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How to get into a US Medical School - balkan - 01-03-2021

Don't imagine this would apply to many people on this forum but figure I'd put it out there. I'm a medical student at a US MD school and have helped a handful of applicants get into other MD schools. Medicine is a long road but still a decent shuttle to the upper-middle class and a consistently good salary. For the European bros, US medical school starts after a traditional 4 year undergraduate "pre-med" experience. It's quite redundant and arguably wastes years but is what it is. Here are the 10 main points that assisted me through the process.

#1 Ace the MCAT. In 2016, the MCAT changed formats from a scale of 45 with three categories to one of 528 with four categories. The addition of a psychology/sociology section is the closest you'll get to free points. Ideally you want a 90%+ percentile which is 512+. Using digital flash card spaced repetition software like anki and plowing throw the highest volume of practice questions you can handle is often the best strategy. You can take it up to 4 times, re-schedule, and void scores. Be wary of approaching this casually as many schools average the scores of those who take the MCAT multiple times. This should be taken after you've completed the core science curriculum, which is usually the spring of your 3rd year or winter break of 4th year.

#2 Have a story and be able to express it. Med school admission committees truly reward uniqueness. About 1/3 of my current class are "non-traditional applicants" whether that means public school teachers, army, or non-science majors. If you have life experience and are a storyteller (can use essay assisting services like medschool insiders) than you have an incredible advantage. Embrace what makes you different and showcase those traits in your personal statement. 

#3 Strategically manage your GPA. As a rule of thumb you want a 3.65+/4 for cumulative and science. Do whatever it takes to maintain that as this can be a hard filter. If organic chemistry is rough, delay it and take it all by itself over the summer. If you find a reputable community college that has transferable credits, take several classes there. 

#4 Showcase any and all diversity. If you're a white male like me, you might feel like you're whoring yourself out here but don't hold back. If you speak a second language, mention it. If your fraternity does a food bank 1x/semester, mention it and tie it into a deeper story. If you have any curiosities like music...it wouldn't hurt to start a free mentoring program in underserved areas. Don't lie but everyone stretches the truth.

#5 Check the expected boxes. That is primary care physician shadowing, 1 other speciality shadowing, 3+ volunteering experiences (ideally a split of clinical and non-clinical. longevity of volunteering more important than intensity), research, clinical work (ex. medical scribe, EMT, phlebotomy), a hobby that you've invested serious time into.

#6 Utilize Student Doctor Network (SDN) and Medical School Admissions Requirements (MSAR). SDN is kinda an autistic place but helpful for application vetting, due dates, and which schools are giving out interviews at which time. There is a subforum titled "What are my chances?" where several admission committee members will give you feedback on a synopsis of your stats/application and guide you to how many and which schools to apply for. It's helpful to do this ~6 months ahead of June 1st so you have time to take action on their feedback. MSAR gives you the course requirements and stats (MCAT/GPA) of medschools so you can create an accurate target school list.

#7 APPLY EARLY AND WIDE. Primary applications can be submitted on May 31st/June 1st. Make sure yours is ready by then. You can only receive your secondary apps when your primary is submitted and you can only receive interviews once your secondaries are submitted. I applied to ~35 MD schools and received 4 interviews and 2 acceptances.

#8 Pre-write secondary prompts. Most school specific secondary prompts do not change between years. You can find the prior years on SDN and pre-write them so you can copy, paste, and submit the day your secondary comes in. There are a generic 3-5 essays which you should have a formula for that you can tailor to each school (general how you would contribute to the school's diversity, why our school, tell me about a moment of adversity, etc)

#9 Don't worry about CASPER. CASPER is a online exam that is designed to test your social accumen which ~25-33% of schools use now. They'll describe an ethical dilemma and make you describe how you would respond. I wouldn't put too much weight on it as it's still novel without much supporting data. Be aware which schools require it though and schedule it as early into the cycle as you can. 

#10 Know your app inside and out and anticipate interview questions (why our school, why medicine, greatest strength, greatest weakness, current thoughts on healthcare, tell me about your research, greatest anticipated challenge if accepted). You can do mock interviews but think it's more a numbers game and luck depending on who your interviewer is. You don't want to be caught off guard though. Rule of thumb is 3 interviews= 1 acceptance

If anyone has questions or has plans of applying feel free to DM me!


RE: How to get into a US Medical School - Dali - 01-03-2021

Great thread - appreciate the writeup! Always good to have something like this on the forum.

Two of my closest friends just graduated from med school recently and I was living with one of them when he was applying. Point (7) is spot on - apply to way more schools than you think you'll need, no matter how good you look on paper. Getting into any individual school is a pretty small probability, and you definitely want numbers on your side. In reality, this is good game advice too  Wink


RE: How to get into a US Medical School - OldSojer - 01-13-2021

+1 from me. I'm not going to apply to medical school at my age, but I appreciate the effort to help other men.


RE: How to get into a US Medical School - AirForce1 - 01-15-2021

Great write up - I’ll add that if you didn’t do your premed courses in undergrad, you could still enroll in a two-year post-baccalaureate where you complete premed courses with other undergrads. Most programs also have “linkage” programs with Med Schools affiliated with that institution that don’t necessarily guarantee admission but they do significantly increase your chances to get in.


RE: How to get into a US Medical School - Hypno - 01-17-2021

What sort of undergraduate curriculum do you need to get into med school?

Do you have to major in a science or biology?

Could a finance major get into med school?


RE: How to get into a US Medical School - dingdongditch - 01-17-2021

It only takes two years, like Air Force said above. It seems unfair to stretch two years of reqs into four because it reduces your earning potential and influences your recollection of the material.

Might have changed with the MCAT overhaul but it was two semesters of biology, physics, chemistry, and organic chemistry and I'm sure certain schools have another req (Econ, Biochem, Psych 101). The four chemistry classes are sequential.

The challenge with another major depends on your school. If I would have majored in finance some of the above would be completely dead credits. Basically you can only take so much science to fulfill general education. If someone majors in physics, nutrition, kinesiology, or education it can work out perfectly.


RE: How to get into a US Medical School - Rang off the Pipe - 01-17-2021

(01-17-2021, 12:36 PM)Hypno Wrote: What sort of undergraduate curriculum do you need to get into med school?

Do you have to major in a science or biology?

Could a finance major get into med school?




I knew of at least a few pre-meds in undergrad who didn't major in biology, chemistry, or a related program. As long as that person took the prerequisite science courses and did anything else he or she needed to, taking the MCAT and getting into medical school wasn't an issue.


Of course, the majority of pre-meds major in biology or something related to medicine (i.e. public health).


RE: How to get into a US Medical School - jordypip23 - 01-18-2021

Got a very good friend that's a doctor. Money is definitely solid, but the corporate hierarchy is squeezing these guys more than ever. Some of them are working like dogs for that money. That being said, there will always be a need for doctors. The sheer difficulty of becoming one (and especially specializing) should ensure very comfortable pay.