Pre Medical Guide to Medical School Admissions

Regis University

Congratulations... ...you have apparently decided to investigate the possibility of a medical career-specifically that of a medical doctor. This was designed to give a brief rundown on the pre-med scene and medical school admissions process. Begin with the Introduction for more information.

Disclaimer:

You will not find a formula for guaranteed success in pre-med classes or in securing admission to medical school. Your success is dependent on YOU and your commitment to pursuing medicine as a career. Good luck!

Pre Med?

One of the most common questions regarding medical school applications is: Do you have to be a Pre-Med major to get into medical school?

The answer is a resounding NO! In fact, Regis does not even offer a Pre-Med major. However, if you are scientifically inclined (which you probably should be if you want to be a doctor), several of the science majors fulfill all or most of the prerequisites for entry into medical school.

In speaking to several medical students, they recommended NOT majoring in a science if you are more passionate about Literature than the intricacies of biology, chemistry, or neuroscience. The reasoning behind that is simple-study what you love because medical schools do not prefer science majors over English, Philosophy, or even Business majors. Also, if for some unforeseen reason you do not get into medical school (for a while, at least), you should be educated in a field in which you would potentially enjoy working.

MD and DO degrees?

What kinds of doctors are there?

Of course, there is no degree that is outright better than the other. The benefits of either degree vary based on your goals and interests. Based on this, in a more traditional sense, there are two basic degrees that will qualify you to practice medicine-the medical doctorate (traditional MD) and the degree granted to a doctor of osteopathy (the DO). Both require the basic science prerequisites, the MCAT, and varied life experiences.

Which degree is better?

Most traditional or allopathic schools are affiliated with the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and use the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) application. This type of school confers the traditional MD degree on its graduates. Residencies in all specialties are most accessible with this degree, which focuses on traditional causes and progressions of disease. In this respect, there is more keen competition between applicants based on their historically higher MCAT scores, GPAs, and greater number of applicants.

The osteopathic schools of medicine have been established more recently and fewer schools exist to which you may apply. The administrative organization for osteopathic schools is the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM). They use a centralized application process similar to the AMCAS system called AACOM Application Service (AACOMAS). Often, evaluators consider students with lower MCAT scores and grades who have varied and extensive life experiences (especially related to osteopathic medicine). From what I understand, osteopathic physicians emphasize more of a whole-body concept of medicine in which connections and prevention are key. For this reason, many people desiring to work in primary care (family medicine, ob/gyn, internal medicine, and pediatrics) choose to pursue a DO degree. See the Osteopathic Medicine page for additional information on osteopathic medical schools.

Regardless of which degree you earn, remember that both degrees are well respected within the medical community. The degree that is most valuable will be the one that fits you and your ultimate aims best. Aside from deciding between the type of degree you want, you shouldnít worry too much about choosing specialties, as most medical students usually change their minds and passions during their clinical rotations.

Prerequisites?

Exactly which classes do medical schools require?

All medical schools require the following courses be completed BEFORE matriculation (you know, enrollment as a med student):

COURSE TITLE

REGIS COURSE NUMBER

CREDIT HOURS

Biology (Lab and Lecture)

BL 260/261, BL 262/263

8 Semester Hours

Inorganic Chemistry

CH 210/211, CH 460/461

8-10 Semester Hours

Organic Chemistry

CH 250/251, CH350/351

8-10 Semester Hours

Physics

PH 204A/205A, PH 204B/205B

8 Semester Hours

Many schools also require English classes (6-9 SH) and Calculus. Some are now strongly recommending genetics. These requirements vary depending on the medical school, so you ought to check them out specifically as you deem necessary. Some schools also require that you hold a Bachelorís degree, so it is your responsibility to fit in core and major classes around these required science courses. The idea of the prerequisites is founded on several bases: you need the information to take the MCAT; medical schools need an initial starting point; and schools need to know that you can succeed in the sciences (because much of a medical education lies within basic science).

