Applying to Medical School -- Frequently Asked Questions
Applying to Medical School
1. Review the PreMed/PreDent Fact Sheet (the "Green Sheet") for general information. This sheet is available on-line right here (pdf file).
2. Timing is important. If you plan to start medical school the August following your graduation, begin your application steps (arranging for MCAT study and letters of recommendation, preparing lists of honors, extracurricular activities, jobs, etc.) in the second half of your junior Fall semester. Plan to take the MCAT in April or May of your junior year, but only if you have (almost) completed the pre-med course requirements. The AMCAS application should be started in the spring, and should be submitted in June or 14 months before you intend to start medical school. Don't wait until deadlines are near, and don't wait until after the MCAT test unless your MCAT test date is early enough (no later than June after the junior year) so you'll have your scores in July. Many medical schools (including Creighton's) have a rolling admissions policy, and classes usually fill long before the application deadlines. If you have a clear first choice for medical school, see one of the PreHealth Advisors about the Early Decision Plan (EDP). The EDP application deadline is August 1. All application materials, including MCAT scores, must be received by AMCAS before that date. Notification of acceptance on the EDP is made by Oct. 1.
*Note: Submit the names of your evaluators (letter of recommendation writers) by Feb. 15 using the online Pre-Health Letter of Recommendation Request Form. Have your application complete (AMCAS, supplemental/secondary applications and letters of recommendation) and received by the medical school admission offices by Aug. 1 if you want to get interviewed in the Fall when there are still plenty of spaces in the medical school classes.
3. Which schools to apply to? Consult the publication Medical School Admissions Requirements, United States and Canada for the admissions criteria for specific allopathic (M.D.) schools. This book is available for use on the AAMC Website, the Reinert Alumni Library, and in the Career Services Office, or may be purchased at the campus bookstore or directly from the Association of American Medical Colleges (http://www.aamc.org/medicalschools.htm, phone: 202-828-0416). Similar information for osteopathic (D.O.) schools is available free of charge from the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (http://www.aacom.org/about/colleges/Pages/default.aspx), phone: 301- 968-4100). Nationwide the typical premedical student, often unable to predict schools most likely to offer admission, applies to many (average of eleven). Creighton students often apply to fewer schools because they needn't take a scatter-shot approach. Apply to schools most likely to accept you: Creighton and (depending on the state) your home state-supported public school(s). In some cases an osteopathic school may be more likely to accept than the allopathic schools. In general, apply only to those schools where you have a good reason to apply; don't apply to a school just because you can't find a reason not to! There are many good reasons for a particular applicant to apply to particular schools. Curriculum (e.g. problem-based versus traditional), clinical versus research emphases, cost, location, etc. vary among medical schools. A prehealth advisor can help you choose where to apply.
4. Evaluations (letters of recommendation). A separate fact sheet (FAQs) provides more information, but below are some of the essentials. http://medschool.creighton.edu/medicine/oma/app/ though dated, also has some useful information.
During the fall or early part of the spring semester of your junior year, select at least three faculty members from whom you've taken classes, preferably ones who know you well. Creighton requires that at least two be faculty who teach courses in which the subject matter (not necessarily the course or department name) is biology, chemistry, physics or math. At least one recommendation should be from faculty who teach in a social science or humanities area. Some schools further specify who should write the letters. One or two letters from supervisors of relevant activities (clinical or research experience, volunteer service, etc.) might be appropriate in addition to the three faculty letters. Seek the chosen recommenders' consent to evaluate you. Ask what information would help them.
Tell the evaluators that they will receive an e-mail from PreHealthLetters@creighton.edu (a function of the College of Arts and Sciences Dean's Office that is automatically sent by the online Letters of Recommendaton system) with a link to an on-line web form on which to write the evaluation. Go to https://people.creighton.edu/~bjk79676/PHealth/PHealthLORRequestForm.php and fill out the "Pre-Health Letter of Recommendation" form. The fee for this service is $20, due before any schools can be chosen for upload. Mail the payment or pay in person to Mrs. Teddi Wiegand at the Chemistry Department office, Hixson-Lied Science Building, Room 268, Omaha, NE 68178.
