Have you always known you wanted to be a doctor without a shadow of a doubt? If so, you may want to consider a BS/MD program. BS/MDs are often referred to as direct medical school programs because students apply for their bachelor’s and medicine degrees at the same time. When BS/MD students are accepted to a school for their bachelor’s degree (BS), they are also accepted for their Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree. A BS/MD program allows students to bypass the long and difficult process of applying to medical school altogether. On average, these degree programs take about 7-8 years to finish. Very few programs, such as Howard University’s BS/MD program, allow students to finish their degrees in 6 years. BS/MD degree programs that take 6-7 years to complete are shorter than the amount of time it would take to finish your Bachelor’s Degree and Doctor of Medicine.
In most BS/MD programs, students will attend the same university for their bachelor’s and medicine degrees. However, some schools connect undergraduate students to a different medical program. For example, at Rice University’s BS/MD program, students receive their Bachelors from Rice University and then attend Baylor College of Medicine. Similarly, students can begin their BS/MD program at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and end at Albany Medical College.
Many students and universities recognize this is an extremely beneficial program for students looking to break into the medical field. As such, BS/MD programs are extremely competitive and have very low acceptance rates.
1. Pros of BS/MD
Peace of mind
There are many benefits to consider in a BS/MD program. Most notably, this program eliminates the stress of applying for medical school. Students can focus solely on their studies rather than spending hours of time and money applying to different med schools across the country. In fact, most premeds apply to 16 medical schools each cycle. A BS/MD program ensures your spot in a medical program as long as you meet basic requirements.
Another benefit of the BS/MD program is the ability to bypass the MCAT altogether. Some schools do not require students to take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) in order to enter the MD program. Much like the SAT, the MCAT is necessary for the medical school admissions process. BS/MD programs such as Northwestern University, Syracuse University, Brown University, and Spelman College do not require BS/MD students to take the MCAT.
Finally, BS/MD programs provide a sense of stability. Students can enter their undergraduate education knowing that they will likely get into medical school. Entering medical school right after undergraduate education means they can speed up your timeline and enter the field of medicine a bit faster than the traditional application process.
Traditionally BS/MD programs are small cohorts. Most programs have less than 100 people in their program. Smaller cohorts can mean a close-knit community of students who work and study together. It can also mean a greater chance to get to know your professors and build your network. Smaller cohorts can facilitate a personalized learning experience.
Some BS/MD programs offer merit-based scholarships and grants to help offset the cost of postsecondary education. Some will even provide funding into the MD part of the program. This can be beneficial, especially because the cost of medical school is expensive. Be sure to check what financial opportunities schools offer before applying!
Cons of BS/MD
In programs where the MCAT is required, students often have to reach a certain percentile to gain admission to medical school. For example, Boston University’s Seven-Year Liberal Arts/Medical Education Program requires students to take the MCAT before a certain date and achieve a combined score at or above the 80th percentile. Their MCAT score is taken into consideration when determining whether or not to accept them into medical school. The time constraint and score requirement may cause additional stress. Many students who do not enter medical school take the MCAT many, many times before achieving the score they want. Students may need additional time to achieve the score they want. Taking the test multiple times and at your own pace may make the process less stressful and give you enough time to achieve the score you want.
Many students believe that they want to become doctors. Many also realize after their first organic chemistry class that the field is not for them. The BS/MD fast track requires students to know what they want to do at a young age and stick to it. While you can always change your mind, it may come at a cost of time, money, and stress.
Additionally BS/MD programs require students to commit to both an undergraduate and medical school at once. This may pose a problem if students realize the school they chose is not an academic or cultural fit. Depending on the program, students may not be able to apply to another medical school outside of the BS/MD program. Applying to medical school separately gives students the freedom of choice and the ability to experience a different college.
As previously mentioned, BS/MD programs are intense. Ivy league programs have acceptances below one percent. Even more selective schools have extremely low acceptance rates for BS/MD programs. BS/MD programs are notoriously difficult to get into and have lengthy application processes. Students may allocate hours to a singular program without achieving the results they want. While this should not discourage you from applying, it is important to be aware of it and ensure you have other options.
No time off
Jumping from an undergraduate degree to a graduate degree can be exhausting. Some premed students select to take time off to pursue a master’s degree, intern at a hospital, or work as a medical assistant to gain some real-world experience before jumping into medical school. These experiences may help students figure out the best path for them and allow them to grow their professional network before committing to four more years of school. It can also provide a much-needed breather between an intensive four years of medical school.