Choosing a Medical School

12/5/11

With so much focus on simply getting in somewhere, it is easy for applicants to forget that they may end up with a choice of schools.  Some schools began offering acceptances as early as October 15, and with each week that passes, more positions have been offered. (If you don’t have a spot yet, remember that interview season is far from over). If you are in the fortunate situation of choosing among multiple acceptances, you will need to shift your thinking. Instead of convincing schools why they should choose you, you get to consider why you should choose  them.

Among the factors to consider as you select a school are:

  • Your goals and interests. If you are envision a career that includes research, then a school with an emphasis on investigation may be the best fit for you. Some schools have a particular focus on primary care, health policy, serving disadvantaged communities or other areas of emphasis. Choose a school that aligns with the areas within medicine that you wish to pursue further.
  • The curriculum.  What is the mix of lectures versus problem-based learning? Are the days highly structured, or are time periods set aside for independent study. When does clinical instruction and patient contact
    begin?
  • Location. On a recent trip to Virginia and Washington D.C., I visited Georgetown University School of Medicine and the University of Virginia School of Medicine. Both are excellent schools, but the environment of each is very different. University of Virginia is located on a historic campus in Charlottesville, a medium-size college town surrounded by rural areas. Georgetown is in a busy, vibrant area of Washington D.C.  For some, a quieter area where the college is a major presence is ideal, while for others, an urban setting is preferred.  You will be living in the place you choose for medical school for four years; it needs to somewhere you are comfortable. The school’s location also affects the demographics of the patient population, so if you want to work with urban underserved patients, rural populations or any other group in particular, you should seek out a school in a location that serves these patients.
  • Cost. Determining cost is not as easy as looking only at tuition. A school in Boston or New York with lower tuition may end up being more expensive than one in the Midwest once housing and other expenses are factored in.
    Public schools are often the most affordable option for in-state residents, but again, make sure you consider all of the costs. The financial aid package is also critical; a grant, scholarship or other funding will affect the out-of-pocket cost to the applicant.

Applicants to U.S. allopathic schools may hold multiple acceptances until May 15. Therefore, there is still plenty of time to make a decision. If you are unsure, arrange to take a second look at the schools you are considering in the spring. Some offer scheduled second look weekends. For others, you can arrange a visit on your own, but call the school and say that you are interested in visiting again and see what they offer in terms of opportunities to meet more students or sit in on a
lecture.

Any U.S. medical school will offer the education and training you need to enter a residency, so you need only to make the decision that is best for you.

Need the help of an experienced medical school admissions advisor? Contact Dr. Eaton at (626) 768-2154 or info@prehealthadvising.com for a free 20- minute phone
consultation.

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