Consult the course catalog and bulletin to determine the exact requirements for graduation with your major. 

When should they be taken?

For reasons yet to be discussed (see the MCAT section), consider the following recommendations for the order in which you should take the prerequisite classes:

COURSE

RECOMMENDATION

Biology (Lab and Lecture)

Freshman or Sophomore Year

Inorganic Chemistry

Principles Freshman Year and Inorganic Sophomore Year

Organic Chemistry

2nd Semester Freshman Year 1st Semester Sophomore Year

Physics

Sophomore Year (Junior Year is OK, if necessary)

The goal is to have completed all of these classes before your Junior year if you plan to enter medical school immediately following your wonderful graduation from Regis. Of course, if you are planning to take a year or more off before entering medical school, there is more leeway for readjusting your schedule. Additionally, taking classes like Techniques in Molecular Biology, Neuroscience, Physical Chemistry, Biochemistry, Immunology, Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy and Genetics was helpful in preparing for the MCAT and courses in medical school.

And most importantly, how well do you have to do in them?

Regarding your success in these classesÖ the only advice that should be given is: DO AS WELL AS YOU POSSIBLY CAN. This is not to say that you should abandon all social interactions, become a hermit, and study organic reactions all day, but it does not look good to have received a C- in a basic science class. Therefore, get as many A and B grades as you can. So, do you get the drift? Work hard and you will one day reap the benefits of knowing linear kinematics (what?--donít worry, youíll learn all those equations later). I understand that the GPAs of successful applicants (the ones who were accepted) range from 3.5-3.8 overall and 3.5-3.6 science (Biology, Chemistry, Math, and Physics).

MCAT?

First of all, what is it? How do you relate your diligent studies to it? Is it really as lengthy and horrible as everyone says it is?

Mention the MCAT to any pre-med student and you will probably hear painful groans or obscenities in reply. Well, the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) is an exam that tests your knowledge of the basic sciences that you will have covered in your prerequisite classes. Medical schools use it as a means to standardize applicants. In that, I mean they use this national (and international) test to compare one applicant with another since grades vary so much between colleges (a Harvard A is probably not of equal weight to a community college A). They use your MCAT scores and your grades to formulate a general academic profile for you.

So, by the end of your sophomore year, you will have (hopefully) completed the prerequisites and remembered every equation and reaction--yeah right. This way, (ideally) all of your basic science classes will be completed by the time you sit for the MCAT during your JUNIOR year (it takes a year to apply). Anyway, the MCAT tests your ability to assimilate and apply the information and principles you gleaned from the prerequisite classes. The test is organized in the following way:

TEST SECTION

MATERIAL COVERED

TIME ALLOWED

Verbal Reasoning

Reading comprehension

85 minutes

Physical Sciences

Inorganic Chemistry and Physics

100 minutes

Writing (2 Essays)

Writing Skills

60 minutes (30 for each essay)

Biological Sciences

Biology and Organic Chemistry

100 minutes

Please note that the MCAT is offered twice, and only twice, each year (on Saturday or sometimes Sunday if you have a really good excuse). There is a test date in April (usually coinciding with Ranger Day) and an August test date. Nearly everyone recommends that you sit for the April test if you plan to apply that summer. Why? Simply because you will receive your scores in June, and you can decide whether to apply right away, or to retake the MCAT. If you take the August test, scores will not be available until late October, which is precariously near the AMCAS application deadlines for most schools. The test is offered in numerous locations around the country, with a few test sites located abroad.

Obviously, taking the MCAT is an all-day affair, and a stressful/mentally taxing one at that. Do not fret! By the time you sit for the exam, you will have prepared yourself so it will not feel so stressful. Plus, it doesnít seem so terrible after you have actually completed it.

The pre-med advisor should have registration packets, but if not available to you, request one from this address, or you may be able to request one online at www.aamc.org:

MCAT Program Office
PO Box 4056
Iowa City, IA 52243

What can you do to prepare for it?

