American Sociological Association

"It's on the MCAT for a Reason:" Premedical Students and the Perceived Utility of Sociology

Biomedical socialization and premed culture have been shown to promote reductionist and depersonalized approaches to understanding human difference, a serious problem in contemporary health care. In 2015, the Association for American Medical Colleges (AAMC) launched a new version of its Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) that included material from sociology, providing sociology departments an unprecedented opportunity to instruct premed students on contextualizing human difference and being sensitive to the diverse trajectories of people in the health care system. This article describes a large, public research institution’s introductory sociology course for premeds and draws on the students’ reflective writing to show how premeds valued the complexity, critical perspective, open-minded capacity, and conceptual approaches that sociology had to offer. In applying the sociological material to their experiences or impressions of the medical field, premed students felt that sociological instruction would help them become a more socially minded and critically engaged doctor.

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Lauren D. Olsen





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