By Riddhi Patel, MD | Image – by Wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock.com |
Every year thousands of hopeful college students apply to medical school hoping to pursue their dreams of becoming physicians. And every year hundreds of them are disappointed when they discover that they were not accepted. As the number of medical school positions in the United States decreases, the competition increases. It is becoming increasingly important for applicants to have everything medical schools are looking for. So what do you need to be a competitive applicant?
The first thing medical school admission offices take note of are an applicants GPA and standardized test scores. These give schools an objective method of ranking applicants and gives them an idea of how they will perform during medical school and on USMLE exams. These numbers are usually what help applicants secure the initial interview. So work hard during college and study for the MCAT. Medical schools also like to see the score breakdown of the MCAT sections with both verbal and basic science sections having equally good scores.
Medical schools like to see that applicants know what they are getting into. Many times people go into medicine for the wrong reason: parental expectations, money, etc. However medicine is a long and difficult path and so medical schools like to see that people have put sufficient time and energy in making sure that this is the career for them. Applicants can do so by volunteering at local hospitals, becoming active in their university’s pre-med society, and shadowing local physicians.
Although numbers and volunteer experience are important, medical schools are looking for well-rounded individuals. They want people who are not only good on paper but also have excellent people skills and can work well as a team. Being a physician requires one to work well in teams and function as a leader and so medical school admission committees look for these strengths in applicants.
- Personal Statement
Probably the most time-consuming part of the medical school application is writing the personal statement. Because it is usually so open-ended, it is important to stay organized and determine what you want to get across to the admission committee. Once you’ve gotten your thoughts together write and re-write your personal statement. Get input from family and friends and ask people to help proofread your essay. This is a great chance to let medical schools know who you are as a person and why you are choosing to pursue this career.
Overall medical schools are looking for the whole package. They want students that are personable, hard working, dedicated, and that will ultimately become great physicians.