Wanted: well-rounded medical students - Macleans.ca

Wanted: well-rounded medical students

Good news for arts majors interested in medicine

medical school

Photo by Tulane Public Relations on Flickr

Students planning on applying to medical school might want to take some sociology and psychology courses along with their organic chemistry.

A new and improved Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) is on the way, with changes to better assess whether applicants are “well-rounded.”

The biggest changes are coming in 2015 when a new section will be introduced that tests behavioural and social sciences principles.

The MCAT is supposed to serve as a ‘litmus test’ to show which applicants have the most potential as physicians. Considering it was originally introduced in 1928 and last revised in 1991, many believe that an update is overdue.

Dr. Darrell Kirch, president and CEO of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), says that the future will require a “different kind of physician,” who is more “culturally competent.”

What does that mean? Well, the new test is based on a report that says students need to understand “behaviour, perception, culture, poverty, and other concepts from psychology and sociology.” In other words, doctors need to know how society and culture impact health.

Another big change is coming this January when the writing sample will no longer appear. It was axed because it didn’t really help predict academic success in medical school.

The infamous verbal reasoning section is also getting a facelift. This new section will test “critical analysis and reasoning skills,” with passages from history, anthropology, music and literature.

In addition to producing better physicians, these changes should level the playing field for arts students interested in a career in medicine—so long as they can still handle some organic chem.

Follow @maconcampus and @ScottyDobson on Twitter. Click to like us on Facebook.


Wanted: well-rounded medical students

  1. This is so long overdue I can’t believe it. Thank God someone woke up and realized that people regardless of their job/status need to have people skills.

  2. I wish it was coming sooner!

    I happened to go into a BA in psychology but realized that medicine is far more interesting. I am currently doing behavioral neuroscience, which is a blend of arts and science and I love it.

    I always used to be very strong in arts and used to shy away from science because I wasn’t or thought I wasn’t “naturally” good at it. With hard work and perseverance, science is one of my current passions.

  3. THANK GOD. It is currently such a useless test or predictor of success in medical school. Can’t believe that schools actually use this to gauge entrance candidates. Kudos to UOttawa and NOSM for not requiring it.

    • Just to clarify: It is a good predictor of success in the basic sciences component of medical school. Totally useless to gauge the behavioral and clinical components.