"It's also important to ask whether the medical school has resources or has a department for you to rotate through to support those interests," says Lee.
If a student wants to go into plastic surgery or dermatology, for example, a school without resources in those fields may not be a good fit.
"It might be harder for you to get those exposures versus someone who goes to a medical school that has a very well established department in those areas," she says.
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4. What opportunities are there for networking? For students in the school's first set of classes, there may not be any alumni to ask for career help after graduating.
"There are no resources. That's why it is a risk," says Deborah C. German, vice president of medical affairs and dean at UCF's College of Medicine. "The students really have to have a pioneering spirit."
During school, new students may find themselves in a bind when there are no second-, third- or fourth-year medical students to ask about a difficult assignment.
If there are a few current students at the school, prospective M.D. candidates should ask them, "How close do you feel to the faculty?" says Scheinman of Commonwealth Medical College, noting that a student's relationship with faculty is especially critical in this kind of environment.
Faculty members at Commonwealth were very receptive to helping its first class, says Charlie Karcutskie, who graduated from the school this year. Because his class was so small, "it gave us more time with faculty," he says. "There was a lot of support."
He recognizes that, as German said, he and his classmates took a huge risk by pursuing a new school.
"It was scary in the beginning," he says. Unlike other medical school candidates, he didn't have the chance to speak with current students about their experience. "You didn't have anything to go off of."
Though for him, the risk paid off.
"I got my first choice of residency," he says. He is a surgical resident at the Jackson Memorial Medical Center at the University of Miami. "I wouldn't change a thing."
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