Have you always wanted to be a doctor? Were you one of those kids who always knew what they would be when they were older? If so, then you might already know most of the essential factors about going into medical school. However, this is not often the case for the general population. No one truly understands the depths and complexity of the process.
Not only are competitions incredibly high, but enrolling in a medical program is known to be more costly than others. Hence, as a prospective student, you must know all the minor details along the journey.
This piece provides you with the ultimate guide to medical school, including costs, expectations, and what to expect.
What is Medical School Like?
You’re most likely a pre-med student who is attempting to find out what the next step will look like. If you’re still in high school, then you might be wondering how to get into medical school from high school. First of all, the answer to that is technically impossible.
While some schools have collaborated with medical schools to “directly” get their students into medical school, obtaining a bachelor’s degree still requires you. Taking your undergrad is a vital part of qualifying for the next step.
There are numerous aspects of medical school you must fully understand. That includes the curriculum, your initial two years (preclinical years), and your clinical years. Below is a general guideline for learning what medical school entails:
- Classes & Lectures: you’ll face various lectures and problem-based learning modules. The latter is when you team up with a group of students and attempt to solve a patient’s case. Other schools are more system-based, where each month revolves around learning a specific body system.
- Years: as you may know, your med school comprises 4 years. The first often includes the study of anatomy, histology, pathology, and biochemistry. The second is more clinical-based. Years three and four are all clinical rotations, but year 4 is a little more specialized.
Do you want to learn how to study anatomy in medical school? If so, refer to the following resource we have compiled.
- Classmates: making good friends during medical school is often a good experience. You’re all going through the same challenges, and depending on the people surrounding you, you could potentially graduate with a great support group.
The above are merely pointers as to what to expect. However, check out our full article on what medical school is like to learn further.
Types of Medical Schools
Anyone currently applying to medical schools knows the distinction between the two types of medical schools. There are two types: osteopathic and allopathic schools. However, before discussing the difference between the two, be aware that they’re both incredibly competitive, and you graduate from both as a physician.
Before diving deeper into the differences, many students wonder if it makes a difference between the schools they choose. If you get accepted into an accredited medical school in the mainland U.S., don’t fret about the importance of your choice. However, check out the full article on whether it matters where you go to medical school.
Similarities Between Allopathic (M.D.) and Osteopathic (D.O.) Medical Schools
- Both medical schools will produce students who are physicians.
- All medical schools utilize scientific methods and universally accepted techniques.
- Both schools require four years of medical school and a residency program, which often lasts between 3-7 years.
- More often than not, the examination for both physicians originates from the same licensing institute. That means the minimum requirements are the same.
- Each type of physician can be found across all medical specialties of medicine.
- The journey before entering medical school is the same for both M.D. and D.O. You must sit for the MCAT after obtaining sufficient premedical coursework experience and a bachelor’s degree.
Differences Between Allopathic (M.D.) and Osteopathic (D.O.) Medical Schools
Throughout the curriculum itself and the course of study, nothing much will vary between the two types of medical schools. However, it all differs when considering the center of osteopathy and the philosophy it resides on. Osteopathic philosophy revolves around a much more holistic approach.
What holistic entails is the ability to address someone’s body, including symptoms and injuries, as a whole and not as an individualized symptom. That means that the concept of “mind, body, spirit” is highlighted in this practice. This approach works on understanding the whole body as an interconnected system, not as individualized organs.
Another significant difference is that osteopathic schools require their students to approximately 200 additional hours of manipulation training. This demonstrates the ability to conduct techniques and therapy on the musculoskeletal system. That includes manipulation methods and manual therapy.
Not that the different types of medical schools have been discussed, but another crucial distinction exists. Many students confuse PA (physician assistant) with M.D. (medical school). The significant difference is that P.A. students attempt two or three years of a P.A. program.
Find out all you need to know through this resource, which discusses medical school vs. P.A. school and the difference between them.
What Do Medical Schools Look For?
According to Accepted.com, the average acceptance rate into medical schools is a trivial 5.5%. This is guaranteed to freak out anyone who is currently in the process of applying. But that simply means you should know how to get into medical school. You must first understand what these institutions look for to find out how to do that.
The list of things you can excel at runs infinite. However, below are the 5 most essential items to focus on.
Unfortunately, GPA is one of the most important aspects your recruiter will look at. According to AAMC, students admitted into medical schools in the academic year of 2017-2018 have an average GPA of 3.56.
Hence, it’s often advised that if you have anything lower than that, attempt to raise it by taking additional courses or excelling until you graduate. However, remember that having a low GPA doesn’t necessarily mean there isn’t any hope for you.
