How to get into medical school during COVID-19

December 15, 2020

Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.

See current opportunities

The global pandemic has been one of the greatest challenges for the healthcare field, including the upcoming generation of pre-med and pre-health students, who have faced difficulties applying to medical school during COVID-19.

How will COVID-19 impact premeds? The barriers to successful admission include a lack of opportunities for clinical experience and volunteer hours, as well as disruptions administering the MCAT, and more competition for pre-med programs due to the influx of applications.

Pre-med and pre health students are wondering how to get into medical school during COVID-19. 

We understand the importance of continuing to educate the next generation of healthcare professionals. This is why we have adjusted our Global Pre-Meds programs to create a COVID-safe experience for you. We remain committed to helping you on your journey to becoming a doctor, physician assistant, nurse, or midwife, through our doctor shadowing and global health programs. 

As part of that commitment, we have explored how you can continue to build your resume and successfully matriculate into medical school during the coronavirus pandemic

How has COVID affected medical school admissions? 

While the COVID-19 pandemic has limited the options for hospital experience and taking the MCAT, there are also more applications to medical school than ever.  

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, there are 16% more applications for the 2020-2021 school year than the previous one. Many students have been inspired by the efforts of front line workers to join the ranks of healthcare professionals. This means there are more applications for schools to review, more transcripts to be sent, and more competition for all medical school applicants.

Many schools have adjusted their expectations for volunteer and clinical hours, given the risks involved and the lack of opportunities. Some have pushed application deadlines to accommodate the challenges of this year.

In addition to the complications of finding in-person medical opportunities, the pandemic has caused disruptions in the normal Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) cycles. Some schools, like Stanford, have waived the MCAT requirement for the 2021 application cycle, and will not consider that as part of this year’s review. They also extended the range of dates for MCAT scores to be accepted, and if a student has taken the exam they will be automatically sent. 

The Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern, on the other hand, is not specifically ruling out any factors on premed applications. They are considering each student on a case by case basis, including but not limited to complications taking the MCAT or fulfilling prerequisite courses. They have added a question to student applications to explain how the pandemic has affected their pre-med experience.

The best way to understand how covid will affect your medical school admission process, is to check all the requirements for your programs. Many schools have added FAQ pages to answer questions about the COVID-19 impact. 

You also need to stay motivated to create the best resume possible. With so many more applicants, you’ll want to find ways to stand out from the crowd.

This is why we created our programs in the first place. We want to help the highly motivated, stand out students get the best educational experience on the front lines of international hospitals. This one of a kind experience will give you access to medical and surgical cases that few students get to observe this early on in their careers – if ever. A global health perspective is especially valuable during this time, and admission officers will surely take note. 

Finding doctor shadowing and clinical experience during COVID

As we mentioned, many schools are adjusting their expectations for medical school applications. However, by diminishing the number of factors they are considering, you want to make sure that the requirements you are able to fulfill are ones that help you stand out.

There are ways for students to find doctor shadowing and clinical experience during COVID. The standard approach is still best – starting with any personal connections you have to the healthcare industry. Given that many hospitals and clinics have suspended their shadowing programs, it’s best to look for individual doctors or connections who may allow students to shadow on a case by case basis. 

There are also virtual shadowing opportunities that you can find online. Remember that the goal of shadowing a doctor is to understand what the day-to-day life of a physician may look like, so that you can decide if this is the right path for you. While shadowing online does not give you the same experience as being on the front lines does, it can still give you an idea of how healthcare professionals provide patient care.

Our Global Pre-Meds programs are also an excellent way for you to get experience in a clinical setting, without risking transmission to your loved ones at home. On our program, you will be in a bubble of our staff and your peers, with regular testing, and we provide PPE for every day that you are in the hospital. There is no physical contact between you and patients. You will be safely guided through your two-week program by a medical doctor, who will be your mentor

Our programs have always been fully curated experiences, designed so that you do not have to worry about anything other than getting the most out of your learning experience. Our hospitality and 24/7 support has been enhanced to provide an even better experience during this time. We can help you understand the realities of international healthcare during this once in a lifetime learning experience, while giving you insight into the day-to-day working of a hospital and its staff. Consider our Tanzania or Dominican Republic program for your premed experience

Add volunteer hours to your medical school application

Medical schools are always looking for volunteer and service hours, in addition to the other prerequisites. This shows your motivation to help others and can provide insight into who you are and what other interests you have. 

Don’t be afraid to find opportunities that are not related to the medical field. Especially now, it is difficult to find volunteer gigs at a hospital or clinic, or where you may otherwise be involved in direct patient care. See if you can find online or local volunteer opportunities through a quick internet search. 

There are so many people in need during this time, and you can help by providing grocery shopping services to the elderly, making masks, or donating blood. You could even help a neighbor learn how to use online video calling services to talk with their loved ones.

At Global Pre-Meds, we know the importance of giving back. Your program fee helps pay the doctors who mentor you, as well as the hospitals or clinics, and anyone else that contributes to your learning experience. You can be assured that you are getting a wonderful experience while providing economic benefits to the community. This helps local citizens get better healthcare because the doctors are able to sustain themselves without overworking and the hospitals can provide better resources with the extra income. 

We also partner with local organizations so that you can volunteer and get involved with the community. It’s important to understand and appreciate the culture of the country, so we make sure there are plenty of opportunities to do so. 

All of our programs are unique. Each country will provide a slightly different experience, but they will all help you stand out from the crowd of other medical school applicants this year. You can still build your resume with great experiences, and with our program all you have to do is apply. You can learn more about our programs here