Entering the medical school admissions process is an exhilarating time—you finally have the opportunity to speak with someone who knows the ins and outs of the schools you’re considering. While the medical school admissions team is tasked with assessing you as an applicant, they’re also a valuable resource to help you determine which school and MD program will best set the stage for your career.
You can uncover important details about a school’s curriculum, culture, graduate outcomes, and more by asking med school admissions teams the right questions.
Ask your medical school admissions team these critical questions
We connected with admissions professionals from multiple institutions to learn about the best questions to ask as you navigate the medical school admissions process.
1. Where do your graduates end up and how are you helping them get there?
According to Bob Ryan, the dean of admissions at St. George’s University (SGU), this is one of the most critical questions to ask medical schools. He emphasizes the importance of knowing that your investment of time, money, and energy will pay off upon graduation from an MD program.
Some medical schools, including SGU, offer student support services like career guidance and student development to assist students in preparing for the clinical years, residency, and other aspects of medical school. It’s important to ask about resources like these upfront.
"The support along the way makes a difference."
“The support along the way makes a difference,” Ryan says, “and it helps students develop the tools they need to launch careers early in their education.”
2. What kinds of support services are available for students on campus?
This question is one of the most critical medical school questions to answer, to find the institutions that offer an equally demanding and nurturing environment that allows students to thrive. Omonivie Agboghidi, former president of the Student National Medical Association (SNMA) understands just how important it is. As a medical student herself, she recognizes just how much it matters to find an encouraging environment.
“See what type of support services they have for students,” she suggests, citing examples like tutoring, mental health support, counseling, life coaches, and more. “[These services] show they are checking in on students and helping them keep their heads above water.” You can feel confident about the road ahead knowing you have access to this type of support.
3. What research opportunities are available on campus?
Ryan also asserts that career preparation isn’t just about the alumni network, but also your ability to leverage valuable work you’re involved in during your education.
“If you can do some research while you’re in medical school and get published, that is going to be very important when it comes time to sit down for a residency interview,” he says. Gathering this information from med school admissions teams can help set you up for success down the road.
4. What organizations are available to help students connect with like-minded peers?
Another way to get a feel for the campus life is by asking about student organizations. Groups like these are critical to student success, according to Tara Cunningham, senior associate dean for student affairs at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She thinks these experiences allow students to seek mentorship opportunities and make connections that can help with career development.
“Medical school should be a fond memory,” she offers. “You want to create humanistic physicians, and to do so, you have to give a human experience to students.”
5. Has your program curriculum changed in recent years? In what way?
Medicine is constantly evolving, so the same should be true of any medical school’s program. You’ll want to know what institutions are doing to keep pace with new technologies and other advances.
Additionally, make sure to find out about what effects adjustments have had. You should also be aware that students further into the program may not be able to provide specific guidance due to changes that occurred after they completed a certain portion of the curriculum.
6. What kind of financial guidance do you provide your students?
By now, you understand that medical school is a substantial but worthwhile investment. But you should still take it seriously. Make sure to ask medical school admissions teams about financial services like budgeting, financial planning, and even counseling related to smart borrowing. Make sure the school you choose is committed to helping you make financially sound decisions.
7. What role do students play in your medical school’s development?
As the field of medicine evolves, so will medical schools. But that evolution should include student input. “Students should ask admissions teams about how a school takes student perspective into account,” Cunningham suggests.
If students are consistently struggling to stay afloat, are not getting research opportunities they want, or are not able to explore different specialties, that’s a red flag. The medical school you choose should give students a voice through impactful student organizations and a collaborative dean of students office.
8. What is campus life like?
“You wouldn’t buy a $400,000 home without looking at it, so why would you invest in a medical school education without experiencing some part of campus?” Ryan asks.
It’s really in your best interest to get a feel for the atmosphere and energy by inquiring about events, facilities, and activities availableto students. Ryan also suggests checking out programs or visitation weekends, if they’re available. You might even make use of virtual tours.
From medical school admissions to enrollment
Once you’ve spoken with medical school admissions teams and gathered answers to your questions about med school, it’s time to start weighing your options. You might even find other ways to experience schools, such as getting in touch with a current student, to gain another layer of perspective to assist you in choosing a program that can help you achieve your goals.
For more insight on how to continue the evaluation process, check out our article, "How to Choose a Medical School: 9 Things to Evaluate Before Accepting."
*This article was originally published in December 2017. It’s since been updated to reflect information relevant to 2020.
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