BS/MD Program Overview
For those unfamiliar, a BS/MD program is a dual degree 8-year program (length may vary from 6-8 years), that awards a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree after successful completion of college and a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree after successful completion of medical school. Applications for these types of programs open in the Fall and are only for high school seniors.
I attend the Early Medical School Acceptance Program, which links a BS from Texas A&M International University with an MD from the University of Texas Medical Branch School of Medicine. In this article, I’ll cover what it’s like to be a student in a BS/MD program. For more guidance the college application process in general, sign up for a monthly plan to work with an admissions coach 1-on-1.
As the alarm goes off, I roll out of bed, greeted by the sight of MCAT prep books perched on my dresser. I make the daily decision about whether I should eat breakfast or make it to class on time. After getting ready, I lace up my sneakers and race to Organic Chemistry to find a pop quiz awaiting. This is the start one of my many mornings as a student in a BS/MD program, and the day has just begun.
Many people believe that students within these dual degree BS/MD programs take separate classes, only study with people in their program, and live completely different lives than their traditional pre-med student counterparts. However, in my case, this could not be further from the truth. My classes are the same as those of any student who wishes to attend medical school one day. However, I did have the option to major in anything that I wanted, and chose Sociology, as it was a social science that allowed for a unique perspective towards medicine. In terms of my medical school prerequisites, I still have to take all of the courses required in order to successfully matriculate.
As lunchtime approaches, I begin having hunger pangs because I chose punctuality over food (commitment!). However, I have physics lecture right after Orgo, so I grab a cup of coffee before heading into the lecture hall. As the caffeine begins to work its magic, the lecture starts. Logging into Blackboard, I find an email about an upcoming visit to the medical school that my BS/MD program is affiliated with (that I will be attending). The trip is required and happens once every year for a single weekend. During these trips, the cohort of students within the program attend a pre-medical conference and participate in a series of team-building exercises and icebreakers. Personally, I enjoy this, as I am able to spend a weekend with my future medical school peers and enjoy the campus where I will spend my next four years learning medicine. Other aspects of my program requirements include maintaining a certain overall and science GPA, as well as attaining a threshold MCAT score.
As the lecture about magnetism wraps up, I began thinking about one of the most important decisions I make on a daily basis: what should I eat for lunch? As I head over to Subway, I begin to feel a strain on my back, as a laptop and several MCAT books are stuffed into my bag. I grab an oven roasted chicken on wheat and sit with some friends to catch up on our day so far. Contrary to popular belief, students within medical programs do not just only befriend those who are in the same program as them. In fact, since there are only five people in my cohort, we hardly see one another due to differing schedules. We all have different majors and even though we are required to take the same prerequisite courses to matriculate to medical school, when we take these courses during the course of our undergraduate career can vary.
I check my phone to find that I am once again running late. There is an AMSA (American Medical Student Association) meeting in the student center where the topic of discussion is the importance of shadowing physicians. Within my program, we do not have any requirement to shadow. However, I choose to do so, as it allows for the exploration of many different specialties of medicine. Thus far, I have gotten the privilege to shadow amazing doctors in the fields of pediatrics, dermatology, as well as neurosurgery.
The meeting ends early, so I call up my parents who grill me about my MCAT study schedule since the test is nearing. As I reassure them, I make my way to my second home: the library. Although it is getting late, I convince myself that without another coffee, I would be unable to study. After grabbing yet another drink filled with caffeine and hints of hazelnut, I find a table to bunker down at. Although group study has many benefits, I know that my most productive time is when I am able to be alone in a quiet setting. I pull out the biochemistry MCAT book and get to it after turning off my phone. A few hours and four chapters later, I restart my phone to find a text from my roommate, asking me to go with him to get groceries for dinner. We hop in the car and pick up some household essentials that we are running low on, as well as some food.
After a surprisingly delicious homemade dinner of chicken pesto pasta (I’m not the best cook), I decide to call it a day and grab some ice cream with friends. Although some days are drastically different from one another, many of my weekdays look relatively similar to this one. Although the days can feel stressful at times, especially right before a big exam, I take solace in the fact that I am building up the scientific foundation necessary to tackle the challenging classes that I will confront in medical school. In any given day, I take the time to ensure that I am always prioritizing my physical and mental health, as they are the things that allow me to keep going and growing. After a minimum of 7 hours of shuteye, I wake up to another day in my life as a student in a BS/MD program.
This informational essay was written by Tanishk Gambhir, Texas A&M International University ‘20. If you want to get help with your college applications from Tanishk or other Bullseye Admissions advisors, register with Bullseye today.