Loyola University Maryland

Pre-Health Programs

Pre-Medical Track

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We offer advising, programs, and networking opportunities that help you reach your goal to become a competent and compassionate leader in the field of health care. We contribute to your success by offering guidance throughout your college career and the committee services at the time of your application to medical schools. Loyola’s extensive interaction with the Baltimore community affords you an unique opportunity to engage in various settings, including clinics, hospitals, and research laboratories. Not only do you gain the benefit of providing service and practicing what you know, but you also get to network with some of medicine’s best and brightest.

In 2016, 70 percent of Loyola’s medical school applicants with a committee letter matriculated to either allopathic or osteopathic medical schools.

What a Physician Does

Physicians prevent, diagnose, treat, and manage illnesses and injury. Physicians’ roles vary across career paths, which range from direct patient care to education and/or research.

  • Physicians examine patients, take medical histories, prescribe medications, and order, perform, and interpret diagnostic tests.
  • Physicians offer preventive healthcare services, such as screenings, immunizations, and education about healthy diets and lifestyles.
  • Physicians lead health care teams, educate the public on health, and serve on medical advisory boards and committees.
  • Surgeons operate on patients to treat injuries, diseases, and deformities.
  • Physician scientists engage in research and teaching. They lead research teams and they publish, evaluate, and interpret research findings as well as offer contributions to teams that set the long-term goals for medical education.

What a Pre-Medical Student Studies

The four years of your undergraduate education are a time of academic and personal growth. During these years you deepen your knowledge of natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities in order to expertly process and effectively communicate complex information. As a pre-medical student, you will gain an understanding of health care through classes, research, and health care placements, such as volunteering and internships.

Most pre-medical students major in natural sciences, specifically biology and chemistry, but you should discern carefully what major is the best match for your interests and strengths. Loyola’s successful medical school applicant majors have included business administration, theology, and English. The pre-health track is not a major. It is an umbrella program designed to help you navigate your way to a successful health career. Your undergraduate studies should include the courses that are standard pre-requisite courses, commonly recommended, or essential for success in the MCAT, including:

  • 2 semesters of biology with laboratory
  • 2 semesters of general chemistry with laboratory
  • 2 semesters of organic chemistry with laboratory
  • 2 semesters of physics with laboratory (non-calculus based intro or calculus-based general)
  • 1 –2 semesters of biochemistry
  • 1 –2 semesters of mathematics (for instance calculus and/or statistics at 200-level)

We also recommended that you consider taking introductory psychology and sociology classes as well as additional upper level biology classes, such as microbiology and molecular genetics.

The purpose of pre-requisite and recommended courses is to build your competency to process advanced scientific knowledge and respond to culturally complex health care situations. Do not lose sight of the big picture in your studies: the most important pre-requisite is your entire four-year undergraduate degree. Note that two of the MCAT areas, Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills and Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior, test your comprehensive academic readiness. Loyola’s liberal arts curriculum is an excellent way to build this analytical skill set, and you are off to a good start if you consistently follow daily news and build your vocabulary by reading books, academic articles, and scholarly journals.

One of the most demanding aspects of your pre-medical studies is the expectation of consistently high academic achievement across disciplines and throughout class years. Your target undergraduate GPA is 3.65 (A-) or higher, and you should aim at the same high standard with your sciences and mathematics GPA. Remember that your major’s requirements and your success in your undergraduate studies take precedence over your pre-health planning. However, if you are a biochemistry interdisciplinary major you will have to take Calculus I and II, as well as calculus-based general physics, even though your pre-medical requirements would be satisfied with introductory physics and other mathematics combinations, such as Calculus I and 200-level statistics.

What Are Medical School Degree Options

Allopathic Medical School

Degree type: Doctor of Medicine (M.D.)

Osteopathic Medical School

Degree type: Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.)

Dual Degree

Doctor of Medicine and Doctor of Philosophy (MD-PhD)

  • While a majority of medical schools offer a MD-PhD option, the positions at each school are limited to a few spots.
  • A MD-PhD student will do his or her research and doctoral thesis in two to three years between pre-clinical and clinical years.
  • In 2015, 33 percent of applicants matriculated into MD-PhD dual degree programs (626 students).

Doctor of Medicine and Master’s Program (e.g. Master of Public Health)

  • These additional academic studies are typically completed between pre-clinical and clinical medical training.
  • A student enrolled in MD-MPH program will commonly earn his or her public health degree during the third year or study, before the clinical clerkships.

