Updated: Apr 16
There are two paths to medical school - a BS MD program (Direct admit to medicine from high school) or undergraduate students studying a 4 year Bachelors degree can apply to medical school after they complete their undergraduate course of study. So what do you need to know if you are interested in medical school?
BS-MD Direct Entry for high school students
BS-MD programs are rare and admissions into these programs are possible only for the very best high school students who have perfect GPAs, high test scores and significant volunteer work or research related to medicine.
Undergraduate pre-med students applying to medical school
Undergraduate students interested in applying to medical school should try and do all the following activities to increase chances of admission to medical school:
1. Undergraduate GPA: The undergraduate GPA is the most important factor for admission to medical school. Attain a 3.8 or higher overall GPA for all years of undergraduate study including science courses and non-science courses
2. Premed Pre-requisites: Taking the pre-requisite courses that medical schools expect - Search for the pre-requisites or courses expected by your dream medical school and ensure that you are taking all of those courses during your undergraduate study. Sometimes medical schools will not accept an AP course that is done in high school. Some medical schools will accept the AP course if credit is given on the undergraduate transcript for the course. So it is important to know the pre-requisites and the medical school's take on AP courses.
3. Medical Observation: During the undergraduate study, students are expected to complete at least 200 hours of medical observation or shadowing with medical professionals before applying to medical schools.
4. Community Service: During the undergraduate study, students are expected to complete at least 400 hours of community service including medical volunteering before applying to medical schools.
5. Health Related Research: Undergraduate students are also expected to do a minimum of 1 year research during their four years of undergraduate study in a field related to health or medicine.
6. MCAT: Students are expected to prepare well and appear for the Medical College Admissions Test(MCAT) exam and submit an MCAT score that is greater than the medical schools' accepted mid-range of MCAT score to stand a higher chance of getting admitted to the school. Be sure to take undergraduate courses related to MCAT subjects during your undergraduate study that will prepare you better for the MCAT exam.
7. Recommendation Letters: Ensure that your school's premedical committee will give you a raving recommendation letter by working closely with the committee during all your years of undergraduate work. Be careful about choosing an undergraduate school that has a premedical committee which only gives out recommendations to the top students. You can figure out if the school is selective about giving out recommendations by checking one of two things: a) Find out if there is a premedical committee and try to talk to a current undergrad premed student before you decide on that college and b) the AAMC publishes a list of all the undergraduate schools that send the most number of applicants to medical school and if the school that you're interested in sends only a few students compared to the actual students enrolling, then that probably means you should reconsider going to that school if premed is your ultimate goal. If your school does not have a premedical committee, then you have to provide three recommendation letters from individuals who may have taught you or worked with you and can provide strong recommendations that speak to your abilities. So it is important to build a rapport with your teachers and colleagues during your four years of undergraduate study so that you can find strong recommenders who can really write outstanding recommendation letters for you.
8. In-State Medical Schools: Consider applying to medical schools in your state since most public medical schools are looking to take in-state students who will work within the state after graduation. This also helps to keep the costs down for public medical schools since in-state tuition is far lesser than out of state tuition.
9. Early Application: Prepare ahead of time for the medical school application process by working on the primary and secondary AMCAS application and essays to submit early in the process.