Tips for Entrepreneurial Premed Students Applying to Medical School

Innovation in health care is vital for the progression of medical science and efficient and effective health care delivery.

The vast majority of major innovations in preventing and treating disease have come from physician-led innovation. Many medical schools and major medical centers now feature innovation and entrepreneurship programs with emphases on tech transfer and spin-off companies that can benefit those organizations. Most of these programs are geared to residents and junior faculty, but increasingly opportunities are available for med students.

These programs often include awarding an entrepreneurship certificate or an opportunity to earn an MBA or a master’s degree in management. Some of the better-known programs are the M.D.-MBA programs at Harvard University in Massachusetts, Dartmouth College in New Hampshire and Boston University, and the Pathways Program at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio, the Biomedical Innovation & Entrepreneurship Certificate Program at the University of Michigan and the Medical Innovators Development Program at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee.

[READ: Become a Business-Savvy Doctor With a Joint M.D.-MBA Program.]

More medical schools have developed programs in recent years. A useful reference is a “landscape review and thematic analysis” of innovation and entrepreneurship programs in U.S. medical education published in 2017.

Increasingly, med school applicants are including an interest or experience in entrepreneurial activities in their applications.

There is great variety in these activities. I have read about students developing a new product to help a failing family business. Others have created tech startups that have the potential to make significant contributions to medicine generally or to a specific specialty.

There are those whose startups have designed improved medical equipment or health care processes. Some businesses have sprung from a research project, and the hospital may have assisted in managing their innovation.

Medical schools would be excited reviewing applications that include these activities as long as the other core components are present. For example, shadowing a doctor and volunteering or sacrificing to help others should not be neglected in favor of business or entrepreneurial endeavors. A good MCAT score and GPA are also needed.

In other words, yes, entrepreneurship can add to your med school application, but it cannot make up for what might be missing.

[Read: Medical School Holistic Admissions: What to Know]

An important consideration for entrepreneurial premeds looking for a good fit is the medical school’s mission. If a med school looks for entrepreneurs and you can tell that from what their graduates do after med school, it is perhaps a perfect fit. One example is the Stanford University School of Medicine, which for years has graduated many who head into something other than a traditional residency program, including data management and health care technology.

A medical school’s website should help you find out this information. If not, send an email to the admissions office.

There are more newer medical schools with a focus on producing primary care physicians. Unless your entrepreneurial efforts would help in the delivery of patient care, they may be less helpful in getting you accepted to such a school. Access to care, especially for the underserved, and relationships with patients in general are of greater importance at these schools, which are judged on the numbers of physicians they produce who go into medicine.

In describing your entrepreneurial activity during the application process to private and traditional state schools with a track record for entrepreneurship, you would be on stable ground discussing an activity that truly was one of the most meaningful for you. On the other hand, if practicing medicine is a higher priority for you, you might indicate a patient-centered activity, volunteering and research as more meaningful aspects to highlight.

[Read: What Type of Research Helps You Get Into Medical School?]

Regarding recommendation letters from someone knowledgeable about your entrepreneurship, it would be best to use only one. The majority of recommendations should come from professors.

It is exciting to start something creative and see it blossom. How much time it will need from you during medical school is an important consideration. Med school for most students requires full-time effort plus extra time you never knew you had.

Do your homework, study the program offerings and seek out current participants to see whether this pathway is for you. New trends are worth noting. Good luck in all your endeavors.

More from U.S. News

How to Document Premed Activities

Pros, Cons of Getting a J.D.-MBA Dual Degree

3 Types of Students Who Should Consider a Joint M.D. Degree

Tips for Entrepreneurial Premed Students Applying to Medical School originally appeared on

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