Choosing a medical school can be an essential consideration for undergraduates interested in a career in medicine. Choosing the wrong school can derail a career before it even gets started. Dr. Adedayo Akande, President of the University of Health Sciences Antigua, stresses that it’s important to consider several things when searching for the perfect medical school.
When picking a medical school that ticks all the boxes, here are five things Dr. Akande urges prospective students to consider.
1. What’s the Score?
Applicants should look at a school’s USMLE Step Pass Rates and average scores. The USMLE is the medical licensing exam that all students must pass to practice as a medical doctor. Prospective students will want to set their sights on a medical school with high pass rates and average scores. But, applicants will want to go more in-depth than just pass rate averages. Each medical specialty has an average score that might be competitive for the particular field. For instance, the field of neurology typically has a higher pass rate when compared to other specialties such as primary care.
Depending on the field a student intends to enter, some schools may be more appealing than others. Pass rates and averages can give a good picture of how well a medical school may be able to prepare a student for real-world medical practice.
2. Clinical Training
Clinical training is another aspect of a medical school that an applicant may want to weigh heavily. Although students typically have the option of going to hospitals in various states and even countries, most schools will have key hospitals that they will use for clerkships of their students. Ensuring that these hospitals are certified by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) is essential. Accreditation means that the hospitals will have residency programs, which are fundamental to becoming a doctor.
3. Tuition Costs
Tuition costs may be one of the most important considerations for choosing a medical school. It’s well known that medical schools are expensive. Tuitions can vary, and it’s integral that students take their budgets and ability to pay tuition into account. The average cost of medical school as of October 2021 is $218,792. Costs vary between in-state school tuition and out-of-state private schools. Tuitions differ even more when considering attending medical school outside of the United States. For example, Caribbean medical schools can offer lower tuition than schools in the United States with the same caliber of education.
Taking on large amounts of debts to become a physician is not an ideal pathway. Particularly as a new resident, students will not have huge salaries. Being able to still manage your finances while pursuing your dream is important. Applicants should look into the financial aid options for any school they consider.
4. The Importance of Passion
Prospective students should look at medical schools that offer training in the areas of medicine they are most interested in. Medical schools are not all one and the same. Some have specialties where they excel. Applicants should think about their goals, passions, and the areas of medicine they want to pursue before landing a medical school. It also helps to look at what clubs or organizations a school offers. It can strengthen a young doctor’s resume to get some impressive activities under their belt.
Medical schools should always allow students to grow, explore their interests, and figure out who they want to be as doctors.
5. Support Services
Lastly, prospective students will want to explore how the school supports its students. Medical school is incredibly demanding, and not everyone is cut out to weather the ups and downs of the curriculum, and the requirements pressed upon them. Knowing how a school supports its students and guides them towards graduation is essential for a student’s success.
Applicants should place particular importance on post-graduate guidance and residency support. The connection to a medical school shouldn’t end once the degree is given.
Choosing which medical school to attend is one of a prospective doctor’s most important decisions. Being diligent about researching the different facets of what makes a medical school great or not so great will ensure one makes a solid choice.