I am an undocumented or DACA student. Will I be able to attend medical school in the United States?
Policies regarding how medical schools handle applications from undocumented and DACA students vary widely from school to school and are subject to change depending on federal immigration guidelines. We acknowledge the fear and uncertainty around this process, and want you to know that our office is here to support undocumented and DACA students and alumni in any way we can.
Middlebury’s International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS) has compiled some general DACA Resources, and Miguel Fernandez, Middlebury’s Chief Diversity Officer, serves as the College’s DACA point person for current undocumented and DACA students.
Here are some additional medically-related resources we think might be helpful in considering the path to a career in the health professions as a DACA student:
- Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) December DACA Press Release: https://news.aamc.org/press-releases/article/statement-daca-executive-action/
- Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) List of Medical School Policies on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals: https://aamc-orange.global.ssl.fastly.net/production/media/filer_public/38/d8/38d8cbe3-1f99-4a04-b01e-a9a34a1dc797/daca.pdf
- Pre Health Dreamers is a national network of students, educators, and allies, dedicated to supporting undocumented pre-health students: http://www.phdreamers.org/
What is This About Chemistry Placement Tests This Year?
All students wishing to take chemistry during their first year are required to take the chemistry placement test, except for those who have received credit based on the AP exam, International Baccalaureate HL exam, or British A levels. The Placement Exam will assist the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in determining whether placement in Chemistry 103 or Chemistry 104 is more appropriate. Students who enter with advanced placement should register for Chem 107.
The Placement Exam can be taken over the summer prior to arrival on campus, or during First-Year Orientation prior to registration.The Chemistry & Biochemistry Placement Exam is an online written test. You may use a calculator. It takes approximately 60-90 minutes to complete. Learn more on the Chemistry website.
Medical School Interview Questions
Who gives feedback to the admissions team after my interview?
The Health Professions team is fond of reminding you that once you are in the medical school’s zip code, consider yourself on the interview stage as everyone with whom you interact-from secretary to tour guide to cafeteria worker-might be asked to share feedback on your demeanor. With medical school interview season kicking into gear, we thought it timely to share a reflection from a recent alum that underscores this point:
I’ve utilized the student host program for every interview that I’ve attended because it saves a lot of money (no $150+/night wasted on hotels!) and it offers another opportunity to meet a current student and learn more about the school. So far, all my hosts have been wonderful! During one interview, I mentioned to my interviewer that I stayed with a current student, and she asked for his name. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but the next day I got a text from my host saying that the interviewer asked him what was his opinion of me. Luckily, the guy and I got along really well. This event underscored the fact that you have to be polite and friendly with everyone who is in any way affiliated with the school of medicine–including the hosts! Even if you don’t know that you’re being judged, you are, and everyone’s opinions of you matter. I’ve found that there’s no need to send the hosts a formal thank-you letter, a nice text after your interview will suffice, and try to bring a small thank-you gift. These students are doing us interviewees a huge favor by hosting–make sure that they know they’re appreciated!
Will I be able to study at an American medical school after graduating from Middlebury?
International students (those who are not US citizens or permanent residents) often find that admission to American medical schools is extremely difficult. Many institutions, especially medical schools at state-run universities, do not consider applications from international students. Private institutions may consider international students for admission, but are extremely competitive and often require applicants to place a significant portion of their four year tuition in escrow prior to medical school enrollment, an amount that may exceed $250,000. Because international students are not eligible for the government or non-government loans that most U.S. citizens and permanent residents use to finance their medical education, affording a medical education in the U.S. is a formidable barrier.
Is Early Assurance right for me?
Many students inquire about applying to medical school as an early assurance candidate. Early assurance programs offer applicants the assurance of medical school admission after the second year of college and can be a great option for highly qualified students who are fully dedicated to a career in medicine. Your academic performance during your first two years of college is crucial to being admitted and admissions committees look for evidence of your commitment to medicine through your personal statement, supplementary essays, extracurricular activities and letters of recommendation.
Competitive candidates have excelled academically during their first and second years in college and the GPAs of accepted candidates are typically around 3.8. Although the requirements for applying to EAPs differ from school to school, if you are interested in applying to a typical EAP, you will need to complete at least five premedical courses by the end of your sophomore year.
