5 Things You Need To Get Into Medical School

How do you get into medical school? Below I will go over the top 5 things that everyone medical school applicant should have on their application.

 

1. A Legitimate “Why”

I’m not just talking about your personal statement.

To get into medical school, your “why” should be all throughout your application.

In reality, not one medical student has only one reason to become a doctor.

We’re influenced by a variety of experience to pursue medicine.

So the real question is, what are your “whys”? If you first, second, and third answers are “I want to help people”, try again.

Everyone wants to help people. You can become a stockbroker and “help people” become rich (or try to). But do you also want to become a stockbroker?

Of course, you don’t. (Maybe you do)

What is it about becoming a physician that attracts you?

Is it the leadership? Is it the lifelong learning? Is it the privilege to work with sick patients and their families?

Once you come up with you “whys”, try to convince yourself.  Do you believe it when you hear yourself saying “I want to become a doctor because of X, Y, and Z”?

Are those reasons truly your “whys”? Only you will know.

2. Shadowing Experience:

Too often students try to get into medical school with limited shadowing experience.

You can’t just shadow a doctor once or twice and make a life decision on it.

It doesn’t matter if you grew up in a family or doctors.

Just like having multiple “whys”, you need multiples exposures.

I’ll touch on how to gain shadowing experience in a future article. Stay tuned to the pre-med section.

3. Consistent Community Involvement:

Community service is obviously important. But I’m not talking about that one time you helped judge a science fair.

If it was a one time (< 3 hours) experience, then yes it is community service, but it’s not consistent service.

Don’t get me wrong, I did the science fairs, blood banks, canned food drives, etc. But they were all one time events.

My desire to become a doctor who serves didn’t change much because of these experiences.

Instead, the biggest growth is picking consistent community involvement.

What does this mean?

Pick something meaningful to you. Perhaps it’s working with the homeless population, animal shelters, or global outreach.

Once you identify those causes, stick to doing many community projects under the same umbrella.

If you’re interested in animals, work on a variety of community projects at a local shelter.

Notice how I didn’t mention a healthcare related project.

These are nice, but they’re often superficial.

I remember “volunteering” at my local hospital. My role was to transport the patients from their rooms to lobby after discharge.

While I enjoyed my experience, I had to face the truth that I wasn’t making that big of a difference. I just thought volunteering at a hospital would seem nice on a medical school application.

That was not the type of community service I wanted to participate in.

So find your “whys” in community outreach and pursue 1-2 of them consistently. You will have much more content in your application and make it much easier to get into medical school.

4. Leadership Experience:

As a physician, you will be the captain of the ship.

Not only will your patient depend on you, but so will other physicians and healthcare providers.

So prove that you can be this leader.

You don’t have to become the president of the largest organization. Just grow your influence in organizations which matter to you.

I always tell the student I mentor that they need to first find organizations they can make a true impact.

This may not be and often isn’t, the most popular or largest organization on campus.

For instance, I gradually grew into the president role of an organization no larger than 40 people.

But I spoke about the impact I made during my interview and it was clear the interviewer was interested in learning more.

This is the key to get into medical school. Make your application one the interviewer can’t ignore. Fill it with experiences that are deep and share with them your passions.

How Many Leadership Experiences Do You Need To Get Into Medical School?

There’s no set number.

I recommend 2-3 solid leadership positions you can devote yourself to.

When you earn these positions, constantly ask yourself how you can make a bigger difference.

In my post about what you need to know before applying to medical school, I speak of the importance of being reflective.

So don’t be satisfied when you gain a leadership role. Ask how you can do more. Once you do more, ask how you can do even more.

This approach will set you up for success for medical school interviews and life in general.

5. Strong Intellect:

Notice I was very careful not to use “strong grades” in the headline.

Yes having high grades will make it more likely to get into medical school. But every year there are students who can overcome a low GPA and get accepted.

In another post, I’ll go over how to study in college as a pre-med. (Stay tuned for that)

But you can diverge attention from your GPA or MCAT score by having intellect all throughout your application.

You can be involved in research projects, public health initiatives, community projects, internships, and much more.

The key is to find opportunities where you can take charge and grow.

I joined a research lab during my second semester in college. From the very start, my mentor was amazing at progressing my roles.

At first, I started by running experiments. But soon I began to recruit subjects, practice writing code, working on analytics, and finally working on our publication.

In my medical school application, I didn’t just write “worked in Dr.A’s lab and did experiments”. Instead, I could speak of the detail of my growth in the lab which led to the publication.

This is why I argue that students first identify their “whys”. Then they should take on few but select opportunities which will allow them to highlight these “whys”. 


Hope you enjoyed this post on what you need to get into medical school. Check out the pre-med section for more posts.

My goal is to have a new pre-med post out every week so subscribe to receive updates.

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If there is something specific you’d like me to address in a future blog post, comment below or email me at themdjourney.com@gmail.com.

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Top Resources For Medical School

If you’re a first or second-year medical student wanting guidance on how to succeed in medical school, read my book, The Preclinical Guide. I provide all the tips I wish I knew day one of medical school. Check out the book here.

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Until next time…

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Lakshya Trivedi, TheMDJourney

My name is Lakshya (pronounced Luck-sh) and I’m a third-year medical student at UT Southwestern in Dallas, TX. TheMDJourney is my effort to give helpful advice and personal experiences to anyone on a similar journey. It is also my dedicated form of self-reflection and a project I hope to keep on going for a while.