> I'm amazed at how many kids who say, "I'm going to be a doctor, so I > don't need to learn all this math." Their jaws drop when I tell them > that the typical minimal pre-med major has to go through at least > Calculus I in college. Their jaws drop even further when I tell them > that a typical better-than-minimal pre-med major is chemistry, where > the math requirement is Calculus I, II, and III, followed by > Differential Equations.
Be honest with them, Paul. Tell them that success in such a program raises the likelihood of being accepted into medical school, but has very little to do with what happens thereafter for almost all who go on to become physicians.
The standard pre-med programs, in fact, have had so little to do with what happens in medical school that Lewis Thomas (The Lives of a Cell, The Snail and the Medusa, inter alia), several times chairs of departments medical schools, at one time dean of the NYU School of Medicine, and a president of the Sloan-Kettering Institute, (see ) sent a letter-to-the-editor to a medical journal in the late 70's in which he proposed that any medical school applicant who admited to having been in any kind of contact with any undergraduate program that called it self a "pre-med" program should be summarily denied entrance to medical school. I saw the letter in the medical journal, but have forgotten which one it was. However, he made the same suggestion in one of his books--probably one of the two I've cited above.
It is very clear that the real purpose of such pre-med programs is that of filtering applicants--not of preparing them for medicine.
--Lou Talman Department of Mathematical & Computer Sciences Metropolitan State College of Denver