Deciding to become a doctor didn’t happen overnight. You’ve been thinking about it for months — maybe even years. Spending so much time preparing for your dream career can leave you feeling a little bogged down as you work through the lengthy medical school application and acceptance process.
If you’ve been considering the School of Medicine at St. George’s University (SGU), you can get started a lot sooner. In addition to the August start date, SGU also enrolls a class each January.
Starting school during the winter might seem a little unorthodox at first, but there are some unique advantages you might not have considered. Take a look at some of the ways starting medical school in January may benefit you.
1. You can start on the road to residency sooner
Perhaps you’ve already started thinking about everything you’ll want to do during medical school to prepare for residency. This isn’t unusual when you consider the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) residency timeline starts during year one. You can concentrate on fostering relationships with instructors who could write future letters of recommendation, or planning summer internships to start building your resume.
There’s some good news for those starting their residency journey at SGU. Of the eligible 2019 students and graduates who applied for US residency positions, 93 percent obtained one at the time of graduation. Altogether, SGU students and graduates secured 978 residency placements across the US and Canada in 2019.
2. You can take advantage of financing opportunities
Medical school is a substantial investment that can be made more affordable through scholarships and grants. All students can seek financial assistance in a number of ways
The Humanitarian Scholarship is awarded to students who have demonstrated a commitment to supporting humanitarian efforts in their communities. Students who've demonstrated high academic achievement may be eligible for one of two awards that are part of the Legacy of Excellence Scholarship Program. Students are identified during the admission process, so no application is necessary.
SGU attendees from the US and Canada who start in the winter also have a unique option. The Why Wait initiative provides an opportunity for students attending the Grenada campus to have their tuition and fees refunded should they later gain acceptance to and enroll in a Canadian or US allopathic medical school the following fall.
3. You’ll enjoy a favorable student-to-faculty ratio
When you read various medical school rankings, you’ll notice student-to-faculty ratios are usually mentioned as critical to obtaining a quality education. Working in small groups is related and equally beneficial. Research suggests learning in small group settings supports academic achievement.
Students at St. George’s University can expect to enjoy a student-to-faculty ratio of 8:1 for small group sessions. They also attend sizable lectures, but those who start in January have an advantage. Because the winter class is traditionally smaller than the fall cohort, new students will benefit from smaller lectures as they begin their medical school journey.
4. You’ll have more time to adjust to the rigors of medical school
Medical school is notoriously demanding—and rightfully so. It can take some time to get used to the fast pace and amount of material covered when you first start medical school. Beginning in January is a great way to adjust because you’ll get to enjoy a full summer break to absorb what you learned during the first term and recharge before returning in the fall.
5. You can devote more time to preparing for important exams
Most students take the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Step 1 in the spring near the end of their second year. Doing well on this test is critical, because most residency directors rank it as the most important evaluation criteria when selecting candidates to interview. The USMLE Step 1 has a tendency of sneaking up on students, so starting early is probably the best studying advice.
SGU has an impressive track record for USMLE Step 1 performance, including a 96 percent pass rate for first-time test takers in 2018. While all students should be encouraged by this success, those beginning class in January benefit from having more time to prepare. You can wait all the way until the spring two years after beginning your education to take Step 1.
You'll also have added time to study for your Step 2s, particularly for the clinical knowledge (CK) exam, which mirrors the Step 1. For January class students, because core rotations finish up in May, they have upward of two months to study for the CKs, whereas August entering students have limited study time due to a rotation schedule that finishes in the summertime.
The same applies to Canadian students who have their sights on obtaining a residency in Canada. To do so, students have to pass the Medical Council of Canada Qualifying Examination (MCCQE) Step 1, and a January start gives you them ample time to prepare.
6. You can devote more time to preparing for residency
There is plenty that goes into building the foundation for the rest of your medical career. By starting in January, you have the opportunity to schedule and complete more fourth-year electives in your desired specialty, including highly competitive fields, prior to submitting a residency application. With this alone, you get increased 1:1 exposure to residency directors and influencers, who may offer their assistance with your all-important letters of recommendation or, even better, see you as the kind of doctor they want to bring in as a resident.
Start your journey sooner
As you can see, there are a lot of reasons to consider beginning your SGU medical education in January. For some students, it’s simply a smarter choice than waiting until later in the year to apply and enroll.
If you’re eager to get started on your medical school journey at St. George’s University, visit our application page.
* This article has been updated from a previous version to include current facts and figures.
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