Getting into a top medical school

<p>Hi guys, </p>

<p>I was just wondering if it was at all possible to go to a pretty modest premed program for example at a state college like University of Florida, to get very high grades there (like a 4.0) and then be able to apply and get into a more prestigious medical school like Harvard Medical school or Johns hopkins medical school? Or do you have to go to the Ivies first and do well in their very rigorous premed programs? And do I have to major in Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Engineering, or other sciences to get in? Or can I do something that I want, like Humanities ot Social Sciences for example?</p>

<p>Thanks for answering!!</p>

<p>yes, it's possible. i go to a no name non flagship state school, got good grades and a good mcat score, and have acceptances to some top schools (although they arent harvard or hopkins). I will say that pretty much everyone at my interviews at the top schools came from ivy league schools or top undergrad schools. Major in what you want. It doesnt have to be in the sciences.</p>

<p>I wouldn't call UFlorida a "pretty modest" program. It's a very good school.</p>

<p>I know that at my son's flagship they had a good number of kids interview and be accepted to Ivy and other elite med's more about GPA, MCAT and ECs...not the school.</p>

<p>ASU -> top school.</p>

<p>So yes.</p>

<p>Major in what you want, don't do it for any other reason.</p>

<p>I am not familiar with acceptance to Harvard Med. School, however, very high percenage at D's Med. School came from Ivy and other Elite schools, including, PhD from Harvard, several lawyers and Masters of Science, as D. calls them from "fancy" schools with "fancy" digrees. D. does not feel inferior after graduating from state school and being one of the youngest. Actually I would say she should feel much better since her UG education was free becasue of Merit awards, no loans so far.</p>

<p>^^ That is nowhere near enough to stand out. You need to "do it big" and do what other pre-meds would never do. You need to do research at elite national-level research places to help you stand out in med. school admissions process.</p>

<p>For example</p>

<p>I am currently doing research at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which is a major branch of the NIH. From what I have noticed, we have VERY few undergrads doing research at the NIH. I am sure this is also similar to other national-level/international level research institutes such as the WHO and the CDC. </p>

<p>This summer I am planning on doing research at the WHO. I have been in contact with on the former director of the WHO's Europe division. If I am lucky enough to get a research spot at the WHO, and my NIH work will hopefully make my profile stand out. </p>

<p>From my experience it is really hard to get into undergrad research positions at the WHO and the NIH. I am assuming its the same at all national/international level health organizations. I emailed over 95 people at the NIH before someone accepted me into their lab. I emailed 70+ people at the WHO before I got someone who would even be able to look at my resume/transcript. That is 70 people to JUST LOOK AT MY RESUME/TRANSCRIPT. That is not even me getting into the WHO, just for them to review my transcript/resume. This was the former director of WHO's Europe division which is who I mentioned above. </p>

<p>Simply doing some random medical program is not going to cut it. Simply ding some hospital volunteering is not going to cut it for elite medical schools. You need to do something that VERY few Undergrad Pre-meds will do. You have to go above and beyond if you want adcoms to even give your application a second look. That is what I learned from my time on SDN and that is what I have been trying to achieve.</p>

<p>D. did not try to stand out. I believe that this concept is way oversold. nobody needs to stand out. Just get high GPA, decent MCAT, participate in reasonable medical EC's and make sure to enjoy your 4 years in UG, the last one is one of the most important, and you will be fine. D. was accepted at 4 out of 8, 2 in top 20. She was not aspired to apply to any of top 5 schools. she is very happy at her Med. School and as I have mentioned surrounded with people from elite UG's, Ivy's and Graduate degrees and does not feel inferior to them in any shape or form.</p>

although I don't know anything about WHO, NIH is literally crawling with high school and college kids. Many of my friends did internships there while in HS. It's not about where you are, it's the quality of the work you do that makes the difference. </p>

<p>BTW, CDC does not place UGs, with very few exceptions.</p>

<p>I wouldn't put a lot of faith in medical safaris. Not gonna be impressive. It's much better IMO to see a problem in a community, devise a solution to help with that problem, and then implement that solution using your own limited resources. If you can then document the process so it is repeatable in other settings and communities, all the better. Then write about it in your essays, and talk about it in your interviews. </p>

