Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Getting into Medical School

So you want to get into Med School?

When you think of what you can do with an Honours Bachelors of Science degree, many students think about Medical School. You may have heard that getting into medical school is a grueling task, but fear not because here are some tips that you can follow and resources available at UTSC in order to get a head start on that application. 

      1)      Look up prerequisites and courses you need to take
Medical school prerequisites vary among different schools worldwide. Most universities require at least a full-year course (including laboratory sessions) for Biology, Chemistry, Physics (for American universities) and may also require courses in Mathematics, Statistics and Humanities subjects. It’s a good idea to search the specific courses you need to apply to for the particular medical school you’re aspiring towards. Additionally, the marks in these courses may be emphasized when determining your acceptance so make sure you have good study habits and work hard! The Academic Advising & Career Centre offers study skills sessions for students to gain further insight on how to improve and excel in their courses. Several Biology programs at UTSC also include majority of the medical school requirements in first year alone, so feel free to check out the UTSC Course Calendar and list of programs on the Registrar’s Office website.

     2)      Gain experience outside of academia
Several Medical schools require external experience aside from just academics, including: extracurricular activities, volunteering/community service, clinical experience, and research. Having work-related experience outside of academic learning is a good way for medical school admissions councils to know that you have experience in the health/medical field. Volunteering at health-related student clubs, a hospital/research centre, or with professors at your own university will help you gain experience. The AA&CC and Career Learning Network offer several resources and programs such as the Extern Job Shadowing program where you would get the opportunity to select and shadow a medical professional (i.e. pediatrician, surgeon, urologist). There are also work study positions to gain research experience with professors so feel free to check out the Career Learning Network! You can also look under the Events and Programs page for a list of the events that we offer.
     A diagram that summarizes the key aspects of getting into med school is shown below.

      3)      Study for the MCAT & consider taking an MCAT course
Although not all universities require the MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test), it is a very common admissions test that is a strong indicator of the knowledge you have gained at an undergraduate level. Taking an MCAT course will help to perform better when the time comes to take the actual exam. The current MCAT is broken down into: Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems; Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems; Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior; and Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills. If you are unfamiliar with a particular area, consider taking an MCAT course for that area. There are various tools available online and in libraries, so you can getting a head start by studying over the summer!

With all this in mind, getting into Medical School is quite a difficult task. Talking to alumni, professors, and academic advisors & career counsellors can help in applying for medical school. Academic advisors can advise in medical school applications by giving tips to help you improve your study habits and perform better academically. Career counsellors can help you explore what courses, GPA, and external activities you need to do in order to optimize your chances of getting accepted. At the AA&CC, we have Career Counsellors who are able to help explore options for further education, look over personal statements, and even hold mock interviews. There are several resources available in our office such as tip sheets for graduate school and medical school, as well as books you can refer to. If you study, work hard, and use the right resources you can achieve your goals. Good luck!

AAMCC – Association of American Medical Colleges
CLN – Career Learning Network
OUAC/OMSAS Medical School Requirements Canada 2015
How To Be Pre-Med – Image
Stethoscope - Image  

Goodluck on your applications!
-Shivali Barot

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