Category Archive: Pre-Med

A Map of All Medical Schools in the United States

Wondering where to apply for medical school or how many medical schools are located in your state? Check out my new map of all medical schools in the United States. As of May 2015 there are 179 total medical schools in the United States. This includes 143 allopathic (MD) and 36 osteopathic (DO) medical schools. I obtained the list and associated locations of each school from Wikipedia's current list of medical schools in the United States. Interestingly, New York is the state with the most medical schools (15), even more than both California (12) and Texas (11). Idaho is the largest state without a medical school (>1,500,000 people living in the state). Click on the icons below to see the name of each medical school.


Video: Empathy as a Physician

Studying your brains out for USMLE Step 1? Are you trying to keep your head above water on your surgery rotation? Are you an intern and can't remember why you ever chose medical school in the first place?

You need to watch this video put out by the Cleveland Clinic. It will help you remember.

Dealoz: Textbook Price Comparison

Throughout college and medical school I had to buy thousands of dollars worth of textbooks. During my first year of medical school I came across the world’s best textbook website:  DealOz allows you to search all available websites, auction sites, book stores, and online sites for the textbook you are looking for. All you need is a title or IBSN and DealOz will do the rest of the work.  If you have every used for flight tickets, DealOz works the same way by comparing all available options.

After inputting the book of choice, DealOz will compare all of these locations and report back to you the lowest price available. You can search for all available books, or you can choose to search only for ‘new’ books. DealOz will then link you to your seller of choice.  Try it, you will like it. I have saved hundreds of dollars using their website.

Again, here it is

The Best Free Software For Students

If you are anything like me, you will do anything to avoid paying thousands of dollars for the next Adobe product.  After ten years of higher education (and at least 4 to go!) I have tested hundreds of software packages; in this post I will list the best free and open source programs I have found.  Learn to love open source software…and you will soon learn how to spend those thousands of dollars you saved!  My software list will certainly not be a comprehensive list of all the great open source programs. For a complete list of free software programs I have three recommendations.

  • The best resource is which is a nearly complete collection of all reputable free software.
  • is a free website that lists hundreds of free software packages by category
  • is a compilation of hundreds of free and open source software programs that is easily searchable.



Google Chrome is a no-nonsense, super fast web browser.  Here is just one reference proving Chrome's speed superiority (from For mac users, Safari is a distant second.  While I used to enjoy Firefox, it takes nearly twice as long to load web pages than Chrome.  We all know how terrible Internet Explorer is.



OpenOffice is a well known counterpart to Microsoft Office.  The free software includes a fully capable word processor, a presentation organizer, and a fully loaded spreadsheet tool.  In essence, you get Word, PowerPoint, and Excel for free.  An added bonus, you can save any file in OpenOffice format OR in the corresponding Microsoft format so there will never be compatibility issues.



My love for Google products will now show through.  Google Calendar is simple and highly effective.  You can merge nearly all online calendars into your Google calendar account. You can send yourself reminders using email, phone call, or text message. You can list recurring events in any imaginable patter (e.g. same date each year, 2nd Saturday of March each year, etc.)



1. Gimp is a professional image editor with a student's pricetag.  This free program comes with nearly all the bells and whistles you would find in the newest version of Adobe Photoshop.  The user interface is not idea and takes some getting used to. However, with a price tag of $0 this is a great piece of software.


2. I have heard great things about Paint.Net.  I must admit, I have never used it because I have spent so much time using Gimp that I don't need anything else.  However, it is worth a try if you are looking for more free graphic editing options.



Audacity is a free, open-source program that facilitates the recording and editing of all audio and sound files.  I often use it to make my own 'radio edited' song versions.



Foxit Reader is far better than the free Adobe Reader. It requires far less resources when it is running on your computer, and it provides free mark-up tools including text editing, highlighting, commenting, and basic geometric shapes.



CutePDF Writer is the free version of CutePDFs vast line of products. The free writer allows you to convert any image, document, or screen shot to a PDF.  I use this product all the time. I save documents as PDFs and place them on my thumb drive rather than printing everything out.



There are actually quite a few free antivirus options out there. Many of the web giants (Google, Yahoo, MSN, etc) have their own free antivirus software. My personal favorite is Avast!, which the program that comes with GooglePak.  Just be sure you click on the FREE version, as they have other options.


PERSONAL FINANCE allows users to track all bank accounts, credit cards, loans, and investments in one place. The software is similar to costly software like Quicken, but is free and is web-based: which means you can check your information on any computer, any time.




