IV. The Admission Process
Factors in Medical School Selection
Overall Academic Record
Extracurricular Activities and Work Experience
International Students Applying to U.S. Medical Schools
Medical schools utilize an admissions committee appointed by the Dean of Medicine for selection of the entering class. The size of the committee will vary from school to school, but it will normally be composed of M.D.s from the clinical faculty, Ph.D.s from the basic sciences faculty, and medical students who are typically in their third or fourth year. Some schools also appoint alumni (practicing physicians) and most have some representation from the general public (consumer representatives). Year-to-year changes in the composition of the committee at any particular school are often reflected in slightly different emphasis on selection factors. However, all medical schools will select students to fill their entering class who show evidence of high intellectual ability, an excellent record of meaningful accomplishments, and personal traits that indicate ability to communicate with and relate to patients, families, and colleagues in an able, compassionate reassuring manner. UAB has constructed a list to help students assess their competitiveness for medical school.
Admissions committees strive for objectivity in making their decisions regarding admissions. There is, therefore, a great deal of emphasis on academic performance, scores on the MCAT, and other factors that can be easily measured, but they consider any information that is available regarding an applicant's overall suitability and promise as a physician. Many schools give preference to applicants of the state in which the school is located; due to the desire to meet the healthcare needs of its citizens. Four factors will largely determine whether or not a particular applicant is accepted.
These are: 1) overall academic record, 2) scores on the MCAT, 3) evaluations from faculty members who have had the applicant in class and, 4) impressions made during a personal interview with faculty and students of the medical school including members of the admissions committee. Other factors that will affect the decision are experiences in a medical treatment facilities (and evaluations from these physicians, dentists, etc.) and extracurricular activities, including community service, and, at many schools, research experiences. An applicant’s character traits and concern for others are reflected.
Overall Academic Record
The undergraduate record, particularly grades in biology, chemistry, physics and math (BCPM), is a very important factor for admission. Most medical admissions committees feel that the quality of work in the subjects taken leading to the baccalaureate degree is an indicator of success in medical school. The academic record may be viewed as including the overall GPA, subjects taken, rigor of the courses and trends in performance (i.e., were grades mediocre in the freshman year with a constant improvement during the sophomore and junior years, vice versa, or was performance relatively constant?) (“late bloomer,” “academic redemption”?). A strong undergraduate academic record is considered evidence of both ability and motivation. Grades are not evaluated alone but rather in the context of the total academic program with such factors as part-time employment, participation in varsity sports and other severe demands on study time looked upon as extenuating circumstances.
A sprinkling of WP's (withdrawals) on a transcript is a cause for concern by most admissions committees. One or two WP's will not usually adversely affect a person's chances for admission, but several, even with a good GPA, would be viewed very apprehensively. Premedical students are, therefore, cautioned not to make a practice of withdrawing from courses. One “WP” is perceived better than a “D” or an “F” or “WF.” A “C” does not guarantee rejection.
The Medical College Admission Test
The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is quite important when evaluating an applicant for medical school. A number of medical schools conduct a preliminary screening based entirely on GPA and MCAT scores and secondary applications are not invited, unless certain minimum scores are exceeded. If an applicant’s file is opened, then “Bs” in difficult classes can be distinctly positive. Even if a secondary application is accepted, most medical schools select applicants to be interviewed on the basis of combined GPA and MCAT scores (and, often, personal comments). See information on the MCAT. It is wise to generate a competitive score no later than 14 to 16 months before the desired date of entry to medical school, as earlier competitive MCAT-scoring applicants are taking ‘slots’ for interviews. If a student fails to score sufficiently well on the first test to be competitive, it may be possible to generate an improved second score somewhat later. Some medical schools will accept an otherwise well-qualified student who has poor MCAT scores in the spring administration of the test but better scores in the summer. A single “late” poor score usually results in reapplication for the next year’s cycle. Of course, the student must decide about his/her state of preparedness when deciding when to take the exam.
Logic/critical thinking courses such as Philosophy 1500 may be beneficial for the MCAT verbal reasoning section. There can be considerable misinformation about the strategy which should be employed in taking the MCAT. Many premedical students have been advised to take the test "just for practice" the first time, and then to come back and prepare for the exam during a second and perhaps third test. This is generally very poor advice. Medical schools have ready access to all scores posted in the last three years.
