When someone thinks about the pros of a BS/MD program, the obvious perks usually have to do with the conditional acceptance to medical school. There are, however, numerous other perks that are in some sense are more valuable than the conditional acceptance. They’re important because they help widen your insight into medicine and open up your field of opportunity, which will thus provide you with a more fulfilling college experience. To help shed some light on those topics, I’ve used this blog post to speak more about those perks and help you get a better understanding of their value.
When you join a BS/MD program, you are opting to join a group of some of the most talented and accomplished students across the country. Knowing and interacting with these students is going to providing you with some great connections that can come in handy whenever you need any help or advice. If I ever have a question or a worry, the first people I always go to are upperclassmen in my program; they’ve got the experience to give me valuable advice and the personal investment in me (being that I am one of their BS/MD peers) to make sure I reach success.
Not only are the students a great resource, but so too are the faculty of the program. Most program coordinators are extremely well qualified professional who themselves have extensive connections in the medical field. In my experience, any time any one of us BS/MD students needs help locking in a research position or getting some shadowing experience, our program faculty is always there to help us get in touch with the right people by extending their contacts to us. It’s not easy navigating your way through college and finding opportunities in your field of study, but with these BS/MD programs, you’ve got a great support system that’s always there to help you through the process.
Great for scholarships, grants, and summer programs
If you mention in any application you write, whether that be for a special scholarship, grant, or summer program, that you’re a BS/MD student, it will definitely benefit your application. It’s not everyday you find someone who’s committed to medical school before they’ve even entered undergrad, so that conditional acceptance carries a lot of weight and value. In the selection committee’s eyes, your enrollment into this program is indicative of your value. If you also add on a letter of recommendation from one of your program advisors, it’ll be the perfect “cherry on top.” It’s one thing for you to mention the honor of being a BS/MD student, but it’s another for a qualified professional to confirm the unique qualities and capabilities that got you selected into such a prestigious program and that will also be of use in your scholarship, grant, or internship.
Personal attention and moral support
Being in a BS/MD program, I feel that no matter what problem I come across, I will always have someone to talk to and help me work it out. The program faculty is personally invested into the well being and success of you as a student (since they basically hand-picked you from hundreds of students), so they’ll always find a way to make extra time for you. Whether it’s helping out with scheduling issues or calming you down after you’ve gotten a bad grade, the faculty goes above and beyond to help you feel at ease. They’re exactly the moral support you need when you’re away from home and don’t have family to rely on for that same sense of comfort and relief.
This same idea of personal attention, though perhaps less of the moral support aspect, also applies over to other staff members of the university and medical school. Say that you’re interested in shadowing a specific surgeon or getting involved with research under a renowned professor. Many times, these well known professionals don’t allow undergraduates to work under them simply due to their lack of experience. If, however, you mention that you’re a BS/MD student, they might just make an exception for you. They will at least take the time to respond to your email or interview you because they know that BS/MD students are some of the most hardworking, committed, and passionate students, and don’t want to let such a outstanding student slip through the cracks without at least taking the time to get to know them.
While special seminars may not be a something that every single program offers, many do, and it’s definitely one of the most rewarding parts of joining a BS/MD program. Through these seminars, not only do you get to meet and form connections with renowned medical professionals, but you also get to learn more about the field of medicine. There are so many different paths available to you when you enter into medicine; not everyone sticks strictly to clinical practice. But as a freshmen just entering college, you may not know that. The typical image of a doctor is of someone in a white coat who sees multiple patients from day to day. And while this is the starting point for nearly all doctors, this isn’t necessarily the only thing they do for the entirety of their career. Several doctors shift part time to clinical work and at other times take on more administrative responsibilities or research efforts. Others completely leave clinical work and move on to study the involvement of medicine in fields such as public health, government, law, business, or computers science. Regardless of the specifics, the point is that these special seminars will provide you with better insight into the field of medicine by giving you a chance to talk to doctors who have all taken different paths. Who knows, you may hear of a field you never even knew existed and then all of a sudden find yourself going down that path!
More academic flexibility
Even though you technically have the freedom to pursue any major or any activity you want to as a pre-med, most pre-meds tend to stick to science majors and science activities. Why? Because they think it’ll easier help them later on with the MCAT, look better for medical school resumes, or simply because it’s just easier to plan out for scheduling purposes. As a BS/MD student, though, you don’t have that same strain of having to apply and having to look impressive for medical schools. Thus, you are more likely to take a risk and try out classes in other subjects or get involved with different clubs. Undergrad is the time to take advantage of such flexibility and try out different disciplines so you can get better understanding of what path in medicine you might want to specifically pursue.
Well, there you have it! These are some of the most appealing aspects of being a BS/MD student (in addition to the conditional acceptance, of course) that really confirmed my interest in these programs. So if you’re in between deciding whether or not to commit to a program, take a harder look at some of the less obvious benefits to BS/MD programs and maybe that’ll sway your decision!