You will be responsible for studying for the MCAT, since you will be the one taking it. There are several ways of accomplishing this:

Students have had the most success following plans 2 and 3, but you have to make the decision based on your study habits and financial situation. However, it is very important that you sit down at least once to take an entire MCAT practice test. This will familiarize you with the format and the long, long time it takes to complete it so you are not stupefied on test day. For an even more realistic simulation, take the test in an uncomfortable chair at an unfamiliar location.

The best advice is not only to know the basics, but to know them well. With a complete knowledge of the fundamental principles of each major subject, you should be able to figure out tricky questions on the MCAT. Oh, youíll need to memorize some chemistry and physics equations, so donít wait until April to start cramming!

Tips for test day...

What is the score release option?

You can choose, on test day, to withhold your scores (and possibly release them later) or to release them immediately. Withholding scores delays their release to AMCAS and sometimes looks unfavorable to medical schools. Some assume that you must have done poorly. But if you have prepared thoroughly, you should have no reservation when it comes to releasing your scores. Even if you do poorly and improve during the next sitting, releasing your previous scores will show them that you improved greatly upon your last scores.

Scores! When do they come and how high do you need to score?

After the exam, you should expect to wait 6 to 8 weeks for the testing service to send scores. However, August test takers often complain about a 9+ week wait.

One of the most anticipated and potentially dreadful times of your undergraduate career will occur when you receive the envelope with your scores. With trepidation and enough adrenaline racing through your body to burst a buffalo, you will demolish the envelope, frantically looking for the tiny piece of paper that will, in part, determine what you are going to do with the rest of your life.

To be considered by most medical schools, you must score at or above the mean. Most pre-meds consider double digit scores as darn respectable and competitive in many med schoolsí applicant pools. Do not expect to score 14 or 15 (but you should try that hard anyway), as fewer than 3% of all test takers do so. For 1999 test takers, the following statistics were given:

VERBAL

PHYSICAL

BIOLOGICAL

WRITING

% with double digits

31.4

33.2

38.0

N/A

Mean Score

8.0

8.4

8.0

P (50th Percentile)

Range of Scores

1-13/15

1-15

1-15

J-T

What happens if your scores are not up to supposed medical school standards?

Well, do not yet fret. If you took the April exam and are motivated enough to spend a good part of your summer studying, you can register for the August MCAT. But if you cannot or do not want to retake it in August, you can wait another year and take the April test. By partaking in the latter option, your application will be delayed another year, so you can pursue other activities during that time. If this occurs, just remember that many students experience this very phenomenon, unfortunate though it may seem--use this to strengthen your resolve for the next MCAT! Just be able to relate your job, schooling, activities, etc. during your year off to your ultimate goal of practicing medicine.

AMCAS application?

What is it, exactly? How do you get started? What costs are involved?

The medical schools have banded together to "simplify" the application process. It is actually pretty considerate of them, so you donít have to fill out SO many initial applications. The common application that all medical schools (except the Texas state schools and a few others) use is called the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS). It is available in paper form and in electronic form. If you choose paper, you have to type your information into tiny spaces, but in electronic form you can fill it out on your computer, print a copy for yourself, and send in the disk.

More about the AMCAS-E a.k.a. the Wonderful Electronic Application...

Believe me, the AMCAS on computer is tons better than the paper form. Hereís why:

To download it, go to the AAMC page listed in Online Resources and follow the links. You will need three 1.44MB diskettes (two for the program and one for your file), or you can save it directly to your hard drive directly. It is straightforward and simple if you read carefully and click appropriately. Oh, yes, one factor that is important is mailing it in a sturdy 3.5" diskette mailer that has some sort of static-free coating on the inside. You wouldnít want your many hours of data entry to be zapped into oblivion on its way to the processing center. You can purchase disk mailers at office supply stores, post offices, and various other locations. Above all--SAVE COPIES OF THE DISK AND THE PRINTOUT (for future reference and in case of unforeseen mishaps).

