Medicine

Medicine

MEDICINE: UNDERGRADUATE COURSEWORK

For more useful information, please visit the AMCAS Tools and Tutorials site https://students-residents.aamc.org/applying-medical-school/applying-medical-school-process/applying-medical-school-amcas/amcas-tools-and-tutorials/

These are the courses required by most medical schools:

  1. Four semester of chemistry. At Wake Forest those courses are CHM 111 (general chemistry 1), CHM 122 or 123 (organic chemistry 1), CHM 223 (organic chemistry 2) and CHM 280 (general chemistry 2). Most students take the courses in that order; in other words, general chemistry 2 is the last course taken. Please be aware that these courses are only offered in one semester of each academic year, so if you skip a semester, you will need to either take the course in the summer, or wait a year to take it.
  2. Two semesters of biology. At Wake Forest, the introductory biology sequence is actually four semesters long. The first course, Bio 113, is required for the biology major but not recommended for pre-medical students. The remaining three courses are Bio 114 (Comparative Physiology), Bio 213 (Genetics and Molecular Biology), and Bio 214 (Cell Biology). Bio 114 is a pre-requisite for many other courses. You are not required to take both Bio 213 and 214, but it is highly recommended that you do so, in order to cover all of the material that will be on the MCAT exam. These courses are offered every semester, but not every summer.
  3. Two semesters of physics. The physics offered at Wake Forest is calculus-based. Some medical schools recommend calculus, and since it is a pre-requisite for PHY 113 and 114, you should plan to take it if you do not have AP credit for it.
  4. Social science. At least one social science, such as psychology, anthropology, or sociology is recommended. More would be better.
  5. This course can be taken through either the Biology or Chemistry Departments as BIO 370 of CHM 370. You can use the credits for both the Biology and Chemistry majors and minors (it counts towards both).

These are the traditional requirements. However, there is a movement among medical schools towards what is called “Competency-based” admissions.  This reflects a movement towards competency-based medical education, which has been recommended by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), in collaboration with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) (see https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2009/06/05/medical). These recommendations have resulted in some medical school reassessing and becoming more flexible about admissions requirements. Medical schools are trying to identify students based on a more holistic approach, one that recognizes Interpersonal and Intrapersonal competencies. These competencies are listed below.

It’s too early to abandon the coursework still required by most medical schools. Most pre-medical students apply to ten or more medical schools, so it is very likely that one of the schools that you apply you will still require these courses. Also, the material covered in these courses is all covered on the MCAT exam, a standardized test required for admission to almost all medical schools.

Interpersonal Competencies Intrapersonal competencies
  • Service orientation
  • Social and interpersonal skills
  • Cultural competence
  • Team work
  • Oral communication
  • Integrity and Ethics
  • Reliability and Dependability
  • Resilience and adaptability
  • Capacity for improvement

MEDICINE: COURSE PLANS

Your goal is to be accepted to medical school. In order to do that, you need to be the most competitive applicant that you can be. In 2016, Wake Forest School of Medicine had over 9,000 applications for 110 spots in the entering class. While they certainly accepted more than 110 students, the point is clear. You need to rise to the top of that pile. Here are some important statistics:

  • In 2014, the national average for acceptance to medical school was 41.8 %.
  • The average age of students entering medical school is between 24 and 25 years.

Many prestigious schools have designed pre-medical programs that use the full four years of college to prepare their students for admission to medical school. These include Duke, Davidson, and Princeton. Other schools also recommend that students complete college before applying. These students take a “gap year” between graduation and matriculation to medical school.

What are the advantages of applying to medical school at the end of four years, as opposed to three? Medical schools are looking for students that have demonstrated that not only are they good students, but that they are committed to service, and have a breadth of life experiences. Every year you will become more mature, and have more life experiences that will make you a more competitive applicant. Advantages to the four year plan:

