10 Things to Do Before Applying to Medical School

Feb 23, 2019 by

It takes a special person to enter the medical field. Not everyone can handle the pressure of becoming a doctor or nurse. For motivated students who are determined to help people and enter the healthcare industry, applying to medical school can be stressful. It’s also a life changing decision. Here are 10 step students should take before applying to medical school.

1. Decide Early On

Most students who choose medical school as their career path do it early on. And that’s good! The path to medical school is a long, difficult, but rewarding one. Students can’t afford to change their major multiple times or decide halfway through college that they want to enter the medical field. There are far too many prerequisites, required coursework, and experience needed to make this decisions late into you educational career. Ideally, students make the decision to enter medical school prior to high school graduation.

2. Understand the Commitment

Making the choice to enter medical school isn’t one to be taken lightly. The commitment is intense and can prove overwhelming for many. Following a four year college where students receive a bachelor’s degree, students enter medical school for another 4 years. Following this, residency training can range between 3 and 7 years depending on the field. After this, medical students are eligible for medical licensing. From start to finish, medical training to become a doctor or surgeon can take between 8 and 15 years. It’s a lifelong commitment.

3. Research Pre Med Schools

Once students to decide to enter the medical field, they should focus on choosing a pre med school. This is a college degree program that sets them up for applying to medical school. Every medical school has different requirements for applicants, so choosing a pre med school at the same time as choosing a medical school is often advised. This way, students ensure they’re meeting all the necessary requirements. Some colleges offer pre med as a major, while others simply offer courses in related subjects like biology, chemistry, and physics. Students should thoroughly research programs before selecting schools.

4. Meet With an Advisor

Advisors are skilled in helping students choose a major and select classes that meet all the requirements. Here is where students can plot their course for the future. A pre-health advisor can help answer any questions students have about the medical field and what it takes to get where you want to go. This helps students make early decisions and use their time wisely.

5. Visit Career Fairs

Career fairs are beneficial for all students when it comes to choosing a career path. Fairs let students learn about different schools and programs and what they have to offer. Many universities send alumni and other representatives from the schools who have either completed programs there or are currently enrolled. Who better to answer prospective student questions than the students who are currently involved in the program? Not to mention, students can spend tons of time and money visiting every prospective college on their list. Career fairs bring the schools to you!

6. Look for Mentors and Volunteer Opportunities

Mentors are an untapped, invaluable resource for students. Gaining hands on experience and advice in their field of choice gives students a sneak peek into their future. Teachers often act as the best mentors. Volunteer opportunities are often everywhere you look. Students can volunteer at a local lab facility, doctor’s office, or research shadow programs where they can see first-hand what it’s like to work in the fast-paced medical field. This, too, should be done early on in the decision process to avoid wasting time and help eliminate uncertainty.

7. Choose Your Career Path

Simply deciding to go to medical school isn’t enough. It’s important to have a clear picture of the exact path you want to follow. There are thousands of options when it comes to the healthcare profession. If you’re unsure that becoming a doctor or surgeon is right for you, read more here about other ways to get involved in the medical field. Nursing school is an excellent option for those who aren’t committed to 10 year or more of training and schooling. If you choose to go the whole way, what type of doctor do you want to be? A pediatrician, general practitioner, ER doctor, or specialized medicine? The options are endless, which is great for appealing to different student’s strengths and interests but can also be overwhelming for some.

8. Prepare for the MCAT

The MCAT, or Medical College Admissions Test, is taken by all prospective medical school applicants. Passing the MCAT is one of the basic requirements for applying and being accepted into a medical school. The good thing is, students can prepare and take the MCAT whenever they’re ready and retake it if you’re not happy with your scores. There are also plenty of prep courses available to help you study and perform your best.

9. Choose the Right Major

If students don’t enter a pre-med college designed specifically for applying to medical school, they can choose another degree program that equally prepares them. Students should speak with an advisor to pick the right major and degree program. Most prospective medical students major in one of the following subjects:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Biochemistry/Biophysics
  • Biomedical engineering
  • Nursing

But some students interested in medical school can major in English or Psychology and still meet the requirements for entry into medical school.

10. Sharpen Your Interview Skills

Applying to medical school isn’t just about the paperwork. Students need to complete an intensive interview process. The good news is, when a medical school calls for an interview, it means that they’ve accepted your application and are considering you for admission. This is a student’s time to shine. Thousands of applicants are good on paper, meaning they’ve completed all the required trainings and have the knowledge and education to succeed. But in the medical field, successful physicians must also have impeccable bedside manner, social skills, and the ability to effectively communicate. And the interview is where you showcase these skills. Students should practice basic interview skills but also the types of questions medical schools, specifically, will ask. You can research these online and practice before the big day.

There are over 246,000 primary care physicians in the United States and as of 2015, there were over 1 million doctors in various fields. While the competition can be fierce, not everyone is cut out to be a doctor. Entering the medical field is a decision students should take seriously and make early on in their educational careers. But once they do, it can be one of the most rewarding careers out there.

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