Student Resources: The Math Major and the Medical CorpsTo apply for the Pre-Med Program, do the following:
- Complete all required courses for medical school. This will vary by school, but to be a competitive candidate you must complete
- Organic Chemistry I and II (with lab),
- SC225 "Organic Chemistry I" and SC261 "Integrated Lab I" (co-requisites of each other and only taught during the fall semester)
- SC226 (Organic Chemistry II" and SC262 "Integrated Lab II" ((co-requisites of each other and only taught during the spring semester)
- Biology I and II (with lab),
- SB251 "Biology I" (generally taught during the fall, spring, and summer (although it's not recommended for premeds to take SB251 over the summer)
- SB252 "Biology 2" (generally taught during the fall and spring semesters)
- and potentially
- SC335 "Biochemistry". This course is now a required course at many medical schools. It is also a subject area tested on the MCAT.
- sociology courses (e.g., NL230 "Introduction to Sociology"), and
- psychology courses outside of your normal math matrix.
- Organic Chemistry I and II (with lab),
- Take the MCAT. This is the Medical College Admission Test and is used by medical schools to gauge your proficiency in a number of areas. The MCAT is usually taken during the spring of 2/C year. The MCAT test material from these (and other classes). Also, the Premed Committee makes our recommendations for the billets in August of their 1/C years. So, ideally these course are taken before beginning 1/C year. The test lasts eight hours, and must be taken by the end of your 2/C Year. There are many preparatory courses and practice exams to help you prepare.
- You will need to apply to the Premedical Predental Advising Committee during the Spring of your 2/C year. This is the committee that will review your application—including your extracurriculars, grades, and MCAT scores—to determine whether or not you will be accepted into the Medical Corps. The chair of the committee is Professor Kinter in the Chemistry Department (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- If you are accepted into the Medical Corps, you will need to apply to and be accepted into a medical school by the spring of your 1/C year.
The mathematics major is designed to fit in with these goals. Please meet with your advisor to discuss your options further if this is a route you intend to take. As an example, MIDN Musilli (2016) explains her path to premed as a math major. Below is the video and notes to her presentation.
MIDN Musilli's notes are included below:
I got the best piece of advice from my mom that I would like to pass on to you:
When you have a hard decision to make you have to ask yourself these questions:
1) How will this make me feel in 10 hours?
2) How will this make me feel in 10 days?
3) How will this make me feel in 10 months/4 years (service selection)?
4) How will this make me feel in 10 years? (well into your career)
You have to decide right now, what you want your future to look like.
But equally as important is this: What do I think I will be good at?
Let’s be honest, the Naval Academy is an extremely challenging place. You should really pick a major because you generally think you will be able to succeed within it. Now, notice I did not say pick a major that will be “easy” for you. There is a significant difference. You will have many classes here that will be mandatory, and those will be challenging enough. You want to look forward to your majors courses.
Let me be clear, your major will not go on to define your entire life—by any means! However, it will have a large effect on your life here. Therefore the most important question to ask yourself is “How will this make me feel in 3 years?” Will this major give me everything I need to be both academically and personally satisfied on the first day in my service selection?
People often will say that your major has nothing to do with your service selection, and that is true, up until a point. Every time you engage in a new academic environment there is the possibility for spontaneous inspiration. You never know what will spark your interest and change your career path. For example, you may become a math major, find a real knack for the subject, and have a desire to go intel. Plus, remember, at some point we are all going to be leaving the military and you need to have some interests beyond that.
For me, I knew that I wanted to be a doctor and I will walk you through my decision making process. First I started out in engineering because I was feeling a lot of pressure from the institution to do so—all the smart people do engineering right? The first day of statics was the second semester my plebe year. It was all Trig! I was bored.
I had always had a special place for math in my heart. Ever since I was little, it was the subject I was the best at, and I genuinely enjoyed solving math problems. I had done well in plebe math and I was being encouraged strongly by my professors to check out the program. I came to this very open house and loved it! I initially started out as an OPS Research major (highly recommend), but the matrix wasn’t going to work very well with my pre-med matrix. I made the decision to transfer to normal math. My first math classes were fundamentals of mathematics (pure which I loved) and coding (very important skill!).
I knew I wanted to do medicine, but I also knew that I was not interested in the chemistry major. I also want to take this opportunity to tell those in the room who are set on going medical corps, that chemistry is an absolutely wonderful major, but I just felt that math was best for me!
So, my youngster year was packed full of math and chemistry classes. But, I was doing exactly what I had always wanted to be doing. If it’s one thing I’ve learned from going here, it’s this: working hard in something that makes you happy is always worth it.
By the end of my youngster year, I had completed every class I needed for medical school (physics, math, English, both chemistries, organic) and I was preparing for and taking the MCAT. Essentially, I had met every academic goal, and it was all because I had a very flexible structure with math.
Come junior year, I was able to study abroad—again all because of the flexibility the math major provided me. I studied abroad in Turkey, where math is actually extremely challenging! It was great learning in a new environment. I came back to school and finished off my 2/C year.
Undoubtedly, some of the best parts of the Naval Academy are the summer experiences. And I truly believe this is where the mathematics major shined through for me. I enjoy a lot of different fields and at the ripe age of 18 was not ready to decide exactly what interested me. That’s when I applied for (as a plebe) and received an internship at Lawrence Livermore National Lab. I was working with the satellite group. Mind you, I had never in a million years known anything about a satellite. But, my mathematics background was key.
Being a math major allows you to reach and work in a variety of broad fields. You develop a sense of reasoning and the ability to understand new material. i.e, if I didn’t know something, it wasn’t that scary for me to look up formulas and work through them—> this came in handy during my second internship there where I was tasked with coding. Again, I was not coding in a language that I knew…but I was able to apply my general skills to the situation and learn the new code.
That same summer, I did an internship at the Uniformed Service University by Walter Reed where I applied my math skills. Again, I was not intimately associated with the topic I was studying—traumatic brain injuries.
For those of you who don’t know this yet, one month is a tiny amount of time to do research, so I also want to take this opportunity to talk about what I feel is the crucial part of internships: being surrounded by people who are way smarter than you. I was in awe the first time I worked with my researchers. However, they became my mentors and I began to realize that maybe if I worked really hard and found a passion like they did, I could one day be in their shoes. Their level of expertise is definitely achievable, and I’m happy that I had that inspiration early on because it helped me clarify future goals I set for myself.
More general notes about math:
REASONING-for medical school, it’s more important to know how to think than to actually know a ton of things before coming in. And I feel like this is somewhat similar for everything. For example, you can go to Nuke school and not know a thing about nuclear energy. However, if you’ve been taught how to think you can apply this to any situation
CODING-oh my gosh, I cannot tell you guys how important knowing this has been. All of my internships have required me to have a basic understanding of this (and basically any research that you will ever do in this day and age)
RESEARCH-I got to work on what I thought was really hard research, but in an area that was very novel and super interesting. I was challenged way beyond my comfort zone. Had two semesters of one-on-one work. There is no hiding, a lot of thinking, and a lot of coding!
More specific Medical Corps stuff:
Being a math major applying for medical corps definitely allowed me to tailor my academic experience to what I wanted it to be—and I think this is a truly unique thing to the mathematics major. In my interviews, I had something unique to discuss and it allowed me to stick out. But this can be the case in any situation. I wholeheartedly believe that you can get a math major from the Naval Academy and be successful in just about anything.