Are you preparing to apply to medical school? The process begins when you are an undergrad. By your junior year of college, you should have been taking the classes that will help you get into medical school. Before you graduate, you should have also been studying for the MCAT. Finally, you will want to make sure you have a solid plan for applying to medical school.
Know What You Should Take in Undergrad
While there is technically no “pre-med” major as an undergrad, there are essential elements for pre-medical education.
- One year of College Biology with laboratory: you need to know about genetics, cells, and the framework of life. This course is the building blocks of medical science and is crucial to your success in the field.
- One year of General (Inorganic) Chemistry: Provides a strong basis for understanding acid-base imbalances with the body how different medications work. It is the foundation of understanding biochemistry.
- A minimum of 24 hours in Biology, Chemistry, and other humanities.
- 6-8 semester hours of Mathematics (Calculus and or Statistics): important for daily life as a physician or any health professional (from determining proper medicine dosage to reading lab results).
- One year (8 semester hours) of General College Physics with laboratory: introduces key medical concepts such as laws of pressure and volume, which is vital in cardiology and understand how forces operate in the body.
- Most colleges also require English classes. English will show medical schools that you have critical thinking, reading, and writing skills.
- Psychology and sociology: critical since the revision of the MCAT in 2015 that has a section on these subjects.
- Medical anthropology/history: know-how medicine has changed over the years and appreciate the evolution of medical knowledge.
- Foreign language: broader career opportunities and connect with a more diverse population and be a better medical provider.
Taking these courses while help you prepare for medical school. You will also want to show potential medical schools that you are a well-rounded student who has a passion for something.
Have Healthcare Experience and Extracurricular Activities
Your application to medical school should show a wide range of interests and activities. Recruiters want to see that you’re a well-rounded student who is not only devoted to your studies but also wisely uses their time outside of the classroom. Some options for healthcare experiences and extracurricular activities you can participate in and add to your application and resume:
- 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: is 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.
- Teaching experience: One of the most important roles a physician plays in being a teacher when they impart information on their patients. – – Experience can happen through teaching swimming, a musical instrument to a child, or becoming a teaching assistant.
Having experience and extracurricular activities will show that you are willing and capable of working hard enough to accomplish an important goal.
Take the MCAT
The Medical College Admissions Test is a computer-based standardized examination for prospective medical students. This computer-based exam is administered 14 times a year at Prometric testing centers across the country. The MCAT is developed and administered by the Association of American Medical Colleges and has recently undergone some changes. It is important that you know the changes to the MCAT. As of 2015, the test takes eight hours to complete (the old one took five hours), and the essay, or Writing Sample, is no longer part of the test. This section was taken out because medical experts felt that is was no longer useful in predicting success in medical school.
The MCAT now includes a few new sections. A new section that was added was to find out if test takers have the aptitude and understanding that is needed to deliver medical services across many cultures and sociological groups. This section was included due to the rapid changes to the demographics in the United States. The AAMC also added a new section called Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior. This section tests your ability to understand sociological, biological, and psychological influences on behavior and social interests as well as how people process stress and emotion.
The MCAT also consists of the following 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
Most students take the MCAT during the junior or senior year of college and spend an average of 12 weeks preparing for the exam and spend about 23 hours per week studying. You want to make sure you take the time to study. But also be mindful that you take the exam early enough to allow your scores to be available when you begin applying to medical school.
Have a Pre-Med Advisor
A pre-med advisor is meant to help and guide you on your path to applying to medical school. They will support you during your undergrad career by making sure you take the right classes and help you find healthcare experience and extracurricular activities to
Pre-med advisors are excellent resources and are instrumental in your future medical career. They are there to help you decide which medical school is right for you and assess your chances for admission into medical school. Pre-med advisors have access to data about medical school requirements. They know the admissions process, as well as how students have done when applying. They can also identify where students with similar academic backgrounds and MCAT scores were accepted. This information will help you decide which medical schools you have a good chance of getting into versus ones you should not send your application.
Pre-med advisers will also write you a supportive letter of recommendation for your medical school applications. They are also there to help you write your personal statement that will be part of your medical school application. Pre-med advisors are there to help you every step of the way. When it is time to apply to medical school, make sure you ready. Make sure you take the proper undergraduate classes and also participate in extracurricular activities as well as gain some healthcare experience. Study for the MCAT and get a score that will ensure your admission into the medical school of your choice. Finally, make sure you have a pre-med advisor that will help you along your journey to get into medical school.