Medical School; MD/PhD, & Medical Physics

Place to discuss medical school and the combined MD/PhD programs.
On 6/15/10 this page has been expanded to include Medical Physics.


17 Responses

  1. For anyone who is interested in going into Medical Physics I can give some advice from my experiences.

    I work as a Medical Physicist in a Radiation Oncology Department. My main tasks involve working with the doctor to create treatment plans for cancer patients, performing calibrations and QA on our equipment and various other radiation physics calculations. Radiation Therapy Physics consists of the largest area of our field, but there are also Diagnostic Physicists and Nuclear Medicine Physicists. Diagnostic Physicists are involved with various imaging modalities including X-ray, CT and MRI while Nuclear Medicine Physicists are involved when there are radionuclides such as in PET.

    When I was at TCNJ the Biomedical Physics track did not exist, but as I look through the recommended courses they look like good preparation for graduate school. Treatment planning involves a good knowledge of the human body so an anatomy course should be taken. This will help prepare you because you will need to take a graduate level anatomy course as well. Although I have never taken Organic Chemistry I would suggest taking both Organic Chemistry I and II because it will broaden your options down the line if you decide you want to change your path (like apply to Medical School).

    To advance in our field it is necessary to become board certified by the American Board of Radiology ( The requirements to sit for the exam are listed on the website. Currently you need a M.S. to sit for the exam but it may change to a Ph.D in the near future. The exam is three parts. Part 1 is a written test on general radiation physics, Part 2 is a written test in your specialty and Part 3 is an oral exam in your specialty. The ABR has recently instated new rules that govern who can sit for Part 1 of this exam as of 2012 or later. This states that the applicant must have graduated from a CAMPEP-accredited education program ( A list of CAMPEP-accredited education programs can be found here ( Another great source of information about our field is the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (

    I would recommend that any undergraduate student interested in pursuing a career in Medical Physics review the information in the above links and apply to CAMPEP-accredited programs. The requirements are constantly changing so it is necessary to keep up to date on the information. Knowing this information now can help you have a smooth transition into the field of Medical Physics.

    There are other graduate programs out there and many of them are working to become CAMPEP-accredited. I graduated from Stony Brook University and they are in the process of becoming accredited. If you do end up in a program that is not currently accredited you should inquire if they are working towards accreditation. You should also review their course sequences to make sure that you will meet all the necessary requirements to apply for your board exams.

    On a final note there are opportunities for research in our field but they exist mainly at research universities. The majority of the field is involved in clinical work and our primary responsibility is taking care of the patient. I hope that this information is able to help someone and please feel free to contact me with any questions.

  2. I have a little time so I figured I will give you a little insight into the medical school admittance process. I will be attending Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and am finally done with the long but rewarding process. I by no means had as stellar MCAT scores or perfect GPAs as my predecessors, but I came out on the other side with several interview invites and most importantly acceptance into one of my top schools.

    For me, I began the process my Junior year’s winter break and studied for the MCATs that I took in May. I studied from Dec-May and looking back at it, although it seems miserable, I enjoyed reviewing all of this material at once so you make connections and learn new things that you may have otherwise missed the first time around. The MCAT really isn’t a difficult test. It just takes time and practice. I was never a great standardized test taker so I took a Kaplan course. The Kaplan course ran from Feb-Apr every Sat and Sunday so you could imagine going to class 7 days a week was draining. For those interested in Kaplan, please email me and ill give you some insight on how to get it cheaper, pros, cons, and my overall impression. I will say that through the course and independent study, I increased my score by 8 points. Once I took my MCAT in May, I took a month off to relax before starting the application process.

    The application process ran through AMCAS so basically you fill out a primary application with personal statement, recommendation, etc. Once you submit that, it takes weeks before you are verified. I was verified in August and I submitted in July. Once verified, the primary app it is submitted to the individual schools and you will receive secondary apps with more personal statements. Schools vary but I received all of my secondary apps by September which is still relatively early. I did them as soon as possible and was fully completed by October. From there it is just waiting, preparing for interviews, and riding out the semester strongly.

    Overall, I started in Dec 2008 and was accepted in Nov 2009. It cost me $1500 for the MCAT course, $1600 for preliminary apps, about $1500 for secondary applications, $50 for the interview (I got out cheap and was very lucky to only have to spend on gas), and about 5 years lost from my life due to stress 🙂 .