<p>Imo, "See a problem, fix a problem" is a lot more impressive than "write a check".</p>

<p>It appeared that they look very positively if you are pursuing your own personal passion. it seems that D's Music minor (as much as everybody said, and I agree that minor is not important) was at least some part of her acceptance at her Med. School. First, adcom contacted her pre-med advisor at UG to tell them that they really wanted her and now she was suggested to participate in yearly Opera production. She is doing it and having blast. She said that it is awesome and brand new experience since she has never played a keyboard in a group. I could not believe that she did not mention about her voice at all. I would be dying to see her on stage, but she is not a stage person. At least I hope tol hear her keyboard.<br>
That is why I said that enjoying your 4 years at UG (meanning pursuing what you personally love) might be at least partly your ticket. D. has had another EC at UG which was her job that is also connected to her EC (unpaid) at Med. School. Apparently they are looking at people who match their activities (after they get the group that fully qualify).</p>

<p>To piggy back of curm's #10, a good way to find such problems in your community is to start volunteering in a non-medical way that still has some sort of medical implication. I'd recommend starting with a group you're interested in--so if you like kids, volunteer at an after school program; if you like elderly folks, volunteer at the front desk of a senior center or as a patient care tech at a nursing home; etc. There are probably way more opportunities out there than you realize! Your university probably has a service-learning office, coordinator, or website; if not, try getting ideas from a social worker (often teach classes for social work majors, if that's an option) or any local agency that's like a clearinghouse for other agencies (for example, an area agency on aging for services for senior citizens, etc).</p>

<p>And now to piggy-back off kristen's doesn't have to be anything spectacular. It just has to be yours and real. Of course, this whole conversation pre-supposes the fact that you actually care about something. ;) If not, it ain't likely to happen.</p>

<p>MiamiDAP is right. Use your undergraduate years to good effect both for personal growth and to satisfy the pre-med requirements. Get some real medical experience, which can easily be done in your local community. Talk to physicians and learn from them. Demonstrate a genuine commitment to a medical career along with a clear understanding of the difficulties you'll encounter in your studies and in the practice of medicine. Be yourself: you don't need to 'game' the process. Finally, ask yourself why you feel the need to go to a 'top' medical school. Medical education is pretty much the same at every medical school. Do you aspire to a particular specialty that you think a 'top medical school' would help you attain? If so, you will be better off demonstrating a commitment to that area of specialization as your goal and realizing that you can get there by means of your state's flagship medical schools. Harvard and Johns Hopkins don't want people who are applying just because of the prestige of the schools. They want what every medical school wants: talented students who will become good doctors.</p>

<p>Irishdoctor. Do you have current experiences to share about admission to the "top medical schools"? I'm sure the collective would like to hear them. </p>

Medical education is pretty much the same at every medical school.

In general, true. In specific, not so true. My D's classmates from UG keep in touch and many went back for their Homecoming a week ago. Their MS1 experiences were remarkably different. </p>

Do you aspire to a particular specialty that you think a 'top medical school' would help you attain? If so, you will be better off demonstrating a commitment to that area of specialization as your goal and realizing that you can get there by means of your state's flagship medical schools.

Again, largely true (especially for primary care) but if your desire runs to academic medicine and a few highly competitive specialties.....not always as true. </p>

<p>Back on topic: The landscape has changed and a ho-hum application is not likely to get you an invite to the top-most medical schools, much less an acceptance. As always , just my opinion. ;)</p>

<p>If you already know that you have a burning desire to go into academic medicine and do research, then a "top medical school" makes a modest difference, and going to a more elite college probably helps some to get into those med schools but not that much. Whats much more important in terms of doing academic medicine is what residency and fellowships you do, and they depend more on how you actually perform in medical school more than what med school you actually go. Similarly, its most important to do really well in college rather than go to Harvard or Yale and be mediocre.</p>

<p>There are some medical schools that are very explicit about wanting to turn out researchers- Duke for example- but they are not the norm.</p>

<p>So why do you want to go to a "top medical school?"</p>

There are some medical schools that are very explicit about wanting to turn out researchers- Duke for example- but they are not the norm.

