General Information

Types of Medical Practice

  • Allopathic — The system of medical practice which treats disease by the use of remedies which produce effects different from those produced by the disease under treatment. MDs practice allopathic medicine.
  • Osteopathic — Osteopathic medicine provides all of the benefits of modern medicine including prescription drugs, surgery, and the use of technology to diagnose disease and evaluate injury. It also offers the added benefit of hands-on diagnosis and treatment through a system of therapy known as osteopathic manipulative medicine. Osteopathic medicine emphasizes helping each person achieve a high level of wellness by focusing on health promotion and disease prevention.
  • Naturopathic — "Naturopathic Medicine is a system of medicine that focuses on prevention and use of nontoxic, natural therapies." These natural therapies refer to, but are not limited to, proper diet and nutrition, exercise, nutritional supplements, herbology, homeopathy, and lifestyle modification and counseling.


  • Exploring Careers in Health
    • read literature (professional journals, periodicals, books)
    • talk with people
    • obtain practical experience to learn about different types of health careers
    • attend lectures and workshops by professionals from various fields
    • initiate an information interview or a shadow experience health professionals you know
    • internships, term-time work, summer jobs, and extracurricular or volunteer activities
    • explore and discuss your interest with an adviser and receive guidance on preparing your professional training application
  • Health Careers (University of Minnesota, Health Career Center)

Road to an M.D.

  • Medical school - 4 years
  • Residency to become formally certified in whatever specialty you would like to practice - 3 to 7 years
  • "Niche" subspecialty, like child psychiatry or plastic surgery - 1 to 3 years of additional clinical fellowship



  • 1 year general chemistry with labs
  • 1 year organic chemistry with labs
  • 1 year introductory biology with labs
  • 1 year general physics with labs
  • 1 year English; both composition and literature may be required
  • Mathematics: varies by school, ranging from no math at all to a full year of mathematics (e.g., calculus and statistics)

Additional course work to prepare for MCAT in 2015 and beyond

  • 2 quarters biochemistry (no lab required)
  • courses (no specific minimum number) that focus on human behavior, including biological, psychological and socio-cultural influences on behavior. Important course topics are:
    • how humans sense and respond to their surroundings
    • individual and social processes that influence behavior and attitude
    • self-identity and social interactions
    • social structure
    • social inequality
  • knowledge of statistics either through a variety of biological science and behavioral science courses that have included statistics, or by taking a statistics course
  • Courses Required by Most Programs


Starting in 2015, the MCAT exam will include asection called Psychological, Social and Biological Foundations of Behavior.



AMCAS must verify your application before it can be submitted to medical schools (the earliest date is June 29th). Therefore, you should submit your application, and all supporting materials such as transcripts and letters of reference, as close to June 5th as possible.


  1. Take the MCAT
    Complete the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) no later than Sept. 30 of the year you wish to apply.
  2. Submit the AAMCAS or AACOMAS Primary Application
    Submit your official application via the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) between June 1 and Nov. 15 of the year you wish to apply.
  3. Submit secondary applications
  4. Interview
  5. Accept your offer
    Official offers to applicants throughout the application cycle (between Oct. 1 and April 30). Usually you’ll need to accept your offer(s) within two weeks.
  6. Select your medical school
    You'll need to select which medical school you'll be attending no later than May 15.

There are three separate centralized application services for U.S. medical schools:
  • AMCAS (American Medical College Application Service) – Used by most M.D. schools.
  • TMDSAS (Texas Medical and Dental Schools Application Service) – For public medical schools in Texas.
  • **AACOMAS (American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service) used by D.O. schools.


