Subject requirements and GPA:
Check carefully the admission requirements for the schools that interest you the most. In addition to courses outside the sciences, most schools require a minimum of...
two semesters of biology,
two semesters of inorganic (general) chemistry,
two semesters of organic chemistry,
two semesters of physics, and
a course in mathematics.
Note: Most applicants to professional schools will have had more than two semesters of biology and most applicants to medical schools will have had at least one semester of calculus.
Most health professional schools recognize the value of a broad liberal arts background; thus, any major is possible as long as the prerequisites are met. For most students aiming to be professionals in health care, the undergraduate years are the last available opportunity to pursue in depth a subject of interest outside the sciences.
Medical schools do not look favorably at students who withdraw frequently from courses or who consistently take light loads. It's helpful if you can demonstrate your readiness for the rigors of doctoral study by having had at least one semester in which you have been successful at three science courses.
A program of independent study or research is strongly encouraged. Some majors at WJC require or encourage research. Students may also carry out a project for graduation with honors. For a few students, the Oxbridge Program provides an excellent opportunity that includes a research requirement. There are also numerous opportunities for independent study or research in the summers at other institutions.
A high level of scholastic achievement is desired (although exactly what is considered "high" will vary from one profession to another and even from one school to another.) College grades are considered one of the most important predictors for success in professional school. The mean undergraduate science GPA for the 2006 entering class in allopathic schools was about 3.6. Obviously, attention to grades is important for anyone wishing to enter a professional school.
These tests help institutions to estimate your chances for success in the health professions and to help to place your success at your undergraduate institution in a wider frame of reference. (That is, the entrance exam allows you to be compared easily to students from other schools.) It is very important that you perform very well on these standardized tests. Thus, it is essential to begin studying for the tests the summer following your freshman year and to continue a regular program of study until the exam date (often in the late spring of your junior year).
All admission exams are now given on computers. Because students at Jewell will not have had a lot of experience with this sort of exam, or even with multiple-choice questions, many students choose to take a commercial course designed to help them prepare for the test. Another advantage of the prep courses is that they provide advice about how to study, what to study, and when to study. Because these classes are quite expensive, some students organize their own preparation with the help of books they have purchased.
Medical schools look for evidence of "integrity, leadership, social maturity, purpose, motivation, initiative, curiosity, common sense, perseverance, and breadth of interests." The abilities to relate to others and to perform well in a team situation are also important. A wise pre-med student will choose extracurricular activities that allow him/her to show or develop the characteristics listed above.
Experience in the health field:
"Because of the demanding nature of both the training for and the practice of medicine, motivation is perhaps the most salient nonintellectual trait sought by most admission committees." It is important for you to have had some experience in the health profession of interest. Admission committees need to know that you have a good idea of what the profession entails and that you are highly motivated to train for this sort of career. There are numerous ways this might be accomplished. Consider the following: volunteer to work in a hospital or clinic; find a job in the field that allows you to see professions in action; shadow a professional for an extended period; read appropriate literature to keep up with topics of current interest in the field.
There is no guaranteed strategy for success. If you follow the suggestions listed above, read literature about healthcare and premedical studies, seek the advice of the Premedical Advisory Committee and of health professionals, and talk with staff members at the health professional schools of your choice, your chances of success will be greatly enhanced.
Quotations are from Medical School Admissions Requirements, published by the Association of American Medical Colleges.