THE APPLICATION PROCESS
The process of applying to medical school begins approximately eighteen months prior to your intended entry date. If you want to go to medical school immediately after graduating, you begin the application process in the winter of your junior year. A mandatory meeting to explain the details of the admissions process is conducted by the Career Center, usually in December of each year. The Career Center newsletter and MyCC will advertise the place and time. After you attend the meeting, you should open your credential file and begin soliciting letters of recommendation. After filing the necessary documents, turn in your request for a letter of recommendation from the Wesleyan Health Professions Panel. Plan to take the MCAT exam during the spring semester.
AMCAS CENTRALIZED APPLICATION SERVICE
AMCAS is an application service that sends the information you file with them in a standardized format to the medical schools to which you wish to apply. This standardized preliminary application consists of descriptions of your courses and standardization of your grades, transcripts from all institutions at which you took courses, and a blank page for "Personal Comments." The application itself must be completed electronically. In 2004,the AMCAS service cost between $150 (basic fee) and $30 for each additional school. Many institutions use the AMCAS service, but some do not. It is essential to find out which of the schools you are interested in used the AMCAS service and which do not. (There is a list of those schools who do -- and those who do not -- make use of the AMCAS service on the AMCAS Web site.) For those that do not, you must request an application directly from the school. Medical School Admission Requirements, a book published by the American Association of Medical Colleges, is an important resource to make use of when you are thinking about where to apply.
When a medical school receives your AMCAS application, they review it and decide if you meet their general requirements. If the school wishes to consider your application further, they will send you a secondary application. Secondary applications need to be completed promptly and submitted as soon as possible, along with the individual medical schools application fee (anywhere from $35 to $90). Usually it is at this point in the application process that school will ask you to have your Wesleyan panel letter and letters of recommendation sent to them. Only after the school has asked should you have the Credential Service send your letters to them.
At the same time as -- or shortly after -- secondary applications are being reviewed at a given medical school, their admissions committee will decide whether or not to invite selected applicants for an interview. Interviews are crucial for acceptance. Be sure to prepare for interviews: sign up for a mock medical interview at the Career Center; look carefully at the school's Web site; talk to alumni who attend the school; and think carefully about how you would respond to typical interview questions. (The Career Center has a booklet specific to medical school interviewing by Randall Zielinski. Ask us for a copy when you receive your first invitation.)
The final step in the process is, we hope, receiving acceptances. Some students may receive acceptances as early as October, but most students will hear beginning in mid-winter and into the summer.
EARLY DECISION & DEFERRING ADMISSION
Early decision is an option ONLY for very strong applicants who want to take their best shot at their most desired school. The student applies to ONLY that school very early in the admission cycle, and then must wait to hear from that school before applying anywhere else. For these applicants, the medical school promises a decision usually in early October. The great benefit of this is that the application process is shortened and the applicant saves the expense and energy required for making many applications. The risk is that, unless you are a superb applicant, you lose the advantage of being an early applicant in other schools' admissions cycles.
EARLY ADMISSION & DEFERRALS
Medical school policies on deferrals vary. The reasons considered valid for deferral and the length of deferral permitted without requiring re-application changes from school to school. Most schools are willing to grant deferrals to students whom they believe have good reasons to postpone matriculation for one year. Most schools are willing to grant a deferral that will allow postponement of matriculation for one year for a good reason, i.e., a life-changing experience or opportunity that could not have been anticipated at the time of application. This is an issue that you should research carefully if you think you will need to defer and talk over with your academic advisor or the Health Professions Advisor.
The Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York offers a special program called the Humanities and Medicine Program. This option offers sophomore students who are committed to majoring in the humanities the opportunity to apply early. Those chosen need to take only a year of biology and a year of general chemistry while at Wesleyan. Accepted students take a course that replaces the need for the organic chemistry and physics requirements at Mount Sinai in the summer after their junior year. For details about this program and admissions expectations, go to their Website.
Some institutions, like Johns Hopkins University, SUNY Buffalo, and SUNY Upstate (Syracuse), also offer options for early admission. See the Health Professions Advisor for assistance in finding out about those programs.
POST-BACCALAUREATE PREMEDICAL PROGRAMS
Many applicants do not complete (or even start!) the required
premedical courses during their undergraduate years. One option for
those wanting to complete these required courses is to take them
individually at al four-year college or university while working.
Another option is to enroll part- or full-time in a post-baccalaureate
premedical program, which is set up as a concentrated program of study.
There are many post-baccalaureate programs around the country. These
programs can take between one and two years, depending on what courses
one still needs to take to fulfill the medical school admission
requirements and whether one attends full- or part-time. Financial aid
is generally not available.
There are two very useful web sites listing post-baccalaureate
AAMC Post-bac Listings (by state) and Syracuse University Health Professions Post-bac Listings (by category).
MD/PhD & OTHER JOINT DEGREE PROGRAMSMedical schools make it possible to complete more than one degree in less time than it would take to do them separately. Combinations such as the MD/PhD, MD/MPH, or even MD/JD are not uncommon. The most common for Wesleyan graduates is the MD/PhD, which is a path one might choose in preparation for a position in academic medicine, combining clinical practice with teaching and/or research in health care. For an MD/PhD in the sciences, a strong science background and the support of professors who have supervised undergraduate research activity are generally expected. Sometimes, there is one admission committee for both programs; at other schools you have to apply separately, then interview separately, for joint programs. In some cases, MD/PhD students have all tuition waived and receive a stipend for living expenses. The Career Center library has a notebook describing many of the options for joint degrees including the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. There are a number of schools that also allow for or encourage the MD/PhD in the Humanities or social sciences.
STAYING IN TOUCH
As you proceed through the admission process, we hope that you will stay in touch with the Career Center. Both our personal interest in your application and our professional interest in how Wesleyan students are received at medical schools make us eager to know how you are doing. Whether you are off campus or on, please telephone, drop in, or write. Once you have finalized your plans, please update your information in Wesleyan's database via Wesconnect, Wesleyan's online alumni community.
The applicant who has received no invitations to interview, or who is not successful in gaining admission to medical school after interviewing, should consult with the Health Professions Advisor about the next steps. As a general rule, it is not advisable to reapply right away.