Being a Competitive Applicant
Basically, there are three components to an applicant's portfolio:
1) academic ability & potential
2) knowledge of the profession and motivation for a career in medicine
3) "intangibles"; personal qualities
We can help you reach your goal, but you need to do some work on your own; research the field of medicine and the application process, check out websites, read articles and books, etc. Most importantly, you need to become the kind of applicant a medical school seeks.
Admissions Committees look for a strong academic record, as shown by:
- Mastery of the basic science requirements
- Broad and successful exposure to the humanities and social sciences
- Ability to read and understand sophisticated material in the humanities, natural and social sciences (especially important when taking the MCAT - Medical College Admission Test.)
- Commitment to being a lifelong learner and evidence of "mature and independent scholarship" (e.g., participation in an independent study or honors program)
Pre-requisites for applying to medical school:
NOTE that AP and dual-enrollment credits in the basic science pre-requisites often will not be counted by programs as having met requirements for admission
- BIOL 211/211L & BIOL 213/213L for Biology majors entering Fall 2010 and later, or all non-Biology majors (non-BIOL majors will need special permission to enroll in these courses; see the DPP);
- Biology majors entering prior to Fall 2010 must take BIOL 151/151L & BIOL 201/201L
- CHEM 121/121L - CHEM 122/122/L; these courses should be completed as soon as possible
- CHEM 321/321L - CHEM 322/322L
- PHYS 151/151L - PHYS 152/152L
- BCHM 414* (sited more often as a requirement as the new MCAT approaches)
The following courses are recommended, but not required: PSYC 201*, PSYC 202*, SOC 205*, MATH 125*, MATH 135 or 140 (Calculus is a requirement for some med schools), BIOL 301/301L, BIOL 307/307L, BIOL 313, BIOL 314/314/L - BIOL 315/315L, BIOL 411, BIOL 412/412L
*required for MCAT 2015 preparation
Pre-requisite coursework must be completed at some minimal level determined by each particular program; grades below a "C" are generally not accepted.
Students are ultimately responsible for determining specific course and admissions requirements for any program to which they plan to apply.
Admissions Committees look for a firm and clear motivation for the health professions as shown by:
- Activities that show care for your fellow human beings and their welfare
- Evidence that you understand the role of a Medical Doctor, from direct personal experience. i.e., accumulation of clinical experience hours. It is imperative that you have shadowing and/or internship experiences
Shadowing / clinical volunteering:
- helps you decide whether you are pursuing the correct career path, and
- lets admissions committees know that you are serious about becoming a health care provider.
Admissions Committees look for evidence of outstanding personal qualities:
- Psychological maturity
- Compassion and empathy
- Concern for helping others
- Communication skills
- Motivation and persistence
- Reliability and dependability
- Resilience and adaptability
- Character and integrity
- Leadership skills
- Intellectual curiosity and enthusiasm
Medical and professional schools are interested in well-rounded applicants; Extracurricular activities are important for developing these attributes:
- service to humanity is one of the highest ideals of medicine.
- show interest in and ability to work with people
- take on leadership positions in student or community organizations
- get involved in student and dormitory government
- tutor underprivileged children in the community.
To really "set yourself apart" from the average applicant, seek out experiences that are "challenging", that take you out of your "comfort zone". Work with diverse groups of peoples, of various ethnic origins and social classes.
Letters of recommendation from your activities' supervisors can be important additions to your application.