So first things first:
What does it mean to be Pre-Medicine?
This simply means that you intend on applying to medical school and as a result you plan to take the pre-requisite college courses to get in. These courses include:
- Biology + lab (2 semesters)
- Physics + lab (2 semesters)
- Chemistry + lab (2 semesters)
- Biochemistry + lab (1 semester)
- Organic Chemistry + lab(2 semesters)
- English (2 semesters)
Do I have to be a Science Major to apply to Med School or be Pre-Med?
So here’s the tea… You Do NOT have to be a science major to apply to medical school. In fact, I was an English major, and I loved it! However, it is true that some Pre-Med organizations at universities may require you to be a science major to truly be considered Pre-Med and to get a letter from the Pre-Medicine Committee. (We’ll talk about what this letter is in a minute)
Though you don’t have to be a science major, you still have to do very well in the Pre-Requisite Science courses. The Goal is to have a Cumulative GPA of 3.5 or Higher and a Science GPA of 3.5 or Higher. Your science GPA will be looked at separately from your cumulative college GPA by Medical School Admission Committees. This is because the only courses you take in medical school are science courses, and the pre-requisite courses that you take in college are the basics of your medical school courses. What you learn in an entire year of a college science course will be covered in the first month of your medical school courses so make sure you get a good understanding of these topics, especially Biochemistry!
So, you’ve aced your pre-reqs, its time to…
Sign up for the MCAT!
Plan to block out 1 or 2 months of dedicated study time to prepare for the MCAT. Most people take the MCAT during the spring or summer (April-July) of their Junior year of medical school. This is because by this time most people have completed their pre-requisite courses. It is difficult for most people to study for the MCAT during the spring semester of their junior year because their also taking their regular classes and possibly working a job. As a result, many students use the first month of the summer to prepare and take the exam in June or July.
After taking the exam, it takes about 4 weeks for MCAT scores to come in. The goal is to have a complete application that is ready to submit on the day that the AMCAS application system opens. As a result you must take the exam early enough for your scores to be in before the application submission date ideally, or if that is not possible, your scores should simply be in before interview season begins in the Fall. Most medical schools have what is called rolling admissions, meaning they do not wait until they have interviewed every possible applicant before they begin filling their spots. Instead, they fill them as they go, so its first-come, first-admitted. This is why it is important to have your application submitted on time, preferably the day that the application system opens. This assures that your application is one of the first to be seen.
If you haven’t already done so, make an account on the AAMC website. The AAMC is the Association of American Medical Colleges. They are the ones who control the MCAT & its content. Their website has a wealth of information about medical school and how to get in as well as resources that will help you stay organized during this process.
Here’s the link to the AAMC Pre-Med Calendar. I recommend keeping up with this and keeping the important dates on your own personal calendar
What Else Do I Need to Complete My Application?
- Letters of Recommendation
- These are letters that you ask for at the beginning of your Spring semester of your Junior year. You should ask physicians, professors, or community leaders that you know or have worked with to write letters for you. It is always better to ask for your letters in person by saying, “Hi, Dr. So&So, I am applying to medical school this year. I really enjoyed working with you during “blah blah blah”… Do you think that you can write me a strong letter of recommendation?” Notice the emphasis on the strong part. This is important because there are some professors who receive a lot of requests to write letters. As a result, they write the same generic letter for every student. You don’t want this letter. So, it’s important to pick a person that you have formed a connection with or at least worked with who you know will take the time to write a great letter.
- You normally only need 3-4 letters. However, it is very important that you check the admissions website of every program that you apply to so that you can see what their specific requirements are. Different schools may ask for a different type of letter or a different amount of letters.
- Committee Letters:
- The committee letter is a letter that is provided by some schools’ Pre-Medicine committees. In this letter the committee will say, based on your academic record, whether or not they recommend you to the medical schools. A lot of emphasis is placed on this letter. However, from personal experience I can say that not having this letter will NOT prevent you from getting into medical school. As an English major, at my university I was unable to get the committee letter. No one asked me about it during my medical school interviews.
- Now let’s say, you are not a straight-A student and you don’t have a ton of extracurriculars. In this situation, I would say, meet with someone from the Pre-Medicine Committee and ask them whether or not they think you would get a positive letter from the committee. If they say no or say that they believe your resume needs work before they can recommend you to medical schools, then it is in my opinion that you are better off not getting a committee letter. Not having a committee letter is better than having a committee letter where they say they don’t recommend you. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life… or in your application.
- Resume: Extra-Curriculars / Honors Societies / Clubs / Sports
- Your resume should be as polished and positive. Like your instagram feed, this is your Highlight Reel. This 1-2 pages of jobs, clubs, honors societies, and hobbies tells admissions committees, “Hey, I’ve done the work, I deserve for you to choose me”. Your resume is also super important because many of the things that they will talk to you about during your interview will be about your resume. For example, they may say, “I see you volunteered at Habitat for Humanity, tell me more about that”. So, it’s important that whatever you put on this resume you are ready to discuss. Your resume should be organized, easy to read, and only about 1-2 pages long.
Don’t Run Away Yet!! We’re almost done!
- Personal Statement:
- I’m sure you’ve all seen Little Fires Everywhere by now, and if you haven’t, you should. **spoiler alert** Though it was horrible for ole girl to steal Pearl’s story for her personal statement, let me tell you, it’s that important! What you say in this personal statement is telling the admissions committee not only why you want to be a physician but also why you deserve the opportunity to be accepted into medical school. This is another moment to shine. I’ll create another post on this, but just know, this is one of the most important parts of your application, hands down.
I know that was a lot. Let me know if you have any questions. Feel free to contact me here or on Insta. & Remember, baby steps! Take it one step at a time & you’re sure to make it to the finish line.