When to Apply to Medical School

Timing is very important with your medical school application – applying too early with an unsatisfactory application submission may set you back by several years and unnecessarily cost you several thousand dollars. If you have an academic buffer – you are clearly above your target GPA and have secured a solid MCAT score – and you have demonstrated your commitment to both service and the field of medicine, you are in a good position to apply as a rising senior. However, in today’s competitive medical schools’ admission climate the majority of students benefit from additional time to study and prepare. About 2 out of 3 of the nation’s current medical school students submitted their successful applications after their undergraduate graduation, and of Loyola’s successful medical school applicants, about 80 percent submit their applications either right after their graduation or in the following one to three years. In general, the average age of a student at his or her matriculation into medical school is 24–25.

A well-planned application process is a rewarding experience. You can learn about yourself and the profession in meaningful ways. A rushed process will not give you this deeper sense of satisfaction and, at its worst, will compromise your collegiate success and experience. Additionally, do not lose sight of course work because of MCAT preparation or committee process deadlines. You are in a good place to consider applying during the summer preceding your senior year, when all your application components, including the pre-requisites and additional course work, experience, and the MCAT scores, are exceptionally solid.

How to Prepare for the MCAT

The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is a standardized test designed by The Association of American Medical Colleges. The purpose of the MCAT is to assess you scientific knowledge and reasoning skills, which are essential for success in medical school and in the practice of medicine. The MCAT has gone through several revisions over its 85-year history, and it was revised in 2015 to match the needs of modern medical research and practice.

The MCAT has four test sections and a total of 230 questions, distributed over a testing time of 7 hours and 30 minutes:

  • Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems 59 questions
  • Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems 59 questions
  • Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior 59 questions
  • Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills 53 questions

The MCAT places a substantial emphasis on scientific reasoning and analytical problem solving. While each section tests your knowledge and use of the concepts specific to that section, they all build upon integrated, data-based, and statistical reasoning in which you are asked to combine your scientific and analytical knowledge across disciplines. Your capacity to fuse multiple fields together is specifically tested in the section Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills. You will be asked to analyze information and approaches from a wide range of disciplines, including ethics, study of cultures, philosophy and anthropology, and population health and health care systems.

Each MCAT section is scored from 118–132. The total exam score ranges from 472 to 528. Your success in each test section is as important as your overall score. The practice of medicine calls for intellectual versatility, which is demonstrated through equal mastery of each of the testing areas. For this reason, your success in one testing area does not compensate for a very low score in another area.

The MCAT is administered at Prometric testing sites on a select number of days with most testing days falling in spring and summer. The testing schedule for each year is released during the preceding fall. Here are a few considerations to take into account as you plan for your MCAT:

  • Have you progressed far enough with your undergraduate studies to begin MCAT preparation? The most important preparation comes through your courses. Your MCAT success rests on these courses: cellular and molecular biology, organismal biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, biochemistry, physics, psychology, sociology, as well as course work that builds your critical analysis skills, such as English literature and philosophy.
  • Will MCAT preparation fit your academic schedule? Your success in your undergraduate studies should be your highest priority – always. Consider dedicating the summer months to MCAT study if MCAT preparation during the academic year has a negative impact on your course work or if you do not have enough time to truly prepare for the test.

Optimal preparation for the MCAT depends on your learning style, daily schedule, discipline and motivation, self-confidence, and budget. A clearly laid out plan for self-study through review books, online resources, and practice exams will probably work for you if you are an organized and a self-motivated learner with a strong academic foundation. An online or in-class preparatory course will probably be a good investment if you have a hard time setting a consistent schedule for yourself, if you worry about standardized tests, or if you feel that you have gaps in any of the content areas.

The cost of MCAT review materials depends on your chosen method of preparation. With disciplined and long-term preparation on your own, you may be able to limit your test preparation costs to a few hundred dollars. Khan Academy’s free online MCAT materials, the AAMC’s practice tests, and a set of review books are all ways to keep costs in line. However, if your chosen method of review involves tutoring or a class, either on-line or in a classroom, your associated costs will probably range from $1,500 to $3,000. Review with a private tutor may cost you even more than $5,000. Here are some resources for your MCAT review. Please note that this list of resources is not comprehensive nor does it come with the pre-health office’s endorsement of any particular commercial test preparation company.

