What is the best path to get into MED School for a high school senior?

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Indexfan89
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What is the best path to get into MED School for a high school senior?

Post by Indexfan89 »

My daughter is a high school senior. 34 ACT and 5.1 GPA out of 5 (this is weighted GPA, their school doesn’t show un-weighted one). Applied to decent schools in mid-west, got into all of them (like Illinois Wesleyan University, Saint Louis University, and University of Illinois – Chicago/Urbana–Champaign etc…Received Illinois Scholar certificate. What it means is she is in the top 10% of all high school seniors in the state for her GPA. Doesn’t say she is a top of the line student but a good one as for as academics are concerned.

Her plan is to take a Biology major in one of the schools mentioned above, finish the undergrad with good grades, write MCAT and hopefully get enough score there to get into MED school. Also try some internships during summers while in college.

I understand this is the normal path. Since I didn’t studied in this country (I am an immigrant), am I missing anything that she need to focus while in undergrad school?

Also, what if she can’t able to get into MED school? What other good career choices available for biology majors? She can go to graduate school if she can’t get into MED school.

There are lot of doctors and very smart people here on this board. Appreciate your input, ideas and thoughts. Thank you!
psteinx
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Re: What is the best path to get into MED School for a high school senior?

Post by psteinx »

There is at least one (more likely, a few) direct admission 6 year combined undergrad+med school programs. UMKC (University of Missouri - Kansas City) is the one I know of. Apply more or less like a typical college admission (as a HS senior). If admitted you're in a 6 year program that combines undergrad and med school (instead of the more typical 4 + 4). Not sure if it's too late to apply for this (as you probably know, typical deadlines for regular admission are around January 1).

I'm not a doctor, so I don't know all the ins and outs - hopefully more knowledgeable folks will respond. If she doesn't get into med school on her first round of applications, she can still apply a year or two later, perhaps using the interim time to boost her skillset/application profile. I have a niece who did this - unsuccessful first time around, successful admission a year later.

There's also nursing (including nurse practitioner), dentistry, veterinarians, etc... And just because she has a biology degree, she's not necessarily bound to end up in a related career. People go into careers far afield from their undergrad studies.
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Re: What is the best path to get into MED School for a high school senior?

Post by pdx-ursa »

Congratulations on your daughter's success! The many doctors on the board can comment from their personal experience, but two of my kids are first year med students and a third child is studying biology but has zero interest in med school. The first huge hurdle for most pre-meds is doing decently in O-chem, usually sophomore year. At large public schools two of my kids attended, O-chem started as a big class and shrunk during the year as students did poorly or decided the class wasn't for them. Having a good foundation in the science before starting the class may be a good idea. If your daughter does well in college, getting practical experience in medicine, research, and related fields would help her to appeal to medical schools. One of my kids worked as an EMT for a couple years and the other worked in labs. As to uses for biology not in medicine, we'll see, but my third kid is learning computer codes that are used by public and private labs, with the plan of either working in labs, pharma, or software for science.
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Re: What is the best path to get into MED School for a high school senior?

Post by psteinx »

Also, some undergrad colleges are rather focused on the med school path, and may have special counseling/advising for those who hope to get into med school. Other colleges may have less kids going in this direction, and less support for it (but you could probably still find information other ways, such as the internet).
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Re: What is the best path to get into MED School for a high school senior?

Post by flyninjasquirrel »

She's not going to set herself apart from the other applicants by being a biology major so she will have to expand her CV in other ways - research, work/clinical experience etc. If med school doesn't happen, a biology degree by itself won't get you much. I did my undergrad in chemical engineering. Was able to get a minor in biotechnology as well. It fulfilled most of the premed requirements without having to do a bunch of extra coursework and made me different from the thousands of bio majors. My plan was to go to med school, but if it didn't work out at least I could make a decent living as an engineer (I'm a physician now).
tigerdoc93
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Re: What is the best path to get into MED School for a high school senior?

Post by tigerdoc93 »

With her MCAT score and GPA, she should have little to no difficulty getting into medical school. I’ve been told there is some correlation between ACT score and MCAT score. When I went to medical school in 1997 an MCAT score of 27 was good enough for admission to a state school. I am not sure what currently is considered a good MCAT score. She should review the courses required to apply for medical school admission and be sure she does well in those courses. I recommend that she major in something that she is interested in studying. There is no need to major in premed, biology, etc. Practically speaking and in hindsight I wish I had majored in engineering which would have allowed me to have a back up plan should I have been unsuccessful in obtaining admission to medical school.
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Johnsson
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Re: What is the best path to get into MED School for a high school senior?

Post by Johnsson »

An example...

While we our frugal, we of course want the best for our children. So, what we could to help steer them in the directions that fit their personalities and our pocketbooks...

Our DD also wanted to be a physician. She wanted to go to an Ivy League school and have the best of everything. She is also intelligent (from her mother NOT me). Getting into the best/most appropriate schools/programs takes a lot of research into the programs and the requirements to apply AND get accepted. That's where we helped her the most.

She attended the honors college at our state university (1/3 the price of the Ivies) for biomedical engineering (similar basic courses with a practical use... she has classmates that made $70-100k straight out of school in 2011). Pre-meds and Biology majors are all over the place. Be different (while fulfilling academic med-related requirements). Our push was that she earn a valuable undergrad degree that would suffice if she changed her mind. While in school she belonged to medically aligned clubs (including starting one that had branches at other schools) and medical volunteering (as required by all Med schools). Check into what med schools are looking for and make sure she gets motivated and involved. She'll of course need to do well in whatever program she selects.

As with undergrad she should apply far and wide to med schools... ones relatively easy to get into and ones that are a reach. It doesn't hurt to apply to many as long as she gets into one that suits. Our DD still wanted an Ivy league school and to be in a big city (we live rurally) and was able to make that happen.

Then there are residencies (our DD added a year to her med school to research in her desired specialty to improve chance of being accepted into that specialty).

Then there are fellowships.

All with requirements, applications and essays. Your research and support will be helpful all along the way.

