As an aspiring doctor, picking a medical school from all the options available can be daunting and overwhelming. Since you’ll be studying for more than 4 years at that institution, opting for the wrong school could affect your future life choices and overall college experience. Even though school websites and recent alumni can act as valuable resources for providing insights, they may give biased views. That is why, instead of making a choice based on suggestions from a few seniors, narrow down your list by keeping your goals and interests in mind.
Here are 7 factors prospective students should consider when choosing a medical school.
Since there are two kinds of schools, premeds have to make the decision of either applying to a private or public medical school. State schools, as the name suggests, receive funding from the state, which is also the defining difference between both types of schools. Additionally, public schools are required to reserve a majority of spots in their classes for applicants that are state residents. On the other hand, the state of residence doesn’t make a difference when applying to private schools since they accept applicants from everywhere. Thus, by applying for both, you can increase your chances of securing admission.
The method of teaching and providing information may vary from one school to another. The curriculum can give you insight into whether it follows a lecture format or uses problem-based and associative learning. The organization of a curriculum is another important aspect that is different for each school. For instance, some schools may provide information organized on the basis of discipline while others might follow an organ system-based approach. Furthermore, if you want to start your clinical practice early, there are many programs that are structured and focused to give students hands-on clinical experience from the very beginning.
The cost of medical education is a vital factor that prospective medical students need to consider carefully before shortlisting their options. If you don’t have the financial resources needed to attend an expensive school, consider applying to a public school since they usually charge lower tuition as compared to private ones. However, there are additional components of medical school costs other than the tuition fees such as food, transportation, and housing. In addition, there are “hidden costs” as well which the administration can tell you about. Therefore, when comparing different schools and assessing costs, check whether they award scholarships or provide financial aid that could act as a great advantage.
Reading the mission statement of each school can be a great way of finding out whether the school’s values match yours or not. This can help you figure out what type of institution you’re applying to and select the one that suits you best. You can find the school’s mission statement on its website. Additionally, some schools only take up applicants that are potential ‘fits’ for their program by looking at their background and experience.
The duration of medical courses is generally five years, but the lengthy process of training continues even after students graduate. Hence, the length of the course is another essential consideration before deciding on a medical school. For those who plan on working in the field as early as possible, it’s recommended to not opt for medical schools that make an intercalation year compulsory since it increases the tenure of the course. By choosing a shorter program, you’ll save a whole year and have the time to enter specialist training programs.
Depending on your preference, make sure to choose a location where you’ll be happy to settle for the next 4-5 years. Taking the time to think about significant factors like region, setting, and proximity to family and friends is crucial since they can impact many aspects of your medical education. If you prefer to explore, venturing to a different city can be a great choice for you.
A high-ranked college can help you match into a top residency program, which can then improve your job prospects. However, getting into competitive residency programs doesn’t entirely depend on the university you attend. Unlike law, engineering, or other disciplines, the prestige of the medical school most commonly doesn’t affect your career since your diagnostic skills have higher importance when it comes to treating patients and making a living.
Even though there are no restrictions on which type of school you opt for, you should be well-informed and consider a few aspects before you can pick your choice. Aside from that, pursuing a medical degree can be physically and emotionally draining so it’s crucial to evaluate multiple factors that can help you gauge which medical school will provide the most optimal environment to study medicine.