I’m sure that you’re fully aware that there is just an incredible amount of information out there when it comes to pursuing a career in the medical field. With that said, this page was created in order to make searching for some of the information out there a bit easier for you. This page may or may not have all the answers you’re looking for, but my hope is that it will at least help lead you to what you’re trying to find! I’ll also be updating this page on a constant basis to make sure that you’re getting the most out of what it offers. Go on ahead and check it out, don’t be shy!
- So You Want To Be A Doctor?
- 5 Things I Wish I Knew BEFORE I Applied To Medical School
- Six Reasons Why Applicants Fail To Get Into Medical School
- The Ten Biggest Myths About Getting Into Medical School
- FAQs About Different Stages of Medical Training
- D.O. vs. M.D.
- Medical College Admission Test
- Dissecting the Allopathic Medical School Application
- Dissecting the Osteopathic Medical School Application
- OHH LAWWWD!! Not The Personal Statement!!!
- Got An Interview? Turn Up!!
- Caribbean Medical Schools
- Nationwide Organizations of Medicine
- Residencies & Fellowships
- United States Medical Licensing Examination
- Summer Programs
- Scholarships & Pertinent Financial Information
- Gap Year(s)
- Different Paths In Healthcare
Some time ago, I came across this online booklet on the Student National Medical Association’s website and I found it to have SOOO much valuable information that I had decided to add it to the top of this list! I HIGHLY recommend that you check it out, especially if you are considering applying to medical school!
In addition, I stumbled across this website called Doctorly.org, which has a great deal of information about a TON of specialties in various fields within the healthcare profession! What I like most about the site, other than the huge variety of specialties that they cover, is that each career path described on the site has a detailed description as to how to become a professional in that specific specialty! I would definitely take a good look at this resource if I were you!
This blog post, written by Dr. Alana Trotter of DoctorGoals.com, further elaborates on some of the critical things that I believe pre-medical students should be aware of before applying to medical school. I definitely wish that someone had told me everything that she included in this article back when I was in college! Definitely take some time to check out the information that she has to share!
This article, found on KevinMD.com, talks about some of the top reasons as to why some med school applicants end up without an acceptance to a school. I highly recommend looking at this article and taking this information in so that you can find ways to make your transition into med school that much easier. Because it ain’t easy fam. Truuuust me.
You see this Med School 101 page that you’re currently on? Well, the curator of the blog, “A Little Bit of Lacquer”, actually made a page similar to this one as well, except it expands beyond medical school by touching on the pre-med life as well as into life after medical school graduation! She has a lot of good things to say about a variety of topics, so I recommend checking out what this graduate from Harvard Medical School decided to share on this page!
Whether you’re a medical student currently blazing through your medical school courses or a bright-eyed pre-med student with aspiring goals of becoming a physician (or somewhere in between), I’m sure you’ve heard one or two hundred things about what you HAVE TO DO to get into med school at multiple points in your life. I know I definitely did, over and over…and over again. The advice that you received may have come from family members, friends, family friends, teachers, counselors, principals, advisors, — yeah you get the point. While I’m sure the vast majority of these people mean well and may have had your best interests at heart, I’m sorry (or happy, depends on how you want to look at it) to say that some of what you may have heard is either partially true, highly exaggerated or just plain false (to an extent). Don’t believe me? That’s fine. But still click on the links above to check out some of the biggest myths floating around that have to do with getting into medical school, written by The Savvy Pre-Med! This blogger has a lot of highly useful information to share, but don’t let what they say stress you out…if it makes you feel better, I definitely didn’t do exactly everything advised in these articles. And here I am!
D.O. vs. M.D.
- First of all, DOs and MDs are both licensed, practicing physicians. Chances are that most patients won’t even be able to tell the difference…..
