Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Answers

Discussion forum for all medical education issues, including residency programs, medical schools, etc.

Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Postby DrDave » Sat Jul 03, 2010 5:13 am

Sans Sciences,

Unfortunately, the route to medical school won't be quite as easy as you are hoping. You would almost definitely need to take the required pre-med courses at a 4 year college - not a community college. Medical schools require the medical school classes to be at the same level someone would take if they were majoring in that field - so biology for biology majors and chemistry for chemistry majors. The level of these science courses at a community college typically would not meet the requirement and most medical schools look down upon community colleges for the pre-med courses.

However, I have come across someone who claimed they knew someone who got into medical school taking pre-med courses at a community college. Obviously that isn't a resounding endorsement of that approach. I would suggest you call a few of the medical schools you are considering and talk to their admission's office and see what they have to say. If you do find a medical school that will accept the pre med classes from a community college you probably would need to have A's in those courses (and let me know what you find out - it would help many other people who have asked similar questions).

As to the MCAT - that's another story. The MCAT mostly tests you on the pre-med science coursework. Almost everyone takes it AFTER they have taken most of their pre-med required science courses, as that is essentially what the MCAT tests. Review books may cover most of the material - I haven't looked at any of the material since I taught a Kaplan MCAT class around 15 years ago. I'm not sure even those materials were detailed enough to really teach yourself enough to do well on the MCAT - it is assumed you already took the actual science classes. I've seen some good reviews for the Princeton Review Hyperlearnings books - with recommendations to buy them used on Ebay - and you can get the books that are a year or two old as the material really doesn't change much.

It would be very challenging to self-teach what you need to know to do well on the MCAT, but most people in medical school are pretty smart and I'm sure there are some out there that could self-teach.

The bottom line is that you'll need to take the pre-med courses anyway. Why take the MCAT before you've taken the courses? The coursework itself is the best preparation for the MCAT.

The coursework will take most people 2 years to complete. I'm doubtful it is possible to get all of the coursework done, take the MCAT, and get accepted into medical school by Fall 2011.

Based on your GPA and being able to get into law school, you are definitely smart; however, don't underestimate the need to do well in pre-med courses and do well on the MCAT. The pre-med coursework is viewed by most people as being significantly more challenging than non-science coursework. The MCAT is not the same as the LSAT. A lot depends on your aptitude in those science classes.

Best of luck and keep us posted on how you do.
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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Postby gem525 » Thu Jul 15, 2010 1:34 pm

Hi. Your article was very informative and helpful. I majored in Communications and am beginning to consider applying to medical schools. However, I did not take many of the required "pre-med" courses during undergrad- and I got a D in psych during my freshman year. My questions are: Can I take the missing courses (physics, organic chemistry, etc) at any school to make them up, and also how can I get rid of that D in psych or improve it? Thanks!
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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Postby DrDave » Fri Jul 16, 2010 2:16 am

gem525,

You can take the required pre-med courses at any 4 year college. You should not take them at a community college. I'm not really aware of any way to get rid of the D on your transcript. If you have a good explanation of why you got a D and why it wouldn't happen again, you may want to include the explanation in your applications for medical school. Other people may have suggestions on how to handle the low grade, but it isn't something with which I'm familiar.
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Medical School Requirements & General Questions

Postby zztop77 » Fri Jul 30, 2010 8:38 am

Sorry, I have a three part question.

1. If I am majoring in economics, but want to go to medical school, do I need to have 1 year chem, 1 year organicchem, 1 year bio, 1 year calc, 1 year english (which I will complete anyway), and 1 year physics? I really want to be a doctor, but I like econ, and want to major in it. Plus, I have heard that med schools are interested in students that are non science majors. I am consistently studying MCAT (I am a freshman) , but I want to finish my degree in 4 years, and hopefully go straight to med school, after I finish my undergraduate work. I understand that different med schools have different requirements, I am thinking about UCLA David Geffen Medical School (along those lines).
2. This may appear to sound like a real strange question, but what happens if u take a leave of absence from med school for a couple years. (For example, you attend for two years, can u pick up where you left off, if decide to continue med school, several years later?
3. If I am looking to be a General Practioner, do I just need to get my M.D., so four years of med school, after undergrad work, or is there more involved.
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Re: Medical School Requirements & General Questions

Postby DrDave » Sat Jul 31, 2010 4:38 am

No need to apologize - multi-part questions are allowed :-)

1. You can major in any field you like, but you do need to complete the required pre-med courses you mentioned. I'm guessing that you have already seen the web page on the UCLA site with their medical school admission requirements <Link removed 11/22/12 as no longer active>.