    I wish those pursuing an MD the best of luck in the application process as understandably it is only the first but most important step in achieving your aspirations. If anybody has any questions I will gladly meet up or something and we can just chat about undergraduate preparation, my experiences, etc. I am sure Brandon and Matt can attest to this, but it is nice having someone to talk to about the medical school process that has already gone through it already. I will absolutely offer any assistance and will be in the physics department a fair amount this semester so feel free to ask me anything!

    • Thanks for the insight Corey. I’m still trying to figure out what my best plan of action is, however, this is definitely helpful!
      Have a great summer/ enjoy what lies ahead.
      Shaun Field ’12/13

  3. I just finished up my first semester at MUSC in their MSTP, and I thought I would share a few thoughts.

    I absolutely love it here! Charleston, SC is a paradise. The weather is beautiful, the city is beautiful, and the people are wonderful.

    I can’t speak for the other graduate departments, but the neuroscience faculty are amazing. During my lab rotation I was given incredible support and the resources to run essentially any project I wanted.

    The MSTP department staff are incredibly helpful, and they eliminate almost all of the paperwork normally associated with being in school. They do everything for you including reregistration for classes.

    If you are interested in the MSTP, warm beach weather, and neuroscience, I can’t think of a better school:-)

  4. Since I have some time I figured id comment on my interview experience at UMDNJ-RWJMS. Most of you who are reading this thread will most likely apply to robert wood so this could be very valuable, so I will try to recap everything I remember!

    I interviewed at the Camden campus early October. It was one-on-one open file interview with Dr. Vijay Rajput. My interview was at 2 oclock, and I was to meet with a receptionist who would take me to his office. Unlike most everybody else, I had no orientation and there were no other students which was nice. The interview was about an hour and change. He introduced himself, talked about his family, what he does etc. and asked me “so tell me about yourself.” Here are some more questions/ topics he asked me as well.

    Is a Dr. a healer or Scientist?
    My strengths and weaknesses
    what is downfall today’s physician (answer: communication… about the only answer of mine he seemed to like 🙂 )
    He asked me about the Governor election in NJ
    My biggest challenge
    Health care reform
    He gave me a scenario of how I spend my time now and then asked me to see how it would change in 20 years.. questions along the lines of whats first family or your job.. etc.
    What do you read for pleasure
    What do you do to relieve stress
    How do you study
    How is physics and medicine related

    What the hardest part of the interview was thinking on my feet. He would ask me a question but would say okay now you can’t use an example you used already. He liked to challenge you to think on the spot and not how you practiced. He also looked for a certain answer every time to prove his point so it was tough to gauge if he liked your answer or not.

    At the end of all this “drilling,” he left me 30 minutes for questions. I thankfully prepared an hours worth of questions so that last 30 minutes flew by and showed my interest in the school. I use the term “drilling” jokingly because he was a wonderful man who absolutely loves his job. Overall, the interview was really casual and laid back.

    At the end, I was given a tour and dinner and left. I was very iffy about the interview but I guess it went over well.

    Also, UMDNJ will be opening a new campus in 2012 called cooper university medical school? So those who are aspiring to be medical doctors, there are going to be an extra 100+ seats in the new jersey medical school system!!

  5. Matt’s roundup sounds basically like the med school interview process everywhere I went. Sometimes there are also interactions with current medical students, for tours or group lunches. At some places the med students have a say in the admissions process, but in most places they are just there to help you figure things out. Some of the fancier places may do a group or panel interview, where there will be a few interviewers and one or many interviewees.

    When Thomas and I were interviewing at medical schools, in ’02-‘03, we tried bouncing possible questions off each other and grading how our responses sounded. It’s a bit silly when you know the other person real well, but it was helpful to hear how things sounded out loud. In theory, you should be able to convince a professor to do a mock interview with you.

    Questions we thought about:
    What’s your greatest strength/weakness?
    What would your friends say are your best/worst traits?
    Why physics? This came in two flavors: you’re amazing to have done physics and you’re an idiot for having done physics.
    Why medicine?
    How do you see X and medicine working together? For us, this would usually be physics, but they might say science in general, or if you had a minor in something they might talk about that.
    What kind of doctor do you want to be?
    What do you see yourself doing in 5/10/20 years?
    What do you do in your spare time?
    If you were a fruit, what kind of fruit would you be?
    What questions do you have for me? This one is tricky because you want to show that you’re interested but not that you don’t know anything at all.
    If you’re applying for a specific program, there will generally be questions associated with that, such as about research, teaching, serving a specific demographic or population, etc.

    The only other thing I’d remind you about is to make sure you look professional. Interviewers can be quickly biased by things that you might not think are a big deal, such as the color/style of your tie or suit, your hairstyle, piercings, etc. Generally speaking, it won’t make or break you, but it can change the feel of the interview from a friendly chat to that of a bad first date.

  6. All right,

    Well, my interview day began with an introduction to the school, the curriculum, and other general program information in a conference room with a few other interviewees and a gentleman named Marc Lubbers. He’s a good host and I’m fairly sure you will be seeing him at some point during your day here (he’s the assistant director of admissions).

    After that we went on a tour of the hospital and college of medicine guided by a retired doctor from the community. You will recognize your tour guide by his or her light blue jacket, which appears to be the set attire.

    We then had lunch with a couple of medical students and chatted about the school, interviews, etc.

    It’s a pretty standard interview schedule/setup from my experience.

    After lunch we had our interviews! My first was with Dr. Leure-duPree, who asked me about extracurricular activities, why I was interested in going to medical school when I was a physics major (he seemed to think I could make more money continuing my physics education and going into the private sector; which of course implied that he assumed money was a large factor in my being there), and what my opinion was on socialized medicine, among other things. If you speak with him you can probably bet on getting a question about the current health care debate going on (although that is probably a safe bet just about anywhere now). He was strongly against implementing socialized medicine by the way, in case you were wondering. He was also pretty jovial but his speech was a bit difficult to understand at times.

    My second interview was with a woman who did research at the medical center but I can’t recall her name or what her field was specifically. I remember that some of her questions were on medical ethics, and she also asked me a couple of questions that she derived from my personal statement on the AMCAS application (basically asking me to clarify something, or elaborate in some way).

    As far as how I prepared… I reviewed my AMCAS application, and my personal statement in particular, as well as the secondary application (which was hardly anything at all for Penn State if I remember accurately), and I also tried to be somewhat knowledgeable about the school.

    For example, Penn State is notable for its department of humanities (the first such department at a medical school), which is not that common as far as medical schools go. Consequently, the curriculum here is frequently very focused on humanism in medicine and there are many additional classes devoted to this topic on top of the standard “this is disease, this is how you recognize it, this is how you treat it”. As you might imagine a lot of the students here find this emphasis to be a waste of their time and complain about it frequently.

    Also, the curriculum here is essentially a mixture of lecture, laboratory (at times, especially gross anatomy), what is referred to as problem-based learning (“PBL”, small group sessions with a faculty facilitator where you discuss a medical case and create “learning objectives” to go and study on your own), and in the first year a smattering of team-based learning (similar to PBL except all the small groups are together in one room with one or two facilitators who lead the discussion; this appears to still be experimental here and most students didn’t like it much).

    In addition, all of the lectures are recorded and made available for streaming online through a software called MediaSite, so if you are like me and don’t enjoy lecture that much you usually don’t have to go. Lastly, the school uses a web software called ANGEL, which is basically like SOCS at TCNJ. You can download the lecture powerpoints/PDFs/notes etc. from ANGEL, and there are also other resources and sometimes mandatory quizzes listed under your different courses as well.

    If you’d like to hear more about certain courses in particular, how adjusting the first year was, or really anything else, just ask!

    I hope this was a little helpful.

  7. Hey Corey,

    I just checked my e-mail and saw that you left this message here. I actually have an exam to run to at the moment, but I will get back to you later today with hopefully something helpful!

  8. Matt,

    I have actually applied to Penn state med school, and I was wondering if you could shed some light on your interview experience at Penn state or in general.

    i.e. questions they asked, how you prepared etc etc.

    This is actually directed to anyone so please share!

  9. Corey,

    I think most of what you were asking about has been addressed already, but if anything is still unclear just ask and I might be able to clear things up (assuming I can remember the details).

    Also, if you want some perspective on medical student life from someone in the MD path I can share some reflections on my experiences so far. I am currently nearing the end of my first year at Penn State’s medical school in Hershey.

  10. A few things to add to this:

    When you are applying to something and are really serious about that school, call them and make sure your application is in order. Things can get screwy in admission offices. Sometimes the wrong people are looking at the wrong things in your application. Also, remember that some schools will look primarily at people from their home state or their undergrad institute.

    Also on the AP front, I think some medical schools don’t like AP coursework in Biology. They also prefer at least one semester of college coursework in Physics, Inorganic Chemistry, and Math. Some places will also want a course in writing. It’s tough to cover all your bases sometimes. Schools that get thousands of applications don’t have a problem culling you because you didn’t fit their requirements exactly. Again, if you call them and talk to a person about it, they may be able to help figure out what happened or figure out how to finagle your course work to fit their requirements. For example, biochemistry could be the same as one semester organic chemistry, or human physiology the same as one semester of biology. There is some wiggle room.

    And finally, some of you may qualify for the Fee Assistance Program if you and any living guardians are below 300% of the poverty level, which is about 50K for a family of 3. This will reduce MCAT and AMCAS fees while eliminating most secondary application fees. For the rest of you, think of it as an investment…

  11. There is already a lot of good information here, but I still may be able to contribute.

    Lesson(1): I am in the final stages of the MD/PhD application process; i.e. I now hold 5 acceptances, I’m waiting to hear from 2 schools, and I have one more interview scheduled. Note: I applied to 22 schools and received 8 interviews. My MCAT was in the 96th percentile, I graduated with a 4.0, I had more research experience than many graduate students, I got my clinical experience in UPenn’s premed program, and the schools told me my letters of rec were outstanding. I thought I was hot stuff, but 14 of 22 schools didn’t think I was worth an interview. Lesson(1): Apply to a lot of schools!!!!!!

    Lesson(2): Take biochem, stat 215, genetics, and at least 1 psychology course!!! Biochem is a chemistry class offered for nonchemmajors in the fall and majors in the spring. A lot of med schools require it, but TCNJ’s website and med school committee never mentioned it. Stat is not required as a physics major, but it is also a requirement for a lot of schools. The same is true for psychology and genetics – plus you can’t be serious about medicine without knowledge of genetics.

    1. It is helpful to know your MCAT score before you begin applying, so get it out of the way. I decided to take the test 2 weeks before I actually took it, so I didn’t study. However, I was a tutor in Organic Chem, Gen Chem, and Gen Physics for 2 years before I took it. I also read a lot for pleasure. So, I really just studied in a different way. Like Yawar said, “if you don’t use it, you lose it.” Aim for a score in the mid to upper 30’s to be competitive.

    2. Even though, the AMCAS application doesn’t go live till June (or May I forget), you can write your essays early. The application is a little different every year, but they will always ask you why you want to be a doctor, why MD/PhD, and specifics on your research. They will also ask you to write about every activity you have done in college, so get crackn’ Also, get a lot of people to proof read them and be super critical of your writing!

    3. Submit the AMCAS app ASAP! In June! You need to wait months sometimes for the schools to send you their secondary app, and it is no fun doing apps while you’re a senior plugging away at 400 level classes. Also, the app fees will cost you ~ $3000 if you apply to as many schools as I did, so have a way of paying for it even if it means skipping your summer vacation.

    4. Some schools don’t send you a secondary app, so read each schools admissions web page carefully. Once they start rolling in get them done fast but with quality work. If it is during the summer this is a lot easier.

    5. Be prepared to travel if you are applying around the nation. Interviews start happening in October and they don’t end until March. During this time you will need to be able to drop what you are doing to fly around the country shooting your A-game. MD/PhD interviews are often 2 days with a total of 3 – 14 1 hr interviews per school. It is intense, so make sure you know your app through and through. Most of the time they want to chat about your research, so go over your stuff. I practiced with my friends before my first interview, but after 2 schools you are usually a pro.

    6. You also need money to hold spots once you’re accepted ($100 – $400) . This is refundable as long as you let them know you are withdrawing before May 15.

