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Interested in other homeschool graduates pathways into medicine

My 12 yo wants to be a surgeon, has had her heart set on this since before she started school, so this isn't just a phase. I'm mapping out her education for the next few years and wanting to be sure we are covering everything we need to so she is prepared to go to University and be accepted in Medicine as soon as she is ready. What skills are good to be focusing on for this year and the rest of high school? What curriculum and levels should we be working through?

Currently she is using:

  • Saxon math 8/7
  • Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology
  • Visual Latin 1
  • Essentials in Writing 7
  • Sonlight Core F history and literature.

Don't want to get to the end of high school and find out there were skills we could have been developing all this time and therefore it will now take several years of catch up work before she can even get into medicine.

I would love to hear of any skills we can begin focusing on now.

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Will you be homeschooling all the way through? Because if so, that would give you the ability to either design some incredible Science courses that would flow well into a Medical degree. Or at least homeschooling would give you a bit more flexibility to take advantage of special summer programs and other opportunities to provide great Medical degree prep.

The main thing in high school is a solid set of college prep credits, of some rigor, accomplished with good grades. So 4 years (credits) each of English, Math, Science, Social Studies, and Foreign Language.

Additional academics can come as Electives. Also be sure to have a well-rounded set of credits to explore and develop interests in Fine Arts or personal passions/interests. To ensure admission to a college with a good pre-med program, you may also need to consider AP tests to be competitive, as well as extracurriculars to, again, develop a well-rounded student.

For high school:

- English
   • strong/solid writing skills overall
   • possibly consider technical writing for 1 semester
   • also consider a semester focused on Communications
- Math
   • strong math up through Pre-Calculus/Calculus by 12th grade
   • Statistics would also be an excellent help
- Science
   • lab sciences -- solid hands-on activities/experiments
   • strong foundation with at least one credit in each of Biology, Chemistry, Physics
   • also highly useful would be Anatomy & Physiology
   • other useful Science courses: Microbiology; Organic Chemistry; Genetics
- Social Studies
   • cover usual requirements of World & US History, Econ/Gov't
   • consider a Psychology course
   • also consider a Philosophy course that includes a unit on Ethics/Bioethics
- Foreign Language
   • Latin would be helpful for the medical terminology
   • having an additional Modern Language is very useful for communicating with patients
- Fine Arts
   • develop her interests -- art, music, theater, digital arts, photography, ceramics, or... ?
- Electives
   • for PE - perhaps a focus on Exercise Physiology
   • for Vocational-Tech - possibly take courses towards EMT certification

Extracurriculars:
- First Aid/CPR - many areas offer this as part of a babysitting training course
- summer camps or week-long programs in the Sciences and Medical fields
- volunteer opportunities in working in health care -- for people or animals
- teen groups/organizations of high interest to her
- possible sports team participation
- do physical activities - dance, martial arts, orienteering, kayaking, hiking, etc.
- develop fine motor skills used in surgery: hand-sewing, embroidery, jewelry making, hand-crafts, etc.

Edited by Lori D.
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My oldest dd is a senior in college, graduating this year with a BSE and MSE in Biomedical Engineering in a top 10 engineering program, and was just accepted to 5 medical schools, including a top 20 medical school. She was entirely homeschooled. I would say that the most important thing is to make sure that she has a rigorous and challenging curriculum in high school which will help her hone her study skills and prepare her for college. My three oldest all completed AP Chemisty, AP Biology, and AP Physics C in high school along with other AP courses for a total of 8 when they "graduated" from high school. They also dual enrolled before college. I don't think there is one way to accomplish this or one way to choose curriculum but I do think their high school academics need to be challenging enough that they feel some academic pressure and and learn to study well and efficiently. My kids were also heavily involved in music, theatre, and sports so they learned to balance heavy extracurricular involvement with a heavy academic load. FWIW, from my research, I was not a fan of Saxon math for my kids and also was not a fan of Apologia, but - full disclosure - I never used those programs.