This is a looooooooooooong process. Our DW graduated high school in 2007 and will start a fellowship in June. Hopefully by June of 2021 she'll be done and able to support her parents in their dotage!!! :D Good luck and keep her grounded along the way.
Last edited by Johnsson on Tue Jan 28, 2020 4:25 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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22twain
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Re: What is the best path to get into MED School for a high school senior?

Post by 22twain »

It might be worth noting that an undergraduate aiming for medical school doesn't necessarily have to major in biology. At the college where I used to teach (now retired), there is no pre-medical major or even a pre-medical concentration option in the biology major. A faculty advisory committee publishes a list of courses that pre-med students need to take, and writes letters of recommendation for students who meet those requirements. (I was on that committee for a while, because I was in one of the departments which has courses on the pre-med course list.) Students can major in any field that gives them enough room in their schedule to take the pre-med courses in addition. Most pre-med students are in fact biology majors, but in my time on the committee, I saw some others: chemistry, psychology, political science, English...
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Re: What is the best path to get into MED School for a high school senior?

Post by dm200 »

Indexfan89 wrote: Tue Jan 28, 2020 11:02 am My daughter is a high school senior. 34 ACT and 5.1 GPA out of 5 (this is weighted GPA, their school doesn’t show un-weighted one). Applied to decent schools in mid-west, got into all of them (like Illinois Wesleyan University, Saint Louis University, and University of Illinois – Chicago/Urbana–Champaign etc…Received Illinois Scholar certificate. What it means is she is in the top 10% of all high school seniors in the state for her GPA. Doesn’t say she is a top of the line student but a good one as for as academics are concerned.
Her plan is to take a Biology major in one of the schools mentioned above, finish the undergrad with good grades, write MCAT and hopefully get enough score there to get into MED school. Also try some internships during summers while in college.
I understand this is the normal path. Since I didn’t studied in this country (I am an immigrant), am I missing anything that she need to focus while in undergrad school?
Also, what if she can’t able to get into MED school? What other good career choices available for biology majors? She can go to graduate school if she can’t get into MED school.
There are lot of doctors and very smart people here on this board. Appreciate your input, ideas and thoughts. Thank you!
My first cousin's daughter was an extremely academically high performing High School student. She was admitted to a University that has an excellent Medical School as an undergraduate - with the assurance/guarantee (some limitations, I would assume) of admission to their Medical School. She then chose to complete her undergraduate degree in only three years. Since her admission to Medical School was than a year into the future, she spent that year somewhere in Eastern Europe caring for or otherwise involved with Orphans. She completed medical school on time - and is now a Psychiatrist.

I have no medical credentials - just an informed layperson and patient - I see/encounter more Physicians in recent years with a DO degree vs. the more common MD. Many of the recent new US Medical Schools offer the DO degree. I believe DOs can then get into just about any specialty that an MD graduate can. My wife had abdominal surgery by a DO surgeon, I encountered a DO in Urgent care and when my wife was hospitalized for a Gall Bladder problem, one Hospitalist was a DO.

A great many Physicians receive all, or part of their training - paid for by one of the branches of the US Military. I do not know if a military relationship is related to being admitted to Medical School. The daughter of a High School friend had her Medical School paid for by the US Air Force. After practicing primary care in the Air Force for several years, she became an Ophthalmologist (compliments of the Air Force) and practiced Ophthalmology in the Air Force for a number of years.

There are also some special programs (cannot cite any offhand) where admission to a Medical School and payments for Medical School are provided by/for medically underserved areas/communities in exchange for that Physician then agreeing to work in that area for a certain number of years.

I wish you and her well!
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Re: What is the best path to get into MED School for a high school senior?

Post by dm200 »

22twain wrote: Tue Jan 28, 2020 12:22 pm It might be worth noting that an undergraduate aiming for medical school doesn't necessarily have to major in biology. At the college where I used to teach (now retired), there is no pre-medical major or even a pre-medical concentration option in the biology major. A faculty advisory committee publishes a list of courses that pre-med students need to take, and writes letters of recommendation for students who meet those requirements. (I was on that committee for a while, because I was in one of the departments which has courses on the pre-med course list.) Students can major in any field that gives them enough room in their schedule to take the pre-med courses in addition. Most pre-med students are in fact biology majors, but in my time on the committee, I saw some others: chemistry, psychology, political science, English...
Yes - one friend of ours, now retired, was a Nutritionist/Dietitian - married. Then, in her early 30's, went to Medical School - gave birth to two children (while in medical school) - and practiced as a Specialist for many years.

Amazing!!
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Re: What is the best path to get into MED School for a high school senior?

Post by Jack FFR1846 »

A family friend is going through this now....some years ahead, however.

He has a Mechanical Engineering Bachelors from a good college (not an MIT/Stanford). Very high percentile MCAT, which immediately generated invitations to apply. He is taking 2 years working to save and in the middle, took the MCAT and is doing volunteer work at a hospital (that is pretty much required these days). From what he tells us, it is become the norm to take a year to prepare, MCAT, volunteer and work while getting ready to apply to med schools.

The company he works for now makes "stuff" for operating rooms. He has traveled extensively to train the people on use of the equipment and observed operations using this equipment. That'll go on his resume (or CV if you will).
Last edited by Jack FFR1846 on Tue Jan 28, 2020 12:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What is the best path to get into MED School for a high school senior?

Post by climber2020 »

Indexfan89 wrote: Tue Jan 28, 2020 11:02 am My daughter is a high school senior. 34 ACT and 5.1 GPA out of 5 (this is weighted GPA, their school doesn’t show un-weighted one). Applied to decent schools in mid-west, got into all of them (like Illinois Wesleyan University, Saint Louis University, and University of Illinois – Chicago/Urbana–Champaign etc…Received Illinois Scholar certificate. What it means is she is in the top 10% of all high school seniors in the state for her GPA. Doesn’t say she is a top of the line student but a good one as for as academics are concerned.

Her plan is to take a Biology major in one of the schools mentioned above, finish the undergrad with good grades, write MCAT and hopefully get enough score there to get into MED school. Also try some internships during summers while in college.

I understand this is the normal path. Since I didn’t studied in this country (I am an immigrant), am I missing anything that she need to focus while in undergrad school?

