Med School Uncensored

The Insider’s Guide to Surviving Admissions, Exams, Residency, and Sleepless Nights in the Call Room

Online Resources for Pre-Meds, Med Students, and Residents

 

Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) is a non-profit organization whose membership comprises all accredited U.S. and Canadian medical schools. This website is designed primarily for pre-medical and medical students. There is a great deal of information about preparing for med school, applying, what to expect if accepted, and preparing for residency.

The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is administered by the aforementioned AAMC and is the behemoth standardized exam required for admission to virtually all American and Canadian medical schools.  You can learn details about and register for the exam on the AAMC website.

Surprise, surprise!  The AAMC also administers the online, centralized medical school application processing service called the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS).  If you’re applying to med school, you will definitely need to become familiar with this application service—and eventually pay its hefty fees, and the AAMC website is the place to accomplish these things.

The Student Doctor Network (SDN) is a non-profit, online forum with discussion areas of interest to pre-meds, med students, residents, and practicing physicians.  Like most online forums, anybody with Internet access can provide “expert” advice—the value of which varies greatly.  For example, if you are a pre-med reading SDN forums, there is no reason to assume another equally naïve pre-med is infinitely wiser about the process of getting into med school.  Take all information with a grain of salt.

Once accepted to medical school, one of the next big hurdles is preparing for and taking the four steps of the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE).  Visit their website for the latest dates, prices, exam outlines, and other important information.

Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) is the residency equivalent of AMCAS: an online, centralized service for applying to medical residencies.  You will get to know this service—and its hefty fees—quite well as you prepare for the final stages of medical training.  NRMP and ERAS work together in operating the annual Residency Match program.

This is the official website of the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME), the non-profit group that oversees American medical licensing, as well as administration of the USMLE.  This can be a useful supplement to the USMLE website for students navigating the gauntlet of medical boards.

The osteopathic equivalent of the USMLE is the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (COMLEX-USA).  Visit this website for information about the D.O. medical student’s licensing exam.

The National Resident Matching Program (NRMP), commonly referred to as “the Match,” is a non-profit organization that was established in 1952 at the request of medical students, charged with the task of facilitating a fair, orderly process by which medical students are matched into residency programs.  A visit to this website is required for virtually everyone seeking admission to residency programs.  There is also a great deal of useful data and statistics on this website, including the Charting Outcomes in the Match document that is typically published every couple years and provides the most accurate picture of each specialty’s competitiveness.

Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) is the residency equivalent of AMCAS: an online, centralized service for applying to medical residencies.  You will get to know this service—and its hefty fees—quite well as you prepare for the final stages of medical training.  NRMP and ERAS work together in operating the annual Residency Match program.

A small number of residencies and fellowship programs use the San Francisco Match as an alternative to the more commonly used ERAS matching service.

The American Medical Association is a well-known professional society representing American physicians.  Their website has a great deal of information, but of particular interest to medical students and young physicians is this fairly thorough document presenting some of the most common ways to finance a medical education.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the place to go to inquire about the most popular government student loan options for medical students, administered by the U.S. Department of Education.  These are most definitely loans and not scholarships (which do not have to be paid back), but in general loans from the federal government offer better terms and rates than those obtained privately.  Virtually no medical student paying for any portion of their medical education escapes without involvement with FAFSA.

Meet Earnest is one of a few commercial services that specializes in reconsolidating professional student loans at lower interest rates than are currently offered by the federal government. Specific rates vary depending on the size of your loan, how quickly you are able to pay it off, and whether you elect to have a variable or fixed interest rate. One word of caution: loans issued by FASFA no longer go away with your death if you reconsolidate. If you choose this option and have a family, make sure you have enough life insurance to absorb remaining debt so it is not inherited by your spouse or children. (Full disclosure: I use this service and have been very pleased with it. The link above is my referral code, and using it when you sign up will earn you an automatic $200!)

Information about starting practice as a physician is much harder to find—and is much more variable and dependent upon each individual’s chosen specialty.  However, one question that frequently comes up when considering jobs is what to expect for salaries and benefits for each specialty in various parts of the country.  There is a ton of useless, inaccurate information related to this topic.  In particular, I would be very wary of anything you read in lay publications and magazines.

Each year, the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) publishes myriad practice surveys with detailed salary and benefit information, organized by region, specialty, and practice type.  The data are not free (though some simple answers can be found with a bit of online sleuthing), but this is really the definitive source for accurate answers to these questions.

The White Coat Investor is a privately run website that includes a variety of articles and resources targeted to newly practicing physicians.  Topics include managing investments, loan repayment and reconsolidation, disability and life insurance, and saving for retirement.

The Association of American Medical Colleges website has a nice section discussing some common alternative career paths for physicians.  Categories include public health, government, journalism, informatics, research, and consulting.

 Copyright 2016 Richard Beddingfield