First Year.

Where your journey to medicine begins:

Thinking about a major
What are some major options?

Generally, students will major in Biology or Chemistry, however that is not required. In fact you can major in any subject you wish. Though each medical school has a set of requirements that you have to meet in order to apply to their particular medical program. Thankfully, lots of these minimum requirements are the same! Below are the requirements for most schools in the United States (please follow up with some of your first choice schools to see if they prefer other classes too):

  1. General Biology I & II (plus labs)
  2. A 200/300 level biology course
  3. General Chemistry I & II (plus labs)
  4. Organic Chemistry I & II (plus labs)
  5. Biochemistry
  6. Mathematics courses ( Calculus I and Statistics)
  7. Physics I & II
  8. Two courses of English
  9. A course or two in Psychology and Sociology ( Highly recommended as there is a section dedicated to this subject on the MCAT).
What are the benefits of choosing a different major?
Choosing a major other than a science one doesn’t give you a disadvantage, instead in some cases it allows you to stand out to schools! All that matters is that you check off the required courses in order to apply to medical school and be best prepared for medical school. Also, if you do decided to major in something different, make sure to regularly set up meetings with your advisor in order to make sure your on track to graduate on time. With additional class load of prerequisites for medical school and your major, it may take longer than 4 years.
Shadowing
What is Shadowing?

The most important thing everyone tells a pre-med student: shadow physicians! Although it can be overwhelming to contact physicians for shadowing oppurtunities, this is on of the most important activities that can be done to gauge your interest and passion for medicine as a profession.

What is the timeline for shadowing typically?
We suggest looking to shadow someone your freshman year in particular for thanksgiving or winter break. If you have a car on campus and can balance shadowing with schoolwork, we definitely suggest shadowing weekly on campus too! The most important aspect of shadowing is CONSISTENCY, and making sure each experience is meaningful and can possibly result in a recommendation letter.
How to make each shadowing experience unique?
Each shadowing experience should be unique. Don’t just shadow heart surgeons because you are convinced that is your calling. It’s okay to shadow one, but look at a variety of specialties. Medical schools prefer to see that applicants have had different experiences, so don’t be shy to step outside your comfort zone! Go into each experience open-minded and make the most of it because the AAMC application will ask you to explain each experience. Also, it’s helpful when writing a personal statement so you can pull certain interactions in the clinical setting and relate it to how that has furthered your passion in medicine.
What are the hours and expectations?
Generally,  to be competitive you should have at least 3 different specialities (again this is possible if you start shadowing early on). Each speciality should have a range of 50-100 hours. If you can do 100 hours each speciality that will help make you stand out to schools.
What Physicians should I shadow? Allopathic or Osteopathic?
If you are not certain which path you prefer to pursue, feel free to shadow both kinds of physicians in order to fully allow you experience the differences between the two. Check out the Advice tab in to learn more about Sana’s experience shadowing both! 
What is the difference between Allopathic vs. Osteopathic?

Both are licensed physicians that can treat any illness and provide care.

Allopathic (MD) focuses on diagnosis and treatments, whereas Osteopathic(DO) has a more holistic approach and includes osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT).  More detailed information can be found at:

https://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/medical-school-admissions-doctor/2012/04/23/how-to-decide-between-an-md-and-a-do

Research
What is the impact of research?
Research is the fundamental building block of medicine. Without research we would not be this advanced in treatments for various illnesses. We believe it’s best to indicate some sort of research experience when applying to medical school. Most students who apply to medical school have vast amount of research experience.
When is the best time to get involved with research?
We suggest getting involved with research as soon as possible. The more experience, the more you will stand out! As a freshman in college, begin to form relationships with your professors and see if they can use help in their labs. You don’t have to stick with that particular lab for the next 4 years, instead you can spend a week in various labs to see which is the best fit for you. Once you have found a lab that you are passionate about plan on making a fundamental advancement in the lab. For instance, presenting a poster in a symposium/conference or deciding on doing your senior thesis in that particular lab. Consistency is key when applying to medical school. If you plan on becoming involved with anything ask yourself, “Am I passionate enough to stick with this for the next 4 years?”
How do you reach out to a professor that you are interested in doing research with?
First do some research on their lab, and read couple of their papers in order to fully understand what the lab is focused on. Next, draft an email where you introduce yourself (mention any connection if you have one, like I am a student in your Biology 167 course), then indicate your interest in their lab by mentioning some details in the papers that you found intriguing. If you are in the professor’s course, make sure you are doing well enough that you can show the professor you are serious about that topic. Though you don’t need a connection with the professor, but just make sure you are educated enough about their research that you could hold a conversation on those topics. Please feel free to email us for a mock email you can send, or if you want us to look over an email before you send it at firstgenmedicine@gmail.com
Can research count as credit?
Working in a professor’s lab can help form relationships for future recommendation letters, but it also can count towards your graduation credits (depending on your personal universities policy). Make sure to contract your advisor as soon as you become involved in research so you can explore your options of receiving credit.
Am I limited to research just at my university?
You don’t just have to conduct research at your University or during the school year. There are so many research programs in the summer at schools across the nation, with various research focuses. To attain a list of programs that we have compiled, please email us at firstgenmedicine@gmail.com
What to look for when searching for Summer Research Programs?
Search programs through the NIH because they usually have multiple different ones. Also, make sure to keep in account which ones provide a stipend/ housing. Lastly, don’t limit yourself, if you dream of working at any large research institution, APPLY. You never know where you could end up! These applications can be tedious so please reach out to us if you want another look at your essay or etc. We both have extensive research experience and would love to share our experiences and answer any specific questions. 
Grade Point Average
Why is a strong GPA foundation important?
The transition from high school to college can be very difficult, but it is important to focus on academics and creating a strong foundation. It’s best to start strong especially when classes only become more difficult each year.
Where to look for help when struggling?
DO NOT wait to ask for help! If you leave lecture confused, you must be proactive and begin to meet with the professor in order to clear up any questions. This will also help the professor get to know you better and be a potential research mentor or recommender in the future. Secondly, make sure you explore tutors and study groups that are offered on your campus, most often you just need someone else to explain it to you in different terms to fully understand a concept. Also don’t be afraid to look at other resources for extra help like Khan Academy videos etc.
I have a C or a D in a class and can’t seem to improve, what do I do?

If your predicted grade in the class is a C or a D and you would rather not have that on your transcript, then you could withdraw from the class (depending on your university policy). However, this means if you retake the class in the future, you must show improvement. It’s not the end of the world to receive a bad grade in a course, you will have your strengths and weaknesses. Focus on bouncing back in a related class or when you retake the same class.

The most important aspect of your GPA is the trends that medical schools want to notice. An upward trend is important in establishing yourself as a qualified candidate. If you have further questions or want to seek advice on how to succeed in certain courses, please email firstgenmedicine@gmail.com

Still need some advice? Send us a note!
For any other questions, please write us at FirstGenMedicine@gmail.com