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Why You Should Look Into Guaranteed Admissions Programs

A young woman with light skin and blond hair sits at a desk in a lab wearing safety glasses, a lab coat, and blue gloves.

This post is from a student, parent, or professional contributor. The opinions expressed by the author are their own and do not necessarily reflect the positions, viewpoints, or policies of Niche.

Since I was in high school, I have had my eyes set on becoming a physician. I loved the teamwork aspect and the idea of working with a group of people passionate about finding solutions.

I loved what I had to study – the functions of the cell and the structure of the bones. I loved the trust patients had for me and how it would grow as I continued to get more experienced and more knowledgeable.

I could go on forever. If you could also go on forever about your passion for this field, I encourage you to look into programs that allow you to gain admission into medical school before graduating high school.

These programs go by a variety of names such as early assurance, guaranteed admissions, or BS/MD programs. In summary, they allow for students to gain preliminary acceptance into medical school assuming they meet the individual program’s minimum requirements.

This can range from GPA to MCAT scores to clinical hours to course requirements. These programs are fantastic for high school students who are dedicated and ready to commit to medicine. 

I applied to 5 of these types of programs. I ended up getting two interviews and 1 alternate spot in a program, and I chose not to interview for one program because I had already made my college decision.

I did not receive an interview for Virginia Commonwealth’s Guaranteed Admission Program, Temple University’s Pre-Med Health Scholar Program, and Case Western’s Pre-Professional Scholars Program.

I received the alternate spot for East Carolina University’s Early Assurance Program and an interview for Howard University’s BS/MD Program. I ultimately choose not to interview because of Howard’s stricter regulation on a student’s major while in the BS/MD Program and the shorter undergraduate experience. 

Throughout the interview and application, I learned a lot of things that I wish I knew going into the process. For starters, these programs are extremely competitive.

If you are not selected, it does not mean you are not meant to be a physician. In most cases, to be properly prepared for these programs, you needed to know early in high school that you wanted a career in medicine.

You needed to spend your high school career shadowing, volunteering, serving your community, taking advanced science and math classes, maximizing your standardized test scores, and maybe even doing research.

You needed time to show your dedication to medicine. I was underprepared for the process but gave the applications my best shot regardless. If you are passionate about medicine, I recommend trying these programs regardless. You never know!

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I focused on talking about my time in a healthcare administration role, my passion for music therapy, and my dedication to continuing my education through online courses. I had taken four advanced placement science and math courses through high school but supplemented them through online courses on health and technology innovation, the future of the ob-gyn, and public health.

I developed passions outside of medicine such as mentorship, education, and writing, which I think helped because of their relevance in medicine. A lot of my essays were less about saving lives and more about being a role model for other minority women interested in medicine.

These things certainly didn’t make me a fit for every program, but I think they matched the values of some. 

When considering these programs, consider what you are giving up. For me, I was not ready to give up two years of undergraduate study for Howard’s BS/MD Program.

Their program was 2 years of undergraduate and 4 years of medical school. They also required you to be a biology or chemistry major and do extensive summer coursework. I was not ready to give up my other academic interests such as writing, public health, or African-American history.

I did not know enough about any of the medical schools I applied to. I also knew there was a chance I would be interested in different medical schools or taking gap years to earn a master’s and not all programs offered the flexibility I needed. I was not ready, and that is okay.

If you are ready, here are some things to consider. You will want to have a strong academic record to prove you are ready for the rigorous academic journey, particularly if the program requires an accelerated undergraduate education.

You’ll want to have the experience to prove you know what you are getting into, whether this is shadowing or volunteering, or working as a nurse aid or EMT. You may also want to consider joining clubs or organizations that help you demonstrate your passion for science and medicine, such as HOSA, Science Olympiad, or Biology Bowl.

I doubt there is a right way to prepare, but these things are a good start. Most importantly, you will need a reason why. A reason that will drive you through the hard nights, the endless hours, and the poor compensation.

Presenting a reason that is more than just money, parental pressure, or because you like helping people will make you a great candidate for these programs. Even if it does not earn you a spot, it will make you a great physician, which is the ultimate goal anyway.

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Author: Lauryn Taylor

I am a current freshman at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill majoring in global health and the environment with a minor in medicine, literature, and culture. I am on the pre-med track and hope to become an OB-GYN. Throughout undergrad, I am hoping to study abroad, explore public health, and conduct research! In my free time, I love to write, go to art and music festivals, and spend time with friends.