Timeline for Pre-Med Students
*This timeline was developed for those students planning to apply for medical school admission immediately after graduation. It is also very common, however, for students to take a year or more off after graduation and then apply. If you are considering taking a gap year (or more) after graduation, some of the suggested activities can be postponed until later in college.
- Let your advisor know that you are interested in going to medical school.
- If you are interested and your SAT/ACT scores and high school GPA are high enough to qualify you for the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) accelerated program, you need to submit an application via the LECOM portal as soon as possible (ideally before starting your freshman year). The LECOM affiliated program portal can be found at https://portal.lecom.edu/ics/Affiliated_Undergrad_College_Inquiry.jnz?secure=true.
- Complete first year pre-medical coursework (usually English Composition, Math through Calculus, Introductory Biology, and General Chemistry courses).
- Visit the AAMC Pre-Med Site: http://www.aamc.org/aspiringdocs (come back often over the next couple of years to keep an eye out for any changes). If you are interested in osteopathic medical schools, there is another site that you will also want to visit: http://www.aacom.org/InfoFor/applicants/Pages/default.aspx.
- Begin to look over practice MCAT exams. Although you will not be ready to take this exam for a while, looking over practice questions frequently will help you identify concepts in your coursework that often appear on the MCAT. It will also help you get a feel for the level of conceptual detail and critical analysis you will need to eventually reach in order to get a good score on this exam.
- In the summer between your freshman and sophomore years, consider doing volunteer work in a health care setting.
- Explore campus extracurricular activities. Remember that quality is more important than quantity - choose activities that you are passionate about and that you could possibly eventually take a leadership role in.
- Keep in mind that getting into medical school is very competitive. Even students that have very good grades may not necessarily get in. Thus, everyone should have a "Plan B" in mind that they can also work towards at the same time, in the event that acceptance to medical school does not occur immediately after graduation. Be sure to discuss your "Plan B" with your advisor so that he/she can recommend any additional coursework that might help you out with your backup plan.
- Complete second year pre-medical coursework (usually includes Genetics, Organic Chemistry, and other major/GE courses).
- Continue to participate in extracurricular activities. If you notice that you are having trouble keeping your grades up though, you will want to pare back on this somewhat.
- Continue to look over MCAT practice exams. Begin to develop an MCAT study plan for your junior year.
- Sophomore year is a time period when students who had initially performed well in science courses may sometimes start to struggle, as the level of the material becomes more rigorous. Be sure to get help from your professors and the tutoring center early and often.
- Start exploring research and internship possibilities for your upcoming junior year.
- Complete third year pre-medical coursework (usually includes Physics, Biochemistry, upper-level Biology electives, and additional GE/major coursework). If you did not already take Statistics, Introduction to Psychology and Introduction to Sociology earlier, you should do so this year, as these topics are now included on the MCAT exam.
- Junior year is often a good time for directed research projects and study abroad experiences.
- You should also plan on shadowing a doctor this year (either during the school year or the summer before and/or after your junior year). This can be done for academic credit - if you want this credit, please see your advisor for information on how to register. If you are applying to osteopathic medical schools, be sure that at least one of the doctors that you shadow is an osteopathic physician.
- This is the year that you will focus very intensely on preparing for the MCAT exam. It should be taken as soon as possible after you have completed all of your MCAT pre-requisite courses (Introductory Biology, General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Biochemistry, Physics, Statistics, Introduction to Sociology, and Introduction to Psychology). Please note that these pre-requisite courses should be considered a minimal level of preparation for the MCAT exam. Additional advanced courses are also recommended, such as Genetics, Abnormal Psychology, Animal Physiology, etc...). At a minimum, you will want to obtain several MCAT prep books/software packages. While more expensive, you may also wish to consider taking a formal MCAT prep course (offered in many larger metropolitan areas and/or online).
- Once you feel that you have prepared as much as you can - take the MCAT exam! Usually this is done after the completion of your junior year classwork.
- Begin to work on your online application (via AMCAS) during the summer between your junior and senior year. The homepage for AMCAS is https://www.aamc.org/students/applying/amcas/. If you are applying to osteopathic medical schools, you will use a different online application form (AACOMAS) that can be found at https://aacomas.aacom.org/.
- Begin to work on your personal statement. Be sure to have several of your professors review this statement before you submit it. You want this statement to do a good job of promoting your candidacy based on your personal experiences and attributes and to also be very well written (i.e. free of grammar, style, and spelling issues).
- Set up a time for your interview with the Pitt-Bradford Pre-Health Professions Committee. The interview can be done either at the end of your junior year or beginning of your senior year, but preferably AFTER you have received your MCAT scores and finished your personal statement.
- Finish and submit your online application if you haven't already done so.
- Participate in your pre-health professions committee interview if you haven't already done so.
- Complete any secondary applications that are required.
- Prepare for medical school interviews. Having an interview with the pre-health professions committee will help with this. So will visiting web sites designed for pre-meds and medical students, such as Student Doc (http://www.studentdoc.com/) to see what types of questions other applicants have run into.
- Travel to medical school interviews. Be sure to save up your pennies in advance for travel expenses.
- Keep your fingers crossed! You may find yourself wait-listed at one or more medical schools. This is not necessarily bad. Sometimes students are selected from the wait list as late as mid-summer after graduation.
- If you are not accepted, first have a pint of ice cream or your other favorite comfort food, and then begin to work on your "Plan B". For some students, this may involve considering other career options. Your advisor and the Career Services center can help with this. For other students, it may involve doing some post-graduation activities that will improve your candidacy for medical school, such as graduate programs or post-baccalaureate programs. Keep in mind that the average age of an entering medical student is 24, so that means that many students take time off for other activities between college and medical school.
- If you are accepted, be sure to start working on the financial aid paperwork as soon as possible. Medical school is expensive! You may want to consider options that will help cover the costs such as military service or certain programs that pay back some of your expenses for later service in underserved areas of the country.