Return to Nancy Lowry's home page
HOW TO BE PRE-MED AT HAMPSHIRE
Requirements: Be sure you are familiar with the courses required for admission to medical school: two semesters each of physics, introductory chemistry, organic chemistry, and biology; two semesters of English composition or rhetoric; and usually some math (now usually two semesters of college level math). All the basic science courses must have labs. Be sure to know about additional requirements or variations at specific schools you are interested in. Be very wary of making any substitutions in the above requirements. A very few medical schools may talk about relaxation of requirements, allowing a semester of biochemistry to substitute for a second semester of organic chemistry, but in fact they are quite stringent in checking off the completion of the core required courses. Students who have made substitutions or who have tried to cut corners with the basic science requirements have experienced difficulty in gaining admission to medical schools.
All premedical students should have their own copies of the current edition of Medical School Admissions Requirements, a handy-dandy book with general information about the premedical process and specific information about each medical school in the United States and Canada. This booklet can be obtained for about $10 from the Association of Medical Colleges, 1 Dupont Circle, NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20036.
Examine your motives for wanting to be a physician. Spend some time in medical settings to see how you really like the type of work that medicine requires. Often students work as EMT's on campus as well as in hospitals. Look for summer internships that might help you be surer of your choice. Talk to everyone who might give you advice: your physician, Hampshire graduates, family, etc.
Be sure to have an advisor who knows you well and who will help you decide about whether medicine is the field for you. Advisors write the premed letters at application time. Be aware of other medical fields. Is it really medicine you are interested in? What about public health? We have had students who have decided that nursing or physician's assistant was the appropriate field for them.
Grades and MCATs Be sure that by the time you apply, you have some science grades on your record. It doesn't matter what courses you take for grades, but medical schools will be interested in seeing how you perform in structured academic settings. Be sure to do well in these courses.
And . . . do well in the MCATs. This means that you must acquire a strong foundation in biology, chemistry and physics, and you must have a facility with quantitative information. Taking a review course helps a lot, but you must go into the review course with a solid background.
On being a Hampshire student: Have an interesting Division II; do an interesting Division III project. You are in a college which allows you to do pre-med stuff, but by the imagination, commitment, and resourcefulness you show in your upper level work, you set yourself apart from all the other students who only have grades and plain old majors to present. Medical schools have been very interested in our students precisely because they do interesting academic work.
Finally - if you are a Hampshire graduate who after a few years decides to go to medical school: There are postbaccalaureate programs that will shepherd you through the process, or you can take courses at your local university or college. We have had students return to the Five College area and take a combined Hampshire and Five College premed program. The institution where you complete your premed work will write your premed letter; Hampshire can only comment on your work up until your graduation. We will be happy to continue to advise you and work with you to make your application as good as it can be.
Useful names, telephone #'s and locations
Career Options Resource Center, Library third floor: Caren Rank, Director, ext. 5385.
Caren will help you understand the premedical requirements, deal with
Chris Jarvis, Associate Pofessor of Cell Biology, Chair of the Premed Committee. Ext. 5580. Other academic members of the Premed Committee will vary.
The academic members of the premed committee can help you plan your academic preparation for medical school and find internships that fit into your program and will be interesting to the medical schools.
Check out the premed web page, designed and maintained by Chris Jarvis:
Prepared by Nancy Lowry, Professor of Chemistry and Premed Committee
Revised June 2006.
Professor Nancy Lowry, (413)559-5581, firstname.lastname@example.org
School of Natural Science, Hampshire College, Amherst, MA 01002