med

Medicine

Are you curious, compassionate, and a problem-solver with a strong scientific aptitude? Medicine may be the right fit for you. Before committing to this path, spend some time exploring other health care fields to see if this path matches your values, interests, and skills. Expect to spend an additional 7–10+ years for more training and education after your bachelor's degree.

FAQS

1. What are the pre-reqs for medical school?

  • 1 year of Biology + lab
  • 1 year of General Chemistry + lab
  • 1 year of Organic Chemistry + lab
  • 1 quarter of Biochemistry
  • 1 year of Physics + lab
  • 2 quarters of Calculus
  • 1 quarter of Statistics
  • 1 year of English

     Recommended:

  • Sociology (medical or healthcare related)
  • General Psychology
  • Genetics
  • Cell Biology
  • Anatomy
  • Physiology

2. I have a lot of AP credit. Since some professional health schools do not accept AP credit, do I still need to take additional course work to satisfy the pre-requisites for health professional schools?

Generally, if you’ve received AP credit, we strongly recommend you take additional courses in that content area. Medical schools need to know you can handle college-level science course work. Some schools may not accept ANY AP credit. Most schools will accept some AP credit. Here is some more info on schools and their AP credit policies from Duke University.

3. What is a competitive GPA and MCAT score for medical school applicants?

MD: Cumulative GPA: 3.70; Science GPA: 3.64

DO: Cumulative GPA: 3.4

4. My classes are HUGE! How do I get to know my professors so they can write me a strong letter of recommendation for a medical school?

  • Start by identifying mentors vs. "letter writers." Approach professors with sincerity and curiosity. This will lay the foundation for an authentic professional relationship.
  • Try Coffee/Dine with a Prof! Every college gives each student 3 opportunities to invite a professor to coffee and/or a meal each quarter.
  • Attend office hours and ask questions.
  • Participate in class or ask questions after class.
  • Become a Undergraduate Instructional Apprentices (UGIA's) for a course you did well in.
  • Take multiple classes from the same professor.
When asking for a letter:
  • Ask in-person after you’ve spent some time with this professor. Bring your resume, transcripts, and personal statement (if written), and ask if they would be willing to write you a strong letter of support.
  • If they write their letter months or even a year prior to your application, have them submit to www.interfolio.com.
  • For more information, check out the AAMC Guidelines for Writing a Letter of Evaluation 

5. How do I go about gaining clinical experience, and how many hours do I need?

Most hospitals and clinics have established and structured volunteer programs that will provide you with shadowing and clinical experience. List of clinical experience.

Many internships (such as the Pathmaker Internship in Palomar) require 200+ hours within a certain timeframe (~16 months). This will give you enough experience where you can write about it in your personal statement as well as speak about it in your interview. It will also confirm if medicine is the right profession for you.

6. Is research a requirement to being the most competitive candidate when applying to health professional schools?

Research is NOT required, however depending on the field and the institution, some schools may prefer applicants to have some research background. A large percentage of students have research experience before going into medical school.

Visit Medical School Admissions Requirements for more information on the typical applicant profile for each school

7. What do I write about in my personal statement?

Most medical schools are interested in your motivation for pursuing medicine.

Questions to consider:

  • What experiences have you had that are motivating you to pursue medicine?
  • Why one particular health specialty over another?
  • What sets YOU apart as an applicant?
  • What is your narrative? Explain your story, what happened that compelled you to pursue this profession? (provide evidence)

Write your Personal Statement pdf For help with writing, schedule an appointment with the Writing and Critical Expression Hub

8. How do I prepare for the MCAT and when do I take it?

We recommend taking the MCAT when you are ready­ – this usually means after all of the pre-requisites (biology, chemistry, o-chem, physics, statistics) are taken as well as biochemistry and sociology 70 and general psychology.

If you want to apply to medical school at the end of your junior year, aim to take the MCAT January of your junior year, so you can know your score and target schools based on that score and your GPA.

