Pre Medical Students
Do I really want to be a physician?
OPSA can advise you realistically on whether your credentials show promise for admission to medical school, but only you can decide if that is what you truly want to do. One way to explore your interest is to volunteer at a local hospital or office. You can also observe or shadow a physician, here in College Station or back home. Another way is to read information about professional schools and medicine as a career or interact with professionals in the field. Be sure to join one of the campus pre-health organizations such as AMSA, Pre-Medical Society, or AED.
Many applicants believe that medical schools want science majors or that certain programs prefer liberal arts majors. In actuality, medical schools have no preference for what your major is as long as you do well and meet the basic prerequisite entrance requirements. We suggest that you choose a major that leads to what you would select as an alternative career for these reasons: you generally do best at what you enjoy the most; this is another way to determine whether medicine is the right choice; and an alternative career provides good insurance if you should happen to change direction or postpone entry. Texas A&M University offers extensive and exciting majors to choose from in ten diverse colleges.
If your chosen major does not include the prerequisite courses in its curriculum, you must complete the required courses mentioned below either as science credit hours or elective credit hours. Since many higher level courses build upon each other, freshman biology and chemistry are good courses to complete during your freshman year.
Besides the prerequisites, accepted Aggies also had:
- supportive letters of evaluation - 3 letters total, 2 of which are from professors you have had in class
- well-rounded interests and participation outside of the classroom
- exposure to the medical environment as well as research experience, if you are interested
- solid interviewing and communication skills
Admission to medical school is extremely competitive. Schools will examine your grade point average for both science and non-science courses. These grades and MCAT scores are generally the criteria used to make initial selections from the applicant pool, so it is important to develop good study habits in your first year. Once invited to interview, selection is based on overall characteristics including motivation, experience, passion, drive and communication skills.
The MCAT is a computerized 5 hour exam and there are 24 examinations throughout the year. Currently, the MCAT fee is $210. You can register online to take the exam. Medical schools consider each score, so prepare early and thoroughly the first time. NEVER take the actual MCAT for practice. Registration for the MCAT will open about four to five months prior to the actual test date. You may only take the MCAT up to 3 times a year. There are several testing sites in Texas, including on TAMU campus.
Of all those accepted to medical school, at least 98% will have attained a bachelor’s degree before they enter. The disadvantages of not earning a bachelor's degree are that you miss out on the best parts of college (the social interactions and unrelated courses that provide depth and lifelong memories) and, again, you have no insurance should something go awry. It is extremely rare that a student will have competitive enough grades, MCAT scores, extracurricular activities, and maturity to be admitted to medical school with only 90 credit hours. We strongly recommend that you take your time. Go slowly and strive for good grades and for becoming a well-rounded and well-educated individual. If you need a challenge, contact the Honors Program or take advantage of the incredible range of extracurricular activities and research projects offered at Texas A&M University. Medical schools give much more credibility to this type of record.
Starting in the fall of your Junior year (if you are on a four year track), the time line below can help you plan for the next 2 years:
What can I do now?
Learn as much as you can about the health care fields by reading, watching public-TV specials, and interviewing doctors and dentists. Volunteer weekends, apply to work next summer in a hospital or clinic or apply to a summer program. Develop your study habits and communication skills and increase your reading efficiency. Be active in pre-health profession clubs. Attend workshops offered by OPSA. Finally, decide to make the commitment, and then go for it.