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Pre-Allopathic Medicine at UH Mānoa

Text compiled from the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) website,
the American Medical Association (AMA) website, NAAHP’s Medical Professions Admission Guide,
the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) website, UHM’s JABSOM website, and the UHM 2016-2017 Catalog.

Allopathic Medicine Programs in Hawai`i: UH Mānoa John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM)

Field Description

Medical doctors, or physicians, are highly trained healthcare professionals who perform medical examinations, diagnose illnesses, prescribe drugs, and treat patients suffering from injury or disease using a variety of techniques.

About one-third of the nation’s physicians are generalists, or “primary care” doctors, although that percentage is declining as more physicians choose to become specialists. Generalists include fields such as internists, family physicians, and pediatricians. Specialists focus on a particular disease, system, or part of the body; examples include neurologists, oncologists, and cardiologists, to name only a few.

Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Article: Choosing a Medical Career


Work Setting:

Physicians serve in all types of communities, from rural to inner city, and in a wide variety of settings, from private practice to clinics and hospitals. They also work in specialized settings, such as homeless shelters, schools, sports programs, prisons, nursing homes, developing countries, and the armed forces. Physicians also serve in research, studying and developing new treatments for disease, in academia, sharing their skills by educating medical students, in health organizations, pharmaceutical companies, medical technology manufacturing, health insurance companies, and in corporations with health and safety programs.

Related Careers: physician assistant, nursing, medical technician, dentistry, optometry, veterinary medicine, pharmacy, biomedical research, biomedical engineering, and hospital administration.

There are five primary fields in medicine: Allopathic, Chiropractic, Naturopathic, Osteopathic, and Podiatric, all of which diagnose and treat disease.

    • Allopathic physicians (MDs, or Doctors of Medicine) focus on diagnosing and treating disease; treatments include prescription medication and surgery.  Allopathic medicine offers both primary care and a large number of specializations, but many MDs specialize.
    • Chiropractic physicians (DCs, or Doctors of Chiropractic) focus on the promotion of health through the alignment of the musculoskeletal structure. DCs do not use invasive procedures such as surgery.
    • Naturopathic physicians (NDs, or Doctors of Naturopathic Medicine) focus on maintaining physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness through lifestyle choices and natural remedies such as acupuncture, reflexology, and homeopathy. NDs do not use invasive procedures such as surgery.
    • Osteopathic physicians (DOs, or Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine) focus on diagnosing and treating disease with an emphasis on primary care, holistic evaluation, and the prevention of diseases.  DOs can specialize but many work in primary care. DOs receive training in the manipulation of the musculoskeletal structure, also known as osteopathic manipulative medicine, or OMM, in addition to the core medical training.  The scope of practice for MDs and DOs is very similar.
    • Podiatric physicians (DPMs, or Doctors of Podiatric Medicine) focus on the diagnosis and treatment of diseases concerning the foot and ankle. Podiatric medicine is an early specialization of allopathic medicine and includes the prescription of medications and surgery.

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Allopathic Medicine Programs

Years of Schooling Required to Become an Allopathic Physician:

11+ years of education:

      • Undergraduate Preparation (~4 years);
      • Medical School (4 years);
      • Residency (3-7 years);
      • Fellowship (1+ year, optional).

Although not all schools list a bachelor’s degree as a requirement for admission, few students are admitted without one. Completing a bachelor’s degree is highly recommended. Admission to medical schools is highly competitive, and a bachelor’s degree significantly strengthens a student’s application and provides students with greater options for advancement and career opportunities.  For help choosing a major, please see the “Choosing a Major for Professional Schools in Health” webpage.

Degree Conferred:

Upon completion of medical school, students are awarded the Doctor of Medicine (MD).

Matriculation statistics for the 2015-2016 admission cycle.

Applicants Matriculants Percentage of Applicants
that Matriculate
National Applicants 53,029 21,030 39.66%
UH Mānoa Applicants Coming soon Coming soon Coming soon

Based on Data Acquired by the National Association of Academic Advisors for Health Professions (NAAHP).

