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Applying to Medical School in the United States

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By Edited Apr 24, 2016 0 0

Being a doctor is among the most respected, if not the most respected, positions in society. Performing a physician's duties requires a large degree of stamina, intelligence and people skills. In conjunction with a rigorous curriculum, being a doctor may require long hours and low pay. Often the question is asked: Where do I begin?

High School: For most, this should begin as a high school student. Focus intensely on GPA and college entrance exams such as the ACT/SAT. Practice those tests! Balance taking the most difficult classes possible with getting the best GPA. This includes IB/AP classes. If you want a science-based class and your school does not offer it, see if the local college offers it. Extracurriculars and intangibles can be completed for the highest tiers of schools, but try and focus on one major extracurricular to avoid spreading yourself thin.

College: GPA and MCAT (the science-based medical college entrance test) are your primary goals. The average GPA of matriculants is 3.5 and an MCAT of 30. Upon further research, you may realize these numbers could be hard to come by. The good thing is you can study for the MCAT by taking free practice exams. Choose any major you'd like, but 50% of medical degree students have a core pre-med bachelors degree (biology/chemistry/physics) or variations. It is common to take the MCAT your third year of college, while immersed in the core classes the test focuses on.

Admissions: Be aware of deadlines and prepare deeply for the interview. The interviewers can ask startling questions like the obesity epidemic and the single-payer system; or just ask how your week was. Get a good nights sleep, you'll need it!

Your chances: The average age of entrance for a medical degree is 27. But don't let that fool you. Older outliers skew this entrance age, so don't be discouraged if you do not get in the first time. In fact, only 33% do!

Keep trying! If at first you don't succeed, resubmit. You can take a year to volunteer and improve your scores, or try a post-baccalaureate program. One may consider overseas medical programs with a cautious eye. If your GPA is poor, make sure to get exceedingly high marks in a grad program. If your MCAT is low, consider purchasing or borrowing study materials from the library. Students report high similarities between the actual test and the most recent practice tests available from the MCAT administrators. If you lack the GPA and the MCAT, your road will be difficult. It's not impossible, but those are your main concerns. There are stories of folks with extremely good intangibles being accepted with GPAs lower than 3 and MCATs lower than 20. But based on statistics alone, the odds are simply dismal.

Hey, congratulations! You made it to medical school, maybe. Now it's time to choose a specialty, and if you think tests have ended, they won't. And if you think it will be like Gray's Anatomy, it won't. But if you think you can genuinely help people on a daily basis, there are very few jobs that require this degree of skill, thrill and intricacy. That's your goal, and it can be oh-so-rewarding. Good luck!

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