Game Plan for Getting Into Medical School: THE BOTTOM LINE!

To be any kind of physician, including a pediatrician,  everyone will need to go to medical school first.  To attend medical school, everyone needs to first get into med school by going through the application process after they complete a 4-year bachelor's degree.  

Give yourself the best chances of being accepted to med school by following our "Game Plan for Getting Into Medical School". 

1 .  You must first graduate from a four year college.  The more rigorous and highly respected undergraduate college you go to, the better.  

A grade of  B or B+ at these schools is better than an A at most non-rigorous schools, without a doubt.   Many undergraduate programs like this have put out top-notch medical school candidates for decades and have a reputation that medical school admissions officers recognize.  Get good grades (read, not necessarily great or perfect grades) from these schools and you set yourself up for success in getting into med school.   A GPA of 3.2 or higher at the more rigorous undergrad schools makes you a good candidate and gets you "in the game". And remember, 99% of doctors DON'T go to Harvard!

BOTTOM LINE - get into the best undergraduate college you possibly can.

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2.  Network with those already in the healthcare field.  

It can be getting to know (and better yet, working with) a physical therapist or dietitian in your community.  These and many other healthcare professionals, once they get to know you, can offer insight into the medical system and eventually acknowledge your interest and personal qualities with a letter of recommendation when the time is right.

You need to build an arsenal of people like this who will then be willing and able to "go to bat" for you as references for the application period.  Admissions officers generally take note of letters from "medical people", and it doesn't have to be the Department Head of a medical school that writes the letter - it needs to be someone within the healthcare field that, most importantly, knows you well!

BOTTOM LINE - be sure you enjoy the medical field by networking with professionals.

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3. Volunteering

Through your networking, you should have ample opportunity to volunteer your time, but even non-medical volunteering experience can help your application significantly.

Medicine is a field of altruistic service, of helping your fellow man when in need.  This is the definition, in essence, of volunteering.  So your volunteer experience need not be just within the medical, field.  Show that you are committed to "The Good" in life.  This can be donating of time at your local animal shelter, food bank, church or synagogue.

BOTTOM LINE - Show them that you care by what you volunteer for.

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4.  Somehow, set yourself apart from the pack.  

Remember, there are tens of thousands of med school applicants out there.  You have to show some kind of uniqueness that allows you to stand out in the application pool.  It may be something in your application essay, some kind of experience or volunteer work, or even just a unique hobby or interest.  Somehow, you need to link this special quality with how it will make you an outstanding physician.   Examples might include growing up working on your family's organic farm and the importance that you have recognized the effect our diets have on our health outcome;  or enjoying fly-fishing and understanding the link between relaxation of the mind and spirit to one's overall health;  or volunteering at an orphanage in the Dominican Republic during your spring break.  Each of these allows you, as a candidate of thousands, to stand out, even a little, in the minds of the admissions counselor that reviews your application.

BOTTOM LINE - Find and share your uniqueness.

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5. Do well on the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) 

The MCAT is a national standardized test required with your application to medical school.  Think of it as an "SAT for Medical School".  It will test your knowledge of courses you are required to take in undergrad/pre-med including calculus, physics, chemistry and biology.  Consider taking a formal course (e.g., Kaplan) if your undergrad course prep was not vigorous or you don't feel confident about your ability.  This formal review will reinforce what the exam actually expects you to know from your premed work .  If nothing else, it will build your confidence for taking the test.

Sign up and prepare early.  At least 6 months before your scheduled MCAT Exam,  review available MCAT practice books available at your local bookstore.  You will do better, just like your SATs, if you have familiarity with the layout of the exam and type of questions.  

BOTTOM LINE - just like SATs, do your best to score well on the MCATs.

Remember - you don't have to be perfect to get into medical school, but you do have to be persistent and persevering!  Good luck.

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Steven J. Halm, DO, FAAP, FACP
YourPediatrician.com, Inc.



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