11. When should I apply to health professional school?
You should plan to apply to professional school when you are ready to present the strongest application. When considering the options, it is important to choose the best time for you. If you elect to apply after college graduation you are NOT at any disadvantage. In fact, since time away from academia allows you to mature and strengthen your experiences, it may actually place you at an advantage to apply after graduating. If you apply before you are ready you will be sending a message to the professional school that you make poor decisions. It is better to take the time to build a stronger application than to apply before you are ready. Remember, a rejection will always remain on your record. Another reason to make a careful well-informed decision about your application timing is that the application process requires a great deal of investment, in terms of time, money, and hard work. If you are unsure about this decision, please consult with a member of the preprofessional advising staff. When you have decided that you are ready to apply, timing is very important. Most professional schools have rolling admissions, and it is to your distinct advantage to be considered early in their process. Additionally all schools have a rolling process for inviting applicants to interview. Do not wait for the schools’ posted deadlines!
12. How do health professional schools view taking time off between undergraduate and professional school?
Taking time off can be a very positive step on your way to becoming a health professional. In fact, the median age for first year medical students is now nearly 25! Of course, what you do with that time should be meaningful and perhaps science, health, or service related; working in a research lab or a hospital; teaching; completing a fellowship or service program, or perhaps even traveling and exposing yourself to medical care in the places you visit. The added experience can enhance your qualifications and show your commitment to a career in the health professions. For many students, it may be an advantage to wait until after graduation to apply. It gives you extra time to raise your GPA, study for entrance exams, refresh, and gain additional related experiences. Taking time off is definitely something to consider.
13. How do I decide which schools I should apply to?
• Begin by reading the reference books (see chart below) and individual school web pages. For web links to individual medical schools see: www.aamc.org & www.aacom.org; for dental schools: www.ada.org; and for veterinary medical schools: www.aavmc.org.
• Be aware of in-state/out-of-state ratios at various schools and definitely apply to your home state school(s). Note that state schools often give preference to in-state applicants and/or hold out-ofstate applicants to more rigorous standards than they do their in-state applicants.
• Apply to a range of schools; admissions statistics and rankings will provide some indication of how competitive a school is likely to be.
• Apply to multiple schools, but do not go overboard. We recommend applying to between 10 and 15 schools. Remember that the admissions process is very expensive, as well as extremely time- and labor- intensive. You won’t be able to do a good job on your applications—you might not even be able to complete them—if you apply to too many schools.
• Remember to consider location, curriculum, size, and atmosphere in making your decisions.
Medical: Medical School Admission Published by American Association of Medical
aka: MSAR national membership. Also available online To obtain: https://www.aamc.org/students/applying/requirements/msar/
Dental: 2011 ADEA Official Guide to Published by American Dental Education Assoc
Dental Schools Price: $35.00 To obtain: http://www.adea.org/publications/Pages/OfficialGuide.aspx
Veterinary: Veterinary Medical School Admission Edited by: Association of American Veterinary
Requirements in the US and Canada Medical Colleges (AAVMC) $21.95
To obtain : http://www.aavmc.org/publications/vmsar.aspx
14. What are the Centralized Application Services and how do they work?
AMCAS stands for American Medical College Application Service. It is a non-profit centralized application processing service for applicants to US Medical Schools. Applicants may complete their AMCAS application online at www.aamc.org.
The AMCAS application consists of a section of biographical information, a section of course work
information, a section for work/activities, and a personal statement. (The PAC application is in some respects like the AMCAS. The material you pull together for us will come in handy when you fill out the AMCAS (or other centralized application).) The first date that you may begin submitting the AMCAS application is around June 2nd. You may however begin to work on the application when it becomes available online (usually May 1st). Again, because of the rolling admissions process used by so many professional schools, it is very important for your application to be submitted to AMCAS in the early part of the summer (sometime in June). Note: Most medical schools require completion of supplementary applications and additional fees AFTER the initial processing by AMCAS.
TMDSAS stands for Texas Medical and Dental School Application Service is a non-profit centralized application processing service for applicants to some medical and dental schools in Texas. Applicants
may complete the application online at: http://www.utsystem.edu/tmdsas.
