How to Succeed as a Vanderbilt Premed

May 13, 2024
5 min read


Reviewed by:

Jonathan Preminger

Former Admissions Committee Member, Hofstra-Northwell School of Medicine

Reviewed: 5/13/24

If you're aiming for a career in medicine, Vanderbilt University should be on your list. The Vanderbilt premed program and medical school are top-notch, with the School of Medicine ranking fifth for research. 

At Vanderbilt, you experience a blend of academics and hands-on experience, prepping you for whatever medical path you choose. It’s the kind of place that shapes you into a well-rounded, skilled professional ready to take on the challenges of healthcare. 

Plus, being part of Vanderbilt means joining a supportive community that’s all about helping you thrive. In short, it’s a great launching pad for aspiring doctors. This blog will next explore the pre-med program in detail, showing you why Vanderbilt could be the right choice for your medical journey.

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Vanderbilt Requirements 

Here are the specific Vanderbilt premed requirements for applying to Vanderbilt's pre-med program.

Category Details
General Chemistry/Lab Semesters: 2 - CHEM 1601/1601L & CHEM 1602/1602L
Organic Chemistry/Lab Semesters: 2 - CHEM 2221/2221L & CHEM 2222/2222L OR with AP credit of 5 – CHEM 2211/2221L & 2212/2222L
Biology/Lab Semesters: 2 - BSCI 1510/1510L & BSCI 1511/1511L or 1511/1512L (Note: More biology courses may be required by some schools, e.g., in Texas)
Physics/Lab Semesters: 2 - Options include PHYS 1501/1601L & 1502/1602L for Life Sciences, PHYS 1601/1601L & 1602/1602L for Engineering, or PHYS 1911 & 1912 for Physics Majors
English Semesters: 2 - Must include ENGL and/or Writing Intensive/W courses not in a foreign language and not technical writing. The exact requirement may vary; students should confirm with schools of interest.
Calculus Semesters: 1 - Options include MATH 1100, 1200, 1201, 1300, 1301, 2200, 2300 (AP credit is accepted)
Biochemistry Semesters: 1 - BSCI 2520, with pre-requisites of CHEM 2221 or 2211 AND BSCI 1510
Statistics Semesters: 1 - Courses can be chosen from MATH 1011, 2810, 2820, BSCI 3270, ECON 1500, PSY 2100, PSY-PC 2110, 2120, SOC 2100, BME 2400
Psychology Semesters: 1 - PSY 1200
Sociology Semesters: 1 - Options include SOC 1010, 1020, 3301, 3303, or 3304

Understanding these requirements is your first step toward preparing a competitive application for Vanderbilt's pre-med program.

Vanderbilt Two-Year Course Plan

Next, let's look at Vanderbilt's two-year course plan for pre-med students:

Year / Semester Course Selections
Year 1 - Fall CHEM 1601 + Lab (General Chemistry I)
MATH 1011 or 1100 (Introduction to Statistics or Calculus, based on placement)
ENGL 1100* (An introductory Writing or English course)
BSCI 1510 + Lab (General Biology I)
PSY 1200** (Introduction to Psychology)
Year 1 - Spring CHEM 1602 + Lab (General Chemistry II)
BSCI 1511 + Lab (General Biology II)
SOC 1010 (Introduction to Sociology)
SPAN 1101 (Beginner Spanish or another elective)
Elective/Requirement (e.g., CSET 3090 or similar)
Year 2 - Fall CHEM 2221 + Lab (Organic Chemistry I)
BSCI 2520 (Biochemistry)
PHYS 1501 + Lab (Physics I, Life Sciences or Engineering)
Elective/Continuation (e.g., SPAN 2201 or another elective fitting the student's interests or requirements)
Year 2 - Spring CHEM 2222 + Lab (Organic Chemistry II)
PHYS 1502 + Lab (Physics II, Life Sciences or Engineering)
Statistics (One of the following: MATH 1011, 2810, 2820, BSCI 3270, ECON 1500, PSY 2100, SOC 2100, BME 2400)
CMST 3250W (A Writing Intensive Communication Studies course or equivalent)

Following this two-year course plan will ensure you cover all your bases as a Vanderbilt pre med. 

Strategies for Maintaining a High GPA 

To maintain a high GPA, Vanderbilt pre-med students should balance tough pre-med classes with subjects they enjoy and use academic resources like tutoring when needed. It's also crucial to keep healthy and regularly review and adjust study strategies based on feedback. To give you a better idea, let’s take a closer look at each of these tips. 

Balance Your Schedule and Choose Courses Wisely

For Vanderbilt pre-med students, good time management is key. Plan your semesters so that you have a mix of challenging pre-med courses and subjects you're strong in or enjoy. This strategy helps in maintaining a high GPA. Also, consider taking particularly demanding courses during the summer to lessen your load during the regular academic year.

