I graduated from Princeton University in 2013 with a degree in Molecular Biology. In college, I thought that if you wanted to work in healthcare and treat patients, you had to major in a science: Biology, Chemistry, Psychology, etc. Virtually all of the students in my major had dreams of becoming doctors or earning a Ph.D. and becoming researchers at a renowned university. But then I met people who were majoring in Anthropology and were also preparing to take the MCAT and people majoring in Music while also taking public health classes. Of course, if you love Biology, you should absolutely major in that! But you don’t have to feel forced to major in a science in order to be a healthcare professional.
Now more than ever, graduate schools and employers are looking for candidates with strong writing and comprehension skills. As healthcare becomes more global and interdisciplinary research is increasingly sought out, being able to effectively communicate is advantageous for health care professionals. The internet has allowed for more voices to be heard, and those with strong writing skills have a chance of standing out.
Studies have shown that students who major in the arts and humanities do better on the MCAT and GRE. For those interested in going into medical school, this means that majoring in the humanities is NOT a disadvantage when it comes to taking standardized tests important for getting into graduate schools.
Majoring in the humanities gives you an opportunity to learn about other cultures and different ways of thinking, which can help in developing cultural competency skills that are valued in today’s healthcare system. In college, reading books like The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down in my religion class and learning about the history of common drugs in relation to society’s evolution. A humanities education can help you become well-rounded individuals the long run.
Majoring in the humanities can help you stand out when applying to graduate school and jobs. Medical schools and public health graduate programs see countless students majoring in Biology or Public Health. How do you think an admission committee member reacts when they come across an applicant majoring in Creative Writing or Dance? She will probably be immediately intrigued and will want to dive deeper into that applicant’s history. As long as you have the related science and public health coursework listed on your transcript, you are good to go. Some entry to mid-level healthcare jobs may state under their qualifications that they want applicants with a degree in something specific like Psychology or Public and/or a degree in a “related field.” If you don’t have a degree that exactly matches job criteria, don’t panic! You can make room on your resume to note the number and names of related coursework that fit the job criteria.
College is the best time to explore your interests and develop as a person. You can still major in humanities and pursue a career in healthcare.