CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY
Updated fall 1998
Memo to: All Premedical Students
From: Joanne Westin, Ph.D., Premedical Adviser, Office of Undergraduate Studies,
Baker 102. For appointments (Fall 1998: Tu. and Th.) call 368-2928.
The purpose of this memorandum is to provide general advice for premedical students at Case
Western Reserve. Since all situations cannot be covered in a general memorandum, you are
invited to discuss your individual goals, plans, and prospects with me.
The campus premedical organizations are AMSA, an undergraduate chapter of the American
Medical Student Association and DHW, the Daniel Hale Williams Sdociety concerned with
minority affairs. You can find out more about AMSA and their many events by contacting their
web page: http://www.cwru.edu/orgs/premed/amsa.htm
You can get on the AMSA e-mail list by contacting the AMSA secretary Gita Viswam (gxv2).
The new president of AMSA is Akua Asare and the Vice-President is Basheer Lotfi-Fard.
You can find out more about DHW by contacting Kweku Appau, President
1. Admission requirements
Medical schools vary in the courses which are required. Thus, you should familiarize yourself
with the requirements of the medical schools that you are considering. These should include all
medical schools in your state of residence, or schools which give preference to residents of your
state, your ethnic group or your religion as indicated later in this memo.
In general, medical schools require an understanding of the basic principles of science -
commonly requiring one year of biology, two years of chemistry (including organic chemistry),
and one year of physics - most or all of these to be accompanied by a laboratory experience.
Mathematical competence is valued, and some schools require a year of mathematics. (Math
must be taken by CWRU premedical students because of the nature of our physics courses.)
Communication skills are also valued, and a year of English is often required. Studies in the
humanities and in the social and behavioral sciences are also suggested, and sometimes required.
The table on the next page gives you an idea of the frequency with which specific courses are
Subjects Required by 10 or More of 116 U.S. Medical Schools
Subject required # of schools
Biology (or choice of biology or zoology) 115
Inorganic chemistry 114
Organic chemistry 113
College mathematics 19
Behavioral and/or social sciences 20
Nine of the 125 U.S. medical schools do not indicate specific course requirements and are not included in
this list. (These are: Cincinnati, Southern Illinois, Indiana, Allegheny, Northwestern, University of
Pennsylvania, Meharry, Baylor, and Medical University of South Carolina. Three schools (Caribe, Ponce
and Puerto Rico) require Spanish.
AP credit is accepted by the majority of medical schools, though there is often the stipulation that you
must take some work in college in the same field in which the AP credit was earned. There are a few
medical schools that do not accept AP credit to fulfill premed requirements. For these schools, your AP
credit is not “lost” - you get to start at a higher level in college than without the AP credit, but you still
take the required number of hours in each field in college.
Information on the requirements, tuition, application procedures and curriculum of individual
medical schools, can be found in the book, Medical School Admission Requirements, published
by the Association of American Medical Colleges. A copy of the most recent edition is available
in the reception area in the office of Undergraduate Studies, 102 Baker. You may order your own
Association of American Medical Colleges
Membership and Publications Orders
2450 N. Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20037-1129
Payment of $10.00 plus $5.00 postage and handling must accompany your order.
You can also get a lot of information from the AAMC web site: http://www.aamc.org.
Another very comprehensive, informative book, is Kenneth V. Iserson’s Get Into Medical
School. It covers topics as varied as the difference between the M.D. and D.O. degrees, minority
applicants, non-traditional applicants, MCATs and application procedures, evaluating schools,
foreign medical schools, financial information, etc. The price is $31.95, plus $3.00 postage. It
can be ordered from: Galen Press, PO Box 64400-J7, Tucson, AZ 85728-4400 (1-800-442-5369).
Note for students in the Pre-Professional Scholars Program in Medicine: The grades you are
expected to maintain and the courses you are expected to take if you plan to attend CWRU
Medical School are listed on page 78 of the bulletin. In summary, you are expected to achieve
A’s or B’s in all required courses, a “required course GPA” of 3.4 or better, and an overall
cumulative GPA of 3.5 or better. In practice, they generally issue warnings and/or probation
before dropping anyone from the program.
