Academic Preparation

Primary care shortages. Increasing public interest in healthcare. With these new but ever-present realities in mind, the University of Michigan-Flint is strategically positioned to prepare students for the challenges and rewards of a medical career. 

Whether you’ve always wanted to be a physician, or if you’ve only recently discovered your calling, you have an entire built-in support network here at UM-Flint ready to guide you and push your development potential to the next level. Our core methodology of medical school preparation emphasizes functionality over a structural approach—and, as such, it is flexible in regard to your ambitions and pliable to your needs. Since our premedical advisors have served on medical school admission committees and have advised successful applicants for many years, our advice to you is based in educational and developmental theory—but also grounded in practice. 

There are two ways to approach medical school preparation: all or nothing. It’s more than a question of having great dedication, or the right attitude—it’s about how willing you’re prepared to be. Are you ready to commit significant time and enthusiasm to achieving your goals? The competition is going to be tough—but don’t let it intimidate you, though, because the process should be tough. What we can tell you is this: If you’re willing to put your energy and passion for a medical career into your academic development, our faculty and staff will guide you to the finish line, preparing you for all the challenges of medical school along the way. 

We won’t sugarcoat it—getting into medical school will be difficult. As you may already know, you will be competing for limited spaces against your peers, and more than half will not get in. Understandably, this might make your goals seem unapproachable at times, but if you’re willing to study hard, come to class prepared, become involved in student life, and approach medical school preparation like your future depended on it (because it does), then our faculty and staff will empower your decisions and support your ambitions with sound advice and a True Blue education. 

In order to prepare for medical school, you must develop into a candidate that represents the spirit of the profession: caring, devoted, focused, and serious. The best way to nurture those talents is through a rigorous education focused on research, a practical volunteer effort in the community, sustained exposure to medicine throughout your college experience, and an insatiable will to be better and do better. This optimal environment and support are all available here at UM-Flint. Our professors are the brightest and best in their fields. Our outreach into the community is deep, providing you with myriad volunteering options. Our health professional programs and local hospital connections are ideal for developing your interest in medicine. Our clubs and student activities provide ample leadership opportunities and the chance to influence functional, real-world medical efforts. 

Our premedical recommendations have been designed to unlock your development potential, by focusing on transforming you not only into a candidate for medical school, but also into a well-rounded individual and focused scholar. Medical schools around the nation are looking for well-prepared students from all backgrounds and experiences. They’re looking for renaissance students with competency in arts and sciences, and with breadth and depth in study. As you can imagine, there isn’t one particular approach that works best to prepare for medical study. Our job is to work with you to find the one that will work best for you. We want to get to know you! 

Academic Advising

The campus culture at UM-Flint is one-of-a-kind, and so is our approach to advising. We foster an environment where we get to know you and your ambitions. Our advising and career philosophies are rooted in developmental advising theory, strengths-based counseling, and student development theory. 

Your singularly most important first step toward medical school preparation will be to obtain and take advantage of academic advising. We’re here to help make the academic preparation process manageable as you make informed decisions. Our professionally trained academic advisors, career counselors, support staff, and orientation leaders stand ready to serve each student’s particular needs in parallel with faculty advising. 

During freshman orientation, we will evaluate your interests and guide you through the process as you choose a major. We will also help you to select courses best suited for your program and interests. But we do so much more than advise you on courses—we have the experience of having advised thousands of students over the years, and have the know-how to guide you through proven best practices to make your university life a lot easier. 

Overwhelmed? We understand that the process is difficult to navigate and that the whole picture might not yet be clear. You might find a preparatory program intimidating, or the application process just as daunting. We can disarm your trepidations and help embolden your decisions. It’s what we do best. 

We take pride in assisting you in making informed and smart choices about your academic, personal, social, and career choices. The journey on which you are about to embark—or are embarking—can be memorable and exciting, and we encourage you to explore the many wonderful experiences and opportunities that UM-Flint has to offer. 

We trust that the information on the following pages will be of assistance to you and serve to enhance your experience at UM-Flint. We urge you to contact our office with any questions, comments, or concerns.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I major in?
We have devoted a section to answering this question. Please take a look at Majors. 

Are there any useful courses I should consider?
We have devoted a section to answering this question. Please take a look at Recommended Undergraduate Coursework. 

How many students are on the premedical track?
UM-Flint has over 200 students currently enrolled in the premedical study, majoring in a variety of programs including biology, chemistry, and health science. 

Do graduates go on to medical schools?
UM-Flint has students enrolled in and/or have graduated from each medical school in the State of Michigan and schools around the country, including Case-Western Reserve University School of Medicine, University of Southern California Medical School, and the Mayo Clinic (to name but a few). 