* The number of UH Mānoa applicants and matriculants are omitted for confidentiality reasons.

Gap Year

Students may choose to take a gap year after they graduate with their undergraduate degree. A “gap year” is the period of time between the end of your undergraduate education and the start of your professional school. A gap year might be a year or more depending on each person’s particular circumstances. Students may choose to participate in longer term engagement activities during their gap year. Taking a gap year would change when to apply to professional school, please see a PAC peer advisor to help you plan in when to apply and fit in a gap year experience. When deciding to take a gap year, see our Taking a Gap Year page. Also, to see a general gap year timeline please see our Allopathic Gap Year Timeline page.

Post-Baccalaureate and Special Masters Programs 

There are a large number of Post-Baccalaureate and Special Masters Programs offered across the nation. Although these programs vary greatly in terms of degree offerings, course curriculum, and program duration, they are all geared to help students in preparation for professional school by taking relevant graduate level courses or to meet the necessary  prerequisites courses for their intended program. For more information, please visit our Post-Baccalaureate and Specials Masters Programs page.

Combined Degree Programs:

Many medical schools offer combined degree programs: MD/PhD to combine medicine with research or teaching; MD/JD to combine medicine with law; MD/MBA to combine medicine with business administration; MD/MPH to combine medicine with public health; and so on. Combined degrees can be offered concurrently, sequentially, or in combination, and often extend the number of years in medical school. More information on MD/PhD programs can be found here. More information on combined degree programs can be found in MSAR.

What to Expect in Med School:

Medical schools use a variety of curricula, including lecture-based,  systems-based, and problem-based learning (PBL), or a hybrid. Traditionally, medical education has followed a 2+2 model (2 years of basic sciences plus 2 years of clinical rotations), although many schools are moving toward curricula that integrate science and clinical instruction throughout the four years of medical school.

Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Article: What Medical School is Like

The Licensing Examination(s):

The United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) is a three-step examination for medical licensure in the United States. Steps 1 and Step 2 can be taken in any order, most students will take step 1 at the end of their second year and step 2 in their fourth year. Step 2 helps to determine admission to residency programs. Students are assigned to residency programs through a computerized process called “The Match.”

Upon graduation from medical school, new MDs work as residents under the supervision of an attending physician. Residents must pass the USMLE Step 3, and apply for licensure from the medical boards of their states before they can become fully licensed. All physicians must be licensed to practice.

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Prerequisites for Admissions

Most importantly, remember that requirements vary from school to school! You must research to create a list of all the prerequisites you will need to apply to the schools you are interested in attending.

The following UHM courses are commonly required for admission to allopathic schools:

BIOL 171/171L and 172/172LIntroduction to Biology I and II8 cr.
CHEM 161/161L and 162/162LGeneral Chemistry I and II*8 cr.
CHEM 272/272L and 273/273LOrganic Chemistry I and II9 cr.
BIOC 241 or higher
(BIOL/MBBE/PEPS 402 or BIOC 441 strongly recommended to prepare for the MCAT. These courses will fulfill the biochemistry course requirement for JABSOM.**)
Biochemistry3 or 4 cr.
PHYS 151/151L and 152/152L
(or PHYS 170/170L and 272/272L)
College Physics I and II
(or General Physics I and II)
8 or 9 cr.
ENG 100 and higherComposition I and higher (2 courses)6 cr.
PSY/SOCS 225 or ECON 321 and/or MATH 215/241 and/or MATH 216/242
(Stats is strongly recommended to prepare for the MCAT​. Check with schools for their specific requirements.​)
Statistics and/or Calculus3 to 8 cr.

*Please note that the prerequisites for BIOL/MBBE/PEPS 402 and BIOC 441 are BIOL 275 and CHEM 273. BIOL 275L is also a prerequisite for BIOL/MBBE/PEPS 402. The prerequisites for MBBE 375 are CHEM 152 OR CHEM 272 OR BIOC 341.

Additional requirements may include courses such as biochemistry, calculus, and humanities. It is also recommended that non-science majors take additional upper-division or advanced science electives beyond the prerequisites listed above.

