The author, a premed student, wears a protective gown and an N95 mask at a hospital.

Before We Start…

As I reflect on my journey so far at NYU, balancing two completely distinctive areas of study, I realize I am on a path that’s anything but conventional. My name is Andrew, a sophomore who is passionately immersed in music composition and theory with a concentration in concert composition, yet equally dedicated to my prehealth (or premed) journey.

Models of the human anatomy in a science lab.

Understanding Traditional Premed Pathways:

Traditionally, premed or prehealth tracks are straightforward.

They’re the stepping stones to careers in medicine, nursing, and dentistry. They lead to careers as veterinarians, physician assistants, pharmacists, optometrists, podiatrists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and more. These paths are well-trodden, marked by a clear set of science-heavy prerequisites, extracurriculars, and some research expectations.


But What Exactly Does “Nontraditional Premed” Mean?

Well, nontraditional premed is all about charting your own unique path. 

NYU’s medical schools, including the Grossman School of Medicine, welcome students from all areas of life and study. They say, “We encourage students majoring in any field of study, including the humanities and social sciences, to apply.” That’s because NYU values diversity in educational backgrounds, believing it enriches the medical field. There’s no strict checklist of prerequisites; instead, they seek your academic preparation and life experiences.

Whether you’re an artist turned doctor, a first-generation college student, or someone making a bold career shift, NYU’s premed programs are designed with you in mind. They understand that diverse perspectives are crucial in tackling healthcare’s biggest challenges and fostering a community of engaged learners. That’s why Grossman conducts a holistic review of applications.


NYU Grossman’s library, where premed and prehealth students conduct research and study.

My Experience So Far Has Been…

GREAT! And here’s the gist.

As a premed and music student, I start each day by diving into the details of microbiology and anatomy, getting to know the human body’s ins and outs. In the afternoon, my focus shifts to music. It’s quite a full schedule, but by planning ahead, I’ve low-key found my groove. By juggling the sciences in the morning and music in the afternoon, my days are a blend of two passions. To me, I feel they are connected in their own unique ways. It’s a busy life indeed, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It’s shaping me in ways I had always hoped for. Feel free to check out my schedule as a reference below!

An excel sheet calendar of a nontraditional premed student’s schedule.
Sample schedule.

What Is NYU’s Role in This Journey?

NYU’s support has been pivotal in enabling me to explore these diverse fields. My venture into the emergency room (ER) as a volunteer, for instance, was significantly bolstered by a Wasserman Center Internship Grant. This grant eased the financial aspects of volunteering, and it ensured I could purchase proper personal protective equipment. But, it’s not just about the financial relief. It’s about the freedom to immerse myself completely in the experience—to learn and to serve the community without distraction. Experiencing the raw humanity of the ER, where moments of vulnerability intersect with medical urgency, has been profound. Whether offering a cup of water or a comforting word, I’ve directly experienced the impact of empathy and care. NYU’s support has not only facilitated this balance but also enriched my understanding of the compassionate core of healthcare.

Drawings of human anatomy by teaching artist Kriota Willberg.
Human anatomy drawings by teaching artist Kriota Willberg.

A Message of Encouragement

To my fellow nontraditional premed students, I just want to say: embrace your unique path!

Whether it’s music, art, literature, or any other field, your distinct experiences will bring such a valuable perspective to the field of medicine. The journey might seem daunting, and nearly impossible, but with a clear goal, strategic planning, and a heart full of empathy, you can not only succeed but also enrich the tapestry of healthcare with your unique hues. 

Remember, in the “symphony” of healthcare, every “note” counts, every player has a role, and every patient’s story deserves to be heard! Most importantly, it’s not only about the knowledge, it’s about being HUMAN.

A blue, white, and red “Thank You!” poster for all health-care workers.
A thank-you poster for all health-care workers!

A Little Message from My Grandma

My grandma, one of the first few female physicians in the 1950s in her country, stood tall against the tide of social norms of her time. Her story is a testament to courage and inspiration. She is a true pioneer, dedicated to empower female communities with knowledge and better understanding of their health, who opened doors for many to follow. My grandma lived the very essence of the dreamers celebrated in La La Land—those called foolish, who carry on with hearts full but often doubted, pushing forward to turn their dreams into realities, against all odds. Her legacy whispers such a powerful message: “Be brave, be honest, be persistent, and above all, believe in the path you choose, Emmanuel.”

The author’s grandma standing next to a wooden table. On top of the table is a large, white, stuffed animal in the shape of a dog.
M grandma :)

With heartfelt warmth and to a brighter tomorrow,

Andrew Zihao Wang


HI Y’ALL! My name is Andrew and hope you are having an awesome day! I am a sophomore at NYU studying Music Composition and Theory in Concert Music while pursuing my interests in Pre-Health. I’m an Admissions Ambassador, Hall Council Member (22-23), Composer Collective E-Board Member, Music Tutor at a Music Academy, Hospital Emergency Room Volunteer, Medical Assistant, and proud NYU Student. Outside of class, I love traveling, listing to music and grab food and coffee with my friends and family! I hope my articles can shine a light to help people navigating through their Pre-NYU, During-NYU, and Post-NYU Journey! Thanks!