2. It would be up to the medical school to decide if they will grant you an extended leave of absence. There is information on applying for a leave of absence at UCLA on their website, and it looks like they have a policy on keeping your pager active for a year if you are taking an entire year off - which leads me to believe that they will approve such a leave under the right circumstances. Be aware that there are financial aid implications involved as most school loans are in a deferment period while you are enrolled in school. Your loans may become due if you take a leave. Depending on what you do during your leave, you may be able to get forbearance on your loans - meaning that they will continue to accrue interest, but you would be able to delay making payments. Taking a break in the middle of medical school would likely make things more difficult mentally. The work of medical school is extremely challenging on many levels - academically, emotionally, and physically (I'm guessing it is still very difficult even with the improved call limits - working all night long and getting limited sleep affects everyone differently). Most people I know who took time off (all of the people I know personally took the time off to obtain another graduate degree - but I know of people who took time off for other reasons - like having a child) found the transition back to medical school challenging. They were able to complete the transition, but it wasn't an easy one for many reasons. You would want to have a very good reason to be planning now that you may want to take a leave part way through medical school.

3. You would want to be at least board eligible in a field, meaning that you are qualified to be board certified in a field of medicine. General practitioners include family medicine physicians, internists, and pediatricians. You can complete a residency in any of those fields in three years. During your last year of medical school you apply for a residency program in the field of your choice. During residency, you are paid a modest salary (relative to the hours worked) typically around $40,000 at this time. Depending on the program, you may have options to moonlight and make additional income. You will be able to obtain a residents license after medical school and a permanent license after 1 year of residency. You technically can practice medicine with the permanent license, but most jobs will not hire you unless you are board eligible in a field. No one that I know currently practices medicine without having completed a residency.

Let me know if you have more questions.
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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Postby pv1010 » Sun Aug 08, 2010 9:53 am

Ok
I grew up poor and I went to very under preforming primary, elementary, middle, and high schools. My parents are immigrants and i grew up watching them work 16-hour days. I graduated and went on the University (first in my family to go beyond the 5th grade in school). I did well my first year of college (3.7) then my father got sick and i had to work 3 jobs to help my family and to pay for school. He died my junior year but his illness dragged on for years and bankrupted us, and i transferred to the school closer to home. I just finished my first year at my transfer University and i have been doing very well now. I have a 3.24 overall GPA and am going to graduate this may with a degree in Biological Sciences and Latino Studies. I am worried because at my old school i had a 2.89 GPA and withdrew from the entire semester when my dad died. I don't have the money to go back and re-take classes. I have volunteered and stayed involved continuously in college and have a year of research under my belt. I failed Chem 1 and Ochem 1 but i retook them and got an A both times. I know that we have to 'explain' why we didn't do so well, but i just don't want to rely heavily on my 'problems'. I am graduating in 5 years instead of 4, and i just feel like i have too much baggage for a school to take me serious. Honestly i have tried to the best of my ability, and i really want to be a doctor... but i need to be realistic. Do you think i have a shot? Is it even worth trying? Yes i have researched other career options but this is the one i want.

Thank you,
- p
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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Postby DrDave » Mon Aug 09, 2010 12:20 am

pv1010,

If the 3.24 overall includes the 2.89 from the previous school then it seems your grades were pretty good following the transfer. A 3.24 overall (if it doesn't include the previous school's grades) is definitely low compared to the vast majority of people who go to medical school. It isn't clear to me from your post at what point you transferred - was it after your first or second year? Were you at the new school while your father was still ill?

If your father's illness coincides with the time of your poor grades and your grades improved dramatically once you had some closure on his illness and death, then I think it is essential that you point out the the hardship you were having. Your family story does give you a unique background that may be of interest to some medical schools.

The bottom line is that you would need a good explanation for why you failed your pre-med courses the first time, but it is great that you were able to get A's the second try. The question an admission's committee is likely to wonder is whether the second school was much easier, or if you were able to be appropriately focused the second time around.

A great MCAT school obviously would work to your advantage, but a low score may make getting accepting into medical school impossible.

