Updated on Wednesday 6 March 2013
Unlike some graduate programs, medical school has a streamlined application process. Once you fill out the forms the first time, you will be able to send the same application to whatever school you would like. At least one part of medical school is easy!
There are quite a few things to consider before applying to medical school programs in the US. The most important thing to know is that there are very low acceptance rates for international students. This isn't meant to deter you from applying. Rather, it is to give you a realistic idea of your chances of getting in. If you're extremely passionate about the idea, and you think you have what it takes to be one of the lucky few, then you should certainly read on. However, if you have any doubts about medical school, you might want to really think hard before applying.
The first step of the application process for medical school is taking the MCAT. This should be done well before you have completed your bachelor's degree. In fact, most students take it in their junior year as an undergraduate. This way, if you do not do as well as you would like you will still have time to retake it and possibly raise your score. The MCAT test is taken entirely on a computer and takes between 4 to 5 hours to complete. The results will help give schools a general idea of your science knowledge as well as your reasoning and writing skills. It plays a fairly large role in whether or not a school will accept you, so if you are unsatisfied with how you do on the test you will have a chance to throw the score out immediately after you finish it (and before you know the score). However, if you keep the test, but find that you are still unsatisfied with how you did, you are allowed to retake the MCAT up to three times per year, with no lifetime limit.
Once you are happy with your MCAT scores, the next step of the application process for medical school is to put together a list of which schools you would like to apply to. Some schools do not accept international students at all, so you will need to make sure you investigate each college's rules of admission before you apply. The internet is the best place to do this. Check out your prospective school's websites, and you will usually be able to see if they accept international students or not there.
After deciding on a few prospective colleges, you will need to fill out an application. Most medical schools allow you to apply through the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) if you are pursuing a Doctor of Medicine degree, or the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service (AACOMAS) if you are pursuing a Doctorate of Osteopathic Medicine degree. Using these services is highly recommended, as it will save you a lot of time.
Almost all medical schools also require that you submit letters of recommendation with your application. Luckily the AMCAS and AACOMAS allow you to upload you letters to a website called interfolio.com, which is a free service that automatically sends your letters out to all the schools you are applying to along with your application.
Because there is no financial aid available for international students, you will likely need to prove to the college that you have enough money set aside for the first year or sometimes even the entirety of your education. This means having between $30,000 USD to $200,000 USD set aside for the cost of tuition before you are even accepted. Also, most colleges that accept international students are private, so the cost will be even higher for these schools.
If you can afford the high cost of medical school programs, and you believe you have what it takes to get accepted, you should go for it. With a medical degree from the US, you will be able to practice almost anywhere.