Letters of Recommendation

Personal Statement

Selection Criteria

Essential and Desired Qualities

  • Strong academics
    • GPAs that ranged from 3.29 to 3.92
    • MCAT scores that ranged from 29 to 37
  • A commitment to improving the human condition - involved in community service or volunteer work
    • Essential
      • Sustained and meaningful commitment to human service demonstrated through volunteer, work, academic, or other experiences
      • Understanding of medicine
    • Desired
      • Commitment to care of the underserved
      • Commitment to community and global patient care
      • Commitment to rural patient care
  • Professional conduct - involved in medically related work
    • Honesty and integrity, particularly regarding instances of personal failings or mistakes
    • Compassion, evident through evaluations, prior employment, or experience in other roles that require compassion
    • Self-awareness, evident in a student’s knowledge of their own strengths, weaknesses, and when to ask for help
    • Ethical behavior
  • Outstanding interpersonal and communication skills
    • Oral and written communication skills must be excellent, both to share knowledge and to convey empathy (essential)
    • Teamwork skills require acknowledging other team members’ expertise, accurate self-assessment, assuming leadership when appropriate, and subsuming individual interests to the work of the team (essential)
    • Tolerance and respect (essential)
    • Leadership & diversity experiences (desired)
  • A dedication to lifelong learning - involved in research
    • Intellectual curiosity (essential)
    • Demonstrated scientific aptitude—a fundamental appreciation of how the scientific method is applied to the discovery of medical knowledge and to medical practice (essential)
    • Potential for academic success (essential)
    • Psychological resilience as demonstrated through emotional stability, skills to cope with stress, an ability to deal with sacrifice and hardship, maturity, good judgment, and an ability to defer gratification (essential)
    • Creativity (desired)
    • Research experiences (desired; essential in MD/PhD applicants)

  • University of Minnesota Medical School - Essential and desired qualities
    • The middle 50% of applicants invited to interview with our Admissions Committee had GPAs that ranged from 3.29 to 3.92 and MCAT scores that ranged from 29 to 37. Applicants with lower GPAs and MCATs who were invited to interview had either significant medical and non-medical experiences or outstanding graduate-level grades, or a combination of both.
    • 73% of successful University of Minnesota Medical School applicants were involved in community service or volunteer work.
    • 82% of successful University of Minnesota Medical School applicants were involved in medically related work.
    • 75% of successful University of Minnesota Medical School applicants were involved in research.

Successful Applicants

Source: Dr. Shannon Anderson's Health Professions at SFSU talk (Apr 13, 2013)
  • Understand the principles and vocabularies of biology, chemistry, and physics.
  • Have adequate experience in laboratory courses.
  • Are mathematically competent.
    • Calculus, statistics, computer studies
  • Have "real world" clinical and/or research experience.
  • Have participated in honors or independent study courses such as Bio 699.
  • Communicate effectively both verbally and in writing.
  • Relate effectively with other people.
  • Have a broad academic background.
    • Exposure to the natural sciences, behavioral sciences and humanities.
  • Are culturally competent.
    • Exposure to other cultures
    • Ability to deal with other cultures
  • Have a clear understanding of the current health care system in the US, including its trends, efficiencies and limitations.

Admission Data


In 2011, the average MCAT and GPA for students entering U.S.-based M.D. programs were 31.1 and 3.67, respectively, and 26.51 and 3.50 for D.O. matriculants, although the gap has been getting smaller every year. In 2012, 45,266 people applied to medical schools in the United States through the American Medical College Application Service. Of these 45,266 students, 19,517 of them matriculated into a medical school for a success rate of 43%. This figure does not account for the attrition rate of pre-med students in various stages of the pre-application process (those who ultimately do not decide to apply due to weeding out by low GPA, low MCAT, lack of clinical and research experience, and numerous other factors).
  • Medical School Statistics That Show You Your Chances - If you have a 3.9 GPA and a 40 have a 10% chance of getting DENIED according to the AAMC. And if you have a 3.4 GPA and a 18 MCAT you have a 10% chance of being ACCEPTED! Those are nationwide statistics over the last two years. So...numbers play a HUGE role, no getting around that. But the ideas going around right now that you need a 3.7+ and a 30+ are just wrong. Those people have a 80% chance of acceptance.




Non-U.S. Medical Schools

Planning Tool

Pre-Med Advising


Pre-health Advisor
  • Make an appointment with a pre-health advisor to introduce yourself, discuss the best way to sequence your classes and get acquainted with campus resources
  • Check-in with your pre-health advising office; attend all pre-health meetings, and make sure you’re still on email lists to receive information and updates
  • By your junior year, you should have a well-established relationship with a pre-health advisor and should be actively participating in pre-health activities
  • Strategize about your application timeline, whether it be for immediately following graduation or after one or more gap years
  • Discuss your schedule for completing remaining premedical coursework and other school-specific degree requirements
  • Identify the best time for you to take the MCAT® exam; visit the MCAT web site to find the best options for test dates and locations
  • Discuss letters of recommendation and committee premedical evaluation (if available)
  • Review your medical education options
  • Discuss letters of recommendation and committee premedical evaluation (if available)
  • Review your medical education options, such as a post baccalaureate premedical program
  • Discuss the status of your applications and the admission process for schools to which you’ve applied

