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Take organic chemistry out of the pre-med curriculum

September 3, 2009

I’m not going to say that organic chemistry is completely worthless in terms of preparation for medical school, but at best it’s not very helpful.  The extent to which pre-meds should have to learn organic chemistry should be limited to the minimum amount necessary to understand and comprehend the reactions in biochemistry.  More emphasis should be placed on biochemistry for pre-meds because most of the chemistry talked about in medical schools is biochem.  Most medical schools at this point don’t require biochemistry, but nearly all strongly recommend it.  (If you’re a pre-med right now, TAKE BIOCHEMISTRY.)  Probably the best solution would be to fully eliminate organic chemistry requirements and replace them with a hybrid of orgo and biochem in a year-long class specifically covering the chemistry and reactions involved in biomedical sciences (think “Biomedical Chemistry I & II”).  Not only could this class focus specifically on chemical processes within the human body, the lab component could familiarize students with many of the laboratory procedures going on in hospitals and clinics.  This would give students an understanding of the labs they will be ordering as a physician before they even set foot in a medical school classroom.  This would be exponentially more valuable than the trash learned in standard orgo labs for pre-meds.

Medical schools have revamped their curricula in recent years to optimize the learning experience for their students.  It’s time for them to take this one step further and adjust the required pre-med courses for incoming students.  Since each medical school sets the required courses for admissions, the power to change this is in their hands.

I’ve posted before about dropping the second semester of orgo and adding epidemiology instead.

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