Medical School Requirements: Letters Of Recommendation
Anyone can say I’m great at my job, I’m the top employee but what would that individual’s supervisor say about them? Would they echo those claims or have something entirely different to say? Speaking with that individual’s supervisor is the only way to know for sure and this same principle applies to students applying to medical school. Letters of recommendation give the admissions committee insight into whether or not you’re as good or committed as you say you are. On average, schools require three medical school recommendation letters to accompany your application, however, this varies between schools so be sure you’re aware of the number of letters your school requires, who they must be from, and whether or not there is a maximum amount you can submit.
Want a quick overview of how to choose your referees?
Wondering how to receive outstanding letters of recommendation? Check out our video below:
Always Aim To Be Early
Thinking ahead is a useful strategy for every part of applying to medical school. You need to plan for things like writing your personal statement and securing strong letters of recommendation. Excellent letters can only come from individuals who know you incredibly wellit takes time to build those relationships. Dr. Williams recalls writing a strong recommendation for a student who worked in her office as a scribe. I could write something about her, because after four or five months of working with her on almost a daily basis, I had things to say, she reflects. And while its possible to submit applications before youve received your MCAT scores, Dr. Williams warns against that. Shes had admissions committee experience and says a completed application simply looks better.
“Why would I waste time having you come out and going through the interview process if youre not even ready?”
Why would I waste time having you come out and going through the interview process if youre not even ready? she poses.
How Long Is Medical School
Medical school is four years long. Your time will be organized roughly like this:
Increasingly, medical schools are mixing up some of those schedules, getting to clinical rotations as early as the second year or bringing students back into the classroom during the third year for more intensive study.
As medical school progresses, youll have a chance to take courses beyond the building blocks of the natural sciences, including in the medical humanities, public health, and ethics.
Overall, youll go through a mix of textbook work and clinical exposure .
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What Medical Schools Look For
I often tell students, Medical school admissions is hard, but its not complicated.
My point is that while there is little mystery regarding what it takes to get into medical school, pulling it off can be difficult. As an analogy, its one thing to understand how to dunk a basketball on a 10-foot rimgrab the ball, jump and extend your arm high enough to get the ball over the hoop, and dunkbut an entirely different thing to do it.
Getting into medical school is so hard, in fact, that nearly 60% of applicants fail to matriculate into all MD programs they apply to. In other words, most applicants dont get in anywhere. Therefore, there is little room for error with the admissions process and its important that you achieve at the highest levels youre able, with regard to academics and extracurriculars.
While its important to know medical school requirements , its also critical to understand why medical school admissions committees expect you to complete certain coursework, achieve at a certain level, and participate in various extracurricular activities: to demonstrate your commitment to medicine, including the lifelong pursuit of academic knowledge, passion for promoting health, and desire to serve people.
There Are Many Pathways To Medical School
The traditional route to getting into medical school is four years for an undergraduate degree before starting medical school. But that’s not the only option. Here are a few other paths to becoming a doctor.
- 4-6 years to complete a bachelors degree. If you dont finish your bachelors degree in four years, thats okay, especially if youre adding a second major or minors.
- Community college credits. Some students start at a community college for one reason or another. Beginning at a community college does not hinder your chances of getting into medical school at most institutions.
- Post-baccalaureate programs. The University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine offers post-bac programs for students that already have a bachelors degree but require additional education in sciences to fulfill the medical school pre-requisites. Students that are accepted to the post-bac program and complete all program requirements receive a guaranteed seat as a medical student at UNR Med.
- BS-MD program. This highly selective program allows incoming college freshman to receive a guaranteed seat in medical school upon completion of their bachelors degree. BS-MD programs differ across the county, so be sure to see what the requirements are at each school.
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Classes You Need To Get Into Med School
As a pre-med student, its your responsibility to take all the right classes. Each school varies on the classes they require. Its up to you to conduct all relevant research. Know what classes your desired med schools require for admissions.
Some of the classes that all medical schools in the US require include:
- English 1 Year
- Biology with Lab 1 Year
- General Chemistry with Lab 1 Year
- Organic Chemistry with Lab 1 Year
- Physics with Lab 1 Year
- Biochemistry 1 Semester
- Math Either Statistics or Calculus or Both
These are not the only classes taken by pre-med students. They are only the standard ones. Some schools require you to take other courses too. So, do your research.
