Academics

Pre-Med Program at Wisconsin Lutheran College

The pre-med program at WLC is right for you

Rebecca Nierengarten '07 chose WLC for her pre-med training due to the personal approach of the faculty. "At WLC your professors get to know you on a personal level." Rebecca is convinced that the intimate academic environment of WLC played a key roll in her acceptance at medical school. "Where as most larger institutions have pre-med committees that most often generate impersonal letters of recommendation for your medical school application, WLC professors write letters of recommendation personally that speak to your individual strengths."

Rebecca appreciated the integration of research into the classroom at WLC. "The small laboratory sections at WLC allow you do gain hands-on experience with the most current techniques. The knowledge I gained at WLC has been a major asset to understanding the mechanisms and results of clinical laboratory tests." Rebecca continues, "Professors not only teach you basic biological principles, but how to apply them to understand research and integrate information from different areas of biology to solve problems. These skills are indispensible to being successful in medical school."

Rebecca Nierengarten image
Rebecca Nierengarten: B.S. in art and biology from Wisconsin Lutheran College '07; M.P.H. from Dartmouth College '09; currently pursuing a M.D. at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health '13 

A career in medicine is rewarding in many ways

Physicians diagnose and treat human illness and injury. There are two main types of physicians: allopathic physicians who typically hold a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree and osteopathic physicians who hold a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine or (D.O.) degree. While both D.O.s and M.D.s are licensed to prescribe drugs and perform surgery, D.O.s are more likely found in general practice emphasizing preventative medicine and holistic patient care, while M.D.s are more likely to focus on a specialty such as anesthesiology, obstetrics and gynecology, psychiatry, or surgery.

Projected shortages in the health care professions (including physicians) has triggered the expansion in medical school enrollment for the first time in 30 years. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for physicians is "very good." According to the 2009 Physician Compensation and Production Survey the annual salary for primary care physicians is $186,044 and $339,738 for specialists.

The pre-med curriculum at WLC

Pre-med students should seek broad foundational training in biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics. The aspiring medical student should investigate the course requirements for admission to a specific medical school on a case-by-case basis, as these requirements vary widely. Detailed information regarding medical school admissions is available here: http://www.aamc.org. Most medical schools require two semesters of general chemistry (CHE 161, 162), two semesters of general biology (BIO 201, 202), two semesters of organic chemistry with lab (CHE 221, 222, 228), a semester of biochemistry (CHE 350), two semesters of physics (PHY 201, 202), two semesters of calculus (MAT 221, 222), and additional coursework in English composition and literature.

Pre-medical students may technically major in any academic specialty, however most pre-med students choose to obtain a bachelor of science degree with a major in biology, biochemistry or chemistry as as these majors most closely align with the required pre-medical course work and provide the most complete preparation for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). The MCAT is a computer-based multiple-choice exam normally taken in the spring of junior year that covers a wide range of biology, chemistry, verbal reasoning, and a writing sample. Specific science topics covered on the MCAT include classical physics, electricity, magnetism, optics, inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, analytical chemistry, biochemistry, molecular biology, genetics, microbiology, cell biology, anatomy, physiology, immunology, and evolution. For this reason, it is recommended that pre-med students obtain as much advanced coursework in biology and chemistry as possible before their senior year. In addition to MCAT scores, most medical schools require a minimum 3.3 undergraduate GPA, although many competitive programs seek out applicants with 3.6 or higher GPAs. Many schools look specifically at the GPA in math and science courses as predictive of success in medical school.

Most medical schools give preference to applicants with clinical experience of some kind. Most WLC graduates who have been offered admission to medical school volunteered in a hospital, shadowed a physician, or participated in some sort of clinical internship as an undergraduate. Additionally, medical schools normally interview applicants as part of a comprehensive admission process. Information regarding medical school interviews can be found here: http://www.studentdoctor.net.