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A medical student using ultrasound technology with their supervisor present

Medicine is the science or practice of the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of diseases. Physicians can choose to become an MD, DO, or ND. Allopathic medical school (MD) has a scientific focus on the diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions, an osteopathic medical school (DO) emphasizes a whole-person approach to treatment and care, whereas a naturopathic medical school (ND) combines the wisdom of nature with the rigors of modern science.

What does a Physician do?

  • Assesses symptoms, diagnoses, and treats patients for all sorts of ailments
  • Prescribe medications and provides follow up care
  • Can specialize in a specific area of medicine like surgery, pediatrics, or obstetrics
  • Conducts medical research

Please note that Idaho State University does not have a medical program, however Idaho State University is a great institution to attend for preparing to apply to medical schools. Additionally, ISU has partnered with, and continues to work closely with WWAMI, ICOM, and UUSOM.

Students looking to be admitted into medical school need to complete a bachelor's degree before being admitted to medical school. Students are not limited to a specific major area when pursuing a bachelor's degree. The following courses are common prerequisites for medical schools, however you should check individual programs for their specific requirements. We also recommend checking with individual programs to see if they accept online, advanced placement, or community college credits. See a Pre-Health Advisor for assistance with course planning.

Prerequisite Courses:



ISU Course

General Biology I & II and Labs

8 credits

BIOL 1101, 1101L, 1102, 1102L

Cell Biology and Lab

4 credits

BIOL 2206, 2207


3 credits

BIOL 4432

General Chemistry I & II and Labs

9 credits

CHEM 1111, 1111L, 1112, 1112L

Organic Chemistry I & II and Labs

8 credits

CHEM 3301, 3303, 3302, 3304

General Physics I & II and Labs

8 credits

PHYS 1111, 1113, 1112, 1114

English Composition

6 credits

ENGL 1101, 1102

Additional Suggested Courses



ISU Course


3 credits

BIOL 3358


3 credits

PSYC 1101


3 credits

SOC 1101

Additional upper division Biology courses

Additional Humanities and Social Sciences

Other science and social science courses can be beneficial to pre-medical students, but they are not required. 

The average GPAs of matriculants into MD schools are:

  • Science GPA: 3.67
  • Overall GPA: 3.74

The average GPAs of matriculants into DO schools are:

  • Science GPA: 3.47
  • Overall GPA: 3.56

Check individual schools to determine what a competitive GPA is for their program. 

We recommend keeping a record of all extracurricular activities. Be sure to track contact information for supervisors and physicians you work with or shadow, and write reflections on each activity. The Pre-Health Extracurricular Tracker can help with this and is found under the resources tab.

Patient Care Experience

Direct patient care like as a CNA, phlebotomist, or medical scribe makes you an attractive and prepared applicant. Working with actual patients gives you relevant experience and insight into what treating people is really like.

Shadowing Physicians

Shadowing physicians helps you understand what the profession is actually like. The more shadowing and experience you can get with physicians the more attractive of an applicant you become. We recommend shadowing at least one MD and one DO so you can compare the differences in two. For more information, see the Shadowing Guide.

Community Service

Demonstrating commitment and care for your community shows dedication and compassion, which are attractive traits in the health professions.


Research makes you a more attractive applicant. This may be more important for some schools than others. See a pre-health advisor for help in finding research opportunities.


Leadership in any setting will make you stand out from other applicants by showing you are actively preparing for your future in your career and community as well as showing that you are a strong member of a team.


Curiosity is an important trait for an aspiring physician. Show interest in the field, in current practices, evidence based medicine, the interprofessional approach to healthcare, etc.


  • Capacity for Improvement
  • Cultural Competence
  • Ethical Responsibility to Self and Others
  • Oral Communication
  • Reliability and Dependability
  • Resilience and Adaptability
  • Service Orientation 
  • Social Skills
  • Teamwork
  • Human Behavior
  • Living Systems
  • Critical Thinking
  • Quantitative Reasoning
  • Scientific Inquiry 
  • Written Communication 

AAMC Core Competencies Resources

A personal statement is a written description of your achievements, interests, and motivations as part of an application to a graduate program. Personal statements should answer the questions “Why did I choose medicine?” and ”What motivates me?” You should begin writing your personal statement three to six months before your application process. For more information, see the Personal Statement Guide.

The Pre-Health Advising Office offers to compile a letter packet for students' applications. This is different than a committee letter as our office does not participate in committee letters. For questions regarding our letter packet services, please email hlthprof@isu.edu.

Letters of Recommendation are an essential part of your application to any medical school. Most schools will require letters of recommendation, check with the individual programs for letter requirements. At least one letter should come from a physician and at least one from a science professor. You should avoid asking family members, clergy/bishops, and lab instructors for a letter of recommendation. Letters will be submitted to the application system and then sent to schools you apply to. If you are applying to more than one system, like AMCAS and AACOMAS, you will need to upload your letters to each system separately. For more information, see the Letters of Recommendation Guide. Consult your pre-health advisor if you have any further questions.

Before applying, ensure that you are researching schools and making sure they fit your needs and wants.


Choose DO

Applications are generally submitted 12-15 months before your desired enrollment date.

Applying to medical school can be reduced down to these essential steps:

The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)

The MCAT is the test required for admission into medical schools. The test is administered from January through September. Take the MCAT once you have completed the necessary coursework, ideally about a year before attending medical school. The average MCAT score for matriculants into MD schools was 511.9 in the 2021-2022 academic year. The average MCAT score for matriculants into DO schools was 504.64 in 2021. Check with individual programs to determine what is a competitive score.

The AAMC website has the most up-to-date information and some helpful resources.

Primary Application

You will generally submit your primary application through AMCAS or AACOMAS. The Texas Application System is TMDSAS. Primary applications generally open up around May, begin accepting submissions in June, and deadlines will vary from school to school but are generally due from October to March. Your application, regardless of the system, will include your MCAT score, transcripts, extracurriculars, personal statement, and letters of recommendation. Remember to read all the instructions given to you, and submit only when your application is the best it can be!

Secondary Applications

Once schools receive primary applications, they will send out secondary applications. It is important to look into individual programs, and follow their instructions carefully. They often require one or more additional essays, or will ask you to list specific experiences in a given format. Some schools send secondary applications to all students, and some send secondary applications only to screened applicants and most secondary applications are sent with a fee attached. This is a good time to prioritize applications. You are not obligated to complete a secondary application.


Programs may invite you to interview with them. This often indicates you are an applicant of interest, and they want to get to know you better. Most medical schools hold interview days, where they bring in a group of applicants for the whole day to participate in a variety of activities related to the school and your application. For more information, see the Interview Guide.

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