The Freshmen Pre-Med Guide
In just a few months, you’ll take a deep breath and walk through the doors [of your dorm]. Its the morning of your very first day. It’s your freshman year, and you’re gonna be here for the next four years in this town. The moment that you start your first day of college, you start a new chapter in your life. One of the most important chapters. College is a time that essentially determines what you do for the next 20-30 years of your life. Once you graduate, you go off into the real world and start your career. However, if you’re like me and you plan to attend medical school, a couple more years of schooling follow college and then finally we step into our new roles in society.
So, for us “Pre-Med” students, on top of everything that goes on in college, we must always keep in the back of our minds, the big goal: the acceptance to Medical School. Being a rising Junior, I can tell you that time flies by. You thought high school went by fast? College goes by ten times as fast. There’s so much to do that you’re constantly busy doing something that in the mean time the days roll by and soon enough, the year is over.
Freshman year, there isn’t too much you HAVE to do in order to prepare yourself for your medical school application. However, if you want to get ahead and give yourself the best chance of getting into medical school, here are a list of some things you should at least keep in the back of your mind while carrying out your first year of school.
For medical school, there are per-requisite classes that all pre-med students have to take such as Biology, General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Physics etc. However, you have a lot of flexibility as to when you take these classes. Your freshman adviser will help a lot in figuring out a timetable as to when you will take your major pre-med courses. Be thinking about what you want to major in and feel free to take classes that have nothing to do with medicine. For example, during my fall semester I took Country Music as an elective and I got to write a paper on Taylor Swift. Needless to say, it was the best class ever.
During the first month at Vanderbilt, there will be a Student Organization Fair that I highly recommend that you attend. Branch out and find organizations that you would like to get involved with on campus. Think about what you like to do, and I guarantee (kinda) there will be a student organization for that interest. I recommend putting your name and email on as many organizations you see so that once the fair is over, you’ll be able to pick and choose which you want to be a part of. Joining student organizations is an excellent opportunity to meet new people, do something that you enjoy and to pursue leadership positions.
One important thing to note is that, you don’t have to join student organizations that are only health care related so that it looks good on your medical school application. Find a group that shares your interests and be a part of something that you enjoy.
As you find groups to be a part of, I suggest that you find time to volunteer. It is an important experience that medical schools like to see and it is a fruitful activity that will teach you humility: an important trait for a future physician. There are plenty of opportunities to volunteer whether it be at the hospital or tutoring children, find an activity that you are willing to commit to.
Previously, I have mentioned that the HPAO office is an excellent resource for any student thinking about the health-care profession. It is very important that you get added into the list-serve as a lot of important information goes out through those emails. It is also a good idea to meet with Dr. Baum at some point as he will be able to answer almost any question you have regarding the pre-med route.
As you start taking your classes, you want to start building relationships with your professors. Having these relationships with professors will be greatly beneficial for your future endeavors as they can help you with classwork, write letters of recommendations, become major advisers and even help get into classes. The list is endless, and all it takes is visiting the professors’ office hours every now and then and suddenly doors open up ahead of you.
Most Importantly, remember to have fun. College is a once in a life opportunity that you should truly enjoy. They say college is the best years of your life, don’t waste them worrying about what is to come. You have all your life after you graduate to focus on medicine, live a little and enjoy the next four years at Vanderbilt.