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Medical Education FAQ



Frequently Asked Questions about Medical Education

This FAQ about Medical Education was compiled and written by eric@wilkinson.com (Eric P. Wilkinson, M.D.) with numerous contributions by others.

Welcome to the misc.education.medical Frequently Asked Questions list (FAQ), also known as the Medical Education FAQ. This article answers questions commonly asked on the misc.education.medical newsgroup, which discusses medical education (MD and DO training issues). It is crossposted to several groups with readers interested in medical education. This document should always be available on the World Wide Web at:

or through the hypertext FAQ archives at:

The FAQ should also be available via anonymous FTP at:

and is posted regularly to the following Usenet newsgroups:

misc.education.medical soc.college.grad soc.college.admissions sci.med news.answers sci.answers soc.answers misc.answers

Comments about the FAQ itself are invited and can be sent to me at . Suggestions for improvement and corrections of inaccurate information are especially welcome. If you have a question that is not answered in this FAQ article, try asking it on misc.education.medical.

IMPORTANT NOTE

If you are looking for answers to questions about medical conditions or procedures, the proper newsgroups to read and post to are the sci.med.* groups. If you are seeking medical advice, consult a licensed physician. The newsgroup misc.education.medical is for discussions of medical education only.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

This article is not the work of one; many individuals have contributed to this FAQ. Special thanks go to James Bright, who maintained the "version 1" FAQ from the early days of the newsgroup in 1994 until July 1998, and Sandeep Dave, who created the newsgroup in June 1994 and compiled the first FAQ answers.

Contributors to the current FAQ include: Natalie Belle; Tim Cramm; Scott Goodman; Chris Kahn; Ryan Maves; Kris McCoy; Greg Nee; John Nguyen; Dave Russo; Eric Wilkinson; and Timothy Wu.

DISCLAIMER

This article is provided as is without any express or implied warranties. While every effort has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this article, the maintainer and contributors assume no responsibility for errors or omissions, or for damages resulting from the use of the information contained herein.

