Who is the MedSoc minor for, exactly? Do you have to be a member of the Honors College to pursue it? How many students are in the minor?
The Medicine & Society minor is open to any and all undergraduates at UH who are interested in gaining a deeper understanding of health and disease-related issues from a variety of perspectives. We have many Honors students, and many pre-meds or students planning on a career in the health professions — but we also have many, many students from numerous other majors and colleges as well. In fact, with well over 300 students, it’s one of the biggest minors on campus.
Since everyone is impacted by issues of health and health care in countless ways, we believe it is important to examine such “hard science” topics through a variety of lenses from the humanities and social sciences — literature, history, sociology, philosophy, psychology and more — and this of course means that having classrooms full of diverse backgrounds, disciplines and interests is key. No matter what your major, if becoming well-versed in the historical, economical and cultural forces that inform medical practices today is appealing to you, then there’s a place for you in MedSoc!
I’m a pre-med student or plan to pursue a career in the health professions immediately after graduation. As someone more focused on the hard sciences, how will the medical humanities courses in MedSoc help me?
Thanks to our course offerings, students in the Medicine & Society minor benefit from a more nuanced and informed appreciation of the experience of illness and health care. With a rise in demand for today’s doctors and caregivers to also possess skills in communication, critical thinking and an ability to observe problems from a variety of viewpoints, we believe the interdisciplinary framework of our courses to be absolutely essential to effective medical care. By favoring deeper questions over quick answers and encouraging students to view patients as more than the sum of their diagnoses, the Medicine & Society program strives to produce medical professionals who are not only broadly educated, but compassionate, empathetic and attentive to individual patient needs as well.
Don’t simply take our word for it, though. Here are links to recently published articles that also speak to the growing demand for elements of a liberal arts education to help strengthen one’s success as a medical school candidate:
As the above idea of an interdisciplinary focus suggests, our faculty also comes from a variety of backgrounds, united by an interest in the effects of health and illness on individual and societal levels. This means a course might be taught by a practicing physician, someone well-versed in the history of medicine, creative writers focused on narrative medicine, professors with extensive experience in community health fieldwork, sociologists, anthropologists, religious studies scholars and more. Whatever the case, we are confident the courses you take from these faculty members will broaden not only your understanding of medicine but also your understanding of the role(s) you might play in our current health care landscape.
I keep hearing about recent changes to the MCAT exam. Will a MedSoc minor in any way help me with that?
Yes. The much-discussed changes to the MCAT reflect the same line of thinking outlined above: that more critical thinking and humanities-based outlooks will enhance one’s own medical education.
If you’ve already Googled “Changes to MCAT,” those searches have no doubt led to extensive information outlining everything from a greater focus on social and behavioral sciences, the expectation that students should now read broadly in the humanities and social sciences, and a greater emphasis on critical analysis and reasoning skills. All of these elements are an inherent part of the kinds of thinking and discussions encouraged and emphasized in the Medicine & Society minor.
For more information about changes to the MCAT, see this link for the actual recommendations for changes to the MCAT from the Association of American Medical Colleges.
Or, here is another essay entitled “Building a Better Physician — The Case for the New MCAT”, from The New England Journal of Medicine.
Declaring the MedSoc minor is very easy; simply fill out the form at this link, and you’re done! (Within a few days you’ll receive a confirmation email.)
As for when to declare the minor, it’s really up to the individual student. Some incoming freshmen declare it their first semester, while others wait until their sophomore or junior year once they have more time to focus on MedSoc courses. The main thing to remember, though, is that the MedSoc minor requires 15 hours of coursework to be completed. Also, as the availability of certain courses varies each semester, it can be a good idea to start this coursework earlier so you will have ample time to take the specific classes you are most interested in.
While MedSoc is based out of the Honors College, as mentioned above, not everyone in MedSoc is actually a member of the Honors College. However, completion of the MedSoc minor does qualify you to graduate with Collegiate Honors — but you do need to apply to the Honors College as a mid-career student and pay the appropriate fees, etc. If you are interested in Collegiate Honors, we do recommend applying sooner rather than later, particularly so you can take advantage of priority registration for the remainder of your semesters at UH.
Simply follow the links or stop by the front Student Services Office at the Honors College if you would like further info:
Readings in Medicine & Society is our foundation course. While you are ultimately given a good deal of freedom to explore a variety of topics and disciplines, or to focus on a certain track/interest such as historical medicine or narrative medicine, HON 3301 is intended to bring all of those various disciplines and interests into one room to be discussed, interrogated and synthesized by being a course everyone must take.
As a pre-health student, I'm still unsure of certain requirements or the application process for different professional schools. Where can I get more guidance with this?
Medicine & Society students are always welcome to make appointments with Honors advisors Megan Prather and Aaron Reynolds via Navigate to discuss such questions.
Reynolds is also available to discuss personal statement essay drafts with MedSoc students in the middle of their professional school application process — a process also covered in depth in his course HON 4330 / "Narratives in the Professions."
In addition, we highly recommend students also make use of the many resources and appointments available at the UH Pre-Health Advising Center (especially their excellent email list) along with exploring the websites for the Texas Medical and Dental Schools Application Service and Association of American Medical Colleges.
Beyond the Medicine & Society minor, what else can I be doing as a MedSoc/Honors student to make the most of my undergraduate years and prepare myself for a career in the health professions?
Given the wide range of career opportunities available to UH students in the health professions, there are abundant opportunities in the Honors College and the Medicine & Society program to help round out your pre-health education and strengthen your candidacy: invited guest speakers, service learning co-curricular programs like Honors in Community Health, Data and Community Health and the Bonner Leaders Program, Medical Service Learning Abroad, the Office of Undergraduate Research and Major Awards and much, much more!