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Medical students often go on to pursue careers as physicians, surgeons, researchers and administrators in the medical profession. At the undergraduate level, medical students complete pre-med courses, which prepare them for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) and for medical school.
Pre-medical and medical school programs can both be found at 4-year colleges and universities. Between bachelor's degree and medical school programs, an undergraduate medical education can take a total of eight years to complete.
In the American medical school system, students are usually required to earn their bachelor's degree and then attend undergraduate medical school for an additional period, in order to earn their Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) degree. Doctors then enter residency programs, which are considered graduate medical education. They can also enter into fellowship programs and pursue additional postgraduate specializations.
Bachelor's-level pre-medicine programs exist to prepare students to succeed on the MCAT and do well in medical school. Students should evaluate schools on the basis of their graduates' success rates in this area and on the strength of the science curriculum offered. Students choosing an undergraduate pre-medical school should make sure that the science curriculum is strong, laboratories are up-to-date and clinical or research work is available.
A pre-medical program should be designed to fulfill medical school prerequisites. Although 'pre-med' is not generally offered as a major, students should make sure to take all the medical school prerequisites between their major requirements and elective courses. There is no precisely-defined curriculum for admission to medical school; however, the MCAT scores and science GPA are especially important. It is for this reason that most, though not all, students applying to medical schools major in a physical science, such as biology or chemistry.
In addition to GPA and MCAT scores, medical schools often look for relevant life experience when evaluating the applicants. Therefore, it is recommended that students going into undergraduate medical schooling find a college with internship and research opportunities. Students will seek out schools that offer training hospital environments or a strong integration with the local hospitals and clinics. Working at an internship or research position can count toward acceptance into medical school, as can a letter of recommendation from a researcher or licensed physician.
Similarly, undergraduate medical schools are evaluated based upon student opportunities and options for clinical studies. Medical students seek out top schools with the most modern equipment and cutting-edge research. Medical schools that include teaching hospitals and affiliations with clinics are valued.
An undergraduate pre-medical school curriculum is based on the Association of American Medical Colleges' standards, although each school may add classes to their particular program. The more competitive medical schools may favor applicants who have taken advanced undergraduate science coursework. Areas to consider include physiology, genetics, anatomy, microbiology, neurobiology and immunology, among others. At the more basic level, this curriculum includes two semesters each of:
'Undergraduate' here refers to students who hold a bachelor's degree, but have not yet earned their M.D. or D.O. degree. Some universities offer combined B.S./M.D. programs that can be completed in as few as six years of study. Students may also opt for a dual M.D./Ph.D. program in their preferred area of specialization. Medical school curricula take four years to complete, with the first two years consisting of science courses and the last two years being made up of clinical rotations in various areas of medicine. Programs include the study of subjects such as:
|Ohio State University-Main Campus||56064||4-year, Public|
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|Michigan State University||46985||4-year, Public|
|Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus||45233||4-year, Public|
|New York University||43797||4-year, Private not-for-profit|
|University of Washington-Seattle Campus||42451||4-year, Public|
|University of Wisconsin-Madison||42180||4-year, Public|
|University of Michigan-Ann Arbor||41924||4-year, Public|
|University of South Florida-Main Campus||40431||4-year, Public|
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|Boston University||32179||4-year, Private not-for-profit|
|Virginia Commonwealth University||32027||4-year, Public|
|Wayne State University||31505||4-year, Public|
|University of California-Davis||31392||4-year, Public|
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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics