Pre-Med Frequently Asked Questions

Is there an organization or club for UNM students who are interested in attending medical school?

Yes: The UNM Pre-med Club is a student-run organization chartered by UNM. You can access the Club's Web page at: http://www.unm.edu/~premed/

You should also subscribe to the Pre-med Club's e-mail list. It's simple to do this. Just follow these steps:

1. Click here to open a message window (already addressed to the correct server).

2. Leave the subject field blank.

3. In the text field, type: subscribe UNMPREMED -L yourfirstname yourlastname

replacing yourfirstname and yourlastname with your actual first and last names. All four words must be entered on the same line.

4. Click on the "Send" button to send the message. Ignore any prompt for a Subject field entry that your browser might display.

5. Once your subscribe message is sent, you'll soon receive an e-mail message acknowledging your subscription. You should save (or print) this message for future reference. All Pre-med Club e-mail list postings will automatically be sent to the account from which you sent your subscribe message.

How should I prepare myself for getting into medical school?

You need to do your homework on the application process at each step, and you need to start NOW. Your first step should be to access the admissions web page for the UNM School of Medicine (http://hsc.unm.edu/som/admissions/index.shtml). Those pages are your best source of information with respect to applying for admission. If you are applying to other medical schools, you should access their respective admission committee's web pages, which can be (indirectly) accessed via the Association of American Medical Schools web page (http://www.aamc.org/). You should also try to speak with persons who are currently in medical school, or have recently graduated. They can give you a realistic alternative picture of what the process is like.

I'm interested in attending medical school. Should I major in Biology? Chemistry? Physics? Or should I choose another major?

This is an interesting question, and an important one. However, if you check the admissions requirements for UNM's Medical School, you will see that the required courses are few, and very basic:

These requirements (which are typical of most U.S. medical schools) could easily be met in the context of almost any major, from Sociology or Elementary Education to Engineering or Physics. So you don't have to major in Biology (although roughly 40% of applicants to UNM's program do) or one of the other 'hard' sciences (math, chemistry, or physics). Even a 'major' in University Studies would suffice for your application to be considered, as long as the above courses were successfully completed. Naturally, you'll want to check the particular requirements of the medical schools to which you will be applying. Use the Association of American Medical Schools web page (http://www.aamc.org/) to access that information.

Also, should you decide to major in Biology, be sure to bookmark the Biology Department's Undergraduate Advising Web page and check it frequently.

I heard that working in a Biology lab looks good on your medical school application. How do I get into a lab?

You want to be careful about doing something solely because you think it will look good on your application to medical school. For one thing, if you're not enthusiastic about what you're doing, you won't perform as well as you could or should. Especially in a research setting, sub-par motivation is readily apparent because it will be reflected, often in subtle ways, in your performance. Your mentor will readily perceive this, and—believe me—one of the best ways to form a bad impression in a professor's mind—and kill your chances of getting a good letter of recommendation—is to work in the lab (or take a course) only because it will "look good" on your medical school application. Faculty members want to work with motivated, enthusiastic students who are curious and interested in science and understanding nature. If that describes you, then this enthusiasm will show in your talk, in your research efforts, and in your coursework.

You can volunteer for a professor's research, be employed as a work/study student, work as a student employee, or do a Biology honors project your last year as an undergraduate. You can also enroll in a Biol. 499, Undergraduate Problems class, with a professor. Each professor has their own call number. You need to start talking to your professors about these opportunities and be on the Bioclub-L email list to hear about opportunities. And no, having laboratory experience does not mean you have an advantage on your medical school application. Think of the experience in a lab as exploring biomedical research as a possible career.

I'm not ready to apply to medical school as soon as I graduate. I need some time off before I apply, but what should I do in the meantime?

The National Institutes of Health has a one-year research fellowship in Bethesda, Maryland where you get to do biomedical research in our nation's premier laboratories. Check out the web site for information on applying: http://www.training.nih.gov/student/index.asp

Also, the Center for Disease Control has a one-year fellowship in Emerging Infectious Diseases: http://www.aphl.org/profdev/fellowships/eid/Pages/default.aspx.

You can also work in the Biomedical Research labs in the School of Medicine or the Cancer Research Center at UNM if you have a bachelor's degree and have some experience working in molecular biology laboratory. You will need to check the UNM Human Resources Web page weekly for job announcements: http://www.unm.edu/jobs/

What if I'm not accepted by any of the medical schools to which I apply? Am I doomed to sell tennis shoes at the mall?

Well, the reality is that even well-qualified students often must apply two or even three times to medical school before they are accepted, so failing to get admitted the first time you apply does not necessarily mean your doom.Should you not be admitted to medical school, but are committed to working in health and medicine, there are myriad ways for you to participate in exciting and fulfilling medically-related careers. A master's degree in Public Health can lead to important community-wide work, for example. Or you can consider applying to a school of Osteopathic Medicine http://www.aacom.org/) or a dental school. Perhaps you should consider doing biomedical research; with the advancements in cell and molecular biology these days, research is mind-blowing.

Back to FAQ