Going to medical school is a dream of many people around the world. Med school not only provides one with some of the most advanced and rigorous training available, but it also gives one the chance to do some real good in the world, improving people’s physical health.
Oregon is one of the most beautiful states in the United States. Located off the Pacific Ocean, Oregon features all of the verdant forests one wants from the Pacific Northwest and the rich cultural life of cities such as Portland.
Given these two facts, going to medical school in Oregon would be an excellent idea, right?
Well, yes! But it may not look that way at first.
Despite all of the riches it offers, Oregon only has two medical schools. But rest assured, both of these schools are among the best in the country. Med students shouldn’t write off the state because these schools have innovative faculty members, state-of-the-art resources, and a history of training exemplary doctors.
However, the admissions standards of these schools might give one pause. After all, with only one other competitor, both schools can afford to limit their admission offers to the best of the best.
But we’ve got you covered. This list not only explains the many benefits of studying medicine in Oregon, but also tells you how you can get accepted. We’ll go over the best application practices, so you can have a chance at becoming a doctor in one of the most beautiful parts of the country.
College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific, Northwest (Lebanon, OR)
The College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific, Northwest may be only a decade old, having been established in 2011. But make no mistake, the school has already made a name for itself, training some of the best doctors in the region.
How has it been able to reach such success in such a short amount of time?
Well, first of all, the college isn’t exactly new. It’s an extension of California’s respected College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific. Taking advantage of the resources offered by its successful parent institution, the college was able to hit the ground running.
That beginning includes the two buildings that house the school, making for 76,000 square feet of learning space. Within that space, students learn in a state-of-the-art anatomy laboratory, complete with projection capabilities, as well as two simulation laboratories. The clinical skills area features all the technology one needs to become a medical professional, including eight exam rooms and a debriefing area.
COMP, Northwest also enjoys partnerships with local hospitals as part of the Samaritan Health Services system. The flagship of the system is Lebanon Community Hospital. Students doing their residencies there have access to not only the latest in medical technologies but also a diverse patient population. Under the supervision of their mentors, students have ample opportunity to treat a variety of conditions.
But success isn’t measured by where you start. It’s what you do with your beginning. And COMP, Northwest is no slouch there.
COMP, Northwest has put together an impressive group of faculty members. Teachers include Dr. Crystal Martin, a researcher in osteopathic manipulative medicine, public health, sports medicine, and more.
Before joining the faculty at COMP, Northwest, Dr. Valerie Romanski was the owner and practitioner of osteopathic medicine and acupuncture at Lemon Drop Day Spa, Mira Lindy Farms, and Health Inspired.
With such faculty and resources at its disposal, it’s no wonder that the school has earned top rankings from observers. The respected U.S. News & World Report placed COMP, Northwest in its 2022 list of best institutions. In particular, the school received accolades as best grad schools for primary medical care, medical schools in disadvantaged areas, and medical schools in rural areas.
With so much success in such a short time, one can undoubtedly expect COMP, Northwest to do even greater things in the next ten years. Any student who wants to be part of an exciting and innovative program would do well to join COMP, Northwest’s growing program.
Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine (Portland, OR)
You’d be forgiven for initially writing off the top ranking on this list for the Oregon Health & Science University’s School of Medicine. After all, it only had one other school to beat out.
But one glance at OHSU’s faculty, resources, and student achievements, and you’ll see that the school would top most lists, no matter how many other institutions it had to beat out.
Founded in 1887, OHSU is one of the nation’s premier science centers. The School of Medicine features a faculty consisting of 1750 professionals, many of whom boast ambitious research agendas. According to U.S. News & World Report, OHSU is the 7th best Primary Care school in the nation and the 28th best for research.
With an endowment of $829.7 million, OHSU strives to find new ways of addressing our most pressing medical questions. In addition to research projects from students, OHSU also hosts the Advanced Imaging Research Center and the OHSU Center for Spatial Systems Biomedicine. With these two centers at the core of its research agendas, OHSU provides students with direct access to those who are advancing the quality of modern medicine.
But this scholarly work doesn’t happen only behind closed doors. OHSU is committed to spreading its knowledge to the larger community, as demonstrated by the Marquam Hill Lectures. Since 1981, the Marquam Hill Lectures have brought to campus some of the world’s leading medical minds to share their findings and interact with the public.
But the most impressive aspect of OHSU might be its commitment to diversity.
As part of its diversity, equity, and inclusion initiative, the school actively recruits and supports students from underprivileged populations. With scholarships, faculty mentorships, peer support groups, and more, OHSU gives students everything they need to bring their unique perspectives to the school. With this perspective, the school can better serve all of Oregon’s populations.
That support makes way for projects such as MD student Daniel Tshala’s video on the relationship between racism and public health. Rather than split social and economic pressures from health concerns, Tshala recognizes how these all affect one another.
It’s this type of innovative and practical thinking that makes OHSU one of the nation’s best medical schools. It’s not the endowment or the learned professors at the institution; it’s the student body’s focus on the whole person that makes a difference.
OHSU tops this list, and many other lists of the best medical schools, by working to make every part of the patient well, from the body to the mind.
How to Get Accepted into Medical Schools in Oregon
MCAT, extra-curricular activities, professional experience, demonstrated interest, attending a good premed program, etc.
Because they are the only two medical schools in the state, COMP, Northwest and OHSU can afford to be highly selective. If you want to study medicine at either of these institutions, you’ll need to do everything you can to stand out.
At the very least, you’ll be expected to take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). The MCAT is a standard exam in the medical field, which measures all of the qualities schools expect to see in their students. The exam measures a student’s problem-solving abilities and critical thinking skills, as well as their ability to write analyses and their basic scientific knowledge.
The MCAT features four sections, which all receive individual scores, which cover everything from biological science to analytical writing to human behavior. Most future med students take the exam in the summer after their sophomore year, but you can take it as late as January in your junior year.
Experts recommend that students take three whole months to study for the MCAT, as scores carry a lot of weight with admissions committees. To get into highly competitive programs, such as the two on this list, students should strive to score between 514 and 528.
But as necessary as the MCAT is, admission into medical school isn’t all about numbers. You can also improve your chances with impressive extracurricular activities.
On a basic level, students should at least spend time shadowing a physician. Through shadowing, students can see first-hand what a doctor does, and which techniques and skills are most important.
But the best type of extracurricular work involves medical care. If you can be fully responsible for taking care of a patient, you’ll have a better chance of making an impression in your application. For example, you might consider volunteering for a blood drive or providing basic care for young athletes at an event.
The experience doesn’t need to be comprehensive, but it does need to show your ability to interact with patients. It’s particularly good if you can take some sort of leadership role, developing the skills you’ll need to take charge of patient care.
Finally, you can give yourself an edge by demonstrating interest in a program. Demonstrating interest goes beyond merely applying to a medical school. It involves making positive steps to interact with faculty and with the institution.
One of the best ways to demonstrate interest is to attend public seminars, such as OHSU’s Marquam Hill Lectures. These lectures are held publicly, often virtually, and allow future med students to meet faculty and get information on the school’s concerns.
For a more substantial impact, you can also contact faculty directly and ask to meet with them. This won’t give you an inside edge on applications, but it will allow you to see what the school likes in an applicant, and to fashion your materials accordingly.
Without question, it’s hard work to get into one of Oregon’s two medical schools. But as this article demonstrates, it’s not impossible. With study and some strategic thinking, you can put yourself in the best possible position.