  • You do not have to squeeze all of the prerequisite courses into three years. Many of the prerequisite courses are very challenging, and if you do not try to take them all at once, you are likely to do better in them. Your GPA is an important factor in consideration by medical schools.
  • Your senior year grades will be included in the consideration for medical school. In the fourth year you will be taking mostly courses in your major and elective courses, in which students generally do very well. This is an opportunity to maximize your GPA.
  • You will have the opportunity to study abroad. Study abroad is one of the greatest growth experience that you can have as an undergraduate. Where you chose to study abroad, how you use that time, and how it has changed it are assets when writing a personal statement for or interviewing for medical school.
  • You have more time for service activities and shadowing, also important considerations for admission.
  • If you use your gap year wisely, you will be engaged in an activity which enhances your competitiveness for medical school and that can help you “rise to the top” in the interviewing process.
  • Not trying to do it all at once allows you to take advantage of all of the amazing opportunities that college offers. Medical schools are not simply looking for the best students. They are looking for the best people (who happen to be good students). With the movement towards a more holistic view of admissions and medical education, that final year in college gives you the opportunity to develop more as a person.

If you have a grade point average of 3.85, have had your poetry published in a national magazine, have won awards for service, and climbed Mount Everest, you should consider applying after your third year. Otherwise, give serious consideration to taking the full four years to make yourself the most competitive applicant you can be.

Below are some options for how you might plan your science courses. You would work basic and divisional courses and major courses around these courses.

This plan would be for students who do not plan to major in biology, chemistry, or physics. You do not double up on science lab courses until the sophomore year.

Fall

year 1

Spring year 1 Fall

year 2

Spring year 2 Fall year 3 Spring year 3 Fall year 4 Spring year 4 Right after graduation
CHM 111/L CHM 122/L

 

MTH 111?

CHM 223/L

 

Bio 114

CHM 280/L

 

*Bio 214

Study abroad? Biochem

 

 

*Bio 213

PHY 113/L PHY 114/L

 

Prepare for MCAT exam

 

Apply to medical school
-OR-
Fall

year 1

Spring year 1 Fall

year 2

Spring year 2 Fall year 3 Spring year 3 Fall year 4 Spring year 4 Right after graduation
CHM 111/L CHM 122/L

 

 

CHM 223/L

 

MTH 111

CHM 280/L

 

Bio 114

Study abroad? Biochem

 

 

*Bio 213

PHY 113/L

 

*BIO 214

PHY 114/L

 

Prepare for MCAT exam

 

Apply to medical school

Basic and divisional courses and courses in the major can be easily worked into this schedule. Study abroad can be done on either fall or spring of the junior year. *Please note that Bio 213 and 214 can be taken in any order.

If you are considering majoring in biology, you would want to consider the following plan. As a major in any of the sciences, you will have numerous semesters in which you will be taking two science lab courses, and three science courses. But if you plan to major in biology, science is your strength, so that should not be a problem. Plus, your first years of medical school are very science-heavy, so this is a good warm up!

Fall

year 1

Spring year 1 Fall

year 2

Spring year 2 Fall year 3 Spring year 3 Fall year 4 Spring year 4 Right  after graduation
CHM 111/L

 

 

CHM 122/L

 

Bio 114

CHM 223/L

 

*Bio 214

CHM 280/L

 

*Bio 213

Study abroad? Biochem

 

 

PHY 113/L PHY 114/L

Prepare for MCAT exam

Apply to medical school!
  • BIO 213 and 214 can be taken in any order.

If you are considering majoring in physics, this plan could be considered (with a lot of physics added in!) Once again, if you are strong in science and are considering a major in physics, multiple labs in one semester will play to your strengths.

Fall

year 1

Spring year 1 Fall

year 2

Spring year 2 Fall year 3 Spring year 3 Fall year 4 Spring year 4 Right  after graduation
CHM 111/L

 

MTH 111

CHM 122/L

 

PHY 113/L

CHM 223/L

 

PHY 114/L

CHM 280/L

 

Bio 114/L

Study abroad? Bio 213/L

 

Bio 214/L Biochem

 

Prepare for MCAT exam

Apply to medical school!

There is of course the option of the three year plan. Remember, with this plan you will have to double up on lab sciences more often, will not have time to study abroad during the academic year unless you take physics during the summer, and you will have less time for service, shadowing, and other experiences that will make you a more competitive applicant.

Fall

year 1

Spring year 1 Fall

year 2

Spring year 2 Fall year 3 Spring year 3 Summer

Year 3

Fall year 4 Spring

Year 4

CHM 111/L

 

MTH 111?

