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What You Need to Know About Applying to and Attending Medical School

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Many college students wonder whether they should apply to medical school. If you're considering a career in medicine, start preparing now. If you aren't sure if medical school is for you but there is a small possibility that you might apply - begin preparing. Med school is very competitive. Start planning and gaining the experiences you need to construct a successful application even if you haven't entirely decided to apply. Delay preparing until are one hundred percent certain that you will apply -- and you'll hurt your chances of admissions as the best applicants begin early.

Planning for Medical School
You do not have to be a premed major to be accepted to medical school. In fact, many universities do not offer a premed major. Instead you must satisfy some basic academic prerequisites including lots of science and math courses. Think carefully about whether medical school is for you. Consider the pros and cons of a career in medicine, the cost of med school , and what your years in med school might be like. If you decide to apply to medical school you must determine what type of medicine is for you: allopathic or osteopathic.

Applying to Medical School
If you plan to apply to med school right after graduating college you must begin the application process towards the end of your junior year. First, you must take the Medical College Admission Test. This challenging exam tests your knowledge of science as well as your reasoning and writing abilities. Give yourself time to retake it, if needed. Take time to prepare by reviewing MCAT prep books and taking sample exams. The MCAT is administered by computer from January through August each year. Register early as seats fill quickly.

Review the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) Application. Note the assigned essays regarding your background and experience. You will also submit your transcript and MCAT scores. Another critical part of your application is your letters of evaluation. These are written by professors and discuss your competencies as well as your promise for a career in medicine.

If you make it past the initial review you may be asked to interview. Do not rest easy as most interview candidates are not admitted to medical school. The interview is your chance to become more than a paper application and set of MCAT scores. Preparation is essential. The interview may take several forms. A new type of interview the Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) is becoming increasingly popular. Consider the kinds of questions that you are likely to be asked. Plan questions of your own as you are judged by your interest and the quality of your questions.

Attending Medical School
You will find that attending medical school is not just a full time job - it is two. As a medical student you will to attend lectures and labs. The first year of medical school consists of science courses that pertain to the human body. The second year consists of courses on disease and treatment as well as some clinical work. Additionally, students are required to take the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE-1 given by NBME) their second year to determine if they have the competence to continue. The third year students begin their rotations and continue the fourth year, working directly with patients.

During the fourth year students focus on specific subfields and apply for residency. The Match is how residencies are selected: Both applicants and programs blindly choose their top preferences. Those who match are awarded by the National Resident Matching Program. Residents spend several years in training, varying by specialization. Surgeons, for example, may complete training up to a decade after graduating from medical school.

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