Becoming a medical professional is a dream for many people, and getting into medical school is a key part of that dream. These institutions can be pretty demanding, so they seek out students who are bright and have real passion. While there’s no way to guarantee acceptance, these four tips will help you with getting into medical school.
- Know the Undergraduate Requirements
aren’t just going to assume that you know the basics of biology, chemistry, and other matters about the human body. They’re going to require you have successful completion of these courses on your college transcript. Additional courses that you should take include math classes like Calculus and English classes. It’s also worthwhile to learn at least one other language, as this can significantly help you to communicate with patients.
Don’t think that you must have a degree in pre-medicine or another science course. As long as you can show schools that you’re passionate and knowledgeable with the right credentials, they should consider you.
- How to Ace the MCAT
Before any school is going to consider your application, you need to register for the MCAT. Make sure you register early, so you secure your test date and location. It can seem intimidating, but it’s much easier if you give yourself at least three months to study. When preparing to study for the MCAT, you will need to know what the test is comprised of. The MCAT consists of four sections:
- Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills: Similar to reading comprehension sections on other standardized tests. Passages come from a variety of humanities and social sciences disciplines.
- Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems: tests basic biology, organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, and biochemistry
- Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems: tests basic biochemistry, biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, and physics
- Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior: tests introductory psychology, sociology, and biology
Keep in mind that you will want to take the MCAT during your junior or senior year of college. To help you get ready for the test you can take prep classes and study with others who are also preparing and studying for the MCAT. You will also want to invest in good study materials and take as many practice exams as you can. Taking practice exams will help you identify your strengths and weaknesses so you know which areas you need to focus on more than others.
- Enhance your Application with Extracurricular Choices
Having good grades and doing well on the MCAT is only part of your application for medical school. Your application should also have a wide range of interests, extracurricular activities, volunteer experience, and work history. A well-rounded application shows the school that you are fully prepared to take on the challenges of medical school. Some options to enhance your application include:
- Research: if you love science, doing a research project is a great way to show it. Choose a faculty member whose research interests you. Work hard, read, and understand what you are doing and why you are doing it. You should be able to explain and defend your work to an education scientist in the field of the research you’re doing.
- Physician shadowing: Shadow, a physician, to find out what it’s like and see if it is genuinely your career path.
- Health care experience: knowledge of health care issues and commitment to health care is among the top five variables that are considered by medical schools.
- Volunteer service: how has it affected you and made an impact. Make sure to commit to your volunteer service that you have made a meaningful contribution to. Medical schools are looking for people who take the time and affect to make a serious contribution.
- Clinical experience: essential to medical school admissions. Call hospitals or health centers in your community and ask to speak with a representative from the volunteer services office. They will direct you to a department you can work in. Pick a place that interests you and where you might want to focus your medical school career on.
- Teaching experience: One of the most important roles a physician plays in being a teacher when they impart information on their patients. Experience can be done through teaching swimming, a musical instrument to a child or becoming a teaching assistant.
Adding any of these to enhance your application to medical school will show that you are willing and capable of working hard enough to accomplish an important goal.
- Know the Application Process
Before you start your applications, you need to know what a school requires. While each school will have specific requirements, all medical schools admit students on a rolling basis. This means spaces are offered to qualified candidates until all the spots are filled.
When applying to medical school, you start with your primary application. You will submit a single application through one of three centralized application services: AMCAS (for MD admissions), TMDSAS (for Texas Medical Schools), AACOMAS (for DO admissions). The application will provide the medical school with the information for your initial screening process.
You will be asked to provide your transcripts, MCAT scores, and letters of recommendation. You will also be asked information about your most meaningful experiences. This is where you would include extracurricular activities, research, volunteer work, clinical work, etc. The application will also include a personal statement. Some examples of what you could write about include:
- An experience that challenged or changed your perspective about medicine
- Your motivation to have a career in medicine
- Unique hardships, challenges or obstacles you had to overcome and influenced your educational pursuits
- Challenging personal experience
- A relationship with a mentor or someone who inspired you
Make sure you submit your application as early as possible. Those submitted early in the cycle will be reviewed first and give you a better chance of acceptance.
Then there is the secondary application. There are two possible outcomes after you submit your primary application. Your application will be rejected, or the school will send you its secondary application. Secondary applications usually include a variety of essays on assigned topics. These essays are used to gauge how well you follow directions, understand the topic, and a well-done essay can help you get an interview.
Finally, there is the interview process. Once your secondary medical school application is reviewed, you will either be rejected, invited to the campus for an interview or your application will be put on hold until after the first round of interviews. This list will be reviewed as other candidates accept or decline offers. The interview is an excellent opportunity for you to stand out against the other candidates and make the school know why you should be admitted into their medical program.
A Final Note
Setting your sights on a quality medical school is good to do as early as possible so that you can have a resume that immediately sticks out. Doing this kind of prep will also help you prepare for the rigorous demands of being a student. Keep yourself focused on each step of the process and feel proud of yourself for every step forward you make.