So what are some of the drawbacks to applying after the sophomore year? Applying to an Early Assurance program is a significant time commitment; time that might otherwise be spent on coursework or developing interests outside of the classroom. Some students want to apply to these programs as a way to skip the MCATS and worry less about grades (who wouldn’t want to skip the MCATS ?!) but lack a clear and compelling reason as to what gaining an early acceptance would allow them to pursue that they might otherwise not be able to do. These sorts of applications rarely receive favorable decisions from admissions committees. Additionally, an applicant might want to apply to a number of medical schools in order to evaluate and compare many programs and their financial packages before making a commitment to enroll at a particular medical school.
To summarize, while Early Assurance programs can be great for the right kind of student, applying to an EAP program is a big decision and one that should not be undertaken lightly. If you are thinking about applying to an EAP, please set up an appointment with a Health Professions Advisor to learn more about Middlebury’s special opportunities and to share what an early acceptance would allow you to do that you might otherwise not be able to pursue.
Can international students apply to US Medical Schools?
The short answer to your question is “Yes”, you most certainly can apply to medical schools in the US. The “Yes”, however is qualified in that it is statistically much more difficult for international students to be accepted into a US medical school, and if a student is accepted, there are major financial considerations to consider. Some schools require that 4 years tuition (can be a quarter of a million dollars!) be set aside in a special account.
According to AAMC statistics, in 2014, of the 1,160 MD applicants whose legal residence was outside of the US, 130 matriculated to medical school, for a matriculation rate of about 11% vs. 41% for all applicants. There are some US medical schools that do not accept international students and some that limit international acceptances to Canadian citizens. Once an international student is admitted, the financial aid options at many schools are more limited than they are for US citizens, so while it certainly isn’t impossible, it is important to have a realistic understanding of the obstacles faced by international students.
We recommend reviewing the AAMC info sheet (https://students-residents.aamc.org/applying-medical-school/article/applying-international-applicant/) on applying as an international applicant.
Whether you are accepted into a US medical school as an international applicant, become a physician in your home country, or become a US citizen and eventually attend medical school in the states, we are here to support you in any way that we can.
If I took a college course in high school, does that get factored into my GPA for medical school applicants?
Yes. Any course that is listed on an official college transcript, regardless of when or where you took it, will be factored into your AMCAS GPA.
Getting your AMCAS Application in by the June Opening Date: I know the first day for primary application submission is June 1. Obviously, it’s advantageous to submit the application as soon as possible, but I’ve heard different things regarding how important it is to submit the application on June 1 compared to a few days later. Is it critical to submit the very first day, or is there some flexibility because the AAMC waits a few weeks to send out the first batch of verified applications?
In the past, it has taken AMCAS an average of 15 days to process applications, so the first batch of applicants come from the pool of applications that come in June 1st through mid-June. That batch will be released to medical schools on June 30th. If you are super concerned about being in the first batch, AMCAS recommends getting your application in by June 12th. June 13 or 14th is cutting it pretty close. Some students feel pressure to apply on June 1st, but AMCAS assured us that while those June 1st applications may be processed within 24 hours, it doesn’t get your application to medical schools any faster. They will still wait to release it by June 30th. If you still have questions for AMCAS, you can call them at 202-828-0600.
What is considered to be an AMCAS re-applicant? When I initially completed the AMCAS application, I listed a number of medical schools on the application. I did NOT complete any supplements to these schools and in early September withdrew all my applications and sent “withdrawal” letters to each school. When applying to AMCAS this summer, do I click the button as “reapplying” or as if this my first time applying to these schools even though they would have been contacted by AMCAS in 2013?
You are not considered a re-applicant if you formally withdrew your application through AMCAS. According to the AMCAS website, your application may only be withdrawn prior to the verification process when your application is in one of the following states: “Submitted to AMCAS – Ready for Review,” “Submitted to AMCAS – Waiting for Transcripts,” or “Returned”. As long as you withdrew during one of those states, you will essentially be a “new” applicant this time around.
Note: Even though you applied previously to AMCAS, you will need to resubmit official transcripts. AMCAS does not keep transcripts on file from previous years’ applications. Thus, transcripts submitted in previous years cannot be reactivated.
What is NECOME and how does Middlebury being part of the cohort help my application?
Middlebury College is a member of a professional organization called the NorthEast Consortium on Medical Education (NECOME). This group of premedical advisors and medical school deans and admissions directors meets twice a year to discuss medical school trends and issues regarding medical education. The following colleges and medical schools comprise NECOME.
|Undergraduate schools:||Medical schools:|
College of the Holy Cross
|Albany Medical College
Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College
Harvard Medical School
Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University Tufts University School of Medicine
University of Connecticut School of Medicine
Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry
Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont College of Medicine
Within our NECOME cohort, most medical schools require a committee letter or a letter packet since they know Middlebury provides it. In some cases, waivers for the committee requirement must be granted by the admissions committee. If you wish to receive a waiver you may have to email an explanation of the circumstances that led to your decision not to pursue the committee letter, and it will be presented to the admissions committee.
