How to get into medical school

The path to becoming a doctor of osteopathic medicine

13 tips on how to get into medical school

You might be wondering to yourself "how hard is medical school?", but how to get into medical school can seem just as difficult. Navigating the application process for medical school for osteopathic medicine can be complicated, but we can help.

You’ve been preparing for this moment for years, and you’re ready to take the next step for your career in osteopathic medicine. Here are some things to do and consider as you navigate how to get into medical school, from how much is medical school to how long is medical school—and many things in between.

  1. Choose the program that's right for you
  2. Demonstrate how well-rounded you are
  3. Ensure you meet prerequisites for admission requirements–including undergraduate degrees
  4. Research admission requirements
  5. Gather letters of recommendation
  6. Determine your ultimate “why"
  7. Develop your “why” into a powerful personal statement
  8. Prepare for your interview
  9. Broaden your experience
  10. Study and prepare for the MCAT
  11. Shadow physicians and other healthcare professionals for a closer look at your future career
  12. Practice promoting yourself
  13. Keep perspective: How hard is medical school to get into?

Choose the program that’s right for you

Throughout the admission process, you’ll need to tell others, why are you interested in osteopathic medicine? Consider programs that align with your interests and goals, and then investigate other factors such as how long is medical school and how much is medical school.

How many years is medical school depends on the program. Most D.O. programs typically last four years, followed by a residency and perhaps a fellowship.

If you're asking "How much is medical school?", it will ultimately vary depending on the college or university you choose. According to a 2020 report by the Association of American Medical Colleges, the median cost of four years of medical school in 2019–2020 was $250,222 at public institutions and $330,180 at private colleges.

Demonstrate how well-rounded you are

How hard is medical school? Admission goes beyond academic metrics. In addition to excellent grades and test scores, your experiences and attributes are important, too. Become a competitive applicant while determining how to get into medical school by keeping a record of your activities, volunteer work, and any leadership roles. Many people ask the question "how many years is medical school?", and keeping a record of your previous activities shows institutions you can juggle rigorous curriculum with other responsibilities over a long period of time.

Ensure you meet prerequisites for admission requirements–including undergraduate degrees

When you review course and degree requirements for your program of interest, pay attention to minimum grades, prerequisites, and whether those prerequisites—including the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)—have any expiration dates. The question "How hard is medical school admission?" could also be affected by whether or not you already have a bachelor's degree.

Research admission requirements

The steps you need to take to get into medical school will vary by college or university. Research these details early on in your application process to make sure you have the information you need while also meeting deadlines. Given the question "how many years is medical school?", getting your admission requirements completed on time will help you begin your studies as soon as possible.

Gather letters of recommendation

No matter where you apply, you’ll need letters of recommendation. Reach out to instructors and mentors who can speak to your character, potential and perseverance. This will show the institutions you apply to that no matter how many years is medical school or how hard is medical school, you’re ready and prepared for the long haul.

Determine your ultimate “why"

Much of how to get into to medical school hinges on why you want to practice medicine in the first place. Throughout the application process, you’ll be asked everything from why you’re drawn to medicine to why you should be chosen for a program.

Develop your “why” into a powerful personal statement

Whether you’ve always dreamed of becoming a doctor or you found passion for medicine later in life, take notes on your thoughts and experiences to convey a strong personal statement. Given how hard is medical school, are you up for the challenge? Also considering how long is medical school and how much is medical school, why would the journey be worth it to you? Not only will your answers help the college or university get to know you better, but they might also set you apart from other applicants.

Prepare for your interview

During the admissions process, you should be prepared to answer questions about problem solving and critical thinking, ethical questions and scenarios, your experiences, and your philosophical viewpoints, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP).

Given how hard is medical school, how long is medical school and the challenges you’ll face as a doctor, colleges and universities want to get to know you, assess your communication skills, learn more about your leadership experiences, and gain a deeper understanding of your ability to provide compassionate care and demonstrate your knowledge.

Broaden your experience

While you plan on how to get into medical school, look for opportunities to participate in summer programs and research to gain more experience in health care and medicine. This experience can increase your exposure to the field, according to the AAFP. And knowing how many years is medical school, your initiative will show colleges and universities that you are committed to pursuing your career in medicine.

Study and prepare for the MCAT

The MCAT covers a wide range of information and skills, from critical analysis and reasoning skills to the biological and biochemical foundations of living systems, according to the AAFP. To nail an excellent score and show you can keep up no matter how hard medical school is, study, take practice tests, use your results to help you determine where you need more work, and study some more.

In recent years, the maximum possible score for the MCAT has been 528, with the average score for entering osteopathic medical students at 503.

Shadow physicians and other healthcare professionals for a closer look at your future career

Spending time with a physician or another health care worker not only gives you a closer look at the profession and insight into how long is medical school, but it also shows the schools you’re applying to that you have put in the effort to investigate your career choice, according to the AAFP.

Practice promoting yourself

Shying away from self-promotion is a key barrier for advancement, especially for women, according to a post on Forbes. While you’re working on how to get into medical school, think of the ways in which you can promote yourself and your accomplishments in a positive way.

Keep perspective: How hard is medical school to get into?

Admission rates differ for every school, so keep that in mind when you’re planning how to get into medical school. This can help you determine how many schools you ought to apply to, so you have a greater chance of being accepted by one of your top choices.

How to get into medical school at Des Moines University

DMU’s Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree program will help you develop the clinical, interprofessional, and communication skills required to work with colleagues in delivering the best quality care for your patients. Through our D.O. medical school program, you will be prepared for your residency, the national board exam, advanced education, and a successful, fulfilling career as a doctor of osteopathic medicine.

Should you be concerned with the question "how much is medical school?", there are a variety of scholarships available for incoming and current medical students in the College of Osteopathic Medicine.

At DMU, we review applications and make selections based on the mission of our university. Our goal is to recruit and admit students who:

  • Demonstrate a commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, compassion, and empathy
  • Show evidence of being service and academic leaders
  • Are future professionals with potential to help sustain local and global communities
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