Frequently Asked Questions—Medical
- Which courses are required to enter medical school?
Entrance requirements for every medical school in the United States and Canada are listed in Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR) online, a database-driven website that is comprehensively updated each spring by the Association of American Medical Colleges in collaboration with medical school staff (www.aamc.org/msar). The MSAR is available in Tracy Broderson’s office (8:30–4:30, closed for lunch) and is also available for your individual purchase through AAMC. Broderson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 518-580-5087.
To find information on how these requirements align with Skidmore’s curriculum, please visit here.
- How do I find information on the new MCAT?
Please visit the American Association of Medical College’s (AAMC) site and review “The MCAT2015 Exam: The Basics for Students” at:
- Can I complete the pre-med curriculum and also spend a semester studying abroad?
Study abroad is typically done during the junior year, and is not necessarily a problem when pre-med considerations are taken into account ahead of time. The most likely potential complications for students who wish to study abroad in the junior year and also apply to medical school as juniors are conflicts with physics, the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), and the Health Profession Advisory Committee (HPAC) interview. Since the MCATs and HPAC interview are in the spring semester, study abroad is much less problematic for pre-meds in the fall semester of the junior year than it would be in the spring. Although physics is typically taken during both semesters of the junior year, it may be possible to take it during the summer before the junior year. You should discuss your interest in studying abroad with a Health Profession Committee advisor.
- I heard we have an internship for credit at Saratoga Hospital. How do I get more information
on that opportunity?
This academic internship is open to all majors, facilitated by the Health and Exercise Sciences Department, and is offered on a limited basis. Please contact Karen Arciero (email@example.com) early to discuss prerequisites, timing, and the commitment required.
- What is the typical profile of a successful allopathic medical school candidate?
“The website of the AAMC FACTS tables comprise the most comprehensive and objective data on U.S. medical school applicants, matriculants, enrollment, graduates, Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) applicants, and MD/PhD students available to the public for free of charge at www.aamc.org/facts.” (National Association of Advisors for the Health Professions, 2013)
According to AAMC FACTS tables, in 2013, 20,055 students matriculated into U.S. medical schools out of the 48,014 who applied.
The total mean GPA for the class entering U.S. medical schools in 2013 was 3.69.
▪ mean GPA in Science was 3.63
▪ mean GPA Non-Science was 3.76
The total mean MCAT score was 31.3.
▪ MCAT VR: 10.0
▪ MCAT PS: 10.6
▪ MCAT BS: 10.8
“In general, medical schools select for admissions those individuals who present evidence of strong intellectual ability, a record of accomplishments, and personal traits indicative of the ability to communicate and relate to patients in a realistic, professional, and compassionate manner. There is emphasis on academic achievement over time, MCAT scores, and multiple personal characteristics and experiential variables, including maturity, judgment, empathy, altruism, persistence, motivation, commitment to service, resilience, and concern for others. Some important determinants of whether or not you will be accepted for admission are:
▪ Academic record
▪ Scores on the MCAT
▪ Content of letters of evaluation and recommendation
▪ Personal statement
▪ The impression you made during your personal interview(s)
▪ Experience in a medical setting, and
▪ Evidence of community involvement, volunteer and extracurricular activities.”
(National Association of Advisors for the Health Professions, 2013)
- Should I consider programs in other countries?
You should research the foreign schools very thoroughly before making a decision. Students interested in foreign country-based programs should consider a variety of factors including the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination pass rate, accreditations, clinical affiliations, and resources on how to prepare for the USMLE. St. George’s University, AUA, Saba, Ross, and AUC are common foreign programs.
- What does AAMC and AMCAS mean?
AAMC is the American Association of Medical Colleges.
AMCAS is the acronym for American Medical College Application Service. This service allows you to make initial application to several different medical schools without filing separate forms. You can access an AMCAS application by downloading the AMCAS-E application form from the AAMC website: www.aamc.org/stuapps/admiss/amcase/start.htm.
- What does MCAT mean?
MCAT is the acronym for Medical College Admission Test, which is required of all medical school applicants. Information on test dates, test centers, and registration is available at www.aamc.org/mcat.
- When should I apply?
The application portal opens in June for admission to the class starting in September of the following year. Eighty percent of AMCAS applications are submitted by July 1. Most schools that subscribe to AMCAS will send secondary application forms if you appear to meet their admission criteria.
- Are there any early assurance/acceptance programs available?
Skidmore does maintain an agreement with Albany Medical College for an Early Assurance Program for underrepresented students. Qualified American students who are members of minority groups underrepresented in the medical profession (African-American, Hispanic American and American Indian) can apply for early admission to Albany Medical College in their sophomore year. More information can be found at http://amc.edu/academic/Pathways/early/index.html
SUNY Upstate Medical University College of Medicine in Syracuse, N.Y., has an Early Acceptance Program that is open to all students. Students apply at the end of their sophomore year and are notified of their status by late September of their junior year. If accepted, students do not have to take the MCATs. Applicants must have a minimum GPA of 3.5, minimum SAT and ACT scores, as well as a high level of academic performance. They also need to complete three of the four required science course sequences by the time they apply. Applications are due July 1. More information is available on their website at www.upstate.edu/students.
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai FlexMed Program allows college sophomores in any major to apply for early assurance to their school of medicine. Once accepted, students will be free to pursue their area of study, unencumbered by the traditional science requirements and MCAT. This program is an expansion of the longstanding Humanities and Medicine Early Assurance Program (HuMed) and the Science and Medicine Program (SciMed). More information is available on their website at http://icahn.mssm.edu/education/medical-education/programs/flexmed.
- Are there any publications I can read to learn about current issues in healthcare?
