My not-so-crazy stats:
Background: white female, applied for fin aid, public school, first-gen
11 AP’s (bombed most of my tests, didn’t submit any scores lol)
Sport involvement 10 years (highest level but no cool accomplishments)
Volunteered in medical offices
Research summer program (not a comp one, wasn’t published or anything)
President and founder of club
Note: I chose the BS/MD over the ivies!
I got into three ivies (Yale, Cornell, Brown) and three BS/MD’s- and chose REMS at UofR. This was a very difficult choice for me and I scoured the internet to find advice on which choice is better, so I wanted to create this post as a point of reference for anyone in a similar position. I’m going to address some common claims made against BS/MDs and my thoughts on them.
- “What if you change your mind?”
This is a very valid point- 18 is young to make a career decision. However, to get accepted to a BS/MD program (especially multiple) requires a very extensive application process. For REMS I had to write 3 essays and do 2 days of interviews for a total of over 12 hours. Of course, not every program is as extensive, but generally, you have to do a lot in order to prove your commitment to the profession. Part of that is having enough exposure to the field and demonstrating having a good understanding of what medicine entails. If I was able to convince admissions faculty, senior doctors, and program directors that I’m committed to medicine- I probably am. Of course, anyone can change their mind. You can do the traditional route and change your mind first semester, or first year of medical school, or after residency, and so on. But I truly believe that if you’ve been seriously committed to pursuing medicine up to this point it’s likely you’ll continue on that path ( as long as you’re not doing it for the wrong reasons, like money or parental pressure).
Additionally, getting an MD is not the be-all-end-all of your career choices. Chances are that even if you DO change your mind, it’ll still align with the longtime interests that drew you to medicine in the first place. So patient care isn’t for you? There’s research, teaching, biotech, health policy, law, and so on.
Lastly, and this is my biggest point here, if I were to change my mind at an Ivy doing a trad path to med school it would be BECAUSE of the process to get INTO medical school NOT because of that’s not the career I want. Being restricted in classes, cramming everything, always feeling behind, MCAT studying, having to take a gap year, anxiously knowing that even at Yale only 85% of students get accepted to ANY med school INCLUDING up to TWO gap years and wondering if I’ll be in that 15%. At that point, Investment Banking or Consulting would start to look very attractive even though I know I have ZERO passion for that- I’d just consider that I have an “in” for the industry and could make money quick. In other words, the pre-meds that change their minds about medicine might not have changed their minds if it wasn’t for the cutthroatness and burnout of trying to just get into a med school. I hope that makes sense.
- “You can get into a better medical school after an Ivy undergrad”
While you’ll see that HYP Med is largely composed of ivy grads, you have to recognize those students were at the top of their game and many, manyyyy, had connections to get in. It’s very self-selecting in that regard, you have kids at ivies who were primed from birth to do well academically, have money, and have connections. It’s not the effect of going to an ivy undergrad, it’s the effect of having that type of background. There are of course a sizable amount of outliers, but majority took several gap years (missing out on years of earnings as a doctor) and to some degree got lucky. Just as with regular college admissions, getting into a T10 med school is really hit or miss no matter where you come from. If you don’t believe the difficulty of getting into even a T50 med school, go on reddit and look at r/premed accepted student profiles. Could you get into a better med school? Well, there’s always a chance and it depends on the med school your program is with. My program is a T30 med school, and personally I don’t think the amount of stress is worth it even if I were to end up attending a 10-20 better ranked med school (especially since med school rankings are arbitrary and I love the curriculum of my med school regardless of it’s research funding - the biggest factor in those rankings). At the end of the day, medicine has a huge burn out rate, and I think it’s better to save all the nerves and energy for treating future patients rather than competing with nutty pre meds.
- “You’ll have more freedom to explore your interests at Yale”
I think this is such a silly point. Anyone who says this clearly hasn’t done pre-med. Generally, you wouldn’t have the time as a pre med to find out that you have a passion for filmmaking. On the flip side, depending on the program, you ACTUALLY have freedom to explore your interests. You take classes you like and discover a passion for filmaking? That’s fine! You can actually develop hobbies and skills that are unrelated to medicine, and maintain a healthy work-life balance as a pre-med who isn’t woefully consumed by Kaplan MCAT books or AAMC essay’s. In fact, in my program, we’ve had dance majors, art majors, policy majors, etc. Medicine needs more diverse perspectives and you never know how a random class in basket weaving might actually lead to a cool research idea (or not! but we need less burnt out doctors who know life outside of books and labs!).
Not only that, but if you really want you can be way ahead of the curve and build connections that will serve you for getting into top residencies later on. Since you already know which med school you’re going to, you can get started with research there early on securing publications and stellar letters of recommendations years in advance. While traditional pre meds are stressing over med school interviews, and traditional med school students are cramming trying to build a strong resume for residency, you have the chance to get started early.
These were the most common concerns I heard, but feel free to ask anything else. Please note that is just my experience and opinion and not an end all be all. Not all BS/MD programs are made the same and there are definitely some instances where this advice wouldn’t apply. But take from what it what serves you! There are a few instances I don’t think a BS/MD is worth it over an Ivy, and that’s if there’s a significant difference in loan burden from the undergrad. Ivies do tend to be generous with financial aid, and if you’d have to take out a lot more loans to go to the BS/MD perhaps it’s not worth it. I also think that certain accelerated BS/MD’s don’t allow for a lot of the benefits I mentioned here. Lastly, BS/MD’s that have the same MCAT and GPA requirements you’d need to get into med school traditionally are a bit questionable as well.