Picking Your Medical School

how to narrow down the list

You’ve studied hard, you’ve taken all of your pre-requisite courses, you rocked the MCAT, and you’ve successfully gained important clinical experience. Now you have reached the moment when you have to figure out where you are going to submit your medical school applications.

You may already have a dream school in mind, or maybe you want to go to any school on the West Coast or near your family. Choosing where to apply to medical school is one of the key steps along the premed journey. In this section, we bring you lots of resources dedicated to helping you figure out how many medical school to apply to, and where to apply.

When should I start thinking about applying to medical school?

The first question is, When should I start thinking about where to apply to medical school? This can differ for traditional and non-traditional premed students. If you are currently a college student or even in high school, take a look at a valuable timeline with the key steps during your college years.

How many schools should I apply to?

Once you are ready to apply, you need to figure out the number of medical schools to which you are going to apply. Most premeds apply to an average of 14 medical schools. We have some key tips in helping you decide on the number of medical schools to which you should apply.

What Criteria Can I Use When Applying to Medical schools?

In Session 22 of The Premed Years, Ryan interviews Allison Greco, a resident in Internal Medicine at Jefferson and the brains behind the blog MD2B. In that episode, Allison shared her thoughts on how she went about choosing the best medical school for her from a list of top pre med schools.

Should I apply to M.D. or D.O. schools?

Another big question you need to answer for yourself is, should I apply to M.D. or D.O. programs? M.D.s and D.O.s both practice medicine, but the teaching that you receive in medical school differs between allopathic (M.D.) schools and osteopathic (D.O.) schools.

Allopathic medicine is the classical form of medicine, focused on the diagnosis and treatment of human diseases.

Osteopathic medicine is centered around a more holistic view of medicine in which the focus is on seeing the patient as a “whole person” to reach a diagnosis, rather than treating the symptoms alone. We covered the major differences between allopathic and osteopathic medical training and medical schools here.

You can also click here to read more on some of Ryan’s thoughts about whether we should even have a D.O. degree any more.

In Session 26 of The Premed Years, Ryan talks with Patrick and Jonathan, two 3rd year D.O. medical students at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine. They wrote A Brief Guide to Osteopathic Medicine which is published on AACOM. They cover some of the biggest myths of osteopathic medical school and lots and lots more.

Medical Student Profiles: How they chose between M.D. and D.O. schools:

To hear more from current medical students about how they chose between D.O. and M.D. programs, you can listen to some of the following sessions of the The Premed Years:

  • In Session 6 of, Ryan interviews Russell, a non-traditional student who decided to pursue a career in medicine after working as a schoolteacher. In this episode, Russell talks about why he chose to apply to a D.O. school as opposed to an M.D. program. Russell is now a medical student at Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine!
  • In Session 11, Ryan interviews Kate, a 56-year-old in her 3rd year of medical school at West Virginia School of Medicine Kate talks about her journey and why she chose to go to medical school at the age of 50 after working as a nurse for years. She also talks about her applications to M.D. and D.O. programs. If you want to read more about Kate, you can click here to read her reader profile.
  • In Session 9, Ryan interviews WhiteCoatDO.com publisher Ryan, a 1st year medical student at Western University College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific Ryan talks about how he applied to 30 schools, with about half being D.O. and half being M.D. (That is A LOT of schools).

What about MD/PhD programs?

Many students who go into medicine are very interested in research and pursue an MD/PhD degree. The application process and requirements for admission are different when comparing MD and MD/PhD programs. In Session 40 of The Medical School Podcast, Ryan interviews Hanna, a 1st year medical student in an MD/PhD program at the University of Illinois.

They discuss some of the key differences when applying for and interviewing at the dual degree programs, what she looked for in a program, and ultimately what led her to where she is at now.

Medical School Rankings: Are these helpful?

Now, what about all those rankings? Every year, U.S. News releases the “Top” medical schools in the USA, but should you rely on this information to make your list of medical schools for your applications? Probably not.

Most students don’t know that the U.S. News rankings are based on criteria like research dollars per faculty member and subjective peer assessment scores (deans of one medical school rating another school). We broke down all the criteria here.

The US News does release another list of the most competitive medical schools in the USA. You can find that here.

Just a Start

What is listed above is just a start. Below are posts/podcasts and more that we have marked as important in helping you find the best medical school for YOU. Happy hunting.



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