Premed Course: Does It Matter?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014 Stef dela Cruz 46 Comments

When the president of an organization of student engineers studying at the University of the Philippines emailed me a question about NMAT, I replied with a question of my own: “May I please publish your question on my blog?”

premed course

Engr Gerald Jan Lumba’s email held many questions which, if answered publicly via blog post instead of privately via email, might benefit others seeking for answers. But that’s not the only reason I wanted to publish his questions here. Engineer Gerald is the University of the Philippines student unit president of the Philippine Society of Mechanical Engineers. If someone as accomplished as he is willing to ask questions about going into medical school, it sends the message that nobody has reason to be shy.

Premed Course: How Your College Degree May Influence Med School

So, if you yourself have questions regarding the NMAT requirements for medical school, shoot. Fire at will. Ask away.

But before you do, let me show you what the kind engineer wrote in his email. (I asked permission to publish – don’t worry.)

“Hi Dr. dela Cruz!

“I am an ME student in UP. I am currently a graduating student (June 2015.) I have decided on taking med proper just recently, but as it is, my subjects are quite different from the usual pre-med courses. I only have one bio and chem subject. I had a lot of physics and math, though. I believe I did pretty well on them.

“I had been dreaming of becoming a doctor since 3 but I thought engineering was also good on me. I'm planning to apply at UP Manila. Do you possibly know if they have subject requirements for the pre-med program? If yes, should I take extra subjects then? Do you know any school that has none? How basic/difficult are the NMAT questions? Do you think having BSME as premed is a disadvantage to my applications? Thank you very much.”

Email sent in by Engr. Gerald Jan Lumba

Gerald Jan Lumba

I’ll try to answer all the questions, not only for Gerald’s sake, but also for every other doctor in the making out there who happens to be searching for answers on Google.

Question #1:
Does UP Manila have any subject requirements for medicine?

In 2001 (I know, I’m old!), I had to take extra credits for Physics and Biology to qualify for medical school. Although Nursing was a health-related course, it wasn’t enough for me to qualify directly for medicine.

But years after that, our school (University of Santo Tomas) accepted nursing graduates without the need for extra credits. Hurray!

I believe the same can be said of other courses. For as long as you graduated from college, there is no need for you to take extra credits for Biology, Chemistry, Physics, or what-have-you.

(Disclaimer: Please speak with the admissions office of your school to verify. The school of your choice may have different requirements.)

Question #2:
How hard are the NMAT questions?

This asks for a very subjective answer, so I’d rather not go there. Instead, let me explain why and how the NMAT may be hard (or easy) for you.

Related article: NMAT Tips for first-time takers

The NMAT percentile score you’ll get will be based not only on your own performance, but on the performance of other NMAT takers! Yes, it’s a very competitive test. Just because you got a lot of test questions right does not ensure that you will get a high percentile score. (For a more detailed discussion, you may read up more on what your NMAT score means if you wish.)

What I’m trying to say is, what makes NMAT difficult are not the questions per se. It’s the fact getting the easy questions right does not necessarily give you a high score! The competition is what makes NMAT tough, if you ask me.

Question #3:
Is having a non-medical premed course a disadvantage in medical school?

Not necessarily. I had classmates who took up political science and literature in college!

Just because you took up, say, engineering does not mean you will find medical school hard. In the same way, just because you took up a health-related premed course does not mean you will find med school easy.

It all depends on whether or not you like what you’re doing and if you’re ready to face the challenges up ahead. Here’s a related article: Becoming a doctor: what your parents didn’t tell you – just in case you need more enlightenment.

Questions about med school? Ask away!

If, like Engineer Gerald, you have questions about medical school and decisions about becoming a doctor and taking the NMAT, ask away! I might not always offer excellent advice, but I’m here to listen.

May we also please connect on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram? If you’re using Twitter or Instagram, please mention me (@stefdelacruzmd) in a comment or tweet so that I can follow back. I’ve always wanted to connect with doctors in the making. See you online!

Stef dela CruzAbout the blogger
Stef dela Cruz is a doctor and writer. She received the 2013 Award for Health Media from the Department of Health. She maintains a health column in Health.Care Magazine and a cat welfare column in The Manila Bulletin's Animal Scene. Add her to your circles.

46 comments:

  1. Hi po! I am 4th year high school student. Just ask you a question, is Psychology in PLM can be a pre-med course even though its under college of education(human development).?
    Thank you! Hoping for your answer! Your blog is a big help!

