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How to Prepare for Medical School

A pre-medical student's guide to a competitive application.


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How to Prepare for Medical School
Guide to a Competitive Application

The Office of Admissions has assembled this timeline to assist you in the admissions process to PCOM’s Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine programs. PCOM reserves the right to make all admission decisions based upon all information available to the DO Faculty Committee on Admissions. 

REQUEST PROGRAM INFORMATION 

 

Undergrad: Freshman and Sophomore Years

Academics

Maintain competitive academic standing in all coursework.

Advising

Make contact with your school’s pre-health advisor.

Extracurricular Activities

Carefully select extracurricular activities on campus and in your local community that are of interest to you. Choose a wide variety of activities; however, do not get so involved that you jeopardize your academic performance. Do not join an activity because you think it will “look good.” Rather, do what you enjoy. Gain experience working with others and building leadership skills. Reflect on those experiences and consider how they will assist you in a future career in medicine.

Licensure Programs

Look for licensure programs to gain valuable skills as a certified nursing assistant, medical assistant, EMT, etc. Keep track of your hours working with patient populations.

Gain Experience

Look for work/volunteer opportunities in a healthcare setting where you will work with different types of medical professionals, including osteopathic physicians. 

Prerequisite Coursework

Along with your degree program’s freshman/sophomore coursework requirements, you should begin completing required coursework for admission to PCOM. You can find the list of required and advisable courses on our DO program application requirements page. If your schedule permits, you should begin fulfilling your English requirement in your freshman year-preferably English Composition.

Summer Research and Workshops

Apply early for any summer research/workshop positions if you are interested. Although not a PCOM requirement, a research background will aid you in any science field you may choose, including medicine.

Networking

Begin building relationships with your faculty; when it is time to request letters of recommendation, they will be able to speak to your abilities as a student and future physician.

Undergrad: Junior Year

Academics

Continue to maintain competitive academic standing.

Extracurricular Activities

Stay involved in your selected extracurricular activities. If you haven’t volunteered or experienced the healthcare field, now is a good time to do so. If you have already, keep up the good work! Remember, interesting cases increase your exposure and help you develop insights around the complexities of American medicine. Keep an experience journal for use in the application process. Look for DO physicians to shadow.

Prerequisite Coursework

Complete course requirements for PCOM. Ideally, these should be completed before taking the MCAT exam so as to enhance your performance.

Take the MCAT

In February, apply for a spring MCAT exam date. Plan ahead and apply early to reserve your seat. The MCAT exam dates, times and locations can be found on the AAMC website. Be sure to request your scores be sent directly to AACOM. You can also access your scores on-line at aamc.org.

Gather Letters of Recommendation

Be sure to follow deadlines set by your advisor/committee regarding the request for a recommendation letter(s).

Prepare Your Personal Statement

Start brainstorming and preparing your personal statement for your applications. Review your experience journal for ideas.

Undergrad: Senior Year

Begin the Official Application Process

Beginning in May, you may apply to AACOMAS online at www.aacom.org.

Obtain a DO Letter of Recommendation

Obtain a letter of recommendation from an osteopathic physician; while not required, this document is strongly recommended.

Academics

Maintain competitive academic standing and take upper-level science courses to improve your scientific foundation needed for success in medical school.

Complete Graduation Requirements

Be sure you complete your college’s graduation requirements for your selected degree program.

Seek Leadership Roles

Seek leadership roles and responsibilities within the organizations in which you are involved. 

Apply via AACOMAS

Submit your AACOMAS application as soon as possible. The PCOM AACOMAS deadline is February 1, but do not wait for deadlines! PCOM has a rolling admission process and early applications are strongly recommended. (Interviews begin in September.)

Confirm Receipt of Application Materials through AACOMAS

Be sure to check with AACOMAS to verify that all of your transcripts have been received and verified so that the processing of your application is not delayed. It is your responsibility to ensure a completed application!

Submit your Supporting Materials to PCOM

Please pay the $75 PCOM institutional application fee and submit all supporting materials (including letters of recommendation, MCAT score reports, etc.) to PCOM in a timely manner. The deadline for supporting materials is March 2, 2020.

Post-Baccalaureate, Graduate and/or Gap Year(s)

Enhance Your GPA and Knowledge

Enhance your science GPA and scientific knowledge by choosing a curriculum that provides science coursework at the graduate level.

Consider PCOM's Biomedical Sciences Program

PCOM offers a graduate program in biomedical sciences that serves a stepping stone to our DO programs. Candidates who meet minimum criteria are assured an interview for the DO program and many biomed students do enter our DO programs each year.

Non-Traditional Students and Career Changers

Post-baccalaureate programs offer the opportunity to complete the undergraduate prerequisite courses for medical school. Focus on your studies during this time period. Learn more about applying to PCOM as a non-traditional student.

Take the MCAT

Consider repeating the MCAT exam. Remember that exam scores expire after three years. PCOM accepts exam scores taken after August of 2017 for Fall 2020 enrollment.

Gain Additional Experience

Make the most of non-academic periods by expanding your experiences in clinical settings, research and/or community service.

Other Aspects of the Application Process

Create a New Email Address

PCOM recommends creating a separate email address to be used only for the medical school application process. Important email reminders and application updates will be less likely to get lost in the shuffle if you have an exclusive email for your applications.

Be Patient

If the committee wishes to meet with you for a personal interview, you will be contacted by email. PCOM conducts interviews from mid-September through the end of March.

Keep an Open Mind to Career Alternatives and/or Alternative Paths

Many students opt for post-baccalaureate or graduate work. PCOM’s MS in Biomedical Sciences program prepares students for the rigorousness of the DO program or another science-related field.

Next Steps

Visit our Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) application requirements page to learn about admissions requirements, the application process, interviews, affiliated programs and much more. We also encourage you to tour our locations or attend an open house to learn more about our programs.