Should You Set Your Sights on the Top Medical Schools?
Some people may tell you it doesn’t matter if you don’t attend one of the top medical schools. A medical degree is a medical degree, they’ll say, and your patients won’t care where you got it. That is one way to look at it, but it may not be the wisest or most advantageous for you. If you’re bound and determined to become a doctor you have already identified yourself as a special person. You owe it to yourself to set your sights high.
Every year U.S. News & World Report surveys medical school programs all over the country and comes up with the top 25 for both research and primary care. These are the schools you should strongly consider targeting. Top schools have the best curricula and most accomplished faculty. Their technology and research are cutting edge. Their reputation will open doors for your entire career. Fellowships will be more accessible to you along with research opportunities and positions in the most important hospitals.
Senior consultant Wayne Shelton points out that where you go to medical school will affect your chances of getting into a residency program.
“The competition for top residency programs is fierce,” says Dr. Shelton. “Many factors are taken into consideration, including performance on U.S. Medical Licensing Examinations, grades, and letters of recommendation. But another factor is the quality of the medical school attended. So as medical school applicants consider their application list, they should include those medical schools, as much as possible, with the best known name recognition and tradition of academic excellence.”
Top medical schools also have top financial resources. They often go the extra mile to make med school affordable for all students. When you step up on graduation day to receive that well-deserved diploma you may find yourself with much less debt than had you attended a less esteemed school. The stats bear this out.
The median indebtedness for 2017 medical school graduates who incurred debt was $192,000. Using the US News figures, we calculated the average indebtedness for graduates who incurred debt of our 25 top medical schools to be $148,000 and the median indebtedness of graduates of the top 25 primary schools to be $145,000. Debt hovered right around $100,000 for graduates at such prestigious schools as Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Stanford and WUSTL.
Top medical schools go out of their way to attract top students regardless of their financial situation. At University of California-San Francisco, for instance, 88 per cent receive some form of financial aid, and 87 per cent receive either grants or scholarships. Approximately half of University of Michigan medical school students receive a scholarship or grant, which range anywhere from hundreds of dollars to full tuition. At Washington University there are special fellowships for those entering the Medical Scientist Training Program.
You will want to carefully research the top medical schools to find the ones that best suit your needs, interests and career goals. For example, Washington University has a long history of “medical firsts” including inroads in diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. University of Michigan offers first semester access to patients and a Clinical Simulation Center that provides hands-on experience in birthing, endoscopy, vascular intervention and more. Stanford is a research-intensive medical school that integrates basic science and clinical experience with in-depth and independent study.
The list of perks goes on and on. So don’t let anyone tell you not to aim high.