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11 hours ago, Meredith said:

not a fan of Saxon math for my kids

Yet my junior at college who is a math major did Saxon all the way through Calculus at home. Several of her professors say she has some of the best math understanding they have ever seen. And this is a child I never would have thought would major in math. She hated it until Calculus. She loved literature, piano, writing, and singing. That was where her focus was. Now we also focus heavily on logic here so that may have helped develop her math sense. 

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I am sure this will be controversial, but it may be helpful to consider going beyond religiously based science texts if your daughter is intended to have a medical career. If one or both of you are uncomfortable with this idea, it could be ultimately be hard to attend most or all medical schools, where they will not be using this approach. 
 

If you’re looking for skills generally, there used to be a thread about this that was great. 

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2 hours ago, LinRTX said:

Yet my junior at college who is a math major did Saxon all the way through Calculus at home. Several of her professors say she has some of the best math understanding they have ever seen. And this is a child I never would have thought would major in math. She hated it until Calculus. She loved literature, piano, writing, and singing. That was where her focus was. Now we also focus heavily on logic here so that may have helped develop her math sense. 

Yes that's great! I just knew that Saxon was not a good fit for *my* kids and the way they think. But like I said, I've been around long enough to say that not one size fits all! Each kid is different!

 

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1 hour ago, stripe said:

I am sure this will be controversial, but it may be helpful to consider going beyond religiously based science texts if your daughter is intended to have a medical career. If one or both of you are uncomfortable with this idea, it could be ultimately be hard to attend most or all medical schools, where they will not be using this approach. 
 

If you’re looking for skills generally, there used to be a thread about this that was great. 

I am a Christian homeschooler and I think (while there may be some bias in the idea against religiously based texts - no offense) I do agree that the main emphasis of the science curriculum should be pure science and not any other agenda wrapped up in it (religious or otherwise). I think this can be accomplished with a religious-based text in high school as long as the science is well-taught and emphasized, but I personally find it unnecessary to teach religious concepts in a science curriculum. We approach everything we do with a Christian worldview but that doesn't mean that every piece of the curriculum has to be taught from an explicitly Christian point of view. We used PA Homeschoolers for the AP sciences in high school and science was approached in a more objective way without any other agenda.

 

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19 minutes ago, Meredith said:

I just knew that Saxon was not a good fit for *my* kids

I did not mean to sound like this was aimed at you. Every parent needs to make their own decisions. I just so often hear that Saxon is not a good fit for STEM kids. The math major is my youngest. I also had an electric engineer, computer science (IT) major -- who went on to do purely programming and no IT at work, and a nurse. All did Saxon. All did well at college. But I taught them all differently according to their bent, but Saxon was the base line. And I also taught from a Christian Worldview but don't use mainly Christian text. My shelves are still lined with college texts I bout at half priced books to supplement anything and everything I was teaching at home.

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I'm a pediatrician. I knew I wanted to be a doctor from the time I was a preschooler and I had a lot of people doubt that I could really know that, so have no problem believing that your daughter knows what she wants and is committed and it's not just a phase. (Surgery as a specialty might change...I went through all kinds of specific doctor phases including a great desire to be a reconstructive plastic surgeon or a neurologist/neurosurgeon. In fact, the one thing I was NOT going to do was pediatrics. 🙂 Or maybe she will continue to love surgery.) 

That said, whenever these questions come up, but reply is to just get a good strong foundation in science. Med schools really don't care what you do in high school. Nothing in high school or earlier will count and I don't think there are really any skills beyond the skills any college bound student needs. How to communicate well both orally and in writing, how to manage time, how to think critically. Having a good foundation in science and math will help in the pre-requisite classes she will take in college, or if she is a science major the science classes in college. 