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  2. Hello, Bettina! Last time I checked, any college degree does the trick. They even did away with the credit requirements for science subjects and biology (we had to take extra credits for physics and bio despite our Nursing degree, but future batches no longer did).

    But it's best if you asked the school of your choice. That way, the answer is official. Best of luck!

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  3. Good day dra! :)

    can give an advice for me?\

    I'm a freshman who's gonna be transferring to another course , a pre med course
    I really don't know what to choose , my first choice was BS PSYCH at Adamson . The second one I want is BS OCCU. Therapy at University of Perpetual Help , i also chose BS Occu. for fallback reasons :))

    as of now i am really motivated and eager to be a doctor and i hope that this burining heart of mine will continue in pursuing my dream. I'm just gonna ask , I'm not that smart , i'm an Average STudent who's willing and eafger to learn many things for med School , do you think that I can make it ? and be a doctor?

    Thank you for listening Dra. and Hope to hear from you soon! keep safe and God bless you! :)))

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    1. Dohnrry, I'm afraid you're the only one who can answer that question accurately! :) Although academic performance and aptitude tests can gauge your performance in med school, these are not the only requirements to become a good med student and doctor.

      I'd say follow your dreams and listen to your heart - these can help you become a successful doctor (or professional in another field) one day!

      Delete
  4. I'm glad I have stumbled upon this. I'm really doing research about taking medicine after finishing a very unrelated course as pre med. I am currently an incoming 4th year Accountancy student and is really interested in going to medical school. How long do you think would it take for me to finish? I've read articles that if I took an unrelated course, I still should take preparatory medical courses. What are the process in going to medical school?

    Thank you for this post. It was really helpful. :)

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    1. Glad you found it helpful, NAJ!

      I suggest you all the school you want to enroll in. That way, you get an official answer. :) Best of luck, NAJ!

      Delete
  5. Hi, Stef. I am law student who took up Advertising as my undergrad. I wanted to be a doctor since my childhood but a bad HS experience prevented me for pursuing it. Since I thought there's no way for me to be a doctor, I aspired to be a lawyer instead. It was only until I took up LegMed that made me reconsider.

    I just have a question though, will be I allowed to take the NMAT even without the prep med courses?

    I look forward to moving to St. Martin de Porres from Beato and now the first floor of the Main Building. :)

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  6. Aw, Roy! If your heart is in it, then it's definitely worth trying! :) Glad to hear you are pursuing your dream. As for NMAT, I believe anyone about to graduate from college is eligible - but please don't take my word for it. Better to ask CEM - they're responsible for the NMAT.

    Best of luck, Roy!

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  7. Hi! I just wanted to ask if pre-med is really needed in becoming a doctor? What if I entered a medical school without having pre-med? Is that possible?

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  8. Hi, Julie! Thank you for dropping by!

    Hm, pardon my confusion, but I get the feeling the blog post already answered your question, hehe! May you please give it one more go? Hope it helps!

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  9. Hi Stef. I am a BSComp-Sci student, I wanted to become a doctor, however there were a lot of questions passing through my mind.. as you know my current course is way far to my dream.. :( I don't know where to start..

    - I don't know which school to enroll with, good school but the TF wont be too much
    - based on this blog and to what i have understood, any course as long as you've finished it, you'll be eligible to take NMAT?
    - in this blog, you took up nursing course first before you take Medicine? So we really cannot enroll directly in a Med course?

    I got zero idea on how to enroll in Med, I feel like being too stupid to ask this question in registrar so I am just doing a research on my own. I hope you can help me out further. Thank you so much!

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    1. Hi, J-Vae!

      1) Try UP - it's the university for the "iskolar ng bayan", after all!
      2) As far as I know, any four-year course is the minimum. But I may be wrong. Please contact CEM if you want an accurate answer.
      3) Nope, unless you get accepted to the Intarmed program of UP.

      Good luck on your research, future doctor! :) Thanks for dropping by.

      Delete
  10. Hello po ma'am Stef :) Gusto lang po ipatanong ng friend ko if okay lang po ba kung physics ang pre-med course niya? Hindi naman po mababa ang gpa niya pero nagkaroon po siya ng isang INC pero na-comply niya naman po. Maliit na po ba ang chance niyang makapasok sa med school dahil po sa kanyang INC?


