Applying to Medical School
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 schools. We wish you the best in your pursuit of a medical education.
Step 1: Review your academics
GPA: Be sure to research schools' websites to see if your GPA is close to the mean GPA accepted. Post-baccalaureate programs or additional undergraduate courses can occasionally make small improvements in your cumulative GPA. Please note - graduate level courses will not be combined with your undergraduate GPA but can still show competency in upper level science courses.
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 fulfilling pre-requisites.
MCAT: Research the range of accepted scores for each school prior to submitting your application. Retaking the MCAT is an option if your score is at the low end of the range and you have time to invest in a new approach to studying. For information about the 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
The American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) allows applicants to enter up to 15 medical, research, community service, volunteer, employment and leadership experiences. It is important to outline your role, time involved, and express your passion for medicine through these activities.
If you have more than 15 experiences, consider grouping multiple similar experiences (such as six shadowing opportunities, or four awards and honors) so that you can fit them all into the application maximum.
Your application should reveal a true passion for medicine and service to others.
Clinical experiences: Build your portfolio of working with patients through medically-related experiences, such as physician shadowing, volunteering at clinics, serving as an EMT, working as a medical scribe, or other hands-on medical experiences.
Research: Our students conduct independent research as an integral part of the curriculum. Successful applicants must demonstrate ability and interest to do clinical, basic science, public health or translational research.
Community involvement: Get involved in a cause that has personal meaning to you. Doctors are community providers and applicants should demonstrate a record of helping others. Employment and volunteerism in areas such as tutoring, nursing homes, summer camps, religious and civic institutions, missions trips abroad, and outreach to underserved populations contribute to a record of service.
Teamwork/Leadership: Experiences in which you assumed a mentorship or leadership role demonstrate qualities most medical schools value. Being able to work cooperatively with others is essential to our team-based curriculum.
Step 3: Assess your narratives
Personal Statement: Your personal statement is an opportunity to showcase the passion you have for medicine. It should succintly communicate who you are and why you want to be a doctor. Be interesting but authentic. Make sure it is reviewed for spelling, grammar, tone, and personality.
Secondary Essays: Often secondary essays are used to assess whether an applicant's career goals align with the school's mission. The biggest mistake applicants make is not explicitly answering the questions asked. Do not simply restate information that is in your AMCAS application - enrich your record with a new perspective or further details related to the prompts.
Letters of Recommendation: Letters of support should round out your application, corroborate your experiences, and address any weaknesses. Include letters from a variety of people, such as medical professionals, research mentors, science faculty, and employers. Be certain to ask people who are going to positively and accurately speak to your character and abilities.
Step 4: Prepare for interviews
Dress professionally and be respectful in all of your interactions. Be confident but not arrogant. Rehearse an introduction about yourself and why you want to be a doctor. Know the institution well, and be able to communicate a sincere interest. Be ready to address potential weaknesses or red flags in your application. We use a Multiple Mini-Interviews (MMI) format which includes scenario based questions and a traditional interview.
Step 5: Apply to the right schools
The Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR) can help you identify schools that are right for you and your educational goals. It is a comprehensive guide to preparing for and applying to allopathic medical schools in the U.S. or Canada. You can sort by state, private/public institution, program focus, academic requirements and many other filters. It may help inform you where your application will be most competitive.
There are many ways to be involved in patient care. VTCSOM is an allopathic medical school (MD). If you feel that allopathic medicine is not right for you, other options include osteopathic medicine (DO), physician assistant, nurse practitioner, nurse, physical and occupational therapist, radiology technician, and many other allied health fields.