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Applying to Medical School


Attaining an acceptance to medical school, especially the one of your choice, is your goal (see letter on page 119). In responding to an acceptance, bear in mind that the Executive Council of the AAMC has approved a set of guidelines regarding acceptance. Among the recommendations are:

  1. that an applicant should not have less than two weeks in which to reply to an offer;
  2. that medical schools should not notify applicants of acceptance before November 15 of each admission cycle;
  3. that by April 1 any applicant holding more than one acceptance for more than two weeks (and having received all necessary financial aid information) should choose the school the applicant wishes to attend and withdraw from all others;
  4. that after June 1 a medical school seeking to enroll an applicant already known to be accepted elsewhere should advise the school of its intentions;
  5. that an offer of acceptance does not constitute a moral obligation to matriculate at that school.

Choosing Among the Acceptances

Naturally, if you have received only one acceptance, your course of action is restricted. If you receive multiple acceptances, then carefully consider each school so that you select the school that best meets your needs.

It is not in the best interest of the students or medical schools for an acceptee to hold on to more than one place at a time. The basic criteria in determining where to attend will be just as well known to the applicant at the time of notification of acceptance as a month or two later. If it is easy to make a choice, then it should be made promptly and a polite letter of withdrawal should be sent to the appropriate school(s). If, however, it is difficult to choose between schools, a choice should nevertheless be made rapidly (using the criteria noted below) rather than agonizing over the decision for a prolonged period. By making a decision with all deliberate speed, you can then concentrate on other important matters. At the same time, this will enable the medical school(s) you have withdrawn from to offer the place made vacant to others, perhaps even a student from your own school. (This is also the time to withdraw from schools you have not yet heard from, that you would not attend if accepted.)

In making your selection, you should bear in mind that, while all medical colleges in the country are acceptable, there are significant variations among them. Evaluate each school, keeping in mind the following criteria:

  1. Financial consideration. You should evaluate tuition and living costs coupled with your financial means and offers of financial assistance.
  2. Location. Consider the geographic location as well as the proximity of the school to where you wish to live.
  3. Faculty-student relationships. What are the opportunities for informal and personal assistance and guidance in academic and general problems? What cooperation is there with the staff and administration? What is the role of the students in various policy-making organs of the school?

THE Office of Admissions

GEORGE (202) 676–3506




School of Medicine and Health Sciences / 2300 Eye Street, NW / Washington, DC 20037

February 11, 2005

Mr. Robert Brown

1234 56th Street

Belle City, MD 20000

Dear Mr. Brown:

On behalf of the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences and the Committee on Admissions, I am pleased to invite you to become a member of the First-year Class entering the Doctor of Medicine degree program starting in the fall of 2005.

You are to be congratulated on your fine record: your academic and personal qualities as assessed by a multiplicity of factors led the Committee on Admissions to believe that you will have a fine future here at George Washington and in the community of physicians.

Please read the enclosed Notice of Acceptance carefully and return the signed copy not later than the date noted. The original is enclosed for your records. I suggest that you keep it for future reference. I particularly call your attention to the need to plan your future program at the earliest possible date. Until your record is fully up to date, we cannot certify you for matriculation.

We look forward with pleasure to welcoming you next fall.


Rachele I. Klein, M.D.

Associate Dean for Student Affairs and Admissions



  1. Teaching program. How recently has the curriculum been updated? How are the innovations working out in practice? Do the senior faculty members actively participate in teaching? Is the faculty as a whole interested in teaching or is their primary concern research and clinical services?
  2. Student performance. Determine the current attrition rate and what percentage is due to academic failure. Of interest also is the number of students asked to repeat an academic year; compare the figure with the national average.
  3. Facilities. Familiarize yourself with the character of the basic science teaching laboratories and what up-to-date equipment is available. How many hospital beds are available for teaching purposes? What kinds of hospitals are used (private, city, or state)?
  4. Student body. What is the class size? What is their morale, attitude, and enthusiasm for the school? Determine the nature of student competition — is it stimulating or cut-throat?
  5. Reputation. Speak with recent graduates about the school's standing. Find out what percentage of the school's graduates are placed as interns in prestigious teaching hospitals.

There is no authoritative list of distinguished U.S. hospitals; however, an unranked sampling of 20 institutions that many would agree fall into this category is listed in Table 4.3. Other prestigious hospitals can undoubtedly be added to this list. By examining postgraduate training appointment lists, usually found in the back of medical school catalogs, one can see if any graduates were placed in these hospitals. Although the absence of placement need not be taken as reflecting negatively on a medical school's status, since the hospital sample is a very small one (20 out of 2,500), the presence of placed graduates should be considered a positive sign as to the quality of its education.

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesGuide to Medical & Dental SchoolsApplying to Medical School - General Considerations, Selection Factors, The Application Process, Recommendations, The Interview, The Selection Process