Data from the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) shows that 3.4 percent more students applied to medical school for the first time in 2012 than the year before. Programs such as the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences accepted only 2.1 percent of the 14,700 students who applied. Still, none of this means that aspiring doctors should give up their dreams. Instead, focus on making sure you are a strong and well-rounded applicant to increase your chances of success.
Broaden Your Interests
In an article on "Reforming Premedical Education" in the New England Journal of Medicine, “premed syndrome” is described as a narrow-minded competitiveness at odds with the character development necessary to become a doctor. Medical schools are showing a greater interest in recruiting applicants with backgrounds in the arts and humanities as well as those who are socially conscious. A premed student who has been primarily focused on studying math and science should consider taking a creative writing course or volunteering for a local charity she feels passionate about.
Prepare for the MCAT
While medical schools don't choose students based on their Medical College Admissions Test, or MCAT, scores alone, performing well on this important exam can make receiving an acceptance letter more likely. MCAT practice tests and study guides can be purchased on the AAMC website. The AAMC recommends that test-takers familiarize themselves with the content covered on the exam. Premed students are also advised to buy MCAT self-assessment packages that help them determine if they're ready to test.
Participate in a Shadowing Program
Premed students are expected to have shadowed or spent time observing a working physician. Finding a medical professional to consent to being shadowed can be a challenge. However, many understand that this is an important early step in becoming a doctor. Hospitals affiliated with medical schools often have formal shadowing programs in place that students can register for. Ibrahim Busnaina, a medical school consultant and author, advises med school candidates to reach out to local physicians in their communities.
Research Potential Med Schools
Most students don't apply to enough medical schools, according to an article in U.S. News & World Report on the reasons that med school applications are often rejected. In other words, med school applicants should submit applications to schools they'd be interested in attending in the event that their top picks don't accept them. Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR) is a comprehensive resource that includes a list of accredited medical schools in the U.S. and Canada. Taking the time to research medical schools can increase your chances of acceptance by helping you to apply to the schools that are more likely to be the best fit for you and your abilities.
- AAMC: U.S. Medical School First-Time Applicants 2002-2012
- U.S. News & World Report: 10 Med Schools That Receive the Most Applications
- Sun Sentinel: Prepping for Reform: Hospitals Hiring Doctors
- The New England Journal of Medicine: Reforming Premedical Education — Out with the Old, In with the New
- U.S. News & World Report: Top 3 Reasons Medical School Applications Are Rejected
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