Increase in applications:

According to both the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM), medical school applications have seen a significant rise in the last year. If you’re thinking about applying, there might be more competition. While some students are applying in response to the pandemic, others are putting in their applications “as something to fill idle time or combat uncertainty,” according to medpagetoday.com. Therefore, if you’re not absolutely sure medicine is your calling, it might be worthwhile to explore other options in the healthcare industry.

What you’ll need to apply:

If you’re absolutely certain a career in medicine is for you, that’s excellent news, as the world is in need of good healthcare providers now more than ever, and you’ll be joining a noble, worthwhile profession. However, there are a few things you’ll need to get in place before filling out your med school application. 

A reason:

Medical students are almost always asked for their motivation in attending med school, and a response of “I want to help people” typically isn’t a strong enough reason. Therefore, you need to dig deep and think about your true motivations for becoming a physician, and be prepared to articulate them.

Prerequisites:

Some medical schools require a certain set of prerequisite courses, so now is a good time to start reviewing admissions pages and your transcripts to see if you have all the courses you’ll need to apply to school. 

GPA and MCAT scores:

Academic excellence is a must when applying to medical school, and this also applies to test scores. Now is the time to beef up your GPA, and apply yourself to studying for any upcoming exams. 

Extracurriculars:

When it comes to getting into medical school, academic excellence isn’t the only requirement. Medical schools want to see a well-rounded candidate with a diverse array of life experiences under their belt. If your resume looks a little slim, spend some time rounding it out.

Finances:

Not only is applying for medical school time consuming, it’s also expensive. According to usnews.com, “the AMCAS application costs $170, and each school an applicant adds cost an additional $39. Most applicants are applying between 20-40 schools.” Therefore, you’ll want to make sure you’re financially prepared to take on this expense, as well as the cost of medical school itself. 

Commitment level:
Medical school and beyond is a commitment. Not only are you dedicating yourself to at least four years of scholastic effort, you’ll also be required to attend further years of residency and specialized training. It will include late nights, hours of studying, and a lot of work. Therefore, in order to be successful, you’ll need to be ready to commit yourself fully. 

What to consider:

If you’ve made it through the above list and determined medical school is for you, read on. Here are a few things to consider when selecting which medical schools are right for you.

Public versus private:

Most public schools give preference to in-state students both for slots and financial aid. However, private schools aren’t worried about residency. Selecting a mix of both can help increase your chances of getting into a program.

Academic focus:

Each school has a different academic focus, so it’s up to you to investigate each program to figure out if it aligns with your values and goals. For example, “Some medical programs emphasize research or specialty medicine, while others focus on primary care,” according to princetonreview.com. Spend time reviewing the school’s programs and courses to make sure they’ll be a good fit.

Do you align with the school’s mission?

Similar to the academic focus, each medical school has its own mission and goals. In order to get the most out of your medical school experience, it’s important to find a school that has a mission that most closely aligns with your own. 

Competition ratios:

As mentioned above, there’s currently a lot of competition to receive a coveted slot in medical school. According to the medicportal.com, “comparing competition ratios will show you what weighting different universities give to different parts of the application.” Understanding this allows you to pick a program that best matches your strengths. 

Knowing when it’s right:

Finally, part of the consideration for medical school is knowing when it’s right. When you review a school’s website or take a campus tour, pay attention to how you feel. Are you excited? Do you feel like it’s a place you can see yourself spending the next several years? Dr. Eduardo Hariton, who graduated from both Harvard Medical School and Harvard Business School recommends going with the school that makes “you feel at home,” and should be a place where “you feel welcome.” The school should be supportive, provide what you need for success, and help you figure out what type of doctor you wish to be.

In conclusion, there are a lot of important considerations to make when applying for medical school. However, if you know it’s the path you wish to take, preparing yourself to give the best application you can will help you find success in your future endeavors.