If you’re a high school student interested in medicine, you are likely researching the difference between a direct medical program (BS/MD, BA/MD, BS/DO) or a traditional undergraduate program with a pre-med track.
Learn more about each, the importance of choosing a strong pre-med school, and then take the quiz to learn which college path might be right for you!
Most physicians in the United States take a traditional path to medicine via a four-year undergraduate program followed by medical school. During their time in college, they complete certain pre-med requirements, obtain valuable clinical and research experience, and study for and take the MCAT. The final step is to apply to – and hopefully get accepted into – medical school. Medical school is typically another four years plus 3-7 years of residency.
The primary advantage of a traditional pre-med path is the flexibility it offers students. Students are free to explore other interests and degrees and gain more exposure to medicine before making the commitment to apply to medical school. Then, they’re free to apply to any medical school they want to.
A BS/MD program combines two degrees: a Bachelor of Science and a Doctor of Medicine. It is for high school students who know, unequivocally, that they want to be a doctor and are prepared to be locked into a career in medicine from an early age. Students apply to direct medical programs in 12th grade, and only complete one application for both undergraduate and medical school.
The primary advantage of a BS/MD is that students are guaranteed admission into medical school as long as they complete certain criteria during their undergraduate program. Depending on the program and the student’s academics, other benefits include potentially waiving the MCAT, reducing required education by 1-2 years, and not having to apply to medical school, which eliminates the risk for gap years and transfers.
Answer a few questions and instantly find out whether a BS/MD or pre-med path is right for you.
The good news is that if you’re a high school student interested in medicine, there are things you can do right now to improve your chances of getting into your desired program.
1. Take the right classes – Plan your remaining high school courses so that you have a good mix of AP and science classes.
2. Raise your GPA or retake the SAT – Academic metrics are important for both BS/MD and pre-med programs, but you’ll need stronger stats for a direct medical program.
3. Get research experience – While clinical experience can be tricky for high school students, it is possible to gain university lab research opportunities if you find and appeal to the right professors.
4. Enhance your personal attributes – For both BS/MD and undergraduate schools with a pre-med track, extracurriculars, volunteer activities, clinical research and shadowing, and personal attributes will all be important.
5. Develop your brand – A strong, cohesive personal narrative is a critical component of the application process and will set you apart from your peers, regardless of which program you apply to.
Even if your grades and experience aren’t strong enough yet, or you simply prefer the idea of keeping your options open and a less rigorous undergraduate experience, there are plenty of strong pre-med schools where you can go on to become a great doctor if that’s what you choose.
An excellent pre-med school prepares you for the difficult process of applying to medical schools and increases your chances of acceptance. Pre-med schools that establish a clear path to medical school set students up for success from day one.
A strong pre-med school must have:
A good medical school admissions track record – What percentage of students are accepted into medical school? The higher the number, the better your chance.
Specialized, built-in resources – Research, clinical, publication, and service opportunities provide valuable experience and look great on your CV.
Rigorous pre-med curriculum – While it may not sound appealing, a tougher curriculum prepares students for the MCAT and medical school.
Expert pre-med advising to reduce the risk of transfers/gap years – Transfers and gap years cost time and money!
The reality is that getting into medical school is hard. Out of 100 students who want to be a doctor, only 15 are accepted into medical school.
When they attempt to climb the mountain alone, students:
With professional pre-med coaching services, an expert advisor will help you choose the right path to medical school. They’ll help you plan the rest of your high school courses, provide advice on extracurriculars and experience opportunities, and help you develop your personal brand. And when it’s time to apply, they’ll guide you through every step of the process and help you become a standout applicant.
One of the challenges high school and pre-med students face is the lack of support from school advisors. MedSchoolCoach students spend an average of 12 hours per year with their advisors, whereas students who go it alone only get about 15 minutes per year with their school advisor.
Through the MedSchoolCoach Pre-Med Coaching program, students are paired with a Physician Advisor and College Advisor with admissions committee experience who will help them through every step of the process. Our expert advisors are here to make sure that every step is taken is the right one on the path to becoming a physician, whether that’s via a direct medical program or traditional pre-med path.
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