All applicants must present MCAT scores as a required part of the supporting material for their application at virtually all medical schools. Most schools require scores made within approximately three years of matriculation. The MCAT is explained in detail in the MCAT STUDENT MANUAL, a booklet published by the Association of American Medical Colleges and available “on-line.” Practice MCAT exams are available. Students preparing to take the MCAT should obtain a copy of this manual and carefully read the test description early in their college careers. The MCAT now has four sections, biological sciences, physical sciences, verbal reasoning and a writing sample. The AAMC feels that the present format enhances the MCAT's predictive value and encourages students interested in medicine to pursue broad undergraduate study in the social sciences and humanities as well as the traditional natural sciences. The science sections will stress problem-solving, but it will be necessary to know biology, chemistry and physics in order to arrive at the correct solutions. The verbal reasoning section draws upon texts from the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences, but it will use them to test ability to comprehend, reason and think critically rather than to assess expertise in these disciplines. The writing test consists of written essays, neither of which will be scientific in orientation. There is a numerical grade from one to fifteen, with eight as a mean assigned to the first three sections mentioned above, but a letter grade is assigned to the writing section.
Concerning the advisability of using a commercial review course, the following points are offered. A commercial review course may include problems and material designed to teach a student "how to take the test" and these practice tests may give students with poor test-taking skills valuable experience. The primary disadvantage of commercial review courses is that they are expensive. They may be worth the price for certain students. Students taking a 15 - hour load often do not have time to utilize the material available in a commercial review course. Whether or not a commercial review course is worth its cost can only be answered by the individual student. In recent years, a majority of our UGA premedical students have taken a commercial MCAT review course locally. Most of these students express that they have benefited, with proper study and motivation from the materials. To ‘take’ many practice tests is wise.
A guide for the MCAT exam that will be introduced in 2015 is now available on AAMC's website. The Preview Guide for MCAT2015 describes the new exam's content and format. It provides detailed descriptions of the knowledge and skills the new exam will test, includes detailed content outlines, and provides example questions. It also includes information about products and services that are designed to help prospective examinees and others prepare for MCAT2015. For a copy of the guide, please visit
An important part of the documentation used to support an application for admission to medical school are evaluations by individual college faculty members. Hopefully, these can be prepared by faculty members who know the applicant ‘better than slightly’. A typical faculty evaluation 'packet' generated by successful matriculants in the past has included evaluations from three or four science faculty plus one or two from other disciplines (as humanities and/or social sciences) for a total of five or six (which includes the Premedical Director or his/her associate). This is not a requirement of the UGA Premedical Studies Office. An applicant should check the ‘website’ for specific requirements for each school to which one may apply.
A faculty evaluation 'packet' is prepared in the UGA Premedical Studies Office for UGA students and alumni(ae) who request it and are enrolled in the UGA Premedical Studies Program (enrollment is accomplished by attending a required session described on “Required Group Session” on the Premedical Studies home web page). Evaluations may be prepared for irregular students who have a baccalaureate from some other college or university, if they are enrolled at the time at the University of Georgia and have attended the ‘required group session.’
Faculty premedical advisors are often known to members of medical school admissions committees and are, therefore, in a good position to evaluate an applicant. If a good record can be established over the years of successfully predicting that certain students with only marginal qualifications will do well in medical school, then their judgment is trusted by the admissions committee.