Also, what if she can’t able to get into MED school? What other good career choices available for biology majors? She can go to graduate school if she can’t get into MED school.

There are lot of doctors and very smart people here on this board. Appreciate your input, ideas and thoughts. Thank you!
1) A Biology major, or any science major for that matter, is not necessary or helpful to get into medical school. If she loves biology then fine, but the decision should not be based solely on medical school goals. I majored in music and it really helped me stand out from a horde of science majors when I did my medical school interviews.

2) There are certain required courses for pre-meds. A year of biology, a year of chemistry, etc. Take the easiest courses possible that will still fulfill the requirements, and get A's in all of these courses. It's better to have straight A's in a bunch of easy courses than it is to take ridiculously hard courses like Physical Chemistry and then having to explain why you got a C. It's all jumping through hoops at this stage, and in the end it will make no difference in the clinical competence of a doctor.
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Re: What is the best path to get into MED School for a high school senior?

Post by Sheepdog »

Search and ye may find.

From Kaplan The prerequisites for medical school. https://www.kaptest.com/study/mcat/the- ... al-school/

One part says:
During your pre-medical education, you will be required to fulfill certain coursework prerequisites. In addition, you should select other courses in the sciences and humanities to supplement this core curriculum, enhancing your education and your application to medical school.

Most schools agree on the basic elements for pre-medical education. Minimum course requirements include one year each of biology, general (inorganic) chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, and related lab work for each. In addition, about two-thirds require English and about one quarter require calculus. A small number of schools have no specific course requirements.

Bear in mind that since the MCAT covers material from the commonly required courses, you will need to include those courses in your program of study whether or not they are medical school prerequisites. Nevertheless, many students are surprised to learn that the list of courses required by medical schools is so small. The best sources for admissions requirements for specific medical schools are the Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR) and the Osteopathic Medical College Information Booklet.

Standard medical school prerequisites

These classes are nearly universal pre-med requirements, including basic science classes that are familiar to most science majors.

Biology - Almost all of medicine requires basic understanding of biology, so it is a definite necessity for medical school. Knowing about genetics, cells, and the framework for life are the building blocks of medical science and are crucial for success in the field.
Chemistry - Chemistry—and especially organic chemistry—provide a strong basis for understanding acid-base imbalances within the body and how different medications work. Chemistry is also the foundation for understanding biochemistry.
Physics - Physics also introduces key medical concepts, such as laws of pressure and volume, which are incredibly important for cardiology and understanding the forces operating within the body.
Mathematics - Some schools will require calculus, while others require statistics. Regardless, most schools require at least a semester of math. There’s a surprising amount of basic math and statistics that is important for daily life as a physician or health professional—from determining proper dosage to reading lab results.
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Re: What is the best path to get into MED School for a high school senior?

Post by manatee2005 »

I was also pushed into being a doctor by my parents. I volunteered at a hospital for one summer and decided I hated it. Went into computer engineering and love it. You can work from home, which you can’t if you’re a doctor. I also don’t have to see sick people everyday.

I also know of couple of my friends kids who wanted to be nurses and they said no way after volunteering in a hospital.

Just make sure she knows what she’s getting into. There are better jobs out there.

My doctor friends said ACA changed their profession a lot, so you might want to take that into account as well.
Last edited by manatee2005 on Tue Jan 28, 2020 12:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What is the best path to get into MED School for a high school senior?

Post by nydoc »

Just a suggestion here- a lot of physicians are being replaced by NPs and PAs. Society as a whole is not willing to pay for so many doctors. A good paying job will be difficult to find in future especially in non operative fields. Primary care, pediatrics, psychiatrist and a lot of other fields are rapidly being taken over by mid-levels. Everyone wants to make US healthcare like Europe but in reality it is turning into China or India style healthcare where anyone can do any treatment with a paper certificate in hand. There will always be a need for physicians but only to solve the most difficult clinical problems and pay will reflect that.
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Re: What is the best path to get into MED School for a high school senior?

Post by Waiting_for_Godot »

I wish to add another opinion of caution. I suggest that three requirements should be fulfilled before she decides on medicine. She must love studying pointless minutiae, she must have better than average stamina/health, and she must want this path more than anything else in the world. It is grueling, not just in training but often in practice, the training is insanely inefficient, and the profession itself just doesn't seem as appreciated/respected as it may have been in the past. I took a few years after college to debate, finally got into medical school, and very quickly realized that I did not want it badly enough to endure years of bs. I thought I had done enough due diligence; it wasn't until I was thrown in the deep end that I realized my mistake.
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Re: What is the best path to get into MED School for a high school senior?

Post by smitcat »

Indexfan89 wrote: Tue Jan 28, 2020 11:02 am My daughter is a high school senior. 34 ACT and 5.1 GPA out of 5 (this is weighted GPA, their school doesn’t show un-weighted one). Applied to decent schools in mid-west, got into all of them (like Illinois Wesleyan University, Saint Louis University, and University of Illinois – Chicago/Urbana–Champaign etc…Received Illinois Scholar certificate. What it means is she is in the top 10% of all high school seniors in the state for her GPA. Doesn’t say she is a top of the line student but a good one as for as academics are concerned.

Her plan is to take a Biology major in one of the schools mentioned above, finish the undergrad with good grades, write MCAT and hopefully get enough score there to get into MED school. Also try some internships during summers while in college.

I understand this is the normal path. Since I didn’t studied in this country (I am an immigrant), am I missing anything that she need to focus while in undergrad school?

Also, what if she can’t able to get into MED school? What other good career choices available for biology majors? She can go to graduate school if she can’t get into MED school.

There are lot of doctors and very smart people here on this board. Appreciate your input, ideas and thoughts. Thank you!
'What other good career choices available for biology majors? She can go to graduate school if she can’t get into MED school."
There are so many that she should research all of them now.....
- NP
- RN
- DPT
- PA
- OT
- SLP
- various research
- various govt
- various private industry
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Re: What is the best path to get into MED School for a high school senior?

Post by StormShadow »

Indexfan89 wrote: Tue Jan 28, 2020 11:02 am Her plan is to take a Biology major in one of the schools mentioned above, finish the undergrad with good grades, write MCAT and hopefully get enough score there to get into MED school. Also try some internships during summers while in college.