Learn how to get into med school with a low GPA through the following resource we have created.
There is no “right” decision when choosing your college major for medical school. However, no matter what you choose, it should include two aspects. First of all, you should genuinely enjoy what you’re studying. The second thing is being capable of achieving excellent results in it.
But you cannot simply study physics and then decide to apply to medical school without experience or clinical trials. Hence, below is a short list of good undergrad majors for med schools according to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC):
- Biological sciences
- Physical sciences
- Social sciences
To further learn what majors medical schools prefer, refer to the following resource.
Try reaching out to all your connections to obtain an opportunity that qualifies as a clinical experience. Simply being a shadow as a pre-med student doesn’t really allow you, as it is often obligatory. Hence, extend your resources and find a place you can commit to for at least a year.
The MCAT preparation isn’t only what you learn throughout your pre-med course. It requires ample practice outside any classes, as the examination itself is incredibly long. It takes 7.5 hours to fully complete the test.
Hence, imagine it as a chance to train for a marathon. You wouldn’t simply start doing that one week before the run. The same thing applies to MCAT. Medical schools focus on these scores, similar to how they would look at your GPA. Hence, ensure you’re excelling by preparing as much as possible beforehand.
There are many other requirements to become a doctor, which include ones medical schools look at to admit you into their institute. Some have volunteer work, individual research experience, leadership skills, extracurriculars, abroad work, proof of ability to thrive under pressure, and recommendation letters.
Find out all about volunteer hours for medical schools in the following article.
How Long is Med School?
It’s known that any student who commits to being a doctor has a long road ahead. In relative hindsight, it’s similar to someone obtaining a bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate’s degree. All that said, it’s quite the long road.
However, if you want to find out the specifications on how long med school is, refer to the article here.
That being said, be prepared for a lot of commitment and hard work. You’ll most likely find yourself dedicating more and more hours with every year that passes. Below is a general reference on the timeline to expect, although it varies slightly according to the specification:
Pre-med often consists of 4 years. This is also equivalent to your undergraduate degree. This is when your educational career starts. Remember that these 4 years is also the time you’re expected to sit for the MCAT, often administered in your junior year.
Most pre-med students who haven’t completed their prerequisite courses in their bachelor’s degree choose this path. Others take it simply because they want to obtain a second degree.
Medical school lasts for four years. It involves work, studying, clinical rotations, and much more practice. By the end of your third year, you will most likely have settled on the specification you want.
To fully understand the timeline of medical school, we have created a separate, more extensive reference.
This is equivalent to doing an internship, as you will perform doctor tasks under supervision. It often lasts for a minimum of 3 years.
So, to answer the original question, how long is medical school? It’s only 4 years, but the whole process of becoming a doctor can exceed 11 years.
How Much Does It Cost to Go to Medical School?
According to Education Data Initiative, medical school costs have been increasing by approximately $1,500 each year. It’s considered one of the most expensive professions to study.
However, you will start getting paid once you enter your residency period. But keep in mind that after 4 years of paying approximately $218,792 for a medical school degree, which is incredibly expensive. Find out how much med school is in further detail through the following source.
Below are some statistics and numbers to consider about the fees required for medical school:
- The cheapest medical school per year in New York University Long Island School. The annual fee is $10,170 for both in-state and out-state residents.
- For out-state residents, the University of South Carolina of Medicine Columbia is the most expensive at $91,301 per year.
- The most expensive for in-state residents would be the $73,659 annual fee at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth.
- For public medical schools, the average yearly cost is $49,842.
- As for private medical schools, the annual cost is approximately $59,555.
Hence, the cost to attend medical school is sky-rocketing as time passes by. This drives many to find specialties that pay them well. Therefore, we encourage you to resort to the article on the 5 highest paid medical specialties to pursue.
Are There Scholarships for Medical School?
The good news is, yes, there are scholarships for medical students. However, obtaining one isn’t a piece of cake. But the plus side is that one has numerous options, but they all require a lot of dedication.
For example, the U.S. federal government is willing to offer full scholarships for medical students ready to commit themselves to specific requirements. This often includes either working in areas with a shortage in medical support or as an active-duty military physician.
These are excellent options for students willing to make a small sacrifice for a much better cause. However, if you’re a medical student feeling lost about the career path you want to take, then such a commitment will not benefit you.
There are also numerous scholarships offered according to whether you fit specific criteria. Some include being in particular age categories, studying abroad, belonging to specific races, or ones tailored towards women.