The HPAC office (Dana Science Center 313) has files and reference books on schools, programs, professions, and general information of interest. When you are ready to apply to medical schools, you may want to order your own copy of the guide to medical schools, Medical School Admission Requirements. Send $30 ($25. plus $5 shipping) to: Association of American Medical Colleges, Membership and Publication Orders, 2450 N Street, NW, Washington, DC 20037. Get Into Medical School! By Kenneth V. Iserson can be ordered from Galen Press, Ltd., P.O. Box 64400, Tucson, AZ 85728-4400. Finally, there are many web sites on the Internet relevant to the health professions.
- What is a Multiple Mini Interview (MMI)?
More and more medical schools are switching from a traditional interview format to “Multiple Mini Interviews.” Although it’s a bit like “speed dating” because you move from “station to station” every few minutes, it’s much more structured. Each station is designed to test a different characteristic of the applicant (e.g. interest in medicine, general knowledge, problem-solving, ethical perspectives, empathy, etc.) by presenting a standard question or task to all the applicants in a session in the same manner. The applicants are ranked against each other within each session (e.g. one to ten without assigning the same score more than once among ten applicants). As experience and evaluation of these method of interviewing increases, the evidence indicates that it is more objective, predictive, and forgiving than the traditional interview format. Each applicant, for example, is evaluated by multiple interviewers. Impressions formed in the first few minutes of an interview rarely change as the interview goes on, and in this format weak performance in one area can be compensated for by strong performances in other areas. This method of interviewing is becoming more common and if you have several interviews you are likely to encounter it. Search the Internet for more information and examples, find out ahead of time if a school you are interviewing at uses this method and be prepared for this or more traditional formats (e.g. one-on-one, one applicant several interviewers, more than one traditional interview, multiple applicants in a group interview, stress interview).
- What are admissions committees looking for in an osteopathic medical school candidate?
Admission to osteopathic medical school is competitive. According to the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine, "Grade point averages for entering students in 2011 were: 3.48 mean GPA; 3.58 non-science; 3.36 science. Average Medical College Admission Test scores for entering students in 2011 were: 9.33 biological science, 8.52 physical science, and 8.66 verbal reasoning."
"Osteopathic medical schools are also looking for students who are well-rounded, have good communication and interpersonal skills, have a record of community service, have a record of leadership, have some clinical experience, have participated in a variety of extracurricular activities, come from diverse backgrounds, are motivated to pursue a career in osteopathic medicine, and have shadowed an osteopathic physician."
"Nearly all students who apply to osteopathic medical school have a bachelor’s degree. Many applicants have earned a master’s degree or doctorate before applying to osteopathic medical school … Many public osteopathic medical schools are mandated by state regulation to admit a certain percentage of in-state residents to each entering class.”
American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine. Osteopathic Medical College Information Book, 2013 Entering Class. Chevy Chase, Md.: American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine, 2012.
- What is the difference between allopathic medicine and osteopathic medicine?
Allopathic and osteopathic medicine represents two different but overlapping philosophies for practicing medicine. The "traditional" medical schools in the U.S. are "allopathic," which means that causes of disease are, for the most part, considered to be extrinsic (e.g. accident, pathogen, mutation etc.) and as a result, treatment relies heavily on pharmacology and surgery, as well as prevention. "Osteopathic" medicine assumes that causes of disease are, for the most part, intrinsic, and therefore there is much greater emphasis on prevention, diet, lifestyle, and non-pharmacological and non-surgical treatment. In practice, these two philosophies are becoming more similar. Allopathic physicians are more receptive to osteopathic approaches than they used to be, and osteopaths have always been fully licensed and trained to use pharmaceutical and surgical treatments. It’s becoming more common for medical practices to include both types of physicians and for osteopaths and allopaths to work together. Admission to osteopathic schools is slightly less competitive, statistically, but their criteria for admission include a genuine commitment to osteopathic principles of medicine.
- I’m considering a post-baccalaureate programs for medical school. Should I choose
an academic enrichment program or a career changer program?
It's becoming increasingly common for pre-med students to complete some or all of their prerequisite courses in post-baccalaureate programs. This means that the pre-med courses are completed after graduating from college, either on an ad-hoc basis by taking the courses on your own at any college or university, or in a formal program structured for this purpose. The former is typically more economical and flexible, but you are pretty much on your own (except for our advising, which is available to alumni); the latter is geared toward completing the courses and usually includes intense preparation for the MCATs and advising through the application process. Typically the formal, full-time programs have competitive admission and tend to be very expensive (many are comparable to Skidmore tuition levels) but these programs may have very high success rates. If you enter such a program, you may find it more useful to apply through that program's pre-med committee rather than Skidmore’s; depending on how much of the pre-med preparation you've done at each institution. We can forward our file with letters of recommendation to a new program if you wish.
There are usually two reasons for doing a post-baccalaureate program. One is that you decided to become pre-med late in your college career, or had other interests or objectives in college (e.g. double major, going abroad, non-science academic objectives) and simply didn't have time to complete all the pre-med courses in four years of college. This is not unusual (average age of first-year medical students is about 25). The second reason is that you want to go to medical school but after four years of college you have not yet earned grades or MCAT scores that are competitive for admission. You may, in this case, want to take further relevant courses to improve your GPA and your MCAT scores.
Several things to consider here, in consultation with HPAC advisors, are whether or not you would be better off in another health profession or career; to develop a long-range strategy for defining and achieving your objectives before you start post-graduate courses; whether you might be better off in a degree program that will also prepare you for medical school but, in addition, provide you with another degree that may be more useful than additional courses with nothing else to show for it (e.g. a masters in one of the biomedical sciences; public health; bioethics; business and pre-med combinations); completing the remaining work on your own versus a formal post-baccalaureate program; spending one or more years preparing for, or re-applying to American medical schools versus considering one of the foreign medical schools.