Consider Size When Choosing a Medical School

Getting into medical school is a rigorous, yearslong process, but more people are doing it.

Enrollment at medical schools has increased by 25 percent since 2002, the Association of American Medical Colleges announced last month.

In the last few years, more M.D. and D.O. schools have opened ​in the U.S.​​, giving aspiring doctors more options​. Schools vary when it comes to things like hands-on learning opportunities and curriculum, but one aspect of the learning environment that can really impact a student’s experience is size.

Some schools have about 400 students, while others teach more than 1,000. Medical school applicants who are on the fence about which size is best for them can consider the learning environment that’s often associated with a small, midsize or large school.

[Learn how an increase in medical school enrollment across the U.S. affects applicants.]

Small schools can give students the “Cheers” effect: Everybody knows your name.

“It’s very family oriented,” says Joseph Kim, a 26-year-old student at the University of California—Davis School of Medicine​, which has a relatively small student body​. The faculty and administration, he says, are available all the time.

“We get a lot of attention and a lot of support if we need it,” says Kim, who’s in his third year.

About 110 new students start each year at the medical school, says Julie Freischlag, vice chancellor of human health sciences and dean of the school of medicine

Students at UC—Davis may have smaller classes than those at larger institutions. “We see them and get to know them better,” she says. “No one will get overlooked.”

A small school can have its drawbacks, however. Bigger schools can mean more opportunities.

Read more: Consider Size When Choosing a Medical School

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