Very long post, but thank you in advance for your help and input!
I’m in a dilemma about what major to choose for ‘Pre-Med’ and want some advice and other opinions, especially since my case is a bit complicated and even after extensive research I’m still undecided.
I’m a U.S. citizen, but doing my undergrad abroad.
My calling and passion is medicine, but if I was going to school in the U.S., I would probably major in something other than Biology as a ‘backup’, since U.S. schools offer ‘pre-med’ advising and programs (Although I love Biology, I just have a lot of other interests too!).
However, ‘pre-med’ is not really available at my university, students would usually major in clinical medicine from the beginning, which is customary in many countries outside of the U.S., Canada, etc. Even if I did major in Biology, the courses don’t quite match-up with a typical ‘pre-med’ track, e.g. Bio 1/2 with labs, Chem 1/2 with labs, etc. With that being said, I go to a top research university, so our access to opportunities even from undergrad is excellent and the quality of faculty and facilities is top-notch, but the major is just structured differently and perhaps more specialized (although the clinical medicine major, not open to international students, is very similar to a typical U.S. pre-med track).
However, the other problem I’m facing is having a foreign degree - the majority of U.S. med schools, from my research, would not accept a bachelor’s degree not completed in the U.S., or they at the very least won’t accept prerequisites done abroad. I have found a few schools, like NYU and Duke-National University of Singapore, that not only will accept a foreign degree (accredited)/international student, but also don’t have set prerequisite courses and require an MCAT, recommendations, and preferably research and related experience (which I have a lot of access to).
This is where I hit my dilemma – Aside from the foreign degree and lack of ‘pre-med’, I am confident I have access to everything I need to be a great candidate for a VERY SMALL pool of med schools in the U.S. and abroad. I’m considering majoring in Biology, taking advantage of this, and going full speed ahead to maybe get accepted. However – med school is expensive! And aside from NYU’s ‘tuition free’ program, I’m very concerned about financial aid/loans and I’m not sure I could even afford med school in a few years if I did get in. I think the best option, which I do really like, is an MD/PhD – however, again, I would have a shot at maybe 2-5 schools, and I have no lab/research experience yet, so I’m not 100% sure about a PhD.
This is when, I honestly get cold feet about the Biology major, because despite my immense, sickening passion for medicine and all things biology, I have other interests too – I’ve participated in quite a few innovation/entrepreneurship competitions, and I really like business and engineering. If I were in the U.S., I probably would be doing BME as a pre-med, but the program at my school is extremely difficult, and it’s majority taught in a foreign language (which I’m nearly fluent in, but there’s still a barrier).
This is why, I’m considering my second choice, Environmental Engineering, as I’ve found it combines my passions for the sciences, engineering, as well as environmental and human health – but I also know it’s not the same as medicine, though it involves many of the same chem/physics classes as Bio, and I can still select others such as genetics, microbiology, etc. I also feel like I could do a lot with this major in terms of public/global health (I’m interested in environmental health and toxicology). But, again, it’s not exactly medicine, and although I’m patient, I realistically don’t want to be just getting started in medicine at 50…(I’m already starting school late after a gap period)
In an ideal world, I would do Environmental Engineering, take additional bio courses, take the MCAT and then apply for the MD/PhD programs. But can Environmental Engineering majors do a PhD in Biology/Medicine? Does anyone know? (Which is why I’m still considering the Bio major, as it would qualify.) I also considered just doing a Bio BS and Bio PhD first then applying for med school, but would my foreign bachelor’s degree still be a problem?
If I don’t get into the 2-5 schools the first shot, I’m still willing to try again and apply, or I could also work for a few years, try to save for med school, but then I may also have to do a post-bacc, which is also very expensive.
I think in many ways I’m leaning towards Environmental Engineering, but I am concerned that it hurts my chances at an MD/PhD program when my research interests are actually all health and biology related, I would just be coming at it from a different perspective. I hear so much about the lack of biology-related jobs that I am concerned about having that degree and then struggling to have a job that could both pay for a post-bacc and then for medical school as well.
Is the Environmental Engineering a good route that would still lead to perhaps a chance at a biology MD/PhD? And, if not, is a biology major that bad in the workforce?
I’m also curious if a Bio BS can lead to an Environmental Engineering MS or PhD? In case I decide to go the other away around and not pursue medicine. I would most likely be able to apply for a direct graduate program at my university regardless of which major I choose.
I think the bottom line is that I have one goal, which is medicine. But I’m trying to make a realistic and smart decision if I need to take a non-traditional path, and still be innovative along the way.
Also, if anyone has other suggestions for med schools, please let me know.
Thank you so much!