When it comes to medical schools in Alabama, you have your choice between Frederick P. Whiddon College of Medicine at the University of South Alabama and the University of Alabama at Birmingham Marnix E. Heersink School of Medicine. Picking the right school for you is the first step in . The next step is, of course, learning all you can about those schools.
Making this choice, or deciding to apply to both, is a personal decision, but one that requires full knowledge of pertinent data, which we have provided here. Whether you need to pick the right school for you, or you need the best, expert tips and strategies for , this article will take you through the medical schools in Alabama and let you make the right decisions for your career path.
Please note: although we have made every effort to provide the most accurate information, admissions information changes frequently. Therefore, we encourage you to verify these details with the official university admissions office. You are responsible for your own results. BeMo does not endorse nor affiliate with any official universities, colleges, or test administrators and vice versa.
Are you interested in learning how to make your medical school application stand out… without perfect stats? Check out this video:
Just looking at pure data can be disorienting and ineffective for your analysis of medical schools in Alabama. The breakdown below will help you think about these numbers in a different way:
Both of these schools have very high acceptance rates for local students, and if you are in-state, these schools will be some of the . However, those admissions rates drop dramatically for out-of-state students. MEHSOM’s rates are around double that of Whiddon for in-state students; the rates are comparable, however, for out-of-state applicants.
What this means for you is that, if you like these schools equally and you are an in-state applicant, but you must decide between them, you should go with MEHSOM. All other elements being equal, you can see a higher chance. However, your analysis of which school to apply to should not change if you are out-of-state.
Of course, an acceptance rate isn’t truly a “chance” of getting in; these schools aren’t rolling dice. The better your application, the more likely it is that you will be selected. The fact is, you can empower yourself to improve your application and get offered a slot. This process isn’t random. That’s what we do here at BeMo: equip you with great advice and information to assist you in your application and get you accepted.
The median MCAT and GPA scores for matriculating students are almost identical for both schools. When making your school selection, therefore, these numbers will not factor into your final analysis.
Generally speaking, remember that these are averages, so lower scores than the average don’t mean no chance of entry. However, to remain competitive, you shouldn’t fall too far below either score. Keep in mind as well that higher grades are always better – they never hurt, anyway – so put yourself in the highest percentile that you can.
Tuition and Fees
Like test scores, tuition and fees are also very similar, although MEHSOM is slightly more expensive.
Whiddon has 12 freshman scholarships available:
MEHSOM, on the other hand, has three featured scholarships:
Looking at the total picture, you can see that Whiddon is the more affordable of the two schools, especially when factoring in scholarships.
Don’t forget, however, that tuition is not the only price paid for medical school. You will also have living expenses and other fees – textbooks, for instance, and equipment like stethoscopes – that will add up. However, you should remember that these items – whether tuition or other expenses – are investments in your future.
Note that nearly two-thirds of students accepted to Whiddon and more than half at MEHSOM are female. While these numbers don’t necessarily mean that Whiddon is more likely to accept women – they could be a coincidence or simply reflect the applicant pool – it might be worth considering.
Whiddon does not offer combined degrees. So, if you are an aspiring scientist-physician, you don’t really have much of a choice: just don’t exist at Whiddon, and you’ll need to focus your efforts on MEHSOM.
At Whiddon, any international students must have permanent resident status. This means that, essentially, the only admitted students will hail from the United States. This is also true at MEHSOM: only US citizens and permanent residents will be considered. In fact, MEHSOM makes a point of specifying that they have a strong preference for local applicants. Of course, having familiarized yourself with the admission rates of the schools in this article, you will recognize the preference for local students.
What do you do if you are from out-of-state? First, ask yourself if you have any connections at all to Alabama. You might have family who live in the state, or perhaps you yourself once lived in Alabama but moved away. While this won’t change your in-state/out-of-state status, highlighting a connection with Alabama in one of your secondary essays might help you rise to the top of the out-of-state pile.
Furthermore, if you are planning to practice medicine in the state of Alabama, you might want to bring this up in your essays. Giving yourself a purpose connected to Alabama will let the application committee see why you are applying to their school and give you appeal as a good fit.
If local students are preferred – and they are – you need to show off any connections or intentions you have to connect with Alabama.
Underrepresented and Diverse Students
Both Whiddon and MEHSOM have programs, tracks, and services available to make the study of medicine more accessible to persons from underrepresented and diverse backgrounds.
