Top Medical Schools: A Personal Choice

Yearly, U.S. News publishes a list of top medical schools, but selecting a school, like most other things is a personal choice.  Sure, it’s nice to get into a prestigious Ivy League School, but is that the right choice for everyone?  If I were, very few other schools would stay in business.  Therefore, today, we are going to look at making a personal choice when it comes to determining the top medical schools.

Most medical school candidates would like to get in to the most exclusive institution they are able to. But a school’s status isn’t any guarantee that it’ll function as the right fit for you personally. Listed here are seven questions that may help you evaluate potential schools.

Top Medical Schools: A Personal Choice

What is the focus of the medical school, its hospitals, and clinics?

Some medical schools stress research or niche medicine, while some concentrate on primary care. If you are thinking about the second, you might not be at liberty in a school that provides you little patient contact within the first couple of years. Alternately, if you wish to devote your career to research, a medical school that is more focused on medical education, business, etc. will leave you disappointed.

Teacher Quality & Focus

Just how much does the college stress and reward teaching? For that response to this, you should check the faculty to student ratio or consult the admissions office (although their response may be slightly biased). The easiest method to determine teaching quality would be to join the school blog, view teacher ratings – again on the school website, and even sit in on some classes.  Rather than asking others their opinion, get the answers yourself.  Even if you could ask some students their opinion, they are unlikely to be candid to a stranger.  Besides, what is the quality of that information?  I speak from experience, which of course is only mine, but I have hated teachers’ methods while the majority of other students worshiped that teacher.  It wasn’t until several years after graduation that I heard the truth from a few of them. Therefore, keep in mind that all top medical schools do not always hire the top lecturers!

What is Your Tolerance for Pressure?

Of course, if you are going into medicine, there is always a lot of pressure, whether in the classroom or on the job.  Still, there are some schools and for that matter, teachers and department heads who are mellower than others.  Additionally, besides the faculty and academic pressures, there is the student body to which you also have to contend.  Again, by reading posts and threads on blogs, you can sort of get the flavor of the overall campus atmosphere.  By joining a blog, you also have the convenience of being anonymous and to ask anonymous questions.  Online, people tend to be more open than when confronted face to face. As far as grading and student competition is concerned, each medical school approaches this differently. Some schools are more focused on advanced students publishing, rather than their bedside manner.  Ask yourself, what is more important to you.

Research

Are you a person who is motivated by formal research, or are you more inclined to be a hands-on sort of person?  Some schools emphasize the importance of research, especially when they have a major clinic or hospital attached to it that sustains itself by grants.  Again, this goes back to the earlier topic, of the importance of publication.  Secondly, each school emphasizes different areas of importance.  Some of the top medical schools specialize in turning out medical professions interested in areas of state-of-the-art medial computing systems, while others are more into public health issues and the community at large. Be honest, and decide where you might better fit.

Student & Campus Culture

Depending upon where the school is located will dictate the general culture of the campus – both on and off.  If you are from a small town, are you ready to meet the challenges of big city life, as well as the expenses that go with it?  What about religion and cultural diversity?  For example, if you are Jewish and from a cosmopolitan city like New York, will you be able to find a religious community to observe holidays with or find kosher food? Will you be able to adapt to an area where there are very few Jews or don’t you mind?  How much experience do have living as a minority and how does that affect your peace of mind? Can you see yourself permanently settling in the town or city where your school is located?  This is an important consideration, as many doctors , nurses, and other health professionals usually find jobs in the same area of their schools.

The Bottom Line

In the end, finances are going to make a difference in your education and quality of life.  Will your loans and grants be enough to pay for your expenses and emergencies?  Thankfully, since health professionals are at such a premium, many of the top medical schools offer full scholarships and loan forgiveness programs.