Baccalaureate-MD programs, often called BS-MD programs, are special programs available to high school students interested in pursuing a career in medicine and have this interest established by the time they apply for college. After gaining acceptance into one of these programs, students must still complete their undergraduate education, however, they can do so knowing that they have a seat reserved for them in medical school if they fulfill the requirements of the program. The admission into these programs is highly competitive and do involve some planning. Just as pre-medical students applying to medical school the traditional way (during their last year of college) must submit an application highlighting their accomplishments and experiences up to that point, high school students applying to BS-MD programs must do the same.
1. Not all the programs will shorten your time to medical school
This can be one of the biggest misconceptions about BS-MD programs. While some of these programs are a total of six years, many of them are still 7-8 years depending on which school you attend. One of the perceived advantages of these programs is that you won’t have to spend as much time in college and can move on to medical school faster and therefore, complete your medical training faster. Well, that isn’t completely true for all the BS-MD programs. While you may know that you have a seat in medical school for you when you start college, you may not actually save any time in the long run if the program is still eight years in length.
2. There is no guarantee of admission to medical school
This is likely the second biggest misconception about this path to medical school where many students think that if they are accepted in high school that they will automatically go on to medical school afterwards. Each school has certain requirements for matriculation (i.e., starting medical school) that must be upheld throughout the undergraduate years to keep your spot in medical school. From minimum GPA values to required hours of volunteering/shadowing, it is important to keep these requirements in mind if you are accepted to one of these programs.
3. These programs are very competitive
Just as there are requirements to maintain once for matriculation once you are accepted to one of these programs, there are requirements to even apply to BS-MD programs. Beyond that, the applicants that do choose to apply to these programs are often the top of their high school class making the application process even harder. For the high school applicant, these requirements are focused on GPA and SAT/ACT scores but also include a commitment to medicine as a career and evidence of knowing what it is like to be a physician and work in healthcare (i.e., volunteering or shadowing experiences). These extracurriculars can be challenging to complete as a high school student unless you are focused on them from the start.
4. Some programs still require the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT)
While some BS-MD programs do not require the MCAT exam for matriculation (which is a huge perk of these programs!), many of them do as part of the requirements to begin medical school at that institution. The exact minimum score for each school does vary with some using distinct cutoff values while other schools look at the national average scores for the MCAT exam for the previous year to establish their minimum acceptable scores.
5. Only certain undergraduate schools have the option for BS/BA-MD
Although it would be nice if all medical schools had a BS/MD option, there are only certain schools that have this option. While most medical schools that have the option for BS/MD are associated with only one undergraduate option to attend, there are a couple schools, such as State University of New York (SUNY) Downstate Medical School in which they have an agreement with multiple undergraduate institutions for the BS/MD option.
Now that you know more about BS-MD programs, hopefully you feel like it would be a good option for you or someone you know. For more information about these programs, check out the book I wrote on the topic, The High School Pre-Med, now available here on Amazon!
If you would like to work with me on your BS-MD application, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org!