The required PPSP courses (plus an additional semester of English) will allow you to meet the
requirements of most other medical schools as well. PPSP students who plan to attend CWRU
are not required to take the MCAT test, but I still advise that you take it. First, you may decide
you would like to apply elsewhere; and even if CWRU is your one and only choice, there are
now 15 substantial “Dean’s Scholarships” which are awarded based on several criteria - one of
which is your MCAT score.
2. CWRU courses recommended to fulfill premedical requirements
There are a number of ways that premedical requirements can be met at CWRU, depending on
your major, your degree (BA vs BS) and school (Arts and Sciences vs Engineering). The courses
which premedical students generally take are listed below. You are encouraged to discuss
alternative plans with me.
Chemistry: To meet the requirement for two years of chemistry plus lab, most CWRU students
take CHEM 105, 106 and 113 during the freshman year. Instead of a year of inorganic
chemistry engineering students now take CHEM 111 and ENGR 145. An engineering
student who is also a premedical student must add CHEM 113 in order to have an inorganic
chemistry lab. In discussions with medical school admissions people, I have generally found that
with course descriptions and/or a note from me, CHEM 111, ENGR 145 and CHEM 113 will be
acceptable to meet the premedical requirement for inorganic chemistry. However, to be better
prepared for Organic Chemistry, for medical school, and for the Medical College Admissions
Test, I would recommend that premedical engineering students also take or at least audit Chem
106, if possible. Most students then take CHEM 223, 224 (or 323, 324) and 233, 234 during the
sophomore year. (You may get by with only one semester of organic lab since it is 2 credit hours,
but some schools would prefer that you to take both semesters and it will strengthen your
record.) A few schools now require biochemistry - eg. BIOL 205 or BIOC 307 - and many others
Physics: To meet the requirement for a year of physics with lab, most CWRU premedical
students take PHYS 115, 116 during the junior year. Students who are pursuing an engineering
degree or a BS degree in some of the science departments, will take PHYS 121, 122 [& 221]
during the freshman and sophomore years.
Biology: To meet the requirement for a year of biology with lab, CWRU students are advised to
take at least BIOL 110, 220, and a biology lab (111, 211 or 221 suggested). Most areas of
biology are covered at least briefly in 110 or 220; however, it is also recommended that you take
BIOL 210 and BIOL 205 if possible. It may be advisable for premedical students to begin
biology in the sophomore year to avoid starting out your freshman year with a large number of
required premedical courses.
Mathematics: Many medical schools require a year of mathematics, and at CWRU you need
calculus in order to take physics. The majority of CWRU premedical students take MATH 125,
126 during the freshman year (or possibly the sophomore year). Those students who are pursuing
engineering degrees, or who are obtaining the BS degree in certain science departments, will take
MATH 121, 122, [223, and 224] in the freshman and sophomore years.
English: Since many medical schools require a year of English, you should take at least one
semester (3 hrs) of English beyond ENGL 150. (At least one school now requires 8 hrs of
English!) As a medical student and as a physician, you will spend a considerable amount of time
"presenting" and "writing up" cases, so courses which develop and refine your communication
skills are especially valuable. An added motivating factor is that the MCAT test includes a
SUGGESTED SCHEDULE OF PREMEDICAL COURSES FOR STUDENTS IN MOST
ARTS AND SCIENCES MAJORS
English 150 3 hrs Math 126 4 hrs
Math 125 4 hrs Chemistry 106 3 hrs
Chemistry 105 3 hrs Chemistry 113 2 hrs
Chemistry 223or323 3 hrs Chemistry 224or324 3 hrs
Chemistry 233 2 hrs Chemistry 234 2 hrs
Biology 110 3 hrs Biology 220 3 hrs
[Biology 111 2 hrs]* [Biology 221 2 hrs]*
Physics 115 4 hrs Physics 116 4 hrs
[Biology 210 4 hrs]** [Biology 205 3 hrs]**
[Biology 211 2 hrs]* English Elective 3 hrs
POSSIBLE SCHEDULE OF PREMEDICAL COURSES FOR STUDENTS IN
ENGINEERING AND SOME OTHER B.S. STUDENTS
English 150 3 hrs Math 122 4 hrs
Math 121 4 hrs Chemistry 113 2 hrs
Chemistry 111 4 hrs Engineering 145 4 hrs
Biology 110 3 hrs [Chemistry 106 take or audit]**
[Biology 111 2 hrs]* Physics 121 4 hrs
[Math 223 3 hrs]*** [Math 224 3 hrs]***
Physics 122 4 hrs [Physics 221 3 hrs]***
Chemistry 223or323 3 hrs Chemistry 224or324 3 hrs
Chemistry 233 2 hrs Chemistry 234 2 hrs
[Biology 210 4 hrs]** Biology 220 3 hrs
[Biology 211 2 hrs]* [Biology 221 2 hrs]*
English elective 3 hrs [Biology 205 3 hrs]**
*Only one Biol lab required – choose one of 111, 211, or 221
**[ suggested, not required]
***[continuations of sequences required for engineering degrees or the BS in a few other fields]
Biochemistry majors pursuing a BA will take PHYS 115, 116 in their sophomore year, and
will take BIOL 210, 211 and 326, but not 111 or 205. Students in biomedical engineering take
EBME 201-202 instead of Biol. 220 and may substitute EBME 313-314 lab for a biology lab (if
the EBME experiments chosen are biological in nature), but most should still take BIOL 110 to
be prepared for the MCAT. Students in engineering programs may find it necessary to take
some of their premedical requirements in the summer, or else they may need to take an overload.