These are just my opinions and speaking to a pre-med advisor at your school may provide additional insight into your chances. Best of luck, and I'm sorry to hear about your father. I can't imagine trying to focus on school work while dealing with those types of issues and I think most admission's committees would agree.
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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Postby pv1010 » Mon Aug 09, 2010 6:15 am

DrDave wrote:pv1010,

If the 3.24 overall includes the 2.89 from the previous school then it seems your grades were pretty good following the transfer. A 3.24 overall (if it doesn't include the previous school's grades) is definitely low compared to the vast majority of people who go to medical school. It isn't clear to me from your post at what point you transferred - was it after your first or second year? Were you at the new school while your father was still ill?

If your father's illness coincides with the time of your poor grades and your grades improved dramatically once you had some closure on his illness and death, then I think it is essential that you point out the the hardship you were having. Your family story does give you a unique background that may be of interest to some medical schools.

The bottom line is that you would need a good explanation for why you failed your pre-med courses the first time, but it is great that you were able to get A's the second try. The question an admission's committee is likely to wonder is whether the second school was much easier, or if you were able to be appropriately focused the second time around.

A great MCAT school obviously would work to your advantage, but a low score may make getting accepting into medical school impossible.

These are just my opinions and speaking to a pre-med advisor at your school may provide additional insight into your chances. Best of luck, and I'm sorry to hear about your father. I can't imagine trying to focus on school work while dealing with those types of issues and I think most admission's committees would agree.



Wow thanks for the quick response,
I moved schools after my dad died during my 3rd year (i didn't finish the last semester there ). I have spoken to my pre health counselor but they mostly just want money and give me vague answers. I transferred from one state university to the other, i really don't know how to assess if one is easier than the other, but i think they were pretty much the same (located in 2 different cities). Yes my grades took a huge dip during my dads illness and subsequent passing. But then they picked up after i moved back home and started at my transfer school (logistical reasons; i didn't have as many expenses since i was back home so i didn't work so many hours and the convinces of having a car and meals really made a difference along with family as comfort). My transcripts show definite progress for the better and i got a 34 on the MCAT and this is my last year at school and I want to apply but i am not sure if after this point that's it? at 21 the past is irreversible and i can never go to medical school ever? Would any post graduate programs help? But i doubt i could even get into any of those...

well thank you for the response, its very nice for you to take your time to respond, you have been more helpful to me than anyone i have interacted with in my last 4 years in school.

regards,

- p
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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Postby DrDave » Thu Aug 12, 2010 5:00 am

pv1010,

A 34 on the MCAT seems like a good score - that's a definite plus. You have an interesting story too and as good of an explanation as you can have as to why your grades were not better. It may be worth applying to a few schools in your area to see how they respond. Make sure you include information in your application about your special circumstances. Additionally, you may want to consider osteopathic schools as they are easier to get into, and ultimately you can still have the same type of practice as if you had gone to an allopathic program.

There are programs designed to help bolster your transcript for medical school. I'm not familiar with the programs, but I'm sure if you do some search online you can find which ones really do help and which ones don't. You can get a list of some of the programs at the attached link - and then select in the bottom-right box titled "Special Program Focus" the option of "Academic record-enhancers" - then click search.

http://services.aamc.org/postbac/

I think you do have a few potential options - which is more than many people who ask questions on these forums. I wish you luck and please let me know how things go for you.
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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Postby TAB » Sat Aug 21, 2010 4:44 am

MY QUESTION IS THIS THAT I HAVE ALL REQUIREMENTS OF MEDICAL SCHOOL EXCEPT THE CHEMISTRY CLASS SO WHAT SHOULD I DO ?
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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Postby DrDave » Sat Aug 21, 2010 9:14 pm

TAB,

You need to complete all of the pre-med courses in order to get accepted into medical school. As for chemistry classes, you will need to take both general chemistry and organic chemistry, both with associated lab.
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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Postby tab » Sun Aug 22, 2010 6:23 am

thanks for giving my answer, but i want to ask you one more question and my question is this, that these all classes are required for medical school i can take in medical school or some kind of another school because i took bio,physics and english in my high school and i have already those credits. so do i have to take it again in medical school.besides chemistry however that the only subject i need to take for medical school ?
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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Postby guest » Mon Aug 23, 2010 1:51 pm

hi,

i'm a student going to university this year and recently having problems on selecting courses. i was searching about the med. school requirements for U.S. universities and most of them require 1 year of physics. so my question is does it matter which level the course is ? or just as long as i have two semesters of physics would be fine? thanks
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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Postby Sgt. Sepulveda » Tue Aug 24, 2010 5:03 am

I have a quick question, i am currently in the military and going to school, I have been in the military for 8 years and planning on staying in for the next 12. does it matter if I recieve several ba.'s and close to my forties when i apply to medical school. would it also be looked differenly if my ba. took me more than 4 years to complete, compared to the normal 4 to 5 years, due to my military duties?
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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Postby DrDave » Wed Aug 25, 2010 3:29 am

tab wrote:thanks for giving my answer, but i want to ask you one more question and my question is this, that these all classes are required for medical school i can take in medical school or some kind of another school because i took bio,physics and english in my high school and i have already those credits. so do i have to take it again in medical school.besides chemistry however that the only subject i need to take for medical school ?


