We’ve written before about BS/MD applications, and what these programs look for in students. Their demands are intense, both in terms of academic achievement, and extracurricular participation. As with regular college admissions, your high school can go a long way towards setting you up for success.
In this article, we’ll look at what BS/MD students should do in high school, in terms of classes and grades. We’ll also look at some high schools which specifically cater to students who are interested in medicine, and cover how they can go above and beyond in aiding your aspirations. Let’s jump in!
Classes and Grades
BS/MD programs expect you to excel academically in high school, even beyond what is expected by top colleges. These programs are set up to be academically rigorous, often with accelerated courses of study. Therefore, admissions officers only want to admit students who have shown they can handle the pressure and still succeed. They determine this based on your performance in high school.
High grades alone are not enough; these must come in challenging courses, usually the most challenging offered by your school (at least in math and science). They want students who are eager for an academic challenge, and who rise to meet the occasion, rather than those who shy away from such difficulties.
In terms of coursework, they want to see that you’ve taken a full load of math and science classes. Biology, chemistry, and physics are all expected, and math through calculus is preferred. You should take these courses at the honors, AP, or IB level if offered.
This can present a problem for some students; not all schools have advanced math options, a solid fraction of US high schools don’t even offer calculus. Many others lack the equipment or resources to offer full lab courses. You are judged in the context of your circumstances, but this is still an additional hurdle when it comes to applications, as your lack of experience can make admissions officers more wary about taking a chance on your application.
Medicine Focused High Schools
Some high schools, however, go far in the opposite direction, and offer advanced science and healthcare related classes to their students. These are often magnet schools in large cities, set up to create the next generation of nurses, doctors, and medical researchers.
Attending one of these schools is not necessary to get into a BS/MD program; we have worked with many students who went on to study medicine who attended their local public school, or a less focused alternative. What these schools do offer is a leg up on knowing the material, and on experience with the lab work and courses you will ordinarily not be exposed to until college.
There are a number of these schools around the country; we don’t have the space to list them all here. Instead, we’ll go through a sampling, and explore what they offer. We should note that though these are generally public magnet schools, they do require applications, as they have limited seats available. What these require depends on the school, but you generally need to already be in the honors track, and have the support of your teachers.
Health and Medicine Focused High Schools
We have organized these alphabetically, for your convenience.
Arthur A. Benjamin Health Professions High School (Sacramento, California)
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AABHPHS was founded as part of Sacramento’s unified school district to address a need for more health care professionals in the community. The school has limited options for AP courses, but offers a large number of work-based learning opportunities, which provide students with hands-on healthcare experience. The goal is for students to be directly ready to enter either college or the workforce upon graduation.
All students in the Sacramento district are eligible to enroll. This requires a transcript and discipline information, along with a meeting with the registrar. There is additional paperwork needed for students transferring from out of district.
DeBakey High School for Health Professions (Houston, Texas)
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DeBakey opened in 1972, as a partnership between the Houston School District and the Baylor School of Medicine. They still maintain close ties with the Texas Medical Center. DeBakey requires that all students take a Health Science Technology (HST) course every year. The average ACT score for students is 31.1, and the average SAT score is 1402.
Admissions to DeBakey are highly competitive. Students must apply online through the HISD magnet program. Students must take a math readiness assessment, and must have completed Algebra 1. The deadline for Phase 1 applications is in early November, but you are encouraged to complete an application early, as space is limited.
Health Careers High School (San Antonio, Texas)
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Opened in 1984, HCHS is part of the Northside Independent School DIstrict, and is a magnet school, serving students throughout the district. The school serves around 900 students, and offers numerous health-related electives to supplement a more standard high school curriculum. They have internship partnerships with several areas hospitals and universities, to help students gain hands-on experience in medicine.
Students need to live in the school district to attend. Interested students with a C average are eligible to apply; this application requires an essay. All eligible students are then entered into a lottery for admission to the school. Admission is somewhat competitive, as many students wish to attend.
High School for Health Professions and Human Services (Manhattan, New York)
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A public magnet high school in NYC, HPHS strives to prepare students for careers in health professions using intensive curriculums. Advanced students have the option to conduct research beginning in their sophomore year, and can earn credits from Syracuse University upon completion of a three-year research project. While there are limited AP classes offered, they have a number of honors courses, and hands-on experiences in health fields, including certification as a Medical Assistant.
As HPHS is a magnet high school, all students in the city are eligible to attend. Students follow one of two application pathways, depending on whether their current average in school is a 75+ or 85+. Students interested in applying should attend an open house. Since HPHS is a public school, there is no cost to attend.
High School for Medical Professions (Brooklyn, New York)
Opened in 2011, HSMP is a public school run by the New York City school system. It enrolls students in grades 9-12, and offers an advanced curriculum in math and science. While they offer a limited number of AP courses, courses are all taught at a high level. The school requires all students to complete 50 hours of volunteering before they graduate.
Admissions to the school is done through the standard lottery process governing high school admissions in New York. This is quite competitive, as it is for all of the specialized high schools in the system.
South Texas ISD Health Professions (Mercedes, Texas)
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Drawing students from Cameron, Hidalgo, and Willacy counties, this magnet school offers free bus services to all students in their region who are admitted. The curriculum is quite rigorous, with numerous opportunities for hands-on learning, and partnerships with the Baylor College of Medicine and Valley Baptist Medical Center. Students are expected to graduate with a certificate in either a health field or business, including EMT certification, Nursing Assistant, and EKG Technician.
All students living in the served counties are eligible to apply for admission, and applications are handled on a first-come, first served basis. While the school practices open enrollment, they have a limited number of seats for students. Applications must be submitted online. There are no testing requirements for the application.
Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (Alexandria, Virginia)
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While it is not focused on Medicine specifically, TJ is considered the best public school in the country, and its skill at preparing students for all fields of science are well known. All courses are offered at an advanced level, and all seniors are required to complete a technical laboratory project before they graduate. Students are afforded many opportunities to complete research as well.
Admissions to the school is quite competitive. It is a public magnet school, enrolling students from throughout Fairfax County. Students must have completed Algebra I in 8th grade and have a 3.5 GPA to be eligible for TJ. Students must apply online, this requires an application form, a problem solving essay, and acknowledgement form your school on math proficiency. Each public school in Fairfax county is allocated seats equal to 1.5% of their student population, remaining seats are available at large. 550 students are accepted in each round of admissions. All applications are considered holistically. Applications open in October, and are due in November.
Some of these schools focus more on preparing students for an immediate entry into the field of medicine, while others focus more on college prep with an additional healthcare supplement. All are likely to offer something to students interested in careers in medicine which they could not find at other high schools, especially in the form of hands-on experiences and internship partnerships.
As we said at the beginning, you do not have to attend one of these high schools (or another similar to them) in order to go on to be a premed or apply to a BS/MD program; instead we want you to be aware of the options available to you. If you are concerned about your own path through high school, and want to hear how we can help you, schedule a free consultation today. We’re always happy to hear from you!