The Rewards of a Medical Career
Physicians are among the most respected members of any community where they choose to live and practice. A medical career affords an exceptional opportunity to put one's scientific knowledge and humanitarian impulse to work for the benefit of others. Strategies of preventive medicine, diagnosis, and therapy are evolving in ways unimaginable just a few decades ago, ensuring the physician a stimulating life of continual intellectual growth, job satisfaction, and material reward.
The premedical advisers at GC stay abreast of changing medical school admission requirements and trends in order to provide you with competent counsel. Their goal is to make you the most competitive medical school applicant that you are capable of becoming. But premedical study is very demanding. About 90% of those who begin as premeds never get as far as applying to medical school, and of those who do apply, about one in three are accepted. The GC premedical advisors recognize that the great majority of beginning premedical students change their minds along the way and pursue career tracks other than medical school. Thus, they are also concerned with flexibility in your preparation, and can advise you on alternative careers in the health sciences, nonmedical natural sciences, and beyond.
Preparation for Medical School
Most students apply to medical school between the junior and senior year, and must take the following courses by the time of application: one year each of biology, physics, general chemistry, and organic chemistry or a combination of organic chemistry and biochemistry. All science courses must be at the level taken by students majoring in science; general survey courses for non-science majors are not acceptable. Some medical schools also have calculus, statistics, and other requirements. It is important to begin chemistry early, because the year of general chemistry is a prerequisite for admission to organic chemistry. Mathematics must be included in the first year of study. It is also imperative to have some type of employment, volunteer, internship or other experience in a clinical environment during the undergraduate years. Medical schools today generally do not consider applicants who have no clinical experience. Undergraduate enrichment experiences such as faculty-mentored research, internships, and study abroad can also help you build a distinctive portfolio that will let you stand out from the crowd.
Our goal at GC is not just to provide you with a degree and the medical school prerequisites, but to educate the whole person. Today's rapidly expanding knowledge of science and medicine demands not just a litany of facts, but the ability to critically assess and integrate scientific and cultural knowledge. A liberal arts education at GC will help you develop the skills needed for analytical and critical thinking, problem solving, sensitivity in human relationships, and lifelong self-motivated learning.
Choice of Major
Most premedical students at GC and nationally major in biology or chemistry, but U.S. medical schools accept students from any major provided they have completed the basic premedical science requirements. Indeed, students who have majored in such fields as art, music, English, and history often have higher percentage rates of admission to medical school than do science majors (although they sometimes report more difficulty with their medical students once they get there). Your primary considerations in choice of major should be what you enjoy and what you think will best prepare you for another desirable career in the event that you are among the large number who never get into medical school. A premedical adviser can help you integrate your premed studies into any major you choose.
Factors in Medical School Admission
The usual time to apply to medical school is fall semester one year before the time one hopes to be admitted. For most medical schools, the application deadline falls in early November. When you apply, an admissions committee will judge you first by your undergraduate grade-point average and your scores on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). The MCAT is offered up to 25 times per year and is now entirely computer-based, but it must be taken at approved, supervised testing sites. It lasts about 4 hours and covers physical sciences (physics and general chemistry), biological sciences (biology and organic chemistry), verbal reasoning (reading, retention, and analysis), and writing ability (two 30-minute essays). Although the MCAT can now be taken almost any time of year, most students take it at the end of the junior year or the summer before the senior year. Therefore, it is imperative to complete all of the required premed science courses before then. Your senior year is for completing your major, not meeting medical school admission requirements.
The next most significant factor in admission is letters of recommendation. One or two of these should come from college faculty: your advisor, other individual professors, or a committee of professors who know you best.
Another factor is clinical experience. Medical schools today give little consideration to students who have never worked in a clinical environment. You should endeavor during your undergraduate years to seek out opportunities for medically related internships, shadowing your personal physician or another doctor, volunteer hospital work, community health work in the U.S. or abroad, or part-time or summer employment opportunities in health care.
Finally, no one is admitted to medical school without an interview, but only the most promising applicants are even invited to interview. Your adviser will counsel you on interview preparedness, and in many cases the GC faculty will interview you, thus giving you practice, as part of the process of preparing a committee letter of recommendation.
The GC Advantage
GC has built a strong reputation among the medical schools of the region. Students who have performed well academically (GPA 3.7), scored well on the MCAT (30), acquired meaningful clinical experience and other achievements to distinguish themselves from more "generic" applicants, and who come well recommended by our faculty have a very high likelihood of admission. More and more, medical school admissions committees want to see applicants who show inquisitive, reflective minds, and strengths in analytical thinking, quantitative reasoning, independent learning, cultural awareness, listening well, and communicating well. These are exactly the qualities of mind and character extolled and promoted by the GC liberal arts mission