3. Choice of major
Your choice of major should be based on your interest and aptitude. Though medical schools are
looking for students with demonstrated ability in basic science courses, they also value a strong
overall academic performance in any major - especially a field in which you are required to
reason logically and analytically, read critically, and speak and write clearly and concisely. Over
the past few years, nearly every department here at CWRU has had successful premedical
applicants, and a wide variety of majors are accepted nationally. Where percentages of
acceptance vary, the reason is more likely to be due to differences in the strength of the records
presented rather than to any preference given to particular majors.
4. What are medical schools looking for?
Besides high levels of scholastic achievement and intellectual potential, medical schools are also
seeking students who are highly motivated to enter the medical field, who show strong
humanistic concern for others, and who relate well to other people. Criteria used to evaluate
candidates include college grades, letters of recommendation, Medical College Admissions Test
(MCAT) scores, an applicant's personal statement, and occasionally psychological tests. Students
who undertake special projects or independent research may demonstrate qualities that cannot be
measured by grades. Some experience in a medical setting is valuable for demonstrating a
knowledge of what a career in medicine entails.
a. Grade point average (GPA)
The mean total GPA of all students entering the first year of medical school in the fall of 1997
was 3.56. (The average for accepted CWRU students was 3.64.) The average of grades in
courses in biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics, known as the BCPM GPA, may be as
important or even more important than the overall GPA. The average BCPM GPA for all
students entering in the fall of 1997 was 3.52. (The BCPM average for accepted CWRU students
was 3.64.) In looking over the recent statistics for CWRU students, very few students with
GPA’s below 3.4 were accepted, and these often had extenuating circumstances (such as
extremely high MCAT scores, additional coursework beyond the bachelors degree, etc.).
Use of grading options to improve your GPA:
Judicious use of withdrawal (w) from a course in which you are doing poorly, repeat of a
course (RPT) in which you received a poor grade, or taking a course for a pass/no pass grade
(P/NP) can all help preserve your GPA at CWRU. However, if you repeat a course, the original
grade and the new grade must both be reported to AMCAS and will affect your AMCAS average.
A large number of w's will suggest to medical schools that you have had academic problems
and/or are not realistic in setting goals. The P/NP option should not be used in any of the required
Furthermore, though transfer credit is not used in computing the GPA on your CWRU
transcript, you will be required to submit transcripts from all your undergraduate schools when
you apply to medical school. Grades from all your schools will contribute to your AMCAS
b. MCAT scores
The average scores on the MCAT tests for students accepted nationally and for those
accepted from CWRU to enter medical school in the fall of 1997 were as follows:
Nationally From CWRU
Verbal reasoning: 9.6 10.1
Physical sciences: 9.8 10.2
Biological sciences: 10.1 10.6
Writing sample: P N
In looking over the recent records of CWRU students, most successful applicants had at least 8
on each section of the MCAT, and a total of 27 or higher; and students accepted with minimal
MCAT scores generally had very high GPA’s.
I don’t want to be too discouraging but I have seen a student with a GPA of 3.82 and MCAT
scores of 10, 11, 11 and Q who was not accepted the first time he applied (was accepted the
second time). So even great numbers are not a guarantee. On the other hand, the scores and
GPA’s of accepted under-represented minorities (Black/African American, Mexican
American/Chicano, Native American/Eskimo, Puerto Rican) may vary somewhat from the
figures given - so please consult with me if you are in one of these groups.
