Physicians diagnose illnesses and prescribe and administer treatment for people suffering from injury or disease. They examine patients, obtain medical histories and order, perform and interpret diagnostic tests while counseling patients on diet, hygiene and preventive health care.

There are two types of physicians: M.D.—Doctor of Medicine—and D.O.—Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. M.D.s are also known as allopathic physicians. Both M.D.s and D.O.s may use all accepted methods of treatment, including drugs and surgery. D.O.’s place emphasis on the body's musculoskeletal system, preventive medicine and holistic patient care.

Physicians may work in one or more of several specialties, including, but not limited to, anesthesiology, family and general medicine, general internal medicine, general pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, psychiatry and surgery. (From the online Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-2011).

Students typically attend medical school after completing a baccalaureate degree; most medical schools require a baccalaureate degree as part of their admissions requirements. M.D. programs are (four years), and students follow medical school with three or more years in residency (specialized clinical training).

Academic Guidelines

Competition for places in medical school is keen, and admissions committees are able to choose from among many talented students. The mean cumulative GPA for the entering 2011 class at Colleges of Medicine was 3.76 and the science mean was 3.73. Students whose academic records fall well below the averages are unlikely to be accepted to medical school.

Non-Academic Guidelines

Important non-academic factors include good moral character, excellent interpersonal skills, a deep commitment to health care, evidence of leadership potential and service to others. Successful applicants will likely have volunteered or worked in a health care setting with patient contact, job shadowed a physician, participated in organizations that serve others, taken advantage of leadership opportunities and learned how to conduct research and work independently.

UIC Medicine Admissions Profile 2011:

(148 students admitted)

The Application Process

Applications for allopathic medical schools are initiated through the centralized, online American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) (www.aamc.org/students/). Applications for osteopathic medical schools are begun through the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service (AACOMAS) (www.aacom.org). Applications should be submitted in the year proceeding the year for which a student is seeking admission. Since many medical schools (including UI) have rolling admissions, it is in a student's best interest to apply early (after June 1). Students applying to allopathic medical schools should consult the Medical School Admissions Requirements (MSAR), available for purchase online through the AAMC.

Early Decision

The Early Decision Program (EDP) is available at participating medical schools. Applicants interested in applying through EDP to other medical schools should consult the MSAR for availability. EDP is typically more selective than regular admission, with applicants needing very strong academic and non-academic profiles to be competitive.

Diversity in Medicine

Many medical schools seek to recruit a diverse class of students, including students from groups underrepresented in medicine. The AAMC is particularly encouraging African-American, Latino/a, and Native American students, as these populations make up 25 percent of the population, but only 12 percent of medical school graduates. Students may find information and support at www.aspiringdocs.org. Students may also contact their pre-medical advisors, and individual medical schools for more information.

Entrance Examination Requirement (MCAT)

The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is a standardized, computer-based exam and is required for admission to both allopathic (M.D.) and osteopathic (D.O.) program. A new version of the MCAT in 2015 will differ from the current exam in several ways. To determine the MCAT you will be taking (the current exam or the 2015 exam) and the appropriate preparation, please consult with your pre-medical advisor.

Preparation consists of completing the applicable pre-medical courses and then self-study and taking MCAT practice tests or participating in a formal MCAT test preparation course.

Letters of Evaluation/Recommendation

Applicants typically obtain letters from science faculty members, faculty members from the applicant's major department, pre-medical advisors, research supervisors, volunteer coordinators, etc. Many schools require three letters: two academic and one of the student's choice. At least one of the academic letters should be from a science faculty member, and one should be from the student's major department. Some medical schools require two letters from science faculty. Students applying to osteopathic medical schools should plan to have one letter from a D.O.

You can also get a committee letter from the Pre-Health Professional Committee, which will compile two or more of your letters into one letter. This allows you to have more letters speaking on your behalf, because you can submit your committee letter plus two letters from other evaluators. Not all schools will accept committee letters, so make sure that you read the specific guidelines for each school you are applying.


Medical schools usually require personal, on-campus interviews. Interviews vary by school; applicants should check with the schools to which they have applied for the interview timeline

Criminal Background Checks

The AMCAS application asks applicants whether they have a record of felonies or misdemeanors, and this information is then communicated to the medical schools. Students should make careful decisions throughout their undergraduate years, since charges for drug and/or alcohol use or possession, as well as other charges, can have negative consequences for admission. Many medical schools conduct a Criminal Background Check on all admitted students. Students found to have been dishonest on their applications are not admitted.

Citizenship/International Students

Only citizens or permanent residents of the United States are eligible for admission to the most Colleges of Medicine, with the exception of candidates with asylum status. Very few U.S. medical schools admit non-citizens. Since the odds can be challenging, non-citizen students should thoroughly research and carefully consider such a decision and discuss it with their pre-medical advisors early in their undergraduate years.