You have to take the required pre-med classes at the college level, not the high school level, in order to apply to medical school (which is after college). You can take AP levels of physics and biology and some medical schools may accept high AP test scores as adequate, but some do not.

It is generally recommended that you take the college level course that someone majoring in that particular field would have to take - such as general chemistry for chemistry majors. This is a more rigorous course that a general chemistry class for non-chemistry majors. You also need to take the science classes with the associated lab.
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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Postby DrDave » Wed Aug 25, 2010 3:33 am

guest wrote:hi,

i'm a student going to university this year and recently having problems on selecting courses. i was searching about the med. school requirements for U.S. universities and most of them require 1 year of physics. so my question is does it matter which level the course is ? or just as long as i have two semesters of physics would be fine? thanks


You would want to take 1st year physics for physics majors, with associated lab.
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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Postby DrDave » Wed Aug 25, 2010 3:39 am

Sgt. Sepulveda wrote:I have a quick question, i am currently in the military and going to school, I have been in the military for 8 years and planning on staying in for the next 12. does it matter if I recieve several ba.'s and close to my forties when i apply to medical school. would it also be looked differenly if my ba. took me more than 4 years to complete, compared to the normal 4 to 5 years, due to my military duties?


For most schools, age is not a factor in getting into medical school. If you have good grades, have taken the required pre-med courses, and did well on the MCAT, you should be able to find a school that will accept you. I would think that the length of time to complete your degrees will not be a major factor as you have a valid explanation for the extended time.

Remember - I am not a medical school advisor, just someone who went through the process. I know many people who went to medical school later in life. I think the physical challenges were more difficult as well as staying humble when taking orders from younger doctors who sometimes have attitudes. Most of the people I know graduated college at the typical age, but had a career before going back to complete their pre-med coursework and then applying to medical school. I'm not sure how much differently your path would be looked upon by medical school admission's committees.
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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Postby Palaciogbr » Sun Sep 05, 2010 11:06 pm

I maintain a 3.2 GPA I've gotten B's and higher on all my science courses but I've had withdrew from many classes. If I maintain my GPA and graduate next year and do well on the MCAT what would be the most common reaction of a Med School that sees that I've withdrawn from several classes on my transcript?
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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Postby DrDave » Mon Sep 06, 2010 4:37 am

Palaciogbr,

The schools will likely wonder why you have multiple withdrawals on your transcript. You would need to provide a good explanation for the withdrawals on your application.
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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Postby jirachi » Tue Oct 26, 2010 12:12 am

I've heard that most medical schools accept the top 50 students of each colleges. Does this mean that going to a less populated college is more of an advantage than going to a bigger college like the University of Washington - Seattle?
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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Postby DrDave » Tue Oct 26, 2010 4:03 am

jirachi wrote:I've heard that most medical schools accept the top 50 students of each colleges. Does this mean that going to a less populated college is more of an advantage than going to a bigger college like the University of Washington - Seattle?


Jirachi,

I'm not sure where you heard that the top 50 students of each school get accepted to medical school, but it is completely untrue. In general, the most important factors are your grade point average and your MCAT scores. I'm not exactly sure how medical school admission's committees weigh the particular undergraduate school you attended, but I'm guessing that some schools do factor that in as well. Your absolute class rank does not matter, especially given the reason you give that schools are all different sizes. Your class rank percentile could be looked at, but I usually hear people talk about GPA rather than class rank percentile.