Pre-Vet at Middlebury
I am a first-year and have always been interested in becoming a veterinarian, but I seem to only see information and workshops for pre-med. Can I be pre-vet at Middlebury?
You absolutely can! While it is true that our pre-med group is larger in number, but we prefer to think of our students as “pre-health”. Pre-health student interests range from nursing to midwifery to acupuncture to veterinary medicine to dental medicine, etc. While we know there aren’t many pre-vet students on campus at this time, we certainly work with pre-vet students and support them through the application process just like we do with our pre-meds. Our workshops and information sessions that we hold for the students going through our Health Professions Committee covers medical/dental/veterinary and D.O. information, so we welcome you to those meetings. The veterinary medicine school application process is very similar to the medical school one. The key differences are in timing and your letters of recommendation. You will need 3-4 individual recommenders who will complete forms via VMCAS, the application service that most (but not all!) vet schools use.
Going through the Health Professions Committee process is optional as veterinary schools do not expect committee letters in the way that medical schools do. You’ll also submit your application in the fall rather than early summer. We do keep a separate contact list for pre-vet students, so please email us with your information and you will get targeted reminders about pre-vet events, internships, etc. We are happy to meet with you to support you with planning your course schedule, finding shadowing opportunities and going through the application process. Schedule an appointment any time!
Med School Letters of Recommendation
I wanted to verify that I am meeting the criteria for letters from two professors in the natural sciences. I have one external recommender who was my Organic Chemistry professor and a Middlebury professor with whom I took Physiological Psychology and Neuropsychology and who was my Neuroscience Thesis Advisor, and lastly a Middlebury professor with whom I took the seminar Memory: A User’s Guide and Cognitive Psychology and who was my general academic advisor. The last two are professors from the Psychology department and Neuroscience program. Will this be sufficient? As I am not a pre-med student, I built my strongest relationships with professors in the psychology department, does that count as part of the natural sciences?
Most medical schools will require at least 3 letters from professors of undergraduate classes: 2 science & 1 non-science. A “science” letter refers to the BCPM category (Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Math). A “non-science” letters refers to a class that falls outside of the BCPM category, typically humanities, social science or arts. Where this gets sticky is with your two Neuroscience classes. If they were taught by Psychology professors, they would not be considered BCPM, and although they are science, would fall outside the BCPM category. Ironically, if the identical classes were taught by a Biology professor, the class would be sponsored by the Bio department, and it would be considered a “science” class. Like so many things in the medical school application process, there is no “one size fits all” answer. We run into this a fair bit when it comes to math and AP credits. Bottom line? I would say that for the vast majority of schools you are fine with the Organic Chemistry letter and the two Psychology/ Neuroscience letters. My one caveat, is that since applying to medical school is inherently competitive, some students will always choose the most stringent option, which in this case would be getting a second BCPM letter if you are able to do so.
This question has given us a chance to delve deeply into the topic of “Letters of Recommendation” and we have learned a lot. Hannah Benz started with the list of all US medical schools and selected the top ten schools (Tufts, UVM, Boston University, Dartmouth, Rochester, Temple, Einstein, NYU, Drexel, Brown) to which Middlebury students are accepted as a sampling. Here is a summary of her findings.
Finding a Summer Internship
I am a first-year Feb and I don’t want to miss the chance to find a summer internship. I don’t see specific internships listed on your website. Can you give me advice about where to look and what kinds of internships I should be looking into?
Health Professions & STEM Advising is part of the Center of Careers & Internships and as such, all internships and jobs are posted in Handshake, the online database for current job and internship postings. We encourage pre-health students to become familiar with Handshake, the Middlebury career advisory network. We also encourage students to check out CCI’s Top Ten List of ways to find or create an internship, drop by Quick Questions in Adirondack House (no appointment necessary). Research organizations at home and abroad, and check on what might be available if you are interested. Remember that not every internship you do as a pre-health student needs to be health-related. You can also gain valuable service, leadership, teaching, and research experience that will be relevant for a future in the health professions. While internships are one great way to gain exposure to medicine, don’t forget about shadowing, volunteering during the summer and/or the academic year.
What is a Post-Bacc?
