To be "pre-med" means you are embarking on a course of study aimed at preparing you to apply to a medical school (or other post-graduate health profession). It means you are taking the classes and gaining the experiences that these schools look for in qualified applicants.
Where do I start?
The Association of America Medical Colleges provides a suggested Timeline for Application/Admission to Medical School.
The UAA Pre-health team has created several online workshops available to complement the web information on this site.
Core competencies for entering medical students
The Associate of American Medical Collges (AAMC) have identified 15 core competencies for students entering medical school. These 15 essential skills serve as specific indicators that medical schools are looking for in successful applicants. https://www.aamc.org/initiatives/admissionsinitiative/competencies/
Coursework required/highly recommended for most medical schools
- 1 year general chemistry with labs
- 1 year organic chemistry with labs
- 1 year introductory biology with labs
- 1 year general physics with labs
- 1 year english
- 1-2 quarters of biochemistry
- 1-2 quarters calculus
- 1 quarter statistics
- 1 course in genetics
- coursework in the Behavioral Sciences (i.e. psychology, sociology)
- coursework in the Social Sciences and Humanities
Although this coursework will meet the requirements for many schools, students should research the prerequisites of the schools to which they hope to apply.
Note: Schools have differing policies for accepting AP, IB or CLEP credits to meet program prerequisites. Students should contact the schools to which they would like to apply to find out that school's policy. Since most students will not know what schools they will apply to when they are planning their schedules, many students choose to retake the science prerequisites or take the honors version of the course. The decision should be made on an individual basis and it is recommended that students speak to an adviser when making this choice.
Additional course work to prepare for MCAT in 2015 and beyond
- 2 quarters biochemistry (no lab required)
- Courses (no specific minimum number) that focus on human behavior, including biological, psychological and socio-cultural influences on behavior
- Knowledge of statistics either through a variety of biological science and behavioral science courses that have included statistics, or by taking a statistics course
- For more information on the MCAT 2015, please view the online presentation from the Association of American Medical College's "The Journey to the MCAT 2015 Exam"
Types of medical practice
The system of medical practice which treats disease by the use of remedies which produce effects different from those produced by the disease under treatment. MDs practice allopathic medicine. In Washington State there is one allopathic medical school - The University of Washington School of Medicine (UWSOM). UWSOM pre-medical course requirements.
Osteopathic medicine provides all of the benefits of modern medicine including prescription drugs, surgery, and the use of technology to diagnose disease and evaluate injury. It also offers the added benefit of hands-on diagnosis and treatment through a system of therapy known as osteopathic manipulative medicine. Osteopathic medicine emphasizes helping each person achieve a high level of wellness by focusing on health promotion and disease prevention. DO's practice Osteopathic medicine and specialize in all of the areas that allopathic (MD) physicians specialize in. In Washington State there is one osteopathic medical school - The Pacific Northwest University College of Osteopathic Medicine (PNWU). PNWU pre-medical course requirements.
Naturopathic Medicine is a system of medicine that focuses on prevention and use of nontoxic, natural therapies." These natural therapies refer to, but are not limited to, proper diet and nutrition, exercise, nutritional supplements, herbology, homeopathy, and lifestyle modification and counseling. ND's practice Naturopathic Medicine. in Washington State there is one ND program - Bastyr University. Bastyr University pre-medical course requirements.
UW course recommendation
Psych 101 and other Psychology courses are highly recommended. In addition there are many classes at the UW that address the Behavioral Sciences, including (but not limited to) courses in: American Ethnic Studies; Anthropology; Bioethics and Humanities; Gender Women and Sexuality Studies; Geography; Global Health; History; Law, Societies and Justice; Philosophy; Public Health; Sociology; and departments offering courses in ethnic, regional, and international studies. We encourage you to follow your interests and also explore new ideas.
Medical schools not have a preference for any undergraduate majors. Strong academic performance in pre-requisite coursework and in major coursework are essential.
Actively participating in student groups can be an invaluable experience. The student groups not only offer services that premedical students find helpful, such as hosting medical student panels, informational interviews and group volunteering events, but they also provide a community of students who have similar interests and goals. By taking on an active role, students can also develop their leadership skills.
- Alpha Epsilon Delta
- The American Medical Student Association
- Minority Association of Pre-Health Students (MAPS)
- Student Health Consortium
- Unite for Sight
Websites to visit
Here are some helpful websites to learn about the medical field, the application process and more:
- American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine
- Association of American Medical Colleges
- The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians
- UW School of Medicine: Advice for Prospective Students
- Osteopathic Medical College Information
- Medical School Admission Requirements (book)
- MD-PhD Dual Degree Training
- MD/PhD: Is it for YOU? (podcast)
- MedEd Portal: Pre-health competencies
Applying to medical school
We have prepared several online information presentations to help you understand and prepare for this process. Please visit: Health Professions Application: Choosing Schools and Preparing the Medical School Application at your convenience. Applying to medical school is a year-long process. The actual application steps are:
- Take the MCAT [Most schools accept scores dated up to two years before the application is due. We highly advise students to check individual schools' policies.]
- Submit the AAMCAS or AACOMAS Primary Application
- Submit secondary applications
- Accept your admissions
However, before you begin you must complete pre-requisite coursework; obtain letters of recommendations and actively engage in healthcare experience. For more information on the application process, visit the AAMC and AACOM websites and read the Medical School Admission Requirements book.