Becoming a doctor is a dream for many people, but the application process can seem overwhelming. Fortunately, the process can be broken down into three simple phases.
The first phase is the primary application. This is the first portion of the application that you will submit, and it can be submitted as early as the first week of June of the application year. Most U.S. medical schools use the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS), which is a centralized medical school application processing service. The great thing about AMCAS participating schools is that you only need to submit one online application, even if you’re applying to multiple schools.
Before submitting your primary application, you’ll need to gather all the materials that will go into it. This includes official transcripts, a personal statement, and information about your extracurricular activities. You’ll also need to take the MCAT, as medical schools will only review your application if it’s considered complete, and this includes having an available MCAT score.
The second phase is the secondary application. After submitting your primary application, there are two possible outcomes: the medical school will reject your application or they will send you a secondary application. The secondary application is specific to each school you’re applying to, and it’s where they ask the specific questions they want answered. Some schools will just want an application fee and no additional info, but others will want to know more. It’s important to have a fast turnaround for these applications, and in an ideal world, you’ll spend much of July and August submitting secondary applications.
The final phase is the medical school interview. If you’re not invited for an interview, the school will notify you right away and the process will end for that school. If you are invited for an interview, you should schedule it at the earliest convenient time. As schools are interviewing applicants, they’re making decisions. Usually, you’ll hear one way or another within a month of interviewing, but sometimes this phase takes longer.
It’s a long process, but with the right planning, it’s completely manageable. Successful medical school applicants are those who view each phase of the journey as an opportunity to put their best foot forward and showcase their best qualities.