There are many ways to prepare for the MCAT. Some prefer self-study – students may study a few hours a day for 3-4 months. Other students prefer to take a prep course such as Kaplan or Princeton Review.

Free resources: Khan Academy videos and practice tests

9. Is there a check list for becoming the most competitive applicant for MD/DO school?

Not officially, but metrics, healthcare experience, service, leadership, research, and strong letters of evaulation can make you more competitive.



EXPLORE Medicine

Explore

Allopathic Medicine (MD) Osteopathic Medicine (DO) Podiatry (DPM)
Diagnosis and treatment of disease Focuses on disease prevention Diagnosis and treatment of foot disorders
Treating the symptoms Treating the whole person (biopsychosocial) Treating below the knee
Specialties and sub-specialties Over 50% in primary care Can specialize in surgery, orthopedics, or public health
Learns technique: Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine (OMM)

Allopathic Medicine

Osteopathic Medicine

Podiatric Medicine

Resources

PREPARE for Medical School

Pre-Med: What it Takes

premedgraphic

PREMED: WHAT IT TAKES
GPA & MCAT
The national average for accepted med school applicants is a 3.7 overall and a 3.64 for science. MCAT: 510 or 83rd percentile.
HEALTHCARE/CLINICAL EXPERIENCE
Volunteer at a hospital or clinic. Aim for 150-300 hours of meaningful patient interactions.
SERVICE
Demonstrate compassion for others by volunteering with underserved and disadvantaged communities.
LEADERSHIP
Show that you take initiative and can lead a team by sitting on a board, being an Undergrad Instructional Apprentice, or creating your own project. Leadership can take many forms.
PERSONAL ESSAY
Write a compelling narrative that outlines your true motivation and resiliency. What experiences have you had that make you determined to pursue this profession?
LETTERS OF EVALUATION
Get to know faculty and other professionals: Try office hours, coffee with a prof, or become an Undergrad Instructional Apprentice. Look for mentors, not letter writers. Building relationships takes time so begin early!

15 CORE COMPETENCIES
Ensure all of your experiences and knowledge meet the AAMC's comptencies for entering medical students.

RESEARCH
Participate in research only if it interests you. This is NOT a requirement, however exposure to research can help you understand the bigger picture of medicine.

 Academic Pre-Requisites

  • Most medical schools have similar pre-rerquisites, including the following:
    • One year of general biology with lab (BILD 1, 2, 3 or upper-division Bio courses + 4 unit Bio lab)
    • One year of general chemistry with lab (Chem 6A, B, C and 7L)
    • One year of organic chemistry with lab (Chem 40A, B, C and 43A)
    • One year of physics, including labs (Physics 1A, 1AL, 1B, 1BL, 1C, 1CL or 2A, 2B, 2BL, 2C, 2CL)
    • Two quarters of calculus (usually Math 10 or 20 series)
    • One course in statistics (Math 11, Psych 60, BIEB 100, etc.)
    • One course in biochemistry (BIBC 100 or 102 or Chem 114 A or B)
    • One year of English composition or writing 
    • One course in psychology and sociology (Psych 1 and Soc 70) helpful for the MCAT but not a pre-requisite
    • Consider classes within the Global Health or Health Care-Social Issues programs

AP Credit

  • Most medical schools accept some AP, IB and transfer credit for pre-requisites, and some accept online coursework
  • Some medical schools DO NOT ACCEPT AP credit. Additional upper division coursework may be needed to meet the pre-requisites for certain schools. Please plan accordingly. If you have concerns, please meet with your pre-med advisor.
  • Learn more about AP Policies.
Investigate the varying school-specific pre-requisites on medical school websites and in Medical School Admissions Requirements (MSAR Online)

 

Prepare

Click to learn more about gaining experience - clinical, service, leadership, and research.

APPLY to Medical School

You apply to medical school in the summer, one year before you want to start the program. Some steps take more time to complete than others, so plan ahead!

