Preparation Timetable

Tasks for Each Year on the Pre-Professional Track (MD, DO, PA)

First Year

  • Examine and download pre-medical information from the website (check for updates)
  • Start biology classes and your chemistry classes (if ready), also math as appropriate
  • Take the time and effort to know your professors personally
  • Consider possible majors (choose what you love, not what is popular for med schools)
  • Rough in the next 4 years based on Alma and professional school requirements
  • Consider Physics in year 2 with 2nd year of Chemistry to take the August MCATs
  • Buy the Kaplan MCAT review book and use it with each class you take.
  • Bookmark the MCAT site.  Note the testing dates for the new computerized test.
  • Explore the AAMC’s Considering a Career in Medicine Web site
  • Plan how to fit in 2-3 years of volunteer and shadowing work (NOT the same thing)
  • Join the Pre-Med/GAPS list (see Susan Dinwoody in the Dow Science Office)
  • Attend Pre-Med/GAPS meetings as appropriate
  • Begin/continue volunteering (hospitals or nursing home in home town)
  • Begin shadowing experiences (M.D., D.O. or PA) either in Alma, or at home
  • Learn the difference between an M.D. and a D.O. degree, and what a P.A. does.
  • Find and read essays, books etc. about medicine and the practice of medicine
  • Correct/control all money problems (debt, credit cards, credit rating) for a clean slate
  • Ask yourself the following questions regularly:
    • Am I serious about my commitment?
    • Do I have the intellectual ability and the emotional strength to work with sick people so intensely?
    • Will I do whatever it takes? Will I give this my best and first energy?
    • Do I measure up to the “Good Candidate Qualities” (see this site under “career”)

Second Year

  • Continue all appropriate activities from the list above
  • Continue hospital/volunteer work, including more emotionally intense experiences
  • Talk to as many professionals as possible. What are the frustrations of the job?
  • Continue to be an outstanding student (if not, figure out why and fix the problems)
  • Consider CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) training
  • Become familiar with leading medical journals in the library - JAMA, NE Journal of Medicine, American Family Physician, for example
  • Read editorials regularly, especially on health care policy issues
  • Start to look at medical schools on-line to get a sense of their expectations
  • Develop a list of schools to send your scores to before the MCAT application is due
  • Sort out different medical school philosophies, and visit as needed (into next year)
  • Sign up EARLY to take Summer/August MCATs if physics and chemistry are done
    • See MCAT pages on this web site and elsewhere
    • Develop a study plan and stick to it, and do very well on the test

Third year

  • Continue all appropriate activities from the list above
  • Download a blank copy of the application from AMCAS (for MD) or ACOMAS (for DO)
    • See what information will be required, and at what depth
    • Note the limited room for activities, concentrate on doing a few things very well
    • Fill in any weak spots in your four year plan
  • Become knowledgeable about recommendations letters for different schools
    • Begin to sort out who you will ask
  • Develop a strategic plan for the spring MCAT (if not already taken of if repeating)
    • See MCAT pages on this web site and elsewhere
    • Start in the fall (or sooner) with a well-developed study plan and stick to it!
    • Sign up EARLY to take the Spring /April MCATs (and do exceedingly well!)

Over the summer prior to the fourth year

  • Plan ahead to visit schools and talk to admissions people in the summer as needed
  • Sign up EARLY for the Summer (August) MCATs if you do not have at least “9s”
    • Strengthen weak areas, and take it seriously
  • Begin work on the official on-line applications
    • Start your essay immediately after finishing the MCAT (see hints on this web site)
    • Fill in grades/activities as a break from the essay (Alma credits are multiplied by 0.9)
    • Create all documents off-line first, cut and paste as needed
    • Save your essay read by several people until it is excellent in grammar and tone
    • Shoot for late June/early July submission date, but it is better to be good than early
  • Letters of recommendation (see pages on this site and others)
    • Line up possible recommenders
    • Assemble your packet of information
    • Ask for letters by dates well in advance of the actual dates
    • Remind your references and keep on top of the schools and your file

Fourth year (the application year!)

  • Continue all appropriate activities from the list above
  • Make certain your application was transmitted and is accurate
  • Return secondary applications ASAP (within 7 days at the latest)
  • Check in frequently with faculty as needed
  • Double-check that information has been received by the schools (critical for letters)
  • Seek out interview questions. Answer but do not memorize them (see interview hints)
  • Begin financial arrangements (see web pages here and elsewhere)
  • Review all current and pending health legislation and policies
  • Get several interviews. Be knowledgeable, and approachable
  • Get accepted into a Medical or PA school (Hooray!)