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Charting A Course to Medical School: AMSA's Map for Success, PART I

Premeds - this article is for you! This post is taken from, "Charting A Course to Medical School: The AMSA Map for Success." Written by AMSA members, this guide offers help straight from students who have followed the same route you are facing now. Over the next few weeks, we will post a complete series of articles, so follow along as we dive in and create your course to medical school! 

What does it take to become a doctor? The most important trait is a commitment to medicine, to individuals, and to society. Dedication, determination, and devotion to helping people through medicine are of paramount importance. Without these, your training and resulting career will not be very enjoyable or rewarding. 

The time and financial commitment involved in this pursuit can be staggering. Most students accumulate a large amount of debt while in medical school. This debt, coupled with four years of training and a variable number of years spent in residency training, can seem daunting. Yet with confidence and motivation, these will appear only secondary in importance when you consider what you are gaining in the long run. The time and financial commitment can be viewed as an investment in your future. 

The first thing we will focus on is the timeline for the "traditional" pre-medical student. This schedule will most certainly change depending on your school and when you decide becoming a physician is for you. You should check with the health professions adviser at your school to see what the recommended schedule is for you. Also, you should check specific requirements for schools that you are especially interested in, since requirements may vary slightly. As long as you fulfill the class requirements before you take the MCAT, you should be okay. Finally, please realize that this schedule includes only the core classes that almost all medical schools want to see. Beyond these classes, it doesn't really matter what classes you take, so feel free to take whatever interests you the most. 

Freshmen:

First Term:

• General Biology I + lab
• General Chemistry I + lab
• Calculus I, if required
• Electives (a few easy required general education courses)

Second Term:

• General Biology II + lab
• General Chemistry II + lab
• Calculus II
• Electives

All Year: Get involved outside of academics, join clubs and organizations (Join your local AMSA pre-med chapter, or start a chapter at your school!)

Sophomores:

First Term:

• Organic Chemistry I + lab
• English
• Classes for your major

Second Term:

• Organic Chemistry II + lab
• English
• Classes for your major
• Get information about medical schools that interest you.

All year: Start thinking about leadership positions in clubs. Be sure to start building good relations with your professors.

Juniors:

First Term:

• Physics I + lab
• More classes for your major
• Electives

Second Term:

• Physics II + lab

February

• Request AMCAS and AACOMAS applications
• Register for the MCAT
• Begin studying for MCAT (if you haven't done so already!)
• Start thinking about which med schools you'd like to apply to

Mid-March

• Be sure to register for MCAT in time
• Start asking for letters of recommendation
• If you did any coursework at any schools other than your current institution, you can start submitting transcripts from those schools to AMCAS and AACOMAS at this time

Mid-April

• Take the MCAT

May

• Start working on your applications (start earlier than this if possible, especially on your personal statement)
• If you wish to apply for an AMCAS or AACOMAS fee waiver, applications are accepted beginning May 15.

June

• Submit your applications! Since most schools use rolling admissions policies, the earlier the better. Do NOT put this off.

Seniors:

July-December

• Complete and return your secondary applications as you receive them. Some may come before this time, some may even come after.
• Start preparing for your interviews

September-February

• Most interviews occur during this time. Make sure you are prepared.

March-May 15

• If you have the luxury, take some time to choose wisely about which school to attend
• Start seriously thinking about how you're going to pay for medical school.

May 15

• By this date, if you have been accepted at more than one school, you must choose just one school, and drop all others.
May-September

• During this time many schools will try to complete their medical school class by inviting students off of their waitlist. If you are still interested in any schools at which you are waitlisted, by all means let them know!

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