A post-baccalaureate program is for students who have already completed an undergraduate degree, and are interested in a health professions career. They need either to finish pre-requisite courses and/or need to improve their academic standing for a more competitive professional school application.
There are two different types of programs for students hoping to attend medical, dental or veterinary school:
Basic Sciences: This type of program is for students who have not completed the basic requirements for medical school. The coursework can be done in a formal post-bacc program or individually at a local university.
Advanced Sciences/GPA Boosters: This type of program is designed for students who were
science majors or have completed the basic science requirements. These are for students who:
• Want to stay academically engaged during a gap year while applying to medical or dental schools.
• Need to raise their GPA to become a more competitive medical school applicant.
How do I get in? Selection criteria vary around the country. Most programs require at least a 3.0 GPA and either an MCAT score of 20 or a DAT score of 16. Applications for the fall semester are usually due by March of that year. Check with individual programs so as not to miss deadlines.
MCAT questions and feedback from students who have taken the new test
Q: Should I retake the MCAT?
A: Do you think you can do better the next time around? Sometimes students have a definitive answer: They might not have studied enough, might have been sick, might have had a family emergency, etc. These students are fairly certain that if they take the exam again, they’ll do better and we encourage them to do so. Then there is the group of students who are definitive that they will not do any better if they were to retake the exam. This group had prepared exhaustively, they were not sick, they were well rested, there were no personal issues around the time of the exam, etc. We tell these students that if they really had prepared as we suggest (2-3 months of study time, 2-3 hours a day, 6-8 full length practice exams) and didn’t do well, they will likely get a fairly similar score by repeating the exam again. Taking the exam again is not without consequence, as medical schools see every MCAT score, and it’s not uncommon for scores to go down on a second attempt. Medical schools don’t have a fixed number when it comes to what they want in MCAT scores; a perfect score doesn’t guarantee admission, and a low score doesn’t mean automatic rejection. What we do know, however, is that because MCAT scores do predict success on the USMLE (medical student boards), admission committees like to see MCAT scores around 31 (83%) or 510 (83%) which is predictive of board passing.
Q: Will the MCAT test be offered after the posted September 23, 2015 date?
A: As of April 2nd, September 23 is the last MCAT test date for 2015. AAMC suspects that additional test dates will be added in the next couple of months, so we suggests that students check their website frequently.
It is our understanding that there will be January, February and March test dates in 2016 and the only reason that there was the Jan-April gap this year was because of the new MCAT roll-out.
We have been asking students who have taken the new MCAT to provide us with feedback. Below are a few of those responses.
- My biggest recommendation to anyone taking this test would be to be very comfortable with reading and interpreting scientific studies. In order to even be able to access the questions (minus the stand-alones) on the Chemistry & Physics, Biology & Biochemistry, and Psychology sections, you have to be able to read a study for the important information and interpret graphs and variables without getting bogged down by the information you don’t understand. The classes at Midd that helped me with this were Topics in Reproductive Medicine with Catherine Combelles, which was a class solely devoted to reading scientific literature and analyzing it, and Research Methods with Michelle McCauley, which prepared me in terms of knowing stats tests, variables, etc.
- I think the test is still trying to decide what it’s going to be in terms of being calculation-heavy or not, so I would advise people taking the test to still memorize the physics and chemistry formulas that would’ve been necessary on the old test. Even though physics is only 25% of one section, if your test ends up having several physics problems that require formula calculations and you don’t know them, that is a problem.
- In terms of my feeling prepared or not, I felt as well prepared as I think I could’ve given my circumstances. I took the exam without having taken Physics II, Organic Chemistry II or Biochemistry so, even though I tried to learn these topics on my own, I knew there would be things I wouldn’t know for the test. I would say people could get away with not taking Organic Chemistry II or Physics II for this exam, but Biochemistry is so much of the test that, unless circumstances make it impossible for someone to take it before they take the test, it really is advisable to take that first. If I could change one thing about my MCAT preparation, I would’ve taken some sort of Biochemistry class before the test. The exam requires much more than a superficial knowledge of the topic.
- Taking the released test was helpful, but the released test was definitely easier than my actual exam. I found the ExamKrackers online tests to be similar in style and difficulty to my actual exam.