CHEM 171/171L might not be accepted by medical schools in place of CHEM 161/161L and 162/162L. Students should double check with the schools they are interested in if the schools would accept CHEM 171/171L in place of CHEM 161/161L and 162/162L.

The following UHM courses are commonly recommended for allopathic schools:

PSY 100 (strongly recommended for MCAT)Survey of Psychology3 cr.
SOC 100 (strongly recommended for MCAT)Introduction to Sociology3 cr.
ANTH, ART, COMM, ECON, HIST, LIT, PHIL, POLS, PPC, PSY, SW and/or foreign language.Behavioral Sciences and Humanities (Please see the Medical School Admissions Requirements below for specific requirements.)Varies.

For the John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM), the following courses are also required:

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For the MCAT, the following courses are also highly recommended:

BIOL 275/L
(BIOL 275/L is strongly recommend to prepare for the MCAT
and is a prerequisite for BIOL/MBBE/PEPS 402 or BIOC 441)
Cell and Molecular Biology4 cr.
MATH 140 or higherPrecalculus or higher*3 cr.
PSY 212Survey of Research Methods**4 cr.

*Research Methods concepts necessary for the MCAT may already be covered in your pre-medical science and behavioral science prerequisites. For more information about what is on the MCAT for Research Methods, please click on this link: Scientific Inquiry & Reasoning Skills: Overview.

Click here for a four-year academic sample plan.

Click here for a sample general timeline.

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Experience and Personal Development

Gaining experience in the health professional field in which you are interested is a huge benefit in figuring out if that is the field you want to work in and provides you with a deeper understanding of the field. Some professional schools want to see that you have experience in their field and some schools may require a large amount of particular experience such as hands-on, patient contact experience or experience shadowing a professional in that field. Schools need to be certain that the students they accept are capable of completing the curriculum and are likely to become strong professionals in the field. Schools may see this through the experiences students had.

Admissions committees seek students who have completed the pre-requisites, have high overall and science/math GPAs, performed well on the entrance exam, and have balanced course loads which are challenging yet realistic. These are indications that students are capable of completing the curriculum. Opportunities for exam preparation can be found here: Entrance Exam Preparation Opportunities.

Experiences can provide proof that students will likely be strong practitioners. Admission committees seek students who demonstrated empathy, compassion, and a commitment to public service which can be shown through community service or volunteer work. Committees also want to see high ethical and moral standards and a conscientious work ethic as well as demonstrated maturity through judgement, responsibility, and dependability. Work ethics can be shown through employment opportunities.

Committees seek students who understand the field and what it entails. Different experiences that could provide exposure to the field include enrichment opportunitiesinternshipsshadowing, or volunteering. Through experiences students may show that they have excellent communication skills and a high degree of professionalism in all aspects of life, and potentially gain strong letters of recommendation from supervisors.

Students should aim to have a well-rounded life that balances academics which include a broad liberal arts education with the humanities and social sciences, research, social activities, and personal interests (hobbies, skills, sports, etc.) through Clubs and Organizations.

Students may choose to take a gap year after they graduate with their undergraduate degree to gain more experience. When deciding to take a gap year, see our Taking a Gap Year page.

Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Article: Get Experience

Please click on the following links to explore the different opportunities.

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Researching Schools

There are currently about 145 accredited allopathic medical schools in the US, each unique in its mission, philosophy, criteria, and strengths. Students can research schools using the the AAMC’s Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR) (physical copy available for use).

Although there are resources that “rank” schools, the rankings are rarely pertinent for individual applicants. More important is whether there is a good match between applicant and school.

To find schools that are a good fit for you (PAC peer advisors can help with this process):

      1. Assess your individual strengths and weaknesses, your professional interests, learning style, and personality;
      2. Start by considering all schools, which usually includes all 145 schools;
      3. Create your “Long List” by omitting the schools that do not match your professional interests, learning style, and personality;
      4. Once you have your MCAT scores, create your “Short List” by categorizing the schools on your Long List into “Reach,” “Match,” and “Safety,” ranking the schools by preference, and finally choosing how many schools to apply to. Be sure to apply to schools in all 3 categories (“Reach,” “Match,” and “Safety”).