I understand this is the normal path. Since I didn’t studied in this country (I am an immigrant), am I missing anything that she need to focus while in undergrad school?

Also, what if she can’t able to get into MED school? What other good career choices available for biology majors? She can go to graduate school if she can’t get into MED school.

There are lot of doctors and very smart people here on this board. Appreciate your input, ideas and thoughts. Thank you!
The plan is fine. Non-traditional majors (i.e. non-biology) have a slight benefit when it comes to med school application/interviews. Regardless, she should choose a subject she has a passion for. Getting good grades and MCAT score are vital. Volunteering is always a good idea. Research is even better. I recommend shadowing a physician to get an idea of what the practice of medicine is really like.

Having good people skills is very underrated for a career in medicine (or any career for that matter). She should start working on that now.

I wouldn't focus too much on the economic landscape of medicine. It is always changing and difficult to predict. Medicine is a calling. If you have a passion for the science behind medicine, you will have plenty of success and satisfaction in this field.
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dm200
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Re: What is the best path to get into MED School for a high school senior?

Post by dm200 »

To me, this seems obvious -- but some neglect this step - Make sure that you can (and want to) deal with all sorts of sick folks before beginning any career training in most areas of the medical field.

A similar example, in a completely different field - a friend of mine's daughter received her undergraduate degree in criminal science (or something like that). BUT - after four years of college - she did not want to have a job that involved carrying a gun! Amazing! [and not in a positive way]
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Re: What is the best path to get into MED School for a high school senior?

Post by babyboglehead »

Practicing MD here from a wholly non-MD (or any graduate school) family. Sounds like she has stellar grades/scores thus far and is well on track. If you google "tips to get into med school" you'll find a million versions of the same list, and for good reason. Ultimately it generally boils down to a few things I'll list below. However, before this I would ask how motivated she is. Medical training is grueling and takes people who already love science and medicine to their breaking point. It's still very lucrative with second to none job stability for most specialties but it's a heck of a price in terms of life commitment. Medicine has to be both your job and also your primary hobby. The list below is fairly long, but frankly she should be able to do it all and still have a good quality of life. If the below is really wearing her out, med school and residency will probably be pretty miserable.

pre) This won't show up on an application, but finding a solid mentor early on can help things so much. There are so many quirks and oddities about the profession it really helps to have someone she can talk to frankly about things. Any family friends that are physicians would be ideal. When she starts shadowing/volunteering that might also be a good time. Sometime to check in with every few months and ask "Am I still on track?" can be huge.
1) Stellar grades. Unless things have changed since last decade, schools typically look at both science GPA and overall GPA. Below a 3.5 things get very difficult and above 3.8 is solid. Ideally these are from as prestigious a school as possible without incurring excessive debt.
2) Solid MCAT score. Because more people take the MCAT than get into med school, the average for people who actually getting accepted is a roughly 80th %ile score.
3) Medical experience/exposure. Ideally both volunteering in hospitals and physician shadowing. This is great both
4) Research experience. If her name got on a published paper that's great but not necessary at all. Freshman year most people don't, but by at least mid-sophomore year she should be talking to people in her major's department about joining a lab.
5) Volunteer experience. This is a great place to fit in something a little more specific to your daughter's personal interests. Also, they absolutely love international experiences if that can be done. Ideally one or two long-term commitments plus random activities sprinkled here and there.
6) Solid letters of recommendation. Ideally one from her research lab mentor, one from a physician mentor, one from a volunteer contact, and some schools have a premed committee that writes one.
7) Have multiple people, ideally people in academia, read over her personal statement. Poorly written, this can sink an otherwise solid application. I did not do this, and re-reading mine years after the fact I am certain I came across as condescending and it likely cost me a number of acceptances.
8) Apply early and very broadly. I ended up getting a generous scholarship to a fairly reputable school many states away that I had previously not been very familiar with, they just happened to accept a few kids from my undergrad every year. The primary application is standardized and the marginal cost in terms of both money and time for each extra program is fairly small. She should have the application prepared and should be pressing the submit button within hours of it being open.
9) Be human. There is a place on the application that you can put random hobbies or other extracurricular stuff. Of all the things on my application, the one that came up every interview was singing in a ska band.

As far as "backup" jobs, as other people have said she doesn't need to be a biology major. I went to med school with many history, English, anthropology, etc. majors. She should pick a major she loves, will get stellar grades in, and would consider pursuing a career in if she decides the physician track isn't for her. Alternative medical careers such as PA/nurse practitioner/nurse anesthetist/podiatry can also be lucrative and don't have quite as high a bar if she really wants to stay clinical.

As far as concerns expressed by others on this message board about PAs/NPs taking over primary care, this is not the whole story. This is a reaction to the shortage of primary care providers coming out of training, which is only expected to worsen. Due to laws of supply and demand, this lack is both driving up physician compensation for primary care providers and making it easier to find jobs closer to preferred locations. There is huge variability in academic vs nonacademic, hospital vs nonhospital, and regional pay, with most people taking really low-paying jobs ending up there by choice and not necessity. I say this as a pediatrician.
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Indexfan89
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Re: What is the best path to get into MED School for a high school senior?

Post by Indexfan89 »

Lot of great suggestions/comments so far. Keep them coming. Thank you all!
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Re: What is the best path to get into MED School for a high school senior?

Post by dm200 »

While it is true that the general trend in the US is towards more Nurses, Nurse Practioners and Physicians Assistants taking on a greater part of medical services, what my wife and I have experienced in the last ten or so years at Kaiser is the opposite. At one time, in our area (Virginia suburb of Washington DC), Kaiser's Primary care was a "team approach" with Physicians, Registered Nurses and Nurse Practioners (and perhaps Physicians Assistants). About ten years ago, or so, in this area Kaiser chose to hire a lot more Primary Care Physicians and, in most cases, eliminate all medical professionals from most primary care office visits. So, now, when I have an in person appointment with my Primary Care Physician - she is the only medical professional I see. Some kind of basic clinical assistant takes weight and blood pressure, shows me to the correct exam room, asks me why I am seeing the Physician and tells me what clothing to take off and where to sit.
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Re: What is the best path to get into MED School for a high school senior?

