By ThriveAP Intern and aspiring NP Ashley Prince
Neuro-what? Is the typical response I get when I tell people I’m a neuroscience major. The reaction is understandable. Neuroscience is a pretty new field, and although it sounds fancy, the name doesn’t give a lot of insight into what this study is all about. Since I’m a senior (ah!) now, I’ve been getting a lot of questions about what neuroscience is, what you can do with it, and whether it has helped prepare me for life after undergrad.
If you’re trying to pick your major for PA school or figuring out college after falling off the pre-med track, read on to see if neuroscience is right for you!
Neuro-What? I usually describe neuroscience as the brain process behind psychology. If that doesn’t help, here is an example. Memory is a common topic among both psychologists and neuroscientists. A psychologist might study various techniques for improving memory, while a neuroscientist will try to figure out how exactly neurons store information and which areas of the brain are involved in memory recall.
How has neuroscience helped prepare me for nursing? First, some of the subject matter in my major is tough to master. But, now that I’ve successfully made it through courses in neurophysiology and behavioral neuroscience, I feel like I’m more prepared for the rigor of nursing school courses than if I had majored in history, for example. Second, many of my classes have covered pathophysiology, diagnostics, and medical treatments for various disorders. I know these topics will come up again in nursing school. Last but certainly not least, when I combine what I have learned in the classroom with my shadowing experiences, I realize that working in a neuro-related area in healthcare is likely the right niche for me.
What exactly can you do with a degree in neuroscience? You can do a lot with a neuroscience Ph.D. With a bachelor’s degree, though, you are pretty limited. It’s one of those majors that’s a stepping stone to something greater, or to keep students busy while they prepare for some kind of post-graduate professional school. For this reason, some people joke that neuroscience is the “art history of the sciences”! I always tell people that if they’re 100% sure they want to become a physician assistant, nurse practitioner, physician, or work in another healthcare field, neuroscience is an excellent option. However, if you want the added assurance that you will be employable should grad school plans fall through, consider a different major. Chemistry and engineering majors are great practical science majors that are always in high demand.
Love science but don’t want to make it your life just yet? Check out public health or business. Public health majors are in increasingly high demand. And, because healthcare is a business, a business-related degree can always add value to your future practice.
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