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General Overview

Allopathic (MD) and osteopathic (DO) physicians are health professionals who diagnose illness, prescribe and administer treatment, and advise patients on disease prevention and management. Physicians practice in diverse settings including small private practice, group practice, managed care system, clinic, hospital, laboratory, industry, military, academic medicine, or government. Medicine offers diverse career options and physicians often practice in two or more settings. MD and DO programs require four years of medical education followed by residency training of three to eight years. Residency programs (graduate medical education) in family practice, general internal medicine, and pediatrics take three years to complete; general surgery requires five years and subspecialty training in fields like plastic or neurological surgery may require an additional two to three years.

Choosing a Major

Pre-medical students typically obtain a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) or Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree while completing the requirements for admission to medical school. Medical schools do not require or prefer a particular undergraduate major. Admissions committees welcome students whose intellectual curiosity leads them to a wide variety of disciplines. Medical schools recognize the importance of a strong foundation in the natural sciences, social sciences, critical thinking, and the humanities. Applicants must complete course requirements and demonstrate proficiency in diverse disciplines as evidenced by the science GPA, overall GPA, and their performance on the MCAT.

Which JMU undergraduate majors are represented amongst successful applicants to allopathic medical (MD) schools ('02 - '12)?

Prerequisites

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) prepares The Official Guide to Medical School Admissions (print or e-book) is a comprehensive source of information on preparing for and applying to medical school. Requirements for allopathic medical schools in the US and Canada are listed at the Medical School Admission Requirements website, which is updated annually by the AAMC. Admissions requirements for osteopathic medical schools are provided in the Osteopathic Medical College Information Book (print or e-book) published annually by the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM). Because there is variability among medical schools regarding required and recommended coursework, pre-med students should incorporate school-specific information into their coursework planning.

Minimum requirements for admission to medical school can be met at JMU by completing the following courses:

  • BIO 140: Foundations of Biology I (4 credit hours)
  • BIO 150: Foundations of Biology II (4 credit hours)
  • CHEM 131/132 and 131L/132L: General Chemistry I & II (8 credit hours)
  • CHEM 241/242 and 242L: Organic Chemistry I & II (8 credit hours)
  • CHEM 361: Biochemistry I (3 credit hours)
  • PHYS 140/150 and 140L/150L: College Physics I & II (8 credit hours)
  • MATH 220: Elementary Statistics (3 credits)
  • Calculus (e.g. MATH 205, 231, 233, or 235; 3-4 credits)

To prepare for the new MCAT, we strongly recommend you take a course in critical thinking (e.g. PHIL 120), psychology (e.g. PSYC 101, PSYC 160, PSYC 308), and sociology (e.g. SOCI 140, SOCI 110, SOCI 375, SOCI 385). Students are also strongly encouraged to take at least 12 credit hours of upper-level biology including genetics (BIO 240), microbiology (BIO 245), and physiology (BIO 370), and cell biology.

Students should check admission prerequisite requirements of individual allopathic, osteopathic, podiatric, naturopathic and chiropractic schools.

Admissions Criteria and Academic Record

Medical admissions committees assess the biographical information provided by the applicant and the academic record from the undergraduate school(s) attended. Of particular importance are grade point averages (GPA), scores on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), health-related experiences and service activities, letters of evaluation, and interviews. Admissions committees assess academic performance in light of cumulative and science GPAs, subjects and credit hours completed, rigor of the baccalaureate program, and upward trends in performance. For example: a weak first-year followed by strong performance in advanced coursework is preferred over variable or declining performance. A competitive academic record is expected as evidence of excellent ability and motivation!

View the national acceptance rates to allopathic (MD) medical schools and JMU acceptance rates to allopathic (MD) medical schools based on GPAs and MCAT scores from AAMC. If you are interested, view allopathic medical schools JMU alumni have been accepted ('02 - '12).  If you are interested in applying to medical school as a direct-entry applicant, view profiles of successul direct entry applicants to get a snapshot of the GPA, MCAT scores, number of credit hours in disciplines, and types of health-related experiences that successful applicants have for direct entry applications.

Standarized Test

The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is required for admission to US medical schools. The MCAT is a multiple-choice exam administered multiple times in the year at test sites in the US, Canada, and around the world. Many schools do not accept MCAT exam scores that are more than three years old. AAMC provides extensive information and MCAT test-preparation resources. The MCAT is an extremely important factor for medical school admission. What are considered “competitive” MCAT scores vary among schools and with applicant populations, therefore, it is important to consult the MSAR for up-to-date school-specific information.

Preparation Timeline

Candidates for the MCAT should have completed pre-requisite courses in biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, biochemistry, physics, psychology, and sociology. The application process requires 12-15 months. Thus, if a student’s goal is to obtain a baccalaureate degree after four years and matriculate in medical school upon graduation (“direct-entry” applicant), then the MCAT and the AMCAS and/or AACOMAS application(s) need to be completed during the summer following the third year. A pre-med student who chooses to pursue this timeline will experience a highly structured and demanding program. Many students choose to extend their preparation timeline so as to strengthen all of the elements of their application.

Experience

Students are strongly encouraged to seek volunteer and/or employment opportunities in a healthcare setting such as; shadowing physicians, volunteering at a clinic or hospital, providing community service, or completing an internship or pre-health enrichment program. In addition to providing a valuable service to the community, these experiences demonstrate motivation, commitment to serving others, knowledge regarding the profession and an opportunity to develop and hone skills that will assist students with patient care. While often not stated as a prerequisite, admissions committees expect a candidate to have exposure to a variety of healthcare settings. 

Undergraduate research experience also plays a significant role in clarifying interests! Because physicians regularly use critical judgment when reviewing clinical research literature, applicants must be proficient in their understanding and application of scientific inquiry and reasoning skills. Some pre-med students even decide to apply to dual-degree programs (MD or DO with PhD, JD, MPH, or MBA).

Letters of Recommendation or Evaluation

All medical schools require submission of letters of evaluation (LOE) as part of the application. JMU students and alumni are encouraged to utilize the PPH Evaluation Service to assemble an LOE packet that will fulfill the requirement of all U.S. allopathic and osteopathic medical schools (for information please contact us at pph@jmu.edu).

Madison Advising Peers (MAPs)

The Madison Advising Peers will be in the office:

Monday 3-5
Tuesday 11-12; 1:30-5
Wednesday 3:30-5
Thursday 11-12; 1:30-5
Friday 10-2

Advisor

Heather Patterson primarily works with first and second-year PPH students. Dr. Babcock primarily works with upper-level students whom are preparing for the application process. To schedule a meeting with either, call 540-568-6652, email pph@jmu.edu, or visit PPH Advising in Roop Hall, G24.