With more than 180 medical schools to choose from in the United States, it’s no wonder that medical students around the nation scramble to choose their top picks. For upcoming medical students, choosing a school is everything.
The medical school you go to affects what experiences you get, what specialty you enter, what residency you get, what offers you get, and so much more. It can completely turn your life around.
If you’re going to go to medical school, you need to know everything about choosing medical schools to apply to and – eventually – go to. For our top seven tips on choosing medical schools, keep reading.
1. Current Students’ Experiences
If you know anyone who is currently attending or recently attended one of the medical schools you’re considering, you should talk to them about what it’s like to be a student there. Hearing from people who work for the school you’re considering doesn’t help you make an informed decision.
Rather, it would help if you had a somewhat blunt opinion. A student can give you the real pros and cons of going to their medical school.
Plus, you can ask more specific questions about the school, its curriculum, and anything else you’re curious about.
Location is a hard one to swallow. Many students applying for medical school think they won’t care about the location once they get into their dream school. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works.
You truly need to consider whether you have a support system near the school you’re considering. Plus, it would help if you thought about things like the weather.
Be honest with yourself about what kind of heat or cold you can be comfortable in. And, don’t think that you’re magically going to be able to do everything yourself once you start medical school. You need some support system to get you through.
3. Passing Scores
Now, it’s time to cover the more logistical choice when looking at choosing medical schools.
First, you need to consider how many of their students pass the boards on their first try. If a school has a high passing rate, you can rest assured that you should be in great hands if you attend their program. However, a low score could be a red flag.
No matter how great a studier you may think you are, it would help if you didn’t automatically think that you can pass the boards no matter what school you go to. It would help if you looked at the school’s teaching and how that resonates with your learning style.
4. Residency Match
Every medical student has to go through residency matching. This long, stressful process has brought many medical students to tears and even ended some careers.
Knowing your potential school’s matching rate can tell you what residency programs think of their school and curriculum. If the rate is low, this could raise a red flag about the school’s ability to translate classroom teaching to a clinical setting.
A high residency match rate is a great sign that the school is well-respected and can market its students as smart and dependable. You’ll need this support when it comes time for your matching.
5. Graduation Percentage
Another important factor to consider is the graduation percentage. Many people may not realize that medical schools want every student to pass, no matter how gruesome the television shows and movies make it seem. They don’t want to waste their money on students who won’t pass, so they are adamant about making sure that every student learns.
The graduation percentage can tell you how successful the school’s staff were in supporting and helping its students get through school. If you think that you may have a tough transition to medical school, these statistics are vital.
6. Support Services
Nowadays, most schools provide a plethora of support services for their students. However, you need to investigate what kind of support services the medical schools’re considering an offer to their students.
Even if you think you won’t need it, you should look at whether your potential school has a food bank for students, a place for students to stay if homeless, and other related services. It may be scary to think about, but you never know what’s going to happen, especially when school is your full-time job.
Most schools have their support services listed somewhere on their website, but there are some secrets that only students know about. You could try calling the school, speaking to a few current students, or doing a quick Google search to see your options if you do ever need support like this.
7. Personal Growth
Medical school should be about more than digging into textbooks and studying until the morning. You should be enjoying yourself and learning new things that you love.
Some schools offer plenty of activities for students to do and groups to join to have other things to do.
Some medical students even choose to train in other medical areas. Schools may help them learn how to become ultrasound or x-ray technicians if that’s what they want to learn about.
These skills are instrumental in medical school and can help with patient care later on. You should search or ask around to see if your potential medical school would help you do things like maintain your x-ray license or renew your CPR certification.
After Choosing Medical Schools
Now that you’ve gone through the seven things you need to consider when choosing medical schools, it’s time to start sifting through your favorites. We’re sure that you’ve already had your eye on some potential schools.
To see if they’re really right for you, compare these schools to our list. You might find that your dream school isn’t so dreamy.
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