If she loves medicine and wants to get into volunteering or doing the kinds of shadowing or medical camps those can be fun. But they are really truly not essential and there are no skills you will learn that you need or that will set you back if you haven't done them. 

I read a lot of medical related books in high school because that was my interest...books by Atul Gawande, Oliver Sacks, Jerome Groopman are all great. There is a series called The Medical Detectives that I loved as a teenager that is about the real-life Public Health Corps of the CDC that researches outbreaks. 

Good luck to you daughter! 

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I think you already received great suggestions  from PP. I don’t have a student who wants to study medicine but my nephew who just graduated with a biochem degree is premed and studying for his MCAT. 
the one thing I have heard from parents with students in the medical line is to be careful with the level of courses they take as DE especially at a community college. Apparently, the medical board “prefers” students who take the core science classes at a 4 yr. that is not to say it wouldn’t be accepted, but it wouldn’t booster the application. 
also a lot of emphasis seem to be placed in things like volunteering in the medical field, having a family member in the medical field, level of maturity etc. 

Edited by Lilaclady
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Novare Science is another option for a rigorous, Christian science curriculum. DH is a scientist and we find Novare to be thorough and faith-affirming without being simplistic or preachy.

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20 hours ago, Lilaclady said:

I think you already received great suggestions  from PP. I don’t have a student who wants to study medicine but my nephew who just graduated with a biochem degree is premed and studying for his MCAT. 
the one thing I have heard from parents with students in the medical line is to be careful with the level of courses they take as DE especially at a community college. Apparently, the medical board “prefers” students who take the core science classes at a 4 yr. that is not to say it wouldn’t be accepted, but it wouldn’t booster the application. 
also a lot of emphasis seem to be placed in things like volunteering in the medical field, having a family member in the medical field, level of maturity etc. 

This is true. Although it's not a monolithic "medical board" which is actually a thing, just not in this instance. Med schools will vastly prefer that pre-requisite classes are taken at a college. This doesn't mean you can't use DE and AP classes to place out of classes in college but would be an issue if you were going to major in a non-science but use the DE pre-reqs. So for example, if you took regular chemistry DE and your college allowed you to then take Organic Chemistry and you did well, I can't imagine a med school caring where you took the Intro level Chem. Or if you are a Bio major and you use an Intro Bio DE or AP credit to check off the Intro Bio box but then take much harder Bio classes and do well, it should be fine. 

However,It is also true that many colleges prefer science students not to use AP credits for their majors, as they don't always truly prepare you for the harder level classes. So even if you take them it's often recommended to repeat the Intro classes at your school. 

As for the family member in medicine, they are looking to see if you know what it is like. A lot of people go into medicine thinking it sounds good but not having a great idea of what the commitment is like as far as time for education and then lifestyle, etc. You can demonstrate that lots of ways if you don't have a family member in medicine...show you have volunteered, shadow doctors you know, be up on current events in medicine, etc. 

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On 3/11/2021 at 4:20 PM, Lilaclady said:

the one thing I have heard from parents with students in the medical line is to be careful with the level of courses they take as DE especially at a community college. Apparently, the medical board “prefers” students who take the core science classes at a 4 yr. that is not to say it wouldn’t be accepted, but it wouldn’t booster the application. 
also a lot of emphasis seem to be placed in things like volunteering in the medical field, having a family member in the medical field, level of maturity etc. 

I don't disagree that science classes taken at a 4 yr might be viewed more favorably than those taken at CC.  But I do have a counterexample from a surgeon who was on the admissions committee at UCSF.  He told me about an applicant who did his first 2 years at CC then transferred to Berkeley.  The surgeon was impressed because during the interview the student was able to explain why he made the decision he did (smaller class size, cheaper tuition, etc.).  This gets to the "level of maturity" @Lilaclady mentions above.   Plus, I don't know much else about his background that may also have impressed the admissions committee, such as high MCATs or research or other activities.  

No hard and fast rules, but it pays to not cut corners.  

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