Strategies for Gaining Medical School Admission

As members of the admissions committee, students consider us keepers of the gates. This is not true — the keepers are you; it’s in your hands. I wouldn’t want to take away from anyone the dream of going into medicine; and the conviction that desire will lead to success more than natural ability or who you are, where you are, or any other circumstances. It is the desire that will lead you to success — and that’s what getting into medical school is about. It’s about successes, triumphs, and stick to-it-tiveness through your pre-medical careers. Wanting it isn’t enough at this point. Desire is what gets you there.

We are looking for achievement - excelling and sticking to it. The poor candidate is the candidate who comes in and says that they tried to get into dental school and couldn’t, so now they’re trying medical school. That’s not stick-to-it-tiveness; that’s not desire; and that’s not diligence. That’s a need for love, or a need to thrill your father, or something. What ever that is, it’s not what we’re looking for. Every candidate is unique. Some of that uniqueness enhances that application, some of that uniqueness detracts for that application. You have to have a good sense, to know yourself.

Also, a medical school applicant is a different commodity in different places and there are a number of strategies for entering medical school. In New York there are 50 applicants per spot; and that’s just people who complete the application process. It doesn’t count pre-med students who don’t apply. In Texas it’s 2:1. In Montana or North Dakota it’s close to1:1. There is some strategy there. Honestly evaluate your own candidacy and think about your desire and your priorities. As a New York state resident to get into medical school, you must be 1 of 50. California is another state like New York. If you for example graduate undergrad, went to North Dakota, worked as a lab technician, got state residency there and applied, the likelihood of your getting in would be considerably higher than in a New York state school. So a candidate who is not as strong in one state may turn out to be a very strong candidate in a different position; and it may be nothing more than population differences.

In a strategy to obtain your goals, I encourage you to be honest with yourselves, and clear thinking. Place yourself in a position where you have a good likelihood of success. Put as much on your side as you can. If you really have your heart set on being a physician, and you have worked as hard as you can on your undergraduate degree devoted to that idea but you’re not 1 in 50 in NY state, then do not allow yourself to simply be overwhelmed and devastated by the system in one state. Take up residency where you can achieve your goals.

Here is some more information on in state acceptance rates.

Questions, Comments, Suggestions?

For more information about pre-health professions advisement at SUNY Plattsburgh, please contact

Donald Slish
Pre-Health Professions Advisory Committee Chairperson
Office: Hudson Hall 325
Phone: (518) 564-5160