From the Amherst College website:
SOME UP-FRONT ADVICE
No single formula guarantees acceptance into medical school. A practicing pediatrician may need different personal and academic qualifications from a research pathologist, for example. But here are five things we've noticed that many successful Amherst applicants do:
- They engage enthusiastically in their whole undergraduate education.
- They choose a major--science or non-science--that interests them, and pick challenging courses outside the major that also interest them. Because they're interested in learning, they do well in their courses. Their professors get to know them and can provide them with strong recommendations.
- They do well in the required premedical science courses.
- Whether their major is in science or non-science, they have ability and genuine interest in scientific understanding that shows in their work in the required premed courses.
- They show accomplishment and leadership outside the classroom.
- They get involved in a sustained way doing something worthwhile that they love doing and are good at doing--volunteering, mastering a musical instrument and performing, doing research, or many other things.
- They have contact with doctors and hospitals.
- During the two or three years prior to applying to medical school, they shadow, intern, work, or volunteer with doctors and/or in hospitals.
- They often apply to enter medical school later than the Fall immediately after graduation.
Applying for admission a year or two after graduation enhances their qualifications, and they're not behind in their career--the average age of all first-year medical students in the U.S. is now 25. If they are prepared and motivated to plunge right into the premedical science courses when they arrive at Amherst, then so much the better. But many who are later successful in being accepted don't feel so prepared or motivated at first, and they take the courses when they are prepared and motivated.
Unlike other students at Amherst who only have to fulfill requirements for a major, if you are considering a career in medicine you must also fulfill medical school entrance requirements.
Almost every medical school in the country requires at least the following:
a year of general chemistry (with lab)
a year of organic chemistry (with lab)
a year of general physics (with lab)
a year of biology (with lab)
a year of college English
a year of "college mathematics", by which most schools mean precalculus math (algebra and trigonometry) but not specifically calculus. Some do require a semester of calculus; only Harvard and Duke currently require a full year of calculus. Brown requires a statistics course, and several schools require 2 semesters of college math chosen among calculus, statistics or computer science.
A few schools also require:
Social or behavioral science courses, or more biology. Forty-nine of the 126 U.S. medical schools now say they recommend biochemistry (usually non-lab) in addition to the standard two other biology courses. For admission in 2007, thirteen other schools specifically require biochemistry: UCDavis, UCIrvine, USC, U. Florida Gainesville, Florida State, U. Hawaii, U. Michigan, Mayo, U. Minnesota, U. Nebraska, U. New Mexico, U. Oregon, and U. Texas San Antonio.
Information about requirements for specific medical schools can be found in the Association of American Medical Colleges publication, Medical School Admissions Requirements, updated annually. On campus, this book is available in the Career Center library and on reserve at the Merrill Science Library. Using this book, we have compiled a pamphlet (available free in the OCC library) that tabulates in condensed form the requirements for each of the 126 U.S. medical schools.