The Profession

Physicians work with patients to maintain or restore their health. They promote disease prevention, diagnose illness or injury, and prescribe treatments including medication, surgery, physical therapy, and others. Physicians do many things in their day-to-day practice, including: examining patients, obtaining medical histories, and ordering, performing, and interpreting diagnostic tests. They counsel patients on diet, hygiene, and preventive health care. Some physicians are clinical researchers and spend time in patient-oriented research. Physicians receive one of two types of training - either as an allopathic physician (M.D.), or an osteopathic physician (D.O.) The primary difference between the two is in the training they receive (learn more about D.O.s here). The University of Minnesota Medical School grants the M.D. degree. There are 136 allopathic medical schools (AAMC), and 26 colleges of osteopathic medicine (AACOM).

Effective physicians who work with patients must be caring, emotionally stable, and able to make decisions in emergencies. They must commit to continuing education throughout their career in order to stay current with medical advances. Upon completion of medical school, physicians take a licensing exam and complete a residency program. Physicians wanting to practice a specialty must complete additional training.  

Specialty Areas Within Medicine

Explore the many specialty areas offered in the field of medicine. The University of Minnesota Medical School offers the following specializations, including:

  • Anesthesiology
  • Dermatology
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Family Medicine & Community Health
  • Neurology
  • Neurosurgery
  • Obstetrics, Gynecology, & Women's Health
  • Ophthalmology
  • Orthopaedic Surgery
  • Otolaryngology
  • Pediatrics
  • Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
  • Psychiatry
  • Radiology
  • Surgery
  • Therapeutic Radiology
  • Urologic Surgery
Is This Profession a Fit for You?

Medicine is a demanding career. You need to have a strong academic record to be a competitive applicant and you need to enjoy science and math. However, while medicine has a strong science foundation, you also need to like working directly with people.

A good physician is caring, empathetic, a good listener, and someone who can explain medical and technical details so that people not trained in the field of medicine can understand them. In addition, physicians work with people from many different backgrounds, so they need to be able to navigate diverse languages, cultural norms, educational differences, and value differences.

Start Preparing Today

Need help in getting organized in your application to medical school? Complete the Planning for Medical School online workshop:

  • Develop a personalized action plan for getting prepared for medical school
  • Make an appointment with a Health Careers Center career counselor
  • Discuss your plans and goals
  • Get answers to your questions

Look here for details on the Planning for Medical School online workshop and other other online workshops.

Understanding the Prerequisites for Medical School

There are over 130 accredited medical colleges in this country. While prerequisite courses and application processes may appear similar across different schools, there are important differences you need to understand as an applicant. Your first step should be to review the sources available through Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). Look here for most comprehensive information on applying to a medical school.

Look here for specific details on the University of Minnesota Medical School prerequisite and pre-admission information.

Learn more about the U of M Medical School by attending an information session designed for pre-med students.

What Admissions Committees are Looking for in an Applicant

The most important thing to know is that admissions committees are looking for a number of different qualities in future physicians. Here are some traits that medical school admissions committees seek in their candidates:

  • Academic excellence in the physical sciences combined with knowledge in humanities and social sciences.
  • Evidence that you understand the field of medicine, most likely obtained through volunteer experience in a patient-care environment.
  • Strong character qualities like leadership, compassion, resilience, and tolerance.
  • Strong communication skills, including verbal and written.

Learn more here about the University of Minnesota Medical School’s selection criteria.

Learn more about the U of M Medical School by attending an information session designed for pre-med students. 

Gain Relevant Experience

Gaining experience is an important part of preparing for medical school. Experience will help you determine if a career in medicine is a good fit for you and whether the time investment will be worth it to you. Remember that you will be spending at least seven years of your life in school, with additional training for a profession in medicine!

The best experience will put you in contact with patients, and physicians. Those experiences will help you to understand both the patient perspective and the types of activities physicians are engaged in through their work. There are many different opportunities to volunteer in settings that will give you patient and physician exposure. Look here for links to volunteering opportunities.

Applying to Medical School

Applying to medical school is a multifaceted process. There are many steps and pieces to it. Understanding what is expected of you early will help you to manage the process effectively.

Visit the websites of individual medical schools for specific information about their programs. Many schools provide a list of frequently asked questions about their program, so be sure to explore that information! Those will be the best place to find information describing program highlights, special emphases, admission requirements, and important advice for prospective students.

After determining which schools to which you will apply, plan to complete all of the prerequisites, prepare for and take the Medical College Admission test (MCAT), write the required personal statement(s), obtain letters of recommendation, send your transcripts, and complete the online application. Most medical schools use the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS), which is a national, online application. Note that it can take a number a weeks to process your application, after all of the information is received.

Be prepared for additional elements and supplemental applications as well. View detailed information on the application process here.