Pre-Med Undergrad Choices and a Plan B

Wanting DO over MD doesn’t change any of the expectations regarding volunteering and ECs. DO schools tend to have slightly lower sGPAs and slightly lower MCAT scores in their matriculants. (Though the CA DO programs have admission stats–GPA/MCAT-- equal to or higher than MD programs elsewhere. The California curse. Also CA DO programs are all private and offer zero in-state preference.)

Research positions without a PhD. Research coordinators, research assistants, research technicians. These positions tend to pay poorly simply because there is a glut of bio majors who are looking for these types of jobs. D2 was a research program coordinator at top 10 med school for 2 years while she decided between MD and MD/PhD. She made a glorious $32K/year and said longterm it really wasn’t a viable career path. Before I retired, i worked at a biomedical research institute. Our research techs (all with science BS degrees) were paid about the same. Lab managers make more but those positions often require a thesis based MS and prior related research lab experience.

There are opportunities for bio majors, but students need to work at making themselves attractive job candidates. This includes learning some additional skills like computer coding, R-language and/or MATLab, how to use statistical software, biostatistics coursework, and doing industry-based internships during summers.


Thank you for the input! I agree this is going to require a lot of dedication from her to make herself a competitive applicant after her BS, regardless of what she decides to do.

The school also has a Biotechnology degree which sounds very interesting to her. I’m going to get her on the website you recommended this weekend so she can get some more ideas.

We appreciate everyone’s input very much!


Just looked at the Biotechnology major at CSU-SM. It has very good overlap with pre-med requirements. Certainly a viable alternative to a bio major for your daughter. And if the program help its student find industry internships during the summer–even better. Looks like it could have a built-in Plan B.


Yes, my daughter was also premed intentions and had a 15-20 hour per week commitment, also volunteered on campus and in the community on a weekly basis, was involved in research, editing papers to be published, etc.

I am not suggesting that this is easy or free from stress- it most certainly is not. It also depends on the school.

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What did she end up doing?

Hence my comment to specifically look at the school and COACH’s flexibility. My daughter actually has much, much heavier ec hourly commitments, but her ability to adjust her hours makes a tremendous difference. A coach bluntly told my son that if he needed a particular lab class he had to take it over the summer as it is only offered on friday afternoons and it conflicted with their meet schedule - and this was D3! That’s the kind of information a recruited athlete needs to know before committing - also a reason for him to avoid extremely small schools. Others specifically offered additional practice slots to accommodate schedules - the variability was really tremendous.

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Playing a sport is definitely a huge commitment. This student does not have to go to med school directly out of college. She can take time off to work, volunteer, take any necessary tests, etc.

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She is about to begin a job that is relevant to her field of interest while she applies to graduate programs. She recently thought …once again …about applying to med school, but decided to stick with this plan given she loves the material and it provides the work/life balance she wants.

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Does your daughter want a patient/client facing job: MD, NP, SLP, PA, etc…? Or might she enjoy a different type of science based career?

She doesn’t have to know now, but it is something to think about.

She talked to the coach and said he seemed flexible about her plans. He also said he was open to allow her to study abroad, another goal of hers. We also have the advantage of knowing a third year player there. She speaks very highly of the coach, the team dynamics, and said both the professors and coaching staff are extremely flexible and take great care of the athletes with their class scheduling, tests etc.

She will likely revisit it when/if she gets her official offer.


She isn’t sure yet. She loves technology and detail…she’s said for a while she would love to be a radiologist. I feel like she probably doesn’t really know 100% at this point. I’m looking forward to her learning more when she gets in college and figuring out her passion.


AI is good a pattern recognition and radiology and pathology are that. It won’t replace them, but it will reduce the need for them. Certainly subspecialties of radiology, interventional for example, won’t be hurt by AI. Just a thought.


She’s a long way from picking out a medical specialty. She has to get accepted into med school first.

Currently radiology is a moderately competitive specialty and most people (about 80%) who apply for it can get a residency so long as they are not picky about the type of training program (i.e. at a community hospital instead of an academic hospital) or the region of the country (midwest or south)

But, that said, if she’s truly interested in radiology as her specialty, I’d recommend she take the calculus-based PHYS 201-202-203 sequence instead of the algebra based PHYS 205-206 (Physics for Biology Majors). Radiology and radiation oncology are two of the more math-intensive medical specialties and require understanding of concepts taught as part of modern physics (Modern physics topics aren’t taught in Physics for Biology majors.) Just a suggestion. (D1 majored in physics and was actively courted by both the radiology and radiation oncology departments during med school. They said it was far easier to teach a physicist any biology they needed to know than to teach a biologist all the physics a radiologist/radiation oncologist needs to know.)