Cracking Med School Admissions Premed Glossary

Pre Med Glossary: Succeed On Your Medical School Applications

There is so much to know as a pre med or a parent of a pre med! So, our Cracking Med School Admissions team compiled a list of terms all pre med students should be familiar with in this pre med glossary.

This pre med glossary was designed with you in mind. Terms are sorted alphabetically by category. We also put helpful resources and links for you to read more. 

Pre med glossary table of contents:

Types of Medical Schools

Allopathic Medical School

A graduate of an allopathic medical school holds a MD degree. Allopathic schools have a highly symptom-based educational model.

Osteopathic Medical School

A graduate of an osteopathic medical school holds a DO degree. Although the curriculum is similar to that of an allopathic school there is more of an emphasis on holistic, rather than symptomatic care. For example, osteopathic medical school students learn manipulation techniques related to physical therapy. 

OUr Students Were Accepted at These Medical Schools the Past 2 Years!

Medical School Application

AAMC

AAMC stands for Association of American Medical Colleges and oversees medical education in the United States. It is responsible for managing and administering the MCAT, AMCAS, and ERAS applications

Acceptance Rate

A school’s overall acceptance rate is the number of students admitted to a program of the total number of students who applied. This is often a gauge of how selective schools are with highly selective schools having the lowest acceptance rates.

Acceptance Rate Yield (Matriculation Yield)

Acceptance rate yield is used interchangeably with matriculation yield. The acceptance rate yield is defined by the number of students who accept an offer of admission and matriculate to a medical school. Many schools try to keep this metric as high as possible to showcase how strong they are to aspiring applicants. Additionally, many medical school ranking publications utilize matriculation and acceptance rate yield as part of the formula to rank medical schools. 

AMCAS

AMCAS is the centralized online application service for the U.S. colleges of allopathic medicine, much like the Common Application for college admissions. The AMCAS is the most popular primary medical school application portals. Medical schools that require a separate primary medical school application include Texas medical schools and medical schools located in the Caribbean. 

AACOM

AACOM stands for the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine and oversees medical education for osteopathic schools in the United States. It also operates AACOMAS for prospective students to apply (see below).

AACOMAS

AACOMAS is the centralized online application service for the U.S. colleges of osteopathic medicine, much like the Common Application for college admissions.

BCPM GPA (Science GPA)

Your BCPM GPA is your overall science GPA. A subset of your overall GPA that includes biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics classes only. Many medical schools ask for or calculate this subset in order to get a more nuanced understanding of your scientific aptitude.

Board Certification

Board certification represents specialty-specific training after completing medical school. It is a voluntary process that demonstrates a physician’s commitment to a specific specialty and meeting advanced training requirements. Doctors typically become board certified after they graduate from medical school. 

Clinical Rotations

Clinical rotations occur in the second half of medical school. However, it is becoming increasingly popular for medical schools to start clinical rotations in the second year of medical, rather than the third year of medical school. Clinical rotations are part of the clinical phase of medical school that allows students to apply their medical knowledge in practical scenarios shadowing and working with medical teams.

Dual Degree and Joint Degree Programs

Joint degree programs are offered by many medical schools, which allow students to explore disciplines related to medicine in a condensed timeline and usually with a streamlined admissions process. The most popular dual degree programs are MD/PhD. MD/MBA’s (Medical Degree + Master’s in Business Administration), MD/MPH (Medical Degree + Master’s in Public Health), and MD/MPP (Medical Degree + Master’s in Public Policy) are becoming increasingly popular dual degree programs in United States universities.

Early Decision Program

Some medical schools offer early decision programs, which allows a prospective applicant to indicate a high preference for one school and receive an expedited admissions decision.

Medical School Electives:

Voluntary courses that medical students can take based on personal interest rather than for meeting core curriculum requirements. Our Cracking Medical School Admissions team strongly encourages pre meds to explore what electives they may pursue in medical school.  Graduate school electives can help students gain deeper expertise on a subject (think – upper division classes in college) or a broader understanding about healthcare issues. Dr. Rishi Mediratta, for instance, took many medical school electives related to global health and community health. Dr. Rachel Rizal, on the other hand, took many medical school electives related to building sustainable healthcare organizations and design thinking.