    This is all that I can say off the top of my head. It is all pretty fresh to me still, so ask specific questions and I’ll supply detailed answers. Good luck!

  12. The whole process of applying to an allopathic medical school runs through the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). This group consists of the 130 accredited M.D.-granting U.S. medical schools and the 17 accredited Canadian medical schools. They compile and collate a lot of information for people at all stages of their medical career. Most importantly for you, they have a lot of stuff about choosing to do medicine (, applying to medical school (, and a helpful timeline for everything ( They also have a lot of data about people who get in and apply in case you like numbers ( Another really useful item is the Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR) which they publish and contains all the information for what an individual school’s requirements are as well as statistics regarding admissions. I would bet that there is a copy of the latest version over in the Biology department if you really want to check it out. Ask the Medical Careers Advisory Committee (MCAC) (
    Anyway, if you’re going to apply to med school, there is a group application to the majority of the US schools called the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) which takes care of most of the US and Canada. There are 3 other major medical school application services: the Texas Medical and Dental Schools Application Service (TMDSAS), the Ontario Medical School Application Service (OMSAS), and the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service (AACOMAS). I can’t help you with those besides to tell you they exist. Some medical schools do not participate in any of them and will only take your money and time directly, but I’m not sure which ones they are anymore. Generally the application process starts in the summer after your junior year and most deadlines fall between October and December or your senior year. Some of the osteopathic schools will accept applications until early April of your senior year, in case you get desperate.
    In case you’re wondering, most schools in the US are allopathic schools, which give you a MD. Osteopathic schools give you a DO, but you end up doing the same stuff afterwards in terms of residency and medical practice. They also offer dual-degree stuff and what not. The general perception seems to be that allopathic > schools.
    So during the application process, each school basically gets a packet from AMCAS about you. This way you don’t end up sending transcripts to 130 schools. AMCAS verifies all your information for the schools in advance. Then the schools decide whether they like you enough to take more of your time and money by asking for a secondary application. These may require a new essay or some other tidbit of info, which schools sell as filling in the missing pieces from the AMCAS, but it often seems like they just want more money. You can use it though to flesh out things you think a specific school might be worried about with your application.
    Eventually the schools will decide on interviews. They’ll bring you in and in some cases you will have a decision within a week or a month from the interview. It depends on the school. Some places do a rolling admissions process where they just say yes or waitlist everyone who comes in above a threshold. Others will say yes to a small number of people who are above a really high threshold, and wait to decide on the rest until they have interviewed everyone. Others just wait until the end for everything. Obviously it will generally help you to have your application done and handed in as soon as possible so they can decide whether they want to interview you or not.
    Sorry for the length but your question was bit a vague so I’m not sure exactly what you were looking for. Let me know if there is something specific you want more info on Corey.

  13. I know within the last couple of years there have been a handful of students who have been accepted into medical school or md/phd programs. I am currently in envy of your position and would like to ask about the application process. Anyone one have any insight into the whole AAMC AMCAS…. and all those acronyms? I know the gist of how things work but I would like some clarification or just reinforce it with a run down of the process etc. Thanks!

  14. Almost all medical schools offer some sort of dual degree program, MD/PhD, MD/JD, MD/MS, etc. So why should you spend the extra time for a couple of extra letters?

    The idea is to give you a unique perspective or skill set. It’s like changing your coordinate system or using Lagrangian mechanics rather than Newtonian. It’s not necessarily better, but it’s different. MDs tend to want results while PhDs tend to want to understand things. In theory, MD/PhDs want both and strive to use their understanding to positively affect clinical results.

    If you want to be a physician scientist, doing research and clinical work, then you should think about the MD/PhD route. You could also just do the MD and decide to do research later, but you’ll be at a slight disadvantage as compared to MD/PhDs.

    If you like the MD, but aren’t crazy about research, stick to a straight MD as you’ll get opportunities to do research along the way. Some places will let you jump ship to a dual degree program if you really want and are a good student, so you can change your mind if you want later on.

    If you love research, but aren’t sure about medical school, think about the MD/PhD route as you’ll have more flexibility and the total time to PhD can be similar. An MD/PhD can apply for more jobs than a PhD alone or an MD alone. Also, an MD generally has more career options than a PhD, but they need to have a good track record of research to be competitive with PhDs for research oriented jobs.

