Medical school admissions aren’t easy. Statistics indicate that average med school acceptance rates are 5.5%. As the number of medical school applicants increases yearly, acceptance rates keep decreasing, especially at the most competitive or the best medical schools, leaving most aspiring doctors stranded. The constantly growing interest in medical careers has resulted in a med school applications spike. As such, pre-meds should anticipate stiff competition while considering that they might not make the cut even though they’re well-qualified.
New med schools in the United States aren’t opening as quickly as they should to cater to the rising demand for healthcare education. The few schools opening aren’t necessarily situated in areas with extreme doctor shortages. This institutional shortage makes it difficult to get into med school. The med school vetting process is rigorous because it ensures that the accepted candidates can pass the challenging courses and undergo the taxing clinical training. This article outlines eight tips for getting into med school.
1. Select the A-levels you need to become a doctor
Learning about the A-level subject provisions for various medical schools helps you plan early as an aspiring medic. Generally, medical schools need you to have two or three A-levels with the best grades predicted or achieved in all of them. Find out the A-levels you require to apply to get into med school, including the details of the subjects preferred by various med schools.
Consider taking A-levels in Biology and Chemistry, because different schools might set either or both as A-level subjects. Know the A-levels most med schools don’t accept and avoid taking those. Look for the easiest medical schools to get into to raise your acceptance chances.
2. Prepare for your med school application
Advance, strategic planning and preparation are crucial if you wish to get into med school. Figuring out how to get ready for your med school application submissions can be challenging because the admission process is time-consuming, costly, and rigorous. You must prepare and present several application elements while sticking to stringent timelines and keeping your best foot forward at every stage.
You can work on some application components closer to the deadlines, including AMCAS Most Meaningful Experiences, AMCAS Work and Activities, secondary essays, personal statements, and more. Nonetheless, most crucial med school requirements, like letters of recommendation, extracurriculars, and GPA, require early planning. Proper preparation increases your chances of success while avoiding last-minute rushes as med school application deadlines approach.
3. Determine whether the medical field is suitable for you
Finding a suitable career isn’t always easy. However, narrowing down your search becomes easier if you consider your job desires and skills. While the medical field can offer an excellent career option, it’s not for everyone. If you’re considering working as a medic but are unsure about it, consider whether you enjoy working with others, helping people, have an interest in the human body, have the necessary skills, and are ready to go through the challenging course. Consider the long working hours, unusual shift patterns, and the responsibility for other people’s lives to determine if the medical field is right for you.
4. Choose a pre-med major
Being a pre-med implies that you’re taking an undergraduate degree to later go to med school. Formal pre-med tracks are offered in colleges to help you study the core classes that medic schools need. The colleges can also help you take lessons in other areas to ensure the pre-med experience isn’t all about science. If you wish to obtain a pre-med bachelor’s degree, don’t limit yourself only to the compulsory core classes. These are just the minimum for pre-med preparation.
5. Prepare for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)
The MCAT exam is a standardized, computer-based, multiple-choice test that’s been a part of the med school admission process for over 90 years. The MCAT test examines the knowledge and skills that physicians, medical educators, residents, and medical students have identified as the core requirements for med school success and practicing medicine. Its content is divided into:
- Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
- Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
- Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills
- Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior
While sitting for the MCAT exam is a crucial step, it’s just a portion of the general med school application.
6. Get work experience
Gaining a people-centered experience in offering services or care is essential before submitting your application. As a medical school applicant, you may have experience working with others in a service or caring position, particularly the sick, disadvantaged, or disabled. You could also gain experience in direct healthcare observation. Work experience can be a paid job or a volunteer opportunity.
7. Participate in extracurricular activities
While your MCAT and GPA will get you to a med school’s door, extracurricular activities make you stand out in the field of applicants. As a prospective medical student, look for ways to showcase your interests and passion via your hobbies and scholarly pursuits. Successfully gaining med school entry doesn’t mean you have to participate in each extracurricular activity.
However, you should choose your activities wisely. Community service, physician shadowing, patient exposure, leadership, research, and hobbies are the best extracurricular activities you can pursue. When selecting extracurriculars for med school, prioritize quality over quantity. Find triangulated or multi-purpose activities, focus on their meaning, and find a niche where you can excel and direct your efforts.
8. Undertake research projects
A background in research may be essential to effectively compete for admission to a research-focused med school. While a research background or experience isn’t a requirement for getting accepted in medical school, it can help you set you apart from other applicants, securing a med school spot. Robust research needs significant effort and time. Begin your premed research early to ensure enough time for data analysis and experimentation.
Research can help you better understand and recognize medical science while developing critical skills, including the ability to decode research papers and findings. Invest your resources in subjects you care about or are interested in, and take your time to learn your research topics’ nuances. You can also look for a mentor to help build your research skills.
Getting accepted into a med school can be extremely difficult. However, these tips can help you increase your chances of getting into med school.