Medical schools, just like colleges, law schools and MBA programs, can vary widely. The difference between top and bottom medical schools can be like day and night. Given this huge diversity, applicants must then ask themselves, “What makes a good medical school?”Some applicants are too late in realizing that a good medical school not only relies on reputation. If you are just looking for a medical degree and just want to practice medicine, you don’t probably need to have a John Hopkins diploma. It is not really necessary if you just want to be an average doctor. However, if you plan to be a researcher and eventually head a research department, then a prestigious diploma can certainly enhance your competitive advantage. You need to balance your modest ambitions with the level of competition you are going to face. So, what makes a medical school a good institution?
Great balance between theory and clinical/practical work
This is non-negotiable. Some schools tend to focus more on theory and latest research, which could be great if your career trajectory is to practice medicine on a commercial basis. However, if your career trajectory is to the opposite direction then the cutting edge technology of that institution may not fit for you. It might be better to just forego these schools so that you can look for less competitive schools. Less competition can be great but still look for the balance between theory and practice. Make sure that the school you are considering has a good clinical program.
Quality of instruction
It is one thing for an institution to have a large database of research and a large number of students, another to have these elements plus an emphasis on teaching. Some medical schools tend to focus on the aspect of research and theory and spend less time on the actual quality of teaching. You have to do your legwork and check which medical schools make it a point to effectively teach students that maximizes absorption. These schools actually still make it a point to include theory but emphasizes on practical instructions. A key element of this is how many lab classes are involved.
Schools may have the best teachers and great database but if they don’t have adequate equipment to teach their students with then students are facing a great disadvantage. Try to tour the medical school you are interested in, see how the laboratories look like and check for proper equipments available for optimal learning. Remember that medicine is a very tool-dependent science. So make sure that the medical school you are applying to has the right equipment to give you proper medical training.
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