Seek Academic Support Early

Vanderbilt provides a range of academic support services, including tutoring and advising. Don’t wait until you’re falling behind; seek help at the first sign of struggle. Joining study groups and participating in hands-on experiences like labs or volunteering also reinforce your learning and application of knowledge.

Prioritize Your Health and Continuous Improvement

Your health directly impacts your academic performance. Ensure you're getting enough rest, eating well, and exercising. Also, practice stress management techniques to keep burnout at bay. Regularly assess your study habits and academic performance, being ready to adjust strategies as needed. 

Feedback from professors and peers is invaluable for improvement. Leveraging Vanderbilt's resources and maintaining a balanced approach to study and self-care are essential strategies for pre-med students aiming to keep their GPA high and their medical school aspirations on track.

Finding Academic Resources 

For Vanderbilt pre-med students looking for academic resources, there’s a lot of support available to help you succeed:

AAMC for Study Materials and Tests

  • MCAT Prep: The AAMC offers resources to prepare for the MCAT, a crucial test for medical school admission. You’ll find practice tests, study guides, and tips to do your best.
  • Medical School Info: Through AAMC’s MSAR database, you can research medical schools to find the best fit for you. It shows what each school requires and helps you compare them.

Applying to Medical School

  • AMCAS: This service is your main application hub for many medical schools. It simplifies the process, letting you apply to multiple schools with one application.
  • TMDSAS: If you’re looking at Texas public medical schools, TMDSAS is the way to go. It’s specific to Texas and works like AMCAS but for schools in that state.
  • AACOMAS: For those interested in osteopathic medicine, AACOMAS is the application service to use. It’s tailored to osteopathic medical school applications.

Vanderbilt has a ton of resources, from tutoring and academic advising to workshops on test-taking strategies. Don’t hesitate to use these services - they’ve been put in place to help you reach your goals. Starting early and making the most of these resources can make your pre-med journey at Vanderbilt smoother and more successful.

Selecting the Ideal Major for Vanderbilt Students

There's no single best major for Vanderbilt pre-med students. Successful applicants have majored in fields like Neuroscience, English, Economics, Spanish, and Child Development. 

Medical schools value diverse skills and perspectives. So, focus on choosing a major you love and just make sure you complete your science prerequisites. Passion and performance in your major matter most. Just take a look at the variety of majors Vanderbilt pre-med students have. 

Source: Vanderbilt 

MCAT Considerations

Vanderbilt Medical School looks at MCAT scores but doesn't have a minimum requirement. They accept scores up to three years old, and the deadline is in September of the year before you start. Keep reading to learn more. 

  • No Set Minimums: Vanderbilt doesn't have a strict minimum for GPA or MCAT scores, but higher scores definitely help because of tough competition. The students who got in for the 2021 class had GPAs between 3.5 and 4.0 and MCAT scores from the 74th to the 100th percentile.
  • MCAT Scores Needed: You have to send your MCAT scores from AAMC to Vanderbilt before they'll look at your application. Vanderbilt is okay with scores that are up to three years old. If you've taken the MCAT more than once, they'll pick the best scores from each section across all your attempts to make one high score (this is called super scoring).
  • Latest Scores: The most recent MCAT score Vanderbilt will consider is from September the year before you want to start school. So, if you're applying for 2024, your MCAT score should be no later than September 2023.
  • Retaking the MCAT: If you plan to retake the MCAT, you need to tell both AMCAS and Vanderbilt (through their Office of Enrollment Services) about your new test date. If you don't say you're retaking it, Vanderbilt won't look for new scores after you've submitted your application.

To sum it up for the 2023-2024 admissions cycle:

  • You must take the MCAT.
  • Vanderbilt will consider scores as old as January 2020.
  • The last MCAT they'll look at is from September 2023.

Make sure you plan your MCAT test well to fit these requirements and keep Vanderbilt updated on any changes.

Vanderbilt Extracurriculars

Vanderbilt University offers over 800 student organizations. Premed students can join the Vanderbilt Pre-Medical Society for shadowing, volunteering, networking, and mentoring. Additionally, the health professions advisory office offers resources such as activity logs and details on shadowing opportunities at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and other locations.

Vanderbilt Clinical and Community Volunteering

Vanderbilt University offers diverse volunteering opportunities for pre-med students to gain valuable experience and make a positive impact:

  • Guest Ambassador: Welcomes and assists patients and families, providing compassionate services and aiding in wayfinding.
  • Emergency Department Ambassador: Provides information, directions, and support in the busy Emergency Department.
  • Inpatient Visitor Ambassador: Offers support to patients and families, providing information about hospital resources and activities.
  • Discharge Lounge Ambassador: Offers comfort and support to patients awaiting discharge, ensuring a positive experience.
  • Inpatient Rehabilitation Volunteer: Assists in rehabilitation activities and supports patients' return to functional life.
  • Care Crew and Sewing Club: Offers opportunities for special projects and sewing activities to benefit patients.

