College Advice Blog

Mar 4, 2012

So, You Want to Go to Medical School: Now What?

Preparing for medical school is a very serious endeavor and the most important thing to realize is the competition is fierce.  If you really want to become a doctor, then you’ll have to develop a serious drive to accomplish that task, and this is a good thing—who wants to be treated by a wishy-washy doctor?  In the UK you actually declare your medical major as soon as you enter university and are on the medical track for 7 straight years with little to no sidetracking.  Unlike the Brits, American universities have a slightly different approach; in fact a lot of schools don’t even recognize ‘Pre-Med’ as a declared major.  You major in whatever you like and have to just stay on track to meet the requirements to enter medical school (albeit a very difficult task without majoring in a science field like biology or chemistry). 

When it comes down to getting into medical school, you will be compared to your fellow peers in the application process and that will determine your entry more than anything else.  So, there is no standard rubric that states you must have this exact GPA or precisely 30 hours of chemistry.  It’s more about what makes you a better candidate than the other guy.

In general you will want to maintain a GPA above 3.5, be active in the science clubs and/or pre-med fraternity, get a job volunteering and/or shadowing in the medical field and work in a research lab at some point as well.  It can all be grueling work, but it shows that you can handle a lot of responsibility and get your hands dirty.

The MCAT is mandatory, not only will you want to take a prep-course for the exam, but you’ll want to take the kinds of science courses that will help you succeed on the MCAT. 

As far as the actual courses go, you will need a minimum of these:
1 full year of biology (including labs)
2 full years of chemistry (the 1st in inorganic/general and the 2nd organic, both including labs)
1 full year of physics
1 full year of calculus
1 full year of English/humanities studies
1 full year of advanced life sciences (such as molecular bio, anatomy/physiology, genetics, biochemistry)

Though it is not a requirement at all schools yet, certain computer mathematics and computer science courses, psychology and language courses are recommended. Without these you may not be as competitive an applicant as other students.  If you really want to become a doctor go straight to the pre-med or science careers councilor at your prospective or current university and speak with them in person to make sure that you are on track to achieving your goals.

About The Author

Carolyn is a guest post blogger who writes about education paths, medical career topics, and RN schools.

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