Getting Admitted to Medical School

Becoming a physician in the United States is a long and challenging process. Before being admitted to medical school, undergraduate students must obtain at least a Bachelor’s degree and complete coursework in biology, chemistry, physics and organic chemistry. Admission standards are incredibly competitive and most admitted medical students have a GPA of 3.7 or better. The Medical College Test (MCAT) is used to assess the academic readiness of students planning to enter medical school. Most admitted medical students perform in the top 35% nationally on the MCAT.

Becoming a Doctor

Once admitted, medical students will complete four years of medical school education that combines classroom learning with practical teaching in the clinical environment. The first two years are referred to as the Basic Sciences and future physicians learn the important concepts of physiology, anatomy, biochemistry, neuroscience, histology, pathology, microbiology, immunology, and pharmacology. The Basic Sciences component provides a foundation for the second half of the medical school curriculum. Once the medical student has completed the basic sciences, they will take the first of two licensing exams required to graduate with a medical degree. Allopathic (M.D.) students are required to pass the USMLE Step 1 and Osteopathic (D.O.) students must pass the COMLEX – Level 1.

After the future physician has completed the Basic Science curriculum and passed their first licensing exam, they will progress to the Clinical Sciences which comprise the last two years of the four year degree. All medical schools in the United States require that students complete clinical rotations in Internal Medicine, Family Medicine, Pediatrics, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Neurology, Psychiatry, and Surgery before graduating. Students in their fourth year of medical school select electives in areas such as surgical specialties and emergency medicine to provide a more well-rounded educational background in the many areas of medicine. All combined, medical students will spend over 82 weeks in a clinical learning environment before they obtain their degree. As with the culmination of the Basic Sciences curriculum, medical students will need to pass the USMLE or COMLEX Clinical Knowledge and Clinical Skills licensing exams.