The Med School Admissions Puzzle--What Do We Really Look For

Applying to medical school can be a difficult and emotionally draining process. ”Am I good enough?”, “Did I score high enough on my MCAT?” “Is the GPA I earned in my science courses high enough to get me in the consideration pool?”

As Director of Admissions here at Medical University of the Americas, I know well the anxieties that today’s applicants wrestle with as they embark on the process of looking for a fit with the right medical school.

Let me tell you a bit about how we approach the admissions process here at MUA:

We now have nearly 20 years of experience in looking at med students. And there’s a truism that I think every med school admissions director knows, but may not want to acknowledge: having a stellar GPA and a fabulous MCAT are not necessarily predictive of what it takes to become a great physician. (There is interesting research to back this up.)

That’s why when we look at applicants to MUA, we take a very holistic approach. Yes, we look at GPAs and MCAT scores, but we look at them to tell us not just how much you know, but also how serious you are about becoming a physician. We see them as one piece of a puzzle.

There is no question that med school is one of the most demanding academic experiences anywhere. If you don’t positively relish the idea of hitting the books every night and being tested over and over, it may not be for you. But one of the big things that the medical professional has grappled with in recent years is the realization that, as difficult and demanding as med school is, it’s really just the start of your journey as a physician. It’s not the end of your learning process—it’s the beginning. Are you the kind of person who is willing to constantly explore and be surprised? Who will make the commitment to being a life-long learner? We want to know that.

Also, do you take communication seriously and are you prepared to devote the time and effort to becoming a good communicator? There was once a time when developing an effective bedside matter was seen as being unimportant, something you might get to long after you mastered anatomy. Not any more. Here at MUA, as in most top medical schools, we have changed our curriculum in recent years in part to incorporate far more emphasis on the diagnostic and clinical skills that are critical to a successful physician-patient relationship.

Finally, what can your actions as a person today tell us about the physician you will be tomorrow?

Are you a responsible, and trusted member of your community? Have you displayed integrity in your work, and your relationships with others? Have you shown a commitment to service, a selflessness through the community service you have performed or other areas of leadership that speak to your willingness to contribute to society? How motivated are you to become a doctor, and do you persevere through tough times?

Lastly, have you displayed a desire to be a doctor through work you have undertaken (volunteer or paid)? What has led you to this very important decision?
Yes, demonstrated aptitude is important when applying to MUA…but so is who you are as a person and how you will contribute to the MUA community, and the larger world of medicine when you graduate.

At MUA, we believe great physicians can take many forms, and while GPAs, MCATs and other tangible measurements are valuable, they alone can’t tell you whether an individual is going to be a great physician.


Get in touch for more information

Explore other categories

Latest blogs

How to Succeed in Medical School

Careers and residencies

One of the most important things you can do in medical school is to learn how to study efficiently. You will have a lot of coursework and material.

Read more
Tips for succeeding in medical school

A guide to writing a medical school personal statement

Careers and residencies

If you are like most prospective medical students, you would have spent a significant part of your life preparing to submit a personal statement.

Read more
How to write a personal statement for medical school?

How to get a successful residency match

Student life Careers and residencies

Residency placements are decided during the match process on what is referred to as ‘Match Day’ and mark an important point for every medical student

Read more
Residency Match

MUA at ICEF Dubai 2022

Business and industry insights

On Monday 7 to Thursday 10 February, MUA participated at ICEF Dubai 2022, to further elevate their commitment to growth and expansion.

Read more
MUA at ICEF Dubai 2022

What is hematology and what does a hematologist do?

Careers and residencies

Hematologists are internal medicine doctors who specialize in disorders related to blood and the lymphatic system.

Read more
What does a hematologist do?

How to become an Endocrinologist?

Careers and residencies

Endocrinology is the study of hormonal glands and the diseases and disorders that affect them.

Read more
How to become an endocrinologist?

How to become a pediatrician?

Careers and residencies

Discover pediatric medicine and how to become a pediatrician, with average salary information and how you can start your pediatric medicine journey

Read more
What is a pediatrician?

How to become a psychiatrist?

Careers and residencies

Learn about the critical role of psychiatrists, as well as how long it takes to become one and average salary data for psychiatrists in the US.

Read more
What is a psychiatrist and how do they differ from psychologists?

How to become an ER doctor

Careers and residencies

If you are thinking about a career in emergency medicine, MUA’s guide can help you make a decision.

Read more
How to become an emergency medicine doctor?

How to become a sports medicine doctor?

Careers and residencies

Sports medicine physicians treat sports related injuries in both athletes and nonathletes.

Read more
How to become a sports medicine physician?

How to prepare for your residency interview

Careers and residencies

Are you preparing for your residency interview? Read MUA’s guide on how to prepare and what questions to ask.

Read more
How to prepare for your residency interview?

What is a vascular surgeon?

Careers and residencies

If you are interested in vascular surgery and want to discover more about what a vascular surgeon does, MUA’s guide is here to answer your questions.

Read more
What is a vascular surgeon and what do they do?
Back to top