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Pre-Medicine

Medical doctors are respected members of society that have earned either a Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree (DO). They range from family physicians to specialists and research scientists. The average salary range for a medical doctor is from $130,000 to $300,000 (depending on specialty).

There is a 14% projected employment growth for physicians and surgeons in the next 10 years. Becoming a physician is a rewarding career path for many reasons, and one where the job outlook is very good. However, medical doctors work long and unpredictable hours, and earning the MD or DO degree is not an easy path.

In the United States, fewer than 45% of students applying to medical school are successful. In 2007-2008, 66% of Radford University students that applied to medical school were admitted. At Radford University, we want to give all of our students that are tracking towards medical school the skills and opportunities to make their dreams a success.

Radford University is unique in that it is large enough to provide the many opportunities associated with a university atmosphere while still small enough to provide one-on-one interactions between professors and students that are common at small colleges.

Undergraduate students at Radford University have many opportunities to work with professors on unique research projects. These unique opportunities set our students apart from other applicants. In the sciences, some of our students have written and defended successful grant applications, made research presentations at national and international scientific research meetings, and have published scientific journal articles as first author.

The information below is provided to help pre-med students prepare the most competitive application possible.

Major

Medical schools do not select on the basis of major. While most of our successful applicants have majored in one of the sciences (i.e., Biology or Chemistry), students from other majors have been admitted. We recommend that students choose a major that interests them. While the medical schools are not concerned about major, they do want to see that you have taken a rigorous plan of study. Medical school is not easy, and this is a way for students to demonstrate that they can survive the rigors of medical school study.

MCAT

The MCAT is a standardized computer-based exam that most medical schools require, and it is probably the most important indicator of academic performance. The MCAT is an important tool for the medical schools on which to base interview decisions, since it allows a standardized evaluation of all applicants. MCAT scores are consistent across all schools since they are administered by the AAMC. The test comprises four major sections: verbal reasoning, physical sciences, biological sciences and a writing sample in multiple-choice and essay formats. The test is designed to measure problem solving, critical thinking and breadth of scientific knowledge and takes about five and a half hours to compete. The test costs around $220 and most medical schools will accept MCAT scores that were obtained within the last three years. Scores are usually reported 30 days after the exam is taken.

A competitive MCAT score is 30 or better.

See: http://www.aamc.org/students/mcat/ for more information.

We recommend that students prepare intensely four months before the exam, and take at least six full-length practice tests. Some schools will take the student’s best MCAT score; others will evaluate all attempts at the MCAT. Therefore, one should never take the MCAT if not prepared. Most medical schools have rolling admissions and by the fall some have filled over half of their interview slots. If students take the MCAT during the late summer, their scores will not be sent to the medical schools until the fall. Therefore, those students will be at a disadvantage. Planning ahead is critical.

The MCAT exam will significantly change in 2015. To understand these changes and how they affect your preparation, go to the MCAT homepage.

Medical School Admission Requirements

The admission requirements vary from school to school. However, most medical schools have the same basic requirements:
2 semesters of biology with labs
2 semesters of physics with labs
2 semesters of English
2 semesters of mathematics
2 semesters of general chemistry with labs
2 semesters of organic chemistry with labs

Courses at Radford University that meet the above minimum requirements include:

Field of Study Radford University Courses
Biology BIO 132, 231
Physics PHYS 111, 112 or calculus-based PHYS 221, 222
English CORE 101, 102
Math any math course, we recommend MATH 138 or higher
General Chemistry CHEM 101, 102
Organic Chemistry CHEM 301, 302

The above listing of courses is considered the absolute minimum requirements for admission to medical school. Remember, the medical schools want to see rigor. For that reason, we recommend that students take some advanced science courses. Additional science courses also aid the student on the MCAT. Most of our students apply for medical school at the end of their junior year. Therefore, all of the prerequisite courses must be completed before that time. It is a good idea to plan your course of study early, so that all of these time-demanding science courses do not occur in the same year.

We recommend that students take math before physics, and do not take organic chemistry and physics concurrently.

To be competitive for admission to medical school, grades in the prerequisite courses are significantly important. Students should strive to make A’s in all courses. However, we recommend that the prerequisite and any sciences course receive the student’s priority. A competitive GPA for medical school is 3.50 or higher.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Some medical schools require biochemistry, calculus and psychology. It is essential that students visit websites of the medical schools where they would like to apply in the future. The specific lists of requirements are presented there.

Community Service

Medical schools look for applicants that are truly concerned about their community. One measure of this concern is through community service experiences. There are many opportunities for students to demonstrate their concern for the community through working with the homeless, tutoring for underserved and adult literacy programs, Habitat for Humanity, etc. A good starting place to locate community service opportunities is through Circle K.

Shadowing Experience

In addition to seeking out applicants who are truly concerned about their community, medical schools also want applicants that “understand what they are getting themselves into.” Someone who faints at the sight of blood is likely not a good candidate for medical school. Therefore, in order to be competitive for admission, students must have significant shadowing experiences. The more diverse experiences the better, and students should strive to work with the same physician for about four or more months of weekly shadowing. This must be completed before submitting the medical school application, and we recommend that students study intently for the MCAT their second semester junior year. Thus, shadowing should be conducted prior to second semester junior year.

Timeline

Meet with a pre-med advisor every semester to review your progress!

Freshman year

  • Create a plan of study (a listing of what courses you will take and what semester you will take them).
  • Have a pre-med advisor review your plan of study
  • Gain some shadowing experiences
  • Participate in community service
  • Review the MCAT exam. If you do not do well with this type of exam format, then not only study for the MACT, but practice taking exams with the types of questions on the MCAT

Sophomore year

  • Begin to study for the MCAT
  • Continue to shadow a physician
  • Continue community service
  • Visit medical schools near you (VCOM is only 20 min away)

Junior year

  • Continue to study for the MCAT
  • Continue shadowing a physician
  • Continue community service

When returning from winter break

  • Register to take the MCAT in April or May
  • Plan to take the MCAT only once!
  • Schedule a mock interview with the Pre-Health Advisory Committee
  • Make a list of tentative medical schools
  • Visit those schools when possible, and meet with admissions representatives. Ask the representative to review your credentials
  • Distribute individual letter of evaluation forms to several professionals that know you well. Do not ask individuals that don’t know you well for evaluations.
  • Provide the evaluator with a resume or CV and a personal statement (why you want to be a physician). If a potential evaluator seems reluctant, find someone else. Professional evaluators (your professors, physicians that you have shadowed and so forth) carry the greatest value. Evaluations with confidentially right waived are most useful and creditable

April and May of Junior year

  • AMCAS applications are available (www.aamc.org/amcas).
  • When spring grades are complete, request that official transcripts be sent to AMCAS (online form inside the application).

June after Junior year:

  • Submit the AMCAS application

Late summer after junior year

  • Submit secondary applications
  • If you like, request a secondary mock interview from the Pre- Health Advisory Committee

AMCAS Information

MCAT homepage.