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Making sense of the medical journey

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Meet MST's Family Liaison

"Hello! My name is Kristin Rose — I am Med School Tutors’ Family Liaison! We understand that the journey to becoming a medical professional can be an incredibly stressful time for medical students and their loved ones. As I see it, no question is too big or too small!


How do I help my child before and during Medical School? What is Step 1? What do all these acronyms stand for? What should I expect in the next year? Should we consider tutoring? Why should I trust Med School Tutors? As the Family Liaison, it's my mission to help you help your students. Now more than ever the next generation of medical professionals is needed. Please, reach out anytime! I would love to chat with you and help alleviate some of your stress!" Read more of Kristin Rose's story. You can also read her latest blog post, What to Do and Say When Your Loved One is Struggling in Medical School.

Schedule a Chat with Kristin Rose

The Road to a Medical Degree in the U.S.

Since 2006, we have worked with pre-medical and medical students from around the globe, and have helped guide them — and their loved ones — to their best results in the process. If you're a parent of a pre-med or medical student, this page is for you.


We've broken down what the pathway to a MD or DO degree looks like, what the steps are along the way, and important facts, dates and acronyms for you to know.


Let's start with an overview of the medical training process in the United States — including the important exams students take in each phase of their medical training: 



Med School

1st Year

Med School

2nd Year

Med School

3rd Year

Med School

4th Year

Medical Residency

Med School Admissions Application via AMCAS and/or AACOMAS
Basic Sciences & Preclinical Training Basic Sciences & Preclinical Training
USMLE Step 1
COMLEX Level 1
Clinical Training
Shelf Exams
USMLE Step 2 CK & CS
COMLEX Level 2 CE & PE
Clinical Training
Apply to Medical Residency: ERAS, NRMP & AOA Match
USMLE Step 3
COMLEX Level 3


Note: Some medical schools structure their curricula differently by condensing the first two years of basic sciences into one year, thus moving their students into pre-clinical training in their second year. In these programs — and during the COVID era — many students will take the USMLE Step 1 during third year.


We know these steps inside out from pre-medical education through residency.

Have questions? 212-327-0098 or HQ@medschooltutors.com


Helpful Blog Posts & Videos:

If you haven't explored our blog yet, it is a repository of helpful information for students and loved ones alike. Below, we've collected a few of our most "high yield" (a term your student will regularly hear in medical school) for your reference:

What to Expect When You're Expecting a Pre-Med Student: A Parent's Guide

What to Expect When You're Expecting a Med Student: A Parent's Guide

Pre-Med Video: Optimizing Gap Years

Pre-Med Video: Applying to Med School

How to Explain Med School to Friends and Family
How Loved Ones Can Support You During Your Medical Training
How to Pay for Medical School in the Real World
Explaining Step 1 to Friends and Family
7 Tips to Help You Succeed in Medical School
What to Expect at the Beginning of Medical School

Medical Training Exams, Acronyms, Organizations & More:

AACOM | The American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine


AACOMAS | The American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application System. 
Students use AACOMAS to apply to Osteopathic (DO) medical schools.


AAFP | American Academy of Family Physicians


AAMC | Association of American Medical Colleges


ABMS | American Board of Medical Specialties


ABMS MOC® | ABMS Maintenance of Certification


ACGME | Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education


AMA | American Medical Association


AMCAS® | American Medical College Application System


AOA | American Osteopathic Association


AOA Honor Society | Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society


Attending | Attending physicians have completed their training and are fully credentialed. You'll often hear this term when students talk about who they report to in their residency training.


Clinical Clerkship or Rotation | Often used interchangeably, Clerkships or Rotations are generally done in students' third year of medical school and are a major part of how medical students receive their clinical training. Clerkships can include:

• Emergency Medicine

• Family Medicine

• Internal Medicine

• Neurology

• Obstetrics & Gynecology (OB/GYN)

• Pediatrics

• Psychiatry

• Surgery


COMLEX-USA | Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination. Consists of 4 parts:

• Level 1 — Traditionally taken at the end of the second year of medical school. Computer-based exam.

• Level 2 CE — Cognitive Evaluation — Traditionally taken in the third year of medical school. Computer-based exam.

