If you are fully committed to the idea of pursuing a medical career, a combined program may seem like the best of both worlds. In one application process, you can assure yourself of your future medical career, eliminate uncertainty and stress during your undergraduate years, and, without completing a full medical school application process, potentially save yourself thousands of dollars in application costs.
With so many benefits, it is easy to see why the several dozen combined programs are so highly sought after. Admission to many of them is more competitive than even the most selective colleges, easily in the low single digits with extremely talented applicant pools. These programs also do not obligate you to attend medical school, but with such competitive applicant pools, it is easy to understand why universities do not want to waste resources on students who are not committed to a career in medicine.
If you have top notch high school credentials, including GPA, test scores, challenging curriculum, and a demonstrated interest3 (through volunteer service, research, and clinical shadowing), some of these programs might be a good fit4 for you.
However, for many other applicants, following the traditional route of pursuing a bachelor’s degree and completing your pre-medical requirements before applying to medical school makes more sense than attending a combined BS/MD program. Consider the following:
The additional few years of undergraduate education and life perspective can truly help you to determine which educational environment is best for you. Is there an area of the country that you prefer? Are you interested in serving a specific population? Some medical schools emphasize family practice while others focus more on scientific research and academic career preparation.
If you choose to pursue a combined program, be certain that you are doing so in an environment that suits you for its undergraduate experience. There is a chance you will find that medicine is not your calling. In some cases, the undergraduate requirements to maintain your medical school space are extremely tough. You are most likely to thrive in an environment that makes you happy.