Is BSMD Right For Me?

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ADG 237: Is BSMD Right For Me?

Session 237

This high school student wants to know what she needs to work on to have a better chance of getting into a BS/MD program. But is it really the best path to medical school?

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Question of the Day: What Does It Take to Get Into a BS/MD Program?

This student wants to know what she needs to work on to get a better chance at getting into a BS/MD program. As a high school student, it’s quite funny she already knows about the MCAT and she knows that this is also a direct path, which eliminates the need for the MCAT. She adds that instead of having to apply and figure it out, she already knows it’s the path she wants to take.

Why I Don’t Generally Recommend BS/MD or BS/DO Programs

BS/MD programs, which offer a direct path to medical school, can be a tempting option for some students. However, I have a general stance against recommending these programs due to the significant stress they often introduce.

While BS/MD programs may be perfect for some individuals, they can create unnecessary pressure for many others. These programs allow students to bypass certain requirements and fast-track their journey toward becoming a doctor.

However, it is important to note that even in these accelerated programs, there are still specific criteria that students must meet.

Increased Pressure for Medical School Admissions

For students pursuing MD or DO pathways, maintaining specific GPA levels, achieving certain extracurricular activities, or meeting other requirements can become sources of added stress. It can be overwhelming to have to deal with what’s expected of aspiring medical students to demonstrate academic capability, an artificial pressure imposed by BS/MD programs.

'I don't recommend BS/MD programs... they add a lot of stress to the process for some people.'Click To Tweet

One of the main reasons why I discourage these programs is the pressure they put on students right from the start. Freshman year of college can be challenging for many individuals as they adjust to a new environment and more independent learning. Unfortunately, some BS/MD programs may demand a high GPA requirement right from the beginning, leading students to feel like failures if they struggle to meet those expectations.

Overcoming Early Challenges and False Perceptions

It is crucial to understand that struggling in the first semester or freshman year does not define a student’s potential for success in medical school. Students should not be discouraged by artificial standards that create an illusion of failure. With time and effort, they can improve their academic performance and gain admission to any program of their choice.

The Importance of Being a Well-rounded Student in Medical School Admissions

Medical schools want to ensure that applicants have a solid understanding of the challenges they will face and are committed to the field of healthcare. However, it can be challenging for high school students to gain relevant experiences due to age limitations and other factors.

Overcoming Age Limitations

High school students may face age limitations when it comes to certain healthcare-related roles, such as becoming an EMT, medical assistant, or CNA. However, this should not discourage them from seeking out other avenues to gain relevant experience. Volunteer work at hospitals or clinics, shadowing physicians, participating in research projects, or even starting health-related clubs or initiatives at school can all demonstrate a commitment to healthcare.

Meeting Medical Schools’ Expectations

While high school students may not be held to the same expectations as college students or graduates, medical schools still want to see evidence of a genuine interest in healthcare. They understand that high school students have limitations and recognize the efforts made within those constraints. It’s important to make the most of the opportunities available and showcase a proactive approach to learning about the medical field.

“At the end of the day, you have to be a good student. The medical schools don't want you if you're not going to do well in medical school.”Click To Tweet

Ultimately, it all comes down to just finding those programs and schools that you think will be a good fit for you. Look for those that align with who you are as a person and then put yourself out there.

Stop Comparing Yourself to Others!

This student says she has EMT experience and what she’s generally concerned about is not having publications. Most undergraduate students applying to medical school don’t have publications. And they’re getting into med school just fine.

A lot of students are experiencing feelings of comparison and imposter syndrome, where they believe other applicants have more impressive credentials, such as more hours, publications, and significant research achievements.

It’s crucial to remember that medical schools consider a range of factors beyond publications, and every applicant’s journey is unique. 

Comparing yourself to others can be detrimental to confidence and mental well-being. Instead, focus on highlighting your experience, in this case, her EMT experience, to showcase your dedication to healthcare and increase your chances of acceptance.

“BS/MD or not, traditional route or not – stop thinking about what everyone else is doing and what everyone else has.”Click To Tweet

Regardless of whether you choose the BS/MD route or the traditional path to medical school, it’s crucial to stop comparing yourself to others and fixating on what they have or what they’re doing. The truth is that everyone is likely feeling the same way, constantly questioning themselves and thinking that others have it all together.

Therefore, it’s important to focus on your own journey. Do not get caught up in the comparison game, as it can negatively impact your confidence and mindset, regardless of where you are in your medical school aspirations.

The Importance of Shadowing, Clinical Experience, and More in Pursuing a Career in Medicine

Shadowing and Clinical Experience

Shadowing and clinical experience are crucial aspects that students need to prove to themselves if they want to pursue a career as physicians. These experiences help students understand patient care and the challenges that come with it, such as dealing with individuals who may not be in the best moods or have pleasant smells.

It is essential for students to align their actions with their career aspirations and demonstrate a genuine interest in taking care of people.


While research experience is beneficial, it is not a requirement for every medical school application.


Many schools prioritize community service and serving the underserved, both within and outside of healthcare. Volunteering experiences, such as participating in organizations like Habitat for Humanity or assisting at homeless shelters and soup kitchens, can be powerful demonstrations of one’s commitment to community service.


Leadership qualities are also highly valued by medical schools, though not everyone needs to be a traditional leader. Additionally, the AMCAS application has added a social justice and advocacy category to recognize applicants highly involved in these activities. 

Ultimately, there are numerous avenues for students to showcase their dedication and passion for medicine beyond research.

The Importance of Academic Capability in Medical School Admissions

Medical schools prioritize academic capabilities to ensure that students are well-prepared for the rigorous coursework and challenges they will face. It is crucial for both the school’s reputation and the student’s success that applicants demonstrate their ability to excel academically.

Medical schools are judged on their accreditation process, and accepting students who later fail out reflects poorly on both the institution and the student. Additionally, students do not want to find themselves in a situation where they owe a substantial amount of tuition but do not have a degree to show for it.

“At the end of the day, your stats have to show that you're academically capable of doing well in medical school.”Click To Tweet

While academic statistics, such as GPA and MCAT scores, hold importance, they are not the sole determining factors for admission. Each medical school has its own internal data that will guide them in their decision-making process. Schools may have specific cutoffs based on their own historical data, but these are not publicly disclosed.

It is not necessary to have a perfect GPA or a flawless MCAT score; what matters is meeting the requirements set by the individual school. The focus should be on demonstrating academic capability within the context of each school’s expectations.

The Considerations of Pursuing a BS/MD Program

Choosing whether to pursue a BS/MD program is a personal decision, and there are valid reasons to consider both traditional routes and accelerated programs. While some students may feel a sense of urgency to enter medical school early and avoid the MCAT, it’s important to remember that the MCAT is a test successfully taken by many individuals each year.

It’s worth noting that as a high school student, you are still exploring life and figuring out who you are as a young adult. Rushing into an accelerated program may limit your opportunities for personal growth and self-discovery during your college years. Additionally, maintaining a specific GPA and meeting eligibility requirements can add additional stress to an already demanding academic journey.

'If you want to go to medical school, go down that path... but to do it through a BS/MD program… it just adds a lot of stress.”Click To Tweet

Ultimately, the decision to pursue a BS/MD program or follow the traditional path should be carefully considered. It’s essential to weigh the advantages and disadvantages, as well as your own personal goals and aspirations, before making a decision that aligns with your long-term career plans.



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