Who are some of your notable premed alumni?
Among many: Gregg Pane, M.D., Director, National Health Care Preparedness Programs for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and Donald Norris Reed, Jr., M.D., Professor of Surgery, Michigan State University 

Does UM-Flint have a premedical club?
Yes, UM-Flint has a robust premed club that is very active on campus and in the community. 

How can I get more patient contact experience?
There are plenty of ways. Try training to become an EMT. Or, volunteer at a nursing home while you minor in gerontology. You could also become a certified nursing assistant or a phlebotomist. 

Education

UM-Flint students enjoy high-level faculty-to-student interaction from tenure-track professors with comprehensive premedical advising experience, including instructors who have taught at several different medical programs and are as well extensively involved in the major medical facilities in the area. Your access to our experts will position your education unequivocally ahead of medical school admission expectations. 

You’ve most likely heard it before: A college education trains you to become a critical thinker. It’s true, but in order to take your critical thinking to the next level—higher-order thinking skills, which are expected by medical schools—you also need to not just analyze information, but synthesize and evaluate it for practical application. Our rigorous programs are specially designed and taught by professors who build such higher-order thinking into their coursework. 

Still, one must never forget that medicine is a humanist profession; you have to be fantastic at science and great with people. Students often approach medical school preparation as science, science, and more science. There is a utility to such a rigorous, science-centered approach, of course, but being a physician requires you be a good writer (and have good penmanship!), be a good speaker and an active listener, and understand your patients and the public—all with the highest expectations of professionalism. Accordingly, in order for you to gain insight into people and have cultural awareness, an expansive, liberal education is required. 

The general education requirements at UM-Flint will help you broaden your education—but consider adding a minor to help make your application to med school stand out. A minor in Africana studies or cultural anthropology, for example, will stand-out against 100 other applications with science minors. Even a minor in Gerontology would gain notice, and which, in light of our aging society, would be worthwhile for aspiring physicians. 

Medical schools are moving beyond the old model of learning by apprenticeship, whereby a student works closely with a physician to gain the teacher’s knowledge in replication. Instead, instructors want to see students apply the scientific method to their own problems—they want evidence-based decisions rooted in process thinking. Science courses at UM-Flint will demand you to use such thinking daily. 

Our recommendations are going to be tough to follow—but exceedingly worthwhile. For example, taking two science laboratory courses back to back is purposefully preparatory for when you will have back-to-back labs in medical school. In addition, science courses such as our cadaver lab are not only useful for you to develop your anatomical and physiological knowledge, but also to make some elements (like med school cadaver lab) of your first year of medical school easier. 

Majors

Premed isn’t a major at UM-Flint. (In fact, it’s rarely a major anywhere.) Instead, it’s a set of competency benchmark recommendations, all met through focused preparation during a rigorous education. Since there is a level of cognitive complexity that students are expected to achieve prior to graduation from any accredited university, all baccalaureate majors from UM-Flint are considered by medical schools. 

In general, medical schools stress scholastic achievement, especially in the sciences, as a criterion for admission. Your major should be something that excites your interest the most, yet allows you to complete serious science courses; in fact, to further the point, in a recent year the undergraduate major with the highest acceptance rate into medical school was music—and the highest MCAT scores came from philosophy majors. 

While no academic major is required by medical schools, you can complement your undergraduate experience with a program of study designed specifically to match medical school expectations. This will serve to enhance your higher-order thinking skills across multi-conceptual disciplines. Our courses are taught by faculty who build such challenges into their coursework; we strongly encourage you to pursue certain undergraduate studies that represent a broad selection of such courses. 

Additionally, you may be interested applying to the Honors Program to round out your major. Historically, our premed students who have chosen to pursue the Honors Program have had a 100 percent acceptance rate into medical school. 

Required Undergraduate Coursework

Again, while most medical schools do not require you to have studied a prescriptive program of study, some do require certain competency benchmarks in various fields of study. The three in-state medical schools—University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Michigan State University, and Wayne State University—have released the following required and recommended courses for your review: 

Required Courses By Institution
U of M MSU Wayne  
2 2 2 Biology
- 2 - Biology (Upper Level)
1 - - Biochemistry
1 2 2 Inorganic Chemistry
1 2 2 Organic Chemistry
2 2 2 English
6 2 - Humanities
- 1 - Math
2 - 2 Physics
Strongly Recommended Courses By Institution
U of M MSU Wayne  
- 1 - Behavioral Science
- 1 1 Biochemistry
1 - - Cell Biology
- 1 - Computer Science
1 1 - Genetics
- 1 - Physics
- 1 - Psychology
- 1 - Social Sciences
Encouraged Courses for the University of Michigan Medical School
Medical Anthropology
Medical Ethics
Medical Economics or Finance
Medical Sociology
Gender and Health
Health Policy
Health Services Research and Evaluation
Introduction to the American Health Care System
Comparative Health Care
Psychology and Sociology of Aging
Other courses with similar titles