The bottom line is you will have no advantage or disadvantage going to a smaller school compared to a larger school.
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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Postby Kirk » Fri Nov 05, 2010 8:16 am

Hi,

I'm a second year student who recently changed his major to Biological Science after a bad year as a Political Science major; I got a D in a high-level PolySci course and decided to change (Although, I maintained all A's in the other PolySci coursework). My question is, if I have a decent (3.7 or so) science GPA and a competitive MCAT score, how hard does the med school tend to look at that D? Can one or two D's be deal breakers even if the GPAs are good?
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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Postby DrDave » Mon Nov 08, 2010 4:22 am

Kirk,

I really don't have an answer and unfortunately, the only way to know will be to apply to medical schools and see if you get accepted. The issue in my mind is what happened that you got a D grade? If you have a valid explanation as to why your grades were not good, that would help your chances of getting accepted. You should probably talk with your school's pre-med advisor and see what he/she has to say. I'm curious what his/her answer is as well.
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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Postby muw2014 » Sun Dec 19, 2010 9:45 pm

I am wanting to get into medical school once I graduate with a double major in Biology and Chemistry. I have had a rough first 4 at a community college and i have a 2.21 a couple of D's and and i Failed 3 classes my first two years of school and have been pulling my gpa up every since then. Do i have a chance at getting into medical school if i pull my gpa up to a decent 3.5 to a 4.0. and good MCAT scores. The reason for my low gpa I was having a hard time deciding a major and I have decided that i wanna be a doctor.
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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Postby DrDave » Tue Dec 21, 2010 5:37 am

muw2014,

You are going to have a very difficult time getting into medical school having failed multiple classes (in my opinion). Most people who have a single C grade will have a difficult time getting into medical school let alone worse grades. I don't think that an explanation of having a difficult time selecting a major adequately explains the failing grades. I also don't think it is likely that you would be able to raise a 2.2 GPA up as significantly as you suggest.

I would highly encourage you to speak to your school counselor and see what he/she suggests.
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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Postby AThomas » Sun Dec 26, 2010 12:35 pm

If you have a BA from UCLA in Political Science, graduated and now realize I want to attend medical school instead of law school. If I complete all my Pre-med requirements at a community college, would i still have a chance of getting into a top medical school?
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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Postby DrDave » Mon Dec 27, 2010 5:30 am

AThomas,

The general rule is that the pre-med science classes should NOT be taken at a community college. I've heard rare stories of someone getting into medical school who did take pre-med science courses at a community college, but that definitely seems to be the exception. Based on what I've heard, it seems it is best to take the courses at a 4 year college. I would think this is even more important if you are interested in a top medical school.
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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Postby hadaquestion » Mon Dec 27, 2010 7:31 pm

Can one take nursing as major and go to medical school directly after getting a bachelor of science? The school I'm thinking of offers english grammar and compositon, biology, organic and biological chemistry, and general chemistry all on the freshman year. Would that be enough?
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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Postby DrDave » Wed Dec 29, 2010 5:07 am

hadaquestion,

After obtaining a bachelor's degree, you can get apply to medical school if you have taken the MCAT and taken the required pre-med courses. The required pre-med courses including 1 year biology with lab, 1 year general chemistry with lab, 1 year organic chemistry with lab, and 1 year of physics. Some schools also have other requirements, but the above ones are the main courses. You would NOT want to take all of those courses in the same year and I doubt that a college would let you. If I remember correctly, general chemistry is usually a pre-requisite for organic chemistry. The courses are typically very challenging and most people take no more than two of the courses at a time.
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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Postby TMSletten » Sat Feb 05, 2011 5:38 pm

I just wanted to say thank-you Dr.Dave this forum has been a great help to me. I didnt have to ask any questions because they all have already been answered! Kudos to you.
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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Postby jdo2010 » Mon Feb 07, 2011 6:17 pm

Hi there Dr. Dave! -
I currently am enrolled at the community college. I am going to be here for one more semester, then transfer to Univeristy of Maryland. Upon HS graduation, i wasnt sure of where I wanted to go, so decided to start here. I have a 4.0. I want to go to medical school badly. I am hoping to transfer by next fall, then start to take the requirements for med school. I want to go to Johns Hopkins, or Harvard...or wherever I get in, Lol. Are my chances as good as others if I keep up a 4.0 transferring into the 4 year? Much thanks!
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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Postby DrDave » Tue Feb 08, 2011 5:09 am

jdo2010,

There are quite a few threads here about community colleges and medical school. In my opinion, if you have good grades at a community college, and you take all of your pre-med courses at a 4 year university, then the community college experience shouldn't have any negative impact. I would think that medical schools would appreciate your approach in not jumping in to an expensive college when you weren't sure where you would go. With the rising cost of education, I think taking credits at a community college seems like a smart choice. I don't think good grades anywhere would ever hurt you (as long as you take those pre-med courses at a full university).

