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What is the difference between college and medical school? What does it mean to get into medical school straight out of high school?

I am currently an incoming junior in high school and I am planning on going into the medical field! Is it better to apply/get straight into medical school after high school as compared to going to college then medical school? What is the whole process like? #medicine #college #doctor #medical #healthcare

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Andrea’s Answer

Hi Charlotte!

In short: you do 4 years of college, 4 years of medical school, and then 3-8 years of residency (where you train in a specialty, like primary care, surgery, OB/GYN, etc.)

The typical route is 4 years of college (usually as a biology/pre-med major, where you cover the pre-requisite courses that most medical schools require: biology with lab, chemistry with lab, organic chemistry with lab, biochemistry, psychology and sociology, and physics with lab). However, you can select your college major to whatever you would like it to be, as long as you have those basic requirements.

Usually after your 3rd year of college, you take the MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test), and apply to medical school. After you graduate college, you go to medical school for 4 years. After your 4 years of medical school, you do a residency program (3-8 years after medical school where you REALLY learn how to be a doctor). You can choose to apply to MD, DO, or both kinds of schools. Both MDs and DOs are "doctors," and they both practice medicine to the same extent.

If you want, you can apply to a direct-admit program into medical school while you're in high school. This might be the route you were thinking of: these programs allow you to go to college for 4 years, and you automatically get a seat in that college's medical school, as long as you keep a high college GPA and score their minimum MCAT score. These programs are extremely competitive, and usually require a very high GPA and ACT score to gain admissions. These are called BS/MD (or DO) or BA/MD (or DO) programs; you earn a Bachelor of Science or Art, and then either your MD or DO!

There is no "better way" to become a physician; if you love it and that's what you want to do, take any route that you want to! The majority of medical students are NOT in BS/MD programs; they do 4 years of college, then apply to medical school. It's a long road, but it's worth it!

I hope this answers your question! I'll provide a few links for you to check out if you want to keep exploring! :-) Good luck on your journey!

Andrea recommends the following next steps:

Steps to become a doctor: https://www.learnhowtobecome.org/doctor/
For MD route: https://students-residents.aamc.org/
For DO route: https://www.aacom.org/become-a-doctor
For direct-admit BS/MD: https://blog.prepscholar.com/ba-md-bs-md-programs-list
For direct-admit BS/DO: https://www.minimedicalschool.com/bs_do_programs.html

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John’s Answer

Charlotte if you are fully committed to a career in medicine, the Accelerated Medical Programs, also called BS/MD or BS/DO or Direct Medical Programs, allows you to apply and gain admission to undergraduate college and a partner medical school simultaneously in the 12th grade. With BS-MD programs you will earn a Bachelor of Science undergraduate degree and BS/DO programs are programs combined with osteopathic medical schools.


Students must be focused and organized during high school to accomplish everything necessary to be a viable candidate. As you read, keep in mind that many additional factors, including your personal experiences, written application, letters of reference, and interview performance, influence admissions decisions. The significant differences between programs are the length of time it takes to complete them (lengths vary from six to eight years in total) and whether the program is associated with a medical school that is part of the same university or a medical school that is at a completely different institution. The more abbreviated programs are especially rigorous since you complete your college degree in a shorter time. Students in these programs often are in school year round.

For the vast majority of BS/MD programs, the undergraduate college associated with the program will not be as competitive or prestigious as the medical school. Therefore, a decision most students have to make is whether or not to apply to competitive undergraduate programs in addition to BS/MD combined programs. Do not confuse BS/MD programs with Early Assurance Programs (EAP), however. The confusion is understandable because both are similar in what they do and how they help students obtain guaranteed acceptance to a medical school. Early Assurance Programs allows you to apply early to medical school when you are a sophomore in college. Before deciding to apply to combined programs, you should understand what this commitment means about you and the plusses and minuses of doing so. EAP offers guaranteed acceptance to medical school after students apply and go through a rigorous review once they are already enrolled in college. There are times that EAP matriculants can bypass some of the traditional medical school requirements such as the MCAT. The purpose behind having an MCAT exception is to allow students to focus on other interests and achievements.

A focused and committed student who is committed to a career in medicine can thrive in a combined BS/MD or EAP program. You will be surrounded by like-minded peers who are as motivated as you are. Whether in an 8-, 7-, or 6-year program, you “gain time,” which gives you the flexibility to enhance your career or education after completing your combined program. You will also avoid the medical school application process is long and complex. By having a guaranteed medical school admission, you avoid this experience and sometimes are not required to take the MCAT. while you still take all pre med course, this may lead to less overall stress. For some students, avoiding a second admissions process can be viewed as a real bonus.


