High School Students & BS/MD

How to Approach BS/MD Admissions During COVID-19

Are you a parent or a high school student looking to stand out as a BS/MD applicant? The BS/MD admissions process can be quite confusing since each school has its own application process and requirements – especially for the 2020-2021 application cycle during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s everything you need to know as you prepare to apply.

What are Direct Med Programs?

Direct medical programs, commonly referred to as BA/MD or BS/MD programs, enable students to be accepted into an allopathic medical school from high school. It is the fast track into medical school. Students who are accepted get into both an undergraduate university and an allopathic medical school – directly out of high school.

What are the Benefits of Accelerated Direct Med Programs?

Accelerated programs are great options because they’re structured in a way that allows you to fulfill your pre-medical requirements in a shorter period of time. You’ll get a solid foundation in a shorter period of time, meaning you can start medical school sooner.

However, this may also mean that you might be required to take courses over the summer, or that you have to adhere to a specific schedule for taking courses. Thus, you will not have as much flexibility to take courses in areas that are interesting to you (but outside the scope of pre-medical courses). For example, you might have to forgo that literature class you were eyeing in favor of taking your second semester of organic chemistry.

Does Starting a Club Satisfy the Leadership Requirement on my Application?

While there’s no “requirement” for leadership, most students have demonstrated substantial leadership through their activities. Physicians are the leaders of a healthcare team and it’s important to establish yourself as a leader as early as possible.

While starting a club shows leadership, it’s really what you do with your time as the club’s president that matters. Under your leadership, what was the club able to accomplish? Were you able to expand it onto the national level, or is your club only based at your school? What types of actual activities were you able to execute? To boast leadership accomplishments, make sure that you show measurable accomplishments.

Can I Skip the SAT/ACT Since Schools are Waiving Requirements?

Although most colleges and universities have gone test-optional due to COVID, only a handful of BS/MD programs have gone test-optional. To maximize your ability to apply to a wide variety of schools, I would recommend signing up for every SAT or ACT opportunity available. This may mean traveling several hours to a different testing site, but it is important to make sure you take the test.

How Crucial are Summer Activities?

The summertime offers you the freedom to explore your interests, whether those interested are music, sports, or medicine. If you are considering a BS/MD program, you should use this time to participate in activities that will help you explore whether medicine is the right career field for you. When you commit to becoming a doctor, you’re committing at least the next 12 years of your life to education. That’s 4 years of college, 4 years of medical school, and 4 or more years of residency and fellowship. Before a BS/MD program will accept you, they want to see that you’ve fully explored the profession and are ready to dedicate more than a decade of your life to training to be a physician.

What if I Can’t Volunteer or Get Medical Experience Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic?

The coronavirus pandemic has created a lot of challenges for the 2021 application cycle, but it has also created a lot of opportunities. Several BS/MD applications, as well as the Common App, have added a COVID-related question asking about how this pandemic has affected your application. Try to use this time as an opportunity to expand your extracurriculars, to help you boost your application.

During the pandemic, did you hang out at home waiting for your normal clubs and volunteering opportunities to start up again or did you make an opportunity by starting a new club or by coming up with innovative ways to stay involved in volunteering?

Some examples of effectively using this time could be making masks for essential workers, putting together care packages for homeless shelters, or bracelets for children in the hospital. Although you may not be able to do in-person volunteering, there are many virtual or at-home opportunities that you can participate in. You just have to take the initiative to be creative!

If you are a high school student who wants to become a physician, MedSchoolCoach can provide you the coaching you need to get into a competitive direct medical (BS/MD) or pre-med program. Let us know if we can help!

Kachiu Lee, MD

Dr. Lee specializes in BS/MD admissions and has been working with this unique population of applicants since 2010. After attending a prestigious boarding school for high school, she was accepted into seven combined bachelor-medical degree programs. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Northwestern University in Evanston, IL with a Bachelors of Arts in Biology. Afterwards, she graduated from Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, IL. She then completed a dermatology residency at Brown University, and served as Chief Resident during her final year. She completed her fellowship in Photomedicine, Lasers, and Cosmetics at Massachusetts General Hospital and was a Clinical Fellow at Harvard Medical School. Academically, she has over 100 peer-reviewed publications and lectures internationally on photomedicine and dermatology.

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