    Thank you so much po! :) God bless you po hihi

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    1. Hi, Kram! Try mo ipabasa sa kanya tong blog post para ma-enlighten siya. :) As for the incomplete grade, I can't say if it will hurt your friend's chances of getting into med school - sorry if I can't help there.

      Thank you for reaching out, Kram! Best of luck to your friend! (Or is it really you who's looking for info? Hehehe - either way, I really don't mind if you want to stay anonymous. I totally understand.) Cheers!

      Delete
  11. Hi ms stef, I was wondering if AB Psych would be a good pre-med course? Currently enrolled at Ateneo de Davao and I'm kind of thinking if I could possibly take some subject as for the required subjects in st.Luke's med school. And what does Latin honors mean, I was also looking up at UPCM's website and they've enlisted one of this. Does this mean I need to take up Latin classes? Hope you read this ������

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    1. Hello, Arianne!

      By "Latin honors", I didn't mean honors in Latin classes. I meant "cum laude" or "magna cum laude" or "summa cum laude", all of which are scholastic honors. And, as you might have already guessed, they are Latin phrases. :)

      If you have Latin honors, it usually means you're an honor student in college or post-graduate school.

      As for your question regarding a good pre-med course, I hope you read my blog post - my answer is already there. :) Remember: To be a good doctor, you need to read a lot and understand what you've read!

      Good luck, Arianne!

      Delete
  12. Hello po. I am a 4th year Accountancy student and just like Mr. Lumba, I am planning to go to med school after graduation as well. I just have a question if I may. If after graduation, the school I am planning to enter requires additional subjects or units to take before the proper med school, do I take the NMAT first then take additional required classes or is it the other way around? Thank you so much in advance.

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    1. Hi TS, unfortunately, I don't have info on that. Please ask the university you're interested in - I'm sure they can answer your query. :) Best of luck on the NMAT and thanks for dropping by!

      Delete
  13. Good day! I'm a second year Psychology student from UST and I just want to ask what's the better step to take if I want to pursue medicine and at the same time, get an RPm degree. I am planning to take the board exam for Psychometricians first before I take the NMAT. But should I take advanced units for med school or should I just take any med-related subjects after I finish Psychology? Thank you in advance.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Cyrene! Your comment got buried in my spam folder! You probably already have the answer, but for in case you don't, it's best if you asked the med school of your choice if they have additional requirements so that you get an official answer. Best of luck!

      Delete
  14. Hello po Ma'am Stef. I'm a 2nd year BS Biology student and right now I'm confused whether it really is a good pre-med course. Can you give me an insight on whether it's better to take up Nursing or Medtech or BS Bio? Or what would be a better course to take between the 3 of them for pre-med?

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    1. Hi, Chique! You might want to read the FAQs section because my answer to your question is there. :) Best of luck!

      Delete
  15. Hi :) I am currently a 2nd yr taking a BA degree. I badly want to enter med school but I wasn't able to get a BS degree at the university that I am attending. My question is I've read an article/blog about enetering medschool here in PH and it says that if I am a BA degree holder, I must take certain courses with at least some units like Chemistry: 21units so on. Is it really true that I must take those courses in order to enter medschool? Thanks :)

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    1. Hi, Mickey! Best for you to ask the med school of your choice - standards and requirements change all the time and any answer I offer won't compare to the one officially offered by med schools. Good luck!

      Delete
  16. Hi, Good day! May I ask what school/s are accepting non-premed courses to proceed in doctor of medicine?
    I'm an IT Student, but I really want to pursue my dream to become a doctor. Hope you can help me. God bless

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    1. Hi, Sam! Best for you to ask the med school of your choice - standards and requirements change all the time and any answer I offer won't compare to the one officially offered by med schools. Good luck!

      Delete
  17. Hi Dra. Stef, I was wondering if my college transcript would affect my eligibility for admission to medical schools here in Manila? I am in the middle of my bioengineering degree and my grades in my maths are a little depressing, being a physician has always been my dream...Thank you so much..

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    Replies
    1. Hello, Ariane! One of the criteria that top medical schools use to screen applicants is your college TOR. Low grades don't automatically translate to non-acceptance, however. Good luck!

