Classics and Letters for Pre-Med Students
Since medical professionals confront all aspects of the human condition in their work — from birth to death and everything in between — it makes sense for them to have a strong background in the humanities, so that they can draw on the collective wisdom of those who have pondered and struggled with what it means to be human.
For these reasons, a major in Classics or Letters is perfect for students considering a career in medicine. Built on the core disciplines of the humanities — history, literature, philosophy, and language — these majors are ideal for developing the abilities that future medical professionals will need: “acquiring, synthesizing, applying, and communicating information through a wide variety of disciplines” (MSAR, p. 11).
Both majors leave plenty of time for elective courses, so pre-med students have no trouble fitting in the pre-requisite science courses for medical school.
Since both majors offer the flexibility of designing a unique curriculum, pre-med students can select courses that will prepare them for the challenges that they will face in the medical profession. Courses in ethics or the history of science have obvious relevance to medicine, but courses in other areas of the humanities can also help pre-med students examine both the nature of medicine and their reasons for pursuing it as a career.
Consider these words from the 2009-2010 MSAR (11–12):
Choosing science primarily to enhance one’s chances for admission to medical school is not in a student’s long-term best interest. Medical school admission committees seek students whose intellectual curiosity leads them to a variety of disciplines and whose intellectual maturity assures that their efforts are persistent and disciplined. … In fact, practicing physicians often recommend that premedical students, during their college years, take advantage of what might be their final opportunity for study in non-science areas (e.g., music, art, history, and literature) that might become the basis for avocational interests later in life.
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