Getting into a BS/MD program is extremely difficult. Each program has different requirements, but, in all cases, you need a high GPA and stellar standardized test scores. To give yourself a good chance of getting into a BS/MD program, you should shoot for at least a 3.8 unweighted GPA and either a 1500 SAT score or a 34 composite ACT score. Basically, getting into a BS/MD program is on par with getting admitted to the most selective colleges in the country. The requirements are usually much stricter than those for other undergraduate applicants. Additionally, for BS/MD programs, you have to maintain a 3.5 GPA while in college, and many programs still require you to take the MCAT, the medical school entrance exam. However, assuming you meet the minimum requirements, you’ll be guaranteed admission to the medical school that’s associated with your BS/MD program.

Extracurriculars are a great way to separate yourself from other applicants who have similar grades and test scores. You'll enhance your applications and gain valuable experience by pursuing leadership positions, conducting research, and participating in other activities that show your potential and achievement in the medical field. BS/MD programs want to admit students who have exceptional achievements both in and out of the classroom. Your commitment to your extracurricular activities demonstrates your willingness to do more than what’s required and your initiative to actively pursue your passions. Because BS/MD programs are looking for students who are passionate about pursuing a career in medicine, you should have at least a couple of extracurriculars related to your interest in the medical field. You may want to volunteer at a hospital, shadow a doctor, help a professor with medical research, or get involved with a summer medical program.

If you have your heart set on becoming a doctor or OB/GYN Charlotte, a BS/MD program will set you on a direct path toward becoming one. You won’t have to deal with the stress of applying to medical school, and you’ll possibly be able to finish medical school in less time. Lastly, it goes without saying that you should be aware of all deadlines for your choice programs. Each BS/MD program has a unique application process. Some programs require interviews while others necessitate formal application request forms. The application process for BS/MD programs is even lengthier than that for a normal undergraduate education. As such, you should be prepared to invest a significant amount of time to the application process during senior year.

Hope this was Helpful Charlotte

John recommends the following next steps:

Doctor shadowing is a critical requirement for BS/MD programs. Why? BS/MD programs are concerned about admitting students that have some understanding of what life is like as a physician. A great way to show that you have this understanding is by shadowing a doctor.
The students who are the most successful in getting admitted to BS/MD programs generally have some type of research experience on their resume. Most commonly this occurs during the summer before junior or senior year of high school at a local university where the student volunteers their time working with a professor in some field of science.
BS/MD programs like to admit students that are leaders. How do you show leadership? The easiest way is to become a leader in a club or organization that you below to. You can also show leadership by becoming a class officer in your high school class.
BS/MD programs want to see students who have a passion to become a physician. One of the programs concerns is that a student will change their mind about becoming a physician. The more you can show your passion, the greater your ability to communicate that you are sincere about becoming a physician.
The final step in the BS/MD application process is the medical school interview. Not all applicants will be offered an interview with the medical school and only those who have an interview are still being considered for the program. While it is good news if a student get an interview, not all the students who interview will be offered a position so it is important to be well prepared for the interview.

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Yasemin’s Answer

Hi Charlotte! I agree with the previous answer! it is very well thought out. So there are combinations of BS/MD , if you obtain a specific GPA and SAT score I believe you can get accepted into medical programs while completing your bachelor's. However just be sure to research and make sure that you are comfortable with such a program because it is a rigorous curriculum and you always need to maintain a substantial GPA to continue. That being said, it is doable but you can also go to college for four years, be any major you'd like and take the prerequisite courses required for medical school. While in college you also can take part in a variety of activities to make sure you are a stellar applicant as applying to medical school is competitive. You want to maintain a 3.7+ GPA and 508+ to be considered a competitive applicant, in addition during your college years it is important to shadow, and volunteer as well. You want to get a glimpse of the reality of medicine by volunteering in a clinical setting like a hospital and shadowing a physician in his or her office to see how they work with patients and get experience! When you are in college it is important to keep track with a premed adviser so you can see the courses you need to take and make sure you are keeping up a stellar application when it comes time to apply. There is usually a list of the required courses and the recommended- they are biology, chemistry both inorganic/organic, physics, math courses, like bio stats and calculus, English, and biochemistry as well. The recommended courses can be anatomy/physiology, genetics, cell/molecular, etc. In addition be sure to check out AAMC.org they give plenty of information for premed students interested in going to the medical field!

Best of luck!

Yasemin recommends the following next steps:

check out AAMC.org!

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Estelle’s Answer

In the US, to apply to medical school, you need a bachelor's degree. Any 4-year university should suffice. After college, you attend 4 more years of medical school.

Pick a college that suits your personality and a major that interests you. You will need to get good grades in college in order to apply for medical school. At the medical school I attended, the average GPA is reported to be 3.85, so even one or two B's can hurt your chances of acceptance.

Aside from this, any major is acceptable as long as you complete the prerequisite courses.

Typical medical school prerequisites include:
Biology: Lecture – 4 semesters; Lab – 1 semester
General Chemistry: Lecture – 2 semesters; Lab – 1 semester
Organic Chemistry: Lecture – 2 semesters; Lab – 1 semester
Biochemistry: Lecture – 1 semester
General Physics: Lecture – 2 semesters; Lab – 1 semester
Math: Statistics – 1 semester
English: Rhetoric (Composition) and Literature – 2 semesters