ERAS

ERAS is the centralized online application service for many U.S. based residency programs that medical students use to pursue post-graduate training.

Fellowship Training

After medical school, you will receive your medical degree. But, to receive more specialization and clinical training, trainees will pursue residency. After residency, physicians can pursue even more specialized training called Fellowship. While completing a fellowship is essentially a requirement for some highly specialized specialties, others do not choose to pursue fellowship training. Examples of fellowship training include: ultrasound, cardiology, and gastroenterology. 

Financial Aid

Financial aid is financial assistance received from an institution to help defray the cost of medical education.

Financial aid packages can take the form of the following components:

  • Grants (do not have to be repaid)
  • Scholarships (awards won and do not have to be repaid)
  • Loans (have to be repaid)
Letter of Intent

A letter of intent is written to medical school admissions committees during the medical school application cycle. The primary purpose of sending a medical school letter of intent is to notify a medical school admissions committee that the medical school is your #1 choice. Our Cracking Med School Admissions team recommends medical school applicants to only send a letter of intent if they are willing to matriculate to that medical school. 

Learn more about how to write a letter of intent:

Letter of Recommendation

A medical school letter of recommendation is a letter written by a mentor, professional superior, or teacher to an admissions committee to attest to one’s character and readiness to attend medical school.

Read the following resources for more information:

Matriculate

To matriculate to a medical school means accepting an offer of admission and choosing to join the school as part of its first year class in the next year of instruction.

MSAR

MSAR stands for Medical School Admission Requirements and is a resource that allows pre med students to research medical schools. Our Cracking Med School Admissions team advises students to use the MSAR to build a school list.

Read more resources:

Multiple Mini Interview

The medical school multiple mini interview is an interview format popularized by McMaster University in Canada that focuses on situational judgement and critical thinking instead of a character-based interview. The Cracking Med School Admissions created the first online Multiple Mini Course: Mastering the Multiple Mini Interview

Additional Resources for Multiple Mini Interviews:

Personal Statement

A personal statement is an essay sent to most medical schools that broadly addresses your path and character in preparation for attending medical school. It is usually the first essay that most admissions committee members read and is usually a great window into an applicant’s personality.

Preclinical years vs. Clinical years

A division between two major phases of medical school, roughly two years each. Preclinical years are focused on academic knowledge of medicine while clinical years seek to expose students to applying their knowledge as part of patient care.

Poster Presentation

A poster presentation is usually a large poster board detailing a premed’s research project.  The poster presentation is presented at a conference and showcases the background, hypothesis, methods, and results of a premed’s work.

Primary Application

The medical school primary application is the first application that a medical school applicant fills out. It typically consists of personal information data, extra-curricular activity descriptions, personal statement, and letters of recommendation. Primary applications include the AMCAS, AACOMAS, and TMDSAS.

Publication

A peer-reviewed scientific article that covers research work and its potential implications for the field. Usually a highly prized accomplishment for research.

Residency

Residency is specialized clinical training that occurs right after medical school. Residency programs last between 3 to 7 years and focuses primarily on patient care in the specialized field. Is completed after successfully passing the relevant board certification.

Popular residency programs include:

  • Anesthesia
  • Dermatology
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Family Medicine
  • General Surgery
  • Internal medicine
  • OB/GYN (Obstetrics and gynecology)
  • Ophthalmology
  • Orthopedic surgery
  • Plastic Surgery
  • Urology
  • General Surgery
Secondary Applications (Secondaries)

Secondary applications – oftentimes called “secondaries” – are school-specific applicants that an applicant receives after completing the general or “primary” application. Often includes much more targeted and school-specific questions that could not be covered on a more general application.

SOM

SOM is short for “School of Medicine.” 

Sub-Internship

A sub-internship is an opportunity for 4th year medical students to practice working as a resident intern in patient care under the supervision of a medical attending. A popular short-phrase term for “sub-internship” is “sub-i.” Medical school students typically do their first 1-2 sub-internships at their home medical school institution. Then, medical school students can choose to do “away rotations” and do sub-internships at other medical schools and hospitals. 