Sample Schedule and Timeline

Based on some of the recommendations above, this is a sample four-year schedule a premed student might take. As a sample, it does not replace the one you will design for yourself with your academic advisor; in fact, it might even be completely different. What is important, however, is that you understand the level of commitment required to maintain such a challenging schedule. In order to mitigate the severity of coursework during the year, you should strongly consider taking Spring \ Summer courses.

If you are interested in applying for the Early Assurance Program, please note that the senior year courses listed here would need to be taken prior to application during your junior year.

Freshman Sophomore Junior Senior
Fall Winter Fall Winter Fall Winter Fall Winter
ENG 111 ENG 112 CHM 262 PHY 143 CHM 330 CHM 332 CHM 450 CHM 452
BIO 111 BIO 113 CHM 263 BIO 328 CHM 331 CHM 333 Gen. Ed. Gen. Ed.
CHM 140 CHM 260 BIO 326 Major PHY 145 BIO 432 Major Major
MTH 120 CHM 261 F. Lang F. Lang Gen. Ed. Major Major Major
HCR 201 UNV 100 Gen. Ed. Gen. Ed. Elective Gen. Ed. Elective Elective
HCR 1XX PSY 100 HCR 1XX HCR 1XX HCR 1XX HCR 1XX HCR 1XX HCR 1XX
Freshman Year
Fall Meet with an academic advisor as part of orientation. Attend all orientation events. These are critical components to becoming fully integrated into university life.
Fall Visit our library and review the Medical School Admission Requirements, published by the AAMC.
Fall Attend Student Life events such as Welcome Back Week and Homecoming. Also, introduce yourself to the premedical club.
Winter Meet with an academic advisor for potential revisions to your program of study based on your progress.
Winter Begin researching volunteer opportunities for Spring, Summer, and beyond.
Spring/Summer Take courses as appropriate to your degree. Explore volunteer opportunities.
Sophomore Year
Fall Begin studying for the MCAT.
Fall Identify leadership opportunities from your campus experience.
Fall Research opportunities for a study abroad based on your interests. They don't have to be medical. Consider taking foreign language courses in France or Spain, for example. Meet with an academic advisor to plan next year.
Winter Meet with an academic advisor to plan next year.
Spring/Summer Study abroad. Explore the ways to become involved with medical community while abroad prior to leaving. Take a few books on the MCAT with you. 
Spring/Summer If you do not go abroad, consider taking a course or set of courses during Spring/Summer. Consider, also, beginning to study for the MCAT exam.
Junior Year
Fall Continue to study for the MCAT exam for next Spring. Take a practice test to gage progress.
Fall Begin a leadership role in a campus life organization or university committee assignment from Student Government. Consider a research opportunity with a professor you enjoy.
Winter Begin a more rigorous study of MCAT materials in advance for Spring tests. Ask your professors to begin drafting letters of recommendation.
Winter Meet with an academic advisor to plan next year. Consider taking a gap year or semester to explore medical opportunities.
Spring/Summer Take the MCAT. Consult with your advisor regarding your score.
Senior Year
Fall Apply to medical schools and or other graduate schools.
Fall Continue to work hard for your goals.
Fall Continue to be involved in your extracurricular activities.
Winter Meet with an academic advisor to discuss next steps.

 

Research

The production and dissemination of knowledge is the primary mission of any university, and one of the unique opportunities our undergraduates have at UM-Flint is the opportunity to work alongside their professors in research efforts. With access to research-quality labs and equipment, our professors make meaningful contributions to the scientific community with the support of student research assistants. Beyond science, you can also get involved assisting with the research of your humanities and arts professors. Learning beside our Ph.D. professors in their research efforts will have lasting and rewarding benefits. 

Assisting your professors in their research also affords you the opportunity to obtain more expressive and consequential letters of recommendations, because working beside them and supporting them gives them a closer insight into you than being a student in a class otherwise would. Most members of medical school admissions committees are academic clinicians who value research and respect the effort and dedication involved. Your future medical school training will emphasize evidence-based practices in medicine, or the application of the scientific method to medicine. 

For more information on how to get involved with campus research initiatives, please visit the Office of Research. 