(For osteopathic medical schools, the average total GPA of students entering in 1997 was 3.39,
the BCPM GPA was 3.34, and the average MCAT total was 25+. There were 10,764 applicants,
and 2,455 matriculants.)
c. Medical experiences / volunteer work
It is fairly important to gain some sort of experience volunteering in a hospital, nursing home,or
other medical institution and/or observing a doctor at work in an office and/or operating room.
Medical school and residency are very big commitments, so you want to be sure this is what you
want; plus, the medical schools want to be convinced that you are sure! I am listing a few local
possibilities, with the Free Clinic of Greater Cleveland as an especially good choice for those
who want some training and hands on medical responsibility. You could also volunteer in the
summer at your local hospital at home.
The Free Clinic of Greater Cleveland, 12201 Euclid Ave, 721-4010
Health Hill Hospital for Children, 2801 Martin Luther King Jr. Dr., 721-5400
University Hospitals (Emergency room, Rainbow, etc.), Lee Edwards, 844-1504
Also for music therapy, Dr. Deforia Lane can be reached through Lee Edwards
The Cleveland Clinic (wide variety of possibilities) , 445-6986
Ronald MacDonald House, 10415 Euclid, for parents of sick children, Mary Agnus
Hospice of the Western Reserve, care for the terminally ill, Jane Brodnik, 383-2222
Hope Lodge, for cancer patients, 11432 Mayfield, Donna Brunello, 449-4913
Margaret Wagner House, 2373 Euclid Hts Blvd, nursing home, 795-5450
Judson Park, 2181 Ambleside, and Judson Manor, 1890 E. 107th, nursing home,
assisted living, independent living 721-1234
d. What about research?
Research is a nice plus, if you are interested in research, but it is not a requirement for entering
medical school. Becoming involved in research allows you to better understand the research
process and evaluate research papers you will read as a doctor. Many of you will want to do
research while you are in medical school or after you become an M.D., so this is a nice time to
get started. There are many opportunities for exploring research while you are an undergraduate.
These fall into two main categories:
(1) You can do research for academic credit, generally during the regular academic year. You
need to fill out some forms in the department in which you are getting the academic credit, and
then register for research as a course (for example Biology 388 or 390; Biochemistry 391). The
forms require a brief description of the project, a signature from your research sponsor, and a
signature from someone in the department where you will get the credit. To find such a position,
feel free to call or e-mail professors and ask them about their research and whether they have
room for an undergraduate at this time. You might start with the list of researchers included in
the SPUR section once it is posted on the Biology Department web page. Also talk to
upperclassmen, your professors etc. to get ideas.
(2) You can participate in a summer research program for a stipend. The Biology Department
SPUR program offers positions in a wide variety of departments on campus and at the medical
school. The Physiology and Biophysics Department at the Medical School has its own separate
program. The Medical Scholars Program in the Department of Anthropology has sent students to
such exotic locales as Uganda and Western Samoa. Whittaker Scholars do research in the
Department of Biomedical Engineering. If you can find a position in an appropriate laboratory,
you can apply for summer research support from the Heart Association, the Cancer Society, or
the Diabetes Association. Off campus, the Chester Summer Scholars Program offers premedical
students the chance to do research and observe doctors at MetroHealth Medical Center in
Cleveland (deadline in January!). There are countless other programs all over the country. The
Biology Department collects applications for many of these near the Biology Office, plus we
advertize them in our Newsletter (on the web) and on our bulletin boards. You can also access a
list of NSF summer programs via the web:
You can also search for research positions funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute:
If you would like to be home for the summer, just write your local universities and ask about
their summer research opportunities. A note: Many programs do not take freshmen; some prefer
not to take premedical students, while some are designed specifically for premedical students;
some are open only to minority students - so read the descriptions and qualifications carefully.
Almost all of these programs are very competitive.