The early decision program is intended for early applicants who really, really, want to go to one specific school. You can apply early decision to one school and regular decision to others. You will have an opportunity to be considered, interviewed and (hopefully) accepted before the regular pool of applicants. If you are accepted, you MUST withdraw all other applications to other schools. If you are not accepted, you will probably be considered with the other applicants at all the schools at which you applied. The drawbacks are that you are locked in to the school if accepted, and that you have to have high scores, GPA and an outstanding application to be accepted with EDP. Benefits are that your application is turned in early, with more consideration probably given to you.

Combined Degree Programs

Since I have no direct experience with this, I can't say much about them. However, some schools offer MD/PhD (medical research), MD/JD (lawyers), MD/MBA (business), MD/MPH (public health), and the odd philosophy or technical degree. The availablilty and funding for these programs varies, so check with each medical school for specifics. Some require additional information, like GRE scores or LSAT scores for your application. Also, funding for MD/PhD programs (MSTP-Medical Scientist Training Program) is available sometimes, which pays for your education. Again, the best advice is to check with the schools you are interested in attending.

Fees?

It gets expensive if you apply to multiple schools. I think the average applicant transmits the AMCAS application to about 10-15 schools. Some apply to only one and others to 18-20. It really depends on where you want to go to school. The cost of the initial application to one school is $55, and each additional school is 20-40 dollars more. Fee waivers are available by application for those who need financial assistance.


Transcripts and stuff...

One very important task to complete before you send in your AMCAS application is requesting transcripts from EVERY undergraduate institution you have attended--even if it was a correspondence course or a summer class. There is a form you can print out for each transcript request that is integrated into the AMCAS-E computer program. Donít forget to sign it and include any transcript fees that might be required. Be sure to emphasize the importance of their not sending the transcripts until after spring grades are recorded. If they send them prior to this, you must have the updated transcript sent again (a pain). A suggestion is to request that one be sent to you to both check spring grades and to help you in filling out your application. Remember the AMCAS processing office will receive transcripts no earlier than March 15th.

What essay?

Freshman composition will come in handy after all! Writing is an opportunity with many dimensions. Because of this, there is a completely separate section devoted to such an important and sometimes mortifying task. Thus, you may refer to the designated ESSAY section appended to the back of this packet.

Honors/Awards, Extracurricular Activities and Volunteer/Paid Employment

Simply stated, this is your chance to sell yourself regarding the hopefully broad activities and interests you have pursued SINCE high school. It is not advisable to include high school activities in this application unless they continued into your college career. In the application, there are areas in which you list, in chronological order, the most important of your accomplishments. Be sure to include things like the Deanís list, clubs or organizations to which you belong, employment (workstudy and other), as well as volunteer work. Generally, schools like applicants who have several and diverse activities, but show long term commitment to at least some. It is also important that you mention any healthcare-related activities if they were significant. Avoid listing things that you did only one day, or for a few hours because they probably werenít that significant to you (but include them if they were).

Important dates!

Donít forget that AMCAS has deadlines as well. However, the earlier you send in your application, the better the chance of it being reviewed at a medical school while the number of applicants is still small. Even if you take the August MCAT, send in your AMCAS before you get your scores back so the application can be reviewed upon receipt of your scores. Another option is to wait until the next summer to send in early applications (many Juniors take the August MCAT and apply the following summer (after you graduate)--this way, they have a year off to do something productive before med school). The earliest transcripts will be received by the processing center is March 15th, and it begins accepting completed applications on June 1st. The latest you can submit the AMCAS varies depending on deadlines of individual schools, and this information is contained within the application, itself.

What happens next?