Post by robphoto »

Brown University also has the program where you are accepted into a program including med school out of high school; a couple of my daughter's friends went into that (very outstanding kids).
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Re: What is the best path to get into MED School for a high school senior?

Post by 22twain »

dm200 wrote: Tue Jan 28, 2020 1:40 pm To me, this seems obvious -- but some neglect this step - Make sure that you can (and want to) deal with all sorts of sick folks before beginning any career training in most areas of the medical field.
I forgot to mention that our pre-med advisory committee strongly urged students to get practical experience in medicine via an internship or by "shadowing" someone in the field that they were aiming for. We took note of such experience (or lack of it) in our recommendation letters to med schools.
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Indexfan89
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Re: What is the best path to get into MED School for a high school senior?

Post by Indexfan89 »

babyboglehead wrote: Tue Jan 28, 2020 1:58 pm Practicing MD here from a wholly non-MD (or any graduate school) family. Sounds like she has stellar grades/scores thus far and is well on track. If you google "tips to get into med school" you'll find a million versions of the same list, and for good reason. Ultimately it generally boils down to a few things I'll list below. However, before this I would ask how motivated she is. Medical training is grueling and takes people who already love science and medicine to their breaking point. It's still very lucrative with second to none job stability for most specialties but it's a heck of a price in terms of life commitment. Medicine has to be both your job and also your primary hobby. The list below is fairly long, but frankly she should be able to do it all and still have a good quality of life. If the below is really wearing her out, med school and residency will probably be pretty miserable.

pre) This won't show up on an application, but finding a solid mentor early on can help things so much. There are so many quirks and oddities about the profession it really helps to have someone she can talk to frankly about things. Any family friends that are physicians would be ideal. When she starts shadowing/volunteering that might also be a good time. Sometime to check in with every few months and ask "Am I still on track?" can be huge.
1) Stellar grades. Unless things have changed since last decade, schools typically look at both science GPA and overall GPA. Below a 3.5 things get very difficult and above 3.8 is solid. Ideally these are from as prestigious a school as possible without incurring excessive debt.
2) Solid MCAT score. Because more people take the MCAT than get into med school, the average for people who actually getting accepted is a roughly 80th %ile score.
3) Medical experience/exposure. Ideally both volunteering in hospitals and physician shadowing. This is great both
4) Research experience. If her name got on a published paper that's great but not necessary at all. Freshman year most people don't, but by at least mid-sophomore year she should be talking to people in her major's department about joining a lab.
5) Volunteer experience. This is a great place to fit in something a little more specific to your daughter's personal interests. Also, they absolutely love international experiences if that can be done. Ideally one or two long-term commitments plus random activities sprinkled here and there.
6) Solid letters of recommendation. Ideally one from her research lab mentor, one from a physician mentor, one from a volunteer contact, and some schools have a premed committee that writes one.
7) Have multiple people, ideally people in academia, read over her personal statement. Poorly written, this can sink an otherwise solid application. I did not do this, and re-reading mine years after the fact I am certain I came across as condescending and it likely cost me a number of acceptances.
8) Apply early and very broadly. I ended up getting a generous scholarship to a fairly reputable school many states away that I had previously not been very familiar with, they just happened to accept a few kids from my undergrad every year. The primary application is standardized and the marginal cost in terms of both money and time for each extra program is fairly small. She should have the application prepared and should be pressing the submit button within hours of it being open.
9) Be human. There is a place on the application that you can put random hobbies or other extracurricular stuff. Of all the things on my application, the one that came up every interview was singing in a ska band.

As far as "backup" jobs, as other people have said she doesn't need to be a biology major. I went to med school with many history, English, anthropology, etc. majors. She should pick a major she loves, will get stellar grades in, and would consider pursuing a career in if she decides the physician track isn't for her. Alternative medical careers such as PA/nurse practitioner/nurse anesthetist/podiatry can also be lucrative and don't have quite as high a bar if she really wants to stay clinical.

As far as concerns expressed by others on this message board about PAs/NPs taking over primary care, this is not the whole story. This is a reaction to the shortage of primary care providers coming out of training, which is only expected to worsen. Due to laws of supply and demand, this lack is both driving up physician compensation for primary care providers and making it easier to find jobs closer to preferred locations. There is huge variability in academic vs nonacademic, hospital vs nonhospital, and regional pay, with most people taking really low-paying jobs ending up there by choice and not necessity. I say this as a pediatrician.
Thank you babyboglehead. Great suggestions. Where else can I get this type of constructive feedback/career advise on the internet except on Bogleheads. Thank you so much!!
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Re: What is the best path to get into MED School for a high school senior?

Post by Indexfan89 »

22twain wrote: Tue Jan 28, 2020 2:22 pm
dm200 wrote: Tue Jan 28, 2020 1:40 pm To me, this seems obvious -- but some neglect this step - Make sure that you can (and want to) deal with all sorts of sick folks before beginning any career training in most areas of the medical field.
I forgot to mention that our pre-med advisory committee strongly urged students to get practical experience in medicine via an internship or by "shadowing" someone in the field that they were aiming for. We took note of such experience (or lack of it) in our recommendation letters to med schools.
Got it, thank you sir!
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Re: What is the best path to get into MED School for a high school senior?

Post by KingRiggs »

I've been in practice for 24 years now, so my pathway from undergrad to medical school is a little distant, but we have had several friends/colleagues whose kids have gone into medicine, so I think I can make some relevant points:

GPA and MCAT scores are paramount. Prestige of undergrad school much less important tin medicine. Have her go to the most cost-effective school for you where she can attain a high GPA. Use the summer before the MCAT to study for it like a job.

Med schools also put an emphasis on proving you are truly interested in medicine. Have her shadow local doctors, do research if she can, anything to show that she has exposed herself to the field and has found that she is truly interested in it.

Many med schools still reject a very qualified candidate the first time through the process. They then encourage the rejected applicant to get a Masters in something related - Physiology, etc. This way they can see how the student will perform under rigorous post-grad settings. Stupid in my mind, but we have seen plenty of kids go this route and then get accepted after their Masters.