AADSAS stands for American Association of Dental Schools Application Service. It is a non-profit centralized application processing service for applicants to US Dental Schools. Currently, all 63 US Dental Schools subscribe to this service. You can complete an application online or download an electronic copy at http://www.adea.org/AADSAS/default.htm.
Note: Most Dental Schools require completion of supplementary applications and additional fees AFTER the initial processing by AADSAS.
AACOMAS stands for the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service. It is a non-profit centralized application service which most of the Osteopathic Schools utilize. You can complete this application online at https://aacomas.aacom.org/.
VMCAS stands for Veterinary Medical Colleges Application Service. It is a centralized application service, which provides for the collection, processing, verification, and distribution of applicant data to the participating colleges for their use in the applicant selection process. The majority of Veterinary Schools in the US subscribe to this service. Applicants may complete the application online at: http://www.aavmc.org/vmcas/vmcas.htm.
15. Do all schools accept the centralized application?
Most do, a small number do not. You will need to apply individually to these schools and follow the school’s application guidelines and deadlines.
These schools use AMCAS only for M.D.-Ph.D. applications:
Texas A&M University System Health Science Center College of Medicine
Texas Tech University Health Science Center School of Medicine
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas Southwestern Medical School
University of Texas Medical School at Galveston
University of Texas School of Medicine at Houston
University of Texas School of Medicine at San Antonio
This school does not use AMCAS at all:
Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, El Paso, Paul L. Foster School of Medicine
Texas System (TMDSAS) Schools:
The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas
and others will complete an initial review of their applicants and only send secondary applications to a select group. The secondary or supplemental application may include additional essays and will always require an additional fee. The secondary application will also request that you send your “Committee Evaluation” at this time. Please write Columbia Premedical Advisory Committee Evaluation in your secondary/supplemental applications instead of the names of your individual recommenders. The PAC Evaluation and your letters of recommendation are provided to schools as one composite package. It is essential that you do not delay completing and returning secondary applications. They should be returned within a two to three week period.
17. How does my state of residence factor into my application to a Health Professional School?
Virtually all public, state-supported medical/dental/veterinary schools show preference for admitting applicants who are legal residents of that state. You should understand that this practice is based on both economic and philosophical reasoning. First, education at those schools is funded primarily by the taxpayers of the state. Those taxpayers and their sons and daughters, in turn, expect some priority in access to medical training. In addition, the state legislators feel an obligation to educate health professionals to serve the people of their state; experience as well as data where available show that individuals who attend medical school in their home state are more likely to eventually practice in that state.
As a full-time student, you are a resident of the state in which your parents live. If your parents reside in different states, your residency will be the one where you went to high school or the one you claimed as your primary residence during high school. You may claim residency in only ONE state, which means that, as a potential applicant, your likelihood of acceptance may be influenced greatly by your state of residence. If you are an alumnus/a, you will no longer be considered a state resident of the place where your parents reside. Your residency will correspond to where you are living, working, and paying taxes. However some states will consider you an “in-state” applicant if you went to high school or have other “significant ties” to the state. Basically, residency rules vary greatly from state to state (and even from school to school within each state), and this is something that you should research carefully. Detailed information on acceptance rates of in-state vs. out-of-state applicants for professional schools can be found in the reference books listed on page 2. Note: residency status tends to follow things like where you are domiciled and where you pay taxes and NOT where you hold a Driver’s License or are registered to vote. The time required to establish residency in a state varies greatly, from 1 day to 6 months to five years. Contact schools for further information about how each determines the residency status of their applicants.
18. How are international students viewed in the admissions process?
International or foreign students are defined as those students who were not born in the United States and who are not green card holders or have status as permanent residents. Permanent residents are generally treated the same as all U.S. citizens. As discussed earlier most medical, veterinary, and dental schools give some preference to residents of their state which automatically makes application more difficult for an international student without a green card. In addition, many schools that will consider students from outside of their state will not consider international students.
International students not holding a green card will have a more challenging time in the admissions process to medical/veterinary school, because only a limited number of schools can consider them. To illustrate this point, in 2012, only 183 international students enrolled in US medical schools out of a total national enrollment of 19,517. Of all of the health professions, dental schools seem to be the friendliest to international students. In addition, schools that do admit international students may require evidence of the student’s capacity to pay tuition above and beyond the INS requirements for an I20. In fact, some schools may require the student to pre-pay tuition for the entire 4 years or create an escrow account for these funds. Some institutions may accept loans cosigned by a US citizen. International students do not qualify for financial aid, with the exception of merit scholarships at a few institutions. For more information about applying as an international student please consult the Office of Preprofessional Advising.
