December 14, 2016
Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.
Everyone knows you’ve got to be intelligent and high-achieving to get into medical school. You’ve got to have the motivation to work hard as well as the grades that show you can retain information – but how exactly does each medical school sort the strongest students from their hundreds of applications? Well, here’s are some medical school prerequisites they’ll be looking for – in detail.
Just because medicine is a postgraduate qualification, doesn’t mean you can cruise through high school and undergrad studies without worrying. Your performance at this level gives colleges a clear idea of how determined you are and how consistent you are as a student – it’s not enough to achieve an unexpectedly high MCAT score with no good grades to back it up.
Each college will have a slightly different set of subjects they like their applicants to have studied, but you can expect most of them to favour things like human biology, chemistry and maths. Some will look positively on a communication-related topic like English or debating.
The MCAT (which stands for Medical College Admissions Test) is a standardized test required of all students wishing to apply to medical school. It is taken in the summer the year before you hope to start, and is a really good indication of your aptitude for medical school.
While it’s hugely important to do well in the MCAT, it’s not the only thing admissions panels look at – they’re after an all-rounder.
On top of your academic performance, college admissions panels are always interested in what sort of things you do outside of the classroom. This doesn’t simply have to be your high school HOSA chapter, but anything that shows dedication and hard work. Playing a musical instrument shows that you are self-motivated and creative, while participating in a committee or council group proves that you are interested in people and a good communicator. These qualities are just as important as having sound medical knowledge.
Last but not least, work experience. Whilst this is not an obligation, it’s worth remembering that admissions panels read hundreds of applications every year, so anything that makes you stand out from the pack is well worth considering.
No-one expects you to have got practical experience (in fact, it would be seriously unethical), but a student who has shadowed a medical professional is much more likely to understand the realities of the job, and therefore more likely to succeed in their studies.
Don’t be discouraged if you are lacking in one area of these prerequisites. You will learn everything you need to know at medical school, so focus on showing your favourite college that you are motivated, ready to learn and certain about your desire to study medicine with them. Good luck!