Physicians diagnose and treat illness in patients including prescribing medications, ordering tests and performing surgery, depending on specialty. It requires excellent skills in problem-solving, communication, leadership and teamwork.
There is no one particular major required for entrance into a medical school. Pre-Medicine is a career goal that includes a set of course requirements that prepare you to succeed as a physician. You should choose a major you enjoy, and one in which you will excel.
Most medicals schools include four years of training after the bachelor’s degree, including two years of mainly classroom work and then two years of clinical rotations. This is followed by three to eight years of residency depending on your chosen specialty.
- 2 semesters General Biology with labs (this is a minimum—you should take more)
- 2 semesters General Chemistry with labs
- 2 semesters Organic Chemistry with labs
- 2 semesters Physics with labs
- 2 semesters English Composition
- 1 semester Biochemistry (no lab needed) *IU MD Program & Marian DO Program will require as of Fall 2015
- Anatomy and Physiology — not required but highly recommended for MCAT
- 1 semester General Psychology *IU MD Program & Marian DO program will require as of Fall 2015
- 1 semester Sociology *IU MD Program & Marian DO program will require as of Fall 2015
- Other recommended courses: Anatomy & Physiology, Statistics. Generally, a grade below a C is not acceptable for prerequisite courses
Several options are available for your medical education.
- MD (Allopathic Medicine)
The MD is a four-year generalist degree that is typically followed by additional clinical training to be board certified in a specialty area.
- DO (Osteopathic Medicine)
The Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine is a four-year degree administered by osteopathic medicine schools. Training for an MD and DO are quite similar and degree recipients are licensed to practice medicine. Osteopathic medicine includes additional training in the musculoskeletal system and focuses more on the whole person. The four-year generalist degree is typically followed by additional clinical training to be board certified in a specialty area.
- MD or DO/ PhD
Combining a PhD with an MD or DO degree prepares students for careers in academic medicine, such as a medical school professor or biomedical researcher. Adding a PhD generally adds three to four years to a student’s medical school program, but it is often fully funded. You can then choose to go on to complete a medical specialty or not, just like other MD or DO grads.
- Other combined degrees
It is also possible to combine medical school training with a Master of Business Administration (MBA), a law degree (JD), a public health degree (MPH). or various master's degrees in fields such as clinical research or medical informatics.
Aptitude Test and Application
Future MD and DO students must take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) before applying to medical school. This is frequently taken in the spring of the junior year of college to apply for admission in the fall after graduation. The MCAT tests knowledge of physical science (chemistry and physics), biological science (biology, organic chemistry, biochemistry), and verbal reasoning skills. Starting in spring 2015, the test will also include a section on behavioral science (psychology and sociology). Application is made through a centralized service called AMCAS (American Medical College Application Service).
The MD application is through American Medical College Application Service; the DO application is through American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service; and the Texas application is through Texas Medical and Dental Schools Application Service.
- American Association of Medical Colleges (including information on MCAT and AMCAS)
- American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine
- AAMC Resources for Pre-Med Students (a great overview of the AAMC and its resources)