You will soon receive confirmation that your application has been received. It will be processed and checked out after which you will receive a transmittal notification. This means that the application has been sent to the schools you designated. Then, kick back, enjoy a cool beverage, and wait a few weeks. Secondary applications will be arriving in your mailbox within 1-4 weeks after your application is transmitted.

Secondary Applications?

More applications? What are they? And you thought you were finished--ha.

Schools often require more information on why you want to be a doctor and, more specifically, why you want to go to their school. Sometimes all they require is that you send in letters of recommendation, but others require extensive essays and explanations. Basically, they supplement the fairly dry and academic data you submitted through AMCAS.

What costs are involved?

OK, it would not be an application if it did not have a fee attached. Fees range from $25-$100 depending on the school. It ends up being really expensive if you send several secondary applications back. However, the only way in which to secure an interview is through the secondary application process.

How do you fill them out?

Advice for secondary application procedures? Promptness is greatly appreciated and highly beneficial. The earlier you send in your application, the greater the chance you will be invited for an interview and considered with the first, relatively small group of applicants. Typing the applications on a word processor or the dreaded typewriter is more professional and looks much better than handwriting an application (unless specifically requested in your script). Also, be wary of application deadlines. Some schools allot two to four weeks in which you must return your application (donít be late). Make an extra copy of the blank and completed application form for safekeeping (and possible addition to our Regis Pre-med resources). Try not to become trapped in the, "Iíve already filled out so many applications I could now care less," state of mind. Regarding more information on the completion of your secondary applications please read on...

How do I get letters of recommendation? Who should write them?

Secondary applications often entail sending letters of recommendation attesting to your potential as a future physician. You should, of course, follow any specific instructions a school may give you. Some require two letters from science professors, while others require one from an advisor and others from non-science professors--it depends on the school. Otherwise, you may have physicians you know well (not just because they have the MD), employers, supervisors, coaches, or other personally significant figures write for you, not family members because theyíre pretty biased. The best letters speak not only to your academic qualifications, but also to your personal characteristics. Be sure that your letter writers include more than just a reiteration of your résumé and transcript. Schools use these letters to assess your personal qualities before actually meeting you in person. Letter writers who write your letters should, therefore, know you fairly well. Committees appreciate diversity, so keep this in mind; donít limit yourself to science professors (unless specifically requested). DO NOT have someone write you a letter just because they hold a prestigious position (unless they know you well).

The number of letters per school varies, so read the instructions carefully! Many schools accept a committee letter (a composite evaluation), but Regis does not have a pre-med committee. You will have to request individual letters on your own. There is really no way around it--you have to ask people to write you letters of recommendation. Do yourself a favor and ask people if they will write you a positive, yet honest recommendation. If not, find someone else to write for you. A negative recommendation is certainly not good for your application. Asking nicely and humbly while presenting your potential letter writers with a good reason for the recommendation seems to work best. For your writers, especially at Regis, you should also include the following items:

It is very important to inform them of deadlines for letters! It may become necessary to harass them about sending the letters as a deadline approaches, but it is necessary for completion of your application! Until your letters are received, your application will be incomplete and will not be reviewed by the committee.

Once someone has written you a letter, it is simply a matter of changing the address and printing it out to another school, so do not worry about requesting ten letters from a single letter writer. For all letter writers, and particularly those who wrote several letters on your behalf, a Thank You note or some other token of your appreciation really shows that you value the time the writers spent slaving away on a computer for your future.

An Essay?

Why subject yourself to writing an essay? What should you include and how should you format it?

You, including all of the other applicants must do so to complete your AMCAS application. On your AMCAS application, you will be asked to submit a personal statement, of a limited length (about 1 page single spaced in Courier font). This essay will be read by admissions committee members who wish to form an impression of you that is not purely in resume form. It is your chance to impress them with your eloquence, maturity and desire to become a physician.

