involved in research during their time as students. More would pursue honors in sciences and it would be far more difficult to get into labs here than it has been. Many of the professors do need help on their research projects and the experience would end up being mutually beneficial to the students as well as faculty here doing research.
Students are also not always pushed to be involved on the campus. Medical schools love to see that you have done something other than go to school and get good grades and have done well on the MCAT. It is important that students understand the value of volunteering and seeking out the experiences that will interest them as well as those which will be helpful to their communities. This is not something I felt has been fostered by the premed community here at Eastern, even though I volunteer between hospitals and clinics twice a week.
There is also enormous value in shadowing physicians. Many students come in with the misconception that they want to be doctors without ever having shadowed a doctor. How could you ever know what you want to do in life without ever looking at it? While there is the EMRAP program offered here, there is never any discussion about contacting doctors on one’s own to get the internship in the field you want. Many students believe that because they don’t know any doctors they have no one to ask. However, the University of Michigan School of Medicine publishes a significant number of its physicians’ emails. The least that students can do is search for their field of interest and look for a doctor who they want to work with them and email them. I know I had no idea who the surgeon I’m currently interning for was prior to going to the University of Michigan School of Medicine Department of Orthopedic Surgery webpage and looking for faculty.
Many of these doctors love teaching, as it is a teaching hospital and would like to get students involved in their work and research. All students have to do is ask. But this secret is one that seems to be well kept from students here at Eastern Michigan University for whatever reasons and students are not aware that they can access this information.
This should be a well-known fact for premed students here. The world needs more doctors. The world needs people to do surgeries and care for patients. The only way that this can be done is by supporting our premed students while they are in their first year and guiding them to the path of becoming successful and game changing physicians. While willpower and hard work are both important factors, I cannot wake up with all the answers. I, like all premed students, need support from the faculty here and need to have faculty that both supports me and wants to see me doing well. It is good for everyone when we support students in going into the field they wish to go into. This should be a priority for everyone on the premed board, everyone in the Honors College and everyone supporting or working with premed students. This cannot wait. Action needs to be taken now.