      Delete
  18. Hello Dr. Stef!
    I would like to say thank you for this post. I have been contemplating for more than a year now... if I should commit myself to following my dream of becoming a doctor. I recently graduated from UPLB, and I finished BS Agricultural Economics.
    So, I just emailed the admission offices of the colleges that I want to study in (and of course, my top priority is UP :)) about the required subjects that I must study prior to applying. That was the first big step for me.
    Then, I looked (maybe slightly stalked) the engineer that you have mentioned in this post, and it was really nice to see that he just recently started studying medicine in UP.
    Right now, I am reviewing a bit for NMAT. And hopefully, I'll start studying medicine next school year (or maybe the year after next, depending on how fast I fulfill the requirements).
    Thanks again!

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    Replies
    1. Wonderful initiative from you, I might say!

      I get a lot of questions here but here you go, providing insights and answering questions all on your own because of initiative. *claps happily*

      I have a feeling you'll make a great doctor. I'm also happy our engineer reader is now a med student! I'm getting goosebumps all over!

      Thank you for sharing what you've been doing so far - I'm sure it will inspire others, as it has also inspired me that our youth is definitely doing a good job.

      Stay connected with me on Instagram, okay? See you on the internet, future MD!

      Delete
  19. Hello po doctora :)

    Kung may bagsak po ba nung first year college hindi po maaaccept sa med school? Kahit po niretake? thank you po :)

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    1. Hi, Denise!

      Perhaps you're better off asking the med school of your choice. I haven't been on an admission committee so I wouldn't know. Best of luck! And remember, just because you have a failing score doesn't mean you should be discouraged from pursuing your dream.

      Delete
  20. Hi Dra! I'm a first year college student from Cebtral Luzon State Univeristy. I qualified for BS Bio but unfortunately, the course didn't open and so my course right now is BS Business Administration. Do you think taking up some science subjects in my 4 years of stay here will help me in applying for medical schools in the future?

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    Replies
    1. Hello! Hm. I think it might be best for you to ask the med school of your choice - standards and requirements change all the time and any answer I offer won't compare to the one officially offered by med schools. Good luck!

      Delete
  21. Hi, I'm grade 11 student from a comprehensive school here in our province, due to some problems, I took the strand, General academic also known as GAS instead of choosing STEM or Science,Technology,Engineering and Mathematics. It is because our school don't offer the STEM strand. Is it okay if I'll took medicine in my college? Thank you! Godbless :)

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    Replies
    1. Hi, Aj! I love your name: Miracle. :)

      Unfortunately, I know nothing about the new curriculum involving GAS and STEM. Here's an idea: Try asking one med school of your choice. They might provide the answer you're looking for. Best of luck! I hope to see more of your comments as you graduate and eventually make your ultimate career decision!

      Delete
  22. Hi, Ms. Stef!

    I would like to extend my gratitude just by reading your blog, after few months of uncertainties in my life, I finally have an answer. You see I am a Financial Management graduate last May 2015. Hopefully ma-push through ko ang Medicine next year or a year after that.

    I know I am being crazy with my decision, but as what they always say: If you really want it, go for it.

    God bless, Ms. Stef!

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    Replies
    1. Good luck! And thank you for sharing your story! :) I'm sure your story will help give hope to many students who didn't take premed courses!

      Delete
  23. Hi Dr. Stef,

    I graduated BS Psychology and it has been my dream of becoming a doctor the only problem is my family couldn't afford the high TF and I've been a working student since I took my undergrad course. I just want to know if it's possible to take a few units in med school since I would need to work to pay for the TF. Thanks in advance!

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    Replies
    1. Hello, Brien! It might be best for you to ask the med school of your choice - I don't have any knowledge about this. Best of luck!

      Delete
  24. Hi Dr. Stef,

    I am stuck in choosing a pre-med course. Physical Therapy and BS Nursing. I would to pursue a course that will help me in the NMAT and will lead me to become a successful doctor. Which pre-med course should I take?

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    Replies
    1. Hello, Margo! You might want to check these FAQs for my answer. Good luck!

      Delete
  25. Hi Dr. STEF! Im planning to take Chemical Engineering and then medicine. Do you think it is okay? If ever, am I going to take extra subjects just to qualify in School of Medicine? Thanks in advance :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello, Joselle! Please read these FAQs - my answers are there. :)

      Delete
  26. Hi doc,ok po ba ang Bs chem maging pre medical course?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello there! Try reading these FAQs -- I believe I answered that question there. Hope that helps!

      Delete

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