• Level 2 PE — Performance Evaluation — Traditionally taken in the third year of medical school.

• Level 3 — Traditionally taken during the first year of residency. Computer-based exam.


Comprehensive (Comp) Exam | An exam traditionally administered to students by Caribbean schools, with the requirement to pass the comp exam prior to taking the USMLE Step 1. 


DEA | Drug Enforcement Administration


Dedicated | Many students have a dedicated study period before they take a major exam, such as the MCAT, USMLE or COMLEX. For the USMLE Step 1, for example, a student's "dedicated" may be four to six weeks.


DO | Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree


ECFMG® | Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates


ERAS® | Electronic Residency Application Service


FCVS | Federation Credentials Verification Service


Fellow | A fellow has completed their medical residency, is fully credentialed and is obtaining additional specialized training for their sub-specialty through their fellowship. 


FMG | Foreign Medical Graduate


FSMB | Federation of State Medical Boards


GME | Graduate Medical Education


IMG | International Medical Graduate


IMLC | Interstate Medical Licensure Compact


Intern | This term is generally used for a first year medical resident.


MCAT® | Medical College Admissions Test


MD | Doctor of Medicine degree


NBME | National Board of Medical Examiners


NBOME | National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners

The names NBOME and the National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners are registered service marks of the National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners, Inc. (NBOME). The NBOME seal, the examination names COMAT, COMLEX, COMLEX-USA, COMSAE, COMVEX and CATALYST, and all other designated marks and styles are trademarks or service marks of the NBOME.


NRMP® | National Residency Match Program


OCC | Osteopathic Continuous Certification


Prometric Center | Testing centers where exams such as the COMLEX-USA and USMLE are administered and proctored.


Resident | When a medical student graduates from medical school, they enter their residency for their graduate medical training for 2–7 years and are often referred to as an "intern" in their first year of residency, and a resident thereafter. 


Shelf Exams | Clinical clerkship exams that are taken upon completing a given clerkship.


UA | The Uniform Application service (an FSMB service)


USMLE® | The United States Medical Licensing Examination. Consists of 4 parts:

• Step 1 — Traditionally taken at the end of the second year of medical school. Computer-based exam.

• Step 2 CK — Clinical Knowledge — Traditionally taken in the third year of medical school. Computer-based exam.

• Step 2 CS — Clinical Skills — Traditionally taken in the third year of medical school

• Step 3 — Traditionally taken during the first year of residency. Computer-based exam.


Kristin Rose's Unique Journey into Medical Education:

"Growing up my younger cousin and I lived under the same roof. Although we were raised in the same home we could not have had more different ideas of what our futures would look like. I dreamed of growing up and becoming the sixth Spice Girl, while Stevie dreamed of growing up to be an oral surgeon. While I forced our mothers to watch me reenact songs from the iconic 90s album and movie Spice World, Stevie lined cabbage patch dolls up on our bunk beds for imaginary dental procedures. 


Sadly, I don’t expect a call from Gerri Halliwell and the girls anytime soon. However, I am thrilled to share that Stevie recently graduated from Dental School, is studying hard for Step 1, and preparing for residency season! For our family the road has been long. We have watched Stevie go through highs and lows both academically and personally over the last decade, and at times it felt like becoming a Spice Girl might actually be easier than becoming a surgeon. 


Stevie is the first medical professional in our family and so the unknown was daunting. We wanted so badly to help but were not sure how. I am delighted to be taking on this new position at Med School Tutors so that I can help other families navigate this wild ride!"


How Med School Tutors Helps:

Med School Tutors was the first company to specialize in one-on-one tutoring for the USMLEs and COMLEX. Our track record of 14+ years of student successes is indicative of our dedication to our students, and to the personal touch and excellence across our team.


Whether your student needs weekly tutoring, "on demand" Pay As You Go help, or a one-time planning session to strategize about their dedicated study period or application, we guarantee that your student will be happy with the tutor they are matched with, and if not, we'll re-pair them with another tutor right away.


Want to discuss in more detail? To speak with one of our expert Student Relations Coordinators, email us or give us a call at 212-327-0098.