Medical School Admission
Medical school admission requirements vary from school to school. Each school's specific prerequisites are detailed in the Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR™), an annual publication of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) at (www.aamc.org).
The MSAR™ is highly recommended to all prospective applicants and is available at most school libraries and premedical advising offices. It also can be purchased from AAMC Publications. The MSAR aims to help students approach their goals realistically and to plan their education carefully. The book contains information on choosing a school, the admissions process, financing your education, opportunities for minorities, the nature of modern medical education, as well as the detailed admission requirements of each medical school in the United States and Canada.
Pre-med requirements play a very important role in medical admissions for several reasons.
- Pre-med requirements make the bulk of the science classes you will take in college and determine your Science GPA, which one of the determinants of your chances of admission.
- You will need to get recommendations for medical schools from science faculty, and if you do not take other science classes, getting them from professors who taught pre-med classes will be your only option.
- Pre-med requirements cover most of the material you need to know for the MCAT. The better you know the stuff covered in these premed classes the better off you're when the time comes for taking MCAT.
- Schools ask you explicitly to list premed requirements along with your grades on their secondary applications, which means they bear a lot of weight.
Applicants should consider volunteering at a local hospital or clinic to gain practical experience in the health professions. Most medical schools prefer that you have experience in a medical setting. Admissions committees want to know that you have seen the profession in action and have a realistic outlook on becoming a physician. A well-rounded sampling of extra-curricular activities or work experiences, both related and unrelated to medicine, will help broaden an applicant's knowledge and development.
Students interested in medicine are encouraged to research the wide variety of jobs available in the health professions, to discuss the nature and demands of medicine with a pre-medical advisor or health professional, and to ask a lot of questions before embarking on the application process.
Look for internships that relate to the medical field. Check with the Health Professions Office, the Career Center, and local hospitals for opportunities. The Career Center can assist you in searching for positions and can help you prepare a resume and cover letter. Another way to experience a medical setting is through job shadowing. This allows you to answer some of the questions and assumptions you may have about a particular job. It also may expose you to some of the negative aspects of a career that you may have overlooked.
Volunteering is an additional great way to experience a particular career. Volunteer in hospitals, clinics and nursing homes. You can do this during the summers as well as during the school year. A research job may also offer you another perspective of the medical field. Some people find that they would rather go to graduate school and pursue a doctorate after their experience, while others become more appreciative of the clinical side of medicine
Letters of Evaluation
Letters of evaluation usually consist of a composite letter from the Health Professions Advisor that includes full text from the evaluation letters that were submitted to your Health Professions Advisor. It is best to have letters from 2-3 science faculty, 1-2 faculty outside the sciences, as well as letters from former employers and supervisors. However, only submit the number of letters asked for by each program. See the Health Professions Office for details on submitting these letters.
You should begin asking professors for letters early second semester of your junior year. If you are waiting a few years to apply, you should still request these letters while you are on campus and the professors remember who you are and what you have done. It is helpful to submit your resume or a list of your activities along with a copy of your transcripts when requesting a letter. The Career Center is available to critique your essays and assist you in the application process.
When you approach someone to write a letter of evaluation, don’t hesitate to ask whether or not he or she can write you a strong letter of support. If the person hesitates in any way, look elsewhere for an evaluation. You do not want any lukewarm letters of evaluation submitted on your behalf.
In addition, provide those writing evaluations with a request for letter of evaluation waiver form in addition to a stamped and addressed envelope.
Medical schools use a general application provided by their individual associations for the initial application. These applications come from the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS). In addition, if you meet the minimum requirements of that school, you will usually be sent a secondary or supplementary application. Some schools send “secondaries” to all applicants. These applications vary depending upon the school. They usually consist of more questions about your activities and your desire to attend that particular school as well as requesting letters of recommendation and an additional fee. Some schools request a passport size photo also. It is important to return these
For more information about American Medical College Application Services (AMCAS) please visit our AMCAS link.
After evaluating your application, the school will make a decision on whether to invite you for an interview. Every school requires an interview before acceptance can be granted. Interviews are usually held at the school. If possible, you should arrange to stay with a current student the night before your interview so that you have a chance to talk with other students and get a perspective of the campus. Many times this can give you the most realistic view of that school Some schools may put your application on hold or may wait list you after the interview process. Some schools may not notify students until far into the summer because of other accepted students withdrawing.
The Kaplan Newsweek Medical School Admissions Advisor, 2001 edition, has a comprehensive chapter on interviewing. This chapter gives you practical advice on handling the tour, understanding the dynamics of the interview, types of interviews, and managing the interview day among others things.
Example question from Medical School Interviews
These are some potential questions that you may face during your interview process:
- What first hand information or experience do you have regarding the medical field?
- Have you tried to imagine what the demands of medical school are like? How will you deal with them?
- If you are not admitted to medical school, have you thought about how you will handle that problem?
- What are your alternatives?
- What do you believe are important qualities for a prospective physician? Which of those qualities do you have?
- Tell me about yourself?
- How do you think a friend or a professor who knows you well would describe you?
- What motivates you to put forth your greatest effort?
- How do you determine or evaluate success?
- What academic subjects did you like best? Least?
- What led you to choose the career for which you are preparing?
- What personal characteristics are necessary for success in your chosen field?
- Are you interested in science?
- Do you feel that you have a calling to help others? A bedside manner that cannot be taught?
- Can you make the sacrifices that this career requires, including the expense of training, time requirements, and lack of sleep?
- Are you prepared to deal with the potential for malpractice suits? Do you have the motivation to remain dedicated over the years of education and training?
- Can you manage the stress that a physician’s job entails?
- Are you prepared to keep long hours diligently?
- What major problems have you encountered and how did you deal with them?
- What have you learned from your mistakes?
- What do you consider to be your greatest weakness?
- Did you ever have problems with your supervisor?
- What do you consider to be your greatest strengths?
- Are you creative? Give an example?
- What qualifications do you have that make you think you will be successful?
- Why do you feel qualified for this job?
- Why should we accept you over another candidate?
- What is your attitude toward working on weekends?
- What part does your family play in your life?
- What are the most important rewards you expect in your career?
- Do you enjoy independent research?
- In what kind of a work environment are you most comfortable?
- How do you work under pressure?
- What two or three things are most important to you in your job?
- Do you prefer working with others or by yourself?
- Under what conditions do you work best?
- How do you feel about abortion? Euthanasia?
- What do you do for fun?
- What is your favorite book? What are you reading now?