To obtain a faculty evaluation 'packet,' the applicant must distribute "Letter of Evaluation" forms to selected faculty members, and then complete a "Premedical Credentials Sheet." The “Credentials Sheet” is a legal document that requests the UGA Premedical Studies Office to prepare the 'packet' and submit it to the medical schools listed on the form. Since the faculty ‘packet’ contains information protected by the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act, it may be sent only to those schools requested in writing by the student. These forms may be obtained from Room 207, Memorial Hall. Students often begin distribution of letters of evaluation early in the 2nd college year. Four or five evaluations should be requested. (Typically three or four from science disciplines, and one or two from humanities/social science.) Transfer students may wish to obtain one or two evaluations from instructors at their previous institutions. Evaluations from former employers, physicians, family friends, etc., do not fit the format of college faculty evaluations and, although such evaluations may be very useful, they should be submitted directly to the admissions committee of medical schools and not to the Premedical Studies Office. Many students complain that they do not know enough faculty members well enough to obtain this number of evaluations. This is a problem that can only be remedied by the student. A written resume of the student's studies, scores, and activities (in high school and college) should be shared with the faculty member from whom the evaluation is requested. Serious applicants must anticipate that they will need evaluations and get to know enough professors to provide them. A very ‘skimpy’ evaluation with repeated comments saying that evaluators do not know the student well enough to provide a complete evaluation may not be received well by voting members of admissions committees.
An early decision that must be made is whether or not to waive right of access to the requested evaluation. Under the provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974 (also known as the Buckley Amendment), students may have access to their official records, which has been interpreted as including evaluations (but only after the student matriculates at a medical school) unless they specifically waive this right. The applicant must be aware that a more candid, and therefore a more helpful, evaluation will usually be made if the professor knows that the confidentiality of the evaluation is to be respected. A waiver is found on the evaluation form and the appropriate box must be checked and the form signed by the applicant before the evaluation letter is given to the evaluating instructor. Waiving this right may be perceived by admissions committee ‘voters’ as being indicative of cooperative traits.
A form entitled "Memorandum to Faculty Writing Letters of Evaluation" is also available, and a link to it is provided on the second page of the evaluation form if the evaluator is not familiar with the process. By requesting the evaluation in person an applicant may give the evaluating professor additional information, answer questions, and renew acquaintances if it has been some time since interacting with the instructor. It is sometimes useful for a "teaching assistant" to submit information to the faculty member responsible for the overall course. An experienced faculty member can very often put a student's motivation and aptitude into excellent perspective with a few well-chosen words. The most important factor in selecting an instructor who will be asked to prepare an evaluation, however, is that he/she should know an applicant well enough to be able to comment from personal knowledge on some fairly subjective factors such as motivation, interpersonal and communication skills, compassion, cooperation, accountability, and general character. A good evaluation will not be a "rehash" of grades made in courses, for such information is already available in transcripts, but it will supplement the other information available and establish its own credibility based on what is said in the narrative. The best evaluations usually have a good balance between instructors in the natural sciences and in the humanities. The entire contents of each faculty evaluation and those from the UGA Premedical Studies Office are submitted "in-toto" and verbatim.
Students should check to see if letters of evaluation have been received by e-mailing the Premedical Studies Office (email@example.com) It is to the advantage of most students to submit their credentials sheets and all letters of evaluation before leaving the University for the summer since most faculty evaluation 'packets' are prepared during the summer. Some summer submissions by postal mail are expected. Those who wait until fall to complete their file may well be at a disadvantage since the evaluation will arrive at the medical school late in the admission cycle. At best, this will result in a later interview and perhaps later acceptance than would otherwise be the case, but even students with strong academic credentials may not be scheduled for an interview if their application arrives late in the cycle.
Students applying under the Early Decision Program must take the MCAT no later than approximately 14-16 months before the desired date to enter medical school and have a complete file by the beginning of summer semester. The evaluations will be mailed so as to arrive at the medical school by August 1, preferably sooner. The UGA Premedical Studies Office cannot guarantee the completion and timely mailing of faculty evaluation ‘packets’ if the student credentials sheet and faculty evaluations are not received by May or June.
Some medical schools receive thousands of applications. Obtaining an interview has therefore become a major hurdle as a large ‘pool’ of applicants will have been narrowed to a few hundred to be interviewed. Personal interviews are required at essentially all medical schools. Interviews are granted only by invitation of the admissions committee and an applicant invited for an interview has passed the preliminary screening and is now being carefully considered for admission. The impressions made in a personal interview will be extremely important, particularly for those students with grades and MCAT scores that are marginally competitive. Many feel that it is impossible to prepare for an interview, but learning what to expect is a method of preparation.
