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Medical Study In America


Medical Study In America

Medical education in the United States includes educational activities involved in the education and training of physicians (D.O. or M.D.) in the United States, from entry-level training through to continuing education of qualified specialists.

A typical outline of the medical education pathway is presented below; however, medicine is a diverse profession with many options available. For example, some physicians work in pharmaceutical research, occupational medicine (within a company), public health medicine (working for the general health of a population in an area), or join the armed forces.

Medical school

In the United States a medical school is an institution with the purpose of educating physicians in the United States in the field of medicine. Admission into medical school may not technically require completion of a previous degree; however, applicants are usually required to complete at least 3 years of "pre-med" courses at the university level because in the US medical degrees are classified as Second entry degrees. Once enrolled in a medical school the four years progressive study is divided into two roughly equal components: pre-clinical (consisting of didactic courses in the basic sciences) and clinical (clerkships consisting of rotations through different wards of a teaching hospital). The degree granted at the conclusion of the next four years of study is Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or, less commonly, Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) depending on the medical school; both degrees allow the holder to practice medicine after completing an accredited residency program


During the last year of graduate medical education, students apply for postgraduate residencies in their chosen field of specialization. These vary in competitiveness depending upon the desirability of the specialty, prestige of the program, and the number of applicants relative to the number of available positions. All but a few positions are granted via a national computer match which pairs an applicant's preference with the programs' preference for applicants.

Historically, post-graduate medical education began with a free-standing, one-year internship. Completion of this year continues to be the minimum training requirement for obtaining a general license to practice medicine in most states. However, because of the gradual lengthening of post-graduate medical education, and the decline of its use as the terminal stage in training, most new physicians complete the internship requirement as their first year of residency.

Not withstanding the trend toward internships integrated into categorical residencies, the one-year "traditional rotating internship" (sometimes called a "transitional year") continues to exist. Some residency training programs, such as in neurology and ophthalmology, do not include an internship year and begin after completion of an internship or transitional year. Some use it to re-apply to programs into which they were not accepted, while others use it as a year to decide upon a specialty. In addition, osteopathic physicians "are required to have completed an American Osteopathic Association (AOA)-approved first year of training in order to be licensed in Florida, Michigan, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania."


In general, admission into a US medical school is considered highly competitive and typically requires completion of a four-year Bachelor's degree or at least 90 credit hours from an accredited college or university. Many applicants obtain further education before medical school in the form of Master's degrees or other non science-related degrees. Admissions criteria may include overall performance in the undergraduate years and performance in a group of courses specifically required by U.S. medical schools (pre-health sciences), the score on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), application essays, letters of recommendation (most schools require either one letter from the undergraduate institution's premedical advising committee or a combination of letters from at least one science faculty and one non-science faculty), and interviews.

Beyond objective admissions criteria, many programs look for candidates who have had unique experiences in community service, volunteer work, international studies, research, or other advanced degrees. The application essay is the primary opportunity for the candidate to describe his/her reasons for entering a medical career. The essay requirements are usually open-ended to allow creativity and flexibility for the candidate to draw upon his/her personal experiences/challenges to make him/her stand out amongst other applicants. If granted, an interview serves as an additional way to express these subjective strengths that a candidate may possess.

Medical School Acceptance Rates (2009–11)


MCAT 24-26, GPA 3.20-3.39

MCAT 27-29, GPA 3.20-3.39

MCAT 27-29, GPA 3.40-3.59

















Since 2005, the Association of Medical Colleges has recommended that all medical schools conduct background checks on applicants in order to prevent individuals with convictions for serious crimes from being matriculated.

Most commonly, the bachelor's degree is in one of the biological sciences, but not always; in 2005, nearly 40% of medical school matriculates had received bachelor's degrees in fields other than biology or specialized health sciences. All medical school applicants must, however, complete year-length undergraduate courses with labs in biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, and physics; some medical schools have additional requirements such as biochemistry, calculus, genetics, psychology and English. Many of these courses have prerequisites, so there are other "hidden" course requirements (basic science courses) that are often taken first.

A student with a bachelor's degree who has not taken the pre-medical coursework may complete a postbaccalaureate (postbacc) program. Such programs allow rapid fulfillment of prerequisite course work as well as grade point average improvement. Some postbacc programs are specifically linked to individual medical schools to allow matriculation without a gap year, while most require 1–2 years to complete.

Several universities across the U.S. admit college students to their medical schools during college; students attend a single six-year to eight-year integrated program consisting of two to four years of an undergraduate curriculum and four years of medical school curriculum, culminating in both a bachelor's and M.D. degree or a bachelor's and D.O. degree. Some of these programs admit high school students to college and medical school.

While not necessary for admission, several private organizations have capitalized on this complex and involved process by offering services ranging from single-component preparation (MCAT, essay, etc.) to entire application review/consultation.

In 2014, the average MCAT and GPA for students entering U.S.-based M.D. programs were 31.4 and 3.69, respectively, and 27.21 and 3.53 for D.O. matriculants, although the gap has been getting smaller every year.

In 2012, 45,266 people applied to medical schools in the United States through the American Medical College Application Service. Of these 45,266 students, 19,517 of them matriculated into a medical school for a success rate of 43 percent. However, this figure does not account for the attrition rate of pre-med students in various stages of the pre-application process (those who ultimately do not decide to apply due to weeding out by low GPA, low MCAT, lack of clinical and research experience, and numerous other factors)


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