Why It Takes Two Years to Apply to Medical School 

The medical school application process is very competitive. It is a process that takes two academic years:

Year 1: on-campus preparation, the MCAT, and the pre-health committee interview

  • Prepare for and take the MCAT
  • If you are planning to apply to osteopathic medical schools, seek to shadow an osteopathic physician
  • Secure three strong recommendations.
    • At least two of these recommendations should come from the faculty
    • At least one of the faculty recommendations should come from a science professor.
    • Your recommendation letters should be sent to the pre-health committee (prehealthreferences@loyola.edu)
    • The recommendation letters will accompany your pre-health committee letter of evaluation
  • Write an effective personal statement
    • Attend workshops
    • Seek feedback
  • Organize your curriculum vitae entries
    • Present a clear hierarchy of your education, honors and awards, health care experiences, volunteering, research, leadership, and work.
    • Count the hours spent on each of your activity. You will need to know them at the time of application.
  • Interview with the Pre-health committee
    • Interviews are arranged during the week of final exams in April/May.

Year 2: Your application to medical schools

  • Finalize your selection of school choices
  • Submit your application to the AMCAS or the AACOMAS
  • Answer the school-specific secondary application questions 
  • Interview with medical schools
  • Prepare financially for your medical school studies

How Loyola’s Pre-Health Committee Process Works

Loyola’s medical school applicants will receive a pre-health committee interview during final exam week in April/May. The pre-health committee reads your dossier and offers you a thirty-minute interview.

The interview and evaluation of your entire dossier helps you assess your readiness to apply to medical schools and provides you with the critically important committee letter, which offers a comprehensive assessment of your profile and helps your application stand out in the complex and competitive medical school admission process.

Pre-Health Committee Members 2016 –2017

Francis Cunningham, Ph.D., Philosophy, Co-Chair
Maiju Lehmijoki-Gardner, Ph.D., B.S.N., R.N., Pre-Health / Theology, Co-Chair
Dipa Sarkar-Dey, Ph.D., Mathematics
Christopher Thompson, Ph.D., Biology
Randall Jones, Ph.D., Physics
Brian Barr, Ph.D., Chemistry

Pre-Health Committee Time Line 2016 –2017

Mandatory Committee Process Deadlines

Sunday, December 4 (6 - 7pm)
Mandatory Information Session and Application Opening - Cohn Hall 133
Intent to Apply Due

Tuesday, January 31
Committee Interview Application and Reference Information Due by 5pm (Drop-Off in Maryland Hall 145)

Tuesday, February 14
Committee Mentor Names Released to the Students over Email

Tuesday, March 28
Committee Interview Materials and Reference Writers’ Recommendations Due by 5pm (Maryland Hall 145)

Reference writers’ letter submission over email: prehealthreferences@loyola.edu or drop-off in Maryland Hall 145

Wednesday, May 3 – Thursday, May 11
Committee Interviews

Non-Mandatory Workshops

Monday, October 10 (6 - 7pm)
Junior and senior info night (all health professions) - KH B01

Sunday, January 22 (6 - 7pm)
Application Workshop I - Personal statement, school selection, and communicating with recommenders (Place: TBA)

Sunday, February 20 (6 –7:30pm)
Application Workshop II - Personal statement, CV/resume, committee interview tips
(Place: TBA)

Sunday, May 7 (6 –7pm)
Application Workshop III (AMCAS/AACOMAS/AADSAS process)
(Place: TBA)

Applicant Evaluation Criteria

The pre-health committee assesses your application strength based on the following criteria:

  • Overall academic preparedness
    • Grade Point Average (GPA)
    • Grade trends
    • Course selections
    • Honors and awards
    • Honor’s Program participation (if applicable)
    • Reference writers’ evaluations
  • Natural sciences and mathematics preparedness
    • Biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics GPA, grade trends
    • Grade trends
    • Course selections
    • Reference writers’ evaluation
  • Depth of your experiences as seen in the curriculum vitae
    • Community volunteering and extracurricular activities
    • Health care experiences, including shadowing, volunteering, and internships o research
    • Leadership, including tutoring and mentoring
    • Varsity athletics
    • Work
    • Relevant certifications and training, including the EMT, the CNA, and tutor certifications
  • Demonstration of social responsibility and personal integrity
  • Mature understanding of the profession and yourself
  • Capacity to engage in conversations concerning medicine, bioethics, and health care as seen in the interview
  • Capacity to constructively overcome challenges and hardships

The committee does NOT use your MCAT score as one of the evaluation criteria.

You will receive feedback and suggestions within a few days of your interview. If the committee advises you to wait on your application, you are encouraged to return for a new interview during the upcoming years.

