Becoming a doctor is not only rewarding in itself, but just being admitted into medical school can be challenging. There are certain requirements that you must meet in order to be admitted into the medical school of your choosing, such as certain MCAT scores, a certain GPA, required courses and even more.
We’ve contacted 10 experts that in the medical field to give their advice on the best practices potential medical school students should consider when applying to medical school.
How to get into Medical School
#1 Qi Chen M.D., Ph.D. – Assistant Professor of Physiology and Cell Biology-University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine
Be crystal clear about what you really want from this career, to simply get well-paid? Or it is where your true passion stays? That makes a huge difference.
#2 Paul J. Chestovich, MD – Assistant Professor of Surgery-University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine
First, pick a major you truly enjoy and do well at it. If you love accounting, major in accounting. If you love music, major in music. If you love biology, major in biology. Definitely do NOT major in something just because it “prepares” you for medical school. If you enjoy it, you are more likely to be passionate about it. Get great grades in said field of study.
Second, get involved in extracurriculars, but not too many. Pick a small handful of organizations to be involved with in college or in the community. Ideally at least one will allow you to exhibit some leadership skills. It is better to have a small number of activities which you were highly involved in rather than many of them where you are just a member.
Third, stay out of trouble. Nothing kills an otherwise good medical school application like having to explain an arrest. Too many qualified applicants for them to waste a spot on someone with a questionable record, even if it was an isolated incident.
Fourth, ace the MCAT. You’re best bet is to take it one time and do well. Don’t take it once as “practice” or other nonsense. Get study materials, prepare well in advance, take a review course – whatever you need to do. It is the only way the admission committees can compare apples to apples, since grading standards and fields of study vary. This is especially true if your GPA isn’t what it could be. This is a great way to show that you have the academic chops to hang with the big kids.
Fifth, develop relationships early on in your undergraduate school. This enables these people to write you far superior letters to support your application. If you just ask your senior English professor, who only knows you from your essays, the letter isn’t going to say much. You need to give your letter writers the tools to write an excellent letter for you.
Sixth, make friends and keep them. Have some fun now and then. Medicine is a consuming profession, believe me, and having good friendships to get you through the application process are crucial. They are even more crucial in medical school itself and then afterwards in residency. No one makes it through this alone.
Seventh, and probably most important – be nice. Don’t be arrogant. A little modesty goes a very long way, especially in medicine. Recognize that you are requesting entry into a hallowed profession of which none of us are really worthy. Recognize that you have much to learn, as do we all.
#3 C. Garrison Fathman, MD – Professor of Medicine-Immunology and Rheumatology – Stanford University School of Medicine
Prepare to not be accepted into med school and consider alternate routes into med school admission: There are programs that help students better prepare for med school admission but they vary. Some make no promise of a conditional acceptance, and merely offer an interview for medical school (and accept just a few). Others have a good reputation for placement into programs nationwide, but again offer no guarantees. A comprehensive list can be found here: https://apps.aamc.org/postbac/#/index
#4 Deborah C. German, M.D. – Vice President for Medical Affairs and Dean, University of Central Florida College of Medicine
- You must be passionate and totally committed to medicine as you will be continuously challenged. It won’t be easy.
- You must do very well in everything, always striving to be the very best.
- You must care about others above all things and always be willing to sacrifice self interests for them
- You must always have a humble heart regardless of your success.
#5 Gary LeRoy, M.D – Associate Dean, Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine
Don’t ask your peers who are not yet in medical school advise on how to get in medical school.
Don’t just check boxes with limited activities in areas you think medical schools want to see. We recognize box checkers. e.g. 50 hours of research –check; 20 hours of shadowing – check; 20 hours of volunteering at a hospital – check; 40 hours as a leader in my frat – check; etc. Nothing meaningful enough to be an enduring commitment of your time.
#6 James J. Rosso – Admissions Adviser, The State University of New York, University at Buffalo, UB Jacobs Medical School
We look for stellar academic achievement in college, high MCAT scores, quality clinical experiences with patients, leadership qualities, community service, and if interested, research experiences.
Our 2016 Freshman Entering Class had an average undergraduate GPA of 3.72 with an average MCAT of 510.
#7 The Office of Admissions – The University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine
First, it is important to know that the process of exploring medical schools is very different than the process you may have gone through when considering undergraduate colleges. Many of you embarked on college tours perhaps during your sophomore or junior year of high school where you were able to explore a campus, meet current students, and talk with admissions representatives.
Medical Schools have much smaller admissions staffs, and must focus their time on current applicants to their school. Therefore, medical schools by and large do not offer individualized counseling or campus tours. One of the unique aspects of Pritzker is our location on the main University of Chicago campus. You may wish to explore the main University of Chicago website for visitor information.
Medical schools require in-person interviews during the application process. Should you be invited to interview at a school, you will be able to meet with current students, speak with admissions representatives, and tour the facilities. So what can you do in the meantime to start “getting to know” various medical schools?
Here are our suggestions:
• Make contact with the premedical advisor on your campus. He/she has a wealth of information about various medical schools and can often put you in touch with an “alumni network” of graduates from your college who are now in medical school and have offered to speak to you about their experiences.
• Find/buy a copy of the AAMC Medical School Admissions Requirements book. This book has a 2-page description of each AAMC (American Association of Medical Colleges) Medical School which contains information about their educational goals, resources available, student life, and requirements for admission. Your premedical advisor may have a copy of this book for you to borrow or you may order it online through a source like Amazon.com.
• Visit the websites of the individual schools in which you are interested. There should be a section for “prospective” students, but check out the “current” student sections as well (if able to—some are password protected) to gain a sense of the activities and interests of their current students.
• Go to the AAMC website: www.aamc.org.
• Podcast & Online Chats: http://pritzker.uchicago.edu/page/podcast-online-chats
#8 Danielle L. Thomas, M.Ed. – Assistant Director Office of Admissions & Medical Honors Program University of Florida|College of Medicine
Review the program’s website, mission statement, and values. Look at their curriculum. Visit the school and request ahead of time to tour the medical campus.
#9 Jared Heathman, MD – Houston Psychiatrist-Your Family Psychiatrist, PLLC
Enroll in a MCAT test preparation course. As admissions is becoming more competitive, more applicants are participating in test prep courses. Those that don’t can be at a significant disadvantage. The MCAT is one of the most popular ways for schools to screen applicants. Scores below a certain threshold are less likely to receive an interview.
#10 Stephen Schimpff MD – Semi Retired Professor of medicine, Former Academic Hospital CEO and Author of Fixing The Primary Care Crisis – Reclaiming the Doctor Patient Relationship and Returning Decision-making to You and Your Doctor
Advice to potential student: First, look in the mirror and thoughtfully consider if the life of a physician is really for you. Are you prepared to always place the patient first – before family, friends, money, etc. Do you really like people and helping/serving them. If so, then do well in college esp in the key subjects of chemistry, organic chemistry and English. Prepare well for the entrance exams, perhaps wth some tutoring and practice exams. But definitely be a whole person. Be involved in the community writ large. Do some volunteering. Maybe take a summer job in some aspect of healthcare. But don’t be only focused on grades. They are very important to your chances but not the whole story Finally, some say medicine is no longer a good career, that it has been destroyed by insurers and government dictates. There is truth to that but it is still a most professionally rewarding career and you can help preserve and protect it as such.
• Go to the AAMC website: www.aamc.org.
• Podcast & Online Chats: http://pritzker.uchicago.edu/