Medical School Requirements are stringent, particularly at UCSF and Harvard, but then again they are one of the best medical schools! I have written about the UCSF medical school and their clinics, so I thought it was a good idea to let prospective students know what is required to be considered for admission there and other schools as well. Now is definitely the time to start getting all of your admissions papers, including letters of recommendation, official transcripts, etc. together. Students who are applying to most medical schools, including the University of California at San Francisco, for the first the time, must file their application with the American Medical College Application Service®. The application can be found on the AMCAS® website, which is a centralized, non-profit application processing service. However, this service is only for applicants entering their first-year. Medical students who are transferring from another medical school must apply directly to their schools of choice. This also includes students in advanced standing in another medical school program. For additional information, you may call AMCAS® at 202-828-0400, Monday-Friday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (ET). You may also write to them at:
Association of American Medical Colleges
2450 N Street, NW
Washington, DC 20037-1126
Please keep in mind that AMCAS® serves only as an application clearing house and will not give advise to applicants as to which schools to apply, or make any other recommendations with regards to medical school programs. Once you have submitted your application, it will take up to 6 weeks for AMCAS to fully process your application. However, if they are still missing documents, such as your official transcripts, you will have to wait long. The 6 weeks applies only to applicants who have submitted a complete application. If you have previously registered with either MCAT THx or the Fee Assistance Program, you can use the same username and password when you log on to AMCAS®.
In addition to taking the MCAT®, all applicants must complete one year of biology, physics, and English, and two years of chemistry – including organic chemistry. For those students whose native language is not English, your language skills must be at the college level. I get a lot of emails from foreign students whose grammar is poor and I know this will be a problem for them, especially when applying to the top medical schools. The science classes mentioned above are the bare minimum that will get you considered for admission, but most schools, Harvard, for example, requires a lot more, such as calculus; you may read about Harvard’s medical school admission requirements on our site or go directly to the Harvard Medical website.
Besides passing the MCAT®, having good grades, and letters of recommendation, schools also look at extracurricular activities. Your application will be looked upon favorably if you have done volunteer work at a hospital, clinic, medical office, nursing home, private medical practice, or other healthcare facility. Be sure to list these on your C.V. and emphasize your accomplishments in your narrative or statement of purpose. Future veterinarian should show volunteer work at an animal shelter, farm, or other place where you cared for animals. If your volunteer list is short, or if you haven’t done any, it would be a good idea to do this before you put in your application. School admissions counselors want to know that you are serious about your career in medicine and have hand-on experience to show it. It is also a way for you to ascertain whether this is the right career for you. I have known several pre-med students who held a rather naïve impression on how it is to work as a doctor and when they actually had to work with patients, it turned out to be nothing like they had imagined. Some people find that they are unable to deal with some of the “messiness” that comes with treating people and animals. They think that nurses do all of the “dirty work” and that they can just walk around in their clean white coats, briefly examine a (clean!) patient, and write a prescription. Sooner or later they learn that doctors do have to get their hands dirty and that places where they have to treat patients aren’t always in antiseptic conditions.
Upon registration with AMCAS®, they will inform you what documents and other medical school requirements that you still need to fulfill or submit to them. While it is not necessary to have everything at hand when you do apply, bear in mind that your incomplete application will not be submitted to the appropriate schools until it is compete. Deadlines are short, so the sooner you get everything submitted, the sooner you will be given a decision.