Posted on Feb, 23 2014 | Pre-Med
Getting into medical school isn't rocket science, but it is important to build a well thought out plan for medical school admissions. The first step is understanding medical requirements. This means keeping in close contact with your pre-med advisor, taking the right pre-med classes, and preparing for the MCAT at the right time.
Having a plan will help you avoid aggravation and heartache - especially if you come to the application stage only to realize you have not met all the prerequisites.
Med school requirements for coursework
Most schools agree on the basic elements for pre-med education. The core course requirements for U.S. medical schools include one year of:
General (inorganic) chemistry
Related lab work for each science course
In addition, many schools require English and math courses.
In recent years there has been a suggestion that Organic chemistry be dropped from pre-med coursework, but that has not yet been implemented, so don't go dropping orgo. There has also been the suggestion that biochemistry be increasingly emphasized. So while biochem is not currently a pre-med requirement, it makes sense to take at least a semester of it while an undergrad.
Specific majors are not required for medical school admissions
While it's more common for pre-meds to have science backgrounds, most medical schools don't really care what your major is. Some (Johns Hopkins for example) prefer non-science majors who have done well in their pre-med science courses to straight science majors. Most medical schools are looking for well-rounded students with diverse undergraduate backgrounds and the ability to relate to patients.
If you don't have a science major, your grades and efforts in both science and non-science courses will be taken into consideration. On the AMCAS application you will be asked to calculate both your overall GPA and, separately, a science GPA. If you are not a science major, it means that your scores in the core science subjects will carry greater weight than many of your other courses.
The bottom line - major in a subject in which you are really interested. You will enjoy college more, will probably get better grades, and will be seen as a well-rounded applicant to medical school.
The MCAT is a requirement for most medical schools
There is no question that the MCAT carries significant weight in the medical school admissions process. Administered by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the MCAT attempts to provide a relatively objective way for admissions committees to compare applicants. Most medical schools use MCAT scores, in conjunction with GPA, to do an initial screen of their applicant pool.
Health care experience is not a requirement for medical school admission, but is recommended
A recent survey of medical schools found that knowledge of health care issues and commitment to health care were one of the top five considerations in evaluating and admitting students to medical school (the other four, not necessariy in order of importance, were med school interview, GPA, MCAT scores, and letters of recommendation). This means that you should be active in health care activities as a pre-med - the more substantial the experience the better. Of course, these experiences will likely also help you articulate why you want to pursue a career in medicine in your medical school admissions essay and interviews .
Medical College Admissions Test and MCAT are registered service marks of the Association of American Medical Colleges, which is not affiliated with this site.