- But alas, there’s a difference…otherwise there wouldn’t be split into two categories. To put it simply:
- MDs practice allopathic medicine, an approach of medicine that is more focused on the diagnosis and treatment of human diseases by primarily treating symptoms via the distribution of drugs and other various methods. This is the more traditional form of practicing medicine in society.
- DOs practice osteopathic medicine, an approach of medicine that promotes a more holistic view of healing by viewing the patient as a whole in order to come up with a diagnosis instead of treating the symptoms alone. Doctors practicing this type of medicine also tend to stress the importance of disease prevention and they use osteopathic manipulative treatments in addition to other usual methods in order to heal.
- More detailed information about the whole D.O. vs. M.D. topic can be found below:
Okay so we ALL know that if you want to gain a chance of an admission to a medical school, you have to eventually face this unfortunate, yet surmountable challenge. The Medical College Admission Test, better known as the MCAT, is a standardized, 230-question multiple-choice exam that tests you “on the skills and knowledge medical educators and physicians have identified as key prerequisites for success in medical school and in the practice of medicine”. Not including break and tutorial time, the examination is 6 hours and 15 minutes long. Click here for much more detailed information about the test itself as well as necessary information for test day! And if you’re looking for specialized one-on-one help with preparing for this test, I’ve recently heard great things about a tutoring and test prep company called Tutor The People! With this tutoring program, you would get the opportunity to be paired with a top-scoring MCAT tutor and would be provided a very personalized study plan tailored just for you. In addition, they offer a scholarship annually for pre-med students and help provide a good amount of free information about the MCAT. I would recommend checking this unique program out and if you’re able to afford it, definitely take advantage of what they have to offer!
Here’s a short synopsis of my personal experience with the MCAT: I took the MCAT back in 2014, soon before they switched the format to the new one. Lucky me or unlucky me, I’ll never really know. (I minored in Psychology, so that could have potentially helped me out on the new MCAT…C’est la vie.) Yes, the test was challenging and yes, I studied extremely hard for it. After a summer of intense mental labor and participation in an 8-week fully-funded MCAT summer preparation program, the score I recieved was a 26, which roughly translates to a 501/502 score on the current test. Of course I wasn’t thrilled about my score but I convinced myself that, due to my solid application (minus the score), I could manage to snag a spot at a school if I pressed on hard enough…plus I REALLY didn’t want to retake the test. So I make a risky move and decided not to withdraw my application from the cycle. It turned out to be a very long and unnerving application cycle for me, a cycle that allowed me the opportunity to secure two interviews (out of the twelve schools I applied to) and to earn a spot on the waitlist of both institutions. I didn’t receive my acceptance letter to Wake Forest (it was the only school I got into) until almost two weeks after I graduated from college!
So YES, the MCAT is a very important part of your application and it has the capability to help you as well as hinder you. But at the end of the day, it is vital that you understand that the true purpose of this exam is to help you secure a ticket into a medical school. PLEASE don’t incorrectly assume that you are incompetent or are unable to succeed in medical school just because you didn’t score well on this standardized exam! I did perfectly fine in medical school and I know a vast number of people who struggled on the MCAT who are excellent medical students and physicians! Keep your head up and see this conquerable challenge through! And to each of you who did well on the MCAT and/or blew it out of the water, more power to you!
So you’re pretty sure that you want to go to medical school. You may already be getting all your pre-requisites done, or you may have just decided on this path today. Regardless, wouldn’t it be nice to have a detailed outline that breaks down each section of the medical school application used for entrance into the M.D. programs in the nation? This application, known as the American Medical College Application Service (or AMCAS for short), is the primary application that is sent out to all the M.D. schools that you wish to apply to. Knowing how to fill it out would leave you with no surprises when you finally start your application and it will save you a lot of time because you’ll already be adequately prepared once you start. Click the link above to learn more about the AMCAS!
