Pre-med and General Information:
“Medicine is a very popular field of study among students interested in education in the United States…” with those words I started a series of posts devoted to medical education I wrote 6 years ago! Now, it is time to update the materials to give you more information on a topic that has not just lost its relevance with the years, but, on the contrary, remains one of the most burning and pressing of academic issues. My new series of posts will include my previous research and new data. Today, I want to focus on pre-med education and give some advice for high school students considering the career of a medical doctor. Here are several frequently asked questions and responses on them:

How many years does it take to become a medical doctor in the USA?
It is about 11-17 years of hard work: studying, taking tests, practicing, and researching after graduating from high school. The length of the process also depends upon the medical specialty. Be aware that the U.S. has a system of medical and professional education that differs pronouncedly from the Russian one, and usually includes the completion of a four-year undergraduate degree program (pre-med), followed by four years of study in medical school, three to seven years of residency training and then getting a license from the state in which the medical professional wants to practice.

What does a pre-med mean? Is it a major or a program?
Pre-med is still not a major! It is a term denoting an educational track of a student intending to enter medical school and become a doctor. That path includes but is not limited to the following actions:
•Taking prerequisites – certain courses required for entering medical schools in the USA;
•Preparing and taking the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT);
•Showcasing your commitment to becoming a doctor (i.e. research work, volunteering at health-related organizations, etc.)
•Building a solid admissions package for entering medical schools (high GPA, essay, references, etc.).
•Meetings with pre-med (pre-health) adviser

Can international students apply to US undergraduate pre-med programs?
Yes! International students can choose pre-med as a track for preparing them to enter medical schools in the USA. One should be aware, though, that the path towards becoming a doctor in that country is thorny and ultra-competitive one and not all medical schools in the USA accept international students.

Should future applicants apply only to schools offering pre-medical programs or major in a specific field of study? Which degree will better prepare them: a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or a Bachelor of Sciences (BS)?
One can choose schools with pre-med programs as well as liberal arts colleges and universities with good programs in the sciences. Admission requirements include an undergraduate degree from accredited a U.S. institution. The BA or BS degrees almost in any discipline are acceptable as long as the student has completed prerequisites set by the schools. Click on the College Board (https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/college-search) to make a list of institutions of higher education offering undergraduate programs in your field of study. You also need to check entrance requirements at the school to which you want to apply after getting a bachelor’s degree to make sure your undergraduate program offers all the courses you need to become eligible to continue your education at a medical school. This information is available at the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) site https://students-residents.aamc.org/applying-medical-school/applying-medical-school-process/medical-school-admission-requirements/admission-requirements/. Note that there are many interesting http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/pre-med-medical-school/forums http://forums.studentdoctor.net/showthread.php discussing the pros and cons of majoring in a particular discipline or completing pre-med and liberal arts programs, which you might want to be involved in.

Are there any programs in the USA allowing high school students to get undergraduate admission at college and university and then proceed directly into a medical program for a Doctor of Medicine (MD)?
Students interested in a career in medicine could be guaranteed admission to medical schools after completion of certain criteria through direct medical programs, often called BA/BS/MD combined programs. Those are programs lasting six, seven or up to eight years. The former two (shorter than eight years) are called accelerated programs (https://blog.prepscholar.com/ba-md-bs-md-programs-list) One may legitimately ask if international students are eligible for those types of programs, and the good news is that the answer is “Yes”; several schools offer these programs (https://drpaulloweadmissionsexpert.blog/2018/03/13/bs-md-programs-that-accept-international-students) that accept international students. The bad news is that it is much more difficult for international students to gain admittance to these programs in comparison with the U.S. residents.

Will the medical school admission committee view nursing courses as an equivalent of a pre-med track?
Doctors and nurses closely work together with patients but fulfill different responsibilities. These are two different professions! It is obvious that courses pre-med and nursing students are required to take can overlap (biology, chemistry, English, etc.) But, the students taking them have different goals in mind. The pre-med students take medical schools prerequisites to gain admission to medical schools, while nursing students are taking programs leading to a professional degree in nursing. Read the article entitled “What Is the Difference Between “Pre-med” and “Nursing”? https://www.theclassroom.com/difference-between-premed-nursing-32701.html

Do community colleges offer pre-med programs?
Two plus two programs allowing students to study at community colleges and then transfer to four-year institutions of higher education could be an option for candidates seeking admission to medical schools. Community colleges do offer pre-med programs and medical schools do accept prerequisites completed at community colleges. Given the ultra-competitiveness of gaining admission to medical programs, many specialists in the field as well as successful applicants recommend pre-med community college students take advanced courses in related subjects at their four-year institutions to build a more solid profile.

If you want to learn more on this topic or other educational opportunities in the U.S., contact your local EducationUSA adviser if you are interested in studying in the U.S. You can also find current information on new scholarships and events on our social media pages:
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Next time I will discuss the process of getting into medical school and tips for finding more information on that topic.