Schools & Programs

Use the links below to identify programs with the curriculum, clinical training options and student services that match your needs. Consider your likelihood of admission and cost.

MCAT

MSAR Database: Medical School Admissions Requirements (school list)

Applications

Carefully prepare and submit:

  • Primary Applications - centralized services that compile and standardize your information
  • Work & Activities Section
    • You can highlight up to 15 work or extra-curricular activities
    • Select 3 experiences as most meaningful
      • 700 characters to describe the activity
      • 1325 to explain why it is most meaningful
  • Secondary Applications - school-specific supplemental information including additional essays
  • Apply directly on schools’ websites for international medical schools

Personal Essay

Allopathic Medicine:

  • Why medicine? What experiences have you had that are compelling you to pursue medicine?
  • Medical schools may also evaluate "distance traveled"
    • What obstacles have you overcome?
    • How have you demonstrated resiliency?
  • 5300 character limit

Osteopathic Medicine:

  • What is motivating you to pursue ostepathic medicine?
  • Be sure to understand the philosophy of a DO
  • 4500 characters

Podiatric Medicine:

  • Personal statements should be a general statement indicating the student’s development for a career in the podiatric medical profession, not directed at a specific school
  • 4500 characters

Letters of Evaluation

Financial Aid for Applying

Apply

Click here for more info and resources on applying: personal essay, interview tips, letters of evaluation, and taking a gap year.

Timeline to Medical School

Timeline to Medical School

timeline graphic

Seniors - Gap Year (Recommended)

4-Year Timeline Gap (SAMPLE PLAN ONLY)

FRESHMEN SOPHOMORE JUNIOR SENIOR

ACADEMICS

☐ Chem 6A,B,C, 7L (Gen Chem)

☐ BILD 3

☐ Math 10A,B,C or 20A,B,C

☐   English Comp (one year)

☐   AP Credit: Review MSAR or school websites to learn more about schools’ AP policies

HELPFUL HINT:

Med school prep is overwhelming so focus mostly on your ACADEMICS/GRADES during your first year

ACADEMICS

☐  Chem 40 A,B,C, 43L (Ochem series + lab)

☐  BILD 1, 2

☐  Choose a MAJOR that interests you

 

***sample plan ONLY. Individual plans may vary***

ACADEMICS

☐  Physics 1A ,1Al, 1B, 1Bl, 1C, 1Cl OR 2A, 2Al, 2B, 2Bl, 2C

☐  Upper div Bio lab (4 units)

☐  Take Biochem, Physio, Anatomy (MCAT)

☐  Consider taking SOCI 70 & General Psych (MCAT)

ACADEMICS

☐  Upper division science courses: consider taking cell biology, genetics , immunology, etc. to increase BCPM

PROFESSIONAL PREPARATION

Health Beat Newsletter

☐ Consider joining relevant student orgs

☐ Visit: healthbeat.ucsd.edu

☐ Keep journal of experiences

☐ Attend any health-related info sessions

☐ Attend group, drop-in advising

HELPFUL HINT:

Use EVERY summer to accrue clinical or service hours; or to get additional training (EMT, CNA, scribe)

PROFESSIONAL PREPARATION

☐ Get to know professors

☐ Office hours

☐ Dine/Coffee with a Prof (3x/quarter)

☐ Research

☐ More suggestions at healthbeat.ucsd.edu

☐ Meet with a Health Beat advisor

☐ Plan timeline

☐ Attend Med School Prep workshops

☐  Leadership: become a UGIA, tutor, sit on board hosocial)

PROFESSIONAL PREPARATION

☐ Get to know professors

☐  Leadership:  continue...

HELPFUL HINT:

Take multiple classes from the same professor so you can get to know them better

PROFESSIONAL PREPARATION

☐  Attend Med School Prep wksp

☐  Interview Prep: practice with Big Interview & mock interview

Personal Essay: attend workshop & have writing center and mentor read draft.

