What types of grades do I need to get to be competitive?
Nationally, the average entering GPA of students accepted to medical school for the entering class of 2010 was a mean science GPA (math, biology, chemistry, physics) of 3.62 (B+ to A-) and a mean overall GPA (all courses) of 3.68. There were approximately 41,000 applicants for 18,000 seats. For some of the other health professions, such as dentistry and optometry, GPA’s of 3.0 or better are usually sufficient due to the smaller number of applicants.
Can I use my AP courses to fulfill prerequisites for medical school?
No. Medical schools will not accept AP courses in the basic sciences as substitutes for college Biology, Chemistry, Physics, or English courses. In some cases, where Math is required, schools may accept an AP Calculus course, but this is not universal. In general, we recommend that you take college-level courses in all of the required subject areas.
How do I go about planning my courses to prepare me for a career in medicine or one of the other health professions?
When you enter Ithaca College, you will plan your schedule with an advisor in the field you plan to major in. Let that advisor know of your intentions to pursue this career path and they will help you register for the appropriate course (i.e. Biology and/or Chemistry). In addition, the Premedical Sciences Advisory Committee holds an informational meeting for all incoming Freshman and transfer students to explain the requirements and procedures for students interested in the health professions. Members of this committee are always available to meet with students individually.
Can I take some of my prerequisites over the summer?
Yes, with some important considerations. First of all, you need to think about why you want to take these courses over the summer. If it is because you simply can’t fit them into your schedule, or you need to complete them by a certain time and there’s no other way to do it, then yes. If you are doing it to allow you take only one science course a year because that’s “easier”, than we don’t recommend it. Medical schools look not only at your grades, but also at how challenging your curriculum was. Making it “easier” will be to your disadvantage. That said, there are many legitimate reasons for taking a course over a summer. If you do need to do this, make sure you take the course at a four-year institution rather than a community college if at all possible. It may not be fair, but some medical schools do not view courses from community colleges as being as rigorous as courses at four year institutions. We also recommend that you take no more than one course over a summer if possible. Summer courses, due to the short time available, often are not at the same depth as traditional courses and students often do not retain the information as well over the long term.
I’ve heard that you must do research at some point to be competitive, is this true?
There are lots of different activities you can pursue during your undergraduate career. If you are considering a career in academic medicine (i.e. becoming a physician at a teaching hospital, doing clinical research, etc.), research is very important. If you are more interested in pursuing volunteer opportunities (working in a soup kitchen, volunteering at the hospital, etc.), that is perfectly acceptable. Research is not “required”, it is simply one of a many activities you can become involved in that have clinical relevance in the long term.