I have known what I’ve wanted to do since I was eleven years old. Growing up in a two-physician household, medicine was all around me. The day I realized the human body fascinated me to no end, it was only the beginning of (what I hope to be) a long road to becoming a doctor.
Whatever there is to do that any pre-med student would find remotely interesting, you name it, I’ve done it. Obsessively watch all eight seasons of House, M.D.? Check. Silently eavesdrop on my parent’s pages from the hospital while they’re on call? You bet. The Consultant for Pediatricians that arrived at my house every month with slightly repulsive pictures of rashes, oozing eyes, and other bodily abnormalities? That’s what I like to call light reading.
Dozens have people have asked me, “Why Tufts?” and the succinct answer I have come up with is as such: liberal arts education, top research university. Regardless of the fact I was to be a humanities major, I knew I wanted a school that would prepare me for my ultimate goal of being a doctor.
I distinctly remember arriving on campus and slowly realizing the sheer number of pre-meds that made up my class. I recall thinking: I know there are so many resources here for me, but how do I go about navigating them?
Ah, but never fear. Although I am not your typical bio major pre-med (yawn…) I have put together a nifty guide for all you incoming, aspiring physicians.
1. Hit the ground running. Not 100% sure if you’re pre-med? Start taking the pre-med prerequisites anyway. It’s definitely better than the alternative: realizing you’re pre-med and haven’t even started on getting your requirements out of the way, especially with the MCAT right around the corner. On the flip side, if you realize you’re not pre-med, you’ll find out early and still have plenty of time to pursue what you’re actually interested in. Worse come to worst, you’ll have completed your natural sciences distribution requirement, which you need to graduate anyway!
Hitting the ground running also means that if you’re still in high school and considering being pre-med…take AP or IB science courses. If you work hard and do well on the exams, you’ll love yourself once you get to college. Two reasons why, a) because you have already mastered the material once and b) if you place out of some of the intro sciences, you’re freeing your schedule up to take the better, more interesting higher level courses.
Additionally, the large introductory science lecture classes (e.g. Chem 1 or Bio 13) are filled with freshman – AKA your peers! It’s always good to have buddies in these big, difficult classes. And no one wants to be in a giant lecture course as upperclassmen, so get those out of the way as soon as you can.
2. Use the Pre-health advisors. Gosh, doesn’t that sound scary? Did the image of formidable adults telling you that you couldn’t possibly achieve your life-long dreams come to mind? Not the case here for us Jumbos.
One of perks of going to a school with lots of pre-meds? Our advisors have tons of experience, and they’re really good at their jobs. I guarantee they have dealt with every pre-med problem to have ever existed, and they will help you if you reach out to them.
Pinky promise, I can speak from personal experience. Shout out to Stephanie Ripley, one of our awesome pre-health advisors – one meeting with her and bam, bam, bam she cranked out the schedule I wanted but wasn’t sure how to maneuver, and she did it totally painlessly.
3. Aaaaaand, here’s my shameless plug for The Pre-Med Society. Second semester of freshman year I joined the executive board of the pre-med society, and it was honestly one of the best decisions I’ve made. The Pre-Med Society is essentially catered to our needs as pre-med students.
We’re an amazing resource not only for the events we run and sponsor, but also for the fact that we’re everyday pre-med college students just like you. And not to brag but some of the things I’ve gotten to do through the pre-med society…for example, have an upperclassman mentor, hang out with first year med students, listen to guest speakers such as a medical school admissions dean, visit Tufts Med School, shadow a Tufts med student…pretty awesome, right? So be sure to check us out, and use us to your advantage!
4. Talk to anyone and everyone – friends, upperclassmen, and faculty. Pre-meds have a bad rep of being extremely cutthroat and competitive. While I do not deny that those people exist even at Tufts, I would say as a general rule you can ask around for advice and learn from what others have done in the past. There are many people (upperclassmen, for example) that have been in our shoes before AND your peers are treading along with you. Don’t be afraid to see what the majority of students are doing and apply it to your life. Chances are if it is working for a lot of people, it’s what going to work for med school.
However, that being said, never forget this: there is no one way to get into medical school. Every student chooses a different path; you just need to find the one that works for you, because the end destination will always be the same.
Likewise with the advisors, the Tufts faculty in the science departments have encountered many pre-meds before you. Ask questions, they will show you the light.
5. Be aware of your opportunities. Regardless of the size of the high school you’re coming from, college is going to way more hands-off. On your quest to independence, you’ll soon realize no one is going to hand things to you, so it’s up to you to research what our school has to offer you. All the information is there, you just have to find it! A really good place to start is the Tufts Health Professions Advising website (I’ll save you the Google search: http://uss.tufts.edu/hpa/) with ideas and advice on things from academics, internships, to research and clinical experience.
I can say that finding out about the Early Assurance BA/MD program that Tufts offers to its sophomores played heavily into choosing what school I went to.
Given that Tufts is a strong research institution, it attracts (rightfully so) many pre-meds, and my school definitely shows their pre-med students lots of love.