The Financial Cost Of Applying To Medical School

If you are currently applying to medical school you are probably encountering a harsh reality: it is not cheap. So what sort of expenses will you be looking at?

In this post I will break down exactly how much I spent during the entire med school application process from the MCAT to deposits holding an acceptance. This will give you an idea of the costs to apply and then plan accordingly. I’ll also toss in where I saved money, some of which I mentioned in this post.

The MCAT

  • MCAT Test Fee: $225
  • MCAT Practice Exams from the AAMC (3 at $35 each): $105
  • Lost wages due to giving up shifts to study: $360

Total MCAT Cost: $690

How I Saved Money

  • I chose to self-study as opposed to taking an expensive review course. $1500-$2000 in savings.
  • I borrowed the Examkrackers MCAT Complete Study Package from a friend. $110 in savings.
  • I used practice tests and material from the local library. $35 per test.

Primary and Secondary Application Fees

  • Applications to 7 MD schools through AMCAS: $346
  • Applications to 8 DO schools through AACOMAS: $390
  • Secondary application fees to 13 different medical schools: $1,110

Total Application Fees: $1,846

How I Saved Money

  • I chose not to complete secondary applications for 2 MD schools. Approx. $200 in savings.

Interview Costs (7 Interviews)

  • New Suit, Shirt and Tie: $220
  • Flights to 4 cites for 5 interviews: $823
  • Hotels (2 nights): $140
  • Rental car for one interview: $100
  • Gas money to the other 2 interviews: $50

Total Interview Costs: $1,333

How I Saved Money

  • One flight was free as I earned a voucher on a previous flight. $300 in savings.
  • At three interviews I stayed with student hosts instead of hotels. $210 in savings.
  • I turned down interviews to 2 DO schools and 1 MD school. Perhaps $1200 in savings.
  • I scheduled back-to-back interviews saving another flight. $400 in savings.

Miscellaneous Costs

  • Nonrefundable deposits to hold acceptance spots at two osteopathic schools: $2,000
  • Deposit to confirm acceptance at Creighton University: $100
  • Thank you notes with gift cards for everyone that wrote me a letter of recommendation: $55

Total Miscellaneous: $2,155

Grand Total: $6,024

Wow, that’s a lot of money. No doubt about it, applying to medical school is expensive. I feel like I did a lot to cut down on costs too. Adding up my potential savings comes to approximately $4,290.

Hopefully you can use this post to gauge how much you will spend to apply to medical school. I recommend planning ahead and saving that money, unless you’re lucky enough to have parental support.

Have I missed any other costs? Does this compare to your experience applying to medical school?

How To Use Google Docs To Streamline The Secondary Application Process

Sending primary applications to fifteen medical schools means you will like receive fifteen secondary applications from those schools, provided you meet some minimum requirements for those schools. I used Google Docs to streamline getting these applications done for three reasons: I could work on the essay questions at any computer with internet, the work is constantly saved and I did not have to worry about accidental deletion.

Getting fifteen secondary applications within the span of a few weeks is naturally overwhelming. Each school is different. Most have web-based applications, some do not. Some want pictures. Most have additional essay questions. All need varying amounts of application fees varying from $50 to $250.

All this amounts to a staggering amount of information to keep track of. In this post I’ll describe how to organize all that information and keep it in a secure place using Google Docs.

Here’s what to do.

First, create a separate folder for secondary applications. Then, create a unique document for each school. I titled the documents with the name of the school and when I got the application. This document will be where you collect any and all information pertaining to that application.

Here are 4 examples of what you might might put in it. Keep it simple.

1. A To Do List. May include sending extra transcripts, paying the application fee, uploading or printing a picture, finalizing references and completing essay questions.

2. Address to Send The Application (for paper applications).

3. Application Fee Amount.

4. Essay questions.

Most of the time I used these documents to work on essay questions. Having all the information in one place was handy too, especially keeping track of when I received the application. When I finished the essay questions I would print and edit them, then copy and paste them into the application. Easy as pie.

That’s it. It’s a simple system but it works and it cuts down on a lot of paperwork. Hope it’s useful to those currently in the application process.

Accepted!… and exhausted

I will be going to medical school.

It feels great to type that. I recently heard back from my first interview and was granted an acceptance. I was also accepted at my second interview.

All the hard work, the long hours studying in undergrad, the revisions of the personal statement, the tedious application process and the nerve wracking interviews, well, it’s all starting to pay off.