Pre-Health Committee Contact Information

Applicants: For any questions or to declare your intent or request your pre-health committee application packet:

Maiju Lehmijoki-Gardner, Ph.D., B.S.N., R.N.
Coordinator of Health Professions Counseling
mlehmijokigardn@loyola.edu
410-617-2218

Letter of recommendation writers:  Please submit your recommendation letters on institutional letter head with your signature to prehealthreferences@loyola.edu. We will confirm the receipt of your letter.

How to Apply to Medical Schools

The second half of your two-year application process begins once your on-campus preparation with workshops, feedback, and the committee interview are complete and you have either your MCAT score or a testing date set to preferably no later than July. Year Two begins with the opening of the centralized medical school application system. You will need several weeks to prepare your on-line application form.

At this time you will finalize your selection of medical schools using the information available through Medical Schools Admissions Requirements (MSAR) and Osteopathic Medical College Information Book. There are a few important items for you to look for as you finalize your school choice: accepted applicant MCAT and GPA (overall and science) scores, in-state and out-of-state matriculations, and required/recommended pre-medical coursework. In 2016, successful Loyola applicants applied to an average of 21 medical schools.

The earlier you submit your application the better – you will avoid the long application verification lines and your application will reach the schools before they begin their rolling admissions process. At peak times in July and August, the application verification can take more than a month. Submit early if your application is coming together as planned, but give yourself some time if you are still figuring out important applicant components, such as MCAT scores.

  • Request transcripts from all universities at which you have completed course work. Do this first!
  • Have an unofficial copy of your transcript or your complete course list with you as you fill out your application; you will feed in all your course information into your application, one by one and in verbatim.
  • Have an easily accessible copy of your curriculum vitae at hand. It is easier for you to visualize your most meaningful experiences and achievements. The committee letter will be accompanied by the recommendation letters that were sent to us on your behalf.
  • Upload your pre-prepared personal statement.
  • Select the schools to which you want to apply.
  • Send in your MCAT scores. Your MCAT scores will be automatically released to the AMCAS. You will separately request the score information transfer for AACOMAS. While it is possible to apply while your MCAT is being scored, we strongly encourage you to wait until you know your MCAT score: your final school selection process and decision to submit should include a consideration of your MCAT score.

Once you hit submit, you still have a lot to do. Do not walk away from your submitted application. Stay alert!

  • Monitor the receipt of your committee letter and transcripts.
  • Monitor your application verification.
  • Look out for school-specific secondary applications from medical schools. Medical schools will follow up with your AMCAS/AACOMAS submission by sending additional application questions. Some schools send their secondary applications as soon as they receive your AMCAS/AACOMAS application; however, most wait until the verification of your centralized application. Additionally, some schools only send the secondary application to applicants who have passed preliminary screening.
  • Prepare for the interview season, which runs from September to early spring. Make sure not to miss an email that invites you to a medical school interview!
  • Check your spam folder frequently to make sure that you do not accidentally ignore critically important emails.

What Happens at Medical School Interviews

The purpose of on-site medical school interviews is two-fold. On one hand, the interviews offer the medical school admissions teams an opportunity to learn more about your motivation for and understanding of the profession. On the other hand, the interviews help you to gain an informed understanding of the school and its programs, including financial planning for medical school studies.

A typical interview day includes an information session about the school and financial aid process, a tour, lunch with current students, and one or two meetings with the admissions committee members, such as clinical or science faculty. Some schools use the so-called multiple mini interviews (MMI) format, which consists of several brief stations, where you interact with other applicants in a medical or ethical scenario. Here are some ways to prepare for your big day:

  • Gain confidence through advance planning, neutral choice of professional attire, and timely arrival on site.
  • Know yourself: Be prepared to discuss in concrete ways your motivation for the profession, your intellectual growth and interests, and your long-term plans for the future. Expect questions about the content of your volunteering, internships, and research. What volunteering experience has shaped you the most? What questions interested you the most during your summer research? Additionally, expect questions about you as a person, such as, What do you like to do in your spare time? What do you consider as your greatest strength or weakness?
  • Understand the profession: Be prepared to discuss in concrete ways your understanding of the various stages of medical education, practice of the profession, and health care team work. Expect questions about your realistic understanding of the profession, your commitment to patient care, and your potential to lead health care teams. What experiences have informed you about the practice of medicine? What do you see as the most challenging aspect of a physician’s work? Also, use this opportunity to ask a few thoughtful questions about your interviewer’s own interests in medicine.
  • Know the key details of the medical school you are visiting: Explore the school’s mission and special programs. Understand the ways in which the school’s history and its location impact its culture. For example, a large urban medical school and a small, rural medical school are likely to have programs that are specific to their immediate surroundings. You may want to prepare a few questions to show your understanding of the school’s history, its unique mission, and its engagement with the surrounding community.
  • Follow current issues: Visit the American Medical Association’s home page to understand some of the most recent advocacy issues in the field. Come by the pre-health office to borrow a good book about bioethics or social aspects of medicine. Read daily news from trusted publications that follow the best standards of in-depth journalism.

