M.D.: The Doctor of Medicine
The Doctor of Medicine (M.D.)
covers a wide range of functions in the maintenance of health
including diagnosing disease, supervising care of patients and the
delivery of health care. Although most physicians provide direct
patient care, some choose to pursue research, administration,
teaching or a combination of all of the above. Physicians practice
in a variety of settings: private practice, group practice,
hospitals, or laboratories. The general areas of practice include
family practice, general internal medicine, and general pediatrics
with subspecialties in OBGYN, psychiatry, cardiology, neurology,
general surgery, surgical specialties, emergency medicine and
support specialties (anesthesiology, pathology, radiology).
and Future Outlook. As an art and a science, medicine
necessitates critical thinking skills. People skills are essential
as well as an ability to communicate (both oral and written),
maintain calm in the midst of crises, work well with other members
of the health care team and time management skills. Beyond the
demands of the position, a physician’s responsibilities require
maturity, integrity, honesty, emotional stability and a concern for
the welfare of others. Physicians, only one aspect of the health
care team, have the opportunity to work with nurses, physicians
assistants, therapists, technician ns and other doctors.
Preparation. There are
125 medical schools in the United States. Most of the admissions
offices require basic courses in the sciences and math to apply. In
general, this entails at least two semesters of English, general
biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, general physics and
the respective laboratories. Some schools also attach a mathematics
or computer science requirement to this list. Despite required
classes, schools do not insist on a specific major cours e of study.
In fact, students with non-science majors increase diversity among
the medical school classes. Therefore, schools encourage their
Most medical schools have a
four-year curriculum of basic sciences in the first two years
followed by clinical exposure for the last two years. This format
has evolved as schools realize the valuable experience gained by
first and second year students who gain exposure to clinical
settings early in their medical education. Many schools have now
built this early experience into their curriculum. US medical
schools now foster problem-based learning as an essential curriculum
feature. Departing from traditional lecture based courses, schools
offer students the chance to team up and develop their diagnostic
skills before reaching a clinical setting.
How to Get into School of Medicine
Application components of
successful matriculates contain a Bachelor of Science or Arts, with
a competitive GPA, good scores the Medical College Admissions Test
(MCAT), and involvement in extracurricular and volunteer activities.
schools seek students who will make good medical students,
competent, caring physicians, and productive members of society.
Professors, basic scientists, clinicians, administrators and often
medical students sit on admissions committees. This committee
reviews five features in the applications: 1) academic record, 2)
MCAT scores, 3) letters of recommendation (your HPEC file from the
University of Scranton), 4) personal statements, 5 ) the impression
made in your interview. Committees also look for volunteer
experience, exposure to a clinical setting and extra-curricular
A good academic record
indicates motivation and ability; however, the number has less value
than its context. The committee recognizes the entire package of
course load, extra-curricular involvement, and other time
commitments such as a part-time job.
The MCAT, an essential feature
of your application, often sets a standard with which t o "weed out"
applicants. Given twice a year in the spring (April) and the summer
(August), medical schools suggest that students take the MCAT
one-year prior to matriculation (spring of junior year, summer
before senior year).
Applications through the
American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) are usually
available in May and can be submitted no sooner than June 1st
for matriculation into the next medical school class. This
application is available in an electronic format. Not all schools
participate in AMCAS. To obtain applications from these schools, you
must call or write to them and request application materials.
medical school admissions committees review your primary
application, they send you secondary applications. Following review
of the secondary application, the most promising candidates receive
interview invitations at the school. It could be several weeks until
the applicant hears from the medical school after an interview.
Usually students will receive either a notification of acceptance,
rejection or placement on the wait list. Most schools require a
refundable deposit to hold your seat in the class.
Special Programs. Many
schools offer a joint M.D./Ph.D. program. Some offer joint
M.D./M.B.A. or M.D./J.D. degrees. For more information on these
programs, contact the schools that interest you since programs vary
from school to school.
the process of applying to medical schools can s eem daunting, the
most successful pre-medical students remain focused, motivated and
maintain a positive attitude throughout the experience.