Health care is an exciting and varied field. The more courses you take and the more co-curricular experiences you acquire, the more information you will have to inform your decision.
- Professional program requirements can be completed alongside any major.
- Do not overload with too many courses too early.
- Prerequisites should not be taken Pass/Fail, or abroad.
First-year students, start slowly and move into a more demanding schedule after a year – when you know exactly how much you can do. Two science courses (including math) each semester during your first year is probably enough.
Take stock of whether you are enjoying the ideas in your science coursework. Almost half of the health care fields do NOT require advanced coursework in chemistry or biology. A graduate program based on prerequisite courses you truly enjoy may be a better choice!
What Are Medical Schools Looking for?
Mature, Informed Decision to Pursue Medicine
Medical schools want to see evidence that applicants understand the challenges as well as the rewards of being a physician. Shadowing or clinical volunteering that allows a prospective student direct observation of the physician role is essential. During the covid pandemic, informational interviewing or obtaining paid employment such as scribe or medical assistant may be more realistic than shadowing, although virtual shadowing can yield good insights as well. Clinical volunteering (including virtual formats) or paid employment that provides direct patient contact is equally important.
Click here to download data from the AAMC on undergraduate experiences of accepted medical students. Note that the few students who did not engage in clinical volunteering were probably MD, PhD applicants who appropriately focused their time on research.
Core Competencies for Entering Medical Students
The 15 Core Competencies for Entering Medical Students have been endorsed by the AAMC Group on Student Affairs (GSA) Committee on Admissions (COA). The competencies fall into four categories: Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, Thinking and Reasoning, and Science.
Specific Course Requirements vary. The following will meet most Medical School's Requirements. Check the requirements of the institutions where you plan to apply:
- One year of biology, chemistry, and physics, each with laboratory
- One year of organic chemistry with laboratory (some schools will allow biochemistry as a substitution for organic II)
- One semester of biochemistry
- One year of English/writing - Some schools accept WI courses from other departments (although NOT foreign language WI courses); others insist on English department courses.
- One semester of psychology and sociology
- The Mathematics requirement varies considerably, but AP credit for Calculus II is almost always sufficient, and AP credit for calculus I and a graded statistics course is often sufficient.
- Students should consider at least one applied ethics course in any discipline to prepare for CASPer (a situational judgment screening tool that is required by some schools) and MMI interviews.
Individual schools may have additional requirements. Always check the specific requirements of the institutions where you plan to apply.
What grades and MCAT do I need for medical school?
Our Aggregate Matriculation Data is the best way to ascertain whether your numerical credentials are a fit for the schools where you want to apply. Some schools admit a wide swath of Wash U students; others have a narrower range of academic credentials that they consider. You can also surmise how familiar the school is with our curriculum from the total number of matriculants. <
A few things to keep in mind as you examine this data:
- The table includes re-applicants.
- The BCPM (science) GPAs on this chart are at time of application. Many younger students have more modest grades early on and build an upward trend.
- Numbers are only half the picture. How well you describe your narrative in the written aspects of your application, how well you demonstrate the AAMC Core Competencies, how well you perform on the pre-interview situational judgement test (CASPer), and how well you interview in both traditional and MMI formats are all important. These are all skills you can build.
- Rising seniors with a BCPM GPA < 3.4 may be well advised to spend an additional year building their portfolios before applying.
What if my grades, MCAT or both are below the middle 50% for my target medical schools?
Holistic review is real, and students with lower grades and MCAT can be successful applicants. See your prehealth advisor to develop a strategy.