Not that the work was not rewarding itself at times, but ultimately the purose was to get into med school. And I have accomplished that goal.

Unfortunately I have had little time to reflect. I’ve had three interviews in as many weeks. Sandwhiched in between has been 12 hour scribe shifts, Christmas parties, family problems and flight delays. Last week I came home from an interview at 11PM Friday night, worked at 6:30AM the next day, then worked a string of 12 hour shifts until Wed when I left for another interview. I finally made it home yesterday.

I’m tired and looking forward to a break.

But I made it into med school. And that is awesome.

How Many Applicants Get Into Medical School? 2009 Data Released

The AAMC recently released applicant and enrollment data for 2009.

What are your chances of getting into medical school just based on the numbers? About 43.5% based on the 2009 data. The ratio was also 43.5% in 2008.

While the number of slots in schools have increased slightly, so have the number have applicants thus the constant ratio.

Click on the link above to read more about the numbers based on gender and ethnicity.

Keep in mind these numbers represent MD schools only, AACOM has not released acceptance numbers as far as I know. Applicant data for DO schools for 2009 is here.

What does this mean for you? We can expect the numbers to be similar for this year, meaning 56.5% of us are going to be very dissapointed. Good luck to all who are applying.

Health Care Reform Primer for Pre Med Students

‘”I am not the first president to take up this cause, but I am determined to be the last.”

– President Obama in his address to congress last night

Health care reform is dominating the American public discourse currently, and with good reason. As future physicians, you have a responsibility to understand these issues. It will affect how you practice medicine in the future.

But where to start? A couple months back, I felt overwhelmed at the thought of unraveling this whole debate. It seemed far too complex for me to understand. My lack of understanding led me to fear taking a position.

That changed several weeks ago when I started to do a little research. What I found is that the issue is not as hard to comprehend as I originally thought. What I’ve prepared here is a series of articles that answer the most common questions regarding the health care system and efforts to reform it.

  • First check out this article titled “Your Handy Health Care Cheat Sheet” over at the Washington Post. ,
    • Alec MacGills says“ What follows is an attempt to boil the health-care debate down to 1,000 words — a summary you can take to the beach or on the plane or, if you already know it all, send to your Aunt Millie. Love the proposals or hate them, people can try to make sense of them. There is no excuse!”
  • A lot of misinformation is being spread about health care reform. You may have received a chain email with comments regarding “A few highlights from the first 500 pages of the Healthcare bill.” Check out Factcheck.org’s article regarding the false claims in the email.
    • “Our inbox has been overrun with messages asking us to weigh in on a mammoth list of claims about the House health care bill. The chain e-mail purports to give "a few highlights" from the first half of the bill, but the list of 48 assertions is filled with falsehoods, exaggerations and misinterpretations. We examined each of the e-mail’s claims, finding 26 of them to be false and 18 to be misleading, only partly true or half true. Only four are accurate.”
  • The Wall Street Journal opinion section has a good article outlining some alternatives to the reforms proposed. "”How to Insure Every American"
    • “We must stop punishing Americans who buy their own plan by forcing them to purchase their care with after-tax dollars, making it at least one-third more expensive than employer-provided care. Individuals should be able to take their employer’s plan, or turn it down and select insurance of their own choosing without any tax penalty.”
  • For the official government site regarding reform, check out healthreform.gov. In particular read the Reports section. Lots to read, but lots of good info as well.

 

  • I highly recommend watching or reading President’ Obama’s speech last night. Watch the video here or read the full text. Just don’t read the youtube comments. Ugh.
    • “You see, our predecessors understood that government could not, and should not, solve every problem. They understood that there are instances when the gains in security from government action are not worth the added constraints on our freedom. But they also understood that the danger of too much government is matched by the perils of too little; that without the leavening hand of wise policy, markets can crash, monopolies can stifle competition, and the vulnerable can be exploited. And they knew that when any government measure, no matter how carefully crafted or beneficial, is subject to scorn; when any efforts to help people in need are attacked as un-American; when facts and reason are thrown overboard and only timidity passes for wisdom; and we can no longer even engage in a civil conversation with each other over the things that truly matter — that at that point we don’t merely lose our capacity to solve big challenges. We lose something essential about ourselves.”

Yes, health care in this country is complex. But with a little effort you can start to understand it. Pre meds have the added motivation knowing that questions regarding reform are going to be asked in a medical school interview. But if that’s the only reason you want to learn about health care reform,  you should question why you’re going into medicine in the first place.