Premed Planning – The Timeline and Steps to Become a Doctor
Getting into medical school requires planning. The following timeline lays out 10 steps a pre-med must take to prepare for medical school admission.
They are Phase One, if you will, in your outline of Steps to Become a Doctor.
Ten Steps to Become a Doctor
For each of the high-level steps below you will make a more detailed task list that depends on your exact situation – this is where your premed admissions advisor will be an important resource.
Premed advisor gives straight advice on requirements and courses – part 1.
Premed requirements video – part 2.
Decide on medicine. If you are trying to decide whether becoming a doctor is right for you, read the first article in this series: Becoming a Doctor: A Tough Decision
Complete undergraduate science requirements
Get volunteer/work experience in health-related fields
- Consider a broad pre-med course selection
Develop staff/faculty advisors
Prepare for the MCAT
Take the MCAT exam
Submit transcripts and application materials. Before you begin, get familiar with the process of applying to medical school.
Monitor application completion/distribution
Interview if invited
Make use of all of MomMD’s medical school admission resources for more information on the steps to become a doctor.
Undergraduate Studies: Medical School Requirements and the Well-Rounded Applicant
While a Bachelor’s degree is not a requirement for admission into all medical schools, you can assume that more than 99 percent of accepted students will have one. Until recently, nearly all pre-med students majored in Chemistry or Biology. Today students with all kinds of majors are being accepted. In fact, a recent study shows, “acceptance rates range from 45 percent in biology to 48 percent in nonscience and 55 percent in physical sciences. There is an apparent trend among admissions officers to encourage potential applicants to medical school to consider nonscience majors during their college years.” (Fruen) The changing face of medicine is looking for “people” people, not just academic superstars as in years past.
So evaluate your premed plan: You are better off majoring in Philosophy and maintaining a 3.9 GPA (grade point average) than majoring in Biology and only getting a 3.5. By all means study what you are interested in and what you’re good at because admissions committees are looking for well-rounded candidates who have studied a variety of subjects while in college. However, for most U.S. medical schools, there are still some very specific medical school admission requirements. The typical medical school prerequisites include:
- One year of general chemistry with lab
- One year of organic chemistry with lab
- One year of biology
- One year of physics
- One year of English
- College level math
While these premed programs are pretty standard, medical schools do vary slightly in their admissions requirements. Even if you are a junior in high school, it won’t hurt to take a look at the requirements for the medical school you are most interested in attending and plan your undergraduate program accordingly. The biggest variance seems to be math. Some schools want to see a year of calculus, while others only require one college-level statistics class and others have no math requirement at all. Many schools are beginning to expect undergraduate course work in biochemistry and/or genetics. Again, check with the admissions office of the schools you are interested in for specific requirements. And consider a post-baccalaureate program to gain the necessary classes for medical school admission, or to boost your GPA or MCAT scores.