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Early, early, early
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Application Process

Overview

The application process for medical school is long and intense. It really begins much earlier than when you actually fill out the application to send to the schools. It includes completion of many pre-med requirements, meetings with your pre-med advisor and pre-med committee, taking the MCAT and doing well in all of your pre-med course work and extra-curricular activities.

Most medical schools will review applications as they are submitted on a rolling basis and extend interview invitations and finally offer spots in their classes in the same way. This means that they fill their classes on a first-come-first-serve basis. At first, they may have 150 spots to offer. With each passing week of conducting interviews, as the admissions committee meets and extends offers, fewer and fewer spots are available. At the same time, the medical school still receives more applications, so the competition goes up and the number of available spots goes down. This means that an early application is one sure way of having the best possible chances of getting in.

The Early, early, early section is dedicated to convince you that timing is important. Be sure to read it.

Note that for Caribbean schools, the timing issue is less critical since they usually admit students 3 times per year. So, this information applies primarily to US allopathic (MD) and osteopathic (DO) schools.



Your chances of gaining admission to medical school

As you can see from the data that follows (for allopathic medical schools only), medical school applications have decreased by about 8,000 from 45,000 applications in 1994 to 37,000 applications in 2005, while medical school enrollment has remained largely constant over the same time period. Acceptance rates have gone up from 38% to 48%. So, overall, almost one half of all applicants gain admission to medical school now.

The AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) has just recently (June 2006) stated that medical school enrollment should be expanded by the year 2015 by another 5000 spots, or an increase of about 30% over current levels - in order to address severe shortages in the medical field over the next few decades. This should also improve chances for gaining admission to medical school.

However, no one can predict how many individuals will be interested in studying medicine and applying each year in the future, so this may not be a significant impact if all of the sudden we see more people applying to medical school again.

Year Applied Accepted % Accepted
200537,36417,97848%
200435,73517,66249%
200334,79117,54250%
200233,62517,59352%
200134,86017,45450%
200037,08817,53547%
199938,44317,42145%
199840,99617,37342%
199743,01617,31240%
199646,96517,38537%
199546,58617,35637%
199445,36017,31838%

Main events of the Application Process

NOTE: You should read the full section written for each of these areas to see why this is important and get a better understanding of what you need to do for each.
This table is only intended to give you a general idea at a glance.

What to do When to do it More detail
Meet with your pre-med advisor to discuss your future Freshman year
(or when you decide on medicine)
The sooner the better
Take required coursework Before the MCAT
(freshman, sophomore, junior years)
You need Physics, Chemistry, Organic Chemistry and Biology for the MCAT
Complete extra-curricular activities
(shadowing, etc.)
Before June of your junior year, when you apply You want to be able to list these on the application, so they have to be completed by then
Take the MCAT January through September of junior year Take the MCAT before May 1st if at all possible
Interview with your pre-med committee Before applying, junior year If your undergrad school does that - they usually write a letter of recommendation for you
Fill out applications and write your personal statement Right after the MCAT is out of the way It may take you a few weeks to months to work on this, so start immediately after the MCAT is done
Return secondary applications you receive Promptly within no more than 7 days from the day you receive them The earlier the better, try to return these within a couple of days, if possible
Interviews Try to accept the first possible days for interviewing Earlier interviews are better
Acceptance Most schools notify you within about 2 weeks, some within a few days, and some take several to many months after your interview to let you know if you have been accepted, rejected or wait-listed.
Choosing your school Allopathic (MD) schools allow you to wait until April of the year you plan to attend to decide - you hold your spot with a $100 refundable deposit, in most cases. DO schools have much stiffer deadlines a few months after extending offers and require non-refundable deposits ranging from $500 - $1500 depending on the school. Your final decision must be made in April of the year you plan to attend.



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