Applying to Medical School
The commitment to pursue a medical degree is a long journey that begins long before you set up an account in AMCAS. We are excited that you are interested in the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine. Please review the following information as you apply to medical school. We wish you the best in your pursuit of a medical education.
Step 1: Look at your academics.
GPA: Be sure to research the school’s website to see if your GPA is close to the mean GPA accepted. If not, you may want to take additional classes to increase your cumulative GPA. This can be done through post-baccalaureate programs, or by taking additional undergraduate courses. Please note - graduate level courses will not be combined with your undergraduate GPA but can still show competency in upper level science courses and demonstrate likelihood of success based on your GPA. Visit the AAMC website on post-baccalaureate programs to learn more about the types of programs available.
Prerequisites: Have you completed all of your prerequisite coursework with grades of C or better? If you have taken AP or IB credits, you will need to check with each school to make sure that they accept those credits for meeting the pre-requisite requirements.
MCAT: Does your score meet or exceed the minimum accepted score? Meeting a school’s minimum academic qualifications is the first key for admission. Be sure to apply to schools where your MCAT score falls within the range of their accepted scores. If your score is at the low end of the range, you may consider retaking the MCAT to demonstrate your academic competence. Retake it only after you have adequately prepared, however. For information about the 2015 MCAT exam, visit the AAMC site on MCAT 2015.
Worried about the cost of preparing for the MCAT? Check out Khan Academy, which has partnered with the AAMC to provide free test prep questions.
Step 2: Reflect on and evaluate your experiences.
It is important to maximize your experiences and take advantage of every opportunity to express your passion for medicine through these experiences.
The American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) allows applicants to enter 15 experiences. Although in some cases, less is more, remember that you are selling yourself in this application. If you have more than 15 experiences you want to share, consider grouping multiple similar experiences (such as six shadowing opportunities, or four awards and honors) so that you can fit them all in.
Your application should reveal whether you have a true passion to be in medicine and serve others based on the things you have done to prepare for medical school.
Clinical experiences: Have you demonstrated your passion for medicine? Continue building your portfolio of working with patients by gaining additional medically-related experiences, such as physician shadowing, volunteering at a clinic or blood drive, working as an EMT or a medical scribe, or otherwise getting some hands-on medical experience. This will demonstrate your commitment and help you remember why you’re tackling this application process.
Research: Are you interested in conducting research in medical school? At the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, students conduct independent research as an integral part of the curriculum. If this is something you haven’t done, we suggest getting involved with a research project to demonstrate your ability and interest to do research if provided the opportunity to attend our medical school. Finding research experiences can be intimidating but we have put together a list of research opportunities as a starting point to guide you as you search for the right study.
Community involvement: Have you been an active volunteer in your community, on- or off-campus? We consider any non-medical volunteerism to be community involvement, including experiences abroad. Be sure to list these experiences on your application to help the committee get a better understanding of your passion to help others. Get involved in a cause that has personal meaning to you. Opportunities such as volunteer tutoring, nursing homes, summer camps, and soup kitchens show that you care about helping people.
Teamwork/Leadership: Were you part of clubs or groups on campus and in the community? Did you assume leadership roles within these groups? Most medical schools value demonstrated leadership. At the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, our students participate in patient-centered learning through a team-based environment.
Step 3: Be sure what you wrote is what you really wanted to say about yourself.
Personal Statement: Your personal statement is an opportunity to briefly showcase the passion you have for medicine. It should be interesting and well-written. You may also explain anything in your application that you feel may be viewed as less than positive by medical schools by reflecting on your weakness and demonstrating how it has improved. Be sure to tell us why you want to be a physician.
Secondary Essays: Your secondary essays. They should be interesting and well-written. Be sure to read the prompt carefully, and answer the question appropriately. This is your chance to bring your personality to our attention and establish yourself as a standout applicant.
Letters of Recommendation: Include letters from the entire spectrum of your experiences (such as medical professionals, research mentors, and science faculty). If you have been out of school for a few years, include employer references. When asking for letters of recommendation, be certain to ask people who are going to positively and accurately speak to your character and abilities. The better the person knows your abilities and personal strengths, the better the letter will be.
Step 4: Make sure you are prepared for interviews.
- Interviews: Practice your interview skills. This could include mock interviews with friends or taking a public speaking class. At the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, we conduct Multiple Mini-Interviews (MMI). Although the MMI differs from panel or traditional interviews, you will still be interacting with several individuals, so it is important to be confident in your speaking ability.
Step 5: School Choices
Research the schools that are the right for you and your educational goals.
MSAR: Medical School Admission Requirements: We highly recommend that you subscribe to the Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR) published by the AAMC. This guide is a comprehensive source of information on preparing for and applying to any allopathic medical school in the U.S. or Canada. It allows you to sort by state, private/public institutions, program type, and many other filters and will assist you in choosing the schools that best meet your goals for a medical education. It will help inform you of where you will be the most competitive applicant.
Osteopathic Medicine: Don’t rule out osteopathic medical schools (DO). Learn more about being an osteopathic physician by visiting the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine website, which has a section especially for prospective applicants.
Other Medical Professions: There are many other medical professions from which to choose. If you are more interested in other professional schools such as veterinary medicine or dental school, be sure to research those options, too.