Growing specialties, and advice on how to get into medical school

| April 22, 2009
Thinking about medical school?

Smart Choices

General Surgery. The proliferation of HMOs was tough on general surgeons. But a growing shortage in both urban and rural markets is creating new demand for their skills, says Dana Christian Lynge, associate professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. So is the relentless aging of the boomers, which is also driving demand in cardiology, urology, gastroenterology, and orthopedics.

Insider Tip

Debt has long been the downside of going to med school, but some institutions are tackling the problem with serious cash. The Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine is waiving tuition for all future students who practice medicine and conduct research in primary care or any specialty. The University of Central Florida, which paid all tuition and living expenses for the incoming class at its new med school, is raising money for 120 more full scholarships. The Mayo Clinic is waiving 50 percent of tuition to all who are admitted (some can get more). Harvard, Yale, and Stanford also offer big tuition breaks for students from middle-income families.

Getting In

First Steps. You may not be a medical student yet, but you'll want to visit the website of the American Medical Student Association. Go to for loads of premed offerings, including nationwide chapters for doctor wannabes, conferences, and internship and advocacy opportunities. AMSA also provides opportunities for career development and other benefits for its premed members.

Required Reading. You can't take the Medical College Admission Test without certifying that you've read about it first, so look for "MCAT Essentials" at The exam is computer based and is offered nationwide. About 60,000 people take it every year; exam dates (25, between January and September) are chosen to meet most med school application deadlines. Already taken it? Schools generally accept scores dating back two or three years.

Reality Check

  • Median in-state tuition at med school (public): $24,809; out of state: $43,543
  • Median resident tuition (private): $43,481; nonresident: $43,897
  • In '08, more than 15,242 med school seniors bid for their residencies; more than 84% got one of their top three choices
  • Average annual starting salaries: urology, $261,000; orthopedic surgery, $256,000; general surgery, $226,000
  • Share of female med school grads in '08: 49%
  • Reality Check Sources: National Residency Matching Program; Allied Physicians; Association of American Medical Colleges

Category: General Healthcare News

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