    If you do decide on the MD/PhD, your science GPA needs to rock, you need to have great MCAT scores, and a lot of research experience. The MCAT scores and research experience are most important here. You’ll want to do research at TCNJ as well as at other institutes. Programs are looking to see that you are dedicated to research. It helps if you’re published, have presented posters, or have given talks, including the ones at TCNJ. You’ll need recommendations from the folks you’ve done research with, and they’ll need to make you sound like a deity.

    These programs are small and selective. The largest program is likely at WashU in St. Louis which takes about 20-30 students a year while most have class sizes in the single-digits. For perspective, most medical school classes are around 100-200 per year. There are about a 140 or so MD/PhD programs in the country and only 40 that are funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The NIH funded programs are described as Medical Scientist Training Programs and are in theory much more selective and prestigious. These programs are generally older and better established, and research shows that graduates of these programs have an easier time getting research funding in the future as compared to MDs or MD/PhDs from non-MST Ps. Depending on your situation and competitiveness, you’ll want to apply to a high number of programs. Even very competitive applicants can be weeded out due to bad juju with the director of a program or a poor recommendation. When you only have a handful of spots, you don’t give them away to the borderline people unless you have to. If you’re a borderline applicant, apply to a lot of them or be prepared for rejection.

    In general, MD/PhD programs are setup as 2y-Xy-2y, where you do 2 years of medical school during which you may take some graduate coursework, Xy of PhD research, and then finish up with 2 or slightly less years of your medical training. Nationally, the average time to completion is about 7.5 years. Yeah, it’s a long time. As they say, “the time will pass anyway,” so you might as well do this if you want it. You should definitely ask programs how long most of their students take to finish; if they don’t have the number then you should move them lower on your list.

    Oh and most programs cover your medical school tuition, your grad school tuition, and give you a stipend to live on. My program also has an ‘improvement fund’ which pays for books, medical equipment, and other things I might need. Now it isn’t a lot of money, if you live in NYC or LA. Stipends do vary by location from 18K and up, but they rarely exceed 28-30K. So consider the location and the cost of living when you are applying; UPenn is a great school but do you want to live in a dorm through your 20s? Now most doctors are out of debt in 4-5 years, so I wouldn’t make this a huge part of your reason to go the MD/PhD route.

    As far as what your PhD is in, that depends on the school and on you. Most MSTPs offer a lot of flexibility, where you can do your PhD in econ, epidemiology, physics, or engineering, along with the usual medical fields. The key factor here is what do you want to research in and will the program help make it happen? Smaller and less established programs take a harder line on this and restrain you to a few departments. Some places will let you pursue a PhD in history, as long as it can be somehow related to medicine. When deciding, consider what the strengths of the schools are as well as possible faculty for you to do your PhD with. I recommend against going to a school just for a faculty member as people move around in science. If you’re flexible and don’t have roots, that is fine as you can change institutes with them. It can be a pain though. If you aren’t sure what you want your PhD to be in, pick a large school with a lot of strong programs.

    Again, these are long and hard programs. In the end, the flexibility in terms of career path and the combined training in research and clinical work were a bit too alluring for me to pass up. The decision is highly personal though.

    Other things you should know: MSTPs do not require you to pay back your stipend/tuition if you say screw it after a few years. You will have to reapply to medical or graduate school though if you want to keep doing just one. Some MD/PhD programs do require you to pay it back. The MSTPs do not favor instate applicants, but other MD/PhD programs may as they are often affiliated with state funded schools. Some schools require GRE scores, some don’t. Some programs take international students, but most require US citizenship or permanent residents.

    Let me know if there are any other things I forgot. Ochoa, I hope you’re happy. I could’ve been curing cancer!
    For more information, check out
    The American Physician Scientists Association has a lot of useful info from the perspective of students currently in MD/PhD programs. Check out the future Medical Research Investigators – fMRI at which is loosely affiliated with them and is made up of premed students.

    The AAMC site and have information for MD/PhDs so check them out too.

  15. Thanks for starting Corey. I think this would be a lot easier if there were set questions to answer, but I can freestyle for a bit if y’all don’t mind my rambling. If you are interested in medicine, please post a question so we can help you specifically.