MEHSOM’s Blaze to MD program recognizes that not every student has the same educational advantages and, for those who require more education in basics in the sciences, the Blaze to MD program provides an 11-month pathway for up to ten students each year.
Whiddon’s SouthMed Prep Scholar’s Program (SMPS) takes place over two summers and is similarly designed to aid in the admissions process for underrepresented persons. The SMPS requires certain criteria of applicants:
- Be a US Citizen and a resident of Alabama or the surrounding service area counties of Mississippi (George, Greene, Harrison, Jackson, Perry, and Stone counties) or Florida (Escambia and Santa Rosa counties)
- Identify as one or more of the following:
- American Indian
- Black or African American
- Must have a cumulative high school GPA of at least 3.5
- Must have an ACT score of 25 or SAT score of 1200
- Be a freshman or sophomore undergraduate student
Whiddon also has the DREAM (Diversity Recruitment and Enrichment for Admission into Medicine) program, aimed at “marginalized and underrepresented” students who want to enter the medical field. Like the SMPS, the DREAM program requires the same geographic constraints – Alabama and the surrounding service areas of Mississippi and Florida. Candidates must also identify as:
- American Indian
- Black or African American
- Sexual or gender minority
- Socioeconomically disadvantaged
Wondering how to make your medical school application stand out from the crowd? Here are some ideas:
Most medical schools have required courses for students to take, but there is almost always a list of recommended courses as well. When planning your medical school trajectory, you need to take this into consideration to be sure you are meeting all the requirements for admission.
Frederick P. Whiddon
Prerequisite Courses: Behavioral Sciences (Social Sciences can be a substitute); Biology (with Lab); College English; College Mathematics; Humanities; Inorganic Chemistry (with Lab); Organic Chemistry (with Lab); Physics (with Lab); Social Sciences (Behavioral Sciences can be substituted)
Recommended Courses: Biochemistry; Immunology; Statistics
University of Alabama
Prerequisite Courses: Behavioral Sciences; Biochemistry; Biology; College English; College Mathematics (3 hr. Course in biostats or stats expected or 6 hr. w/o biostats or stats); Physics
Recommended Courses: N/A
Preferred Pre-med Experiences and Extracurriculars
Frederick P. Whiddon
It is imperative at Whiddon to have physician shadowing in your experiences. Although not officially required, 100% of their matriculating students in a recent year had shadowing as part of their experiences.
Lab and research experiences are also very important, as is community service, as 93% and 91% of students had these experiences, respectively.
Volunteer experiences in medicine or clinical experiences were held at 72%, followed by paid experiences at 44%.
Only 3% of students had military backgrounds.
University of Alabama
MEHSOM follows the experience patterns of Whiddon closely.
Like Whiddon, physician shadowing was the most prominent experience held by matriculating students at 97%.
Community service and research or lab experience were likewise high with MEHSOM but were both around 90%.
Medical and clinical experiences were slightly higher at MEHSOM than at Whiddon – 83% with volunteer experiences and 42% with paid experiences.
Only 2% of students had military backgrounds.
Low numbers for military experiences are common for medical school, however, so MEHSOM and Whiddon should not be thought of as outliers here.
MEHSOM offers tracks such as the MD-PhD program that allow you to expand how you can utilize your medical degree. You can emphasize science and research with the MD-PhD, improve your understanding of and participation in global health with an MD-MPH, or sharpen your business skills with an MD-MBA to make opening your own practice or clinic a lot smoother. The MD-MSPH program adds Master of Science in Public Health to focus you on research pertaining to public health.
As these dual degrees are not offered at Whiddon, if you find them appealing, you can focus your efforts on applying to MEHSOM.
MEHSOM has a track specifically geared toward preparing doctors for practice in rural areas. Alabama has many areas that are isolated and require such attention. As such, physicians interested in learning the ins and outs of rural medicine will find a good home at medical schools in Alabama.
There is no specific track for rural training with Whiddon.
Scientifically Minded Physicians
Also available at MEHSOM is the Medical Scientist Training Program, which aims to train physicians who are just as comfortable in the lab as at the bedside, and who will forward the cutting edge of medical technology.
Primary Care Physicians
Another MEHSOM track, this one focuses on a solid understanding of primary care. It boasts low student-to-faculty ratios, and offers students a longitudinal, integrated clerkship curriculum. Primary care is one of the most-needed disciplines in medicine, and MEHSOM wants to make that happen.