The actual interview is conducted in different formats at different medical schools. Most schools utilize a "one-on-one" personal interview with from one to as many as four or five different interviewers. Others use a "group interview." Some use both. Some interviewers may have studied the applicant’s file before the interview and some may have not. Personal interviews are often quite unstructured, lasting from less than 30 minutes to more than an hour. Many are like pleasant visits in which just about anything might be discussed. Some are more stressful.
Applicants must be prepared to answer some rather personal questions about their own backgrounds, beliefs, and experiences, as well as some general moral and ethical questions. A good interview will determine what makes the applicant "tick", how well he/she relates to others, and how well-informed he/she is on current events, particularly regarding events which will have an impact on medicine and its practice. The practice of medicine demands that a person be articulate and have well-developed interpersonal skills. Most experienced interviewers try not to place unnecessary stress on an applicant during the interview, but on some occasions an interviewer will purposely ask questions or exhibit attitudes designed to stress a student. That is, some may use the "encounter session" format. A mature student will not become unduly flustered or antagonistic if subjected to a stressful situation, but will remain composed and continue to answer questions in a candid and straightforward manner. Applicants should be aware that they may very well obtain an excellent rating from an interviewer who may be perceived as a ‘bit hostile.’ They may also have a poor rating from the "friendly doctor" with whom they had such a pleasant visit. There is an information notebook on interviews for student study available in the UGA Premed Office (Room 207, Memorial Hall).
Listed below are some of the things a person might do in preparation for the interview.
A. Review your record. Be prepared to answer questions regarding your grade point average, science average, MCAT scores, grades on specific courses. Do not be surprised if you are asked about other medical schools to which you have applied.
B. Know who submitted your letters of evaluation and be able to answer simple questions regarding their field, where they were trained, etc.
C. Have some familiarity with the medical school before the interview. Some applicants appear naive or very uninformed about a school to which they have applied. You should have some idea of the opportunities for research, or innovative programs for the institution. This information may be gained in a short conversation with a friend who is currently enrolled, or it may be obtained from the MSAR plus the catalog or from the web site of each school (http://www.aamc.org). The catalogs and newsletters of a large number of medical schools are available in the Premedical Studies Office, as well as alumni magazines from some medical schools. The interview usually offers an opportunity for the applicant to ask questions and obtain additional information about programs of special interest.
Listed below are a few statements/questions that are often used during an interview.
1. Tell me about yourself. This is one of the most commonly used ways to begin an interview. Many interviewers will ask that you continue if you are too brief. Be prepared to give more detailed explanations until the interviewer is satisfied. They often ask about your family and the kind of relationship you have with family members. This type of open-ended format gives you an opportunity to describe accomplishments while giving background information. An applicant should not sound boastful but "if you've done it, it ain't bragging" is an old aphorism. The interview gives you the opportunity to make the committee aware of positive things about you that would be difficult to present in any other way.
2. What do you expect to be doing 10 (or perhaps 20) years from now? This gives the applicant an opportunity to discuss not only medical specialties that are of interest but preferences as to the type practice, where you prefer to live (city vs. small town, region of the country, etc.), other plans plus any concerns that are important to you.
3. Why do you want to be a physician? This may be asked as or followed up with...when and how did you first become interested in medicine? Do you have any work experience in a medical setting? How did this affect you?
4. What do you do for enjoyment? This may include such questions as...what do you like to read, or what were the last three books you read? How do you stay physically fit? What are your hobbies, what sports do you enjoy, or what extracurricular activities do you participate in?
5. What are your plans if you are not accepted to enter medical school?
6. Are you more interested in a clinical practice (patient care) or research? Have you had any research experience? If the answer is yes, you will usually be asked to discuss the research in some detail.
7. Why did you apply to this particular medical school? Where else have you applied/been interviewed/been accepted? Which school is your first choice?
8. How do you plan to finance your medical education?
9. Are there any physicians in your immediate family? Are there any close friends who are physicians or other health care professionals?
10. Why did you attend your particular undergraduate institution? Why did you choose your particular major? Do you feel that you obtained an excellent education there? Why or why not?
