Choosing where to apply to medical school

Choosing where to apply to medical school


Choosing where to apply to medical school is a critically important step in the application process, but it can also be a daunting and time-consuming task. Careful research and deliberation can help you meet this challenge and identify medical schools that would be a good fit for you.

According to the MSAR : Getting Started Medical School Admissions Requirements published by the AAMC, applicants applied to an average of 14 medical schools. Applying to more than 20 schools does not necessarily increase the chances for a successful application and completing more than 20 secondary applications can be overwhelming in time, effort expended, and financial costs. Many factors such as state residency and the number of medical schools in your home state and personal considerations will influence how many medical school applications you submit. Throughout this process you can consult with the prehealth advisor as you decide where to apply.

Below are some important resources to use and factors to consider as you begin to decide where you will apply to medical school.

Medical school profiles in the Medical School Admissions Requirements (MSAR)

In the MSAR medical schools list their median and ranges of GPA and MCAT scores of accepted students, numbers of in-state and out-of-state residents interviewed and matriculated, demographic data on its student body, specific costs including tuition, fees, and other estimated expenses.

State residency requirements

If you are a permanent resident of a state, you should strongly consider applying to the state medical school(s) because they often try to accept more than 50% of their class from students who are from that state. You need to review the medical school admissions web sites to learn how each medical school determines state residency. Policies differ from school to school; sometimes medical schools require applicants to live in the state for a specific period of time to be considered official residents, even if the state considers the applicant to be a legal resident. Residents from states without medical schools may be able to apply to medical schools in other states that have contractual agreements with their home state.

According to the MSAR : Getting Started Medical School Admissions Requirements 2013 published by the AAMC, more than 50% of matriculants attend medical school in their home states.

Curricular and educational approaches

Review the curriculum highlight section of the MSAR and individual school web sites. Is the curriculum format a traditional lecture approach? Problem-based learning format? What type of schedule (block classes or traditional multiple class format)? Accelerated basic science curriculum? What is the grading system? What is the level of emphasis on primary care versus research? Are medical school students required to do research or scholarly projects? Are there organized "learning communities" or formalized study groups?  Are medical students assigned a specific academic or career advisor?

Special medical school programs

Medical schools have a wide variety of special academic programs as well as opportunities for learning about medicine outside of the traditional classroom.  As you review the programs at medical schools think about your long-term career goals and the service activities that you have enjoyed in college.  For example, look at the types of community service programs that the first year medical school students pursue.  Does the medical school sponsor opportunities for international service or clinical rotations?  Are medical students able to take courses in other graduate schools such as schools of business or public health?

Personal financial issues

The MSAR provides estimates for the first year medical school student budget including tuition and fees, books, living expenses, and insurance. Refer to othe Financing Professional School web page for more information on financing medical school and links to comprehensive resources provided by the AAMC about financial planning.

Advice from physicians and medical students

Throughout your career at Bryn Mawr you will have the opportunity to attend many seminars and programs led by physicians, many of whom are faculty members at medical schools. Often Bryn Mawr alumnae medical school students do programs on campus and are happy to answer questions about their medical schools. You should also try to participate in the externship program sponsored by the Career and Professional Development (CPD) Office that enables you to spend time one-on-one shadowing a physician who graduated from Bryn Mawr.  Physicians and medical students can be great resources to help you explore individual medical schools and their training programs.

Review "Selecting a medical school: 35 questions that I wish I had asked"

The AAMC has compiled questions that previous applicants wished that they had asked during medical school interviews. These questions can help you with your review of medical schools

International medical schools

Some international medical schools accept applications from U. S. citizens, and some schools actively recruit U.S. students. These medical schools have independent application procedures and admissions policies. Furthermore, only a limited number of international medical schools qualify for the U. S. Federal loan program, thus financing medical school abroad can be quite challenging.  If you are considering applying to international medical schools, you should discuss this option with the prehealth advisor.