5. Information about the MCAT
Almost all U.S. medical schools require, or at least strongly recommend, the Medical College
Admission Test - the MCAT. (Some schools that do not absolutely require the MCAT are:
Dartmouth, Johns Hopkins, and Rochester.) This test allows medical schools to compare the
ability and achievement of applicants from schools which differ in admissions standards and/or
academic rigor. The test is given twice each year, once in April and once in August; with
application deadlines about a month prior to the test. The 1999 test dates will be April 17 and
August 21. Optimally, you should take the MCAT by April of the year before you plan to enter
medical school. This will allow you to apply to medical schools during the summer before your
senior year. Moreover, if you are disappointed with the results, you will be able to repeat the test
and still apply before the final deadlines for most medical school applications.
Registration packets for the MCAT test are first available in February, and can be obtained from
the Office of Undergraduate Studies (Baker 102), or by contacting:
P.O. Box 4056
Iowa City, Iowa 52243
Phone (319) 337-1357
You can find information about MCAT registration on the AAMC web site:
The examination fee is $160. For this fee, scores will be sent to you, to your premedical
advisor, to AMCAS, and to up to 6 non-AMCAS schools, provided that you release the scores at
the time you take the test. (Underrepresented minorities or financially disadvantaged students
may also have their scores included in the Medical Minority Applicant Registry.) Additional
reports, or reports requested after you have taken the test, will result in additional fees. There are
further fees for late registration ($50), for arrangements to take the test on Sunday rather than
the usual Saturday ($10), or for taking the test in a foreign country (England, France,
Germany, Israel, Japan, Lebanon, Philippine Islands, Australia or Singapore) instead of in the
In certain financial situations, you can apply for a fee reduction, and a copy of the form you need
is included with the MCAT application packet or can be obtained from the web.
c. Material covered
The test consists of four sections: Verbal Reasoning (85 min.), Physical Sciences (100 min.),
Biological Sciences (100 min.) and the Writing Sample (60 min.).
The Verbal Reasoning section consists of a series of prose passages followed by multiple choice
questions. The questions are designed to assess reading comprehension, ability to evaluate
arguments and ability to apply information to a new context.
The Physical Sciences section consists of a series of problems, followed by multiple choice
questions. The questions will test your understanding of the basic concepts of physics and of
physically-related chemistry, and will also test your ability to solve problems and analyze data.
The Biological Sciences section is similar to the physical sciences section. It will test your
knowledge of basic concepts and problem solving in biology and in biologically related
chemistry, including organic chemistry. All of the sections described so far are graded with a
number from 1 (lowest) to 15 (highest).
The Writing Sample section will require you to write two essays. You will be expected to
develop a central idea, present ideas logically and clearly, and to use accepted grammar and
punctuation. Thus section is graded with a letter from J (lowest) to T (highest).
A special note: Be sure, while you are in college, to maintain a good credit rating!!
Government loans may be insufficient to cover your expenses and you will not be able to get a
regular bank loan with bad credit. (A major state university even RESCINDED 23 acceptances
recently because of bad credit – though luckily this has not become a widespread practice.) You
should check your credit rating at the start of the application process, so it can be “cleaned up” if
necessary. You can get a credit report from Experion for $8: (800) 682-7654.
6. Information about application procedures.
a. Where should you apply?
First, and foremost, you should apply to all (or most) medical schools in your state of residence
(or which give preference to residents of your state) since public and many private medical
schools give preference to state residents. For similar reasons, African American students may
want to consider applying to Howard University College of Medicine, Meharry College School
of Medicine, and the School of Medicine at Morehouse College. Members of the Seventh Day
Adventist Church may want to consider Loma Linda University.
You should choose additional schools based on your chances of being accepted, the curriculum,
location, cost etc. To evaluate your chances of being accepted, you can consult the Medical
School Admission Requirements book and the Iserson book mentioned. These include average
scores for successful applicants to each school, and also the number of applicants and the
numbers of in-state and out-of-state residents accepted. Studies carried out by the Association of
American Medical Colleges have revealed that submitting more a dozen applications rarely
increases your chance of gaining admission. Students who graduated from CWRU in the past
few years are currently enrolled in the following medical schools:
Arkansas Ohio State
Bowman Gray Ohio at Toledo
Case Western Reserve Pennsylvania
Chicago Medical Penn State
Columbia South Carolina - Columbia
Emory SUNY Buffalo
Eastern VA SUNY Stony Brook
George Washington UMDNJ - RW Johnson
Iowa Washington U. - St. Louis
MCP-Hahneman Wayne State
LSU - Shreveport West Virginia
Med Coll of Georgia Wright State
Med. Coll of Penn. Yale
Maryland (Plus 6 different schools of
Marshall osteopathic medicine)
NEOUCOM - Rootstown
New York Med
b. The AMCAS application service
The American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) allows you to apply to any of 112
U.S. medical schools with one application; and the only way to apply to these AMCAS schools is
via AMCAS. To apply to non-AMCAS schools you must contact the school to get an application
and submit it directly to the school. (The non-AMCAS schools are: Yale, Johns Hopkins, Univ.
