March 20, 2007 at 6:41 pm (Applying to med school)
If you think that you want to become a doctor, you’ve got to do a serious evaluation of your competitiveness of getting into medical school. Getting accepted is hard. Real hard. Last year, only 44% of applicants to allopathic medical schools got accepted . I’ll pulled some data from the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) and the U.S. News & World Report’s annual rankings to give you an idea of what to expect.
First, you’ll have to make sure that your undergraduate GPA is comparable to other applicants. Your high school GPA doesn’t matter anymore. Further, any graduate work you do won’t offset bad grades from college. Next, you’ll have to take the MCAT. This test must be taken by everyone considering medical school. The exam consists of four parts: verbal, physical sciences, biological sciences, and writing. The first three subjects are graded on a scale from 1-15. The writing sample is given a letter score: J-T. When the first three parts are added together, you’ll get a score from 3-45. According to the AAMC, the average on each subject test is an 8, meaning that the average overall score is a 24.
Look at the table below:
The first data column shows that the average applicant is applying with a 27, three points higher than the national average for test takers. Already we see that some people have dropped out of the med school race with average numbers. Now look at the second column. Of people accepted to all medical schools in the country, their average scores were an additional 3 points higher than the people applying. Now look at the last column. I pulled this information from U.S. News & World Report’s rankings of medical schools. Of applicants matriculating to top 10 programs, their average MCAT was 4 points higher than all medical students combined. You’ll also notice that the GPA gets higher as one progresses from applicant-to-accepted-to-accepted at a top 10 program.
The story doesn’t stop there. In addition to having strong numbers, you’ll need to show admissions committees that you have “soft” skills, too. As far as I can tell, the most common extracurricular activities that admissions committees are looking for are research, volunteering, and clinical experience. You can’t fake your way through these. Signing up for a week-long summer trip through the Andes to tame the savages isn’t going to impress anyone if your parents paid for you to have a sheltered trip. You need to find a charitable organization and make a real, long-term commitment to serving others. The type of volunteering (or research for that matter) is of no concern to the admissions committee. So long as you can demonstrate an understanding of the scientific method, a familiarity with working with others, and a idea of how a healthcare setting functions, you should be fine.
There are lots of guides out there on getting into medical school. I’ll let you decide which is the best resource. The Student Doctor Network maintains a list of books on the subject.
As I have already mentioned, I do not want this webpage to become an advice column on “What are my chances?” There are forums on the Student Doctor Network dedicated to this topic. I have closed this page to comments.
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