3 Tips for Getting Into Medical School

Getting accepted to the right medical school typically takes more than a 4.0 GPA and almost perfect test scores.  Many admissions boards for top medical schools want to admit students to MD programs that have demonstrated a strong interest in the healthcare field and the ability to work in a clinical setting.  Working in a fast-paced environment, handling the sight of needles and blood, and having empathy for “difficult” patients that are in pain is not for everyone.  One of the only ways to find out for sure if you are cut out for a career in clinical medicine is to experience working with patients in a doctor’s office or hospital setting.  Similarly, relevant work experience and letters of recommendation from medical professionals can help convince admissions boards that you are the right candidate for medical school.

1. Have Real Experience in a Clinical Setting

There is almost no substitute for having a few years of real work experience.  The medical assistant training program is a great way to get your foot in the door.  As a medical assistant, you will have the opportunity to work with patients in a clinical setting.  Other medical professionals that offer supervision can write meaningful letters of recommendation about skillsets you have learned such as building positive rapport with nervous patients, high professionalism in various situations, and high personal standards.  In addition to building your CV and application packet for medical school, working as a medical assistant can help you get a better idea of what area of medicine interests you the most.  Training as a medical assistant typically does not take long, and it can be a great introduction to the field of clinical medicine. 

2. Nail Interviews and Personal Statements with Real Examples

Working as a medical assistant for a few years can help you pursue the right path in medical school.  With the right career specific training, this graphic from explains how job seekers have the advantage and are better equipped to ace interviews for top MD programs.  Instead of saying that you want to be a plastic surgeon because it sounds interesting, you can draw examples from work experience.  You can honestly tell a short anecdote about a time when you felt working in the medical field was rewarding and give concrete examples about why you would be the best candidate.  You can also give real examples about times you have encountered challenging patients and how you learned to handle challenges in a clinical setting. 

3. GPA and Test Scores are Still Important

Top schools often receive hundreds of application packets.  One of the best ways to ensure that your application does not immediately go in the trash is to have a great GPA and top test scores.  Working as a medical assistant can give you an edge on various exams and in a number of undergraduate classes.  Plus, medical assistant training will give you some background on fundamental concepts such as anatomy, ethics, and general academic skills.  Invest a little extra time and effort into training as a medical assistant to get into a top school and pursue the right path for you.

Image: CSI Now