The Pre-Health Letters of Recommendation staff will solicit evaluations from your evaluators. After all of the completed evaluations have been received, the information will be compiled in a manner that in no way changes the evaluations, with the exception of correcting obvious spelling errors. Each evaluator's ratings and narrative comments are transmitted in their entirety and clearly identified as being from that individual evaluator. If you have already indicated which schools to which you would like your letters uploaded (and/or AMCAS), and provided any necessary information in your Student Dashboard (such as your AMCAS ID Number and Letter Request Number), your letter packet will be uploaded within a day or two after its completion. If you have not indicated one or more schools/services for upload or not provided the necessary information, a Pre-Health Letters of Recommendation staff member will notify you when the composite evaluation is ready and will confirm your readiness before sending to the medical schools you have designated. Soon thereafter you should inquire at each medical school to be sure the composite evaluation was received. The Letter of Recommendation service will coordinate with the PMED program for Campus Letters, as long as you indicate you are requesting one on the initial request form. Note that if you use the above-described service, you do not need an additional letter from a "pre-medical advisor or committee," and in most cases you will not use any letter of evaluation forms that might be sent to you by medical schools.
5. MCAT. The Medical College Admissions Test is currently given multiple times through the year. Test dates and registration deadlines are posted at http://www.aamc.org/students/mcat/registration.htm. It is better to take the test by April or May of your junior year if you have completed (or almost completed) the required courses and have reviewed them. An August test is normally the latest one that can be used for admission the next year. The MCAT is a multiple-choice and essay exam designed to measure the applicant's knowledge of biology, chemistry, physics, problem solving and skills in the interpretation and use of written and quantitative materials. Adequate preparation requires a systematic approach normally taking at least three months. Go to http://www.aamc.org/students/mcat/start.htm to order the official MCAT Student Manual and practice tests, including graded on-line tests that provide feedback. Whether you utilize a commercially available test-prep course or not depends upon your own learning style and study habits. Some other excellent resources to use for self study can be found here: https://www.aamc.org/students/applying/mcat/preparing/. Several commercial do-it-yourself study books are available, and can be recommended by the pre-health advisors. Take plenty of practice tests under timed conditions that are as realistic as possible. You may re-take the MCAT test to improve your scores, but scores from previous tests will also be reported.
6. Primary applications. The American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS, at http://www.aamc.org/students/amcas/start.htm) is used by most M.D. schools, and the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service (AACOMAS, at https://aacomas.aacom.org/) is used by most D.O. schools. Both become available around May 1. Completed applications can be submitted starting about June 1. Submit the application(s) as soon as possible. There is a way to indicate in the application if you are planning to take a future MCAT; do NOT wait until after the MCAT to apply, unless you take an early MCAT. List courses completed, in progress, or to be taken (list what you expect to take as a senior; usually it's ok if these choices change a bit). A separate math/science GPA will be calculated. Math/science courses are those whose subject matter is primarily biology, chemistry, math or physics, regardless of level or department listing. Spend ample time crafting the best personal statement you can, and have at least one pre-health advisor, and perhaps other individuals, suggest improvements. Use clear, matter-of-fact narrative and avoid spelling and grammar mistakes. The statement should clearly convey your realistic understanding of both the medical profession and of yourself, and it should convince the reader that you could become a successful physician. Family background, high school and college extracurricular activities, work experience in health related fields, and the history of your interest in a medical career may all be appropriate. If there are any irregularities in your academic record, be sure to explain them briefly in your personal statement.
7. Supplemental or secondary applications. After receiving the primary application, medical schools send applicants additional forms to fill out. The web sites of many medical schools make these forms available so you can complete and submit them even before the school has received your primary application. A photograph is usually required - dress appropriately (e.g., tie for gentlemen), as overly casual photos reflect poor judgment. A form to be filled out by the Vice President for Student Services may be included. Forms for teacher evaluations usually can be ignored if you have had letters sent as described in item #4.
8. Interviews. Creighton students who submit AMCAS applications to our School of Medicine in June and have their applications complete by August 1 will be scheduled during the first two weeks of interviews before medical admissions committee review. Generally applicants may be interviewed only after their applications are reviewed. See http://medschool.creighton.edu/medicine/oma/app/ for some interview tips, and contact Creighton's Career Center to schedule a practice interview.