- Experience in health care delivery
- Excellent personal recommendations
- Evidence of interpersonal skills and desire to be of service to others
- A well-rounded education
- Certain coursework [see below]
- A strong GPA
- MCAT - Medical College Admissions Test
Step one: gain enough experience to convince yourself, your letter writers, and an admissions committee that you know you really really really want to become a physician. This can include physician shadowing, but should go beyond job shadowing.
Step two: Create an undergraduate curriculum about which you are excited and in which you can excel. A pre-med student can choose any major in the college or conservatory. He or she must also include significant course work in the natural and social sciences in preparation for the MCAT. Timing and sequencing of these courses requires thought and planning, thus you should meet with a pre-health advisor at least once per year.
Step three: Prepare for the MCAT. Take the required courses before the exam. Plan to spend about 300 hours on explicit MCAT preparation including studying and the use of practice tests.
A competitive applicant for MD programs will have taken the recommended coursework (see below), have a GPA of 3.5 or higher in all course work and also in all science course work, an MCAT score of 508 or higher (this is the score that typically demarks the 80% percentile or higher, sectional scores should be 127 or higher), excellent and personal references, evidence of interpersonal skills and dedicated service (co-curricular/volunteer record) and experience with health care delivery.
DO (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine) programs typically have less stringent GPA and MCAT requirements; in turn they emphasize interpersonal skills, service, and dedication to the principles of osteopathic medicine.
There is some variation in the prerequisite coursework needed at the undergraduate level. Below is a listing of the undergraduate coursework required by most programs as well as some additional coursework that may be required by some programs. Note: AP credit can be used to satisfy these requirements.
- Biol 130 - Cells to Organisms
- Biol 150 - Organisms to Ecosystems
- Chem 116 - Energetics and Dynamics (may need 115 Structure and Reactivity)
- Chem 250/252- Organic Chemistry 1 & II Chem 340/Biol 444 - Biochemistry I
- Phys 141 - Principles of Mechanics
- Phys 151 - Principles of Classical Physics
- Psych 270 - Social Psychology (should be taken for MCAT preparation)
- Biol 170 or Math 107 – a statistics class
Additional courses for some programs:
- Biol 260 - Genetics (or some other biology)
- Math 120 or 140 - Applied Calculus or Calculus I
- Humanities courses - 2-4 courses College English - FRST counts
Shadowing Program & Medical Muse
Consider using our shadowing program to gain experience and determine whether the life of a physician is for you. Available for sophomores-seniors as a 2-week intensive program during D-Term. Pre-med students are warmly encouraged to attend at least one Medical Muse weekend (every other spring) at Bjorklunden at which alumni physicians describe their lives and their work. You can ask them anything!
In addition to job shadowing, many schools look favorably on health care work or volunteer experience. Lawrence has partnered with Fox Valley Technical College to offer a 3-week intensive nursing assistant training during winter break and again in early summer break. The course prepares students for the WI state certification exam. Working as a nursing assistant (CNA) is one way to obtain patient contact and determine whether a career in health care is for you. You can also volunteer in a hospital or clinic or work at a summer camp. Or consider any activities that put you service to others (tutoring, Boys & Girls Club, Big Sister/Big Brother, etc). Other options for getting health care experience: EMT certification and experience; medical scribing.
Program Cost and Length
The length of MD medical programs is typically 4 years. According to the AAMC, the average cost per year for tuition, fees, books, and equipment (not including living costs) in 2017-18 were as follows:
Public Resident: $35,000 Private: $58,000
To practice medicine in the US, you must earn an MD or DO degree from an accredited medical program and you must pass national board exams. You must also obtain a state license; additional requirements to practice vary slightly from state to state.
Programs Attended by Recent LU Graduates
UW Madison, MCW, John’s Hopkins, Vanderbilt, Mayo, Utah, Chicago, Rush, Loyola, Minnesota, Albany, St. Louis, UC Denver, Wake Forest, Oregon Health Sciences, Pittsburgh