One of my struggles when I was still in high school was choosing a course in university. Just like the usual sixteen year-old, I didn’t know what degree should I take. No one helped me make these big decisions and since I am a soon-to-be first generation doctor in the family, there was no one that I could ask. So I sought the help of Google, which at 2009, doesn’t have that much doctors talking about how to get into med school. So kids, you are so lucky because, you can now get the help you need online. I asked the opinions of awesome soon-to-be doctors who have different premed courses from me. I do hope you find the help that you need and if you still have questions, please feel free to put them down on the comments section.
BS MEDICAL TECHNOLOGY
PROS: The advantage of being a med tech student is you have months of exposure in the hospital and you will meet people who have been in this industry for a long time. You will have an overview of the ups and downs of working in healthcare. You will also learn about how things work in the laboratory, so let’s say you are interested in pathology, you will understand why some lab results can’t be processed immediately even if it’s a stat request. Another advantage is you will feel that you played a part in the diagnosis of the patient even though you aren’t technically the one handling them. Another plus is, the lab is air conditioned since the machines can’t overheat, hence, you still look fresh (lol). It’s also fun to culture bacteria because of the colors, and it’s interesting to see actual specimens in the microscope.
CONS: The disadvantage that I see is since almost everything is automated, it can get boring, and this might lead you into forgetting the principles behind the procedures, which is bad if you are planning to take up medicine. Also, since you are inside the lab, the only time that you get to face the patient is during blood extraction. It’s the nurse’s job to meet the patient face-to-face. Another thing is, urine and feces will be a part of your life so when you go to med, you won’t be disgusted with these specimens anymore.
– Irene, RMT
PROS: Medtech students are proficient in using the microscope for histopath, hence it will be a big advantage since you’ll be using it for your histology and pathology subjects. You will also gain the very useful skill of blood extraction which will come in handy in medschool. You will learn the practical and theoretical side of lab diagnostics which is a must in being a medical doctor plus, you will have subjects that will be useful when you enter medschool such as hematology, immunology and serology, and analysis of urine and body fluids. It will be easier for you to understand the concepts because of your prior knowledge and experience in this field. In addition to this, during your undergrad internship and work, you will have hospital and patient exposure hence, all those nervousness around patients and doing procedures will be off of your list of fears.
CONS: For the disadvantage, even if you have all these knowledge and experience, there will still be tons of concepts and skills that you do not know and it can be really frustrating. However, that’s the point of going into medschool, you will need to learn and learn and learn.
– Ton, RMT
PROS: One of the major advantages of medtech as a premed course are the subjects. Clinical chemistry, microbiology, endocrinology and toxicology are very useful subjects that will help you understand and make clinical correlations especially in internal medicine. We also had pathology, and learned how to do slide preparation and be proficient in using the microscope. We were also given clinical cases weekly, and were trained to determine the laboratory approach needed for a certain case, interpretation of results, and final diagnosis. We also have basic knowledge in pharmacology and experience in doing quantitative research. Overall we have a good foundation in pathophysiology, basic pathology, laboratory work and diagnostics, and clinical correlations.
CONS: Since medtech is an undergrad course, the diseases are more focused on the criteria related to clinical aspects, and not much on the deeper concepts and specific treatment protocols. These things still need to be learned in medschool. We still have a lot to study such as doing physical examination, and calculating drug dosages. There are still so many things that we do not know but we learn as we go through with our medical education.
– Josh, RMT
PROS: Pharmacists have an edge in pharmacology. Learning about the mechanisms of drugs and their corresponding physiology is an advantage for us in medschool. And this is such an important knowledge base because basically doctors prescribe drugs. Pharmacology is said to be one of the monsters of pre-clinical years so this foundation will be put in good use not just in medschool but all the more in your practice. You will also have an idea about drugs and their administration which is an important aspect since there are tons of drugs that you have to learn. I guess pharmacy teaches you the skill to analyze a lot which is much needed in the field of medicine.
CONS: The disadvantage for me is pharmacy is such a beautiful and exciting field and it’s hard to let go of your love and passion for it. Somehow, it was easier for me to love pharmacy than medschool. Also there are limited subjects that we know about which are also in medschool unlike medical technology. I also think anatomy is not our strong suit or maybe it’s just me.
PROS: Pharmacy is a good fallback because there are many job opportunities. You can work in public or private drugstores, in a hospital, in the pharmaceutical industry as a quality control officer, in the academe or in research. As a medical student, a big advantage is you will be familiar with the therapeutic category and mechanism of action of drugs, their generic and brand names. You will also know how to calculate the doses of medication, know what medicines, and what dose or stock keeping units (SKUs) are available in the market. You will also know how to counsel patients, and be familiar with drugs’ side effects and drug interactions. You can advise patients about what to avoid and expect when taking a particular medicine. You will also have knowledge about what alternative medicine can be given in case the specific medicine that a patient needs is not available. You will also have a good background in biochemistry, though I forgot a lot about it since that was a long time ago.
CONS: The disadvantage is the clinical skills are not yet there like handling and managing patients. Our background in histology is poor and we have litte knowledge in anatomy.