Now what if you want to attend an osteopathic medical school instead of an allopathic one? Would you use the same application service (AMCAS) as the one used for allopathic medical schools? The answer is no. There is another separate application designed for applicants looking to matriculate into an osteopathic medical school to earn their D.O. This application is known as the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service (or AACOMAS for short), and it is the primary application that is sent out to all the D.O. schools that you wish to apply to. Click the link above to learn more about what the AACOMAS is and how to correctly fill it out!
I know good and well that the personal statement is something very few people look forward to writing…but you and I both know that it needs to be done. As a matter of fact, the personal statement is arguably the most vital piece of your application to medical school…so you better go and get it done, earlier rather than later! The personal statement is the one place on the whole application where you can show the admissions committee who you are and why you have decided to pursue the incredible career of medicine. You really want to make sure that you put your best effort in crafting this essay, because this crucial piece of the puzzle can very easily sway a committee in granting you an interview or not. So like I said a couple sentences back, START WORKING ON YOUR STATEMENT EARLY!! You really don’t want to have to rush and scramble something together at the last minute…especially if you’re going to be sending out to people who will be heavily influencing your immediate future.
I personally started brainstorming ideas for my personal statement during my winter break and actually finished writing my first draft of it during that same time period. That was in December of 2013. I sent in my application in July of 2014. That’s a seven-month window y’all. Granted, I had written that draft for a summer enrichment program I was applying to…but because they required a personal statement as part of their application, I already had one lined up for my actual application to med school! All I had to do to my statement during the months leading up to July was have various people review and critique it. I then made the necessary changes over time and voila! My personal statement was good to go!
I know it can be intimidating figuring out where to begin at first, but rest assured. Something will click for you. Trust me. Believe it or not, there’s bound to be something worth writing about in the unique life that you have been living. For your convenience, I’ve added some links below that may help guide your writing process. I hope they prove to be of some value to you!
- Separating the Best Medical School Personal Statements from the Typical Ones
- How to Conquer the Medical School Personal Statement
- Personal Statement Advice from the W.M. Keck Science Department
- Writing the Personal Statement for Medical School
- Medical School Personal Statement Writing Guide
If you have landed an interview at a school, you should be thrilled! It means that the school likes you and literally wants to give you a spot at their school. However, people tend to get all nervous about going to an interview, which shouldn’t be the case AT ALL. All you have to do is tell them why giving you a spot at their school is a good idea, which I’m sure you’re more than capable of doing. In the interview, the discussion is literally all about you…and who knows you better than yourself? Don’t be afraid to sell yourself to the school, because that’s what you’re pretty much doing. But at the same time, do not be arrogant. That’s a major turn-off. Also, be aware that anything on your CV is fair game to be asked during your interview, so be sure that you’re able to talk about anything you’ve put on there. And finally, JUST BE YOU. Don’t try to act all brand new or anything man. Although you should think about the types of questions that may be asked of you and how you’ll answer them, do not try and memorize either the questions or the answers. Just be natural. It’s literally a conversation between you and the interviewer. Don’t make it harder than it has to be. PLEASE. Before you go to your interview though, it would be wise to do some additional research on the school and to have a few questions to ask for your interviewer to show your interest in the school!
For some more information and another perspective on med school interviews, click here.
Caribbean Medical Schools
- Okay, so now you know all about how allopathic medical schools and osteopathic medical schools in the United States work…
- But did you know that there were other medical schools located in the Caribbean that you could consider?
- There are about 60 medical schools located on the Caribbean islands that fall under two categories:
- Regional medical schools are primarily for students from the Caribbean islands that plan on practicing in either their country of origin or where the school is located.
- Offshore medical schools are primarily for students from the United States or Canada that plan on obtaining their licenses to practice medicine in those respective countries.
- However, there are only four offshore medical schools that can guarantee their graduates medical licenses in all 50 states of the US. These four schools have also qualified for federal financial aid programs and their standards have been shown to be comparable to the United States. These schools are:
- These schools are all for-profit and are more lenient with admissions when it comes to GPA and MCAT scores. This has given a large number of exceptional and grateful students another path to becoming a physician. But because of the leniency of the admissions standards, there has also been a stigma associated with these medical schools. Because of that, the medical students studying in the Caribbean have had to work harder to prove that they were just as deserving as other aspiring physicians studying in the US and Canada.
