How to Pick Medical Schools: Everything You Need to Know
By TOI Staff July 1, 2023 Update on : July 1, 2023
Medical school is a significant commitment; depending on where you earn your degree, it could impact your career path.
As of last year, more than 150 medical schools were accepting applicants. With all of the options, it can be difficult to narrow them down. Fortunately, certain things can help you make a final decision.
Read below if you want to discover the best tips for when you pick medical schools to kickstart your career!
One of the most influential factors, when you pick medical schools, is the location.
Not only does the location matter in regards to staying close to family and friends, but it can also impact your certification. For example, if you’re considering attending med school overseas, you may have to take extra steps to practice in the United States.
Although location is important, many other factors can take priority. If you have any concerns, touring the college in person can help you get comfortable.
Medical school can give you a chance to explore new areas while you jump into your career. Fortunately, you can work around the country if you want to try somewhere new once you graduate.
Identify Your Major
With different medical careers in the field, there are diverse majors offered at each school.
Knowing what you want to go to med school for will help you find an appropriate program. Popular medical field majors include nursing, health administration, and biology. Psychology, biochemistry, and physics are other common majors you could consider.
The best tips for finding a suitable major are to follow your interests and research potential careers. Luckily, since most med majors specialize in biology, it doesn’t take much to switch to a different program.
If you’re worried about getting stuck with a specific major, make sure the school offers other programs you’re interested in.
Knowing the costs of your education before you commit is essential.
Before you pay application fees, make sure you can afford school or have a plan for financial aid. Some medical programs will waive tuition upon graduating, but it’s more common to pay your way through.
Since medical students don’t have the time to get a job, sacrifices have to be made. Fortunately, after graduating, you can get into a position that pays well and is worth the investment.
You can also talk to financial aid officers at the schools you’re considering. They can help you find scholarships and grants to cover the costs.
Look Into Passing Rates
Understanding a school’s passing rates can help you learn about the effectiveness of the professors.
Low passing rates can indicate a lack of resources and high professor-to-student ratios. Not only should you review graduation rates, but you should also identify how many students passed the US Medical Licensing Exam.
Passing rates reflect how well a school operates and if the students are supported. If the rates are low, you may want to look into the reasons why.
Compare Internship Opportunities
Overlooking internships for medical students is a common mistake among applicants.
Pre-med internships push students further by giving them hands-on experience. Finding internships at a hospital or office can expose you to critical information and practices that you’ll later get tested on. Internships are often found in medical schools, where students can network with experts.
While applying for schools, you may have to show that you’ve completed an internship during high school. Pay close attention to requirements for acceptance to avoid wasting time.
Learn about Residency Programs
Medical schools are often associated with hospitals and health facilities around the country.
Depending on where you earn your degree could impact where your residency is. Some people confuse internships and residencies, however, they are done at different times and places. The residency program helps graduates in their first year working in the field.
Finding a good residency can help you in your early months of entering the industry. You will work alongside peers and have plenty of mentors to learn from. Not all schools will match students into a residency, so make sure you identify which schools offer this help.
Keep an Open Mind
If you’ve always dreamt of going to a specific college, keep an open mind.
Only applying to one med school can increase your chances of falling behind, especially if you’re put on a waiting list. Keep an open mind and apply to various schools that offer your major. Even if you don’t get into your first choice, you’ll have backup choices ready to fall onto.
It’s also important to keep an open mind if you have to travel. With nearly 20% of college students unable to afford housing in college, you may have to stay close to home. Luckily, no matter where you earn your degree, you can work in the healthcare industry.
Try not to get discouraged if obstacles appear while applying to schools. If one doesn’t work out, there are many other excellent programs to consider.
Read the Reviews
Reading online reviews can help you gain insight into your ultimate decision.
There are plenty of online review sites for colleges, programs, and professors. These can sometimes be overly critical, but they can also give you useful information. Students can leave comments about their experiences in the programs or with a certain professor.
You can learn about the good and bad things about your potential school and feel better prepared for the school year. Some users offer tips and recommendations if you do attend the school and can make your experience more enjoyable.
Discover More about Campus Safety
Moving to a new environment, especially around a college, can increase your risk of safety concerns.
Some criminals target these areas because there is so much movement and people around. Buildings and campuses are often open to the public, making them an easy target.
Take the time to research safety within campus grounds. You should also look up safety issues for the city and surrounding neighborhoods. Many med schools are located in large cities, fortunately, they use keycards and security teams to protect the students.
Even if you get into your top choice of school, you don’t want to attend if you’re constantly worried. These fears can impact academic performance and increase stress among students.
Follow Your Instincts
At the end of the day, if you don’t feel comfortable somewhere, don’t stay.
Follow your instincts and avoid going to a school just to make someone else happy. You will likely have to take out loans and you’ll be the one attending, not your parents or friends. Many students make the mistake of going to a school because they feel pressured to follow in the footsteps of others.
After you send in applications and receive acceptance letters, reconsider all of your options. Reviewing them and your reasons for going will ensure you sign up for the courses for the right reasons.
Most people can get a grasp of whether or not they like the school when they tour the facilities. If you can’t picture yourself walking through the halls, you should select another.
Identify Living Arrangements
Are you hoping to live on campus, or do you need to find a school close to home?
If you aren’t in a position to leave your family, your med school options will be significantly reduced. Taking care of family members or being near your children may have to take priority over your preferences.
Take a look at the schools you want to attend and make sure you plan to commute or move. Moving on campus is highly recommended since it can increase your study time and prevent you from missing classes.
Living off campus is another option. If you can’t afford your own house or apartment, consider rooming with other people in your program. Having med students as roommates can help keep you all on the path to success.
Pick Medical Schools That Develop Your Career
Before you enter the medical field, you have some big decisions to make.
Not only do you need to pick medical schools, but you also have to dive into a specific major. Your school and area of study will influence which jobs you will qualify for after graduation. Always follow your passions and instincts, as you’ll be the one taking the tests.
Don’t forget to look into the residency programs, since they can influence where you end up in your career.
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