Apply To Multiple Schools
Improve your odds by not placing all your hopes on one school. Do individual research on each school, says Seigneurie application requirements can vary from school to school and from year-to-year.
She also notes that you can reach out to admission committees with specific questions about the program and expectations. And, she says, don’t be bummed if at first you don’t succeed. Try again. “If you dont get accepted into the school of your dreams, its OK! Schools have many applicants and cant take everyone,” says McKenzie, who was accepted into the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine. “My dad, who has been a family physician for 29 years, often tells me, An MD is an MD, it doesnt matter where you go to school.
“Don’t take it personally when you get some rejectionsthey happen at every stage of the game. If you cast a wide net, you’ll increase your likelihood of getting an acceptance.”Dr. Carlson
Other ways to get noticed among the hundreds or even thousands of medical school applications submitted each year: send supplemental materials beyond your application. For example, “if you’ve published a paper, consider sending a copy of the publication with a handwritten note to the director of admissions, indicating you really hope to be considered for acceptance,” she says.
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Secondary Applications To Medical School
After you submit your AMCAS, AACOMAS, or TMDSAS applications, you will start receiving secondary applications in the mail. Secondary applications are another level of filtering for ranking medical school applicants. At many schools, every single applicant who submits a primary application will get a secondary application.
Sending secondaries to everyone benefits the medical schools in multiple ways. The fees you will pay for secondary applications is anywhere from $40 to $120 or more each. This can really add up, for you and the schools. Sending secondaries to everyone also reduces the school’s huge pile of applications to go through since not everyone will return a secondary application.
A rule of thumb is that you should try to return your secondary applications within two weeks of receiving them. This shows the medical schools that you are interested in attending their school specifically.
Many students choose to prewrite their secondary essays to help them meet this two-week turnaround window. Since most medical schools reuse the same essay prompts every year, you can use a database like our Secondary Application Essay Library to prewrite your answers. Then, when you get the actual prompts from the school, you can just double check your answers, and send it back right away.
Take The Mcat Seriously
One of the most daunting medical school application requirements is the Medical College Admission Test , a rigorous exam. Medical schools scrutinize MCAT scores considerably when reviewing applications, so you truly need to put your best foot forward. That means you need to start studying as early as possible. The minute that you decide youre going to apply to medical school is when preparation for the MCAT should begin, Dr. Williams urges.
“The minute that you decide youre going to apply to medical school is when preparation for the MCAT should begin.”
Dr. Dorenkamp agrees that you need to do as well as you possibly can. He actually suggests taking it twice. The second time I studied for the MCAT over summer break when I could dedicate all my energy to the test, which resulted in a drastic improvement in my score, he reflects.
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What Are The Cons Of Attending A Liberal Arts College As A Pre
Didn’t Get In Now What
If, for some reason, you aren’t accepted, use it as an opportunity to review and strengthen your application for next time. You can also consider another profession in the growing health-care field. Either way, use the additional time granted to you to build your character, determination, and empathy critical traits for great physicians and health-care professionals.
The application process, even in the case of a rejection, is about making you a stronger, more relatable person in order to one day better support and empathize with patients
“The application process, even in the case of a rejection, is about making you a stronger, more relatable person in order to one day better support and empathize with patients,” says Kaitlyn. “If students are committed, we help them plan for their next application or talk about alternatives, such as a modified timeline. No matter which option you prefer, at Waterloo we always have your back.”
With so much competition for admission to med school, students who are highly qualified for careers in health also have many opportunities to pursue related careers in medicine and health.
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Medical School Study Tip #16
Remember Your âWhyâ
As a medical student, there will be times when you feel like giving upâ¦ usually at the end of an 80-hour study week. Keep something around that reminds you of why you want to become a doctor and what you will contribute to the world when you finish medical school.
Is it a picture of a loved one who passed away from a incurable disease? Is it a picture you drew as a kid of your white-coated future? Is it a copy of Patch Adams? A copy of Dr. Seuss?