Vanderbilt also provides volunteering opportunities at Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital and Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center. Additionally, pre-med students can join the Vanderbilt Pre-Medical Society for resources, networking, and mentoring support.

Vanderbilt Shadowing

At Vanderbilt University, pre-med students have some exciting opportunities to shadow healthcare professionals. The Health Professions Advisory Office has resources like an activities log to keep you organized during your extracurriculars. 

You can shadow at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC), the Nashville Veterans Affairs Hospital, and even in operating rooms. Just remember, only juniors and seniors are approved for operating room shadowing, and no shadowing is allowed in the Emergency Department.

Vanderbilt Research

Vanderbilt University offers various research programs like the VSSA, UCRIP, SRTP, and specialized training. These experiences provide students with valuable research exposure and mentorship, helping prepare them for success in healthcare research. Now, let's explore each program in detail.

  • Vanderbilt Summer Science Academy (VSSA): Offers college students the opportunity involved in both research and clinical patient care at a medical center. They work on research projects with mentors and also observe clinical care with resident and attending physicians.
  • Independent Research Opportunities: At Vanderbilt, students have various chances to join independent research projects in the biomedical field. They can connect with faculty members whose research matches their interests to explore potential opportunities.
  • Undergraduate Clinical Research Internships Program (UCRIP): Designed for students aspiring to a career in medicine, UCRIP provides opportunities for research and clinical patient care at Vanderbilt. Participants work on research projects under a mentor's guidance and gain firsthand experience in clinical settings.
  • Medical Student Research Training Program (SRTP): SRTP, backed by the National Institutes of Health, lets medical students explore research in fields like diabetes, obesity, kidney disease, or digestive disease. 
  • Specialized Research Training: Vanderbilt offers specialized training programs in areas like diabetes and obesity, kidney disease, and digestive disease, providing students with in-depth research experiences under the mentorship of established scientists.
  • Emergency Medicine Research Training: The Department of Emergency Medicine Division of Research offers research training at various levels, including medical student, resident, and fellow levels. Students gain expertise in patient-centered emergency care and collaborate on research projects spanning multiple clinical disciplines.

These research opportunities enhance students' skills, competitiveness for graduate programs, and understanding of healthcare research.

Getting Into Pre-Medical School From Vanderbilt

Let's discuss what it takes to gain admission to Vanderbilt University's pre-medical school.

Vanderbilt Acceptance Rate and Admissions Statistics

The Vanderbilt premed acceptance rate is 78%. In the 2021-2023 cycles, over 92% of US MD schools accepted Vanderbilt students. Most students applied to around 26 MD schools on average. 

Many Vanderbilt students also took one or more gap years before medical school. The most popular majors among pre-med students were Medicine, Health, & Society, Neuroscience, and Molecular & Cellular Biology.

Source: Vanderbilt 

Getting Into Vanderbilt as a Premed Student

To get into Vanderbilt as a premed student, focus on strong grades, especially in science. It’s also important to score well on the MCAT, as Vanderbilt students often achieve a score of around 516.2. Extracurriculars matter too, so diive into medical volunteer work, research, and shadowing doctors.

To boost your resume, consider taking a gap year. It's a strategy many use to acquire valuable experience, so use this time wisely to improve your MCAT score, gain experience, or both.

Vanderbilt's advising resources, including the pre-health advisory board, offer guidance and support in making the most of this time.

Leadership experience and a track record of community service also play a significant role in strengthening your application. Schools look for candidates who have shown they can lead, work in teams, and have a genuine interest in serving others, particularly in underserved areas. 

These experiences underscore your ability to handle the responsibilities and challenges of a medical career. When applying, do your best to be thorough. Your application should reflect your dedication to medicine, and interviews are your chance to shine. 

Additionally, being close to major medical hubs gives Vanderbilt students a clear advantage. Use this access to gain real-world medical experience, which will prepare you for medical school and your future career. This approach not only makes your application stronger but also prepares you for the challenges and opportunities in healthcare.

Final Thoughts

Succeeding as a Vanderbilt premed student comes down to a mix of hard work, smart planning, and making the most of the opportunities around you. Vanderbilt's roadmap, with its comprehensive course requirements, sets a strong foundation. 

While it’s important, it's not just about acing your classes. Balancing your schedule and seeking help when you need it are just as important.

At the end of the day, what makes a Vanderbilt pre-med stand out is how well they juggle academic rigor with real-world experiences, all while keeping an eye on their well-being. Nail this, and you're well on your way to making those med school dreams a reality.

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