By MATT DUDGEON AND BRIAN CHAFFIN
“What’s your major?” Practically a pick up line at Georgetown, this question is asked by students and faculty alike. Common answers frequently ring through such as biology, education, religion or our personal favorite, Ethanol and hearing loss. Then there’s always that one overly– eager student that pipes up and blurts the response that draws more eye rolls than a PHA in the intramural basketball championship, “I’m pre-med!” Trust our generalizations when we say that the freshman, or upperclassmen in some cases, who say that they will be the next head of Pediatric Cardiothoracic Neurosurgery will not be the ones doing the cutting on you one day (according to Brian … non-math major aka take with a grain of salt… you would be approximately 37 years old when you finish residency).
As though the piles of prerequisite courses required to even be considered by medical schools weren’t enough, those savvy enough to be “pursuing medicine” have another gigantic obstacle standing in their way—the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT). The MCAT is a required entrance exam for admission to medical school. The test is a four– and– a– half–hour hail storm of Reasoning Skills, Biology, General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry and dreaded Physics. If you can wing this test and succeed, the authors of this article are duly impressed. Students who succeed in obtaining a high score on the MCAT (scores range from 3-45), commonly put in hours of studying and often times end up taking a class offered by test prep powerhouses like Examkrackers or Kaplan. Constructed by standardized test prep gurus, the courses contain exceptional test prep material, an easy to follow schedule and professional, real time assistance. The catch? The courses can cost anywhere from $600 to over $2000. Not sure what your trust fund is looking like, but this is a touch rich for our blood.
So what hope is there for those of us on a college student budget? Granted, with discipline and hard work, the MCAT can be conquered. With that said, a preparatory class offered by the college as an official seminar with a regular meeting time would serve future medical students well (such a course was previously offered by Dr. Frank Wiseman, for whom the Organic Chemistry lab is named). The class could be offered in the fall to prepare students to take the MCAT during the traditional springtime and could be taught at night as to not conflict with labs that science majors often have during afternoons. Ideally, a political science, biology, chemistry and physics professor would co-teach the seminar.
The school, at this point, will be asking, “How do we justify paying professors to teach a preparatory class for a standardized test?” From a purely financial standpoint, consider why Georgetown College does not have the endowment of some of its Kentucky counterparts. Georgetown College is known for graduating “teachers and preachers,” two of the noblest and most highly– underpaid professions. Sending more students on to medical school swells the population of potential donors and would more than offset the price of an MCAT preparatory seminar taught by professors. Far more importantly, the preparatory class gives genuine students of modest means the resources to pursue not just a career but a calling. It is ironic to think that in order to pursue a career in medicine in which one will be healing, a person must be so selfish with their time in studying and pursuing admission to medical school. Anyone willing to sacrifice so much for the outside chance of turning the pursuit of medicine into reality deserves the best resources at their disposal, no matter where one goes to college.