The United States and Canada are struggling to fix the shortage of physicians these countries experience. One way they are doing so is to expand the available spots in their medical schools. Because more than 60 percent of applicants are not accepted, it’s important to know about their requirements early on in your education so you can plan accordingly.
Class & Degree Requirements for Medical School
According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), every medical school requires that its applicants complete a four-year degree. While this degree must be obtained from an accredited school, it is not required to be a bachelor of science (BS). In general, those students who complete a bachelor of arts (BA) degree have an equal chance of acceptance compared to those with a BS when all other factors are equal. However, some med schools require their applicants to complete specific coursework while others do not because they have implemented a competency-based admissions process.
The AAMC recommends that student complete at least one year of both English and biology, as well as two years of chemistry, including organic chemistry. In addition, a well-rounded education will also include coursework in physics as well as the humanities, social sciences, languages, arts and literature.
Extracurricular Requirements for Medical School
While the coursework, grades and MCAT scores required by the admissions committees demonstrate that a student is academically prepared for the rigors of medical school, it is the extracurriculars that can tell a great deal about how competent an applicant will be. Remember: med schools are looking for applicants that have all the elements that can support their success.
A medical school isn’t going to focus on simply obtaining a set number of hours of a particular extracurricular activity. Rather, they are searching for applicants who are passionate about science and committed to medicine. They want to know that a student is interested in providing health care to diverse populations, that they have leadership skills and expansive knowledge in the delivery of medical care. Interpersonal and communication skills are vital and must be demonstrated by applicants.
Many medical schools require some combination of the following extracurricular activity:
- Community Service: Sometimes called non-clinical volunteering, performing community service in an area that a student is passionate about allows them to make a significant impact on the target population.
- Shadowing: Shadowing a physician can occur in a range of care settings such as an operating room, community clinic, outpatient office and more. Ideally, a med school applicant should shadow doctors that practice in two or three specialties and across numerous types of settings.
- Research Experience: Gaining research experience is an excellent way of demonstrating to the medical school admissions committees that an applicant is passionate about academic medicine. In addition to obtaining experience in medical research — which many medical schools don’t explicitly mention, but having it can make a student especially competitive — being published based on that experience, can improve an applicant’s chances.
- Clinical Volunteering: Clinical volunteering enables an applicant to gain one-on-one experiences with patients while also delivering medical care. Two popular methods of obtaining such experiences include becoming a medical assistant (MA) or an emergency medical technician (EMT).
MCAT Score Requirements
While 500 is the average MCAT score, a student’s actual school could range between 472 and 528. A score above 520 is in the 99th percentile. According to the AAMC, the mean MCAT score of those students that matriculated in 2020-2021 was 511.5.
Medical schools have different requirements when it comes to MCAT scores. An MCAT score that is sufficient for one school might not be for another one — especially when this metric is considered alongside grades.
GPA & Grade Requirements
There is often a correlation between GPA and MCAT scores. The AAMC also noted that the mean GPA total for 2020-2021 was 3.73. Today, both of these metrics — as well as others — are considered together when a student is applying for medical school.
US & Canadian vs. Offshore Medical School Requirements
Admission to medical schools in the United States and Canada continues to be extremely competitive. Thousands of students apply to these schools each year with a tiny percentage gaining admission to any medical school.
This growing competition, along with increasing admissions requirements, make offshore medical schools attractive and attainable. Students who apply to offshore medical schools will find that their MCAT scores and GPAs are considered as part of a larger and more comprehensive picture of their ability.
What to Do if You Don’t Meet Standard Med School Criteria
It’s important to not become disheartened and give up your dream of becoming a doctor is you don’t meet the standard medical school criteria. Not only is there hope for bright, ambitious and passionate students in offshore med schools, choosing the right one provides you with an exceptional experience.
Trinity School of Medicine is located in the beautiful Caribbean. We offer small class sizes, knowledgeable faculty and rigorous coursework that prepare you for the challenges and rewards that becoming a doctor will provide you. Find out more about what makes Trinity different by contacting us today.