How to Apply to Medical School Part I: Pre-Med Requirements

“I think you will agree that life's plans are not always tied up in neat little packages. Occasionally we find ourselves at unexpected crossroads with more than one opportunity from which to choose. Time itself is often the best indicator of which decision to make, for it can tell so many thing that are now hazy.” 
― Linda Lee ChaikinTomorrow's Treasure

Hello my fellow night owls and medical sciences enthusiasts! Ever since I embarked upon applying to medical school (and there were many attempts) I've been asked by friends and other Pre-Med majors what is the ideal way of applying to medical school in a timely matter and ensuring you're granted an interview and potentially an acceptance. From these questions came the idea for this new series "How to Apply to Medical School" specifically at the moment,Caribbean based medical schools. 

Part One of this series will focus on applying to medical schools in the Caribbean that are not affiliated to the United States; meaning they are not American based medical schools and the degree you will be awarded upon completion will be a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (M.B.B.S.) versus the Medical Doctor (M.D.) degree awarded at American medical schools. 

In addition to my advice, there will be guest contributors to each subsequent part of the series. Their advice, tips and tricks and overall experience with the process will be featured in the "Words of the Wise" section of the blog so be sure to check that section out after stopping here. 

Now with all that being said, let's get started. 

What are the requirements for Medical School?

Before I seriously considered applying to medical school, I can recall older siblings of my friends discussing how they had to register as a "Pre-Med" student at their college with equated to an insanely large amount of science classes and lab sessions all to ensure they met the requirements for their medical school application. 

After I did my research for the medical schools I was interested in attending and talked to some friends that interviewed for medical schools, I learned that your undergraduate major does not matter. What matters the most is that when you apply, you are a well-rounded individual who knows that medicine is what you want to study and that you are capable of fulfilling the necessary requirements for the school of your choice. 

Had I known this when I applied to college, I do believe I may have majored in either English, or Humanities and taken the necessary science courses. 

Below is a list of courses most medical schools require. It is important for you to do the research for the schools you would like to apply to for medical school and to see what their pre-requisites are for admissions and take those courses. 

a. General Chemistry (I &II with labs)
b. General Biology (I & II with labs)
c. General Physics (I & II with labs)
d. Anatomy and Physiology
e. Molecular and Cellular Biology
f. Microbiology
g. Organic Chemistry (I & II with labs)
h. and/or Biochemistry
i. Precalculus/Calculus
j. and/or Statistics

When I had applied to the University of the West Indies, because I had completed a degree, I submitted my transcripts from undergrad supplemental to my national examination results, which I sat senior year of high school. The university requirement were provision of the following:  

  • (and/or) An academic certificate (test results of the -GCE, CAPE (CXC) CSEC (CXC) exams), 
  • A professional certificate or diploma, 
  • Transcripts from awarding institutions, and a 
  • TOEFL exam score for those whose first language isn't English. 

It is quite common at the University of The West Indies, for students to get accepted out of high school based on their -GCE, CAPE (CXC) and CSEC (CXC) examination results without having to pursue an undergraduate degree prior to admission to medical school because the medical degree received is considered an undergraduate degree in and of itself. 

What if I satisfy all of the pre-requisites?

This is the moment where you can jovially pat yourself on the back for being one step closer to satisfying your medical school application. 

Now that you have checked the pre-requesities off of your "to do" list (that in and of itself deserves celebrating), next up, daunting as it might appear, is for you to maintain a competitive grade point average (GPA) throughout your undergraduate years. A competitive GPA ranges between a 3.7-3.8. 

The application process can be a tedious and overwhelming process, however, if you plan your time wisely and work on it early, rather than waiting, you can avoid the frustration that comes with procrastination and last minute planning. 

Until Wednesday...take the necessary steps to ensure you are meeting ALL requirements to fulfill your dream of becoming firstly a medical student and secondly a GREAT doctor. 

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