Here is more information on researching and selecting schools to apply for. If possible, visit the schools to see their facilities, talk to admissions directors, and chat with students.

Application statistics for the 2015-2016 admission cycle.

Applicants Applications Matriculants Average Number of
Applications per Applicant
Range of Number of
Schools applied to
Percentage of Applicants
that Matriculate
National Applicants 53,029 831,016 21,030 15.67 N/A 39.66%
UH Mānoa Applicants Coming soon Coming soon Coming soon Coming soon Coming soon Coming soon

Based on Data Acquired by the National Association of Academic Advisors for Health Professions (NAAHP).

* The number of UH Mānoa applicants and matriculants are omitted for confidentiality reasons.

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Entrance Exam

Almost all medical schools require applicants to take a standardized test called the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).

Preparation:  Your most important preparation for the MCAT is your undergraduate courses (not only the prerequisites for medical school), many of which sharpen your writing and verbal reasoning skills. Remember that your Verbal Reasoning score is not only the most accurate predictor of how well you will do in medical school, but also the most difficult score to improve. Click here for more information on creating an MCAT study plan. Click here to see when you should consider taking the MCAT.

MCAT Summary:  The MCAT assesses your knowledge and skills in Biological Sciences, Physical Sciences, Psychological/Sociological Sciences, and Verbal Reasoning. The test requires ~7.5 hours to complete, and entails ~230 multiple choice questions. The MCAT is administered in a computer-based format, and is offered in the months of January and April through September. Registration for January, April and May test days begin late-October and registration for June to September test days begin mid-February.

MCAT Scoring:  Each of the four scored sections receives a score from a low of 118 and a high of 132, with a midpoint of 125. Scores for the four sections will be combined to create a total score, ranging from 472 to 528, with a midpoint of 500. The mean score among examinees is around a 500, a competitive score would be considered a 509 and above.

The 2017 MCAT Testing Calendar is now posted online! All MCAT exams begin at 8 am.  For a complete list of the dates and registration deadlines, please visit this link.

Official Test Preparation Material:

Commercial Test Preparation Companies: 

Here is more information on how to prepare for an entrance exam.

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The Application Process

There are three general steps in applying to medical schools: the primary application, the secondary application, and the interview. The process follows an accelerated timeline.

1. Primary applications must be filed with the American Medical Colleges Application Service (AMCAS), which is a centralized application system. For an overview of the application service please click here. It includes the personal statement (5300 characters)Once the application is complete, AMCAS forwards it to whichever schools the student has designated. The AMCAS application fee is about $160 for the first school and $38 for each additional school. Click here for more information on creating an MCAT study plan. For schools with rolling admission, submit your primary application as early as possible.

2. Secondary applications or supplementary forms are specific to individual schools; medical schools send these to applicants only after they have received the AMCAS application. Both frequently request additional information, essays, and letters of recommendation. Some schools screen applicants before the applications or forms are sent out. However, secondary applications and supplementary forms differ in that the latter is not a formal application. The cost for secondary applications can range from $0 to $150. For an unofficial review for past secondary application information of medical schools, click here.

Note: For a list of specific letters of recommendation types for Allopathic Medical Schools can be found here.

3. Interviews: After reviewing the primary and secondary applications (or supplementary forms), medical schools invite promising applicants to interview. Applicants are responsible for all costs incurred while interviewing, including airfare, lodging, ground transportation, professional attire, and meals. To learn more about interviews, attend our upcoming interview-related orientations and workshops hereFor sample interview questions click here.

Traffic Rules: Although the application process varies from school to school, AMCAS has established “traffic rules” to ensure fairness for all concerned. The rules are available online and stipulate both schools’ and applicants’ rights and responsibilities during the application process.  All applicants should be familiar with these rules before applying.