Getting in to medical schools like Harvard and Hopkins is not easy. I don't know how those schools decide who they will accept, but I would imagine those applicants have to be truly exceptional. The students who get accepted into an average medical school are at the top of their college classes. I've heard of applicants to Harvard and Hopkins with exceptional grades and test scores who didn't get accepted, and they were coming from a good colleges. I think at schools like that, having an Ivy league education or some other exceptional experience is what it takes to get accepted.
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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Postby jdo2010 » Fri Feb 11, 2011 3:14 am

Great! - I really appreciate it, thanks alot.
I am going to take up until pre-calculus then switch over to the 4 year taking calculus, which is a requirement for med school.
Hoping everything goes okay.
Thanks again!
:)
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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Postby KAF » Tue Feb 15, 2011 11:21 pm

If I had courses like:

Biol 101 and Microbiology
Chem 101 and Biochemistry
Physics 101
Organic chem 1 and 2
Calc

Would that be good or good enough? And why does med school require physics? Doesn't seem that relevant. But what would you suggest?

Also, my undergrad is in Emergency Health Services - Paramedic, as a Paramedic and with 6+ years as an EMT/Paramedic would that influence my ability to get into med school?
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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Postby DrDave » Wed Feb 16, 2011 4:28 am

KAF,

I would suggest you check with a few of the medical schools you are considering. You can see if they have their requirements listed on their website. If not, you probably would want to actually call. Those courses are not the typical courses people take, but some medical schools will list their requirements as something like:

"Two courses of general biological sciences or equivalent with laboratory"

I don't know if they would consider microbiology as an equivalent or not. The courses would need to be with a lab. I have seen some medical schools that specify they will count a semester of introductory biochemistry instead of second semester of organic chemistry. Perhaps some would allow that in place of inorganic chemistry but I doubt it. Most medical schools require two semesters of physics, not just one.

Physics is important in understanding various parts of human physiology as well as radiology and nuclear medicine.
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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Postby jme2012 » Thu Feb 17, 2011 1:44 am

Hi I have two very brief questions!

I am a junior at UGA with a 3.7 GPA majoring in both microbiology and psychology. My question is if I drop one of my majors to graduate a semester early will medical schools look down upon this 9 month break (in which I intend on working to have some kind of income for medical school) or should I push through the extra semester because having two majors will make me stand out from other candidates.

My second question is pretty straight forward: do you know if I have to take both the MCAT and the GRE to get into a MD/ PHD program?


If you could respond when you find that time I would greatly appreciate it :)
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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Postby DrDave » Fri Feb 18, 2011 6:01 am

jme2012,

I don't think medical schools will look down on the extra time off if you graduate a semester early, especially if you make good use of your time off. Having a double major doesn't really add much as far as getting into medical school goes. I don't think you'll stand out any more with a double major than you would with graduating early and earning extra money to pay for medical school.

You can probably check on the websites for the schools where you are considering MD/PhD programs, but when I applied (many years ago now), you did not have to take the GRE to get into MD/PhD programs. You just had to take the MCAT.
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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Postby HowAreYou » Sun Feb 20, 2011 5:55 am

First of all, hi everyone!
Secondly, i tried to sign up and i already received the email- i clicked the link in there and i still can not login :tantrum:
finally, i have something to ask everyone. First, i am not American, i am international student. I like psychology and i want to become psychologist but i do not really know what to do in order to become one. However, i do know that it involves many things like biology and med! ...etc. In addition, this is my first year in university. I also just tried bio-science [last month].

I must admit that it is so hard ....:scream1: . Oh yeah, i am still taking general education because i can not decide what my major will be later. I just still in the middle of my careers; so can you tell me that i should change my major or keep going on? should i start changing my mind about what i like? Beside psychology which i like since i was a young boy [around middle school]. I do want to become graphic designer and salesman [sales- i have found anything that relate to sales beside marketing; so i am feeling bad.]

So should i give up as an international student because it is so hard for me to learn? :getout:! Moreover, if you can give me the steps which i can become a psychologist plus how many years it will take me to do it. I am appreciate for your precious time.