An applicant who has received an invitation at a medical school a long distance from both home and school and who has applications pending at other medical schools in the area can often arrange to have an interview while on the same trip. For example, if a student has received an invitation to interview on the west coast, it is often possible to arrange an interview with one or more other medical schools at which an application is pending during the same trip, saving several hundred dollars in airfare. Not all schools will be able to accommodate applicants in this manner and sufficient time must be available to juggle schedules, but a long-distance call to the admissions office of other schools in the area to inquire if an interview might be forthcoming involves little outlay and it may save funds.
Extracurricular Activities & Work Experience
There is a common myth that premedical students sit with their noses in a book 18 hours a day and never participate in any activities other than studying. This is of course not true, for premedical students participate in as many extracurricular activities as students in most other programs and a number hold part-time jobs to assist in meeting expenses. A great many successful premedical students join service clubs and religious organizations, play varsity or intramural sports, participate in debating societies, theatrical groups, glee clubs, the band, and do all the other things done by a typical student, including leading an active social life. Successful premedical students, however, know how to order their priorities. They do the work first, then relax (responsibly!) later.
Involvement in extracurricular activities is viewed very favorably by admissions committees, for, if a student can maintain a competitive grade point average in a rigorous curriculum and still have the time and energy to actively participate in extracurricular activities, both aptitude, motivation, and ‘time management skills’ must be rather high. There is no particular benefit to the student who is a "joiner" and who pays dues but never participates or becomes involved in an organization. A student who has been very involved in activities that are people-oriented, particularly someone who has held office in worthwhile organizations or who otherwise presents evidence of leadership would be considered a strong candidate for medical school , especially if activities involve helping others in need. Admissions committees look for people who are responsible, capable, motivated, and not ‘self-promoters.’ It must be emphasized, however, that no amount of involvement in extracurricular activities can substitute for a good academic record and strong MCAT scores. Such involvement is "icing on the cake" for it will make an academically competitive applicant much more likely to be accepted, but without excellent “numbers” to support the application, it may mean relatively little.
Work experience (or ‘medical shadowing’) in a hospital, neighborhood health center or some other medical facility (seeing physicians interact with patients) will also be viewed quite favorably by most admissions committees, and should be considered a requirement generally. The primary value of working in a hospital, doctor's office, public health clinic, nursing home or hospice is to help in the decision of whether or not to pursue a career in medicine. (Physician-patient interaction is key.) The real value is to the student who can make a more realistic decision. It should be mentioned that a person who knows very little about the practice of medicine or has unrealistic expectations about a medical career will be viewed with considerable apprehension by an admissions committee. The applicant should have a view of the daily activities and responsibilities of a physician.
Some students take training (such as Certified Nursing Assistant or Emergency Medical Technician courses) (often at vocational-technical schools) which allows them to obtain employment in an emergency room, hospital ward, or with an ambulance service, or in some other area as a regular or part-time paramedical employee. The experience gained may be of considerable value if the work schedule does not cause grades to drop. As a general rule, premedical students are urged not to seek part-time employment during their first year but wait until positive study habits are ingrained with a strong academic record. Beware poor grades! Summers and holidays provide opportunities for work, medical ‘shadowing,’ and service to others.
Obviously not every premedical student will be able to find a job that will give him/her a worthwhile experience in medicine and help financially as well. Volunteer work is usually available around hospitals in many different departments. Such volunteer programs are sponsored by both the Athens Regional Medical Center and St. Mary's Hospital in Athens. Information on volunteering may be obtained by calling the Coordinator of Volunteer Services in the Human Resources Department at most hospitals. A short training period is an absolute requirement (for many legal reasons) before a person may begin work and volunteers may need to present evidence of certain immunizations, and a screening test for TB. This will require some time before a person may begin work, so contact the hospital several weeks before you expect to begin. Exposure to patients involves significant risks and responsibilities. Paying jobs unrelated to medicine may give an applicant experience that will be beneficial when applying to medical school. Jobs that require considerable contact with the public, such as in sales, offer excellent opportunities to develop better human relations skills. Some jobs teach a person management skills and help the person to assume greater responsibility. Any "people oriented" work experience may be valuable and will often be discussed in an interview. A community service notebook at the premed office lists some opportunities to serve.
