The University offers over 75 majors and over 100 minors — and that’s just in its College of Literature, Sciences, and the Arts. Ranging from majors in English and microbiology to minors in oceanography and economics, the University has everything. Well, almost everything. While 40 LSA programs rank among the top 10 in their field, the University lacks a degree program that caters to its future doctors. Instead, the University encourages its future doctors to acquire a balanced and challenging liberal arts education. The liberal arts education that lies at the core of the University’s LSA graduation requirements includes courses focused in the humanities, race and ethnicity, and quantitative reasoning.
Students who aspire to become doctors must take courses toward a major, courses toward the distribution requirements and the medical school prerequisite courses. Many of the classes required to apply to medical school, such as introductory science courses, count merely as prerequisites toward LSA degree programs.
Being in LSA is awesome; I get to major in Spanish, while also completing minors in biochemistry and business through the Stephen M. Ross School of Business. While I love the diversity of my education, the breadth of knowledge comes with vast requirements, forcing many premedical students to take courses during spring and/or summer terms. To better serve its pre-medical students, while also maintaining its integrity as a comprehensive liberal arts education, LSA should create a program designed for pre-medical students. Ideally, this program would allow the required courses needed to apply to medical school to count toward a degree. In this fashion, pre-medical students would be able to both learn everything they need to know to apply to medical school and take advantage of the wide variety of programs ranked so highly. Just as being a doctor requires more than just medical and scientific knowledge, so should being a pre-medical student. A well-rounded education would produce doctors who are better able to connect with and holistically treat patients.
The course requirements for applying to medical school continue to increase for classes applying after 2016. New requirements, which are also tested on the new Medical College Admission Test beginning in April 2015, include sociology, psychology and biochemistry, an extra 11 to 12 credits designed to create future doctors with broad knowledge. The American Association of Medical Colleges, the governing body of medical schools and admission, has also created a list of 15 core competencies to evaluate potential doctors. Among these competencies are scientific inquiry, teamwork and social skills. As the landscape changes regarding what courses and experiences medical school admissions committees desire and expect, so too should the undergraduate education of the future doctors.
Pre-medical students at the University of Michigan look like elementary students contorting their bodies while playing a game of Twister. At times, the balancing act is impressive. At other times, students collapse to the floor.
Marc Schlessel is an LSA junior.