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What are the requirements and challenges that one should be aware of if they're interested in going to medical school?

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I am a senior in high school who is interested in pursuing a career in medicine, so I would like to know what I should do to prepare for it.

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2 answers

Amy’s Answer

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Hi Nneoma A.

I hope you are doing well and staying safe during this pandemic.

As a Senior in high school, I would take advantage of all the science and math classes you can take. I would also encourage you to volunteer in the field of medicine that interests you. It will give you an idea regarding whether or not you would like to pursue medicine or not. Talk to doctors that have already made it in the area that interests you the most.

Second, you would need a 4- year college degree with classes in Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Social Science, and any additional science classes that your University recommends. With regards to getting your degree, you would need to make sure your Science and Math GPA is above a 3.2. As a college student, this can be tough, but with good study habits and a positive mindset, anything is possible.

The first challenge that one must get over is trying to get into med school. Second is finding a lab internship before attending medical school. For some reason, med schools stress lab internship experience and some sort of research experience to back up your application. Third, is the rigorous coursework before, during, and after med school- make sure you have good study habits and manage stress. Lastly, if you are interested in pursuing medicine, you should also be considering medical terminology class, to help you get a better grasp of medical vocabulary.

Best wishes to you! :)

Amy recommends the following next steps:

  • Figure out which field of medicine you would like to pursue
  • Talk to doctors and other medical professionals
  • Take classes towards med school in college

Will’s Answer

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Most medical schools have the following pre-reqs with some minor variations from school to school:
One year of Biology with lab.
One year of General Chemistry with lab.
One year of Organic Chemistry with lab.
One semester of Biochemistry.
One year of Physics with lab.
One year of English.

You can knock off some of these in high school with AP credit. Major in anything you want (not just biology or chemistry, a common misconception) as long as you have these courses complete and have excellent grades overall. Ideally, get at least a 3.6 GPA to be competitive for American MD schools. In my opinion, a biology major w/ physiology and biochemistry is the most useful preparation for preclinical medical students. At the end of your junior year, you can take the MCAT, but you need to study adequately for this as you don't want to take it multiple times. Schools look down on re-takes, even if your subsequent scores are great, and it's just exhausting to study for. Alternatively, you can take the MCAT later if you take time off after college, but the material might not be as fresh in your mind.

To round out your application and have a competitive one, you should do some form of shadowing, volunteering (e.g. in a hospital), leadership positions in organizations, and potentially do some research. The most important thing to remember is that an excellent academic record comes first - i.e. grades and MCAT - as you will not even be given a look without these. However, once you've crossed this barrier, you need some combination of these extra things to get accepted to a US MD school.

Will recommends the following next steps:

  • Take the generic pre-reqs/do really well
  • Study for the MCAT adequately
  • Volunteer
  • Research
  • Leadership positions