- There are about 60 medical schools located on the Caribbean islands that fall under two categories:
- I have provided several links that provide more information on Caribbean medical schools for your convenience so that you can form your own opinion on these schools. I hope that they prove to be helpful to you!
Nationwide Organizations of Medicine
- So as you may know, there are a number of organizations dispersed across the United States that were formed in order to address some aspect of medicine in one way or another. You may have already heard of a good amount of them (American Heart Association, American Cancer Association, etc.) and if not….go look at a Cheerios box or something. Listed below are some of the most popular ones you’ll come across as you skip along on your medical journey:
Residencies & Fellowships
- You ever wonder what happens after you finish medical school? Sure, when you graduate from school, you’re officially a doctor and can practice medicine! HOWEVER, you’re not about to go off and start your own practice all willy-nilly. You have to complete a residency program in the specialty (specific branch of medicine) you choose before you can live the life that you’ve always dreamed of living as a doctor. There is also an option of participating in a fellowship program after you graduate from residency.
- Residency: period of graduate medical training where you practice medicine in a specific specialty in a hospital or clinic under the supervision of an attending physician
- Fellowship: an optional period of medical training after residency where you practice medicine in a sub-specialty of your choice within your specialty
- Residencies and Fellowships run for varying lengths of time, depending on which specialty you choose to pursue. The minimum length of any residency is three years.
- Specialties to choose from in the United States
United States Medical Licensing Examination
- Sooo I’m pretty sure that just about all of you know about the beast that is the MCAT. But you may or may not have heard about Mama Beast, also known as the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). To put it short:
- It is a three-step examination taken in intervals throughout your medical training in order to receive your medical license.
- Step 1 is usually taken at the end of your second year of med school.
- Step 2 is usually taken at some point within your fourth year.
- Step 3 is usually taken during your first or second year of residency.
- The score on Step 1 is pretty critical and can either make it easier or harder for you to pursue the specialty that you are aiming to establish a career in. And you can only take it once if you pass the test. Yeah, I know.
- It is a three-step examination taken in intervals throughout your medical training in order to receive your medical license.
- I could say more about the exams, but it would be easier if you just visited the official USMLE website by clicking here. Enjoy…
- There is also an equivalent three-level licensing examination for D.O. students separate from the USMLE. It’s called the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (COMLEX-USA).
- Looking for something to do during the summer? Well I have some good news for you! There are SO many summer programs out there looking for undergraduate students that want to enter the medical field! Now if you’re already in medical school or have already graduated from college, there may not be as many options for you out there…but you can still find some programs willing to take you in! Also remember that you can always find your own way into a summer opportunity via your connections and mentors!
Scholarships & Pertinent Financial Information
- Believe it or not, it is possible to get scholarships in medical school, up to a FULL RIDE! Thing is, they aren’t as available as they are in college. If you dig deep enough, you may be able to find a few outside ones you can apply to…but the vast majority of med school scholarships come directly from the institutions themselves, which means that you’ll only have the opportunity to receive certain scholarships after being accepted into certain schools.
- While some students will have their medical education paid for by either scholarships or out-of-pocket, the vast majority of students will be paying for medical school via loans. The government usually allows for you to borrow up to the cost of attendance for your school via Unsubsidized Stafford Loans and GradPLUS Loans. Perkins Loans as well as HRSA Primary Care Loans are also available for those with “exceptional” financial need. More information on these loans can be found here.
- Now I know I know, no one likes to take out loans. There’s the hassle of having to pay them back in the future with interest and all that. I personally hated taking out loans myself…but I simply didn’t have thousands of dollars just laying around to use for my medical education. Thankfully, there are government programs designed to help pay off your federal loans after you graduate from med school. Listed below are several options, but keep in mind that there may be more out there!
