Do I have to complete all the pre-med requirements before applying to medical school?
It is recommended that students complete the basic science sequences (biology, general and organic chemistry and physics) before applying to medical school. But, students can complete non-science and upper-level science requirements during the application year, as long as all required courses are completed before starting medical school.
What are medical schools looking for?
Medical schools are interested in applicants with excellent academic abilities (as shown in grades and MCAT scores), strong interpersonal skills, clear motivation for medicine, and demonstrated compassion and concern for others.
What are the course requirements for medical school?
Medical schools typically require two semesters of biology with lab, four semesters of chemistry with lab, biochemistry, two semesters of physics with lab, statistics, two rhetoric or writing classes and a social science class. Some medical schools have particular advanced math or science requirements which would be listed on their web sites. Benedictine students who do best on the MCAT have also taken genetics, human physiology, and cell biology. A list of typical pre-med courses at Benedictine can be found here.
Can I use AP credit to fulfill my premed requirements?
You can use AP credit to fulfill all or part of the math requirement at nearly every medical school. If you use AP credit to place out of an introductory science course, then you must replace it with an upper level course with laboratory in that department.
Do I have to major in a science?
No, major in whatever interests you. That is fine with medical schools, as long as you do well in the required premed science courses. Check with the particular med schools to see which science classes they require.
Do I have to take my required premed courses at Benedictine?
While medical schools accept community college coursework to satisfy prerequisites, we highly recommend that you take the vast majority of your required courses here at Benedictine. Transfer students who have started elsewhere, will of course have some of those classes from their previous institution. Medical schools look for patterns- so if you have taken classes before you transferred or if you take one or two courses at a community college, then that is fine- as long as you are doing well at Benedictine. If you consistently take courses at a community college when you could take them here, then you may be considered less competitive during the medical school admissions process.
Which courses count toward the science GPA?
The science GPA consists of all biology, chemistry, physics and math courses.
What percentage of Benedictine students get into medical school each year?
It is difficult to put a number on this question since each medical school is different and each student applicant is unique. Some students enter directly following their undergraduate year; others take a gap year or two before continuing on with their studies. A "strong" student will have a higher chance of success over a student who struggles to maintain grades.
The profile of a Benedictine student who typically gets accepted into medical school:
Can I study abroad?
Yes, it's a wonderful experience that shouldn't be missed, if it interests you. Medical schools like to see that students have had broad, interesting college experiences, and studying abroad demonstrates that you can get along in a culture different from your own. Visit our Study Abroad website.
Can I take premed requirements abroad?
No, do not take any of the required premed courses abroad.
What kind of extracurricular experiences should I seek?
You should pursue anything that interests you. Medical schools are interested in students who have been active contributors on campus, and who have a range of interests. You should choose a few things to do meaningfully and well, rather than dabble in a long list of activities. Community service is an important way to demonstrate your concern and compassion for others. Visit our student organizations website.
Do I need to have medically-related experiences?
Yes, it is important that you involve yourself meaningfully in a medical setting, to show medical schools that you have observed medical practice first-hand. Students do this through volunteer work in hospitals and clinics, serving as CNAs or hospice volunteers, summer jobs, internships, formal premed summer programs, or shadowing physicians at work, either during the school year or during school vacations. We offer a health science practicum for students who meet the GPA and course pre-requisite qualifications.
Do I need to do research to get into medical school?
No, unless you think you may be interested in pursuing an MD-PhD. However, if you think you would enjoy it, research is a valuable experience that some medical schools view as a plus. We have research opportunities with professors during the school year and offer the Natural Sciences Summer Research Program in the summer. Applications for summer research are usually due sometime in February.
What is the MCAT?
The MCAT is the standardized test required by all medical schools. It is a seven hour, computer-based exam, given many times a year, that has sections on verbal reasoning, biological sciences, physical sciences and behavioral sciences. You may take the MCAT when you have completed the chemistry, biology and physics premed requirements. Unlike the SAT or the ACT, you should aim to take the MCAT only once, so take the MCAT when you are ready, not when your friends are taking it.
What can I do if I'm determined to be a doctor, but my grades aren't good enough?
Many applicants take a few years after graduation to strengthen their academic records. They may choose to take additional science courses or to enroll in a formal postbaccalaureate program for students interested in medical school who need to improve their science grades. If you find that you are doing poorly in your science courses, it may be a wise strategy to put your premed plans on hold, concentrate on subjects you like and do well in, and then do the sciences after college if you are still interested in going to medical school. There are many formal and informal programs in the Chicago area that offer postbaccalaureate Master’s programs with heavy emphasis on science that can strengthen your academic credentials.
Is it okay to take time between college and medical school - a gap year?
Yes, an overwhelming majority of applicants in the US opt to take at least a year between college and medical school. Medical schools often like older applicants because of the maturity and life experience they bring to their applications. Here are some of the more popular reasons:
When should I meet with the Health Sciences Advisor?
Ideally, you should meet with Ms. Sima starting your freshman year to make sure that you are on track to finish your academic requirements in a timely fashion and that you have appropriate community and medical involvement. If you missed the freshman timeline, please make an appointment with Ms. Sima as soon as possible. If you wait until you are a senior, Ms. Sima is still a valuable resource who is here to help you reach your goals.
What is the timeline for applying to medical school?
You apply to medical school one year before you would like to start. For example, students applying in June 2018 will start medical school in July/August 2019. The medical school application cycle is different than the one you experienced for college admissions. The applications open in May and the first day to submit is usually early June. Medical schools use a rolling admissions process which means that they evaluate applications as they receive them. It is also a two part process where you submit a primary application, and then the medical school will send you a secondary application if you meet their primary evaluation criteria. It is very important to apply early and to submit secondary applications in a timely manner. Students who complete the process early in the cycle have the best chance of being asked to interview and ultimately get admitted to medical school.
(BS Health Science C'12, MPH 2014)
"Its been awhile as I reminisce to my days at Benedictine University. I am now finishing my 3rd year of medical school, I believe the coursework I have completed at Benedictine University has helped me during my didactic learning in medical school. From Anatomy, Physiology, Cell Biology, and many others including Biochem (yes, even biochem). One of the great resources I loved and cherish about Benedictine are the amazing professors who are readily accessible during office hours and willing to be mentors to lead you to the next chapter so long as you put fourth the effort. Medical Training is a long journey, But I thank God for having such a great foundation at Benedictine University."