If you're in the enviable position of gaining acceptance to multiple medical schools, you have the job of selecting the best institution for you.
While your dreams are coming true – you're finally going to have the chance to become a doctor – choice can create anxiety. Do not be overwhelmed. You have made similar decisions in the past, and there are several actions that can help ease the process.
[Get four tips for selecting the right medical school.]
It might sound trivial, but crafting a list of pros and cons for each school is useful. Consider your priorities and set a list including culture, location, teaching method and financial aid package. Gather additional information both formally and casually.
Your greatest exposure to each school was most likely on interview day. Though it might have been a stressful event, try to remember your tour with a medical student. Did you feel like you fit in with the student? Did you want to have coffee with this person?
Recall whether you liked the school’s environment. Was it urban, suburban or rural? Did it offer an atmosphere of walking and public transportation, or will you need a bike or a car?
If you hated the weather, you have a minimum of four years of the same. This may sound insignificant, but it’s the little things that add up to overall happiness.
[Take time to practice building effective medical school study habits.]
Medical centers have particular areas of excellence. As a medical student, you will receive a broad education in both basic and clinical sciences, potentially at a variety of hospitals. If you are contemplating a dual degree in public health or business, then that may factor more heavily in your decision. Remember that rankings and reputations are subjective, and these may not have much meaning once you matriculate.
Financial aid packages are also important to evaluate, as they determine how much money you will borrow and pay back over the long term. Medical school costs continue to rise and educational debt for both undergraduate and medical education can be daunting.
[Find out more about how to pay for medical school.]
Before you make the final decision, gather additional information and perspectives on the schools, as well as about yourself. If there is a preadmission event, plan to attend in an effort to further determine whether or not the culture fits you. Unfettered access to current medical students can give you real-time information about the school’s culture, so ask as many questions as possible.
Alumni also provide a wealth of information and provide a diversity of opinions. Speak to a recent graduate about curriculum and student culture. Have a conversation with an alumnus who may be four to eight years out of school to identify readiness for residency and the practice of medicine. Additionally, a conversation with a trusted relative or mentor who is familiar with your temperament, strengths and weaknesses can help provide clarity.
Deciding which medical school to attend comes down to a gut feeling supported by information toward the goal to attend the best school, which sets you up for success. Once you sign the form and send the check, there is no second-guessing. Whatever you decide, be sure to enjoy every moment before you enter medical school.