Is Medical School Right For You? - On Board Virginia

Is Medical School Right For You?

Posted on Jul 11, 2023

Medical school is often one of the first steps to starting a career as a doctor. It’s a lengthy process—Virginia medical schools typically take four years to complete in addition to required residency programs. This ensures that future doctors get the most up-to-date medical training and real-life experience.

It’s no surprise that some may find medical school to be daunting. If you’ve ever wondered, “Should I go to medical school?” or “Is medical school right for me?”, it can be helpful to learn more about pursuing medicine in Virginia. 

In this article, we’ll cover:

• Is Medical School Right for You?
• Medical Schools in Virginia
• How to Choose a Medical School
• How to Apply to Medical School
• Average Cost of Medical School In Virginia 
• Healthcare Landscape in Virginia

 On Board Virginia is a great resource to explore healthcare programs in Virginia, whether that involves medical school or shorter, vocational courses!

Medical Schools in Virginia

Virginia is a hotspot for healthcare professionals thanks to its wealth of medical schools and hospitals. As of 2023, U.S. News Ranking listed four Virginia medical schools among the nation’s top healthcare institutions.

1. University of Virginia School of Medicine (#30)

UVA School of Medicine offers a unique system-based learning experience, that involves three phases. The first combines basic sciences with systems-based courses. The second begins clinical rotations between their Charlottesville and Inova campuses. The third pushes students to pursue advanced electives and research to identify their specialty.

2. Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine (#62)

VCU School of Medicine uses a four-phase program. The first two years build the students’ medical framework, applying basic sciences to organ systems as well as exploring diseases and treatments. Phase three involves core clinical clerkships, while phase four involves final electives. 

3. Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine (#82)

VTCSOM students take a more traditional approach to medicine, with two years of preclinical studies involving basic science, clinical science, research, and health systems. The final two years are spent doing clinical rotations. All students complete an individual research project during their stay.

4. Eastern Virginia Medical School (#87)

EVMS uses the CareForward Curriculum, which centers on integrated learning opportunities beyond the core medical program. This means developing patient-centered interpersonal skills and working with the local Norfolk community to mitigate specific medical issues—examples include wellness strategies that tackle diabetes and obesity.

How to Choose a Medical School

Ultimately, which school you choose will depend on your goals. Students who have a clear idea of their desired career path and specialization will navigate the curriculum best. These students also have a clear understanding of their program requirements—including the long-term commitment involved.

Before applying to a medical school, try the following:

• Talk to peers enrolled in medical programs to learn about their experience
• Reach out to alumni who can reflect on their medical career trajectory
• Email program heads or admissions to see what your potential medical career path could look like
• Tour the campus to get a sense of the school’s culture

If you’re still not sure if medical school is right for you but are interested in pursuing a medical career, consider applying to a vocational program through Virginia Ready.

Virginia Ready rewards Virginians committed to starting careers in in-demand healthcare jobs, including:

• Advanced EMT
• Certified medical assistant
• Certified nurse aide
• Emergency medical technician
• Patient care technician
• Pharmacy technician
• Medical billing and coding

A certified training program can expose you to crucial on-the-job experience. It’s an invaluable opportunity to learn if healthcare is the right field for you while exploring your potential future.

How to Apply to Medical School

The application process will always vary depending on the prestige and requirements of your chosen institution. When in doubt, contact your school’s admissions to figure out the requirements or fill out an application.

January–March of Your Application Year

At the beginning of your application year (typically your junior year of university), start studying for the MCAT. Take the exam early in the year to make sure you have time to receive your MCAT scores.

Check your desired medical school’s pre-med requirements to make sure you’ve completed the correct courses. If you haven’t, adjust your coursework accordingly.

Request letters of recommendation and begin writing your personal statements and application essays.

April–June of Your Application year

Create an account with the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS). This is a centralized application database that allows you to use one primary application to apply to multiple schools.

The AMCAS opens in May. You can begin working on primary applications but can’t submit them until late May or June. The TMDSAS (Texas Medical and Dental Schools Application Service) and AACOMAS (American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service) are also open in May if you’re pursuing dentistry or osteopathic medicine.

At this point, you should confirm your application deadlines and submit the following to your application service(s): 

• Official college transcripts
• MCAT scores
• Letters of recommendation

Depending on your school’s requirements, you may also need to take the Casper test, duet, and the AAMC PREview Assessment to submit your application. These tests focus on critical interpersonal skills to gauge if your values align with your target medical school.

July–August of Your Application Year

After submitting your primary applications, monitor your inbox for any AMCAS notifications. Work quickly to fix any verification or submission issues.

Then, prepare for any questions on your secondary applications. Complete and send your secondary applications as you receive them.

September–March of Your Graduating Year

Congratulations! You’re nearing the home stretch! Take some time to celebrate your first steps toward medical school as you go into the next phase. 

This is the perfect time to begin preparing for medical school interviews. You should anticipate commonly asked questions as well as any specific to your school and program. Avoid being scripted by talking earnestly about your goals.

Admissions decisions will start rolling out toward the end of October. If placed on a waitlist, consider sending updated letters or letters of intent where appropriate. If accepted, review your financial aid package and follow up.

April of Your Graduating Year

You have until April 30 to inform the AMCAS of your final decision.

Average Cost of Medical School In Virginia

The average cost of medical school tuition in Virginia is $46,039 per year for in-state residents and $60,860 per year for out-of-state residents. The top Virginia medical schools list the following for their 2022–2023 tuition:

• UVA School of Medicine – $50,0004 in-state / $61,114 out-of-state
• VCU School of Medicine – $37,465 in-state / $61,114 out-of-state
• VTCSM – $56,082 in-state / $56,082 out-of-state
• EVMS – $37,566 in-state / $61,309 out-of-state

You should also account for additional costs, including living expenses, personal spending, and textbooks and equipment fees.

Keep an eye out for federal scholarships or talk to your admissions counselor about financial aid opportunities. Paid residency programs following medical school can also help offset residual student debt.

Healthcare Landscape in Virginia

Medical school isn’t for everyone, but it helps set the foundations for a lucrative and fulfilling medical career. After all, there’s a reason why Virginia is home to several high-end medical institutions, with nationally-ranked healthcare programs. 

Make the most of their integrated learning environments to discover the different medical career paths ahead of you! On Board Virginia has resources on top medical and healthcare careers. Browse current opportunities in Virginia!