Post Baccalaureate Alternatives

If you have already graduated from college and are interested in pursuing a medical degree, your basic goal is to complete the required premed courses. Premed students with non-science degrees should already have the strengths of liberal arts breadth and/or unique preparation (e.g. engineering or business degree) that will lend strength to your medical school application. To complete the necessary premed courses, you can choose to take courses as a non-candidate-for degree (NCFD) student; however, to qualify for student loans, post-baccalaureate premed students need to be in a degree-granting program, either a second undergraduate degree or a master's degree. We recommend that you speak with a faculty or academic advisor before deciding on a plan, which also should include extracurricular activities such as patient contact experience and community involvement. 

University of Michigan
The University of Michigan now offers a new 1-year M.S. program in Physiology. This program is designed to enhance student preparedness and credentials for 1) admission to professional programs and schools or 2) employment in research positions in academia or industry. To this end, two separate tracks are offered: an intensive coursework-oriented track for students aiming at professional school or an intensive research-oriented experience for students interested in laboratory research. 

Click here for more information 

University of Michigan-Flint
The University of Michigan-Flint offers several graduate programs of study relevant to your medical ambitions, among them are: Biology (MS), Business Administration (MBA), Chemistry & Biochemistry (BS/MS), Health Education (MS), and Public Administration (MPA). 

Michigan State University
Michigan State University has a post baccalaureate program. For more information, please visit their website. 

Others
The AAMC maintains a listing of other post baccalaureate alternatives. 

Extracurricular Overview

Medical schools are looking for well-rounded individuals who will bring life experiences to diversify the classroom experience and the profession. Qualities such as integrity, motivation, leadership, and maturity are often discernable though the applicant’s record of nonacademic activities. In this way, academic achievement inside the classroom is just as important as personal growth outside of it. In fact, an active extracurricular life will reinforce and develop your sense of self in rewarding ways, with benefits far reaching into the future. 

Since physicians are active in their communities, medical schools are looking for students with a sustained and active involvement in theirs. By becoming involved within your community, you have the chance to do something you want to do, while making a difference and gaining experience. 

During the application process, extracurricular activates are leveraged into an evaluative component. Medical schools are interested in knowing that you’re capable of academic discipline in the face of external responsibility. Your activities are assessed not by their execution alone, but by the time involved, the impact of the experience, and how it has contributed to your understanding of medicine or modified your worldview. These experiences have an additional benefit: a source of strength that allows you to approach your studies with sufficient motivation to not only pass, but thrive. 

With strong roots in the community and a vibrant social and student life, the University of Michigan-Flint has the right opportunities for you to get involved and take charge of your future. Truthfully, when you spend enough time on campus, it’s difficult not to get involved. Take a look at the following opportunities and discover what’s right for you. 

Student Life and Leadership

UM-Flint has a rich history of student involvement and activism. Between the Student Government, Campus Activities BoardThe Michigan Times, Greek Life, and over 80 academic, social, cultural, political, religious, and athletic clubs, you’re bound to become involved. When you do, we’re big enough to offer you the choices of major clubs and organizations—but small enough so that you never become a nameless member in them. 

Students who are involved in campus life and activities are shown to perform better academically—and, as a benefit, receive a well-rounded and meaningful university experience. By becoming involved in campus life and advancing to leadership positions, you will demonstrate to medical schools that you are capable of handling increasing levels of professional and personal responsibility. 

Beyond sharing common goals and interests, in joining an organization you also gain a built-in social network that will provide you with friends for life. To that end, you might consider meeting new friends and study buddies in the Premed Club. According to the mission of The Premed Club at UM-Flint, it “…focuses on preparing students for entry into medical school or other medically oriented professional schools prior to matriculation. Some of the events provided include practice entry exams, professional speakers, and tours of other campuses. In addition to providing the resources and information to help students accomplish their goals, many of the senior members know what is required of students trying to enter the medical field. Their advisement and help is invaluable to lower-division students.” If you are interested in or have ever considered entering the medical field, becoming a member of this club will be a valuable asset. For more information, contact Student Life.

Equally as important as joining the Premed Club is finding a way to be a leader on campus. Serving on the UM-Flint student government or on the executive board of a club is a fantastic way of demonstrating your ambition. If you’re the type of person who likes to influence change, our student government is exceedingly active in shaping policy at UM-Flint. For more information, please visit Student Life

Volunteering

Before fully committing yourself to premedical study, it is imperative that you obtain a value assessment of it in a real-world perspective. You might not like it—or you might find your ambitions reaffirmed, and approach your studies differently. 

