Wednesday, 17 August 2011

1. To Prereq, or not to Prereq... To Prereq!

This week’s post is an argumentative debate between Danielle and Jeff on the prerequisite course requirements imposed by medical schools on prospective students, i.e. “the prerequisites.”  Danielle is arguing for them and Jeff is arguing against them (despite what the truth and our opinions may actually be). 

O chem, G chem, B chem, Bio, Calc, Psych, and Phys. If you know what I am talking about then you probably, like me, have quite a strong feeling about these classes. I took them all for 1 reason… because I love science…haha let’s not kid ourselves…I took them because I knew med schools wanted me to. If they told me to take the history of ancient Chinese pottery I would have jumped on that bandwagon guns a blazin’.  When I started university I was pretty dumb, to tell you the truth, I listened to what other people and med websites told me to take. Now after taking all these courses I am quite glad I did. I took every possible pre-req so that I could apply to any medical school in Canada if I wanted to, which I never did but that’s another story.  

I am slightly against required pre-reqs but seeing as I am the keen one and did them all I was much more prepared for this side of the argument over Jeff who only took the minimum. So here it goes.  

The main advantage for going to the trouble of taking all these courses is that it truly does allow you to cover all your bases or cover your ass. You can choose to be a med rebel and take your own idea of what courses it takes to be a good med student. I wish you luck and hope that you know better than almost every medical school in Canada and the States’ dean. There are only 2 schools in Canada that do not have any form of pre-reqs and if you feel like you are ready to only apply to 2 schools of 17 then be my guest. When it came to medicine, I was going to do everything in my power to give me the utmost advantage.  

The main reason they want these courses is so you can demonstrate that you can survive hell and learn from it and blah blah blah.  It is not a nice time to take all these courses in your first few years and I do honestly think that they want to make sure you are strong enough. They want you to demonstrate that you can run some 5km runs before you attempt their ultra-marathon. They want to see that you can do well in these basic components before they give you a stethoscope and ask you to actually interact with patients.  

What I do hope you take from our post is that there really are options for you. Do not feel strangled by the pre-reqs and do not feel like you are at a disadvantage if you just have a normal biosci degree either. Med school is really just looking for your journey. Most schools have standardized your journey into a series of tiny pre-req steps but you need to know that it is just one pathway. You can hop a plane and take a trip over the steps or you can take a slightly different path. All that matters in my mind is that you have taken a journey and can show them that.

- Danielle

2. To Prereq, or not to Prereq... Not!

This week’s post is an argumentative debate between Danielle and Jeff on the prerequisite course requirements imposed by medical schools on prospective students, i.e. “the pre-reqs.”  Danielle is arguing for them and Jeff is arguing against them (despite what the truth and our opinions may actually be).

Now, when I started university I thought Danielle was pretty dumb as well – considering she still listens to what I have to say, not much has changed! Having said that, Danielle will soon learn that there is nothing useful gained by medical schools or society (including our patients) by forcing future physicians to take the current prerequisite courses before admission into med school. 

Falsity #1 – it’s the specific course content.
These courses provide no specific knowledge for success in med school or as a future physician. Most students begin to forget course content within days of writing a final exam, with retention continually declining for years. Furthermore, if knowledge retention from these courses correlated with medical school success, one would expect those students who enter medical school after two years of a Baccalaureate year would do better than those who enter after completion of a degree. However, the amount of education one receives before entering medical school has no effect on med school success – In other words students with four or more years of university before med school do just as well as students with only two years; despite the fact that the pre-reqs are taken during the first year or two of university. 

Falsity #2 – it’s the learning process.
Ever wonder why you went through twelve years of grade school? …Only to be fed useless information on dinosaurs, space, Greek mythology, and integral and differential calculus? Well, one of the many reasons was to prepare you for the next level.  Elementary for junior high, high school for university, and so on. To make my point, the “learning how to learn” processes gained from the pre-reqs are not exclusive to these courses alone. Do you honestly think a full year of biochemistry gives prospective students the learning experience, obtainable nowhere else, by preparing them to be better learners, educators, advocators, scholars and caregivers?

Falsity #3 – it’s the amount of material.
Danielle seems to think that the prerequisites prepare for you for the difficult learning curve you will face in medical school…. BUUUUULL...Shoot!  The only hell I remember in my undergrad were the arts courses I was forced to take. If med schools wanted their freshman-virgin students to be prepared for a hellish course load they would make an engineering degree a prerequisite. Engineers are the Oompa Loompas of science!

You want a useful prerequisite? Get a business degree.  …I don’t have one by the way.

- Jeff