Let’s suppose that I’m set on attending medical school. Ordinarily, this involves two distinct application cycles: first, I apply to college; then, once I receive my undergraduate degree, I apply to medical school.
However, that’s not the only option. With BS/MD programs, I can earn a bachelor’s degree and then transition directly into medical school without having to go through a second application process. Most BS/MD programs take eight years to complete (four years for the bachelor’s degree and four years for medical school). I would apply for these programs right after high school and thus have to be certain early on that a career in medicine is for me.
There are many advantages to going the BS/MD route, one of which, which I’ve already mentioned, is that it involves one application cycle, rather than two. Additionally, depending on the structure of the program, you may be able to shave a year or two off of the entire process (and thus save quite a bit of money!). Moreover, some students benefit from the stability of staying at one school throughout undergraduate and graduate schools.
But there are also potential downsides to BS/MD programs. For one, it’s a big commitment to make, especially right out of high school.
One important thing to note is that the MS/MD application process is often more demanding than applying for just an undergraduate degree. It’s not at all uncommon for programs to require additional essays and letters of recommendation in addition to an interview. Acceptance rates are also quite low for these programs.
Students interested in BS/MD programs, in addition to doing well in as many math and science courses as possible, should do as many “extra” medical-related things as possible, whether that’s extra courses (perhaps at a community college) or internships or some other kind of research experience. Indeed, it’s these kinds of hands-on experiences that the admissions committees really love to see. For example: interning at a local lab, volunteering at a local hospital, attending a summer medical program, or shadowing a doctor. Remember that, in applying to these programs, you’re committing to a seven to eight year program. The admissions committee wants to see, without a shadow of a doubt, that (a) you’re well-prepared for the field, and (b) that you’re passionate about the field and will see the program through to its end. They are unlikely to be convinced of either if you are lacking hands-on experiences.
In the end, BS/MD programs are a fantastic opportunity, but of course, not something that’s for everyone. Please reach out to your college counselor who will be more than happy to help you investigate the process more thoroughly!