In addition to a rigorous academic focus, good grades, and social leadership, medical schools evaluate your commitment to medicine. It’s not enough to want to study medicine—you must demonstrate that your interests are grounded in relevant medical experience, confirming your resolute commitment to a medical career. Volunteering in medically related causes is one of the most sincere ways you have to demonstrate your commitment to a medical education. 

By proving through your volunteer efforts that you have not only broadened your healthcare interests but deepened, sustained, and reinforced them, you will show that your commitment is genuine and your efforts are legitimate—basically, that you’re volunteering because you want to make a difference, not because it looks good. 

In addition to the volunteer efforts of the Premed Club, our incredible University Outreach programs dig deep into our extended community. For example, MLK Day, which is promoted on campus as “a day of service, not a day off,” is a day when students get involved in local efforts to revitalize the city. Alternative Spring Break, held every year during the winter semester, is another great way to get involved. 

One way to become involved in patient care is training to be an emergency medical technician. Local hospitals Genesys and McClaren offer affordable EMT courses. These are ideal because not only receive an introduction to the healthcare industry, but also become a stakeholder in patient care—allowing for you to gain experience with patients while forging useful hospital relationships. 

Gap Semester or Year

Following a premedical curriculum is intense. Between studying for classes, volunteering, and being active in a club, you might find it worthwhile to take a semester or even a year off of college to explore medical opportunities otherwise unavailable during such a rigorous program of study. Gap years are particularly useful toward furthering your ambitions, because while living and working in the community you can refine your understanding of medicine in a familiar, tangible system. 

There are, of course, many options available to you during a gap year. Perhaps you would be interested in volunteering at an understaffed community clinic—even one out of the country. You could take an extended internship in a non-governmental organization, such as the World Health Organization or Doctors without Borders. There are nonprofits in most major cities that would greatly benefit from your assistance. Similarly, you could consider taking a year off and join AmeriCorps or the Peace Corps, making a difference in people’s lives in ways you hadn’t fathomed. 

Study Abroad

Again, while no particular course of study is required, medical schools do strongly encourage study abroad experiences. In our ever-interconnected world, medical schools and hospitals increasingly place emphasis on cultural awareness and global mindsets. 

Since doctors serve in multicultural communities, it is vital to have not only foreign language competency but also foreign cultural competency. Our Study Abroad opportunities leverage UM-Flint’s foreign language and anthropology excellence into an experience that will fundamentally change the way you see the world. By living and studying in a foreign culture, you will develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that will better prepare you for your academic and professional careers. 

UM-Flint’s International and Global Studies Program is a great way to get involved with a study abroad program. Recent trips have included nursing in the Dominican Republic, the study of globalization and technologies of Southeast Asia in Bangladesh, international service learning in Cambodia, exploration of the emerging economy of India, and an expedition of London theatre in England. 

Or, you might consider an independent study abroad at an accredited university in a foreign country—and, with approval from your department and college, your coursework is even transferable. Financial aid may be available if you plan ahead; please speak with a financial aid officer before the year of your trip to coordinate available funds.

Effective Preparatory Traits

While a good grade demonstrates competency over subject matter, it isn’t worthwhile if you forget about what you’ve learned. So much of an education is making connections, synthesizing information from various courses, and evaluating conclusions previously unconsidered. With that in mind, if you approach education as an education, not as a means to get into medical school, not as a way to get a career, but with a zest to learn, you will be successful. 

Professors will evaluate your contribution in courses, not count how often you contribute. In this way, you should prepare to engage the topics at play with sophisticated thinking. How? 

Attend every class—your professor will. 

Prepare for every class, including researching questions on your own. You might find something meaningful to contribute to classroom discussion. 

Participate in class—ask questions, join discussions, challenge short-sightedness. 

Take notes in class, but review them as soon as possible so that you might “fill in the gaps.” 

Study for every quiz, test, and exam, but only during daylight and only one subject at a time. Set a schedule to make it effective, and not crammed. When you study, remove distractions. To that end, get to know your new best friend: the Frances Willson Thompson Library

Build organization into your life. Use planners for your week. Use a wall calendar to see goals ahead of time. Block out time for study time and library time, so that you have time to pursue other interests and social activities. 

Mentors

Everyone needs advice—get a mentor. Students in any field of study benefit greatly from mentorships with professionals in such fields. Likewise, students with medical aspirations should strongly consider finding mentors in the medical field; they will help you navigate the process with expertise and help you, with their experience as a guide, consider options. It is also a good idea to develop professional relationships with your professors—professionals in your major fields—inside and outside the classroom. That said, mentors will not always be who or what you expect—some mentors introduce you to other mentors, and some mentors come from unexpected places.