HELPFUL HINT:

Network at your internship, research position, or class so you can expand your opportunities

MEDICAL SCHOOL PREP

Health Care Experience: Begin exploring opportunities for summer or the following year (can take 3-6 months to begin)

Service: Begin exploring volunteer and service opportunities for underserved communities

Reearch: Explore opportunities

☐ Learn the AAMC 15 Core Competencies

SUMMER:  Begin accruing clinical, service, research hours

MEDICAL SCHOOL PREP

Health Care Experience: accrue

Service: continue…

Shadow a doctor

Research: if interested

MEDICAL SCHOOL PREP

MCAT Prep: plan your course of study for the summer (i.e. prep course, self-study)

☐ REGISTER MCAT: Feb (Jul-Sept test dates)

Health Care Experience: continue …

Service: continue …

Shadow: continue…

Research: if interested

MEDICAL SCHOOL PREP

MCAT: Register in Oct (Jan-Jun test dates)

TAKE MCAT: Sept or Jan

Letters: Request and confirm

MSAR: target schools based on GPA, MCAT, location, etc. (SP)

AMCAS: review instructions

GRADUATE! June

Submit Application (June)

Secondaries (July/August)

Interview prep (Interviews: Sept-March of Gap Year)

timelinenogap

Juniors - NO Gap Year
4-Year Timeline No Gap (SAMPLE PLAN ONLY)

FRESHMEN SOPHOMORE JUNIOR SENIOR

ACADEMICS

☐ Chem 6A,B,C, 7L (Gen Chem)

☐ BILD 3

☐ Math 10A,B,C or 20A,B,C

☐   English Comp (one year)

☐   AP Credit: Review MSAR or school websites to learn more about schools’ AP policies

HELPFUL HINT:

Med school prep is overwhelming so focus mostly on your ACADEMICS/GRADES during your first year

ACADEMICS

☐  Chem 40 A,B,C, 43L (Ochem series + lab)

☐  BILD 1, 2

☐  Choose a MAJOR that interests you

 

***sample plan ONLY. Individual plans may vary***

ACADEMICS

☐  Upper division Bio lab (4 units)

☐  Take: Biochemistry, Physiology, Anatomy(MCAT)

☐  Consider taking Medical Sociology & General Psychology (MCAT)

***sample plan ONLY. Individual plans may vary**


ACADEMICS

☐  Upper division science courses: consider taking, cell biology, genetics, immunology, etc. (especially if BCPM is not strong)

PROFESSIONAL PREPARATION

 Health Beat Newsletter

☐ Consider joining relevant student orgs

☐ Visit: healthbeat.ucsd.edu

☐ Keep journal of experiences

☐ Attend any health-related info sessions

☐ Attend group, drop-in advising

HELPFUL HINT:

Use EVERY summer to accrue clinical or service hours; or to get additional training (EMT, CNA, scribe)

PROFESSIONAL PREPARATION

 Get to know professors

☐ Office hours

☐ Dine/Coffee with a Prof (3x/quarter)

☐ Research

☐ More suggestions at healthbeat.ucsd.edu

☐ Meet with a Health Beat advisor

☐ Plan timeline

☐ Attend Med School Prep workshops

☐  Leadership: become a UGIA, tutor, sit on board hosocial)

PROFESSIONAL PREPARATION

Interview Prep: practice with Big Interview & mock interview with prehealth advisor  (SU)

Personal Essay: attend workshop & have advisor or mentor read draft

HELPFUL HINT:

Network at your internship, research position, or class so you can expand your opportunities

PROFESSIONAL PREPARATION

HELPFUL HINT:

Since you will only have 3 (vs. 4) years of education and experience when applying junior year, make sure your application is strong on its own as your senior year will NOT be on your application

MEDICAL SCHOOL PREP

 Health Care Experience: Begin exploring opportunities for summer or the following year (can take 3-6 months to begin)