The essay, itself, should be a developed piece of your finest writing. Essays should deal with sharing some piece of information with the reviewers that is not included in your application, or needs to be developed more. Many students write about the following: a life-changing event, their academic experiences, volunteering, a challenge they have overcome, etc. Many tie the content of the essay in with a humanistic aspect and/or a desire to become a caring, empathetic, and skilled physician. It is not advisable to brag about your accomplishments (it sounds conceited), or to dwell on academic failure (though you might mention how it helped you later).

Regarding format, it can be anecdotal, informational, or informative. Choose a format with which you are most comfortable-if you do not write stories well, do not write a story. The five-paragraph essay is pretty standard, although some people prefer an abbreviated three or four.

How do you get started?

Any typical brainstorming session is sufficient, though you should probably gather a few ideas in case one runs out of "oomph" halfway through your writing. So, starts with several ideas, keeping your main point(s) clear and focused. Remember, you goal is not to tell your life story, just something relevant that will endear you to the readers.

Useful tips for writing and revising...

Most importantly, you should have people read and reread and edit and reedit your essay. This is an important part of your essay and you should not be hasty in preparing it. Spelling and grammar should be perfect. Of course, you should read it to yourself and to others to assure that content and context are correct, that the language is clear, and that you wrote what you intended. It might be a good idea (if possible) to make an appointment at the Writing Center. Be careful copying and pasting onto the AMCAS application! Preview it before you send it off to be sure you included all your information.

Interview?

How do you get one?

In general, committees review the secondary applications, selecting a number (who really knows how many?) of applicants to visit the medical school for further consideration. The bottom line is that once you are invited for an interview, you have a better chance of being accepted than you did before the interview. If you are invited, the school will notify you by mail or by phone as to what dates are available for you to visit the school and be observed in person.

Yeah, you do need to buy a suit.

This applies to both male and female applicants. Advice is to wrangle a fashion conscious friend into helping you choose a conservative ensemble (gray, blue, or the omnipresent black) that is comfortable. Sure, it doesnít hurt if it accentuates your ravishing beauty or handsome features (whichever applies to you), but donít be provocative. Med schools are generally very conservative, at least when it comes to fashion.

Do you have to travel there?

Yes. They want to see you and you should want to check out the campus. Plus, why else would you buy a suit? Anyway, since many interviews occur around the holiday travel season, plane tickets are a little pricey. Also, the earlier the reservation is made, the cheaper the ticket usually is. It gets very expensive if you have the good fortune of receiving many interviews.

Accommodations are your responsibility to arrange. Some lucky folks have relatives or friends nearby who will accommodate a frantic interviewee for a few days. Usually, there are nearby hotels that occasionally offer a shuttle service to the medical center. Some schools offer a host program in which you can stay with a current medical student. Experiences with hosts and host programs vary, so if you are not sure you want to crash on someoneís couch the night before an interview, play it safe with a hotel or motel. Taxis are always available in big cities, but rental cars are an expensive, but more liberating option.

Who, What, When?

Chances are, at least one member of the admissions committee will interview you, in addition to other individuals or groups. The best resource with regard to this is previous interviewees, because each schoolís interview process differs. Some interviews are conducted open-file (they know everything about you), some have only your file without grades, and some have no knowledge of you at all. Scheduling of the interview and corresponding activities of the day are determined by the medical school. The best website is Interview Feedback in the Online Resources section.

Advice for the interview?

Remember, it is OK to admit you donít know something (like specialty you will pursue, trivial pursuit-like questions, firm stances on controversial issues, etc.). Just making something up on the spot is not advisable and lying is worse.

Now what?

Again, you must wait--weeks or even months to find out what your future might entail. While you are waiting, you can and should send your interviewers and other helpful/friendly people from the medical school Thank You notes. Keep the Thank You notes short, but inclusive of your appreciation. Yes, it seems a little cheeezy, but it is just another manifestation of the courtesy every doctor should possess. Well, what should you say? Some of the following would be appropriate, depending on the nature of and experience gleaned from your interview day.

