Medical Studies

General Information

There are 125 schools in this country that offer a M.D. degree, and 19 that offer a D.O. degree.  This suggests that competition is tough.  Each year over 50,000 students apply for admission into these schools.  So if that isn’t enough competition for you consider the test that is used for admission is only offered two times a year!   With that being said there are certain advantages that being prepared can give you to help push you to the top of the list.

 

A Good Doctor

Before worrying about that, some advice.  Medical schools all look at applicants differently; they put different weight on different aspects according to what the admissions panel sees as being most needed.  Some characteristics are identified below.

A 3.5 cumulative G.P.A.

Average of 10’s on the MCAT subsections

Strong Interpersonal Skills

Clinical and   Research Experience

Clearly defined motivation for a career in medicine

Considerable amount of Campus and Community Service

Outstanding letters of Recommendations from individual faculty, and college or university pre-med committee’s

Experienced 1 year of BCPM’s namely (Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Organic Chemistry)

These characteristics were compiled from Mark A. Notesine, Ph.D., the Assistant Dean and Director of Admissions at Ohio State University’s College of Medicine and Public Health.

 

The MCAT

The MCAT, or the Medical College Admissions Test, is specifically designed to test those individuals wishing to enter a medically related field, in their scientific knowledge of biology, physics, organic and inorganic chemistry, problem solving, critical thinking, and writing skills.  It tests the user in four categories, Physical sciences, Verbal Reasoning, a Writing sample, and Biological Sciences.  Each section receives a raw score which is converted into a scaled score ranging from 1 (lowest) -15 (highest). Because of its difficulty, most schools will not penalize a student for repeating an exam.

 

              MCAT test preparation material is available HERE

 

Frequently Asked Questions

By Mark Notestine, Ph.D.

Assistant Dean and Director of Admissions

The Ohio State University

 

When is the best time to take the MCAT?

My advice to students is to “take the MCAT when you are best prepared to be successful.”  Sounds rather obvious, but I mean to convey that there is no universal “right time” for all stud tents.   Many sound sources suggest the optimal time to take the MCAT is as soon as you have completed the pre-requisite coursework (for some students this may be the end of the sophomore year, for most by the end of the junior year).  My experience suggests that most traditional students choose to complete the MCAT in April of their junior year.  In some cases, however, for example if the students has not completed the prerequisite course work, or is taking an intensive summer course sequence to complete the requirements, it is advisable to wait until the August MCAT.  While this may be late in the application cycle at a select few medical schools, most are still able to give your application appropriate review…especially if you do well on the exam!

 

What can I do early in college to put a professor in a position to write a good letter of recommendation?

It is important to get to know the faculty member beyond the point of regular classroom interaction.  With little interaction, the faculty member can only write the letter based on limited available information.  From the perspective of the admissions officer, it isn’t terribly helpful to get a letter of recommendation consisting of two generally supportive sentences, followed by your performance rank in the class.  It is helpful, however, to get letters from faculty who are familiar with the student and their academic abilities, career goals and aspirations.  Take the time and the initiative to get to know your faculty.  When I am asked to write a letters of recommendation, I only agree to write the letter if I really know the student.  Even then, I require the students to schedule an appointment and visit with me personally, so that I can also ask questions to supplement any written materials provided by the student (such as a transcript or resume).

 

To how many schools should I consider applying?

This depends on several variables including the student’s academic record, cost and personal resources, and state of residence.   I advise students to “do their homework,” and apply to schools they would really be interested in attending, and where they would appear to be reasonably competitive academically.   Despite a decreasing national applicant pool, admission to medical school is still very competitive.   As a rule, most student’s best chance of admission is in their home state public or private schools.   In Ohio, for example, there are five publicly assisted MD programs, one “private” MD program and one publicly assisted DO program.   Many students may also choose to consider out-of-state private institutions, where residency may not be a significant selection variable, or where programs meet a unique interest.   Out-of-state public institutions are generally very difficult to get into for non-resident students, except for those students who have truly exceptional academic characteristics.

 

What is the quickest way for a good potential medical student to become a bad applicant?

Two major points include poor application preparation and a bad interview.   Suffice it to say that until you are invited to interview, your application is your “presentation” to the admissions committee.   If an application is poorly prepared, contains numerous errors (either grammatical or factual) or is incomplete, it reflects very poorly on the student.   Likewise, an incomplete secondary application, or one that shows minimal effort or knowledge of the institution, can be a major “turn off” to admissions officers.

Once invited to visit the medical school, a bad interview is another way to turn an otherwise qualified candidate into an unsuccessful applicant.   Almost every single interview day, I see students with competitive academic characteristics either interview themselves out of a sear in the class, or into a lower position on the alternate list.   A “bad interview” can consist of everything from interpersonal issues (poor eye contact, condescending attitude to interviewer) to concern about career exposure (the inability to craft responses in a coherent fashion or to clearly articulate motivation for a career in medicine).

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