If med school doesn't work out, there are still plenty of things that can be done with that degree: dental school, PA school, Anesthesiologist Assistant (AA) school. If her college has a pre-medical or pre-professional advising office, make use of them.

Best of luck to her (and you!)
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Re: What is the best path to get into MED School for a high school senior?

Post by Johnsson »

22twain wrote: Tue Jan 28, 2020 2:22 pm
dm200 wrote: Tue Jan 28, 2020 1:40 pm To me, this seems obvious -- but some neglect this step - Make sure that you can (and want to) deal with all sorts of sick folks before beginning any career training in most areas of the medical field.
I forgot to mention that our pre-med advisory committee strongly urged students to get practical experience in medicine via an internship or by "shadowing" someone in the field that they were aiming for. We took note of such experience (or lack of it) in our recommendation letters to med schools.
The rule of thumb I remember from DD's prep for applying to Med School was when volunteering you need to be close enough to smell the patients when you volunteer (actually working with them). NOT from any distance.
Last edited by Johnsson on Tue Jan 28, 2020 4:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What is the best path to get into MED School for a high school senior?

Post by scotthew »

I would vote for engineering, especially biomedical engineering. That provides broad exposure with plenty of job opportunities upon graduation. I started down that path, decided I didn't like medicine, and seamlessly transitioned over into engineering R&D with a couple of master's in engineering. The best part was, after undergraduate school, all graduate school was paid for - one MS by a teaching assistant and the other by the employer.
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Re: What is the best path to get into MED School for a high school senior?

Post by obgraham »

Speaking as a now-retired MD, with a daughter who is an ER doc, 2007 graduate.
I'm a bit of a cynic when it comes to med school admissions. I think all the schools have their own distinct way of picking their entrants (given that pool has loads of applicants with high GPAs and MCATs).
In my part of the country (Northwest) there are only a few medical schools. Much different from the East or Midwest. Fewer alternatives when a student has a specific school in mind. Sometimes, for whatever the reason, that school just doesn't like the looks of an applicant.

My daughter had some time constraints. Didn't want to go off to something else, then reapply later. Fine, I told her, go someplace that really wants you. She was accepted at 4 DO schools, and went to one. She then scored a very good ER residency in an MD-type program, and has been very successful as a 10 year attending.

So to some extent it depends what the applicant wants. If academia appeals, or perhaps a prestigious school is important, yes, you have to slog through all the mess of the application process. But if she simply wants to be a doctor, there is nothing wrong with the DO alternative, as residency is where you learn your particular craft.
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Re: What is the best path to get into MED School for a high school senior?

Post by Blue456 »

Indexfan89 wrote: Tue Jan 28, 2020 11:02 am My daughter is a high school senior. 34 ACT and 5.1 GPA out of 5 (this is weighted GPA, their school doesn’t show un-weighted one). Applied to decent schools in mid-west, got into all of them (like Illinois Wesleyan University, Saint Louis University, and University of Illinois – Chicago/Urbana–Champaign etc…Received Illinois Scholar certificate. What it means is she is in the top 10% of all high school seniors in the state for her GPA. Doesn’t say she is a top of the line student but a good one as for as academics are concerned.

Her plan is to take a Biology major in one of the schools mentioned above, finish the undergrad with good grades, write MCAT and hopefully get enough score there to get into MED school. Also try some internships during summers while in college.

I understand this is the normal path. Since I didn’t studied in this country (I am an immigrant), am I missing anything that she need to focus while in undergrad school?

Also, what if she can’t able to get into MED school? What other good career choices available for biology majors? She can go to graduate school if she can’t get into MED school.

There are lot of doctors and very smart people here on this board. Appreciate your input, ideas and thoughts. Thank you!
A lot of great advise here. Something that’s forgotten is cost. I went to “prestigious” undergraduate school, paid tens of thousands of dollars. My wife went into state school. In the end when you become attending physician nobody cares where you did your undergraduate. To be honest, I wish I went to community college and then transferred into state school to save some serious $$$
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Re: What is the best path to get into MED School for a high school senior?

Post by gold99xx »

Does she want to be a Doctor, or do you want her to be A Doctor based on your situation?
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Re: What is the best path to get into MED School for a high school senior?

Post by texasdiver »

It was a generation ago, but I had a number of friends who did the Peace Corps with me in health care fields like nutrition and public health after their undergrad and then had stellar med school acceptance rates. Going overseas, learning a language, and doing actual on-the-ground public health is one way to really stand out from the sea of 4.0 bio majors with high test scores.
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Re: What is the best path to get into MED School for a high school senior?

Post by hmw »

Be aware that job prospect for a degree in biology may not be very good if she does not get into Med school. I don’t think a biology degree better prepares you for med school or have an advantage over other degrees during med school admissions.
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Re: What is the best path to get into MED School for a high school senior?

Post by chmcnm »

College Confidential website is great for college info. Many people on the forums have experience with Med school.

All the above advice seems solid. As best as I can remember GPA/MCAT scores matter much more than where you go to undergraduate school or your degree specialty. Everyone seems to major in biology so there's a glut of kids with those degrees. Major in something that you will do well GPA wise. Having access to research or clinical experience is a plus. Also, med school is very expensive so staying out of debt is important.
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Re: What is the best path to get into MED School for a high school senior?

Post by bayview »

My daughter took an interim year to work on post-Katrina recovery in the NOLA area between college and med school. This despite being valedictorian of her VERY competitive private independent high school and a straight-A (don’t remember the #’s) for a university double major in Biochemistry/Cellular and Molecular Biology and Microbiology.

She was accepted to most of the schools she applied to. She feels that she received a great education at the school she accepted (Albert Einstein). And she loved her residency, where she was Chief Resident. She has her own practice now and is happy. But we will always be a bit bewildered by the rejections and waitlists.

Just be aware that there will be a TON more than good majo/ good grades.
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Re: What is the best path to get into MED School for a high school senior?

