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Overview and Timeline

Preparing for medical or health-professional school is a long-term process that requires much consideration and dedication. It’s NOT a decision to be made lightly or suddenly. As you consider your future, you may want to keep these suggestions and tips in mind, and reflect on these questions:


  • Strive to be your best from the start of college.
  • Do well in your courses, and maintain a high level of performance.
  • Join study groups and work with tutors.
  • Take opportunities to improve your study and/or time management skills.
  • Go to office hours, where you can make sure you understand the material, and also establish good relationships from the start with your professors.  You may later need a letter of recommendation from them.
  • And take some courses that have nothing to do with a medical career! Expand your mind and your awareness of the world.


  • Explore a variety of activities and events that have been of interest to you
  • Join some organizations or attend some events that are of interest to you
  • Attend meetings of campus organizations that support pre-professionals
  • Begin now to keep notes and experiences on a resume, so that you won’t have to remember events and activities three years later
  • Explore and seek out some possibilities for research , volunteering, or work during the summer

Personal Reflection

  • Ask yourself regularly, why are you interested in becoming a health professional?
  • Do you have a reasonable, informed knowledge of the profession?
  • Do you know the “Pathway to Medical School in the US” (and to a professional career)?
  • What is your REAL motivation for this career? What are your goals? Values? Do they mesh with the reality of a life as a healthcare professional? For your lifetime?
  • Do you have an intellectual ability and interest in science, human biology, disease?
  • Do you seek to be a life-long learner, seeking greater understanding?
  • Do you have a creative and open mind?
  • Do you have a genuine interest in and concern for people, especially ones in distress?
  • Do you understand the meaning of empathy, and appreciate the trust and importance of the patient/physician relationship?
  • Do you know what it’s REALLY like to be a patient? First-hand knowledge?
  • Do you know what it’s REALLY like to be a physician? First-hand knowledge?
  • Do you work well as a team player, both leading and being led? Are you collaborative, and willing to work with others “above and beneath” you in position, role and status? Do you have proven, demonstrable leadership skills?
  • Have you engaged in shadowing, research, volunteering, internships or employment related to either the medical profession, or a service profession? If not, how can you go about doing so?
  • Have you considered your own strengths, limitations, interests and dislikes and ways in which they may impact this career choice?
  • Are you comfortable with a clinical setting, and all that it entails?
  • Do you earn people’s respect? Do you act in a mature and professional manner?
  • Do you communicate clearly and effectively? Do you listen closely to others?
  • Do you demonstrate integrity, reliability and resilience?
  • Have you demonstrated a commitment to community service?
  • What can you do to embrace the characteristics that exemplify a health professional?
  • Does your academic performance meet the criteria for acceptance?
Links to helpful timelines:

 AAMC (allopathic/MD) Undergrad Admission and Applicant Timeline

 AACOM (osteopathic/DO) Undergrad Admission and Applicant Timeline

ADEA (dental) Undergrad Admission and Applicant Timeline

Health Professions Student Group - Click to Learn More