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Sunday, April 20th 2008

The Perfect Medical School: Admissions

Our Dean of Admissions Welcomes You

Pre-requisites for medical school admission should be extremely limited. Indeed, I think in the perfect school, they would not exist at all. Completion of say an undergraduate biochemistry has absolutely no independent predictive value of medical school success. A reliance on standardized tests to assess the pre-medical school basic science knowledge base in appropriate and required pre-requisite classes are simply redundant. Indeed the MCAT is an excellent predictor of medical school success; probably the best single predictor.

As many medical schools there would be no specific requirement for an undergraduate degree. Indeed, I would propose allowing mature high school students sure of their future to study for and take the MCAT without any college preparation and to enter medical school immediately following high school. And I’m not talking about an extended course here (like the 6 year European programs).

Admissions Criteria
As above, great emphasis would be placed on standardized measures (i.e. the MCAT). True, there are anecdotes of those who are merely poor standardized test takers and otherwise excellent students and perform as excellent physicians but in general the MCAT is an excellent predictor, not only of future standardized test performance, but of performance in medical school in general.

Very little weight would be put on prior GPA, which is entirely impossible to standardize versus other applicants. Such would probably help the pre-med attitude a bit.

More than lip service would be given to the intangibles that make a good physician and a demonstration of the right motives for going into medicine, a commitment to research, etc. would be elicited in part through self reporting, letters of recommendation and the unique interview process.

Interview Process
The admissions committee interview team would be entirely limited to physicians and current medical students and basic science faculty would be barred. The idea is that the interview process should solely serve in trying to determine the intangibles which make a good clinician. Hopefully things like a dedication to research can be derived from the applicants’ previous activities.

The interview process would be given a huge amount of weight, as a measuring tool of applicants’ intangibles as mentioned above. I imagine a full day ‘interview’ or perhaps two half day ‘interviews’ to standardize the rankings the admission committee members give to the applicants they interview.

What I mean, is that the admissions committee members would give an entire half day to interact with the applicant. Your a clinician in clinic then the applicant comes along or he scrubs into that surgery. The applicant and interviewer sit down for lunch together and then perhaps dinner with a second interviewer.


  • No pre-requisite courses
  • Potential for admission directly from high school in unique circumstances
  • Essentially ignore undergraduate/high school GPA
  • Strong emphasis on MCAT performance
  • Day long, informal interview process

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