CHM 122/L

 

BIO 114/L

CHM 223/L

 

BIO 213/L

CHM 280/L

 

BIO 214/L

PHY 113/L

 

Biochem

PHY 114/L

 

Prepare for MCAT

Apply to medical school Complete divisionals and major Complete divisionals and major

THE APPLICATION PROCESS

 


How do I know if I am ready to apply to  medical school?

You should apply to medical school once you feel that you are a competitive applicant! Remember that the average age of matriculation to medical school is 25 years. When are you ready? That could be during or after your college career. Different people take different paths to medicine. But once you decide to apply, you need to be organized. Make a schedule and stick to it.

There are many factors taken into consideration when reviewing candidates for admission to medical school, but the only objective data is available is on GPA and MCAT scores.

Data provided by the American Association of Medical Colleges on the entering class of 2015 was as follows:

Average MCAT score Mean GPA Mean science GPA
Applicants to medical school 28.3 (505) 3.68 3.45
Matriculated to medical school 31.4 (510) 3.77 3.64

 

The MCAT scoring system has changed, and the data will look different for the 2016 entering class. But an MCAT score of 31.4 corresponds to approximately 510 on the new scale.

APPLICATION TIMELINE

Applying to health profession schools takes time. One way to increase your chances of admission is to apply early in the process. Most health profession schools have rolling admissions, and applications begin to be reviewed in early July or August. The earlier you apply, the more likely you are to get an interview!

HPC timeline graphic

 

 

 

 

September – Attend ONE of the mandatory meetings in which the Health Professions Committee review process will be explained.  This is only for students applying to medical school the following summer.

September to December – meet with Director of Health Professions.

February 15 – Request letters of recommendation (see section on “letters of recommendation”.

Fill out required waiver forms and initiate Health Professions Committee application process.

April 30 – Deadline for submission of Health Professions Committee application via the Qualtrics link provided in the application

Late April – June Take the MCAT exam, the standardized test required for application to medical school. The earlier you take the exam, the more time you have to prepare to take it again, if necessary.

May 1 – Start to complete the on-line AMCAS application

June 1, 2016 – Submit your on-line AMCAS application.

July, 2016 – Once your centralized application is submitted and reviewed by the schools you have applied to, you will receive secondary or supplementary applications.  Complete them as soon as possible, to enhance your chance of getting an interview.

The MCAT exam

The MCAT (the Medical College Admission test) is a standardized test administered by the American Association of Medical Colleges. It is required for application nearly all allopathic and osteopathic medical schools. Information on the MCAT and registration for the exam is at https://students-residents.aamc.org/applying-medical-school/taking-mcat-exam/. There you can find The MCAT Essentials guidebook, with detailed instructions on preparing for and taking the test, and interpreting your scores.

The MCAT exam was changed in 2015, with the addition of new material (biochemistry and social sciences) and a new scoring structure. The data on distribution of scores and the mean score for acceptance to medical school for the class of 2016 has not yet been published. It is difficult to compare scores between the old and new MCAT, but unofficial attempts to do so suggest that a score of 510 will be competitive.

The MCAT exam had four sections: Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems, Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems, Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior, and Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills. It is an arduous exam, lasting 7 and a half hours!

You can take the exam more than once. If you are not accepted upon your first application to medical school and plan to reapply, it is a good idea to retake the test (after proper preparation!) if your MCAT scores are borderline.  If you have been out of college for a while, know that most schools do not accept MCAT scores that are more than three years old.

How to prepare for the MCAT exam

The exam is very comprehensive, so allow a significant amount of time for review of the material. Take a light credit load in the semester in which you are preparing for the exam, make a study schedule, and stick to it.

Practice, practice, practice! There are MCAT practice materials developed by the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC), the organization that produces the exam, available at https://www.starttest.com/starttest2/2.2/router?programid=19&programsiteid=22. Take advantage of this resource! These are the experts!

You can’t take too many practice exams. You will get more comfortable with the test format, and discover what areas you need to review more extensively. There are many review books and practice tests available at bookstores or through Amazon.  If you find that you are not disciplined about preparing for the exam, you can spend an exorbitant amount of money to take a test prep course such as those offered by Kaplan and Princeton Review.