The first step to getting into the school of your dreams is your undergraduate education. I chose to go to Brigham Young University for reasons other than my career in medicine. If you haven’t heard of it, I am not surprised. However, once you go for interviews, you will likely meet some of us–for whatever reason, BYU consistently pumps out a lot of med school applicants every year.
Anyways, let’s talk about what you should be doing before you apply to medical school. Whatever year you are in college, it is important that you do well in school. I don’t care what others tell you about how the GPA is not as important as it used to be for admissions committees. It is still important. If you don’t have a good GPA, your options for med schools are limited, and you will have to make up for it with stellar extra-curricular activities.
That being said, please please please try and not be annoying about your grades! I absolutely hate it when pre-meds go and complain to their professor about a couple of points on an exam or quiz. It’s ok to ask why you got something wrong, but it will only destroy your relationship with your professor if you constantly bug them about points. Professors care about learning, not points. Chances are, if you ask good questions and develop a good relationship with your professor, they will give you a good grade anyway.
It is vitally important that you look up courses required by med schools that you are interested in. It would be extremely disappointing and unwise to pay the application fee and find out that you were missing a required course or two. For example, many applicants to Ohio State were not aware of the new Anatomy requirement and were then required to squeeze it in to their last semester schedule. If you look ahead, you will be able to plan for any courses you need to take before you graduate.
Courses I recommend:
1. Human Anatomy
3. Cell Biology
4. Advanced Writing
If you take these courses in addition to the regular prerequisites, you pretty much fulfill the requirements of most medical schools. Some schools also don’t accept AP credit, so be aware of that, especially when it comes to Calculus.
I was involved with research since my Sophomore year. It was one of the most valuable experiences I have had as an undergraduate because I learned a lot. A publication will help you tremendously on your application; however, even if you don’t publish an article in Nature, don’t worry–your experience will still help you. Get involved in a lab or a non-science research group. Learn how to explain your research in layman’s terms. With my research, I was able to make presentations, write grant proposals, and win awards–all of which I of course included in my application. That being said, I would go so far as to say that not doing research will hurt your application. It’s pretty much a requirement nowadays. Also, build a great relationship with your PI–he or she will be writing you a letter of recommendation.