Premedical Office
Xavier University
1 Drexel Drive
Box 120C
New Orleans, LA 70125

Full-Time Staff
Ms. Quo Vadis M. Webster, MA, LPC
Director of Premedical Program
(504) - 520-7437



Overview of Allopathic Medicine (M.D.) (Info #6-updated 7/3/16)

This document is one in a series designed to provide basic information about mainline health professions and the Premedical Office at Xavier University of Louisiana.

There are TWO Kinds of Medical Degrees That Are Recognized in the United States: There are two basic kinds of medical degrees offered in the United States. The most common is the M.D. (Doctor of Medicine) degree, offered by the nation's 145 accredited allopathic medical schools. The second is the D.O. (Doctor of Osteopathy), offered by 33 osteopathic medical schools in the U.S. Both types of physicians are legally recognized to be equivalent in every state in the United States. However, because there are so many more allopathic medical schools, most Americans think of "allopathic medicine" as "medicine" and may not be aware that osteopathic physicians exist. Osteopathic medicine arose in the nineteenth century as an attempt to reform what is now known as allopathic medicine to acknowledge the body's innate ability to heal itself. This document is devoted to allopathic medicine. Info #7 in this series provides information about osteopathic medicine.

What Physicians Do: Physicians are the best known and most respected of the health professionals in the United States. In addition to providing primary health care, physicians educate patients and the community about health and its relationship to total well-being; provide specialized health care; provide leadership in practice settings; and handle business and financial matters. Physicians may also conduct research and teach in academic settings.

Basic Data:

  • Time Required to Complete Medical Education: Four years enrolled in a medical school in order to obtain an M.D. degree and at least three years in a residency program gaining advanced training, depending on the speciality chosen, before beginning practice. During the first two years of medical school in the United States, students generally take science classes similar to those taken in undergraduate schools except that each course covers a great deal more content than would an undergraduate one. During the last two years of medical school, medical students generally rotate through a number of clinical activities where they receive training on an individual basis from practicing physicians in different specialties. While enrolled in medical school, students must take steps 1 and 2 of the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). After completing the four-year medical school curriculum, the student receives an M.D. degree and takes step 3 of the USMLE. Upon passing the licensure exam, the physician generally completes a minimum of three years in a residency program under the supervision of experienced physicians. Fellowship programs are available for physicians who wish to receive more specialized training in a specific area.
  • Educational Requirements for Entry: A minimum of 40 semester hours of specified mathematics and science courses. An undergraduate degree is also recommended. Some schools may have ADDITIONAL science and non-science requirements; students are encouraged to review the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) online Medical College Admission Requirements (MSAR) for school-specific admission requirements or visit official medical school websites. A copy of frequented sections of MSAR is available in the Premedical Office. FYI, visit https://students-residents.aamc.org/choosing-medical-career/article/required-premedical-coursework-and-competencies/ to access direct web links for "Required Premedical Coursework and Competencies" for each medical school that belongs to the AAMC.
  • Admission Test: Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). Visit https://www.aamc.org/students/applying/mcat/ for test information and registration.
  • Content of the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT): There are four parts...
    • Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems (Concepts from chemical and physical sciences as applied to biological systems),
    • Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (Analyze, evaluate, and apply information from a wide range of social sciences and humanities),
    • Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems (Concepts from biological and biochemical sciences as applied to living organisms), and
    • Psychological, Social and Biological Foundations of Behavior (Concepts from psychology, sociology, biology, research methods and statistics as applied to the psychological sociocultural determinants of health).
  • Scoring on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT): Five (5) scores are reported on the MCAT: one for each of the four test sections and one combined (total) score. Each of the four sections will be scored from a low of 118 to a high of 132, with a midpoint of 125. The total score is a combination of scores from the four sections. The total score ranges from 472 to 528, with a midpoint of 500. MCAT and GPA ranges for students accepted into allopathic (M.D.) medical schools can be found in the most recent edition of Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR), an online resource from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). A copy of frequented sections of the online MSAR is available for review in the Premed Office. Please note that the number of applications to medical school has increased dramatically in the past few years, a factor which seems to be translating into the need for higher MCAT scores to gain admission. Students who wish to receive feedback on their scores from the Premedical Office should be sure to release their scores to XU's Premdical Advisor when asked to do so during the MCAT registration process. Additionally, students should rely on medical school-specific matriculant data found in MSAR to evaluate MCAT scores, GPA, and other acceptance factors. Go to https://www.aamc.org/students/applying/mcat/ for details regarding the MCAT and MCAT Exam Statistics. Go to https://www.aamc.org/data/facts/ to view comprehensive data on U.S. allopathic (M.D.) medical school applicants and matriculants.
  • Where One Submits an Application for M.D. School: Most medical schools in the U.S. participate in the Association of American Medical College's (AAMC) centralized application service called the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS). Thus, for most medical schools one submits the major application to AAMC headquarters in Washington, DC first. Then, at some later time, most schools require applicants to complete school-specific secondary or supplemental applications. If you are applying to medical schools in Texas that participate in the Texas Medical & Dental Schools Applications Service (TMDSAS), you must submit the TMDSAS online application.
  • General Description of the Application Process: Evaluation of an application for most health professions schools generally takes place in two stages. In the first stage, admissions committees ask "Can the applicant handle the academic load (the equivalent of about 40 hours a semester)?" Grades, MCAT and other required entrance exam scores, and (sometimes) letters of evaluation are used to answer this question. If the answer to the first question is "Yes," the admissions committees then proceed to the second stage to ask "Will the applicant be a good physician, dentist, or other health professional?" Evaluations and the written portions of the application (e.g. essays, post-secondary experiences, etc.) are used to obtain a preliminary answer to this question. If it appears that the answer to this question is "Yes," applicants are usually invited in for an interview, after which, a final decision is made.

Where to Get Additional Information:

  • About resources for minority students interested in medicine: All new premeds should go to www.aspiringdocs.org to review the resources and subscribe to the "Pre-Med Navigator"NOW!!! AspiringDocs is a campaign by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) to increase diversity in medicine, and the website provides valuable information to minority students who are interested in medicine.
  • About the general requirements/application process: Attend ALL scheduled Premed Meetings (group and individual) for your class during your enrollment at Xavier (look for signs in NCF Buildings announcing the date, time, and place) and check for information in and around the Premed Office. Also, be sure to check your email DAILY for important messages announcing meetings, deadlines, summer programs, etc. Information may also be obtained by reviewing the AAMC's Applying to Medical School resources.
  • About the MCAT: Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), owned by AAMC, https://www.aamc.org/students/applying/mcat/.
  • About the application process: American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS), a service of the AAMC. If you are applying to medical schools in Texas that participate in the Texas Medical & Dental Schools Application Service (TMDAS) you must go to www.utsystem.edu/tmdsas/.
  • About requirements for individual schools:


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