An Overview of What You Need to Apply for Medical School
This article was written based on the information and opinions presented by Shravya Kakulamarri in a CollegeVine livestream. You can watch the full livestream for more info.
- Why You Should Think About Medical School During Undergrad
- Required Experience For Medical School
- The Timeline for Applying to Medical School
- What to Consider When Writing Your College Personal Statement
Why You Should Think About Medical School During Undergrad?
Even as an undergraduate pre-med student, it can be helpful to keep in mind what the medical school application process will be like. This way, you can align your classes and extracurriculars with what will be required later, checking off all your prerequisites in a timely fashion to prevent later scrambling to get things in order.
Understanding the expectations and timeline for this process can be beneficial, especially because some students may need to submit their medical school applications before they complete their undergraduate program.
Required Experience For Medical School
There are three things that medical schools look for in potential applicants, including service work, research experience, and clinical opportunities. Below is an overview of each:
- Service Work: Medicine is a service-based career, so you need to have some type of service work, although it does not necessarily need to be related to medicine.
- Research Experience: Scientific inquiry is a large part of medical school, and medicine, and the medical field in general, is constantly evolving. Having done research during your undergraduate career shows you can do so and that you have some interest in pursuing it further while continuing your education.
- Clinical Opportunities: Generally, applicants need experience in both clinical shadowing and clinical volunteering to be admitted to medical school. Having patient exposure is vital to demonstrate your reaffirmed interest in medicine. These experiences teach you certain skills — like communicating with patients in a vulnerable setting and cultural competence — and show admissions officers that you have these abilities.
The Timeline for Applying to Medical School
Applying to medical school is a year-long process. If you want to go to medical school immediately after finishing undergrad, you need to apply during your senior year. If you take a year off, known as a gap year, you can apply after graduating. People take a gap year for various reasons, such as to pursue a research project.
Some applicants may take classes during this gap year to raise their GPA. Others, who did not complete traditional pre-med classes in their undergraduate program, can pursue a Special Master’s Program before applying.
What to Consider When Writing Your College Personal Statement
When applying to undergraduate programs, your personal statement or Common App essay can vary in topic. Essentially, it is an opportunity for the admissions officer to get to know you personally, beyond your GPA and test scores. Ultimately, what you write about is up to you. Keep in mind that it should provide a lot of information about you, portray you positively, and be organized and well-written.
And remember, even if you are applying to a pre-med program, your personal statement does not have to be related to medicine. In fact, you do not have to talk about medicine directly at all.
Instead, think about transformative experiences you have had. Then, pick one experience that highlights your growth as an individual or relates to your interests. With this anecdote in mind, you’ll have the basis for a strong essay.
If you need more ideas about how to write a personal statement, read CollegeVine’s guide on how to write a personal statement. Some programs at certain schools may also have supplemental prompts asking about why you are pursuing medicine, but you should not feel pressured to discuss it in your personal statement. This is essentially a “Why This Major” essay. You can find CollegeVine’s tips on how to successfully write that kind of essay here.