– Anonymous, RPh
PROS: Bio graduates are often coined as premeds who know a little bit of everything but is a master of none in terms of clinical skills. One advantage that I can think of is we are trained in doing scientific research. We also have a strong foundation about the cell. We had a taste of anatomy, physiology, histology, molecular biology, genetics, and microbiology, hence, some of the terms are not too jargon when we we studied medicine. We are trained to understand microscopic and macroscopic scientific phenomenon including connecting and correlating ideas. We also have good microscope skills and since we often present scientific papers, we also know how to teach. Above all this, the biggest advantage that being a biologist has is the innate curiosity, the inner scientist, that has helped me open one more page of a book, even when I don’t feel like studying. I get so happy by knowing and learning more and more everyday
CONS: The obvious disadvantages are more on hospital exposure and clinical skills. Being a medtech, pharmacist, or a nurse will expose you in the healthcare industry. I barely knew drugs, I don’t know the protocols for handling patients and I had zero clinical skills and poor knowledge about diseases. How I wish someone could have explained to me that Biology won’t help in these important clinical aspects but still I have no regrets because Biology was so much fun. It compensated for my fatigue in medschool.
PROS: In Chemistry your edge is you really know and understand how things work in a molecular level, which is the basis of pharmacology. Understanding the pharmacodynamics, pharmacokinetics of drugs and their reactions would be easier. Your skill in being keen to details will be a great advantage in understanding complex concepts such as cardiac and renal physiology. Since we are also used to reading books filled with graphs instead of pictures, we can power through reading the most boring books (which are a lot) even in medicine. We are also trained in self-studying and analyzing complex problems, which is must-have skill in medicine because most of the time you will be learning on your own. I believe the greatest edge that a Chemistry student has is their attitude and discipline, and their training to be analytical and rational in every decision they make. They are extremely careful, for one tiny mistake can cause a catastrophic effect. They are agents of change and research that is not only important for changing the field of medicine but also in producing a five-star Filipino Scientist and Physician, whom not only accepts what is given but also questions what is presented.
CONS: Our disadvantage is we lack anatomy, microbiology, pathology and other major subjects that other premed courses have. But you will be able to surpass this because chemists have that fire within them to learn and relearn. This is my edge overall, because as a future doctor by profession, to become one is indeed a lifelong journey of learning on its own.
-Jessa Jhen, RCh
PROS: Majoring in Psychology is one of the best decisions I have made in my life. As a psych graduate, you’ll have a better grasp of your mental wellness. Your extensive understanding of the self also allows you to recognize when you are becoming toxic, so you can step back and take a breather. You can manage your human interactions. The psych personality you develop will keep you out of most trouble and in good graces with most of your peers. You can provide some support to your classmates who are emotionally struggling. You also have a mastery of the art of questioning. You get to use it in your daily interactions as well as in history taking. You learn how to effectively extract information in a way that is less intimidating to the patient or the relatives. Your Basic Attending Skills and Psychological First Aid will come in handy in the emergency room, given that you don’t panic when you meet a hysterical patient or relative. You’re trained to detach yourself from your unconducive emotions. Psychology will train you how to be empathetic and detached at the same time. That way, you are able to let patients feel that you care, but you keep yourself at a distance so as to not become drowned in the negative emotions of all the people you encounter.
CONS: On the flip side, you don’t learn much about the medical side of health. You might have to do a lot more catching up than those from other courses. You don’t get many opportunities to practice your profession and you’ll learn of your classmates taking part-time jobs in labs or in pharmacies. If you do manage to get a side hustle, it contributes nothing to your academic performance. Nurses, pharmacists, and med techs get to refine their knowledge when they work. If you do manage to find a job as a Psych major, the knowledge you refine has nothing to do with the field of medicine. Being a Psych grad can also be exhausting. You will always have a classmate coming to you for help, and you want to help them, of course. But it can become too often, or they can come one after another, and you sometimes even set aside your own issues so you can deal with theirs.
PROS: You will definitely have the biggest chunk of hospital experience among your classmates.You know and understand the inner workings in the healthcare industry hence you’ll have less adjustment time. You will also have clinical experience and a clinical eye way before med school. Nursing students are also proficient in history taking and physical exam which will be an advantage for you to excel in medschool. You will have good clinical skills such IV and catheter insertion, or maintaining tracheostomy. I think the biggest advantage is we have prior knowledge and have actually seen patients with the disease process, and also management. The sweetest part of nursing as a premed course is you are basically trained to understand and read every situation, every move and doctor’s order, and what the physician and the patients are saying. I guess one of the best things I learned in nursing is empathy, and the way of connecting to people. I became more emotionally sensitive compared to my past self, but of course patients are not allowed to see that. You also have a good perspective and focus on anatomy and physiology, bioethics and pharmacology, because you need to be able to explain this to the patient. Nursing is overall a good and holistic premed course.
CONS: For the disadvantages, being a nurse is exhausting but I guess you already know that. If before medicine, you experienced working in a hospital you know that this job can drain you as a human being. In terms of academics, somehow the nursing subjects overpowered the basic sciences needed in medicine such as biochemistry, because your main focus in nursing are the skills and theories. There are also things that happen inside the hospital that can break you. The smell of death, the worst feeling of having to tell the family that the patient is deteriorating, the way that the family gets angry, or humiliates the healthcare worker. I somehow think you’ll enter med as a broken person if you took nursing as premed. The good feelings overpower the bad, that’s why nurses are still here, and so we keep on going. But overall, you will be prepared for life inside the hospital because, you have already lived it.
So have you chosen your premed course? I hope this article helped you gain more insight before you enter the world of medicine.