International Students Applying to U.S. Medical Schools
International students in the USA on a Visa without permanent U.S. resident status ("Green Card") often find it surprising that it is much more difficult to enter a U.S. medical school (M.D. or D.O) than it is to enter a U.S. university graduate school to study for a Ph.D. or M.S. degree. Many U.S. medical schools give preference to legal residents of the geographic state in which the school exists, as they operate under instructions from the state governmental officials to 'produce' to meet the health care needs of the specific state. Eligibility for many U.S. Federal Government sponsored financial loans may well be defined by being a U.S. citizen, or a U.S. permanent resident ("Green Card"), or PERHAPS being designated sometimes as a 'political refugee', fleeing violence in their homeland. Information on such issues can usually be found on U.S. college campuses in the Financial Aid Office (@ UGA in the Hunter-Holmes Academic Bldg. near the Arch)and in the Office of International Education (@ UGA on the 2nd floor of Barrow Hall) or Office of International Student Life (@ UGA in Memorial Hall).
Some students may benefit from discussing their situation with an attorney knowledgeable in immigration law and procedures in applying for U.S. residency. Some international students not eligible for U.S. Federal Government Loans, but have the ability to pay (such as through family financial resources), sometimes write the Admissions Offices @ U.S. medical schools to declare such an ability to pay. Specific schools to consider applying can be compiled by studying the book in the UGA Premedical Studies Office in Room 102 Memorial Hall: "Medical School Admissions Requirements", where schools are listed alphabetically by state, and each school posts whether or not applications from international students are considered, and how many international students, if any, entered with a recent class of 1st year students at that school. This site's posting of 'foreign' matriculants should represent international students to U.S. M.D. schools in recent years:
This internet weblink was posted by the NAAHP in 2004: http://www.naahp.org/resources_InternatMed_Article.htm
and another in 2005:
and another in 2009:
In the spring of 2010, the UGA Premedical Studies Office received an announcement from the Duke University School of Medicine regarding its joint activities with the National University of Singapore, which noted this collaboration to be an option for outstanding international students.
The information in the next section below was posted in 2006 by the Premed Advisor @ a NE 'Ivy League" college to a U.S. Premed Advisor Listserv to note how he provides information to his international students):
INFORMATION FOR INTERNATIONAL APPLICANTS:
"It is extremely difficult for international applicants who are not citizens or permanent residents of the United States to gain admission to American medical schools. State-supported medical schools rarely consider international applicants for admission, and those private schools that do accept applications generally require that international students place in escrow the equivalent of one to four years tuition and fees (U.S.$40,000-$200,000). Unlike undergraduate education there are virtually no scholarships available for medical school, and in order to qualify for U.S. government-sponsored loans the applicant must be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States. Thus, international applicants who are considering a career as a medical doctor and hoping to receive their education at an American medical school should think carefully before applying for admission to an undergraduate program in the United States.
"Although we (at _______) have a few international students admitted to medical school each year, it is traditionally to MD/PhD programs that are financed solely through the funds of the medical school. These students in general entered the university with the intent of proceeding to a PhD program."
In 2003, another Premed Advisor from a small U.S. western college posted: "..meanwhile, this is my sense of it. Medical schools are funded by state and/or federal funds which require students to be citizens or permanent residents. I think that as few as 100+ students who are not US citizens nor legal permanent residents matriculate at US medical schools annually now among the 17,000 or so matriculants. This may be an average of 1 per med school in the country. This number is considerably lower than it was 20 years ago. Not all US medical schools accept students who are not citizens or legal residents of the US.
It is important for international students to know that they need not only to be viable candidates in the academic sense (grades, test scores) and in the other ways candidates are assessed. Medical schools which do accept foreign nationals usually require matriculants to have official evidence of a bank escrow account with funding to cover all four years of tuition and living costs, which can be as much as several hundred thousand dollars.
In twenty years of advising hundreds of students, I have had only one student enter a private medical school who was a foreign national, and who had the family funds to be able to establish this large escrow bank account, about 15 years ago. It is important for students coming to the US for undergraduate education to be aware of whatever the official facts are in this regard.
The above information does not necessarily apply to combined MD- PhD programs, but I am not sure of that. It does not necessarily apply to schools of dentistry, and I am not sure about all the other health professions."
