So, you’ve decided to go to medical school. Congratulations! You’re on your way to a worthwhile career, helping people and serving your community. The question you have to ask yourself first, though, is where you want to go to medical school. With so many great schools out there, the idea of making a decision may seem overwhelming. How can you possibly choose? We have some factors to consider when you’re looking for a medical school, along with some tips for choosing the school that’s right for you.
The first thing you’ll want to do is gain some general knowledge of the top medical schools for US students. As you research different institutions of learning, study the history of each school as well as its achievements. How has this school helped shape medicine and, indeed, history? Read each school’s mission statement to understand whether the school’s vision aligns with your own. Look into the school’s acceptance rate to determine your chances of being admitted, but don’t let that be your sole determining factor in whether you apply. Learn as much as you can about each school so you will have a better idea of which schools interest you the most. What are some other things you’ll need to know?
• Determine which programs are offered at the schools you’re considering.
No two medical schools are exactly the same, so it’s important to find the schools that will fit with your desired career path. It’s crucial that you do your research, rather than applying blindly to a random assortment of schools. Evaluate the programs that are offered, how they differ from each other, how long they take to complete, and which programs align with your interests and the career you want to build. Consider the mission statement and values of each school because these short statements will help you to determine whether your values and abilities align with the qualities of the school. If you do not want a research-heavy career, you may not want to choose a research-intensive school. Similarly, if you do not plan to work in underserved communities, a school focused on training physicians to work in these communities won’t be a good fit. Finding a school that lines up with your goals, values, and experience will not only increase your chances for acceptance, but will also make your time at the school more enjoyable.
• Find out which schools have teaching styles that will work for you.
All medical schools require preclinical and clinical work to prepare students to work in the medical field, but there are many different ways to accomplish the same goals. In fact, there are five teaching styles applied at different medical schools. The two most widely used are traditional, which involves two years of preclinical education and then two or three years of clinical work, and integrated, which combines preclinical and clinical education from the beginning of the medical school education. Other styles include problem-based, in which students work with patients immediately, working in groups, case-based, which is similar to problem-based but also involves learning in small groups for short periods, and inquiry-based, in which students work with scenarios, asking questions, researching, and drawing conclusions based on their findings. Consider your own learning style when you are evaluating the teaching styles of different medical schools. While you are researching learning styles, investigate the curriculum to learn more about the classes, seminars, rotations, and elective opportunities, to determine which schools most interest you.
• Evaluate the admission criteria to see how you well you’re equipped to meet them.
Different institutions have different requirements for GPA, MCAT scores, and prerequisite courses. Make sure you meet a school’s conditions for admissions before applying. If this comes down to taking a gap year to beef up your resume and take some missing courses, it’s worth doing.
• Consider location and tuition to help narrow your selection.
If you choose a medical school that’s close to your home, housing and cost of living may not be much of a consideration. However, if you are considering schools that are not nearby, ask yourself a few questions about the locations. How much would housing cost? If the school is out of state, what’s the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition? Would you want to remain in the school’s location to start your career? Will you be happy living there? Consider not only the climate, but also the personality of the place, to determine whether it’s a good fit for you. In addition to the cost of living, think of the cost of the program itself. Is it financially feasible for you? Your education is an investment, but you don’t want to come out of the experience saddled with massive debt. Apply for financial aid and scholarships and consider various loan forgiveness programs.
• Look into campus life.
This is a broad category, but one that’s very important to consider. You will spend four years at this institution, and you will not be spending all your time in academics. What is the school’s cultural climate? Is it known for diversity and inclusion? Are there student support structures in place? Are there extracurricular opportunities that align with your interests? How is the learning environment? Does it feel like a place where you would have a positive learning experience? Look for a school where you can pursue your interests and develop as a person, as well as receiving an excellent education.
• Learn how well graduates of the different schools are doing.
There are a few metrics by which you can measure the success of med school graduates. Medical schools post statistics about different factors that can help you determine the success of their students. For example, before becoming a doctor in the United States, med school graduates must complete the three step United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). Residency placement rates are important, because you want to attend a school where you will be equipped to obtain your first-choice residency. Finally, look into the percentage of students that graduate from a medical school’s program. Evaluate graduation rates for the schools you are considering, looking at how many students graduate each year and how many drop out of school. Recognize that it’s not necessarily a reflection on the school when a student drops out. Students can drop out of medical school programs for a wide variety of reasons, including stress, illness, or deciding that medicine is the wrong path for them. However, and excessive dropout rate may be cause for concern, as can a low graduation rate. The average graduation rate for a four-year medical school is 82 to 84 percent, so if the school you’re considering has a rate lower than that, it may be a red flag.
Once you’ve weighed all these factors, you should have narrowed the field to about 20 medical schools. Now it’s time to schedule a visit to the schools on your shortlist. Attending a guided campus tour can help you get a better feel for the campus culture, and you will be able to ask questions of actual students, gaining knowledge you can’t find online. Getting feedback from current students can help you understand the student experience, without the gloss of a testimonial. Once you’ve done these things, you should have narrowed your list still further. This list may change over time, but it’s wise to have a firm list of medical schools that interest you about six months before you intend to apply.
When you’re looking for a medical school with a deep-rooted tradition of quality, look into Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara
. The first medical school in Latin America to offer a US-style curriculum, we are committed to cultivating future physicians who have the skills and abilities necessary to meet the challenges of personal and community health. With the best facilities in Guadalajara, state-of-the-art laboratories, and a close working relationship with many of the hospitals in the city, we are able to provide an excellent educational experience for our students both on campus and in the field. With the goal of preparing graduates for careers as physicians where they can provide individuals, families, and communities with outstanding preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic services, our medical school offers a curriculum of excellence. We prepare our students to heal and serve their community, and we encourage them to strive for innovation, academic excellence, leadership, and commitment to society. For more information about our college of medicine, call 833-220-7645 or contact us
through our website.