July 20, 2018
About a quarter of medical schools in the United States offer combined undergraduate and medical programs for high school students. High school students have been admitted to going from high school to medical school without the need to apply for a medical school. Medical schools are partnered to one or more undergraduate institutions located in the same geographical area to make it possible. Undergraduate college and faculties of medicine often belong to the same university system, but they can also be independent institutions. If accepted, students will spend two to four years at undergraduate university finishing their BS or BA degrees with premedical requirements. Then they will go to a medical school connected to the undergraduate institution for their MD. Some of these programs are accelerated, which means that students get their BS or BA and MD in 6 or 7 years, not traditionally 8. However, most programs have 8 years.
The draw is obvious. Students admitted to these programs give up the stress of applying for medical education and a guaranteed place in a medical school. Traditional pre-meds focus on getting A in almost every class and getting at least 33 on MCAT. At the same time, they need to continue several extracurricular activities to stimulate their medical school applications. Even after all this work, admission seems not guaranteed. In 2012, 45,266 persons were enrolled in a medical school, and only 19,517 (43%) were actually matriculated.
So, instead of competing with dozens of thousands of other candidates with less than 50% probability of acceptance, admits into these combined MD and Bachelors programs only need to worry about maintaining their GPA and scoring a minimum MCAT. Many programs require that their students attend MCAT, but only the minimum MCAT score (usually between 24 and 30, which is not very high because the average MCAT score of the medical school matriculant is 31) is necessary for advancement in a medical school. In some programs such as UCSD and Northwestern, students do not even have to take an MCAT. Students in these combined programs can engage in activities and main actions that traditional pre-meds hesitate to follow due to pressure on freedom of application. There are even programs that allow students to apply to other medical schools in case they want a change of scenery for medical school.
The promise of combining the undergraduate / MD program sounds great, but many factors must be considered before deciding to apply or enroll in one of these programs.
#1: Many Universities and Medical Schools Offering this Program Are Not “first class” Schools
If you are a competitive candidate for any of these combined programs, you are usually qualified for regular honors at the best universities in the United States. For example, what would happen if you entered the Boston University combined program, but did you also enter Harvard? Although Boston University (BU) is a good school for undergraduate and medical education, it is not a top-ranked university or medical school.
#2: Are You Sure You Want to Become a Doctor?
This is probably the most important factor to consider. These high school programs at a medical school are intended for high school students who are engaged in careers in medicine.
#3: Are You a Competitive Applicant?
What the committees in charge of admission seek are intelligent, diligent and mature applicants. Most successful candidates performed very well on GPA and SAT / ACT scores, medical-related volunteer work, leadership experience and various other extra-curricular activities.
#4: Most State Schools Favour In-State Students
Public medical schools offering a combined program usually seek to educate doctors who are likely to remain in the state. Therefore, they will give priority to applicants who are resident in their country because they will most likely remain in the country after they become physicians. Private schools have more flexibility in terms of state preference.