How to Prepare for Medical School | PCOM Osteopathic Medicine Program
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How to Prepare for Medical School

Ten Steps for 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 guide to assist you in the admissions process for 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.

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How to Prepare for Medical School

Laying the foundation for a successful medical school career begins your first year of college and continues throughout your undergraduate studies. Our guide to a competitive medical school application includes the following 10 steps:

Step 1: Maintain a competitive academic standing in all coursework.

Beginning with your first year of college, you should focus on a strong academic performance. Your first year is also a good time to make contact with your school’s pre-health advisor. During your junior and senior years of college, take upper-level science courses to improve your scientific foundation needed for success in medical school.

Step 2: Complete all 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.

Ideally, you should complete the prerequisite course requirements before taking the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test ) in order to improve your performance on the exam.

Step 3: Pursue extracurricular activities that will assist you in your career.

During your first two years of undergraduate studies, 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.

As you work toward the completion of your undergraduate degree, 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. You should also seek leadership roles and responsibilities within the organizations in which you are involved. 

Step 4: Gain relevant experience and skills.

As part of your medical school preparations, look for work/volunteer opportunities in a healthcare setting where you will work with different types of medical professionals, including osteopathic physicians. You can also gain valuable skills through licensure programs including certified nursing assistant, medical assistant, EMT, etc. Be sure to keep track of your hours working with patient populations.

You should also 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.

Step 5: Begin networking.

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

Step 6: Take the MCAT.

In February of your junior year, 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 online at aamc.org.

Step 7: Gather letters of recommendation and prepare your personal statement.

During your junior year, be sure to follow deadlines set by your advisor/committee regarding the request for a recommendation letter(s). It is also a good time to start brainstorming and preparing your personal statement for your applications. Review your experience journal for ideas.

Step 8: Begin the application process.

Submit your AACOMAS application as soon as possible during your final year of undergraduate studies. 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.)

If possible, obtain a letter of recommendation from an osteopathic physician. While not required, this document is strongly recommended.

Step 9: Complete all graduation requirements.

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

Step 10: Confirm receipt of your application materials and submit all supporting materials.

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!

Please pay the PCOM institutional application fee and submit all supporting materials (including letters of recommendation, MCAT score reports, etc.) to PCOM in a timely manner. For more information regarding application deadlines, please see our admissions requirements page.

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

There are several steps you can take to better prepare yourself for the rigors of medical school. Consider the following during your post-baccalaureate, graduate 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. PCOM will accept scores from MCAT exams taken within three years of the desired date of matriculation.

Gain Additional Experience

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

Additional Advice for Medical School Applicants

PCOM recommends osteopathic medicine program applicants do the following:

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.

Additional medical school application resources

Need more information? We're here to help:

DOWNLOAD PRE-MEDICAL STUDENT'S GUIDE TO A COMPETITIVE APPLICATION
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