Post by HawkeyeJD »

pdx-ursa wrote: Tue Jan 28, 2020 11:51 am Congratulations on your daughter's success! The many doctors on the board can comment from their personal experience, but two of my kids are first year med students and a third child is studying biology but has zero interest in med school. The first huge hurdle for most pre-meds is doing decently in O-chem, usually sophomore year. At large public schools two of my kids attended, O-chem started as a big class and shrunk during the year as students did poorly or decided the class wasn't for them. Having a good foundation in the science before starting the class may be a good idea. If your daughter does well in college, getting practical experience in medicine, research, and related fields would help her to appeal to medical schools. One of my kids worked as an EMT for a couple years and the other worked in labs. As to uses for biology not in medicine, we'll see, but my third kid is learning computer codes that are used by public and private labs, with the plan of either working in labs, pharma, or software for science.
This hits close to home for me - I like Science conceptually and as applied (e.g. science as explained in things like Popular Science magazine), but once I was exposed to science as it is taught and explained through things like organic chemistry, I quickly lost interest and...well...became a lawyer instead.

Worked out okay in the end, but O-chem was a major contributor to me bailing on the sciences/engineering. Interestingly enough, now being a bit older, I am pretty sure, in retrospect, I could have worked my way through O-chem if I was motivated, but as a freshman or sophomore in college, I did not really have the drive/dedication/vision necessary to nug through some of that.
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Re: What is the best path to get into MED School for a high school senior?

Post by HawkeyeJD »

nydoc wrote: Tue Jan 28, 2020 12:44 pm Just a suggestion here- a lot of physicians are being replaced by NPs and PAs. Society as a whole is not willing to pay for so many doctors. A good paying job will be difficult to find in future especially in non operative fields. Primary care, pediatrics, psychiatrist and a lot of other fields are rapidly being taken over by mid-levels. Everyone wants to make US healthcare like Europe but in reality it is turning into China or India style healthcare where anyone can do any treatment with a paper certificate in hand. There will always be a need for physicians but only to solve the most difficult clinical problems and pay will reflect that.
Medical costs are disproportionally expensive relative to incomes and heavily reliant on government subsidies, so economics tells us that long term disruption is inevitable.

My wife is a nurse practitioner and works in pediatric neurology in a NICU setting. She has a great working relationship with the docs she works with, and from our various social engagements with the docs, it seems that she is viewed as a valuable member of the team. Then I come on bogleheads and there always seems to be this undercurrent of...passive aggressive discontent with the changing reality of medicine particularly regarding NPs and PAs. Always weird to see my reality (which is very positive albeit anecdotal) contrasted with the feeling I get on this site.

Regardless, and to stay on topic, as at least a few others have mentioned, you could consider something like what my wife did, which is a 5 year combined undergrad nursing+NP/PA type program. If you get through this and still want to be in medicine, you have the choice to stop going to school and make a good 6 figure salary right out of school, or push toward medical school. Maybe not ideal for everyone, but on the positive side, you will learn quite a bit and be fully immersed in the medical field for years all while learning a valuable skill.
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Re: What is the best path to get into MED School for a high school senior?

Post by StormShadow »

hmw wrote: Tue Jan 28, 2020 8:47 pm Be aware that job prospect for a degree in biology may not be very good if she does not get into Med school.
I majored in biology. Physician assistant, optometry, podiatry, research and drug rep are a just a few things that come to mind as alternative career tracks. Shucks, I thought about being a patent attorney before I went to med school.

Bottom line is you should study what you find interesting.
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Re: What is the best path to get into MED School for a high school senior?

Post by entropy2017 »

Hi OP,

Here are my observations. Overall - know the system and work the system because med school admissions are,like anything else, just a system.

1. Choose a major where you can ensure that you get high grades. For example, do not study Engineering unless you can be "sure" you will be able to get As in multivariable calculus, differential equations, thermodynamics, etc. For many "O chem" is easy compared to these subjects though it is the class most premeds dread. It is better to study an "easy" major and get straight As because the med school admissions committees really won't care that you studied a difficult major. They will just see that you have a 3.4 GPA while the other applicants have 4.0s - even if you studied theoretical physics and they studied art history.

2. Try to get state residency in a state that has a high med school acceptance rate. California is extremely competitive for med school acceptances to the UCs (under 4% acceptance), while the acceptance rates of other states are much higher. For example, the in-state acceptance rate for University of Oklahoma is 45% and for University of New Mexico it is 42%. You do the math.

3. Don't give up. I know many people who were rejected from allopathic med school who went to osteopathic schools (DO), Carribean schools, or reapplied the following year who are all now practicing physicians. In fact, I have a close friend who was rejected from med school and reapplied and ended up becoming Chief Neurosurgery resident at arguably the nations top med school.

So again, know the system and work the system. Hope this helps.
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Re: What is the best path to get into MED School for a high school senior?

Post by Katietsu »

Print out what babyboglehead wrote.

Medical school applications have categories that must filled in. A smart applicant with good grades and MCATs might be derailed by having an application that is lacking in these other areas. I would recommend getting a medical school application now so that she can track the needed experiences as she goes.
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Indexfan89
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Re: What is the best path to get into MED School for a high school senior?

Post by Indexfan89 »

Thank you all for your suggestions and comments. Great info!!
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Re: What is the best path to get into MED School for a high school senior?

Post by Indexfan89 »

gold99xx wrote: Tue Jan 28, 2020 5:22 pm Does she want to be a Doctor, or do you want her to be A Doctor based on your situation?
Its her desire, not mine. I will support her what ever career path she chooses.
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Re: What is the best path to get into MED School for a high school senior?

Post by Indexfan89 »

Katietsu wrote: Wed Jan 29, 2020 12:48 am Print out what babyboglehead wrote.

Medical school applications have categories that must filled in. A smart applicant with good grades and MCATs might be derailed by having an application that is lacking in these other areas. I would recommend getting a medical school application now so that she can track the needed experiences as she goes.
Great idea. Never thought about it. I will certainly tell her to do it.
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Re: What is the best path to get into MED School for a high school senior?