 Service: Begin exploring volunteer and service opportunities for underserved communities

 Reearch: Explore opportunities

☐ Learn the AAMC 15 Core Competencies

SUMMER:  Begin accruing clinical, service, research hours

MEDICAL SCHOOL PREP

 Health Care Experience: accrue

 Service: continue…

 Shadow a doctor

 Research: if interested

MEDICAL SCHOOL PREP

MCAT: Register EARLY. Opens Oct (Jan-Jun)

TAKE MCAT:January or April (Fall prep)

LOEs: Confirm letter writers

MSAR: target schools based on GPA & MCAT (FA)

AAMCAS: review instruction manual (SP)

SUBMIT App (Jun)

Secondaries  (Jul/Aug)

MEDICAL SCHOOL PREP

INTERVIEW: September - December

GRADUATE! June

Post-Baccalaureate Pre-Med Programs

Post baccalaureate pre-med programs are designed to help strengthen an application through additional coursework, MCAT prep, and overall support.

The national average for acceptance into USMD schools is an overall 3.70 GPA. The national average for science GPA is 3.65. If your overall GPA is below a 3.4 and your science GPA is below a 3.3 consider post-baccalaureate course work to demonstrate your competence in college-level science course work.

Not feeling academically prepared? Learn about Post-Bac Options and see the various types of Post-Bac Programs, including Osteopathic programs

UC Post-Baccalaureate Consortium is for economically and educationally disadvantaged students and includes UC Davis, UC Irvine, UCLA, UC Riverside, and UCSF.

Learn more about our own UC San Diego Extension Post Bac

Check out the Post-Bac Linkages to medical schools.

There are multiple types of post-baccs:

Post-Bacc For Whom? Length of study

Special Master’s Programs (SMP’s)

Many of these are structured for students on the cusp of being competitive or applied to medical school, but did not get in; serves as a direct bridge to medical school; generally MOST competitive post-bacc

(SMP in Physiology at Georgetown)

1 year

Academic Record Enhancers

Students with < 3.4 GPA

1-2 years

Career-Changers

Students who need to take most of the pre-reqs required for med school

2 years

Underrepresented minority

Minority underrepresented in medicine or health professions

1-2 years

Educationally and economically disadvantaged

First-generation, low-income students

1-2 years

Medical School Admissions Data

UC San Diego Allopathic (M.D.) Medical School Admissions History

This chart compares the national and UC San Diego applicants (those who received a bachelor’s or graduate degree from UCSD) admitted to U.S. allopathic (M.D.) medical schools. Data provided by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). For school-specific admissions numbers, see Medical School Admission Data.

 

Applicants

Accepted

Admission Rate

National

UCSD

National

UCSD

 National 

 UCSD 

2017

53,042

399

21,030

156

40%

39%

2016

 52,550

516

20,631

199

39% 

39%

2015

50,468

571

21,061

202

42%

35%

2014

47,810

628

20,740

210

43%

33%

2013

46,454

632

20,519

242

 44% 

 38% 

UC San Diego Osteopathic (D.O.) Medical School Admissions History

This chart compares national and UCSD medical school applicants who matriculated to U.S. osteopathic (D.O.) medical schools. The average GPA and MCAT scores of the UCSD students who matriculated to osteopathic schools are also listed. The American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) provided the data.  

Applicants

Enrolled

Mat. Rate 

 National

UCSD

National

UCSD

Nat'l

UCSD

2016

20,720

 339

6995

115 

34%

34% 

2015

20,672

304

6358

100

31%

33%

2014

18,181

308

6266

108

34%

35%

2013

16,707

287

5876

104

35%

36%

2012

15,172

220

5200

84

34%

38%


These statistics are offered as a guide and should not be used as a final determination of where you should apply to medical school. Consult resources in the Career Services Center or a graduate school advisor for further information about medical schools and for advice on the medical school application process.

Student Organizations