Medical School Scholarships

Not only is studying medicine an extremely daunting prospect, but having to finance medical school can also be a cause for concern. This is exactly why there are a number of medical school scholarships open to potential medical students, although obtaining these scholarships can take a lot of hard work and perseverance.

The first type of medical school scholarship that is available to students will be based on merit. In terms of scholarship funding, merit will be specifically defined as a student who has a high grade point average (GPA) in their baccalaureate studies, a high score on their Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) or indeed both. It must be said that schools will have differing criteria on how they issue merit-based scholarships, and therefore it is advisable that students apply to a number of different medical schools to increase their chances of qualifying.

A school that is known for offering extremely competitive medical scholarships is Mayo Medical School in Minnesota. They actually offer three types of scholarship which are based on performance. These include:

  • A merit scholarship that will pay for 50% of tuition and can be renewed based on a student's academic performance.
  • Students who display the greatest potential in medicine may qualify for the renewable dean awards and full scholarships.
  • Students who fall into non-traditional roles and that are from diverse backgrounds can qualify for the Outstanding Achievement scholarships, which are once again renewable based on academic performance.

The American Medical Association (AMA) also issue several scholarships each year. A medical student will need to visit their school's financial aid or dean's office in order to be nominated and for an application form.  The AMA has recognized the financial need that medical students have, and therefore offer a range of scholarships which include:

  • Minority Scholar Award - 10 scholarships worth $10,000 each are issued to second or third year medical students who come from a minority background.
  • Physicians of Tomorrow - These scholarships are worth $10,000, and two will be awarded to fourth year students. The recipients of these scholarships will typically have committed to a career in psychiatry or have an interest in medical journalism.

The Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP) is offered through the US Army, Air Force and Navy, although the United States Marine Corps does not offer this scholarship program, as they receive medical support from the Navy. The military will pay for expenses such as tuition, books, and other fees, and a medical student enrolled in the HPSP will also receive funds towards their living expenses on a monthly basis.

If a student is accepted into HPSP they will be commissioned as an inactive reservist while they are studying. However, they must participate in 45 days of active duty each year to qualify. Once a student graduates they will apply for medical residency through a military match program, and they will also receive the rank status of officer.

There are also a number of service-oriented scholarship programs, with one such being the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) scholarship program. This program will pay for the expenses incurred by a medical student whilst in school, and will even pay a monthly living expense. However, in order to qualify for NHSC, a student must be admitted to medical school on their own merit.

In addition to this, recipients of this scholarship must commit to four years of service in an underprivileged area once their medical residency has been completed. The NHSC program is specifically geared towards students choosing a primary care where there is a particular need. Fields of practice where there are shortages in underprivileged areas include family practice, gynecology and pediatrics.

Medical school scholarships are a fantastic way to fund a medical education, and these scholarships do not need to be repaid unlike loans. Experts believe that the best strategy is to apply to as many scholarship programs as possible, as this is likely to drastically increase a student's chances of obtaining one. Another practice for students who are currently working is to ask their employer if they are able to offer any medical school scholarship program, and surprisingly many companies are more than willing to offer scholarships so their employees can return to school. There is also a range of scholarships that are specifically available to groups such as minorities or women, and this can be the ideal way to find a scholarship that doesn't present as much competition.