The Path to Medical School: Application Tips from Medical Students and Residents

Last Updated on June 24, 2022 by Laura Turner

Your medical school application can be like a puzzle. Each piece fits together to form a complete picture of who you are as an applicant. As you prepare those pieces, understanding how medical schools review applications is important. While each has their own admission process, many look for core competencies. The AAMC’s Anatomy of An Applicant aims to help explain and illustrate how applicants demonstrated these core competencies within their applications by interviewing medical students and residents about their paths to medical school and how they completed different parts of their application. Additionally, each student or resident provided advice for aspiring physicians when applying to medical school. Here is what they shared:

Click on the name of any student to learn more about their path to medical school.

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“Focus on applying strategically. Choose schools with missions that clearly align with your own. For instance, Quillen’s mission is focused on rural, underserved communities and health disparities, and that is something that resonated for me.” – Rose Desvaristes, MD, Quillen College of Medicine, East Tennessee State University, 2017

“Not all doctors were perfect students, but they went into medicine for the right reasons and that stood out. Project the essence of why you want to go into this career and how you will make it possible one way or another.” – Laura Florez, MD, Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine at Florida International University, 2017

“Don’t give up! After not being accepted to med school the first time, I completed a master’s program that exposed me to medical school level coursework. This helped me demonstrate my ability to succeed and prepared me for the rigor of med school.” – Patrick Molina, The University of Alabama School of Medicine, 2021

“I frequently recommend that others apply broadly. Explore the differences in curriculum and locations. And practice before you interview! Having mock interviews with someone that I did not know prior to practicing helped to set a more realistic scenario.” – Mike Brigoli, University of Hawai’i School of Medicine, 2019

“Develop good study skills. There’s no perfect way to study, so experiment until you find one. Don’t undervalue the importance of knowing your learning preferences. This will pay off big time in med school.” –Daryl Fields, University of Wisconsin Madison School of Medicine and Public Health, 2018

“You don’t have to be a perfect candidate in every category, but the personal statement is very important. It reflects who you are and what you’re bringing to your medical school.” – Deirdre Goode, University of Virginia School of Medicine, 2018

“Follow your heart; it will never steer you the wrong way. Many people will have many opinions about your life. The only one that matters is yours!” – Courtney Morgan, Louisiana State University School of Medicine of Medicine in Shreveport, 2018

“Describe how your non-medical experiences, jobs, or volunteerism pushed you to medicine or grew you in some particular way. I listed what I actually did, but when you’re one among thousands, explicitly laying out what you learned from the experiences is very important.” –Hannah Winters, Washington State University Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, 2021

Be sure to read each profile to learn more about each person’s story and their tips for applicants. You can also learn about the core competencies for entering medical students and about the different parts of the application.