Post by HipCoyote »

Our child is now a pediatrician so we went through this a few years ago. Indexfan89 (a physician) is exactly correct. What I have to add is this: We hired a "med school consultant" BEFORE our child went to college to help us decide on a college. Child was admitted into some high profile colleges but ultimately decided on a smaller, less well known school because of FIT. The school fit his personality, made child comfortable, liked the city where it was, etc. Fit cannot be over emphasized. Our child was a bio major but as others noted, that is not the issue. The pre-reqs are the issue...have to have a high gpa in those. Then, we retained the consultant every year to assist our child in selecting classes so there was an even amount of work across four years...for instance child generally avoided having multiple difficult classes in a single quarter or semester. That proved invaluable.

Our child got tutors (such as in physics and Organic Chemistry) from the beginning...and visited office hours all the time. That proved invaluable. Teachers knew he was serious and wanted to be a doc, not an engineer, so they helped him a lot. It paid off. (as an aside, our child told us he never really used O-Chem or physics in med school....but needed to work with statisticians on a research project.)

Child took summer off to study for MCAT. Took classes to prep for MCAT and often placed himself in testing conditions to practice MCAT.

finally, if and when interviews came along, we worked on interview skills. That was a key factor in getting into multiple schools, including one Ivy League school. Child did not have the highest MCAT but interview skills were honed for the process and it worked. Interview skills happen to be my specialty so I take a small amount of credit. Got into multiple schools and picked the one that fit him (not Ivy League.)
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Re: What is the best path to get into MED School for a high school senior?

Post by JPM »

Much good advice on this thread. My only cavil is with the disparagement of bio as an undergrad major. While true that only fulfilling the minimum math and science requirements is adequate for consideration for admission, lack of an undergrad bio background can adversely affect med school performance. In med school the nonbio majors had a very tough time in the preclinical years. At least back in the early 70s the med school profs expected a good deal of background knowledge and went quickly thru the histology, biochemistry, anatomy, micro, embryology, genetics (basic sciences) and such in the first year, as most of the students regarded this curriculum as a review. The nonbio majors in my study group (music and history respectively) found it extremely difficult to keep up. Very tough to make up for an undergrad background lacking in these areas. Certainly possible that things may be different in this respect now almost 50 years on but back then bio majors had a big head start and nonbio majors could seldom catch up during med school. Be interesting to read what more recent med school grads have to say on this subject.

Med school admission is only the first hurdle on the career track. Then there is performance in med school. Then there is intern year, residency, and usually fellowship to follow which take from 3-9 years to complete after med school. Performance at each level and the connections you make at each level influence the range of available choices for the next.

Second the opinion that prestigious undergrad is of little value in medicine perhaps unless you are on the east coast. Podunk juco, midwestern State U undergrad, State U med school, Mayo resident, Stanford fellow and you are a budding star. Your colleagues will regard you as having trained at Mayo and Stanford, nobody will care about what came before that. I have known world famous med school professors who went to poorly thought-of med schools. They had the scientifically creative spark and were productive researchers in fruitful areas in their times.

Nowadays, PhD biologists, chemists, engineers, and Pharm Ds can earn excellent incomes in industry on or close to a par with what MDs earn doing interesting scientific work developing medical tests, drugs, biological and other treatments, and surgical equipment. And of course dentistry pays extremely well as does veterinary medicine, though getting into a US vet school is tougher than getting into med school now unless you are a very smart farm kid with 4H or FFA in your background. Foreign vet school has been popular among my friends' kids.
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Re: What is the best path to get into MED School for a high school senior?

Post by Blue456 »

JPM wrote: Fri Jan 31, 2020 1:36 pm Much good advice on this thread. My only cavil is with the disparagement of bio as an undergrad major. While true that only fulfilling the minimum math and science requirements is adequate for consideration for admission, lack of an undergrad bio background can adversely affect med school performance. In med school the nonbio majors had a very tough time in the preclinical years. At least back in the early 70s the med school profs expected a good deal of background knowledge and went quickly thru the histology, biochemistry, anatomy, micro, embryology, genetics (basic sciences) and such in the first year, as most of the students regarded this curriculum as a review. The nonbio majors in my study group (music and history respectively) found it extremely difficult to keep up. Very tough to make up for an undergrad background lacking in these areas. Certainly possible that things may be different in this respect now almost 50 years on but back then bio majors had a big head start and nonbio majors could seldom catch up during med school. Be interesting to read what more recent med school grads have to say on this subject.
My own experience after attending a prestigious pre-med/biology in California (2002-2006) was completely opposite. I had zero knowledge in anatomy, physiology, histology, pathology and very little to show for in biochemistry. Instead my pre med major had plant physiology, plant biology, non medical biology, non medical biochemistry. I could not take medical school related basic sciences because my school was so overcrowded. Thankfully my medical school was not expecting me to know anything from undergraduate, they were teaching everything from scratch. As a matter of fact my medical school was easier than undergraduate school.
My wife got her bachelors in chemistry and also had no issues in her medical school with little expectation of knowing anything from undergraduate.
Like I mentioned before, finish undergraduate the cheapest and fastest way possible. Medical schools only care about GPA, they don’t care if you went to Harvard or unknown state school in the middle of nowhere. GPA 4.0 from state school will always beat 3.0 from Harvard, even thou the latter may have been much more challenging and demanding.
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Re: What is the best path to get into MED School for a high school senior?

Post by Sand101 »

hmw wrote: Tue Jan 28, 2020 8:47 pm Be aware that job prospect for a degree in biology may not be very good if she does not get into Med school. I don’t think a biology degree better prepares you for med school or have an advantage over other degrees during med school admissions.
Biomed engineering has a great offramp if the child ends up not taking to med school. I think it was mentioned above.
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Indexfan89
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Re: What is the best path to get into MED School for a high school senior?

Post by Indexfan89 »

I appreciate everyone's comments/suggestions thus far. Thank you!
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Re: What is the best path to get into MED School for a high school senior?

Post by TheDDC »

Question from the "business office" should be: "Is this a funded expenditure?"

The first feeling of being accepted into med school is: WOW!!! I MADE IT!!!

After you get this feeling, you quickly ask yourself if it can be paid for without saddling anyone with debt. Shopping for med schools is like shopping colleges for any other major. Best cost/value will most likely be in state school. Look into getting a full ride, perhaps with am MD-PhD program, as well as scholarships from Big Pharma.

-TheDDC
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