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. 

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Freshman and Sophomore Years

  • Academics: Maintain competitive academic standing in all coursework.
  • Advising: Make contact with your school’s pre-health advisor.
  • 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: Look for licensure programs to gain valuable skills as a certified nursing assistant, medical assistant, EMT, etc. Look for work/volunteer opportunities in a healthcare setting where you will work with different types of medical professionals, including osteopathic physicians. Keep track of your hours working with patient populations.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Junior Year

  • Academics: Continue to maintain competitive academic standing.
  • 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!
  • Prerequisite Coursework: Complete course requirements for PCOM. Ideally, these should be completed before taking the MCAT exam so as to enhance your performance.
  • 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 http://www.aamc.org.
  • Letters of Recommendation: Be sure to follow deadlines set by your advisor/committee regarding the request for a recommendation letter(s).
  • Start brainstorming and preparing your personal statement for your applications. Review your experience journal for ideas.

Senior Year

  • Application Process: Beginning in May, you may apply to AACOMAS online at www.aacom.org.
  • DO Letter of Recommendation: Obtain a letter of recommendation from an osteopathic physician; while not required, this credential 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.
  • Graduation: Be sure you complete your college’s graduation requirements for your selected degree program.
  • Leadership: Seek leadership roles and responsibilities within the organizations in which you are involved.
  • AACOMAS: Submit your AACOMAS application ASAP. 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.) Also, 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!
  • Secondary Application: PCOM sends a supplemental application to all candidates once the primary application is received by the Office of Admissions. Complete and return the PCOM supplemental application in a timely manner along with the PCOM online application fee. The PCOM supplemental deadline is March 1.

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

  • GPA/Knowledge Enhancer: Enhance your science GPA and scientific knowledge by choosing a curriculum that provides hard science coursework at the graduate level. 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.
  • Career Changer: Post-baccalaureate programs offer the opportunity to complete the undergraduate prerequisite courses for medical school. Focus on your studies during this time period.
  • MCAT: Consider repeating the MCAT exam. Remember that exam scores expire after three years.
  • Make the most of non-academic periods by expanding your experiences in clinical settings, research and/or community service.
  • Keep an open mind to career alternatives.

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.