I guess we need to hear what the OP considers Top Medical Schools. It's my suspicion that the list will mimic the usual suspects atop the USNWR Top Medical Schools Research list. </p>

<p>Why does the OP want a Top Med School? I have no idea. It could be a naive desire or a well thought out plan or somewhere in between. </p>

<p>(Since I asked Irish Doctor to expound on his/her experience ... and since there are a few new faces, I'll re-hash my D's experience two cycles ago.)</p>

<p>As the parent of a kid who had to make the choice between a merit scholarship at her highly-ranked state flagship medical school (UT-SW) and no merit scholarship at an even more highly-ranked "Top Med School", she couldn't find enough of a difference in residency outcomes to justify the cost difference. (There was a difference top to bottom, but the top students at UT-SW did great. She had the Match Lists for a few years studied by some people who should know. It appears they don't mean much to the great un-washed. Like me. Or her. Or most Pre-Meds. ) </p>

<p>She chose the more highly-ranked school for the "system" (learning environment), her very social and very accomplished classmates, the facilities and resources, the ease and expectation of research (a required thesis), and the overall cooperative "feel" of the school. She would never had agreed to pay six figures more for anything less, and was still a very close call. Much gnashing of teeth. </p>

<p>She "knows" she is in the right place for her... and the opportunities presented to her so far appear to support that. But she's a research kid with zero interest in primary care, intent on a 5th year, probably a medical master's degree, maybe more. Had her career interests been different, I'm pretty confident she'd have chosen differently. Not completely confident, but pretty confident.</p>

<p>So, yeah. If your goal is to become a doctor, any US allopathic school will do just fine. If you are shooting for something different, conventional current wisdom is that a Top School helps.... some.</p>

<p>BTW, my kid goes to the school that had a T-shirt that read "Un-Ranked in Primary Care since 18XX". lol</p>

<p>^ And had a book with a title that goes like this: 100 reasons why you want to go to this school? lol. Do they really give that book to every student?</p>

<p>We heard that at D's Med. School, they usually match to their first choice for residency. It is good enough for my D. However, this wan not the reason for her choice. the reason after very careful evaluation, research and Second Look events was that D. felt that this school is more student centered/oriented than another, and as a secondary consideration, she felt more comfy in this city than another (most will disagree) including ability to have a car which was not possible financially at another place. Also, my D. does prefer to be in-state. Ranking was not one of her criteria, but some people are much more into ranking and there is nothing wrong with it. D's original number 1 criteria was to be within 4.5hrs from home and she is 2 hrs away now. this has helped us a lot when she got very sick few weeks ago, much more sick then she ever was in her life. I ended up being with her for 3 days (she missed 2 days in school, she has not missed school ever before) and she really appreciated that.</p>

<p>Curm, why am I all of a sudden piggy backing off your posts? LOL. Just to provide a nice foil to your research-heavy kid:</p>

<p>I interviewed at a few top schools and ended up at my state school (which I absolutely and resoundingly LOVE). I don't have specific medical interests other than "doctor." I didn't particularly like bench research, I can't imagine why anyone would want to do an MD PhD, but I do like the applied aspects of clinical research.</p>

<p>I like working with people. I like learning about how humans function. I like learning about health care and figuring out how I can impact someone else's life with the (teensy tiny bit of) knowledge I have. I like the psychosocial stuff and the hard science stuff. I get a real kick out of interviewing patients during my clinical rotation, and learning how to do physicals has been a real treat (even if it's not always the most comfortable thing out there). I might be interested in primary care (which my school is ranked in the top 10 for, lol). Or I might be interested in surgery. Or maybe some obscure subspecialty, who knows. I'll probably get a master's in public health sometime during med school (or shortly thereafter). For me too, med school's all about the system, environment, and community. Definitely a place where I can really thrive.</p>

<p>I won't have the academic pedigree other students (Curm's daughter, and some other posters on this board included) will have, but to doesn't matter. I found a great fit and I couldn't be happier. </p>

<p>My $0.02: it's not all about the name.</p>