A physician must attend from 11 to 16 years of school after high school! Preparation for medical school involves coursework and experiences that demonstrate familiarity with the medical profession, leadership, community service, and other activities. The American Association of Medical Colleges website (www.aamc.org) has information to help you plan your path to become a physician.
Every medical school is slightly different in their pre-requisite course and letter of evaluation requirements, and their mission. So, you need to research medical schools to find those that are right for you. Two types of medical schools exist today:
Compare U.S. allopathic medical schools by cost, location, MCAT and GPA requirements here.
See the William Carey University College of Osteopathic Medicine in Hattiesburg, MS here.
A pre-med student must balance the courses required by their major, the MCAT and their chosen medical schools! To apply to medical school, you will need:
- BA or BS in any major that you choose. Choose a major that you enjoy—this should lead to better grades and will be your contingency plan if you don’t get into medical school or choose not to go! You must be on track to finish your degree by the time medical school classes begin, which will be a full year after you apply.
- A competitive MCAT score.
The MCAT should be taken only after extensive preparation—you can learn what that means by attending an advising session specific for pre-medical students in the HPAO. Beginning in April 2015, the MCAT 2015 will cover content from the “old” MCAT (General and Organic Chemistry, Introductory Biology, Physics and Verbal Reasoning), but will also include a new section on Behavioral Science plus emphasis on Biochemistry and Statistics. Read about the MCAT 2015 at this link: MCAT 2015. The schedule for MCAT2015 exams can be located at: MCAT 2015 Exam Schedule
Certain courses should be taken before the MCAT, but you will find that different medical schools have different course requirements. You should research the admissions requirements for the medical schools of interest to you and create a plan for when to take specific classes.
- Different medical schools have different course requirements, but the majority require the following:
General Chemistry = CHEM 105/115* & 106/116
Introductory Biology for Science Majors = BISC 160/161* & 162/163
General Physic= PHYS 213/223 & 214/224 (Trig-based) OR 211/221 & 212/222 (Cal-based)
Organic Chemistry = CHEM 221/225 & 222/226
Biochemistry = CHEM 471
For the MCAT 2015, it is strongly suggested that students take the above courses and statistics (MATH 115 or PSY 202 or BISC 300), Intro to Psychology (PSY 201) and Intro to Sociology (SOC 101). Some medical schools require these last courses, while others just want students to show proficiency on the MCAT. Students taking BISC 330 (Physiology) as part of their curriculum will find that it can be a very valuable class to take before the MCAT.
Besides coursework and an MCAT, medical schools today require the following:
- Experience in a medical setting, such as volunteering or working in a hospital or clinic, shadowing physicians, and working with patients and their families. Document your experiences so that you can describe them in your medical school application. https://www.aamc.org/students/aspiring/experience/
- Evidence of leadership and community involvement. Because you are preparing for a humanitarian profession, it is important to have volunteer learning experiences which demonstrate a commitment of service to others. Generally, it is better to have long-term meaningful involvement in a couple of organizations rather than shallow involvement in many organizations.
- Letters of evaluation. Different medical schools have different requirements, but you need to develop relationships with faculty and medical professionals who will support your application by writing a letter about you and your personal characteristics. Make sure you have contact information for supervisors and physicians you shadow or work with in case you need to ask for letters of evaluation.
- Medical School Interview. Not all medical schools use the same interview process. You should research all your schools to learn about their interviews. Here is a great site to answer basic questions: https://www.aamc.org/students/aspiring/421356/medinterview.html
Check out your application for tools to improve your application, such as a BCPM calculator and advice on interviews.
The earliest you can apply to most medical schools is the summer after your junior year of college. The majority of U.S. allopathic medical schools use AMCAS, the American Medical College Application System. Texas public medical schools use a different application system (TMDSAS), and some AMCAS schools vary in how evaluation letters are submitted. Applicants to osteopathic medical schools will use AACOMAS, the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application System. It is the responsibility of the student applicant to follow the directions for their application and to provide letter writers with alternative instructions for submitting letters, if required. This can all be fairly confusing, so you are encouraged to attend a small group session with your pre-med advisor in the HPAO—we will cover this information and much more!
Medical school application systems officially open on May 1 each year. Expect to spend a minimum of 40 hours on the medical school application. Click here for the AMCAS Top Ten Tips for Successful Completion of your application. Follow the instructions carefully and try to submit your application during the summer, even though deadlines may occur in the fall or later.