Getting accepted into one medical school is a huge accomplishment! However, multiple acceptances can seem like both a blessing and a curse.
It’s a “good” problem to have, but there is incredible pressure to make the right decision. One choice will determine the next course of your life: experiences, friends, education, and career opportunities.
Therefore, it’s important to make a calculated decision based on your priorities and expectations. There are definitely some significant factors you should keep in mind when analyzing your best option.
Many people make the mistake of simply choosing the school with the biggest name brand or most prestige without giving other schools enough consideration.
Others immediately pick the one closest to home. While others may pick the one farthest from home!
Although these should play a role in your ultimate choice, they should not be the sole factors.
When you attend medical school, you want to feel at home. After all, it will be your home for at least the next four years. That’s why it’s vital to understand the social dynamics of a school during your decision-making process.
Ask yourself if you want to be in a busy, bustling city with a high patient population or in a more isolated location with fewer patients but more quality time per patient.
Additionally, you should research a school’s overall environment in terms of support, community, and student body. How much do you have in common with other students? Does the school have organizations or research opportunities that excite you? Are there places nearby that interest you to explore when you’re not studying?
Let’s look at an example.
Say a student is deciding between three acceptances: College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific (COMP), Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine (TCOM), and University of Kentucky College of Medicine (UKCOM).
This student lives in Texas and hasn’t lived far from home before.
First, they need to decide whether a DO or MD degree aligns more with their future goals. If our student is more interested in prevention treatment and lifestyle changes relating to healthcare, then they should choose a DO school. On the other hand, if they want a more targeted approach to their patients’ care relying on signs and symptoms, then MD would be a better choice.
This is a difficult decision, and it is easy to become influenced by the stigma that an MD degree is more worthy than a DO degree. However, both routes produce highly qualified doctors who can practice medicine in all 50 states. You should not let societal pressure divert you from making the choice that best suits your interests. The choice between DO and MD should be one you make for yourself, as you will be the one who will live and breathe that choice for the rest of your life.
Let’s say that the student decides to pursue an osteopathic route. This would eliminate UKCOM and leave us with COMP and TCOM.
Since the student was born and raised in Texas, choosing COMP may seem like it would be out of their comfort zone. However, it could also be an amazing chance to see healthcare in a new light and foster independence in California.
Aside from location, it’s worthwhile to take a look at the opportunities and programs the two schools offer.
COMP offers experience working in rural medicine, which means the students get to deeply engage with communities and build connections. It also has a strong research program in various fields. Additionally, there’s a lot of nature and greenery around the college, setting the scene for an adventurous outdoor experience during the student’s free time.
Taking a look at TCOM, we find that it’s just 20 minutes away from the lively city of Dallas. It also has a rural medicine focus, so the student could dip their toes in both fields of patient care. Students are highly encouraged to be active members of the surrounding community, which would also provide for an enriching experience.
So far, both DO schools seem to have their own unique and appealing aspects. The student also needs to factor finances into their decision. COMP’s out-of-state tuition would cost around $68,000 a year, whereas TCOM would be about $20,000. Based only on these numbers, it would seem more affordable to choose TCOM. However, it is up to the student to decide whether the experiences they would receive in a new state would be worth it to them or not. Nevertheless, there is absolutely nothing wrong with staying in their home state and continuing their education.
Ultimately, you need to make sure you cover all your bases in regards to details that define each medical school you are considering. Make an informed decision so you aren’t taken by surprise once you start the school year.
No matter which school you choose, remember that there is no school that starts off being the perfect school for you. You are the one who makes it the perfect school through your determination, resourcefulness, and positivity. Finish with no regrets.
About the Author:
Vanshika Goyal is a graduate from the University of California, Davis with a B.S. in Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior. Her aspiration is to become a physician with a focus on patient-centered care and individualized treatment. She is currently an IGNITE fellow with Teach for America and a very active member of her community. In her free time, she enjoys writing poetry and painting.