of Missouri, Columbia, New York Univ., Univ. of Rochester, Univ. of North Dakota, Brown,
Baylor, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, and the Univ. of Texas System). Names and addresses of all
AMCAS and non-AMCAS schools are listed in the AMCAS application booklet, and also in the
Medical School Admission Requirements book.
The AMCAS fee depends on the number of schools to which you are applying. It is $50 for one
school, $95 for two , $135 for three, $170 for four, $200 for five, and the fee increases by $25 for
each additional school beyond five. Fees are higher for adding additional schools after the
AMCAS application has been submitted. In certain financial circumstances you may obtain a fee
waiver which allows you to apply to up to 10 schools free. An application for a fee waiver form
is included in the AMCAS application packet or may be downloaded from the web.
You may obtain AMCAS application materials from Baker 102 starting in April, or you can write
to: American Medical College Application Service
Association of American Medical Colleges, Section for Student Services
2450 N Street, NW, Suite 102
Washington, DC 20037-1131
You can also request AMCAS applications via the AAMC web site. The full address for the
AMCAS application request site is:
AMCAS-E, the electronic version of the AMCAS application can be obtained as above or it
can be downloaded from the AAMC web site:
You then save the filled out version to a disk and send it in with your check. For the 1999
entering class there was only a DOS version, but a MAC version is expected for the 2000
entering class. If you use the paper forms, you must fill them out very carefully, preferably with a
typewriter. The electronic form is much, MUCH easier to work with!
You will also need to arrange to have copies of transcripts sent to AMCAS from all colleges
where you have been enrolled, including any colleges where you took courses when you were a
high school student or where you took summer courses (even if you failed the courses). If, by any
chance, you did not request that your MCAT scores be sent to AMCAS when you took the
MCAT test, you will need to send in a form to get the scores sent.
AMCAS begins to accept applications June 1 of the year before entry. Final deadlines for
receipt of all materials by AMCAS vary with the school. It may be as early as October 15 (e.g.
CWRU Medical School); but is commonly November 1, November 15, December 1, or
December 15. Consult Medical School Admission Requirements or the AMCAS instruction
booklet, to determine the deadlines for the schools you are considering.
(There is a similar application service for colleges of osteopathic medicine - AACOMAS.
You can learn more about osteopathic medicine as well as gain access to the electronic version of
their application at the web site: http://www.aacom.org. or by calling (301) 468-2037.)
c. What happens next?
After you have sent your application to AMCAS and AMCAS people have verified the grades,
etc., they will send it out to the medical schools you have chosen. Then you will hear from the
medical schools directly. If your grades, scores etc. fall below some minimum, they may simply
turn you down at that point. If you pass their initial screening, you will be asked to submit further
documents - often a secondary application, recommendations, and an application fee.
d. Letters of recommendation
You should start a file of letters of recommendation at The Office of Career Planning and
Placement, 307 Pardee, well before you need the letters - a good time would be in the spring of
your Junior year. You should ask people who know you as more than a name on a class list to
write letters for you. These should generally include two science teachers, one non-science
teacher, and the premedical adviser. We do not have a premedical committee, but this
assortment is an acceptable substitute. You may also ask for letters from a research sponsor or
employer. (You may not need to send all the letters to every medical school, since some schools
have specific requests.)
You should make an appointment to see each person who is writing you a letter of
recommendation, and take an up-to-date resume with you. The resume should include your major
and expected graduation date, honors, any research experience (including what, where and with
whom), extracurricular activities, volunteer work, medical experiences, employment (including
responsibilities), and any other special interests or accomplishments. If the person is one of your
professors, pencil in the courses you took from him/her, and the dates when you took those
courses, so the professor can easily look up your grades or class standing. During your
appointment you can discuss further some of the items on your resume, share some of your
background and reasons for wanting a medical career, and just generally let the person get to
know what a mature, caring and interesting person you are!
