Surgeons may be some of the top medical practitioners in the world, but they must get their start where every other college -educated professional does -- undergraduate school. This includes many of the same classes as their peers, with a variety of core and elective courses. However, as a pre-med student prospective surgeons will tailor their bachelor program to include courses that will benefit them in the medical field. In fact, most medical schools in the U.S. require incoming students to have completed certain courses as undergraduates.
College Core Requirements
No matter what your major is, all colleges require a certain number of core classes that must be taken to earn your degree. This includes courses in English, history, math, science and other liberal arts classes. You may wonder what American history or literature has to do with becoming a surgeon, but the goal of these classes is to give every student a broad base of knowledge as a starting point for exploring their major.
Required Science Courses
Science classes factor heavily into the undergraduate program for future surgeons. While choosing a science major is not a requirement, many students declare majors in biology and other branches of science, as most of the courses in these programs align with the requirements to enter medical school. Regardless of your major, some of the science courses you’ll be expected to take are biology, organic and inorganic chemistry and physics.
Most pre-med students customize their curriculum to include a variety of science and health electives. These classes aren’t necessarily required, but will help them prepare for medical school. Having these upper-level courses also makes them more attractive to medical school review committees and demonstrates their aptitude for success in medical school. Classes such as microbiology, genetics, medicinal chemistry and developmental biology are a few of the possibilities for pre-med students.
In addition to classroom work, undergraduates must also obtain practical experience while working on their degrees. Many schools offer internship or mentorship programs where pre-med students observe and work alongside experienced medical professionals to gain real-world experience. For prospective surgeons, these will usually take place in a local hospital. Expect to interact with patients and do rounds with your attending physician, as well as attend pre- and post-operative appointments. If you have an idea of the specialty you would like to pursue, such as neurosurgery or oncology, you can request an internship in that area.
- University of Missouri Kansas City: B.A./M.D. Program Overview
- UC Davic School of Medicine: Becoming a Doctor
- Simmons Undergraduate College: Recommended Pre-Health Courses
- Georgetown College: Pre-Med: A 4 Year Plan
- UC Davis Department of Surgery: UC Davis Pre-Medical Surgical Internship, Mentorship, and Research Program
- American College of Surgeons: Frequently Asked Questions
Suzy Kerr graduated from Grady School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Georgia. She completed her Master's degree in Nutrition Sciences, also at the University of Georgia. Suzy has been a successful health, fitness and nutrition writer for more than 10 years, and has been published in various print and online publications.