- I would definitely recommend taking Intro to Psych if possible. It was easy to study and learn for the exam but because I had really never seen any of it, I devoted a lot of time to it, that was ultimately taken away from other subjects. Biochem is a definite must. The new MCAT really likes to focus on connections through topics and Biochemistry was highly stressed. I would highly highly recommend taking Animal Physiology or any Anatomy class. I was shocked by how much of the test was human body systems. Immune system, digestive, organs, etc. Thankfully to your advice last spring, I last minute registered for Animal Physiology and the course was incredibly helpful for the MCAT. Even if students can not register I would recommend auditing the course. My last suggestion is the new test is incredibly long and has much more material. I definitely needed the full 12 weeks to prepare. My original plan to study in 10 seemed nearly impossible towards the end of the summer and I was studying 5-8 hours a day.
Do I need to major in science if I want to apply to be pre-med/DO/pre-vet/pre-dental?
Not necessarily, but you do need the following courses in order to qualify for admission to medical, dental, and veterinary school:
- Biology (one year+)
- Chemistry (two years, including biochemistry)
- Physics (one year)
- Math (statistics and/or calculus)
- Behavioral Science
Applying to M.D./Ph.D. programs
How do I know if a combined program is right for me? M.D./Ph.D. programs are specifically designed for those who want to become research physicians. Graduates often go on to become faculty members at medical schools and research institutes. M.D./Ph.D. candidates will spend most of their time doing research in addition to caring for patients.
How long does it take? Students enter an integrated curriculum that typically takes 7-8 years to complete.
When and where do I apply? Nearly all M.D./Ph.D. programs participate in the application process via AMCAS. You simply designate yourself as M.D./Ph.D. on the application. You will also be asked to complete two additional essays: one related to why you are interested in M.D./Ph.D. training, and the other highlighting your research experiences. Nationwide, there are more than 100 programs affiliated with medical schools.
*Excerpted from the AAMC Quick Answers to Common Questions About Getting Into Medical School
MD/PhD: Is It Right for Me?
Check out this panel from the NIH Graduate and Professional School Fair – a great 1-hour video panel conversation.
Can I play sports and be pre-med/DO/pre-vet/pre-dental?
Absolutely. Many of the students we work with balance both their academic and athletic pursuits. That is one of the benefits of a liberal arts experience.
How do I make sure social media doesn’t hurt my application chances?
We have been reading more and more that some admissions committees and employers really look at applicant’s pages and posts, so we are now telling students to assume that all admissions committees look up applicants online. Barbara Fuller, M.P.H., director of admissions at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University says, “Students on the admissions committee are more tech savvy and actually have been responsible for presenting information on candidates-acquired through internet searches-that changed an acceptance to a rejection. As an applicant, you are responsible for the ‘public face’ that the connected world sees.”
How do you find out what’s out there about you? Do web searches from various browsers and see what comes up. In addition to your social media accounts, you may find links to news articles, petitions you have signed electronically, and comments you have left on websites.
What might negatively influence the committee? Anything illegal, showing poor judgement, or might be controversial can hurt your image.
How to protect yourself: Make all social networking accounts private. Approve all tags or check-ins and delete anything you are not proud of, or that might be misconstrued. It is best to err on the “less is more” idea.
Social media best practices:
- Make all accounts private
- Keep pictures, statuses, and comments clean
- Approve tags and check-ins from friends
- Always sign out of a public or shared computer
- Never share your password
*Excerpted from the AAMC Quick Answers to Common Questions About Getting Into Medical School
Can I still study abroad?
Yes! You just need to plan your course sequences thoughtfully (particularly chemistry). Consider studying abroad for one semester or a summer rather than the whole year. Or plan to matriculate to medical school a year after graduating from Middlebury and complete additional coursework through a continuing education or post-baccalaureate program.
Can I apply as an alum and still get support from Middlebury?
You can! We support alums as well as current students in their pursuit of careers and graduate programs in the health professions field.
Are there other resources I should be aware of?
Our office maintains a blog. Be sure to check it out for current and updated information.
What is the cycle for completing requirements and applying to medical school?
Complete prerequisites before the end of the junior year if you wish to enter medical, dental, or veterinary school the fall following college graduation. However, it is becoming more common for students to enter medical school one or more years after graduation. Read through the Application Process page where there are complete timelines available, working backwards from the year you’d like to matriculate into professional school.
Besides taking premedical courses, what else should I do to make myself a strong applicant for medical school?
- Take courses that truly interest you. Be a happy, active and fulfilled liberal arts student.
- Test your interest in health care through research and clinical experiences. Medical schools want to know if you know what you’re getting into. Having a physician as a parent or neighbor is not enough.
- Pursue formal internships during Winter Term or Summer – applicants who are really committed tend to have a series of pertinent experiences.