Courses required for admission to medical schools are quite similar, although each medical school sets its own requirements. Health Professions Schools require applicants to have completed the premedical curriculum prior to application. The premedical curriculum at Saint Louis University meets the entrance requirements for most health professions schools in the United States. The courses required for admission to medical, dental, optometry, podiatry and veterinary schools, with few exceptions, include the following:
- Principles of Biology I and II (lectures and laboratory)
- Upper division biology course
- General Chemistry I and II (lectures and laboratory)
- Principles of Organic Chemistry I and II (lectures and laboratory)
- Physics I and II (lectures and laboratory)
- Calculus I
For the student who expects to complete a degree in four years and go directly into medical school, the premedical curriculum must be completed by the end of the junior year of college. These courses serve as a common denominator between applicants and are also the foundation upon which students build once in a professional school. The premedical curriculum given above should be considered the minimum science preparation for a health professions school. You should strive to take additional upper division biology and chemistry courses to strengthen your background in the sciences, especially if you elect a major in the humanities or social sciences. Excellent biological content areas can include development and reproduction, cellular and molecular, evolutionary, physiology, organ systems. For those wishing to take upper division chemistry, content focusing on analytical or physical chemistry are fine options.
Medical and other health professions schools are stressing a broad general training at the undergraduate level. The CORE requirements of the College of Arts & Sciences at Saint Louis University include courses which satisfy non-science requirements. These courses include General Psychology, Composition and other courses which develop communication skills. Take more than the minimum CORE requirements in humanities and social sciences.
General Academic Preparation
Medical school admissions committees recognize the importance of a liberal arts education which includes a strong foundation in the natural sciences, social sciences, humanities, and development of excellent communication skills.
Although the completion of a college degree may not be specifically required by a medical school, there is an expectation that the applicant has pursued some discipline in depth. The successful applicant is a student who has developed the skills to "develop and maintain effective relationships with patients, work collaboratively with other team members, act ethically and compassionately..."* These skills are developed through many avenues of study, such as in the natural sciences, in the humanities, and in the social and behavioral sciences. Development of effective written and oral communication skills are especially important for medical school applicants.
Selection of a Major
Professional schools do not select students based on the undergraduate major. The process of selecting a major should include consideration of interest and you individual strengths and weaknesses. The most important aspect of major selection is a consideration of what careers, other than a medical career, the major prepares you to enter. Think of the major as a backup plan.
Successful Saint Louis University premedical students have completed majors in many disciplines such as psychology, modern and classical languages, English, and theological studies as well as the more traditional majors in biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics. "No medical school requires a specific major of its applicants...Still, medical schools recognize the importance of a strong foundation in the natural sceinces - biology, chemistry, and physics - and mathematics, and most schools have established minimum course requirements for admission."*
Click here to see sample curricula of majors. Please note that these are sample curricula; individual plans will be developed for each student by their academic advisor.
The Successful Applicant
Diversity within an entering class is considered highly desirable by medical schools. Avoid the common misperception that admissions committees seek some ideal combination of characteristics in the applicants they select for admission. What is important in the admission process includes:
- High level of scholastic and intellectual potential. These are measured by academic averages, both overall cumulative average and overall math/science grade average, the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) scores, and an evaluation from the Pre-Health Professions Committee on Evaluations.
- Personal Qualities. Does the applicant have the leadership skills, motivation, perseverance, social maturity, curiosity, and sense of commitment deemed important in a physician?
- Knowledge of the profession. Has the applicant demonstrated an interest in the medical profession and developed a knowledge of the profession? Experience in a health care setting, which you can get by volunteering, awareness of current events related to the medical profession, and interaction with health care professionals through shadowing or clinical observation provides evidence for this interest and knowledge.
- Demonstration of a commitment to helping people. Participation in community and service organizations or working at a shelter for the homeless demonstrate the applicant's degree of commitment to being of service to others.
Any applicant to allopathic or osteopathic medical school will need to complete an application to that school. One hundred twenty-three of the one hundred thirty-two allopathic medical schools belong to the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS). For schools not utilizing AMCAS the applicant will need to contact the schools directly on their application procedures.
The schools in Texas have their own application service, the Texas Medical and Dental Application Service. Students interested in Texas System medical schools can check: http://www.utsystem.edu/tmdsas/.
For schools utilizing AMCAS, the applicant can obtain information about the application at: http://www.aamc.org/audienceamcas.htm. All twenty-six of the osteopathic medical schools belong to the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service (AACOMAS). To obtain information about this application service, the applicant can go to the their website at http://www.aacom.org/.
A more restrictive program is available to students through the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS). AMCAS Early Decision is available at selected medical schools. The applicant can apply to only one medical school. If accepted by that school, the student agrees to attend. Deadlines for early decision are earlier than for standard admission applications.
*Medical School Admission Requirements, 2011-2012: Association of American Medical Colleges, Washington, D.C.
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