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Chemical Engineering to Medical School

mystique2801mystique2801 0 replies1 threads New Member
edited April 23 in Harvard University
I've always wanted to become a doctor. I'm also interested in Chemical engineering as a pre-med. Many people are saying that it is "Medical School Suicide." Some people say that I will not be able to do it since medical school are looking at the GPA. I want to do Chemical engineering, but there's a lot of negativities surrounding that program towards medical school. I cannot think of any program for pre-med other than that. What should I do? Now, I'm doubting my capabilities too.
edited April 23
11 replies
Post edited by CCEdit_Suraj on
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Replies to: Chemical Engineering to Medical School

  • compmomcompmom 11547 replies81 threads Senior Member
    While a few schools do have "premed" programs, the reality is that you can major in anything and go to med school. You do have to do prerequisites but if those aren't done within the undergrad years, there are post-baccalaureate programs specifically for that (see Goucher's as an example, but they are offered at many schools).

    The issue with chemical engineering is probably just that the GPA's may run lower. I don't know if that is true, but that would be the concern. For undergrad I would major in what interests you and what you are good at. Period.

    Actually music, philosophy and English majors get into med school too! I happen to know music majors have a high admit rate. Hope that is a little liberating for you!
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  • oldlawoldlaw 324 replies14 threads Member
    Every year, students from a wide variety of majors are accepted at medical school. And it's true; the higher the GPA, the better the chances of being accepted. But the MCAT is also needed, as well as:


    Essentially, there are core classes which must be taken, so no matter what the major, you'd need to take those classes(and do well in them).

    And regarding chemical engineering; again, if you have the core classes, this major would be fine. The conventional wisdom is that engineering classes are tough and the grading is tough; no idea if that's true or if that applies to the college you are attending.
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 9813 replies110 threads Senior Member
    The key components for med school admission are GPA and MCAT scores. It is very difficult to have a high GPA in chem e.

    My D is a finishing up her second year of chemical engineering. The chem e courses are TOUGH, much harder than the courses she overlaps with the premeds. (She has gotten As in all of her general chem and organic chem courses, physics, etc...) The most repeated courses at Purdue (where she goes) overlap for her major - chemical engineering calculations and thermodynamics. There is only one person, out of nearly 200 chem e students in her year, who is pre-med.

    I can tell you that there is rejoicing amongst the engineers when they get Bs in classes like thermo. There are tears when her premed friends get Bs in any course.

    The other thing to consider is the number of hours you'll be needing to spend doing engineering project work. My D has had project teams every semester and those take up a huge amount of time outside the classroom. That may seriously impede the time you'll need for volunteering and shadowing that are also required for med school admission.

    IMO, if you know for sure that you want to do med school, chem e would be a rough major. Not impossible, but I think you'd be making your undergrad experience more difficult than necessary. If you aren't sure about med school, chem es are highly sought after and you'd have great career prospects upon graduation.

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  • coolguy40coolguy40 2885 replies8 threads Senior Member
    Relax, I know a surgeon who was an English major in undergraduate. For the exception of the biology component, Chemical engineering should give you the prerequisites for most medical schools. Medical schools do vary on their prerequisites, so it would help to go online and do some research on what they require. This way you don't waste your time applying to schools that have different prerequisites. It's also a reasonably marketable degree if you decide against medicine.
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 9813 replies110 threads Senior Member
    FWIW, most chem e programs also have bio elective requirements that overlap
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  • oldlawoldlaw 324 replies14 threads Member
    The concern would be the English/writing/social sciences course now required by medical schools. Many only required two semesters, but others required more.
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  • Jugulator20Jugulator20 1566 replies19 threads Senior Member
    Other than having read that chemE is considered a difficult degree, I know nothing about the actual time demands placed on one pursuing a chemE degree. As to med school I do know that somehow besides earning competitive GPAs; besides fulfilling major/GE reqs, you probably should fit in and complete premed reqs before taking MCAT; you’ll need to spend perhaps two months prepping for and then do well on MCAT; you will need to find 100s of hours of time participating in ECs med schools expect to see. I assume you’ll want to experience some semblance of a college life (eg social). I also know that the med school application process is a year long process meaning if you’re thinking about graduating in 4 years with a chemE degree then starting med school, you would need to submit a competitive application with MCAT score in summer after junior year. And after submitting your application, you will also have to find time to travel for interviews if offered. Going to Harvard indicates you’re a smart, hard working person, but you’ll be juggling a lot of balls as a chemE/premed hopeful. Maybe consideration/planning to finish college, take one/two (or more) gap years may help spread out the time demands on your chemE/med school aspirations. Good luck.

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  • Parent11223344Parent11223344 15 replies0 threads Junior Member
    I would work backwards. Research medical schools you would apply to and see what the admission criteria is. Would lower grades in a tough degree like ChemE be ok or would those lower grades preclude med school admission.
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  • LakeWashingtonLakeWashington 8907 replies482 threads Senior Member
    Protect your undergrad GPA by enrolling in Organic Chemistry I & II during the summer. Less stress and more time to study and learn.
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  • BoondocksBoondocks 289 replies37 threads Member
    Look up a college classmate of mine - Monica Bertagnolli. BS, Chemical Engineering. MD. Chief of Surgical Oncology at Brigham and Womens and Dana Farber (these are Harvard Teaching Hospitals, and are considered the best in the world, or among them. From 2018 to 2019, she was also the head of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. That means she's an internationally-prominent research physician, as well as an administrator. It worked for her.

    One of my college roommates was a Chemical Engineering major and became a partner at Goldman Sachs before they went public.

    People get into med school with all manner of majors, by the way, so I wouldn't worry about your major, other than choosing one that interests you. Another guy I with whom I went to college was a Religion major and is now a very successful orthopedic surgeon.

    The premed requirements are fewer than you think, so you can major in anything and still work them in. My doctor majored in African Studies, and spent a fair amount of time in Africa as an undergrad, having no intention of becoming a doctor. he decided after graduation to become an MD, spent a year picking up the classes he hadn't taken, and then went to med school.

    Med Schools also realize that Chemical Engineering is one of the hardest majors (for most students - depends on their mindsets), and will take that into account when evaluating you. They'll realize that you took three or four challenging courses per semester in addition to Organic Chemistry. They also know that the other premeds took the easiest schedule they could during those two semesters to make sure they did well enough in Organic Chemistry, and that many took it the previous summer without telling their med school at another college to make sure that they already had covered the material.
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  • gibbygibby 10537 replies246 threads Senior Member
    edited May 11
    I'm going to offer a contrarian viewpoint here, but first a little background.

    My daughter is a 3rd year med student at WashU in St. Louis. She graduated from Harvard phi beta kappa, magna cum laude with a degree in film studies (just one pre med course taken during her 4 years at Harvard). Post graduation, my daughter completed all her pre-med requirements as a post-bac and applied to medical schools with a 4.0 GPA in math and science, a perfect MCAT score, and one year of shadowing a dermatologist and plastic surgeon.

    The number one question asked during my daughter's interviews for med-school: We know you can easily do the work, but why medicine? Where's the passion and compassion for healing the sick and finding the next cure for an epidemic?

    Given you would be applying to medical school post Coronavirus, I would think you would be asked the very same questions. Only now, the answers to those questions will take on more significance.

    FWIW: My daughter applied to about 15 medical schools (Harvard, Yale, Johns Hopkins, UPenn etc) and was rejected or waitlisted at everyone except WashU, who saw something in her that other med schools did not.

    Bottom line: While you could certainly apply to med schools with a degree in Chemical Engineering, it's far and away NOT the easiest route.

    edited May 11
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