Pre-Med students predominate freshman class

Photo Illustration by Matt Hellman | Lariat Photo Editor
Photo illustration by Matt Hellman | Lariat Photo Editor

Students continuously flood undergraduate program, feeding stereotype that only future doctors attend Baylor

By Jennifer Kang

When others hear of students going to Baylor, the first question asked is often, “Are you going to be a doctor?” But what many fail to realize is that the university has much more to offer and Baylor students go into a variety of fields besides pre-med.

About 1,200 students come into Baylor each year designated pre-med, but only around 200 apply to medical school in their junior year, Linda Haynes, program manager of pre-health studies, said.

“This means that a thousand of those students change their mind,” Haynes said. “Either they’ll change their mind and apply to a different kind of professional school, like a physical therapy school, or they decide they don’t want to be in health care at all.”

Many students graduate from high school thinking they will become a doctor because they enjoyed science and are exposed to more science classes than other subjects, Dr. Richard Sanker, director of pre-health studies, said.

“It’s a natural inclination for a lot of high school students because science is so emphasized at the secondary level,” Sanker said. “But when they come to college, they get a different quality of science. It’s a little bit more professional and a little bit more intense, and many people discover that it’s not something they enjoy or want to continue to pursue.”

The Woodlands senior Corbin Goerlich came to Baylor with the intention of doing pre-med and business. He is still a pre-med student, but has noticed that many people have switched out of pre-med.

“They just discover something that they like more,” Goerlich said. “They’ll realize that they aren’t cut out for pre-med or it just wasn’t their passion to begin with, so they do something else.”

Although many students switch out of pre-med because of the pressure from classes, Goerlich said he was able to get through the tougher times because he knew he wanted to become a physician.

“It crosses my mind every once in awhile — ‘why am I doing this?’ — but there’s always this affirmation that what I want to become is a doctor,” Goerlich said. “It’s not an easy road and those things cross your mind, but never really materialized more than just a thought.”

Goerlich, president of Medical Service Organization (MSO), said there is no pressure from the science department to stay with pre-med and that many pre-health organizations help shape pre-med students in their career ambitions and experiences.

“MSO is an organization centered around serving Baylor and the surrounding community through medical awareness, service and training,” Goerlich said. “Since joining as a freshman, MSO has grown substantially and become an integral part in shaping my experience as a pre-med student.”

Like many students who feel pressure from their parents, The Woodlands sophomore Lauren Brubaker started at Baylor as a business major because of her parents’ request for her to have a business background before going into dentistry. She took a few classes but felt no interest in business and changed to biology and pre-dent.

“I knew that I always wanted to do something in the health care field,” Brubaker said. “Baylor is a good community for health care. It’s small enough where you can meet the professors and everyone is so personal.”

Two students, Southlake sophomore Trent Miller, accounting and management information systems major, and Houston senior Brittany Thompson, sociology major, found their dreams of being doctors were replaced by more realistic, hands-on opportunities at Baylor.

“I thought that being a doctor was the way to go,” Miller said. “I decided in my senior year of high school and after a year of it at Baylor, I wasn’t so sure.”

Miller added on a business minor after his first semester at Baylor and received an all-expense-paid trip to visit the ConocoPhillips Headquarters when he won the ConocoPhillips Student Leader Award, a competition he entered after a suggestion from his management information systems professor.

“I felt as if business was more where I needed to be,” Miller said. “I enjoyed studying the sciences, but I didn’t know if eight years of schooling plus residency was actually something I wanted to do after seeing all that I could do at the business school.”

Thompson’s parents, like many others, wanted her to be pre-med and it was her dream to become a doctor. But after taking science classes and doing an internship, she said she realized she wasn’t happy in the field.

“I love my current major because it’s more interesting,” Thompson said. “I started the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core and I realized that I really like to study people and sociology.”