    If you’re thinking about going to medical school, there is a lot you need to know. If you’re serious about it, odds are you already know a lot of it. If you are just thinking about it, do some searching online or talk to some of the pre-med students around you.

    First, check out

    To be a medical student, most places require you to take Bio 1/2, Organic Chem 1/2, and a course in English. You’ll also need Calc, Physics 1/2, and the General Chem courses, but you should get those anyway in this dept.

    You’ll need to take the MCAT. Take it soon and often if need be. The latest you can take it if you want to go straight to medical school will be the summer of your Junior year or early in Senior year. The test tests physical sciences, verbal, biological sciences, and writing. It is not math heavy; no calculators needed or allowed. You will want to review for it for a while and take a lot of practice tests.

    The scores on the MCAT go from 0-45. If you score above 24, congrats, you might get an interview at the state schools. But that’s not very likely. I’d aim for 28 or higher, and I strongly encourage you to aim higher.

    For most public schools, in-state students are preferred as the state subsidises medical education. You will also find osteopathic schools are generally easier to get into. Some public schools and private schools, will love students from weird areas. Generally, schools in the midwest and southeast get less applications and can be easier to get into.

    In terms of things to do during your time at TCNJ:
    Talk to people in the biology department. Dr. Shevlin is real helpful, but I think Dr. O’Connel still runs the Med Careers Advisory Committee. These are the guys that compile your recommendation letters for the application, so talk to them for advice and to build rapport.

    Volunteering and shadowing has become very important. Medical school applications are increasing, so they like to see that you aren’t a psycho who hates social interaction and that you’ve actually thought this out. Try to find a physician to follow around at UMDNJ-Newark, Robert Wood Johnson, or even someone you’ve gone to who you had a good experience with. Sometimes it helps to ask your family members or relatives for help with finding someone.

    Research is important to some schools and critical for MD/PhD programs. If you’re doing independent studies at TCNJ, that will help, but if you can do research with people at a medical school or another institute, that would look better.

    Obviously, your grades are important. Just remember that you actually learning something is also important. Follow the good teachers, even if they’re more challenging. You can coast through a lot of courses in college, but if you’re getting nothing out of it, then why are you wasting your time? This is especially important for courses that cover things you will need to know for the MCAT.

    On that note, if you weaseled your way out of all the various intro courses in Bio/Physics/Chemistry by taking advanced courses in highschool, you should be studying extra hard for the MCAT. That material will be on the test; you will need to know it. I suggest taking the MCAT as soon as you are done with the minimum requirements and have had some time to study. People tend to forget stuff really fast when they aren’t using it daily.

    For med school, your admission will be primarily decided upon your MCAT scores and science/math GPA. If you get to the interview, the rest of your package will be looked at, but if the first two items suck, odds are low on acceptance.
    Check out these sites for more info: has advice from people who have gone through the various stages and those who are trying to get through them. Check out the forums on this website for lots of useful info. is the official site for American medical schools and it has links for students and people interested in medicine

  16. Hey everyone for all those interested in pursuing a career in medicine, strictly Medical School, here is some advice that I received over the past few months that I wish I knew when I was a freshmen.

    I am a Junior now and am in the process of beginning to study for MCATS and filling out applications and such. When applying to medical school it is recommended that you receive a committee letter from TCNJ medical school board. They really dont consider writing the letter unless you have about a 3.5 GPA and a 30 on the MCATs. (They are flexible). This composite letter is very important and many schools would like to see it with your application. In other words, do well in all your classes. The other thing to consider is that the letter requires 5 recommendations from faculty/staff, research employers, etc etc. Get to really know your teachers so you can get a good letter come Junior year. Also explore your options and get involved. I unfortunately got a late start on it but am know volunteering/shadowing at CINJ. Even though research may not be your thing, try to get involved in an REU. The knowledge and the relationships you gain during your experience is definitely worth every minute in the lab. I am applying to internships/REU’s again this summer in cancer biology because I aspire to pursue the field of oncology (hopefully) in the near future. I learned so much from my past REU and I hope to learn just as much in a field that I am a little more interested in.

    That is just some advice that I could think up on the spot. (Im distracting myself from MCAT studying/ applications) If anyone has any questions just post back. Hopefully this initial comment on this thread will start some conversation.

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