- For a vast amount of additional financial information, click here!
- When it comes to private loans (which I personally don’t recommend unless you have no choice), you’ll need to contact your loan provider and see what options you have when it comes to repayment. The programs listed above are only for federal loans.
- So you’ve hit the end of your junior year of college. You eagerly start to look at medical schools to apply to. After doing some research, you suddenly realize in horror that you’re not quite up to par with the requirements needed to gain an acceptance into a school. Now this may or may not be in the situation that you’re in. You may be a stellar, well-rounded student senior who either hasn’t taken the MCAT yet or didn’t do too well on it. You may be a junior or senior whose science or overall GPA just isn’t where it needs to be. You may even be the perfect med school applicant who just doesn’t feel ready to take on the rigors of med school yet. Wherever you may be in your path towards medicine, it wouldn’t hurt to not only become familiar with the concept of a gap year, but to also consider taking one.
- Nowadays, it’s becoming much more common for college graduates to take at least one gap year before starting medical school. With the current average age of a matriculating medical student being around 24, it’s very evident that medical schools are very willing to accept students that have gained some life experiences after college. As a matter of fact, when comparing two similar applicants, schools have been known to favor the applicant who has had life experiences after college as opposed to the soon-to-be-graduating college student. No longer is it standard, or even expected, to have to enter medical school straight out of college. There are even people that have had completely different careers for a number of years before deciding to become a doctor! All in all, becoming a physician is a fulfilling journey, not a race to see who can get there the fastest.
- There are so many options available to you if you do intend on taking one or more gap years. Some of these options include, but are not limited to:
- Basic/Clinical Research (NIH, CDC, Medical Centers, Undergraduate Institutions, etc.)
- Working as a Medical Scribe
- Teach For America
- City Year
- Post-Baccalaureate Programs
- Masters’ Programs (MBA, MPH, M.Ed, M.S., etc.)
- Studying for the MCAT
- Peace Corps
- Volunteering in a Clinical Setting
- Shadowing Physicians
- Saving up money at whatever job you want
- For more information on taking gap years, click on one of the links provided below!
- Making The Most Of Your Gap Year
- Plan For A Successful Gap Year Before Medical School
- Benefits Of Taking A Medical Gap Year: Be Open To The Possibilities!
- Medical School Gap Year Fear
- What To Do During Gap Years Before Medical School
- More Students Take Time Off Before Applying To Medical School
- Is Taking A Gap Year A Good Idea?
- One more thing. It’s worthwhile to note that once you’re accepted into a school, it is possible to defer (postpone) your admission for at least a year. So if you really need to take a break from school and have other things that you really want to do before you matriculate, you can do so with the comfort of knowing that you have already secured an acceptance. That is, if the school allows for you to do so.
- Communication with your school IS HIGHLY ESSENTIAL if you decide to defer. Be sure to contact the admissions office of your school for instructions on what steps you need to take.
- Be absolutely honest when telling the school why you want to defer your acceptance. Keep in mind that the school has full authority to either accept or deny your request.
- You know, without a doubt, that you want to work in the field of healthcare. However, you are starting to wonder if the path towards becoming a medical doctor is the right path for you. Maybe it’s not that appealing to you in the long run. Maybe you just don’t want to be in school THAT long. Maybe you are on this path because your parents forced you to chase it, but the reality is that you’re actually pretty miserable and you just don’t care to be a physician. Or maybe you’ve been trying to get into medical school for a long time and after many attempts, you’re finally starting to look for other options in the field of healthcare that will fulfill you just as much. Whatever your case may be, I hope you’ll be pleased to learn that there are A TON of other opportunities in the field that doesn’t require you to go to medical school! Crazy, ain’t it? For a massive list of these various careers in the healthcare field, click on the “Different Paths In Healthcare” title!