The best resource in this category, I must admit, is not free. EndNote is a must-have resource for research and reports. It is user friendly and will save you hours of time by automatically plugging in your references and bibliography. There are a number of free programs that try to mimic EndNote's features. Some are good, but after trying them I ended up purchasing a student edition of EndNote because it is so much better.  Here is a list of free bibliography and reference managers. Or you can check out the wikipedia page which compares all reference managers, free and non-free.



R (The R Project for Statistical Computation) is a free text-based statistical computational software program.  It is not for the feint-hearted. The learning curve is steep, but once mastered, this free software provides all the tools to run any statistical analysis, graph, or plot.



Not all LaTeX editors are created equal.  WinEdt is a clean editor without the frills of other programs. I have used this software for 5 years and I have never had even one problem (something that can NOT be said about most LaTeX editors!)  The free version will frequently ask the operator to purchase the full version, but it is never required.



XMind assists individuals and teams in keeping track of ideas and goals. If you have never used mind-mapping software, you need to start. XMind creates the prettiest visual map, but there are other options that work just as well. FreeMind is another great one.



Did I forget something? If you know of more great, open source software please leave a comment.

The Medscape Physician Compensation Report 2011

(See my article about the new 2012 Medscape Compensation Report here)

If you have not seen it already, the newest physician compensation report was recently released by Medscape.  Each year Medscape surveys thousands of physicians and reports the results in graphical form.  In order to access the report, you have to be a medscape member.  Don’t let this stop you, by joining medscape you will also have access to some of the best software and portable medical apps for free (see my previous post regarding these apps).  It is a win-win situation.

The main report can be found here,

The report includes salary and compensation information on 23 specialties.  Medscape also publishes a specialty-specific report for each specialty which outlines geographical and practice specific factors that affect compensation.  The specialties are listed below with links to specialty specific reports (only available with Medscape account).

The National Health Service Corp (NHSC) Scholarship Program

The NHSC scholarship is one of the hidden jewels of medical school.  The scholarship is an agreement between the federal government and a student, similar to the armed forces scholarships.  The government will pay a full tuition scholarship plus incentives and stipends to a student who agrees to repay the government by working in ‘underserved’ areas of the country after completing residency.

Main Site:

Details and Overview:

Specialties: Any student interested in this scholarship must be interested in a primary care specialty.  The NHSC approves the following specialties: Family Practice, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Medicine/Pediatrics, OB/GYN, and Psychiatry.  A student will obtain the scholarship in medical school, will attend on of these residencies, and will then work the agreed upon number of years in an underserved area.
NOTE: While you are required to begin paying back your years of service directly after residency, once you have completed your repayment there is nothing stopping you from returning and completing a fellowship.  The NHSC Scholarship does not negate your ability to obtain a fellowship after you have completed your pay back years

Payback: The candidate is required to pay back one year for every year the scholarship is received, with a minimum of 2 years of pay back time.  So, if a student signs up prior to medical school and receives the scholarship for 4 years, he/she will owe 4 years back to the NHSC.  If a student signs up during the 4th year of medical school, he/she will still owe 2 years.

Locations: The GREAT PART about this scholarship is the options and autonomy it provides. Unlike the armed forces scholarships, YOU get to decide where you will work.  All you have to do is find a program ANYWHERE in the country that meets requirements.  The NHSC publishes a list (here)  of approved programs in every state and territory in the USA.  Each of these programs is designated a number based on how “underserved” it really is.  There is a threshold set each year that determines what types of jobs qualify as payback years.

The current threshold is 17, any oppurtunity listed on the NHSC website at or above 17 would qualify.  As you can see from the list, there are TONS of opportunities.  The best part is, you will still be paid like a physician when you work at these jobs, but you will also be paying back the government for your scholarship.

Applying: The scholarship is becoming increasingly competitive each year.  The table below is from the NHSC’s most recent publication.  While the number of applicants is increasing quickly, the number of scholarships is also increasing.  On their website, the NHSC mentions three criteria for candidate selection
1- Academic performance
2- Commitment to primary care
3- Absence of prior legal obligations


Payments During Medical School:
1- Tuition: “Tuition and required fees will be paid directly to the educational institution.”
2- Other Reasonable Costs:  Includes computer/PDA, books, health insurance, supplies, uniforms, school fees, many others
3- Stipend: “During the 2011-2012 school year, NHSC scholars will receive a monthly stipend amount of $1,289.00 (before Federal taxes) for living expenses.”  This equals $15,468 a year on top of tuition and other costs!