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Selecting a Medical School: Choosing a Medical School

For starters, you want to read this Handbook carefully to explore your options, and consult the file in Room 711BH. Talking with the Pre-Health Professionals Committee and your faculty advisor should be very helpful. Attending seminars and meetings sponsored by the committee should also help. There are some publications that are available that can provide useful information in contributing to your decision which are described below.

A. AAMC Publications

There is no point in applying to a long list of schools. The average candidate applies to about nine schools, and statistics compiled by the Association of American Medical Colleges indicate that submitting more than the average number of applications rarely increases an applicant's chances for admission. Your best chance is the medical school of the state where you legally reside. If your home state does not have a medical school, it may buy places in the school of a neighboring state. Tax-supported state schools are usually required to give preference to state residents.

The Association of American Medical Colleges handbook, Medical School Admission Requirements, will help you decide which private medical schools you should apply to. You can order a copy ($15) directly from:

Association of American Medical Colleges
Membership and Publications Orders
2450 N. Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20037-1129
(202) 828-0416; FAX: (202) 828-1123

Check the specific requirements for schools in which you are interested; eliminate any school whose requirements you cannot completely meet. Medical School Admissions Requirements gives the ratio of applicants accepted to applications received and the grade point averages and average MCAT scores of accepted applicants for individual medical schools. This should help you realistically assess your chances for admission to a particular school.

You should also consider the type of program you want in medical school. If you are interested in some particular area of research, you should apply to schools which are known for their work in that field. If your main interest is practicing clinical medicine, you should avoid those schools that are primarily research oriented. Some schools start clinical training your very first year; others keep you in class your first year or two. In addition, some schools provide free medical training and a stipend. The catch is a 5 year stint in one of the armed forces or public health corps.

Your Pre-health professions faculty advisor can help you decide on a reasonable list of medical schools which fits your interests and to which you have a realistic chance of admission.

B. Special Information for Women and Minority Students

Medicine in the United States has traditionally been the privileged domain of the white male. This is rapidly changing; women and minorities now have a slight advantage over men in their chances of being accepted by a medical school. At The University of Colorado approximately half of the incoming class is female. Although not discriminated against in the admissions process, women applicants should prepare themselves for interview questions about desire to marry, raise a family, or other topics considered sexist. For information about health careers for women, write to:

National Health Council, Inc
622 3rd Avenue; 34th Floor
New York, NY 10017-6765

For information about financial aid for women, write to:

Student Assistance Office
National Institutes of Health
5600 Fisher's Lane
Rockville, MD 20857

Many medical schools have special admissions, financial aid and education programs for minority students. The Association of American Medical Colleges defines minorities as any ethnic, racial, or socio-economic group currently underrepresented in the field of medicine. Black Americans, Mexican Americans, American Indians, Mainland Puerto Ricans, and low-income individuals are considered to fall into the minority category. If you are a member of one of these minorities, you should consult Minority Student Opportunities in U.S. Medical Schools obtainable from the Association of American Medical Colleges for $7.50 and $2.50 shipping and handling.

Association of American Medical Colleges
Membership and Subscriptions
One Dupont Circle, NW, Suite 200
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 828-0523

The American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) operates a Medical Minority Applicant Registry which circulates biographical information about minority applicants to all U.S. medical schools. The AMCAS compiles their list from the biographical information section that you fill out for the MCAT.

For more information about opportunities available to minority students write to the following organizations:

National Health Council, Inc.
622 3rd Avenue, 34th Floor
New York, NY 10017-6765

Student National Association, Inc.
1012 10th St. NW
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 371-1616

For more information about financial aid available to minority students, write to:

Student Assistance Office
National Institutes of Health
5600 Fisher's Lane
Rockville, MD 20857

C. Financial Aid Opportunities

The cost of attending any medical school, dental school, veterinary school and most allied health professional schools is quite high, and it can be staggering at some private schools. Furthermore, the academic schedule is so demanding that part-time employment is impossible. Unless you have parents or a working spouse willing and able to subsidize your medical education, you will be forced to rely on some form of financial aid to see you through. If you will need financial help, you should contact the financial aid officer of the school you plan to attend as soon as you are accepted.

A number of aid programs are available which provide scholarships, loans, or some combination of the two. Well-endowed private schools may have more scholarship funds available than public schools, but their tuition is usually considerably higher. It may take some time, but if you are accepted by a medical school, you should be able to put together a package of loans and grants that will enable you to make ends meet. Consult Medical College Admissions Requirements for additional information about the possibilities for financial aid.

Another alternative is letting the government pay your way. In return you must make a commitment to your selected branch of service. Armed forces scholarships are extremely competitive. They suggest that you be accepted at a medical school prior to applying. Your GPA and MCAT scores must be high (3.8 and 11, respectively) in order to be considered. For more information contact a recruiter from the branch of armed services you are interested in.


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