Whiddon also has a Primary Care Pathway (PCP) to emphasize this important area of health care. Their four-year curriculum for the PCP focuses on broad skills, creative formats for learning environments, and prepares students for medicine careers specific to their community in Alabama. If you are looking for a good grounding in health care, taking the PCP at Whiddon is an excellent way to do this.
Whiddon’s most common specialties were Internal Medicine, ObGyn, General Surgery, and Family Medicine. Each of these specialties represented 11–15% of their graduating class.
Diagnostic Radiology, Psychiatry, Pediatrics, Orthopedic Surgery, and Emergency Medicine each took up either 6% or 7% of the graduating class.
The lowest represented specialties were Anesthesiology, with 1%, and Otolaryngology, with 3%.
Finally, Dermatology, Pathology, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, and Plastic Surgery held 0% and were not represented.
Internal Medicine was also the highest specialty for MEHSOM, representing 15% of the graduating class. Pediatrics – at 11% – was the next-highest specialty.
After those two, MEHSOM trained students in Emergency Medicine and Family Medicine, each with a 9% representation.
Next, Anesthesiology, Neurology, ObGyn, Diagnostic Radiology, and General Surgery all took up either 5% or 6% of the graduating students.
Dermatology, Orthopedic Surgery, Otolaryngology, Pathology, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, and Psychiatry all held 1%, 2%, or 3%.
Like Whiddon, Plastic Surgery was completely absent at 0%.
Whiddon’s curriculum is based around six core competencies: Practice-Based Learning & Improvement; Patient Care & Procedural Skills; Systems-based Practice; Medical Knowledge; Interpersonal & Communication Skills; and Professionalism.
Competency-based across four years, the first two years are dedicated to integrated organ systems – studying the way organ systems work together to give a comprehensive overview of the fundamentals of medicine. Basic science is also covered, with cell and molecular biology, structure and function, pathogenesis of disease, and pharmacotherapeutics.
Third and fourth year have advanced organ systems as well as six clinical clerkships in year three: medicine, surgery, pediatrics, psychiatry/neurology, obstetrics-gynecology, and family practice.
Fourth year has students participate in nine rotations of four weeks each. You will select one rotation in clinical neuroscience, surgical subspecialties, ambulatory care, primary care, and subspecialty in medicine.
Primary care is focused on rural and underserved areas as a priority for the school.
MEHSOM starts students right out of the gate with evidence-based fundamental science and its integration with clinical skills. The school features active, case-based learning and teamwork that focuses on adapting to patients and responding to their emotional, cultural, and social characteristics and needs.
MEHSOM has students working closely with faculty mentors and career advisors in medical and research settings.
The first two years establish fundamentals and teach students to think comprehensively and go beyond memorizing facts. Furthermore, students will learn medical professionalism, interviewing, and physical examination.
Clinical rotations and electives are presented in the third and fourth year, in both hospital and ambulatory settings. You will also have research opportunities.
There is a lot of variety within these two schools alone, but with our information and advice, you should be able to make an informed decision. Do you apply to Whiddon, MEHSOM, or both? If you are a student who hails from Alabama, the odds are in your favor, and both schools will probably appeal to you. If you must choose, either school can prepare you for general medicine and rural environments, but the nuances of each will determine your ultimate choice – a choice that must be made by you.
1. How many medical schools should I send an application to?
We recommend between six and eight schools. This is a good range to give yourself good options without spreading yourself too thin.
2. Will I need to pay fees to apply to medical school?
Yes. Even applying costs money. These fees are small, but there is a fee for sitting the MCAT and another fee for sending in the secondary applications.
3. Is there a major I should take to become a doctor?
No. Neither school will discriminate based on your major. You need to hit course prerequisites, but any major is itself acceptable.
4. Can I take a deferred entry with medical schools in Alabama?
Whiddon accepts deferrals, while MEHSOM holds them on a case-by-case basis.
5. Can I retake the MCAT? How many times?
Yes. You can take the MCAT three times in one year, four times in two years, and seven times in your life.
6. Is it wise to take a gap year?
It is wise if you use your time well. can be a big plus on your application if you explain the experience you gained or the need to finance medical school. If they are extended vacations, they will hold you back.
7. What are the best medical schools?
Some places rate medical schools, but it’s best to find a school that fits you. You want an environment you will thrive in, where you will become the best physician for your career path.
8. What do I do if I’m put on a waitlist?
First you accept the spot on the waitlist – as soon as possible. After that, you can seek out more experiences, keep up your grades, and send a letter to the school – just one – restating your enthusiasm for their school and hoping you are still under consideration.