Hot Tips for Medical School Students

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Smart Choices

Medical Genetics. Alfred Gilman, dean of University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, says DNA breakthroughs will bring better therapy via personalized and preventive medicine. That also means more Interdisciplinary Medicine, combining genetics, genomics, and computational biology.

Insider Tip

Sure, bioethics and humanities courses have been staples of medical school curriculums for years. But sculpting, art observation, improvisation, and dance/movement therapy? At Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine they're not only offered; first- and second-year medical students must take at least one each year. Similarly unconventional courses are cropping up at medical schools across the country, part of a national effort to give future physicians tools to bring their whole selves—not just their brains—to patient care. —Lindsay Lyon

Reality Check

Average in-state tuition at medical school (public): $20,983; out-of-state: $39,428 · Average tuition (private): $37,800 · In '07, more than 15,500 med school seniors bid for their residencies; nearly 84% got one of their top three choices · Average starting salaries: dermatology: $195,000 plus; gastroenterology: $265,000 plus; ophthalmology (retina): $280,000 plus · Ready for a new baby boom? Obstetrics and gynecology filled 99.5% of its residency positions in '07, up 8.3% since '03 · Share of female med school grads in '07: 49% up from 44% in '02

Sources:
National Residency Matching Program; Allied Physicians; Association of American Medical Colleges

Getting In

First Steps. You may not be a medical student yet, but you'll want to visit the website of the American Medical Student Association. Go to amsa.org/premed for loads of premed offerings, including nationwide chapters for doctor wannabes, conferences, and internship and advocacy opportunities. AMSA also provides opportunities for career development and other benefits for its premed members.

Required Reading. You can't take the Medical College Admission Test without signing a form saying you've read about it first, so look for "MCAT Essentials" at aamc.org. About 70,000 students sit for the exam each year; exam dates are chosen to meet most med school application deadlines, and the goal is to have a testing location within 100 miles of every candidate (at least in this country). Already taken the exam? Check with your med school of choice. Schools generally accept scores dating back two or three years. —Matthew Shulman