Whatever the reason was that spurred you to finish college, pass the MCAT, and get into medical school, itâs a worthy reason. Let it be a beacon of hope for you on the most difficult days.
Study Medicine In The Us
Studying medicine in the US is extremely challenging, but if you have the passion and are willing put inthe effort required, it is worth the hard work. After graduation, you will have the skills to help those in need,and make a real difference in people’s lives. That in itself is worth the hours of hard work.
International students who love to help people and be faced with new and challenging experiences may want to considerstudying medicine in the US. The path is long and hard, but the reward for those students who want to study medicineis a secure, well-paying job that you can be proud of.
Medical School Study Tip #10
Get to Know Your Faculty
Speaking of learning environmentsâa medical school that has a small faculty-to-student ratio means that you’re much more than a number to your professors.
Getting to know them on a personal level gives you access to a knowledge base that extends far beyond the curriculum they teach. The unique level of personal attention provides a tight-knit community to support you every step of the way.
In addition to leading classes and assigning projects, don’t forget that your teachers can be invaluable resources as you embark on a career in medicine. Learn from them by scheduling one-on-one time, asking questions, and developing a relationship.
Picking The Best Premed Major
How important is your major in getting into medical school? Some people think you need to major in biology or chemistry in college in order to go to medical school. Fortunately, those people are wrong.
You can major in any subject you want and still get into medical school. In fact, only 63% of students accepted to medical school majored in the physical and biological sciences in college.
So what is the best major for medical school? It really depends on what you’re interested in. We covered some more about this question here.
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You Might Not Study The Same Way Your Peers Do
Different students use different learning strategiescreating flashcards, highlighting text, drawing diagrams, and so onto absorb the material. This remains true in medical school, so it isnt always helpful to try something that works for one of your classmates. Dr. Sujka recalls that many of his fellow students suggested hed do fine in pathology if he just read the book rather than attending lectures.
I definitely needed to go to class. I couldn’t just read the book and retain the information.
I realized very quickly that wasn’t true, he warns. I definitely needed to go to class. I couldn’t just read the book and retain the information.If you know that a particular study method has worked for you in the past, sticking with it can help in preparing for medical school. This certainly worked for Dr. Sujka.I actually doubled down on what had been successful for me during undergrad and did that in medical school, but in a bit more of a detail-oriented way, he explains. For Dr. Sujka, flashcards were extremely effective.
What Are The Best Pre
There are a small number of colleges who offer actual pre-med majors, but those programs tend to not be very strong , and med schools aren’t particularly impressed by these degrees since, as mentioned above, any major can be pre-med as long as you take the classes required to go to med school.
According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, just a little over half of all students applying to med school majored in the biological sciences. The others majored in a variety of areas, including humanities, math, social sciences, and physical sciences.
Additionally, med school applicants who majored in biological sciences, on average, didn’t score any higher on the MCAT than students who majored in other areas. So what you major in doesn’t necessarily determine how well you’ll do on the MCAT.
So if you’re pre-med and wondering what to major in, the best advice is to choose a major that you’re interested in and think you can do well in while completing all the pre-med requirements. However, there are some majors that are much more popular among pre-med students than others. Below are five of the best pre-med majors. Each of them will help give you the skills needed to succeed in med school and as a doctor.
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Why Are You Considering Graduate School
First things first, ask yourself why grad school. Do you want to pursue something specific? Are you having doubts about medicine? Are you unsure of whether you should pursue a Master’s or a Ph.D.? Are you afraid you wont get in? Why do you want to be a doctor? Have you been wondering “How hard is it to get into medical school?” and wondered whether a graduate degree might help your chances? Whatever the reason, answer that question.
It is important to realize that pursuing a grad degree simply to bolster your med school application is not a good idea. Grad school is hard and expensive! You must have a better reason to pursue grad school than simply improving your admissions chances. If you need to boost your GPA or extracurriculars for medical school, enrolling in a post-bacc for medical school is a better option.
But if you decide that you want to attend graduate school before you commit to the path of medicine, let’s examine how a grad degree can help you.
Wondering about the difference between undergrad experience and grad school?