Medical profession is one of the noblest and most rewarding professions in the world. And rightly so, as it comes with a lot of hard work, and many hours of study. Also, it is an expensive and time-consuming program, and thus, requires a smart and scrutinized approach when you decide to pursue a career in the field. Due to the rising cost of tuition, and the increasingly competitive nature of the field, it is imperative to choose a medical school that not only provides world-class academic courses, but also has enough resources to assist you in finding your dream job as a doctor, physician’s assistant, or any other medical professional.
Choosing a medical school will be one of the most important and difficult decisions in your academic career. Here’s a look at the factors that will play an important role in your pursuit of a medical career:
●Lack of enough seats in the US medical education system: More than 40,000 students apply for around 20,000 available seats in top medical schools in US each year, and the need to own a Bachelor’s degree to be eligible to apply for a medical school makes it even more testing.
●Rising cost of tuition: If you’re an in-state student studying in a public medical school, you are looking at an average of $30,000+ for one year of school, and for an out-of-state student it is close to $60,000 for the same. So, it is imperative that you search for schools that offer financial aid to their students through scholarships and other such financial assistance programs if you don’t wish to graduate with a debt.
●Prerequisites for an admission in a medical school in the US: One cannot enroll directly into a Bachelor degree program in medicine as in the US, medical degrees are considered second entry degrees. You need a Bachelor (undergraduate) degree in order to apply to a medical school. The basic necessities for an American medical school are:
1)High School Diploma
2)Undergraduate Degree in the field of Sciences (3 – 4 years)
3)Minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.00
●Other than the above-mentioned criteria, the admissions committee may also consider other factors such as letter of recommendation, personal qualities, commitment to medicine, extracurricular activities, and meeting MCAT exam requirements.
●Medical College Admission Test: MCAT developed and administered by the AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges), is a standardized, multiple-choice examination created to help medical school admissions offices assess your problem solving, critical thinking, and knowledge of natural, behavioral, and social science concepts and principles prerequisite to the study of medicine. This, approximately, eight hour long test is scored based on four major sections :
1)Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
2)Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
3)Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior
4)Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills
●It is all the more important here to keep in mind that almost all and especially the best medical schools in US require you to submit MCAT exam scores. Many schools do not accept MCAT exam scores that are more than three years old.
The journey after the admission
After working your way through the hectic and the testing admission process, you can expect a four year long journey to become a doctor. It involves four years of study divided into different phases growing in depth as you move up the ladder.
-1st year: Your first year at a medical school is going to be the easiest one. It will include the basic and clinical science courses that would include biology, chemistry, anatomy and more.
-2nd year: The second year will be advancement on the first year with an array of newer subjects added to the existing course. It can include:
❏reinforcing the first year basic science courses combined with clinical clerkships
❏at least one practical course
❏clinical skills course
❏a health policy or global health course
-3rd year: In your third year the main focus will be on clinical clerkships/rotations and you will become a member of a medical team. During the rotations, you get to see all the fields/specialties of medicine like internal medicine, pediatrics, psychiatry, neurology, radiology etc.
-4th year: The fourth year brings you to the most important facet of your medical education and that is residency – choose the medicine specialty you want to study further and this should become your area of expertise.
After the completion of your four years of medical education, which is an arduous process, you can finally practice medicine. It takes a lot of dedication to pass through the four years and become a successful doctor, and thus, it is vital that you put equal amount of energy and focus in each step as each of it is as important as the final one.