One of the longest education pathways is that of an MD, DO, or DVM which requires 2 years of preclinical and clinical courses at a medical school, as well as a minimum of one year of residency (a post-graduate internship). Most doctors then add a multi-year fellowship to specialize in a certain field such as neurosurgery or dermatology. But achieving a DDS, DMD, or PharmD is also no stroll in the park…
Virtually all careers in Health Care have in common that they are challenging – admission to advanced schools are highly competitive, the training is academically challenging, time intensive (think min. 10 hours days 6 days a week) and schools seek mature individuals who can demonstrate that they are well rounded, compassionate, and service oriented. Trust me, you can’t fake that. Admission committees for all programs look at you as a whole person. A quick fund raiser in your senior year won’t help to demonstrate your social commitment!
Each individual a career is slightly different and prerequisites even change between different schools offering the same degree (which makes Pre-medical advising somewhat of a challenge!), but there are common goals for your undergraduate education:
Year 1 Goals
- maintain a strong overall GPA and BCPM-GPA (>3.5) and focus on coursework which should incl. the required Chemistry as well as Biology courses
- get involved with the pre-health student club
- volunteer, shadow, or intern in the community or your hometown
- study, study, study, even if your friends prefer to party! You’ll very soon realize this isn’t High School anymore!
- make and appointment with and introduce yourself to a Pre-Health advisor (in addition to your regular Longwood academic advisor)
Year 2 Goals
- while maintaining a high GPA (>3.5), look into opportunities for basic research (e.g. with a Professor at Longwood) or opportunities to get more specific (e.g. clinical) experience by shadowing or internships in your chosen career path
- build relationships with professors and physicians as they may become letter writers
- look into undergraduate research summer programs and apply (deadlines are typically early Spring) https://www.aamc.org/members/great/61052/great_summerlinks.html (Links to an external site.)
Success applying will give you a good idea how competitive you are!
- write a resume, work on your professional portfolio, start on a personal statement
- apply for scholarships and prizes!
- begin exploring standardized tests GRE, MCAT, etc. preparation (studying and registration if required for your chosen career path)
- look at potential post-graduate programs you might want to apply to and check if you are on track to meet all the prerequisites
Year 3 Goals
- while maintaining a high GPA (>3.5) while staying involved with campus clubs/ organizations and volunteer opportunities
- start preparing for standardized tests (MCAT, GRE)
- explore post-graduate schools and programs (go to a graduate fair, tour the school, etc. ), for a seamless transition into medical school you would apply through AMCAS one year prior to when you plan to matriculate!
- explore a study abroad experience
Year 4 Goals
- while maintaining a high GPA (>3.5), work on personal statement
- prepare and submit applications for post graduate programs
- prepare for interviews
Because the senior year can become quite stressful and applications take a lot of time, it is not uncommon to take a gap year between obtaining the BS and starting with a post graduate program. Look critically over your application and identify the weak spots: Do you need more clinical experience? Would adding some research experience help? What about adding year abroad, e.g. with The Peace Corps? Make it count! In the past, many of our students who went on to medical school took part in a ‘enhancer’ Post-Baccalaureate Program (https://apps.aamc.org/postbac/#/index (Links to an external site.)) to further boost their competitiveness.
See more posts on preparing for medical school here: