Choosing the right medical school

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Students and staff converse and catch the sunset at Gangilonga Rock in Iringa Choosing to become a doctor involves a lot of decisions, from your undergraduate major to what type of medicine you want to practice. If you plan to become a physician, one of the most important choices you will make is where to attend medical school.

A lot of thought goes into selecting the right medical school. The right medical school can make the difference between a great experience and a tough four years. Before you choose where to apply, be sure to avoid some of the mistakes below.   

Only considering school rankings

It is normal to take school rankings into consideration, but rank does not paint the entire picture of what the school has to offer. Med school rankings are partly determined by factors like how competitive the school is to get into and faculty awards. Med schools that rank a little lower may still provide a great education and end up being a good fit for your goals. Keep in mind that the highest ranking medical schools may also be harder to get accepted to.

Not considering your learning style and preferred curriculum

Everyone has a different learning style, and it is a good idea to consider yours. For example, some people do better in a class with fewer students or classes which encourage independent study. Some schools may offer more lecture-based classes while others may provide more hands-on classes. Medical schools may grade students as pass/fail or use a letter grading system. Decide if you prefer one over the other. Find out if there are breaks during the summer and how the school calendar is organized. Decide which factors regarding curriculum, grading and class size matter to you.

Ignoring location

You will be spending four years of your life at medical school, and it is important to consider where you will be happy living during that time. If being close to friends and family is important, a med school nearby may be an option. It may also be a wise financial decision if you can live with family during school. In addition, consider the healthcare facilities near the medical school that will be used for clinical rotations. Does the location of the school provide plenty of opportunities for clinical rotations at the type of facility in which you want to work?

Not doing enough research

Before choosing medical schools to which to apply, it is helpful to determine their acceptance rates and the required grade point averages and MCAT scores. Knowing whether you are a competitive candidate and have a chance of getting accepted may influence your decision on where to apply.

Not trusting your gut

Sometimes something feels right and sometimes it doesn’t. There may not be one specific factor that turns you off from a certain school, but after visiting a school or interviewing, something may not feel right. Spending four years at a school that is not a good fit is not a wise choice. Where you attend med school is a big decision, and sometimes you need to trust your instincts. 

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