If you are thinking about going to med school, congratulations. You are to be admired for aiming so high and taking on a challenging field with many rewards. You'll need to be completely committed and driven to achieve your goals. Certainly, scoring in the 75th percentile or higher on the MCAT will be critical. However, there are a variety of others things you can and should start doing today to prepare.
Start out by taking 5 moves that will get you on the right track today.
1. Hit the Books
You need to be serious when it comes to making the grade. Your high school and undergraduate performance need to be beyond the normal level of expectations. You must excel in all of your courses. Beef up on math and science courses, proving that you can handle the intense load that lies ahead. When it comes to medical school, you can't just decide one day that you want to go and expect to get in. Whether you realize it or not, your past grades and performance with have a huge effect on your ability to get into the medical school you are hoping to attend. However, if your past performance in school hasn't been the best and you are still determined to go to medical school, you can start to work to bring your GPA up and get serious about school.
2. Get Some Experiences in the Medical Field
To have an edge over other prospective students, demonstrate your devotion by gaining some experience in the field. Go above and beyond by volunteering to job shadow at the hospital or local clinic. Assist in efforts with the Red Cross. Apply to be an office assistant during the summer in a busy medical office or for a medical supply company. Look for opportunities and make yourself available. Whatever experience or practice you can get before applying to medical school will really give you a leg up on the other students you are competing against. You need to be willing to do internships and other jobs that might not pay a lot (or might not pay at all) in order to gain this experience. In many cases, the experience you gain before medical school can be priceless, so be willing to put in the time and work necessary to gain it.
3. Do Your Homework (Research)
Become a part of research. Contact universities and hospitals that are performing clinical trials and ask to be a part of a research team. You might be the gopher, but you'll acquire valuable information and show initiative. This is another activity that looks great on your application. You can learn a lot from being a part of a research team, and it is a great way to gain experience. Oftentimes, you can get class credit for participating in research either as a patient or as a part of the research team, so make sure to look into options like that so your time will be well spent.
4. Give to Your Community
If you are going to be a doctor, you need to demonstrate that you have compassion and a willingness to help others. Find opportunities to give the gift of your time in your community. Contrary to popular belief, your volunteer work doesn't necessarily have to be directly related to the medical field. Volunteering proves that you have the capacity for generosity, and it always looks good on your application. If you can find a volunteer opportunity that relates to the medical field, that could earn you bonus points, but it will be hard to find a volunteer position where you are actually doing medical work since most of those jobs need to be done by a professional.
5. Don't Put All of Your Eggs in One Basket
Even though you may have a medical school of choice, keep your options open. Apply to a host of schools and treat each one as an opportunity to open the door to your future. As you are invited for interviews, make sure that you can clearly express your expectations and why you have chosen to enter this admirable field. While you are in the preparation stages, keep an open mind about other schools, and do research or make visits to the school. Focusing on one school could lead you to be devastated if you don't get in, and only applying to one school is foolish. Yes, applying to medical school can be expensive, but find a couple of other schools you would consider going to in case your first choice is not an option.
Competition is fierce for med school and getting in won't be easy. Each school is looking for the cream of the crop. Do everything possible to make yourself stand out when you walk in the door. Keep your eye on the prize and continue to work diligently toward your goal., but if you haven't started yet—get going today!