Then, you must wait for notification. This excruciating time period could be as short as two weeks or as long as forever. Some applicants never hear from certain schools. In a few cases, students will be accepted just before the school year starts--and even up to two weeks into the first semester. Don't give up hope!

Next...

What are my options?

After the interview ordeal is complete, you might receive a letter of acceptance, rejection, or notification that you are on the waiting list. Of course, there are many variations on each, so be patient and know what to expect (or not to expect) as you wait patiently to attack the mail carrier every day.

Hooray! You've been accepted!

Of course, this is the moment you've been waiting for, so celebrate and congratulate yourself. If you've been accepted to just one school, be sure to keep well informed about their enrollment and financial aid procedures. Some schools require a deposit to hold your place in the upcoming class--don't forget to send it in. Also, if you must take a year off, ask about their policy on deferrment (you generally need a reason like: peace corps, illness, etc.).

However, if you are one of the lucky monkeys to gain admission to more than one school, you can hold your places with deposits to accepting schools, although this is discouraged. However, if you hold multiple acceptances, you MUST decide by May 15th which school you will attend.

Waiting again! What is this waiting list?

Yes, waiting stinks, but being on the wait list is not necessarily a bad thing. When you interviewed, you were ranked against the other candidates. And while you were not in the first group to receive letters of acceptance, you weren't sent a reject notice right away. This translates to your name and file being on a list of people who may be accepted if people who were accepted decide not to enroll.

Depending on the school, many people who are wait listed are eventually accepted (up to half the enrolling class). This is what happens... Some people accept at several schools, choose one, and withdraw from the others. This allows more people to be accepted than actually enroll in that particular school. People are actually accepted through the summer into the first or second week into the beginning of the semester.

What if you are rejected?

Many students currently attending medical school are second or third-time applicants. I know of someone who applied five times and was finally accepted. If this is what you truly want to do in life, you will apply again--this time with more experience and determination. Use your time off to do something, what medical schools call "valuable life experience". That is, do something that is relevant to you and your goal of becoming a physician. It doesn't necessarily have to be medically related, but you should be able to connect it to your personal and professional goals. Even if you just work at a normal job in sales or something, make an effort to get involved in other, perhaps more meaningful activities. Good things to do include volunteering, teaching, research, etc., while not so good are watching TV for a year, surfing, and getting arrested.

DO NOT GIVE UP!!! Try again, using your application and interview experience to strengthen both for the next year. Again, apply early and be thorough!

Finances

Oh, no!

Oh, yes. Congratulations on being accepted, but now you have to figure out how to pay for your education. Unfortunately, medical education is super, incredibly, ridiculously expensive. Discussing financial matters would require opening another economy size can of grubs, so this will have to suffice.

Send in your FAFSA early and hope for the best. File taxes as soon as possible and finish all the paperwork promptly. This can be completed on paper or electronically (see Online Resources), depending on which you prefer. The school(s) to which you send your financial aid papers will send you additional forms and applications, so be sure to file your income tax return so you can include that information on the FAFSA and on their forms. For both of these, your parentsí information is also needed, and they can often help you fill out the forms. Make copies of everything.

What about getting a job?

For your sake and sanity, you probably won't want to work during medical school, as studying, rotations, and more studying will occupy most of your time. Remember, you must sleep and eat as well. For this reason, most medical students do not work during their four years in school and go into debt from loans. Other means of funding are difficult to find and to obtain. Don't worry too much because most residents and practicing physicians make enough money to make loan payments and sustain themselves otherwise.

Are there any other options?

There are a few scholarships available through the Army, Navy and Air Force, as well as the National Health Service Corps (NHSC). In addition, some schools offer grants and scholarships based on your qualifications and need. Note that these programs have binding commitments during and after your medical education. For more information on these see the Online Resource section. Other than that, you are on your own to find funding. A personal recommendation is to win the lottery.

To see a more interactive and less printable version of this click here.