Please take my deeply respectful and thank you. :hands:
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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Postby HowAreYou » Sun Feb 20, 2011 5:56 am

sorry about the "smiles" above, i thought it would work here.
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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Postby masrazfb » Mon Feb 21, 2011 5:29 pm

Hello DrDave

I really need help on answering this question and I am at a loss at who to turn to.
I am currently a first year undergraduate student at a 4 year public university. The university im currently at is ranked #25 nationally. It is 2 hours away from my home. Due to personal reasons I wish to transfer to a university closer to my home for the coming year. The two universities im considering are very different. The first one is George Washington University (private, ranked #51 nationally, also has a medical school) and the second is George Mason University (public, ranked #143 nationally).

I guess what it comes down to is, does the rank and prestige of your undergraduate institution matter to medical schools? For GW-#51, obviously the academic level is much closer to my original university which was at a high rank. However, at GMU-#143 im sure my gpa would be stellar because I have some friends that go there and they are doing very well and I consider myself at a little bit higher academic level than them. Do you think it is more beneficial to me to stand out at a MUCH lower university (i mean you can see that the difference is almost -150 spots) or try to do my best to stand out at the better one since im already transferring from a good one to begin with? Do you think if i went to the lower one it would seem as if i skipped out on #25 because it was too hard or something?

Thank you so much
M.
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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Postby oliviadc » Wed Mar 16, 2011 7:19 am

Hi,
I go to UCSD. I am currently a first year, and I am pre-med. I am a biochem/chem major, but I may switch into literature or biology. I received a C in calculus and in chem6A and 6B (the general chem classes). I am freaking out! I am afraid this will prevent me from getting into medical school in the future--especially since I can't say what my grades in the future will be. I'm going to do my best to do better, but do you have any advice or thoughts?
-Thank you,
Olivia
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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Postby DrDave » Mon Mar 21, 2011 3:42 am

masrazfb,

Pick whichever college is the best fit for you. You have a good explanation why you are changing schools. Most medical schools don't put a huge amount of weight in where you are going to college unless it is really a very top tier school or a very low level college. The reason to go to a better college is because it will get you a better education - not because a medical school will weight it higher. Unless you plan on going to a top tier medical school, it likely won't make as much of a difference as you think.

oliviadc,

Your grades definitely are going to make getting into medical school a challenge. One C in a pre-med course isn't usually a deal breaker, but since it sounds like you've gotten all C's so far, there is a reasonable chance you will continue to have a struggle in the pre-med science classes. Organic chemistry is more difficult for most than general chemistry. Biology may wind up being a better fit for you, but you won't know until you take more of the biology courses and see what your grades are like in those classes.

If you are completely set on going to medical school, continue to do your best and see how things go. I would highly recommend you keep reasonable expectations, though, as it may be that medical school just won't be the right fit for you.
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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Postby li66 » Thu Apr 07, 2011 3:35 am

Hello,

I took Ochem II in the summer and got a D in it. I decided to retake it this spring but I ended up dropping it. I decided to drop it in the spring because I was scared that I was only going to get a C instead of a B or higher. I did not want to ruin my GPA by getting a C in ochem II, especially since the D hurt my gpa alot. I am doing great in all my other classes...its just the D thats holding me back. Do I still have a shot at med school? Should I retake Ochem II one more time or is it possible to get into med school by having a good MCAT score and a good GPA?
Please help!

Thank you
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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Postby DrDave » Fri Apr 08, 2011 5:07 am

I have heard of some situations where a student got a D in organic chemistry, retook it and got a B, and was able to get into medical school. I've also heard of people getting into DO school with retaking organic chemistry and getting a C. It is obviously not easy, but a lot depends on the overall pattern of your grades. If this was a single bad grade, and you have demonstrated that you can perform well in all other science classes, then you will have a stronger application than someone who has had a pattern of bad grades in pre-med courses. A strong MCAT score in the science sections will help as well.

With a D, I think you definitely need to do something to demonstrate that you are capable of doing that coursework.

As always, this is just my opinion and I'd strongly encourage you to speak to your school's pre-med advisor. If you get more feedback from them, I'd appreciate if you could share the information here for others. I think your situation is fairly common and people need to be realistic in their self-assessment of their situation.
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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Postby anniecrhis » Tue Apr 12, 2011 3:44 pm

