5 Expert Tips for Getting into Medical School
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- About 4 in 10 people get accepted into medical school each year.
- Healthcare professionals recommend going above and beyond what's required.
- Being familiar with a school's mission and journaling are among their top five tips.
Hate to break it to you, but there's no easy way into medical school. After all, only about 4 in 10 people get accepted into medical school each year, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.
But the odds could be worse. The hardest colleges to get into, like Harvard University or MIT, accept less than 4% of applicants.
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Sheesh. How's this for a pep talk so far?
Here's the point: Getting into medical school won't be easy, but it's certainly doable, especially if you do the right things to stand out.
Gaining clinical experience even when it's not required, keeping a journal, and researching your school's values are among the top tips healthcare professionals share with hopeful medical students.
5 Expert Tips to Help You Get into Med School
- Connect with medical schools at recruitment events.
- Volunteering makes a good impression.
- Keep a journal for self-reflection.
- Having research experience is key.
- Get clinical experience even if it's not required.
1. Connect With Medical Schools at Recruitment Events
Many medical schools offer both in-person and virtual recruitment events. Take the time to connect with the medical schools you're applying to so you become a face they recognize.
"Not only is this a great way to make face-to-face interactions with representatives of the medical school, but participating in these events can also help make early connections with current students, faculty, or future classmates and help you determine if the school is a good fit for you."
— Kate Altieri, director of the College of Osteopathic Medicine Recruitment, University of New England
2. Volunteering Makes a Good Impression
You can boost the strength of your application by getting involved outside of medicine. For example, volunteering for community service can help you gain leadership or soft skills and show you're committed to making a difference.
"Doing volunteer work, not necessarily clinical volunteering, will showcase that you love to serve others and pay back to your community. Remember that every medical school aims to produce passionate doctors with the heart to help the sick."
— Dr. Michael May, medical director at Wimpole Clinic
3. Keep a Journal for Self-Reflection
Document all of your experiences from day one. It will make reflecting on your experiences easier during the application process and allow you to share a unique story.
"Journal about everything you do so you have this self-reflection to put forward in your application and your interviews. It is often the nuanced parts of your candidacy that will set you apart from others with similar GPA or MCAT scores."
— Maggie Lambert, program director of Post-Bacc Pre-Medical Programs, University of Vermont
4. Having Research Experience Is Key
Research experience is not a requirement for medical school (unless you're an MD-Ph.D. candidate). But many schools and health professionals encourage it so you better understand the connection between science and medicine.
"Any research that you were a part of is good. I was a part of a scientific lab all throughout my undergrad. It doesn't matter exactly what research was done, just that you have experience."
— Dr. Jaclyn Tomsic, Board-Certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon
5. Get Clinical Experience Even if It's Not Required
Not all medical schools require clinical experience. But having some — preferably between 100-150 hours — can make you a more competitive applicant.
There are all sorts of ways to get experience. For example, you could undergo first aid training, assist in a blood donation drive, or shadow a physician. The goal is to show you already know what pursuing a healthcare career is like.
"By gaining hands-on experience, you can demonstrate your commitment to the field and your ability to work in a team environment. Additionally, this experience can help you develop the interpersonal and communication skills essential for success in the medical profession."
— Dr. Michael Green, obstetrician and gynecologist, Winona State University