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Frequently Asked Questions about the Medical School Option

Q: How many cadets are allowed to go to medical school immediately after graduation?
A: Up to 2% of each class (approximately 20 cadets) are allowed to attend medical school immediately upon graduation.  There is no requirement to be ranked within the top 2% of the class.  There is no limitation on the number of graduates who attend medical school after serving for some time in the Army.

Q: When would I take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT)?
A: If you want to go to medical school immediately after graduation you need to take the MCAT in the spring of your Second class (Cow) year.
Grade Point Averages and MCAT Scores for cadets recently selected as primaries or alternates to attend medical school:
​Class Year Avg. GPA​ Avg. MCAT​
2011 3.60 (3.21-4.20)​ 31.3 (26-35)​
2012 3.67 (3.13-4.13)​ 28.5 (23-32)​
2013 3.53 (3.28-4.15)​ 28.6 (23-37)​
2014​ 3.89 (3.47-4.15) ​30.0 (25-37)
Q: What additional obligation do I incur for attending medical school?
A: You incur an additional 4 year obligation if you go to a civilian medical school on the HPSP or an additional 7 year obligation if you choose to go to USUHS. You would not start "paying off" that obligation until you complete your medical residency program.

Q: When do I have to decide if I want to pursue the medical school option?
A: At the latest, the decision can be made during your Cow year, however most cadets decide when they declare their major. However, if you know you are interested now, you should make that known to Academic Counselors in the Chemistry and Life Science Department and the Office of the Dean.

chem_faq_01.pngQ: What is the best major to take if I want to go to medical school? I have read that it may not be best to major in the life sciences because medical schools are looking for students from diverse academic backgrounds.
A: One of the problems with reading advice about medical school is that it doesn’t convert to your situation at USMA. If a college student at another university wants to go to medical school they often choose a "pre-med" curriculum in which they take organic chemistry and as much life science as they could take; but take very little math, other science, or humanities courses. Medical schools want well-rounded students who have taken a variety of courses in math, science, humanities, as well as the courses needed for medical school. Your Core Academic Program, which comprises 75% of your academic experience at USMA, is a broad-based academic program with courses in math, science, and humanities. This is exactly the kind of broad-based academic program medical schools are looking for. The remaining 25% of your academic experience at USMA (your major) should be focused on getting the courses you need to prepare you for the MCAT and medical school. A vast majority of the cadets interested in medical school sign up for the Life Science Major or the Chemistry Major. These programs offer several courses that prepare you for the MCAT and eventually medical school. The minimum course requirements for most medical schools are 2 semesters of organic chemistry with lab and 2 semesters of biology. Some schools require more biology courses.

Q: What is the minimum number of courses beyond the core courses that I need to compete for selection for medical school?
CH383 Organic Chemistry I
CH384 Organic Chemistry II
CH375 Introduction to Biology
CH387 Human Physiology

In the Life Science Major you also get CH385 Cell Biology, CH388 Genetics, CH457 Microbiology, CH473 Biochemistry, and CH479 Biotechnology. These courses will help prepare you for the Biological Sciences portion of the MCAT and medical school. These majors will also take CH371, Introduction to Analytical Chemistry. This course will help prepare you for the chemistry questions in the Physical Sciences portion of the MCAT. If you only take the minimum required courses you will only have your General Chemistry courses to prepare you. Medical school selection is a very competitive process. You must compete with your classmates for the slots to attend medical school after graduation as well as compete with students at other universities for admittance to medical school.
Q: What is the USMA medical school selection process?
A: The USMA Medical Program Advisory Committee meets in August and interviews first class cadets who are interested in attending medical school.  The board is chaired by the Commander of Keller Army Community Hospital and has members from Keller, the Dean’s Office, the Chemistry and Life Science Department, USUHS, and USCC.  First class cadets must have a 3.4 academic GPA or higher and an MCAT score of 28 or higher and to have completed the four minimum required courses listed above to be considered for an interview by the board.  Cadets may be selected to attend immediately after graduation, or selected as an alternate.
Q: What are the most important factors determining selection by the board?
A: Your academic GPA (with emphasis on science courses), your MCAT score, and the interview are the most important factors.  However, other important factors are your military and physical performance and recommendations from the faculty.  The committee seeks to choose the most qualified and deserving cadets.
Q: I want to go to medical school but I am also interested in doing some troop leading time in the Army.  Can I go to medical school later?
A: Absolutely!  There are many advantages to going on active duty for a few years before attending medical school.  In fact, of all the USMA graduates that are Army physicians, half went to medical school immediately after graduation and half went after serving some active duty time.  Whichever option you choose, however, it is important to complete all the courses you need to be accepted to medical school while at USMA.  It is very difficult to find the time to take additional courses while on active duty.