But to fully answer the question of “are there scholarships for medical school” we have compiled an extensive article on all the information you need to know.
How to Prepare for Medical School?
When you’re a pre-med student, you often lack the vision required, at least at the beginning. Many students tend to underestimate the path they have ahead of them, which leads them down the way of negligence or even flunking out of classes.
Hence, you should know how to prepare for medical school. Some tips involve the following:
- Choose college classes wisely. That doesn’t necessarily mean choosing specific courses. The lessons you’ll be studying, especially if closely related to medicine, will be incredibly challenging throughout your pre-med years. Find the ultimate way to time manage it.
- Know the diploma isn’t everything. While many students graduate with GPAs over 3.5, numerous individuals neglect to focus on extracurriculars and experiences. Read our articles that answer the question of does undergrad matters for medical school to further learn about this.
- Build proper study habits.Avoid situations where you cram everything within the last few days of the exam. The way you build your study life pre-med will be the habits that stick with you throughout your medical journey. Learn how to study in medical school by making good habits in pre-med.
- Focus on research projects.Reach out to people, advisors, and peers to obtain some research projects. These experiences are often much more valuable than anything else you can attain.
How to Apply for Medical School?
If you’re solely focusing on how to apply to medical school, then one would assume you’re on your way to graduating from your pre-med process. If that’s the case, then your next step would be the following list:
- Take the MCAT. While most applicants sit for the MCAT merely 6-8 months before they begin their application process, many schools accept scores that are 3 years old. Hence, many pre-med students start studying during their junior year.
- Personal statement. This essay, approximately 500 words, is often the thin line between getting accepted and rejected. Explain who you are beyond all the numbers and resumes. What makes you shine through compared to the other applicants?
- AMCAS application. Most U.S. schools use the American Medical College Application Service. However, each medical school sets its own application deadline. But filling this out early in the year allows you to be all set during summers and hear back from schools as early as possible. The benefit here is that some schools have early decision options. But can you apply early decision to medical school? Find out from the following resource.
- Additional requirements.If a school believes you’re a good candidate, they will send you other applications. These often include 2-3 short essay questions for you to answer. Then, you might be asked to sit for an interview.
Do you want to know how many medical schools you should apply to? Refer to the following article to find out.
5 Tips to Get Into Your Dream Medical School
There are different ways to get into medical school. Some are mentioned below to help you apply to your dream medical school.
Start Researching Early
That entails extensively looking into your dream schools and requirements before heading to pre-med.
Many students underestimate the power of volunteering throughout high school and pre-med. To find out how many volunteer hours for medical school are enough, check the following source.
Choose a Major Wisely
Do not go into a biological science simply because you believe it guarantees better chances of acceptance. Instead, ensure you study something you genuinely enjoy. That at least will make you stand out from all the other candidates.
If Capable, Apply A LOT
Many people might feel this is controversial, but if you’re financially and mentally capable, apply to as many schools as you want. There is no harm in doing so, but make sure your personal statement isn’t identical.
Don’t Focus ONLY on Studying
A common mistake almost all soon-to-be doctors make is spending their time studying. Make sure you explore all aspects of life before settling into the profession.
3 Things to Remember Before Getting Into Med School
Before heading off into what will make your career stabilize, ensure you make the most out of life. That at least guarantees you explore much more than medicine, so you can decide on a medical school with your heart firmly believing this is the option for you. Below are some things to keep in mind before heading off to med school, which you should use as medical school advice:
Taking a Gap Year Could Help You
Not everyone is going to benefit from a gap year before med school. However, for many, this is the ultimate chance to improve their MCAT grades, finish requirements, and boost their GPAs. There is a myriad of reasons as to what to do during a gap year.
Another Language Is a Huge Plus
Do not underestimate the number of foreigners and bilingual individuals in the U.S. You’re bound to encounter a handful of them. Hence, almost anyone who can fluently speak another common language has an additional bonus.
You Might Fall Into Stereotypes
Every profession in the world is stereotyped somehow. Rumors and some minor details will inevitably circulate. Many psychiatrists have been labeled “as crazy as their patients,” while surgeons were seen as “unthinking.” Be wary of those, and find the most common medical specialty stereotypes through the resource here.
Wrapping Things Up: Key Takeaways from Medical School Guide
The vital takeaways include knowing how much money you’ll be spending, scholarships you can obtain, and the best methods of applying to medical schools.
Don’t fret about your application process early on. Instead, focus on your experiences and excelling at what you’re best at. This, at the bare minimum, guarantees you a chance of shining through and being unique at what you truly love.