Being a serious candidate for medical school, or any health professional school, means recognizing that you have gaps in your knowledge about the school you wish to attend. In general, you should always have questions to ask during the admissions process. You can ask these during formal interviews and during less formal events, such as tours. The questions you ask during your medical school interviews can make you stand out or can disappoint the people you are trying to impress.
Years ago, a survey of medical students by the AAMC came up with a core set of questions applicants should ask during their application process. For those applicants who are striving for more insight, here are some additional questions to consider asking. Hopefully the answers will help you better establish your confidence in fitting with that program.
Questions for admissions officers and administrators
- How many faculty members are involved in screening applications? Does the screening roster change every cycle?
- How does your admissions office and committee handle application updates or communications?
- What vision does the admissions committee have for its incoming class? How did your committee come up with this vision? When do you revise this vision?
- How do you handle applicants placed on a waitlist or on hold?
- What specific criteria do you use to offer scholarships to matriculating applicants? Is it based on metrics only? What personal characteristics are valued among those given scholarships before matriculation? How much is available for scholarships for matriculants each year? How many students are able to keep these scholarships for their entire time as health professions students?
Questions for current students, recent graduates, and student affairs staff
- If a student is struggling with the transition to medical school or clinicals, what services are available to help them get on track?
- Which professors or staff members are the most popular among students?
- Are scholarships available after matriculation? If so, how does one learn more about these opportunities?
- What does the school do if a patient exhibits problematic behavior? For example, if a patient uses a racial slur?
Questions about working with other health professionals
- Tell me about how students from other health professions programs like nursing or podiatry integrate with each other. What opportunities exist for simulated learning and real-world community service?
- Can I talk to current students in other health professional programs? (For example, for medical students: can I talk to nursing or dental school students or faculty about their experience with interprofessional learning?)
- Do any of your interprofessional experiences include residents or recent graduates?
- Do students from other schools serve as mentors or tutors to struggling students? How is that managed?
- What happens if there are interpersonal conflicts between students from different programs?
Questions about program leadership
- Describe your dean’s relationship with students, staff, faculty, alumni, and other university administrators.
- How have your dean and school leadership handled a crisis?
- Are alumni involved in admissions, preclinical, and post-education success of students?
- How are students profiled for alumni events and publications?
- Is your dean approachable? How does he/she follow-up with you or the student body when it comes to concerns or complaints?
- How diverse is the inner circle of administrators and advisors around the dean? Key donors and alumni?
- What is the most significant investment/contribution to the school by an alumnus?
Questions to ask during second look weekends
- How safe is the campus after hours?
- How safe are the apartment complexes you live in? Is the construction solid to be sound-proof between units?
- How convenient is parking/transportation for getting to school or clerkship sites?
- How reliable are campus shuttles in getting around campus?
- Do people use the library more for individual or group studying?
- Which landlords or management companies are the best ones/the worst ones?
- Which gyms do most students use?
- How are the common spaces for students – like the student lounge, refrigerators, and lockers?
These questions are meant to be a jumping off point. Hopefully this spurs your thinking about what questions you want to ask during your medical school interview process.