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The New, Improved MCAT: Why Even a Non-Premed Student Should Care

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Notre Dame chapter.
After a month of being ill with intense summer boredom, symptoms including drowsiness and laziness, I finally found a cure.  I have prescribed a large dose of TV-binging to myself. 
My summer has been stitched together by my proud collection of medical dramas, namely Grey’s Anatomy (if you haven’t seen it yet, I just found your newest obsession on Netflix), Private Practice, and the most recent addition, The Night Shift. I have come to realize that medicine and drama create the greatest combination since peanut butter and chocolate, or strawberries and chocolate (really anything + chocolate). Yes, my obsession has even managed to seep into other aspects in my life, as you can see below.
Sadly, putting on some borrowed scrubs and a nametag of a fictional physician does not make me a doctor. Chances are you or someone you know is a premed student and understands that the road to becoming like the doctors in those shows is a lengthy one. There’s a reason TV shows focus on a glamorized version of doctors, not premed or medical students, and that’s because the prep work that goes into that job is much less worthy of primetime television.   
I wanted to search a little deeper to see what exactly I would have to do to rightfully earn my own scrubs. Among a long list of other requirements, one topic in particular that popped up was the MCAT, specifically how the MCAT is changing.
Recently, it was announced that the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) would be revamped for the upcoming spring 2015 test. News reports have discussed what this MCAT 2.0 will entail, as well as a few late night shows poking fun of the situation.
But all jokes aside, what do these changes mean exactly?
Here are the cold, hard facts: The MCAT will now include questions on upper level biology courses, such as biochemistry. There will be a new section on behavioral and social sciences (think psychology, sociology, anthropology). The writing portion of the exam has been eliminated, and I know what you’re thinking, “They’re going soft on those premed students.” Don’t worry, to balance out that elimination, all the other sections of the test will be lengthened, making what was originally a 5 ½ hour test, 7 hours long. 
For all you non-premed students, this is where you let out a HUGE sigh of relief that you escaped this marathon of a test (exhibit A below) and forever pity and pride your premed friends for enduring it. 
Now, why should a non-premed student care about this?
To you, the new MCAT might simply sound like a bullet you unknowingly dodged, but the reason the MCAT is changing is because the medical community is also changing. This version is shaping a new type of doctor, and you, the college student, will be dealing with what’s to come in the near future.
The MCAT has finally come around to realizing that health is influenced not simply by biological factors, but also much more by personal behavioral, and by mental, social, spiritual, and cultural aspects.  This new standardized test stresses that being a doctor is no longer about simply treating a disease, but also tending to the patient’s emotions and beliefs. Basically, the MCAT has noticed what we’ve known all along – patients are human. They are not defined by their illnesses; they can’t be categorized and generically treated.
The behavioral sciences section of the MCAT will make sure doctors study  emotional factors, in addition to preparing them to handle atypical cultural situations and patients of different backgrounds and then tailor their treatment to more appropriately fit the patient’s standards. 
Here’s the best part—Notre Dame is already ahead of the game for preparing its students for these adaptations. Its First Year Studies program for prehealth majors recommends that the students take a social science class along with a natural sciences course. But more importantly, this new type of physician better aligns with Notre Dame’s beliefs; as Notre Dame students, we are educated to care for humanity, to take our knowledge and help the community. We are not here to simply heal ailments, but to heal people – physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Being in college now, even if you aren’t a premed student, by the time you graduate, you will be immersed in this altered version of medical care. The type of doctors we grew up with is changing, hopefully for the better. Even though the revamped MCAT is only the first step towards creating a more culturally conscientious medical community, it is an incredible step in the right direction.  
As much as I have enjoyed my summer fling with my medical dramas, maybe it’s time for me to realize they were only a fad. With the changes to come in medicine, new doctors, hospitals, and eventually even TV shows will surface. What I thought was good now might be nothing compared to what’s in store for the future.   

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(cue typical college student intro) Natalie is a freshman from Notre Dame studying business and journalism.  She is originally from Kansas City, Kansas, aka the land of Oz.  She willingly admits that her inner monologue is narrated by the voice of Kristen Bell, or more commonly recognized as the voice of Gossip Girl (xoxo).  In her spare time in which she is not trying to find a semi-comfortable place to crash for a power nap, she loves to read anything and everything, craft and has the dorm decorations to prove it, plan out her outfits a week in advanced, make coffee runs at any time of day, and last, but never least, hang out with her friends.  She is so lucky to have found a family at Her Campus and finally, Love Thee, HCND!