Becoming a doctor requires subject-matter expertise in a variety of subjects. Doctors spend years studying different subjects and building a solid and reliable knowledge base. This kind of studying begins even before medical school starts. Knowing which subjects you need to take in the years before joining medical school will help you plan your education accordingly. If you’re looking for a guide on how to choose the subjects you need to become a doctor, you’ve come to the right place.

Subjects To Choose In High School To Be A Doctor

Although medical schools don’t pay much attention to the subjects you opt for in high school, it can still help make your undergraduate degree easier if you already have a foundation in the related subjects. If you’re sure you want to pursue a medical career when you’re in high school, it is recommended to opt for subjects that will be related to the subjects you will take in pre-med. Having a strong background in biology, chemistry, and mathematics will come in handy when studying further. Other subjects like psychology and English will also help in your medical journey.

Subjects To Choose In Pre-Med

Medical school admissions committees place a lot of importance on your academic performance in pre-med. Considering that pre-med courses are a stepping stone to med school, it’s essential you choose relevant subjects and score well in them. Medical school admissions committees usually prefer candidates with a strong background in biology, chemistry, physics, sociology, psychology, and calculus. Choose your majors and minors accordingly.

Before entering medical school, you need to take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) and score well. Admission into a college depends on how well you score in this test, among other criteria. So it’s recommended you take classes in subjects that will help you prepare for the test. Subjects covered in the test are:

  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • Microbiology
  • Epidemiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Genetics
  • Human anatomy
  • Psychophysiology

Most medical schools require two letters of recommendation from your undergraduate professors, with at least one from a science subject.

Subjects To Opt for In Medical School

Medical school is a combination of classroom lectures, lab work, and clinical experience. The first two years will focus on gaining theoretical knowledge through classroom learning in subjects including anatomy, psychology, biochemistry, pharmacology, medical ethics, genetics, immunology, cell biology, human development, foundation of cells and molecules, epidemiology, critical care, health laws, and communication and soft skills.

The final two years of medical school focus on gaining practical experience in hospitals or clinics, in different departments, including internal medicine, obstetrics, and gynaecology, pediatrics, general surgery, psychiatry, neurology, and more.

To earn the license to practice medicine, you will have to take the first two stages of the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE). Taking courses in these subjects will help you prepare for the exam:

  • Principles of medicine
  • Clinical skills and patient care
  • Bodily systems like the respiratory system
  • Genetic disorders and birth defects
  • Biostatistics and population health

Subjects You Can Skip

Some subjects may be irrelevant to your application to medical school, or they may be subjects that admissions committees don’t place so much importance on when considering your application. It would save you time and effort if you avoid taking those subjects and replace them with more useful ones listed above. Subjects that are not considered as “academically rigorous” by admission committees, like citizenship and global perspectives, can be skipped as they won’t give you many brownie points on your application.

A good way to choose your subjects is to choose a specific medical field or job you think you’re interested in and work your way backwards by choosing subjects at every level of your education that are related to that job. For example, if neurosurgery is what you’re interested in, related courses in medical school would be a neurology or general surgery; in pre-med, related subjects would be biology, chemistry, or neuroscience; in high school, related subjects would be biology and chemistry.