Medical School

Support Group



  • Florida Atlantic University, Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine - Re-applicants
    • Never call a medical school admissions office and ask to speak with an advisor or counselor until you've done your homework.
    • Get a copy of the profile of the medical school's most recent entering class and compare your "numbers" to those of accepted students.
    • Carefully and objectively review your personal statement in your AMCAS application along with your experiences, as well as all of your personal responses in the secondary application.
    • Do not reapply until you have significantly improved your application.
  • We're just not that into you: Why medical school applicants get rejected
    • Applying to a narrow range of medical schools.
    • Lacking clinical experience.
    • Submitting poorly composed written documents.
    • Having a lackluster academic profile.
    • Submitting a late application.
    • By submitting an early application you will be considered within a smaller pool of applicants early in the season. In contrast, applicants who wait until deadlines to submit their application materials are typically considered within a much larger pool of applicants. In addition, because early applicants have been invited for some of a school’s finite number of interviews, those who apply late are competing with a large number of applicants for fewer interview slots.
    • Demonstrating poor interview skills.
  • Advice for Medical School Reapplicants

Web Site

Medical Field

Student Group


Medical School

  • American University of Antigua (AUA) Med Blog

Other Consideration





The Interview:
  • ability to communicate
  • level of maturity
  • passion for and understanding of medicine
  • commitment to patient care
  • knowledge of the university
  • confirmation of your written profile

Extracurricular Activities



Glide Year

Gap Year(s)

Summer Program





  • Reading list on the topics of medicine, medical education, and health care reform - includes medical memoirs and histories, and some medical-based fiction.





What to consider?

Student Organization

Career Center


Post-Baccalaureate Health Professions Program

>There are no surveys on admit rates for students coming from post-bac programs, but consider: At N.Y.U., of 698 post-bacs who applied for the class entering in 2011, 24 were accepted — a 3.4 percent admit rate. That compares with a 5.6 percent admit rate for those not from post-bac programs. This year applications to N.Y.U. medical school from post-bacs are up 25 percent from two years ago — 18 have been accepted and the school is awaiting their responses.


Early Admission Program

  • Northwestern Undergraduate Premedical Scholars Program (NUPSP): NUPSP is an early MD acceptance program for the Feinberg School of Medicine for high achieving Northwestern University undergraduate students with a demonstrated commitment to a career as a physician.
  • Internship and Early Admission Program for Ohio Students: The R.O.S.E. (Research, Observation, Service, Education) Program offers an early admission opportunity for Ohio residents interested in attending the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.
  • Mount Sinai Humanities and Medicine Program: The Humanities and Medicine Program provides a path to medical school that offers maximum flexibility in the undergraduate years for students to explore their interests in humanities and social sciences at top liberal arts colleges and research universities.
  • Western Michigan University, School of Medicine - WMedStart - an early decision program that accepts students during their junior year of undergraduate education for admission to WMed for the academic year following completion of their baccalaureate education. The program is open to all students in their junior year from Western Michigan University and Kalamazoo College.






Licensing of medical doctors in the United States is co-ordinated at the state level. Most states require that prospective licensees complete the following requirements:
  • Graduation from an accredited medical school granting the degree of D.O. or M.D.
  • Satisfactory completion of at least one year of an AOA- or ACGME-approved residency.
  • Passing the United States Medical Licensing Examination or the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE, COMLEX, or simply "the boards"). USMLE and COMLEX both consist of four similar parts:
    • Step I is taken at the end of the second year of medical school and tests students' mastery of the basic sciences as they apply to medicine.
    • Step II CK is taken during the fourth year of medical school and tests students' mastery of the management of ill patients.
    • Step II CS is taken during the fourth year of medical school and tests students' mastery of clinical skills using a series of standardized patient encounters.
    • Step III is taken after the first year of a residency program and tests physicians' ability to independently manage the care of patients.





Medical Schools




Advanced Placement Courses

Many medical schools will not accept AP scores as a substitute for requisite premedical science courses. They will, however, accept advanced course work of comparable length in the same discipline in which the student has an AP score.

Thus, if you have AP credit in Chemistry and decide not to take General Chemistry, you should plan on taking advanced course work in Chemistry (or perhaps Biochemistry) equal to a full year with laboratory. Organic Chemistry does not count in this case since it is already one of the courses required for admission to medical school.

Community College Courses

Health profession schools prefer that pre-requisites be taken at 4-year universities like SFSU rather than at community colleges. Some will not look at community college grades unless they were generated before official transfer to a 4-year university.