10 Things to Think About When Selecting a Medical School
Some of you lucky premeds that are applying this year may have multiple acceptances by now, or will have them by the summer. I just wanted to share some things that you should consider when picking which one you ultimately go to. Having gone through the first semester, some things matter more than you think!
1) The city its in! It’s true, you’ll spend a great deal indoors and won’t have the most interaction with the whole city, but even more than what there is to do there- the city matters for demographics too. The city’s population can largely determine what your school puts an emphasis on. My school is largely geared toward preparing us for primary care because of the needs of the region. For me, this was a good thing. So check that out before you pick!
2) Touring the school. You should get a tour of the school with your interview of course, but I also went to a couple recruitment events and those visits were valuable in my considerations too. What is the environment like? Is it bustling and busy in the school? Are the lecture halls comfortable? You can tell a lot about what the school emphasizes by what kind of environment they foster.
3) What the students are like. Do you get along with the students that are there? What do they emphasize about the school when you interact with them? Think about whats important to you, and ask them about the school’s best and worst attributes. They should give you an honest answer. These will be your best friends in a few short months and your colleagues in the future. So, you gotta like hanging out with them!
4) Resources. Think about how you study. Does the school provide things that would be helpful to you? I especially think about all the things the library provides in the way of resources. Most of them I didn’t know about until I matriculated, but I wish I had thought to ask. Does the school have ebooks? Some classes give you a list of 7 textbooks for one 3 class and you only need to read a chapter from each. That makes ebooks extremely valuable. Are there isolated study rooms? Group study rooms? Is there a place to relax? Think about things like that. Call them and ask them if you don’t know.
5) Support system. This was a big one for me. You’re going to be losing touch with people just by being in medical school. So think about that if you’re going out of state away from family. Maybe you want a break to stand on your own two feet, or maybe you want to stay close to your college friends or family. So think about those things when you’re deciding where to move.
6) Cost. Duh. This can be a big deciding factor in going out of state or not. It’s going to cost a butt-ton of money either way, but really think about the money and where you think you’ll want to practice in the long run. Ultimately, knowing the school I ended up going to, I would have gladly paid the out of state cost to come here. So take it with a grain of salt and go to the right school for you even if it costs more.
7) Belonging. This kind of goes with the above. Do you see yourself going there? Did you feel excited when you were there? Does the environment and the people there make you excited about medicine? Do the students exemplify the kind of medical student you want to be? The kind of doctor you want to be? I can’t really describe the feeling I had or put my finger on what it was but it may be the most important one on this list. There was a sense of belonging for me when it came down to picking a school. I knew I would fit in there, be happiest there, and become my best there. Go with your gut.
8) What’s nearby. Long days spent studying, sometimes I don’t even think about dinner until its 8 o’clock at night and all I feel like doing is calling in a pizza. Look around the area for things to do and eat when you need a break. It matters.
9) Campus amenities. What do they have that other schools don’t? A plush student lounge? An awesome clinical skills practice environment? A buzzing hospital campus complex that keeps your eye on the prize? This is largely personal. So decide what you like.
10) Interview Experience. I went into my interviews panicking about how impressive the other interviewees were, feeling like I didn’t belong at all. By the end of the day though, I realized that we were equals, and I could even see myself among both them and the medical students that took us around the campuses. There was also a big difference between the type of questions I was asked at both of my interviews. You can read about both of them here and here. This one is largely intuitive as well, as I found I just preferred one interview experience over the other just because of my personality.
Hope this helps!
P.S. Look for a feature on my blog at http://blog.accepted.com/tag/