Posted in Dec. 2005 by an Administrative Director for U.S. MD-PhD Program in the Mid-West (a most selective school generally seeking very high MCAT scores and most impressive academic credentials and meaningful college laboratory research experiences):
"It is important, however, that the MD-PhD is not viewed as a 'backdoor' into a US medical degree. Only individuals truly interested in the physician-scientist career should be encouraged to pursue such training. Training positions for international students are rather limited. Please see:
for an unofficial list of institutions that have offered funding to internationals. (This list was compiled by a Cornell MD-PhD student; there is no official list that I am aware of.) In terms of stipend & tuition remission, it costs a private institution around $350k to train an MD-PhD student. Because of this tremendous investment, MD-PhD admissions committees scrutinize applicants carefully to ensure that their motivation is true .....The scrutiny is probably most intense for international students because the institution must utilize nonfederal training funds to support these students.
Over the past decade, our MSTP has offered admission to an average of 5 international students a year. (All these individuals did undergraduate work at US & Canadian institutions; we do not accept students with degrees from other countries, unless they have spent at least two years in a domestic postbacc or masters program.) We are enthusiastic about these students, and find that they are almost always among the top students in our program.
So, do encourage your outstanding international students truly dedicated to the physician-scientist career to apply to MD-PhD programs. But I ask that you discourage those individuals who are not committed to a career in academic medicine."
Posted in Dec. 2005 from a U.S. medical school in Chicago: "The University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine accepts 5-15 international students each year, (and matriculates 3-10 each year for the past several years) and we have some private scholarship money with which we can help them. We evaluate their readiness for medical education in the same way and with the same standards we evaluate US citizens or permanent residents.
The observation that it "is very difficult for international students to apply for scholarships" is on target. Moreover, there is little loan money available to them unless they find a credit worthy US citizen or permanent resident to co-sign the loan. So funding medical school education is usually the obstacle."
The intense competition for admission to medical school has stimulated, in the past, some rather unsavory behavior on occasion on the part of a small minority of the premedical students at some schools, including many with excellent academic reputations. These unsavory practices include the sabotage of other students' experiments in laboratories, removal or destruction of assigned reference material and cheating. In those schools where such practices are found or are believed to exist, premedical students find themselves stigmatized and ostracized by their fellow students. Such happenings are very rare, perhaps non-existent among students at UGA, but there have been recent disturbing reports that there is an increase in cheating. Premedical students will be the big losers if there should be an increase in such behavior here.
All premedical students should therefore be aware of the implications and be ready to assist in stopping such practices before they become established here. The University has adopted a strong policy on Academic Honesty and there are strong sanctions against anyone convicted of academic dishonesty. Any student who would resort to such behavior as plagiarism, cheating, or deliberate sabotage of a fellow student's laboratory experiment would be guilty of a flagrant violation of this policy and would not be recommended for admission to medical school. Unsubstantiated charges cannot, of course, be forwarded to a medical admissions committee, but if a student has been convicted by the Student Judiciary of any of the unethical practices listed above, this might decrease chances for admission. A routine check is made with the UGA Student Judiciary as well as the UGA Office of Academic Affairs before faculty ‘packets’ are completed to determine if any applicant has been convicted of anything that would indicate unsuitability for a career in medicine. Avoid activities that raise any appearance of academic dishonesty. Avoid also any criminal behavior or any activities requiring investigation by judicial/law enforcement agencies. Avoid illegal drugs and those who partake. Remember that under-aged alcohol ingestion is illegal, as is driving while impaired or intoxicated. Do not place yourself or others at risk to harm yourself or others. More and more medical schools are initiating ‘background checks’ on applicants. Most UGA premeds work together, study together, and all usually celebrate when one is admitted to medical school. This type of attitude is most important in maintaining a pleasant atmosphere in which to live and learn. Many of your fellow premedical students will be lifelong friends as well as professional colleagues in the years ahead. It is to your advantage to get to know them as undergraduates. The healthy attitude that exists among our premeds is a very significant factor in the excellent admissions record that our graduates have made during the past several years. Medical schools are not seeking applicants with ‘character flaws.’ They wish to admit ethical, moral students.