      • The more you know about the school, the better your chances of being accepted.
      • Most application questions can be answered by reading the MSAR.
      • Contact individual schools’ admissions offices to find out how they handle:
        • Advanced Placement (AP) credits
        • International Baccalaureate (IB) credits
        • College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) credits
        • military credits
        • courses taken at a community college
        • non-US coursework
        • courses taken for credit/no credit instead of a grade
        • residency issues
        • time limits on prerequisite science courses

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Financial Aid

Financial Planning is a crucial step in applying to allopathic medical schools. It is important for students to create a plan and make decisions in their educational expenses. Students are highly encouraged to budget their finances before, during, and after allopathic medical school. AAMC provides many free resources and programs such as FIRST (Financial Information, Resources, Service and Tools) to help you start thinking about your financial situation. More information can be found here.

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Pre-Medical Programs for UHM Students

Problem-Based Learning Demo
A demonstration of JABSOM’s student-centered system called Problem-Based Learning (PBL) is held on the JABSOM campus twice each year, and gives students the opportunity to take part in a PBL exercise. A description of the entire educational program and a tour of the facilities are also provided. This session is strongly recommended for those applying or planning to apply to JABSOM.

JABSOM Doctor of Medicine Early Acceptance Program

The JABSOM Doctor of Medicine Early Acceptance Program (DMEAP) is for entering Hawai`i resident freshman. The primary goal of DMEAP at the University of Hawai`i at Mānoa (UHM) is to increase the number of highly qualified state residents attending UHM’s John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM).

Health Sciences RLP
In the Residential Learning Program, students with similar majors or interests live together on selected resident floors.  Residents will be able to study together, work together, and learn from each other. This particular program is designed for freshmen considering a career in the health fields.

Native Hawaiian Student Pathway to Medicine
The Native Hawaiian Student Pathway to Medicine (NHSPM) is a program that provides support for Native Hawaiian pre-medical students who demonstrate potential to be competitive medical school applicants. The program focuses on preparation during the sophomore and junior years.

Medical Student Mentorship Program
The Medical Student Mentorship Program (MSMP) pairs current medical students at the John A. Burns School of Medicine with undergraduate students interested in pursuing a career in medicine. MSMP provides support to students applying to medical school and helps to foster relationships between undergraduates and medical students and faculty.

Imi Ho`ola Post-Baccalaureate Program
The Imi Ho`ola Post-Baccalaureate Program aims to improve health care in Hawai`i and the Pacific Basin by increasing the number of physicians through a 12-month educational program that addresses disadvantaged students’ academic and social-emotional needs. Imi Ho`ola’s goal is to increase diversity in the physician workforce and produce physicians who demonstrate a strong commitment to practicing in underserved communities in Hawai`i and the Pacific.

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Additional Information

UH Mānoa’s Pre-Health/Pre-Law Advising Center (PAC) has reference books, lists of volunteer opportunities, academic planning worksheets, and one-on-one advising by peers who can help you prepare for and apply to medical school.

JABSOMJABSOM Admissions (MD Program)
AssociationsAssociation of American Medical Colleges (AAMC)
American Medical Association (AMA)
Student National Medical Association
Entrance ExamsMedical College Admissions Test (MCAT)
Researching SchoolsMedical School Admission Requirements (MSAR) by AAMC
ApplicationsAmerican Medical College Application Service (AMCAS)
Financial AidAAMC - FIRST
Paying for Medical School TipsAAMC Financial Information, Resources, Services, and Tools
Current OpportunitiesHealth – Current Opportunities
EngagementHealth – Clubs and Organizations

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Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy

The Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy (DKICP) is located at the University of Hawai’i at Hilo, a unique location that provides students the opportunity to work with a variety of patients and situations. DKICP aims to make a positive impact in the community and nation by teaching the healthcare leaders of tomorrow to be compassionate and trustworthy as well as skilled pharmacists. To learn more about DKICP or to find out how to apply please visit their web page.

Required Prerequisite CoursesSemester Hours
English (including 3 credits composition)6
Social/Behavioral Sciences6
World/Cultural Diversity3
Communications (with a public speaking component)3
Human Anatomy & Physiology I & II with labs (for science majors)8
Biology I & II with labs (for science majors)8
General Chemistry I & II with labs (for science majors)8
Organic Chemistry I & II with labs (for science majors)8
Microbiology with lab4