If you plan to study pre-med in college, do not put off your preparations until graduation. Start early by taking pre-med specific courses in high school.
High school electives, such as Sports Med, Nutrition, Anatomy, and Psychology can help students prepare to study pre-med in college. Additionally, students should take any AP courses available in math and science. These may include AP Biology, AP Chemistry, AP Calculus, and several others.
Many students who wait until college to start preparing for their degree in the medical field struggle to keep up with the course load. Starting in high school gives you extra practice with the material and the chance to decide whether or not this is the correct career path. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about preparing to study pre-med while in high school.
Pre-Med High School Electives
Not all high school electives have to do with art or music. If a future career in the medical field interests you, there are plenty of high school electives to help you prepare for college. By starting early, you will find that entry-level pre-med courses seem easier.
So which elective classes should you take and why? There are several types of courses that might benefit pre-med courses. This is because pre-med is a very broad major. Students studying pre-med learn about the field of medicine as a whole before refining their area of study in medical school.
If going to medical school is your goal, put extra work into the related required high school courses. Depending on where you go to high school, requirements will vary. Some common classes all students must take are biology, health, chemistry, algebra, and pre-calculus.
Pre-med classes require lots of knowledge of math and anatomy. Commit to learning these subjects. As you do, the pre-med electives will feel easier and more enjoyable.
Electives available at your school will vary. Smaller schools may not have as many courses available; however, some courses that will help may surprise you.
If your school offers Sports Med or physical training courses, enroll in those. These classes often give you hands-on experience dealing with and treating injuries. Additionally, classes related to nutrition are beneficial.
When available, all students seeking to study pre-med in college should take anatomy in high school. A study in the Physiology Journal found that many students fail their introductory anatomy classes in college. Improve your chances of passing this class by testing the waters in high school.
As well as anatomy, you should take any optional upper-level science classes. Although not entirely applicable, you may also enjoy taking Forensic Science.
As mentioned earlier, pre-med is a fairly broad major. For this reason, you will benefit from taking a broad range of classes. Courses such as psychology or child development may help you identify your preferred area of study early on.
Math is an important part of the pre-medical degree. Do not neglect to incorporate higher-level math classes into your high school education. Some math classes that might interest you are calculus and statistics.
While math and science are the main focus of pre-medical studies, continue to take any writing or speaking courses available. Throughout your pre-med degree, you will write papers and give presentations—start refining those skills early.
If your school does not offer any of these electives, ask if you can be the Teacher’s Assistant for the pre-med-related required classes. Further exposure to these subjects will help solidify the knowledge in your mind.
AP or IB Courses
In addition to regular high school electives, enroll in AP and IB classes. Your school might offer both AP and IB courses, or just one or the other. But what is the difference between these classes?
AP stands for Advanced Placement. These classes are hosted by the College Board and focus on specific subjects. AP classes that will prepare you for pre-medical studies are AP Biology, AP Calculus (AB or BC), AP Statistics, AP Psychology, and AP Chemistry.
Meanwhile, the International Baccalaureate Program, or IB, has less specific courses. This program is not as common in American high schools. Some IB classes that would apply to pre-med students include IB Psychology, IB Biology, IB Chemistry, IB Sports Exercise and Health Science, and all IB math classes.
Additionally, if your school offers any dual enrollment courses with the local college, take advantage of them. Earning college credit while in high school can help decrease your workload when pursuing your degree.
Societies and Clubs
In addition to electives, preparing to study pre-med can take place in clubs. If your school does not have any of the following clubs, pair with another at a nearby school or form one of your own.
Some clubs that might interest a pre-med student in high school are an Anatomy Club, Biology Club, Neuroscience Club, Pre-Med Club, Sports Medicine Club, and so much more.
All high schoolers interested in studying pre-med should participate in HOSA – Future Health Professionals. Participating in this organization will give students hands-on experiences and help them establish a network. This network can later be used to get jobs or letters of recommendation.
High School Internships
Pre-med internships might sound daunting. For this reason, many students wait until their final years of college to start researching them. However, even high schoolers can enroll in pre-med internships.
Both the Center for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health offer summer camp-like internship programs to help high school students immerse themselves in the pre-medical field.
Interested in a specific type of medical internship? Find an internship specializing in that area. For example, The University of Colorado partners with the Children’s Hospital of Colorado to offer high school seniors experience researching in the lab.
While in high school, you may also consider part-time work at a health clinic doing reception work. Even these entry-level jobs can help you create a network that can be used to obtain a future job or letter of recommendation. Getting out in the field and immersing yourself in the medical world will always be beneficial, even if you are the receptionist.