Whew! You’re in the midst of applying to medical school, and it’s time to write your AMCAS and non-AMCAS personal statements. But first, before you start filling in the boxes on that medical school application, stop. Take a deep breath. Let’s assess your status: You have your GPA. You studied for and took the MCAT. You’ve volunteered and perhaps researched a topic of interest. Hopefully you have even carved out time for your own recreational interests. Now you are about to begin the last stage:
This is the only part of the admissions process that you still have any influence over. You can’t change your competition, and you can’t change what you’ve done to date, but you can make sure that what you submit in the future is your best.
Many students hoping to go to medical school wonder when the right time is to apply. Well, the answer is simple – the right time to apply is when your credentials are competitive.
Having competitive credentials is critical to being offered an interview. Each applicant is considered as a package. Credentials considered in this package include your “numbers” (your GPA undergraduate/post-bac/graduate GPA and your MCAT score), your letters of recommendation and your experiences. Not every applicant will have superb credentials in each of these fields but overall the general guidelines are:
• MCAT of 30 or higher
• GPA of 3.5 or higher (including BCPM)
• Strong Extracurriculars that show long term commitment
• Service – in the general community and/or medical field
• Leadership position(s)
• Clinical exposure (shadowing, volunteering in hospital or medical facility)
• Research exposure (basic science and/or clinical research, some bench work recommended)
• Mentoring (TA, tutor, organizations like Big Brother/Big Sister, camp or sports counselor )
• Minimum of 3 Strong Letters of Recommendations
• Hard science Prof (1 or 2),
• Extracurricular (service, leadership, mentoring or sports)
• Medically relevant (volunteerism, clinical or basic science research, shadowing)
• Strong personal statement that shows the admissions committee who you really are – remember you are not just a number!
After realistically assessing your credentials you should make the best choice about applying this year or waiting a year. Waiting a year and improving your credentials by enrolling in a postbac program, completing extra coursework, working in clinical medicine, gaining basic science bench experience, or retaking the MCATs might be the best way for you to succeed in gaining entrance to medical school. Sometimes waiting a year and applying early next year, with all your credentials in order, is the best decision you can make.