The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increase in the demand for medical professionals, as under-staffed hospitals struggle to cope with the sudden influx of patients. In turn, a growing number of people have become interested in helping others by attending medical school to become doctors. Medical school applications are at an all-time high.
Gaining admission to a top medical school program is challenging, and the increase in applicants has made acceptance rates especially daunting. If you’ve set your sights on a career as a doctor, here’s all you need to know about applying to med school during the pandemic.
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Why the Increase in Application Numbers?
Helping those in need is an inherently rewarding and fulfilling experience, and medical professionals are frequently presented with this opportunity. For many students, this desire is the driving force behind their decision to enter medical school. Dealing with the effects of the Coronavirus firsthand may also be pushing people to pursue a career in the healthcare industry.
Medical professions are also notoriously lucrative, with the average annual salary for a physician or surgeon in 2019 measuring at $208,000. Particularly considering the uncertain state of the economy, many people are looking for a reliable and well-paying profession.
How Are Schools Adjusting?
Due to the increase in applicants, some medical schools are hiring extra reviewers to process the influx of applications, extending the timeline for application review, and adding interview slots to their schedules. They’ve also ramped up efforts to conduct most of the selection process online to help hopeful applicants maintain social distancing.
Despite the extra steps taken by some schools, the high number of applications is still making it challenging to conduct the admissions process in a timely manner. Coupled with the limited number of spots available, even the most dedicated schools are experiencing growing pains while adjusting to the number of applications.
What Students Should Know
Many prospective medical school students are hesitating in their process due to uncertainty around specific issues. Some common questions include:
- Should you wait to apply?
This is a complex question because the answer depends on factors like your preparation for the process, your confidence, and your target program. You’ll want to consider what a typical med school application timeline looks like and what the requirements are.
For instance, the Medical College Admissions Test is a must but is held on a particular schedule. Look up when is the MCAT offered to figure out if you have enough time to put together a truly promising application before the deadline.
Consider your application strength and decide if the time is right or if you want to wait and prepare for another year. If you feel ready, get to work on your application as soon as possible!
- What are schools looking for right now?
The increased number of applicants means applications are receiving scrutiny. With this influx, admissions officers have many candidates to choose from and can select only the best of the best.
Many programs prioritize those they feel will represent their institution best in their future careers and achievements. Those with particularly outstanding academic and extracurricular achievements on their records are at an advantage. To stand out from the crowd, you need to demonstrate your competencies to the best of your ability.
- Should I apply to multiple schools?
The answer to this question depends entirely on you. Applying to multiple medical schools increases your chance of being admitted. However, it’s also very stressful, as different schools have different admissions requirements. You don’t want the quality of your applications to suffer due to quantity. Multiple applications may also require a lot of travel, which can be particularly challenging right now.
You’ll want to determine how strong a candidate you are and go from there. Ultimately, if you feel you have the chops, apply to as many schools as you see fit.
Preparation is the Key to Success
Deciding whether to apply to a medical school program is always a matter worthy of extensive consideration, and that is especially true as the pandemic continues to unfold.
If you approach the process haphazardly, you’ll have a hard time knowing how to prepare without asking yourself the questions above. So ask yourself these fundamental questions before stepping into your quest for med school admission.