Hello,
I have a few questions and concerns. My undergraduate GPA is 3.37/decent but not great. I haven't taken any premed classes and I'm currently deciding whether I should enroll in a postbac program or take the premed classes at a state school. I applied to Bryn Mawr and didn't get in, and dont' know what to make of it. I'm currently looking at maybe northwestern or harvard postbacc programs. I went to BYU for my undergrad and got a degree in Communications. The ironic thing about this is that before deciding to go into medical school I got into a few Ivy leagues for a MA in communications. I have decided to let that go and go to medical school.
I am worry that my undergrad gpa is not good enough, and I also took longer than 4 years to graduate because I had health related issues and had to take some time off school. Hope you can advice me what the best route will be and if I can do anything to redeem my undergrad GPA
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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Postby DrDave » Thu Apr 14, 2011 4:24 am

anniecrhis,

There are a few old discussions here about post-bacc programs vs taking required classes outside of a specific program. Here's one - and then you can follow some of the related links at the end:

Post-bac full time or take courses while working full time

Your undergrad GPA isn't too bad, especially if you get good grades in your pre-med courses. The challenge is that pre-med courses are often very difficult compared to non-science classes, especially for people who aren't naturally science-oriented thinkers. There is not a good way to predict how you will do until you take the classes.

I can't really comment on how post-bacc programs determine who will get accepted. I just don't have much experience in that area. It could be something as simple as their class already being full when you applied.

I would think the fact that you took more than 4 years to finish college shouldn't be an issue, as long as you weren't wasting the extra time. Taking time off for health related issues can work to your favor if you are able to discuss in your med school application how the experience may help you be a better doctor.

As I said before, your GPA is probably close enough that if you do well in your pre-med courses, and assuming you do well on the MCAT, you should be competitive at some programs. A lot will depend on how you do in those pre-med courses. I can't really say whether it is better to do a post-bacc program vs taking the courses separately. That's a decision that you'll have to make based on what you know of the various programs.

To give you a better idea of how your GPA stacks up, take a look at this thread which has tables showing acceptance rates based on GPA and MCAT scores.

Best of luck, and please keep us updated on what you decide and why, as well as how it goes.
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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Postby adecesare1 » Mon May 09, 2011 10:19 pm

For the 1 year pre-reqs to get into medical school, What exactly does it mean by 1 year of those classes?

Does it mean 2 terms, say chem 1 and 2 or phys 1 and 2 ? or is there such thing as 1 course that lasts for those 2 terms ?
Please clear this up for me, Thank you.
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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Postby caTaclysm » Thu May 12, 2011 5:13 am

Hello Dr. Dave,

I go to sophomore undergraduate student at UCSD in the Chemistry department and I currently have a 3.095 GPA.
I know these grades are really bad for getting into medical school but I have been improving
ever since my first quarter in college last year (I had a 2.8GPA). Since students usually apply
to medical school during the end of junior year, will I be able to raise my GPA high enough to have shot?
Would raising it to ~ a 3.4 be /okay/? And do medical schools look up upon improvement?

I also plan to study for and take the MCAT this summer. What MCAT score would you say will
be enough to make up for my low GPA?

I'm also working in a laboratory and plan to start volunteering in a hospital soon.
Will this help my chances?

Thank you in advance.
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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Postby DrDave » Sun May 15, 2011 4:12 am

adecesare1 wrote:For the 1 year pre-reqs to get into medical school, What exactly does it mean by 1 year of those classes?

Does it mean 2 terms, say chem 1 and 2 or phys 1 and 2 ? or is there such thing as 1 course that lasts for those 2 terms ?
Please clear this up for me, Thank you.


Adecasare1,

At most colleges, it means general chemistry 1 and general chemistry 2, or something similar, with each course being a semester. I'm not aware of any schools that offer one year long course, but I suppose it is possible.
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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Postby DrDave » Sun May 15, 2011 5:11 am

caTaclysm,

I have heard that schools do tend to give some benefit if your grades improved since your freshman year. I can't really say how much it will help you, but if anything, it won't hurt you. As for grades and MCAT scores, there is a thread with some links to very detailed information here: MCAT scores and Grades needed to get into medical school

According to the data from that thread, for applicants with a GPA between 3.2 and 3.39:

MCAT 21-23 Acceptance rate = 13.4%
MCAT 24-26 Acceptance rate = 18%
MCAT 27-29 Acceptance rate = 25.9%
MCAT 30-32 Acceptance rate = 38.7%
MCAT 33-35 Acceptance Rate = 51.3%
MCAT 36-38 Acceptance Rate = 61.1%

The numbers improve quite a bit for the 3.4 - 3.59 bracket, as an MCAT of 30-32 in that bracket had an acceptance rate of 55.5%.

Volunteering and do lab work won't hurt you, but most medical students have that same experience. It won't be the thing that would make or break your application like grades and MCAT scores.
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