If you’re certain that becoming a physician is the right career choice for you, you have to traverse the path to becoming one with fierce passion. While you can’t start the official training to become a licensed physician until you graduate with a four-year college degree, there are steps you can take to help ensure your entrance into a medical school.
Get a Bachelor’s Degree
To get into medical school, you don’t have to earn an undergraduate degree in any particular major, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, it’s to your advantage to earn a science-related degree, since many medical schools require you to complete a certain number of biology, physics, chemistry and math courses. If your college doesn’t offer a pre-med major, work closely with your academic advisor to take courses that meet medical school prerequisites and prepare you for the Medical College Admission Test.
Pass the MCAT
The MCAT is a national exam that the Association of American Medical Colleges administers. The multiple-choice exam assesses your ability to think critically and solve problems, and also tests your knowledge of physical and biological sciences. After you pass the MCAT, you generally have three years to apply to a medical school, as most don’t accept MCAT scores that are older. If you don’t pass the MCAT or you don’t like your score, you can retake the test three times per year.
Stay Out of Trouble
While getting good grades and passing the MCAT with a high score are important to getting into medical school, you also have to maintain high moral standards. The University of California Davis School of Medicine states that medical schools look beyond your undergraduate grades and your MCAT score to make sure that you’re not just a good student, but also a good person. The U.S. Office of Inspector General, Food and Drug Administration and other federal and state government agencies don’t allow individuals with certain criminal charges and convictions to work within the health care industry. If you have a criminal history, but you’re not on a government list of exclusions or sanctions, a medical school may consider the circumstances regarding an arrest, charge or conviction to determine if you’re a good fit for its program.
Apply to Medical Schools and Interview
After you take the MCAT test, you will apply to the medical schools that interest you. The American Medical College Application Service opens its applications to the public during the first week of May and begins accepting them in June, so you have a month to complete it. In addition to submitting an application to the American Medical College Application Service, you’ll also need to submit applications to the medical schools you want to attend. If the medical school takes an interest in you, a school representative will interview you to further determine if you’re a good candidate.
- UC Davis School of Medicine: Becoming a Doctor
- Office of Inspector General: Exclusions Authorities
- Association of American Medical Colleges: The Road to Becoming a Doctor
- Association of American Medical Colleges: About the MCAT Exam
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: How to Become a Physician or Surgeon
- The Student Doctor Network: Getting into Medical School
- Association of American Medical Colleges: How Do I…Apply to Medical School?
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