The recommendations may be written on Career Planning and Placement's yellow form or
simply on a department letterhead. (Some medical schools do prefer that you sign the waiver of
your right to read the recommendation which is on the yellow form.) Ask the person writing the
recommendation to send it to Career Planning and Placement, 307 Pardee, 7040. Check in a
couple of weeks to make sure CP&P has received the letter, since there is always a chance that
campus mail might lose it or a professor might forget to write it.
e. Then the INTERVIEW!
After your application at a particular school is complete (including secondary application,
recommendations, etc.), if the admissions people are seriously interested in you, they will invite
you for an interview. Usually you must get to the school (and pay your own way), though
occasionally schools will do regional interviews so you can be interviewed closer to CWRU. The
format for the interview, and the identity and number of people who will interview you may vary.
Anyone you meet may have some input to the admissions decision, so keep that in mind.
Feedback from students who have had interviews at various medical schools is available through
one of the “hot links” at the AMSA web site.
Pointers for a successful interview:
1. Give some thought as to why you want a career in medicine and how this desire evolved.
Be sure you can say more than "I want to help people" or "I like science."
2. Keep up to date on current medical issues and events. You do not need to pore over
medical journals, but do read Time or Newsweek and the newspaper to see what recent
discoveries have been made, what ethical or social issues are being debated etc.
3. Learn about the school and the community in advance and formulate some questions.
You will impress the interviewer with your interest in the school, and you will learn what
you want to know. Arrange to go on a tour and talk to current students as well. (If your
interview is not at the medical school, and you are accepted, be sure to arrange a visit
before you make your final decision.)
4. Don't be afraid to express, explain or defend your own views or values (calmly). An
interviewer might purposely take a viewpoint opposite from yours to see how well you can
defend a position or how you deal with conflict.
5. Check the interview reviews in one of the “Hot Links” from the AMSA web page to see
what kinds of questions other students have been asked, and what the atmosphere was like.
f. What about applying early decision?
If you have a very strong preference for one particular medical school, and you have a strong
chance of being accepted there, you might want to apply to that school "early decision." When
applying early decision, you are allowed to apply to only one school, and you must get your
application to AMCAS by August 1. You then supply any additional materials to the medical
school by September 1, an interview will be scheduled in a timely fashion, and the school will let
you know of their decision by October 1. The advantages are that you can relax and enjoy your
senior year, and you can save money on application fees and travel for interviews.
Keep in mind that if you have sent an early decision application to a particular school, and the
school accepts you, then if you are to attend medical school, you must attend that school. If the
school turns you down, then and only then are you allowed to send out additional applications.
You will generally also be included in the normal admissions procedure at the school where you
applied early decision.
7. Necessity of having a plan B, in case plan A does not work out.
You are probably well aware that getting into medical school is very competitive. In recent
years, as the number of applicants increased, and the number of admissions remained fairly
constant, the % applicants accepted was declining. (In 1997, it appears that this trend may be
year applicants accepted % accepted
1991 33,301 17,436 52.4%
1992 37,410 17,464 46.7%
1993 42,808 17,362 40.6%
1994 45,365 17,317 38.2%
1995 46,591 17,357 37.2%
1996 46,968 17,385 37.0%
1997 43,020` 17,313 40%
Statistics for CWRU students graduating in the following years and accepted within two or three
years are as follows:
year applicants now accepted % accepted
1991 67 53 79%
1992 71 47 66%
1993 79 51 65%
1994 84 50 60%
1995 76 49 64%
1996 66 44 67%
1997 85 61 72%
(Figures do not include students accepted to osteopathic medical schools.)
Obviously, some CWRU premedical students will not get into medical school. Therefore each of
you should at least be considering an alternative plan. If your academic record and MCAT scores
are marginal, then whether or not you apply to medical school, it would be wise to also apply to
another type of medically-related school or formulate some other alternative plan for your career.
If you are turned down for medical school once, it is possible that you could get in later if you
take further courses and/or re-take your MCAT test, but do not count on it.
Some alternative fields to consider:
osteopathic medicine optometry
nursing (nurse practitioner, midwife) medical social work
podiatry hospital administration
medical technology physician's assistant
physical or occupational therapy anesthetist's assistant
athletic training speech pathology
x-ray technology or sonography audiology
genetic counseling health educator
pharmacy music, art or dance therapy
clinical psychology medical writing for the media