-1.1) What is an MD?
An MD, or Doctor of Medicine, most simply is a person who ...
-1.2) What is a DO?
Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (DOs) are the legal and ...
-1.3) What are the prerequisites for medical school?
All medical schools require a baccalaureate (BA, AB, BS, ...
-1.4) What is the MSAR?
The book Medical School Admission Requirements, or MSAR, is ...
-1.5) State school or Ivy League for undergrad?
In general, whether you attend a well-known school or a ...
-1.6) Which major should I choose?
According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, ...
-1.7) Is admission to medical school competitive?
Medical school admissions has always been competitive, as there ...
-1.8) Do I have to do research?
Absolutely not, but doing research does help to ...
-1.9) Do I have to have clinical experience?
Gaining clinical experience as a premedical student is ...
-1.10) How old is too old?
It may not be too late. Students in their 30s and 40s are ...
-1.11) How high does my GPA need to be?
Perhaps every premedical student has heard tales of the 3.9 GPA ...
-1.12) I completed college without finishing the pre-med requirements, and I want to apply to medical school. What do I do now?
There are a couple of options. You can enroll at a local college ...
-1.13) What are some good sources of information about medical school and medicine?
RECOMMENDED AUTHORS OF BOOKS ABOUT MEDICINE ...
-2.1) What is the MCAT?
The Medical College Admissions Test, or MCAT, is the ...
-2.2) How important is the MCAT in the admission process?
The MCAT is very important. A high MCAT score by itself will ...
-2.3) What material is on the MCAT?
The official MCAT registration materials include a syllabus ...
-2.4) When should I start studying for the MCAT?
Nearly all students require at least two months of regular review ...
-2.5) How should I study for the MCAT?
Basically, whatever study methods have served you well in the ...
-2.6) Should I take a review course?
That depends. If you are overwhelmed by the thought of MCAT review,...
-2.7) Can you tell me about Stanley Kaplan vs. Princeton Review?
Stanley Kaplan and Princeton ...
-2.8) Are there any other options for review courses?
Yes. Many colleges offer structured review courses for the MCAT....
-2.9) When should I take the MCAT?
You should take the MCAT at least one year prior to the date ...
-2.10) Does it matter whether I take the MCAT in April or August?
If you are prepared for the exam, it's probably best to take it ...
-2.11) What is a good MCAT score?
Traditionally a good score is double digits (10 or better) on ...
-2.12) Are different sections of the MCAT more or less important than other sections?
Yes. The essay section is less important than the other sections....
-2.13) My MCAT score was not stellar. Is it advisable to take the MCAT twice? three times?
Yes--as long as you improve your score! Taking the MCAT ...
-2.14) Should I go ahead and apply with my current MCAT score, or should I wait until I take the test again?
If you received greater than 27 on your first attempt, it ...
-2.15) How do medical schools interpret multiple MCAT attempts?
Medical schools consider them favorably, as long as you improve ...
-2.16) I heard that you can take the MCAT as "practice" but not have your score count. I could use the practice; is this a good idea?
No. At the end of the exam, you must decide whether or not ...
-2.17) Can I decide not to release my MCAT scores and then later decide to release them after I have seen my score?
Yes, however, medical schools will be informed that you ...
-3.1) What is the timeline for admissions?
AMCAS (cf 3.3) begins accepting applications on June 1. ...
-3.2) Where can I find a list of medical schools?
The MSAR (cf 1.4) has a list of all of the medical schools in the ...
-3.3) What is AMCAS/AACOMAS?
AMCAS, the American Medical College Application Service, is ...
-3.4) How many schools should I apply to?
Depends. If you're 4.0 and 40+ on the MCAT, then probably you ...
-3.5) Which schools should I apply to?
Your best bet is to think about where you'd like to go to school ...
-3.5a) What are good sources to help me choose?
Your primary source should be your college's pre-medical advisor....
-3.6) How expensive is it to apply?
The AMCAS fee is about $45 for the first school, and $25 for ...
-3.6a) Is there any way to make the application process cheaper?
You can request from AMCAS a fee waiver, which covers the cost ...
-3.7) Should I apply to DO schools?
Osteopathic medical schools have a reputation for looking past ...
-3.8) What is a secondary/supplementary?
Secondary (also called supplementary) applications come in a ...
-3.9) What is an MD/PhD program?
Students that are enrolled in combined MD/PhD programs pursue the ...
-3.9a) What are the different sources of funding for MD/PhD programs?
1. Medical Scientist Training Program (at official NIH MSTP schools) ...
-3.10) Should I enroll in a combined BS/MD program?
BS/MD programs, or, more appropriately, college/MD programs, allow ...
-3.11) What are combined MD/MPH and DO/MPH programs?
MPH stands for Masters in Public Health. Public health is ...
-3.12) Can you tell me about combined MD/MBA programs?
Ten schools offer the combined MD/MBA program. They are: UCLA,...
-3.13) Can you tell me about combined MD/JD programs?
Seven schools offer the combined MD/JD program. They are: Yale,...
-3.14) What are PAs?
Physician assistants, or PAs, provide medical care under ...
-3.15) Should I consider going to a foreign school?
Attending a foreign medical school is a tricky situation. On ...
-4.1) How can I prepare for my interview?
You should do research on the school itself. Learn a little ...
-4.2) What should I wear to the interview?
Dress professionally in your style. This simply means to dress ...
-4.3) Should I bring anything to the interview?
Bring a list of any questions you wish to ask (you will ...
-4.4) What will I be asked?
This is largely dependent on the school and on the interviewer (...
-4.5) "Why do you want to be a doctor?"
If you want to say to help people, please just make that ...
-4.6) What questions should I ask?
Ask anything you want about the school. Many times faculty ...
-4.7) Should I do anything after the interview?
Sending a thank you note is purely optional, and some consider it ...
-4.8) What does "waitlisted" mean? What does "hold" mean?
The terms wait list, acceptance range, hold, and any ...
-4.9) What if I don't get accepted?
Try again. Trying 2 times seems to be the norm these days but ...
-4.10) How should I choose what school to go to?
This depends on several factors. Important ones include ...
-4.11) What should I do during the summer before medical school?
Nothing at all. Take a deep breath....
-5.1) How long is medical school?
In the United States, medical school is generally four years ...
-5.2) What classes are there in medical school?
The classes in medical school vary from place to place. But ...
-5.3) How are students graded/evaluated in medical school?
Again, depends on the school. Many schools still have the ...
-5.4) What are "rotations"?
Rotations are the blocks of time you spend on the different ...
-5.5) What are the "must have" textbooks?
The only absolutely essential, must have textbook is the Atlas ...
-5.6) What is PBL?
PBL stands for Problem Based Learning. Basically, there are ...
-5.7) Is there any free time in medical school?
There is as much free time as you want there to be. In spite ...
-5.8) What is the USMLE?
In spite of its resemblance to the words U SMILE, it's not a ...
-5.9) What is a good USMLE score?
A good score is one that is (a) passing and (b) passing, a fact ...
-5.10) What is AOA?
Alpha Omega Alpha, or AOA, is a national medical honor society ...
-6.1) How expensive is medical school?
Very. According to the AAMC's Medical School ...
-6.2) How can I pay for medical school?
The first consideration is to reduce your expenses. The ...
-6.3) Can you tell me about Armed Forces scholarships?
The Armed Forces Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP) is ...
-6.4) Can you tell me about Public Health Service scholarships?
The Public Health Service offers a scholarship (The National ...
-6.5) Can I really borrow more than $10K/yr in Unsubsidized Stafford Loans?
With the phaseout of the HEAL program at all schools, the ...
-7.1) What are the different medical specialties?
A good source for learning about the different medical ...
-7.2) What is a residency?
Upon graduation from medical school, you become a doctor ...
-7.2a) What is an internship?
In the old days, all physician completed a one year ...
-7.2b) What is a "preliminary" year? A "categorical" year?
An alternative to the transitional year for some is the ...
-7.3) What is the Match?
The Match (also cf 7.4) is a way to bring together ...
-7.4) What is the NRMP?
The National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) is the official ...
-7.5) Are there specialties that don't use the NRMP?
Several specialties have their own matching programs. Neurology,...
-7.6) What is a fellowship?
A fellowship is a period of training that you undertake ...
-7.7) How many hours do interns/residents work?
Intern and resident hours vary very widely depending on specialty,...
-7.7a) Aren't there limits on this?
There are a few states that limit the number of hours that ...
-7.8) What does "board certified" mean?
Generally, to become certified by one of the boards recognized ...
-7.9) What does FACP/FACS/FACOG/etc. mean?
Before discussing this, it may be useful to delineate ...
-7.10) What is an IMG/FMG?
Those who have graduated from medical schools outside of the ...
-7.11) What is the ECFMG? The CSA?
The Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG)...
-7.12) What is CME?
A physician's education does not end with medical school ...









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