If you are thinking about medical school, especially if you are a career changer, this post is for you.
About a month ago I was asked if I wanted to review Harvard’s new online learning program, HMX. I looked into it and unfortunately realized I was just a few months too late! The program teaches four fundamental courses: Physiology, Immunology, Biochemistry, and Genetics. These are key parts of preclinical medical education and were a huge part of Step One of my medical boards. Lots of pre-med students take these courses (or some version of them) in undergrad and so have a solid foundation going into medical school. As a career changer, I only took the bare minimum requirements prior to entering medical school so I definitely felt a little behind. It would have been amazing to have these courses prior to starting med school, or even just prior to studying for boards.
I still wanted to interview the creator, Harvard physician Dr. Michael Parker, since I thought this was a such a great idea. We talked on the phone last week and explained the whole concept to me. It’s so impressive!
Note: this is not a paid promotion. I just think this is a really cool idea and wanted to share with all my pre-med or medical student readers out there!
Dr. Parker has a background in computer science and software, and so started incorporating interactive aspects into his own teaching. Harvard naturally turned to him when they wanted to create new innovative courses.
How Dr. Parker explained the need for these courses really resonated with me. Many medical schools, including my own, are condensing preclinical course work. There isn’t any less material to learn, so how do we make up for the loss of time? Often times students are just expected to learn it on their own. With more and more medical students coming from non-medical science backgrounds (including him, an engineering major, and me, a business major) these four online courses are a perfect way to get up to speed and make sure everyone is on the same level.
For the past two years HMX has been recommended to incoming Harvard medical and dental students, as well as partnerships with a few other schools. So far they’ve had about 220 per year with great reviews, but this is the first year it’s open to the public.
Who’s It For?
Dr. Parker thinks HMX is perfect for three types of people:
- Those deciding if medicine is right for them
- Those preparing for medical school (the summer before, perhaps)
- Those that need some extra help in the preclinical years
About The Course:
Taught by Harvard Medical School faculty, HMX combines clinical and basic science in interactive video series with quizzes, worksheets, and final tests. The videos include animations, true-to-life clinical correlations filmed in the catheter lab and ICU, and awesome videography. There was a huge team and a lot of work put into this to make sure it teaches in the most effect way — active learning and spaced repetition.
Video: Courtesy of Harvard Medical School, HMX Fundamentals
Check out this trailer to get a better feel for the video format. It’s pretty amazing!
Each of the four courses is 10 weeks long, with about 10 lessons per course and 3-4 hours per session. You can do them all at once or separately. Prices drop the more courses you sign up for.
Achieving a certain grade on the quizzes and tests gets you a Certificate of Achievement! I like that this incentivizes you to really pay attention and learn, which has been my struggle with online courses int he past. It is also great for resumes and showing that you are serious about your education and dedication to medicine.
How To Sign Up:
The next HMX course period starts June 20th, and the application deadline is May 30th. You can check out a FREE TRIAL of the courses to help you make up your mind.
I definitely wish I had HMX the summer before my M1 year, especially now that I’ve gone through Step One. So much of these fundamental sciences are tested on or necessary for understanding of other material, and I think my lack of past exposure meant I had to spend more time learning than others.
I’ve done the preview courses, but now that I’m in third year it doesn’t make much sense for me to do the whole thing. If you decide to, please let me know what you think! I truly think this would have made a huge different for my preclinical years.