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Educational Pathway

After completing an Associate of Arts and Sciences Degree with a major in Science Specialization: Pre-Medical, you will continue your pre-medical study by transferring to a four year school. Medical schools prefer candidates to have a bachelor’s degree. You can declare a major in any subject at the four year school to obtain a Bachelor of Science Degree which will require an additional two years of college. Your chosen major does not determine your success in being accepted to a medical school.

After being accepted it will typically take four years to be awarded a Medical Degree (M.D.) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) which does not include a residency which may take from three to eight years.
Early in your academic career you will need to research some of the medical schools you are interested in attending in order to insure you will meet all their criteria for admission.

The commonly accepted coursework requirements for medical school include a minimum of 1 year of:
General Biology, Physics, General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry with lab, English, Mathematics – Calculus and Statistics, Social Sciences – Psychology and Sociology

Some basic factors are:

  • Good undergraduate grades (overall GPA of 3.5)
  • Test scores (MCAT®) which are very important
  • True interest in profession as demonstrated by shadowing or volunteering in the field
  • Exceptional communication and listening skills
  • Strong reference letters from professionals who know your character, as well as, your work ethic

What is the MCAT®?

It is the Medical College Admission Test. It is a standardized test taken by students who are applying to medical schools. It will be similar to the ACT® or SAT®. It is a standardized examination that consists of four sections: Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems; Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems; Psychological, Social and Biological Foundations of Behavior; Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills. Its purpose is to test the skills and knowledge that medical educators and physicians have identified as key prerequisites for success in medical school and the practice of medicine.

The classes taken during your two years at SWCC are the foundation for the MCAT®.

Important qualities for medical doctors

As in other health-related occupations, empathy, understanding and the desire to help others are good qualities for dealing effectively with patients. Motivation, maturity, compassion, leadership, and integrity are also needed. The student must like learning math, science and be a lifelong learner.

Is medicine for you?

The student should shadow physicians and ask questions about the profession. Physicians diagnose and care for people of all ages who are ill or have been injured. They take medical histories, perform physical examinations, conduct diagnostic tests, recommend and provide treatment, and advise patients on their overall health and well-being.

Medical Schools

There are 141 medical schools and 30 osteopathic schools in the United States.


Dr. Ryan Richardson, College of Osteopathic Medicine
After receiving his A.A. & S. degree in Science at SWCC, Dr. Joseph Ryan Richardson graduated from UVA in Charlottesville with a B.S. in Biochemistry.

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