31 Questions You Can Ask
In January 1992, the Organization of Student Representatives of the Association of American Medical Colleges complied a list of questions that medical students had asked when they interviewed at various medical schools. Even though the questions are specific to medical schools, many of the questions may also be appropriate for those of you who are considering dentistry, veterinary medicine, optometry, and other health careers.
- Are there any special programs for which this school is noted?
- Describe this school's curriculum in the preclinical and clinical years. Are there any innovations, like Problem-Based Learning?
- Are there opportunities for students to design, conduct, and publish their own research?
- Is there a note-taking service? If so, is it university-run or student-run?
- Is there flexibility in the coursework (the number of electives) and the timing of the courses (accelerating, decelerating, and time off) during the pre-clinical and clinical years?
- Has this medical school, or any of its clinical departments, been on probation or had its accreditation revoked?
- How do students from this medical school perform on the national board examinations? How does this school assist students who do not pass?
- How are students evaluated academically?
- Is there a formal mechanism in place for students to evaluate their professors and attending physicians? What changes have been made recently as a result of this feedback?
- What kind of academic, personal, financial, and career counseling is available to students? Are these services also offered to their spouses and dependents/children?
- Is there a mentor/advisor system? Who are the advisors — faculty members, other students, or both?
- How diverse is the student body? Are there support services or organizations for ethnic minorities and women?
- Tell me about the library and extracurricular facilities (i.e., housing and athletic/recreational facilities).
- Are there computer facilities available to students? Are they integrated into the curriculum/learning?
- What type of clinical sites — ambulatory, private preceptors, private hospitals, rural settings — are available or required for clerkships? Does this school allow for students to do rotations at other institutions or internationally?
- Is a car necessary for clinical rotations? Is parking a problem?
- What is the current tuition and fees? Is this expected to increase yearly? If so, at what rate?
- Are there stable levels of federal financial aid and substantial amounts of university/medical school endowment aid available to students?
- Are there students who have an "unmet need" factor in their budget? If so, where do these students come up with the extra funds?
- Are spouses and dependents/children covered in a student's budget?
- Is someone available to assist students with budgeting and financial planning?
- Does this school provide guidance to its students, and to its graduates/alumni, on debt management?
- What medical school committees (e.g., curriculum committee) have student representation?
- Are students involved in (required or voluntary) community service?
- How active is the student council/government? Are there other student organizations?
- Is there an established protocol for dealing with student exposure to infectious diseases? Is disability insurance provided to cover this exposure?
- Does this school provide, or does the student pay for, vaccinations against hepatitis B or prophylactic AZT treatment in case of a needle-stick or accident?
- Is there a school honor code? Is there a grievance process/procedure? Are the students involved?
- May I see a list of residency programs to which this school's recent graduates were accepted?
Questions to ask yourself
- Does this school have strengths in the type of medicine (primary versus specialized care, urban versus rural practice environment, academic medicine versus private practice) that I will want to practice?
- Would I be happy at this school (for at least the next four years)?