I came in last year with a pretty clear idea of what I wanted to major in and what I wanted to do. I had spent all four years of high school in a specialized biotechnology program, learning essential lab techniques and assays and the building blocks of manipulating biological organisms. Naturally, I drifted towards the biochemistry major at every university I applied to. It just seemed obvious to me – biochemistry and molecular biology were really all I knew, and therefore, I was most interested in this field. I had been set on majoring in biochemistry and going to medical school after undergrad since my junior year of high school, and since I was confident that I could maintain interest in it, the possibility of ever wanting to change my major didn’t even cross my mind.
I picked up an opportunity to shadow a gastroenterologist in my second semester of freshman year. During my first time in the office, I expected to learn a little bit about a medical specialty I knew little about, but instead I got a much greater insight into a different side of the medical field. After talking to the doctors in the office and taking notice of how things worked, I realized that treating patients and applying all of the organic chemistry, cell biology, and anatomy that we learned in classes is only half of what being a doctor is. The other half is about finances, healthcare laws, computers, etc. – things that most pre-med students don’t even give a second thought to when deciding to enter the medical field.
However, the most striking thing that I learned that day was something the doctors all told me: “If you want to make a difference in the medical field, don’t major in biochemistry.” You can probably imagine how panicked that statement made me. I had been set on biochemistry and going into the medical field, only to be told by medical professionals themselves to not major in biochemistry! However, by the end of the day, seeing how much economics and policy factored into the decisions made by physicians, I realized that they were right. If I wanted to be a physician who could implement effective changes for the bettering of the field and patient care, I needed to change my direction and refocus my goals. After a summer of reconsideration, I’ve decided to double major in Biological Sciences and Policy Studies with a focus in health management.
Now here is my biggest disclaimer: biochemistry is an absolutely fantastic field to go into. If you can really delve deep into studying this topic, you could reap infinite amounts of useful and applicable knowledge. And if you want to go into the medical field afterwards, there is absolutely nothing preventing you from doing so. You can do whatever you want! My main burden here, though, is that you can be plenty sure to expect the unexpected, especially at Rice where there are opportunities galore for us to explore deeper and experience afresh. This is what Rice is all about, so don’t be afraid to just go for it.