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Mary Hoang

In the U.S., you can either become an MD (allopathic medicine) or a DO (osteopathic medicine). Each medical school has its own pre-requisites but for the most part, they're all looking for the same things.

First, complete the required pre-requisite courses during your undergraduate education. These will include: 1 yr of math (including calculus and statistics), 1 yr of chemistry (general and organic with lab component), 1 yr of biological sciences (including lab component), 1 year of physics (including lab component), 1 yr of English. Some schools will require Biochemistry as well. It is worth noting that just because you need to complete these required courses, you can choose to major in something else other than a science field. I know plenty of people who majored in History, English, etc. who went on to very prestigious medical schools.

In addition to these requirements, you should begin to look outside of the classroom for ways to educate yourself on the field of medicine. Schools love students who are well-rounded. So, go out and volunteer at a free clinic in your area, become an officer in a medical-related organization, get involved in a research lab on campus. Bonus points if you get published for your research. Poster presentations look great too. A lot of pre-medical students like to do an international medical missions trip as well. This will open your eyes to a completely new culture and a broadened understanding of people from different backgrounds. These extra-curricular activities are important to growing you into becoming the best physician possible, and schools love students who excel in and out of the classroom.

Next step is to prepare for the MCAT. All the math and science classes you were required to take anyway are now going to pay off when you study for the MCAT. I recommend taking a course so that you can stay on track with a study schedule. In general, 30 or above is a competitive MCAT score. The writing section (letter graded) is not as important in the score consideration.

Lastly, you'll need letters of recommendation: 2 from science faculty, 1 from non-science faculty, and maybe 1 or 2 from mentors outside of the classroom (e.g., someone who knows about your volunteer history, your research mentor, etc.).

Now, you're ready to apply to medical schools! The best thing to do is submit your application EARLY. This increases your chances of getting into medical school exponentially, because you'll have more opportunities to interview, which is where you can personally stand out from the other applicants and show them you deserve to be at their school.

Once you get into medical school, the rest of the way is pretty much laid out for you, with Match Day being the most important day of your medical career. Match Day is when you learn what specialty you matched into (i.e., what kind of doctor you will be), and where you'll be practicing for the first 3-8 years of your career. You'll continue to take tests and have to prove yourself and your abilities, and this will be your way of life should you choose to be a doctor. But it is an extremely rewarding profession as well.

Best wishes!

Answered 9 years ago

Mary Hoang