Get Into U.S. Medical Schools

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Every year, thousands of individuals apply to medical schools across the U.S. While the majority are American citizens or permanent residents, international students also apply.

The Association of American Medical Colleges reports that in 2014 almost 2,000 international applicants sought admission to U.S. medical schools and 409 secured acceptances.

All things considered, these numbers are encouraging and should give international applicants hope that they can attend medical school in the U.S. However, the admissions process is difficult and requires careful planning.

Here are four steps to follow to help you succeed in gaining admission to a U.S. medical school.

[Get more tips for international students pursuing U.S. medical schools.]

1. Know where to apply: Not all U.S. medical schools accept international students. According to 2014 AAMC data, 62 medical schools stated they would accept international students’ applications.

Before you apply, make sure you have reviewed the admissions requirements for each school. Identify the institutions that accept international applicants and find out their requirements.

2. Complete academic requirements: Almost all U.S. medical schools recommend that applicants have a bachelor’s degree, and many require it. As an international applicant, you will be at a significant competitive disadvantage if you do not have a bachelor’s degree.

Undergraduate coursework in the U.S. will give you a stronger advantage. Keep in mind that the American Medical College Application Service will not accept foreign education transcripts, verify them or calculate a grade point average.

Because of this, almost all U.S. medical schools require international applicants to complete coursework in America before applying. Some require a year of U.S.-based coursework, while others ask that all medical school prerequisites be completed in the U .S.

[Discover why flexibility is key for international prospective med students.]

Virtually all schools treat coursework from Canada the same as the U.S. Stanford University states on its website that courses taken at an accredited institution in the United Kingdom are also acceptable.

Before applying to U.S. medical schools, try to complete one to two years of university-level education in the U.S. with a focus on prerequisites and upper-division biology courses. Make sure you take these courses at a four-year university and not a community college. A postbaccalaureate program or a graduate science program is also a good option and acceptable at many schools.

3. Gain clinical and service-based experience: American medical schools seek applicants who have developed an understanding of the medical profession by working in the clinical setting alongside physicians. They also look for applicants who have demonstrated a passion for service, especially to the underserved.

It is a good idea to get started on these experiences before moving to the U.S., but it is absolutely crucial to continue these activities in America before applying to medical school.

You want to show medical schools that you are familiar with the American health care system and the work culture in this country. You can achieve this by participating in clinical and community-service based activities. These experiences in America can also serve as a valuable way to improve your language skills, particularly in developing strong patient communication abilities, which are crucial to your success as a medical student.

[Learn how to develop strong clinical experiences for medical school.]

4. Hone English proficiency for the MCAT: While your English proficiency will affect your medical school studies, it will also play a key role in how you perform on the MCAT, which requires strong critical reading skills.

For the MCAT Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills and the Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior sections, you are expected to read, understand and analyze English text on a broad range of topics. Work hard to improve your language skills by taking courses in English writing and literature, reading books in English and expanding your communication skills.

Accomplishing these four tasks can seem daunting, but if you are set on training at a U.S. medical school, they are achievable.

Azadeh Salek, M.D., is a contributor at Admissions Helpers, which helps prospective health professional students apply to various graduate programs in the health fields.



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