Once you are at the interview, collect a few business cards. This makes it easier for you to write your nice, hand-written thank-you notes to your interviewers. Pre-health advisors and admissions officers have come together to offer helpful advice for you in the booklet Interviewing for Health Professions Schools.

How to Pay for Medical School Application Process and Studies

You will find that the process of applying to medical schools requires careful financial planning. The MCAT, the application process, and the interviews will cost you several thousand dollars. Find out about your eligibility for a fee waiver and apply early for this financial assistance for the application process.

The cost associated with the application process will include the MCAT examination fee ($305 in 2016), AMCAS or AACOMAS application service fees ($160 [AMCAS]/ $195 [AACOMAS] to your first school and, $38 for each additional school in 2016), and each medical school's secondary application fee which range from $0 to $150. Loyola’s successful medical school applicants applied on average to 21 medical schools in the 2015 and 2016 application cycles.

The cost of your four-year medical school tuition is likely to cross the $200,000 mark. The most cost- effective options are public medical colleges in your state of residency. In 2014 –2015, the median cost of annual tuition and fees at public universities for in-state residents was $33,726 and for non-residents $59,140. At the same time, the median tuition and fees cost at private universities was $53,616 (in state) and $54,936 (out of state). Your financial tool kit probably includes a combination of financial aid, federal education loans, savings, and private loans. It is important for you to maintain strong credit as you apply to medical schools; this helps you with your access to quality loans.

You may also want to look into scholarship or loan repayment/forgiveness programs. These programs help you to finance your medical school study in exchange for your commitment to dedicate a certain period of time period serving as a physician in the armed forced or working with underserved populations in urban or rural areas. If you have a strong inclination for and demonstrated capacity to do research, the MD-PhD path might be a recommended option for you – the research scholarship associated with your PhD will also cover the cost of your medical schooling. All scholarship and loan repayment/forgiveness programs call for individuals who demonstrate their commitment to the sponsoring organization’s mission.

What to Expect in Medical School

The medical school curriculum and osteopathic medical school curriculum consist of basic biomedical science classes, practice of clinical skills, clinical training through clerkships, and exposure to research. The first two years of medical study consist of classes and practice of clinical skills, such as physical examination and diagnosis. After the first medical licensing exam, the so-called USMLE Step 1, medical students transition into a two-year period of clerkships during which time they train in hospitals in medical areas such as emergency medicine, internal medicine, and pediatrics. During this time, students complete the clinically-focused two-part licensing exam, the so-called USMLE Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK) and Clinical Skills (CS) test. After successful completion of four years of preclinical and clinical years, students earn their medical doctorate. For the first three to seven years after medical school, the new physicians continue their training by practicing as residents under the supervision of an attending, senior physician educator. The length of residency depends upon the field of specialization. For example, internal medicine residency is 3 years, emergency medicine is 3–4 years, general surgery is 5 years, and neurosurgery is 7 years. A physician’s final accreditation includes one more licensing exam (USMLE 3), which is usually taken toward the end of a new physician’s residency. After residency, many physicians deepen their expertise through research and specialization-based fellowships.

Where Loyola Alumni Go to Medical School

Medical schools in which Loyola alumni currently study include:

Albany Medical College
Baylor College of Medicine
Boston University School of Medicine
University of Connecticut School of Medicine
Cooper Medical School of Rowan University
Georgetown University School of Medicine
Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Buffalo
Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine
New York Medical College
Pennsylvania State University
College of Medicine Rutgers New Jersey Medical School
Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University
Southern Illinois University School of Medicine
State University of New York Upstate (Syracuse)
Medical Center College of Medicine Temple University School of Medicine
Tufts University School of Medicine
University of Maryland Medical School
Virginia Commonwealth University Medical College of Virginia
Virginia Tech Carillion School of Medicine

Osteopathic medical schools in which Loyola alumni currently study include:

Campbell University Jerry M. Wallace School of Osteopathic Medicine
Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine Bradenton Campus
Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine
University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine
West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine