Medical School Admission –
How to Get into Medical School
First, if you haven’t already done so, make a thorough examination of yourself as to whether you really do want to get into medical school and become a doctor. Do you know what becoming a doctor entails? Spend a few days, or longer, doing this self examination. Just make sure that becoming a doctor is really what you want to do. The following may sound cliché to you, but it is very true: so many people just rush into medical school just because everyone else is. So do take a little time out of your busy schedule of volunteering and joining clubs to reflect if this is what you would like to do for the rest of your life. There is nothing wrong about being a physician. You may really like it. Just make sure that your temperament and personality fit this type of job and that you know what a typical day of being a doctor is like.
Different people are suited to different jobs. You will excel and be happier in a job that suits you more than in one that is molded onto you by society. All jobs are worthy because everyone can make a difference to society in any job. We need cashiers, people dumping garbage, taxi drivers, computer programmers, etc. In choosing your favorite occupation and excelling in it, you will make your stamp in this world most pronounced.
Also, once you do become a doctor, don’t forget your vow of service to society. Try not to require your patients to wait in line for an hour just to see you, or to have to book an appointment too long in advance. Sometimes, it is inevitable that a physician is busy, but this should be the exception rather than the norm. Be courteous to your patients and engage in lifelong learning to constantly improve your medical knowledge, and your patients will respect you even more and become even more devoted customers.
Second: Carefully read through what your schools of choice prefer and emphasize in terms of their admission policy. Some schools like people who have traveled and seen the world, other schools are more academically oriented, and still other schools like you to have taken certain courses even if they are not listed on their list of prerequisites. In this day and age of internet access, it should be easy to look up this information on the internet without having to browse through manual copies of college catalogues at the student service center. Thoroughly read their website, including as many related links as possible. Another angle of this type of exercise that applicants often neglect is to read the online newsletter for their desired universities, and type in “medical school,” “school of medicine,” or “medical student” into the site's search engine. It will often bring up useful clues about the university's medical program or medical students. You can slip some of that into your admission essay, or at least orient your application in such a way that it is apparent to the admissions committee that this applicant really is familiar with their school.
Third: Once you have decided that you really do want to go into medical school and researched through the pertinent information from medical schools on the top of your wish list, it is at this stage that you can put your creative energies to use. Think about how you can increase YOUR chances of getting into medical school. Come up with innovative ideas of your own. Often, the ideas that we come up with on our own, and not by reading books, become some of the most effective strategies that we develop. However, it is still imperative that you do purchase and thoroughly read through perhaps three or four good books on the topic.
Fourth: Prepare as early as possible. There is no such thing as too early preparation. If you suddenly decide to apply to medicine one year before applications are due, then you still have some time to work up a good application (assuming you have all your pre-requisite courses). Ideally, though, the more time between your decision and the application deadline, the better chances you will have of getting accepted. One reason for this is that you will be able to do activities that are more relevant to what your schools of choice want, as mentioned above. The advance notice means that in the back of your mind, you are always thinking about certain topics that you could include in your personal statement, or perhaps talk about during your interview later on.
Do take the time to decide on the activities that you would like to engage in, and try to excel in them. Do not try to do too many or overwhelm yourself with them. You only have 24 hours a day. Try to use the law of “Conservation of Energy” because if you use up too much energy these days, you will have much less energy once you do enter medical school or after you graduate from medical school, which will really be your years of arduous effort. Also, as hinted above, don't forget about your prerequisite courses, as these are usually quite firm and must be taken by the time stated by the medical school.
Fifth: Take the MCAT at the appropriate time. Do not take the MCAT too early, as you will be wasting time learning the material by yourself instead of learning it during your lectures. Also, do not decide to take it early just because you are afraid that you may not do well the first time, and may need to repeat it to get a higher score. Again, that is just wasting your time. Similarly, do not take the MCAT too late, or you will have forgotten much of what you have learned during previous years. Depending on when you apply to medical school, you will have to time when you take your MCAT. The most important thing is to be able to make the deadline. In summary, do take it before the deadline to make it for your medical schools of choice, but try to take it only when you are ready for it.
Sixth: Keep your grades high. In the midst of dealing with your extracurricular activities, do not forget to keep your grades as high as possible. Yes, it is true that many people feel that grades are not important determinants to predicting physician success. At the same time, though, getting high grades does show determination, intelligence, and willingness to work hard. You can always add an extracurricular activity, or do something to rectify weak extracurriculars. In contrast, once you have taken a course, your transcript is basically set in stone. You can’t change it. That is really the reason to fare as well as possible with respect to grades. Furthermore, getting good grades reflects that you have learned what has been taught, and since you are at school to learn, the better you learn, the better you will be able to function in society. What you learn may not directly relate to your future, but it does indirectly help you.
In conclusion: If medical school and becoming a physician are really what you want, go for it! Don’t be afraid of the competition because often, people say they want to go into medical school, but do not really expend the time necessary to get in. On the other hand, you will be prepared because you have made up your mind to do the best you can. Do not be deterred of all the other keen students applying because there will always be spot for the determined.
Other topics that should be of interest to you:
How to Write Admission Essays and Personal Statements
How to Get Good Reference Letters and Letters of Recommendation
How to Do Well on Admission Interviews