Getting accepted to medical school isn’t easy. In 2017–2018, the average acceptance rate hovered around just 7%. For uber-competitive programs, the acceptance rate dropped below 3%. Because of this, many students decide to compete for a coveted spot in a direct medical program instead, also referred to as a BS/MD.
A spot in this type of program guarantees the undergraduate admission to the college or university’s medical school after completing program-specific criteria. High school seniors fill out just one application that will essentially lock them into a career in medicine. While this can be a daunting commitment at such a young age, there are perks such as a shorter time at a university (some programs are only six or seven years instead of the typical eight) and greater flexibility with course selection. However, many of these programs admit fewer than 20 students per year. To stand out, there are a few tips that students should follow.
Don't try to do everything
Most students applying for BS/MD programs will all have similar levels of grades, completed AP courses, and ACT/SAT scores. It can be incredibly challenging to stand out, so students should develop a deep interest that they spend time and energy cultivating. By focusing on something related to the science or medical field, it can show that they can devote time and energy to a single task and do it well, which is more impressive than doing many activities at a mediocre level.
A memorable interest showcased on your résumé helps bring your application to the top of the pile. You can achieve this through a shadowing position, volunteering, research work, or any other extracurricular activity where a deep interest is portrayed.
Concentrate on science
Your academic transcript will be one of the first things looked at by the admission officers. GPA, rigor of courses, course selection, class rank, and standardized test scores are all carefully scrutinized. Therefore, students should create a résumé that will attract the notice of the BS/MD admission office.
Students can do that by:
- Avoid taking too many AP courses; instead of enrolling in every AP course offered, take fewer classes and concentrate on ones that are science focused. By taking fewer AP courses, you can devote more time to extracurricular activities, which are another important factor in acceptance.
- Not taking “easy” AP courses to bump up their GPA
- Focusing their course work around science-based classes, in particular by taking advanced AP courses in science-related fields.
Spend time crafting a stellar personal statement
The application essay is your chance to come alive and help establish you as a real person outside of the numbers. A direct medical program is a massive commitment; therefore, the student must convey their conviction to this career path.
To write a persuasive essay, a student should:
- Tell a story with purpose and emotion that ultimately will bring the narrative back to you. By telling a memorable story, admission officers will be able to recall yours more easily.
- Refrain from repeating extracurricular activities that can easily be found in the application. The essay is your chance to showcase your personality.
- Do not procrastinate. It will most likely take you longer than you think to write a compelling essay.
- Answer the question, “Why medicine?” Use your essay to convey your maturity and powerful intent to study medicine by showing how your activities have prepared you for this program.
With thousands of students applying for these intense direct medical programs, make sure every aspect of your application—from the essay to your academics to your activities—revolves around medicine and science. Show you are prepared and have put serious consideration into your selected career path to make sure you stand out from the other applications and beat the odds.