Pre-Med Pathways: A Year-by-Year Guide to Success

Posted by EPPA Scribe on Tuesday, September 25, 2018
Updated on: Tuesday, September 25, 2018
Keywords: Medical School

How do you get to medical school? There are countless resources that cover what you should to do to get into medical school. Many advice channels provide outdated information and advice so we’ve comprised a year by year guideline for what to pursue and when. We’re not experts, but we have seen hundreds of EPPA Scribe employees leave to medical school over the years with a variety of different backgrounds and experiences and wanted to share what we’ve seen.


Medicine is a lifelong commitment to serving others and medical schools look for core competencies in their students including a commitment to service through activities, volunteering, community involvement, academics, and learning. A mature perspective on personal successes, failures, and personal growth is essential while having a clear compassion for medicine, teamwork, leadership, and exceptional communication skills.


With all of these competencies in mind, the age-old path to medical school required that you submit an application to medical school during your Junior year of undergrad to matriculate shortly after graduation. However, medical school admissions continue to be increasingly competitive and for the past 3 years the average age of an MD Medical School matriculate has raised to 24 years old, (AAMC, 2017). Gap years are becoming the new norm, and the additional years of experience and growth after undergrad are increasingly desirable in a medical school to matriculate.


Here’s our unsolicited Year-by-Year Pre-Med Advice on how to get to your goal of Medical School.


First-Year Students


-        Begin taking science pre-requisites, develop strong study habits. Maintaining a high GPA is crucial.

-        Join a club or two, get familiar with the campus and options offered to pre-health students.

-        Begin volunteering, find a cause that you are passionate about and commit to it, begin gaining volunteer hours. Volunteering in a hospital or in underserved communities are common. Maintain volunteer position for 8-12 months at a minimum if able.

-        Develop good personal habits – do not try to take on the world because you are pre-med.

-        Find and establish hobbies outside of academics – sports, music, art, food, etc. Maintain these hobbies throughout undergrad, be able to speak to your passion for them in future medical school interviews.


Sophomore Year Students


-        Continue science pre-requisites and labs, with upper-level courses. Maintain high GPA and study habits.

-        Remain involved in clubs or organizations joined during your first year, look into gaining a leadership position.

-        Continue volunteering in a current volunteer position, or find a new volunteer opportunity to continue to develop interest/perspective in healthcare. Keep volunteer hours accumulated and the potential for leadership opportunities in mind.  

-        Think about gaining pre-health work experience, reach out to professors and academic advisors about opportunities.

-        Look into gaining undergraduate research experience

-        Look into direct patient care positions for healthcare related work experience – CNA, EMT, PCA, Clinical Assistants, Patient Care Technician, etc. Some direct patient care positions require certification, others do not, choose whichever works for you. Maintain the position for at least 6 months.

-        Shadowing – establish connections with providers to gain shadowing hours. Try to view multiple specialties with different providers.


Junior Year Students


-        Continue upper-level sciences, retaking any pre-requisites that need higher grades. Take liberal education electives that may provide a unique social science perspective.

-        Doesn’t feel the pressure to apply this cycle!

-        Continue volunteering or leave a volunteer position to make time for work experience.

-        Continue research or apply for other research positions, try to get published if applicable

-        Look into MCAT study materials and test dates, begin studying

-        Study abroad in a new culture if this is an option for you, additional opportunities like a medical mission or service trips abroad are also valuable.

-        Continue direct patient care position or look into gaining additional clinical experience from a position like Medical Scribing.


Senior Year Students


-        The home stretch! Enjoy your final year of undergrad!

-        Find an MCAT test date that works with your schedule, begin studying with enough time to retake the MCAT if necessary.

-        Complete any outstanding pre-requisites, retaking any that need higher grades.

-        Secure a leadership position in a student group, volunteer position, or direct patient care role if possible.

-        Complete undergraduate research and publish if applicable

-        Continue direct patient care position in a gap year or consider applying to become a medical scribe for clinical exposure.

-        Gather primary application information, test scores, transcripts, and begin filling out the AMCAS® in May.

-        Graduate!


Gap Year


-        Complete Primary Application and submit as early as possible after application open on June 1st.

-        Submit secondary applications and attend interviews.

-        Travel, immerse yourself in different cultures or take a service trip. Solidify who you are as a person outside of academics. Find a volunteer opportunity that supports your passion for medicine – hospital, hospice, non-profits, or underserved communities are all good options.

-        Gain clinical experience. Work as a medical scribe, medical assistant, clinical assistant, etc. to gain exposure to the clinical workflow of medicine. Working as a medical scribe will provide the most learning in a clinical setting, with the potential to view 4,000 patients with a wide range of cases in 1 year of full-time scribing.

-        Scribing with EPPA specifically allows for flexible scheduling around interviews and travel, professional development workshops (Interview, MMI, and Personal Statement), monthly clinical lectures, and a supportive community of 350 pre-health scribes.



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