19. What is the WICHE Professional Student Exchange Program?
The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) operates a professional student exchange program enabling students in 13 western states to enroll in selected out of state professional programs, usually because those programs are not available in their home states. Exchange students
must be certified by their home states. Exchange students will receive preference in admission and usually reduced tuition. WICHE has exchange programs for the following professional fields, Allopathic Medicine, Osteopathic Medicine, Dentistry, Veterinary Medicine, Physician Assistant, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Public Health, Pharmacy, and Optometry. For more information, visit their website at: http://www.wiche.edu/SEP/PSEP/index.asp.
20. What is WWAMI?
The University of Washington School of Medicine serves as the public medical school for Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho (WWAMI). Students from these states will all be considered instate
students for purposes of admission and tuition. Through this program, students from these states complete their first year of medical school at participating universities in their home state.
21. What is the Maine Access Medical Education Program?
The Finance Authority of Maine’s Medical Education Programs are designed to help students access and pay for medical education. Maine students may receive help gaining admission to medical schools and veterinary schools participating in the Maine Access to Medical Education Program. Loans are also available to Maine students pursuing a degree in dentistry, optometry, and veterinary science.
The Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) has entered into contracts with three medical schools (Dartmouth, Vermont, & UNECOM) to provide PREFERRED ACCESS seats at each school for a total of twenty incoming, certified Maine residents each year. Essentially this program removes you from the national pool of applicants and allows you to compete for medical school acceptance in a pool consisting of Maine residents. The probability of being invited to interview at any one of the schools participating in the Access Program is greatly increased if you apply under the auspices of the Maine Access Program.
22. What does it mean to be an underrepresented student in medicine?
There are several groups that are underrepresented in the field of medicine. Increasing the number of physicians from underrepresented groups has been a priority of medical schools for many years. Medical schools are committed to creating a diverse physician workforce that better mirrors our patient population. As a result, medical schools have instituted programs and resources specifically designed to assist in the recruitment and enrollment of underrepresented students. Many medical schools employ a diversity affairs officer who can assist and support underrepresented students throughout the application process. Currently, underrepresented groups include Blacks/African Americans, Native Americans (American Indians, Native Alaskans and Native Hawaiians), Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, and other Latino groups.
23. What do schools want to see in the essay?
Do not try to fit yourself into a model. Answer questions clearly and honestly and do not try to second guess admission committees. Committees ask essay questions to learn more about you, so take this as an opportunity to discuss your thoughts, motivations, and experiences.
Do not simply discuss a variety of activities that the admissions committee can learn about you from the information provided elsewhere in your application.
Take some time to really think about why it is that you want to become a health professional. Are there experiences, events, or people who influenced your decision? The personal statement must in some way address your commitment and motivation for the field that you have chosen.
Do not lecture about what you feel is wrong with the health care system, but rather remain positive and focus on your own activities, aspirations, and past experiences.
24. What is Early Decision and should I apply?
Most medical schools have an Early Decision Program. Students applying early decision must apply by the early decision deadline – usually August 1st and will be notified of a decision by October 1st. However, the decision to apply Early Decision must be made carefully for the criteria for acceptance varies among schools but usually is reserved for the most outstanding applicants. Early Decision applicants may NOT apply to other schools until they have been rejected in October. This can cause a significant delay and affect your chances for admission at other institutions. If interested in applying Early Decision, please consult the Office of Preprofessional Advising.
25. I’m interested in a combined degree program--MD/PhD or MD/MPH etc. How do I find out which schools offer
The AAMC website has a mechanism for you to search by combined program – please go to:
The Fee Assistance program is designed to provide applicants who have extreme financial limitations with assistance in paying the MCAT registration fee and the AMCAS fees. In order to apply for Fee Assistance you must submit an electronic application at http://www.aamc.org/students/applying/fap/start.htm
If approved you will get the following fee reductions:
MCAT fee from $270 to $100
AMCAS – no fee for first 14 schools.
Deadline: You should refer to the AAMC website for information regarding FAP application deadlines.