Thank you letter

A letter written to interviewers/admission staff to thank them for their time spend in getting to know you and evaluate you for admission. Most pre meds forget to send thank you letters and thank you notes after their medical school interviews. Read our blog for sample thank you letters to send after an interview. 

TMDSAS

TMDSAS stands for Texas Medical and Dental Schools Application Service. TMDSAS is the centralized online application service for medical schools in Texas, much like the Common Application for college admissions.

Traditional Medical School Interview

Traditional medical school interviews are the most common ways that medical schools assess candidates for admission that focuses on personality and character-based assessment. Traditional interviews are typically one-on-one and differ compared to multiple mini interviews.

UC (University of California)

UC stands for University of California.

UC medical schools include: 

  • UC, Davis School of Medicine
  • UC, Irvine School of Medicine
  • UC, Los Angeles (UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine)
  • UC, Riverside
  • UC, San Francisco
Update Letter

An update letter is written to medical school admissions committees during the medical school application cycle. An update letter provides updates in professional, academic, or extracurricular areas since the applicant’s primary application was submitted.

Learn more about how to write update letters:

WAMC

WAMC stands for “What are my chances.” WAMC is common area of focus on online forums in which prospective applicants suggest potential admissions odds for schools based on an applicant’s profile.

Premed Glossary

Attending Physician

An attending physician is senior physician who has completed all post-graduate residency and fellowship training and serves as the head of a medical team.

Bench research

Bench research focuses on cellular and molecular biology with implications for patient care, but usually limited interaction with patients.

Clinical Research

Clinical research is patient-focused research that usually involves human subjects being used to assess potential opportunities to improve patient care and management

Clinical Trial

A clinical trial is a crucial part of the process of gaining a biological licensing approval from the FDA (Food & Drug Administration) for the use of a particular drug or intervention in patient care. Usually is a double-blinded and large scale effort that focuses on assessing the efficacy of a drug or intervention.

Cover Letter

A cover letter is a common requirement of many job applications that looks to understand your background, relevant experience, and goals to assess fit with a job’s requirements. In your cover letter, it is important to discuss why you are a good fit for the job.

More tips about cover letters:

Debt

Debt occurs when someone owes money to another person or entity. Students who take on loans to pay for school will be in debt to their creditors until they are able to repay their loans.

Gap Year

Gap year is something some pre-med students choose to do prior to matriculating to medical school. Gap years occur after undergraduate studies and before medical school. Dr. Rachel Rizal took two gap years prior to medical school. Dr. Rishi Mediratta took three gap years prior to medical school. Read more about what they did during their gap years here

GPA

GPA stands for Grade Point Average. Typically, medical schools give 4 points for A’s, 3.67 points for A-‘s, 3.33 points for B+’s, 3.0 points for B’s, 2.67 points for B-‘s, 2.33 points for C+’s, and 2.0 points for C’s. 

Healthcare Consulting

Healthcare consulting is a job a pre med can pursue during summer internships and after college. Healthcare consulting is professional path that focuses on advising companies, physicians, and other entities in the healthcare industry on business decisions, operational improvements, and strategic initiatives.

Internship

An internship is an opportunity to explore different professional opportunities in a structured, but short term format, usually over summer breaks. Some colleges who have longer winter breaks allow students to pursue winter internships. 

Lab-based courses

Lab-based courses are complementary to many basic science lecture courses to showcase potential applications of these sciences. For example, your biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, and physics courses may have a lab-based component. Read more about premed requirements here:  Premed Timeline: Preparing for Medical School.

Master’s Degree

Master’s degrees are 1-2 year post-college degrees that is aimed at engaging in a more advanced study of a particular field. Popular Master’s programs pre-med students pursue are Master’s in Hospital Administration (MHA), Master’s in Business Administration (MBA), and Master’s in Medicine, and Master’s in Public Health (MPH).

MS1 / MS2 / MS3 / MS4

MS1, MS2, MS3, and MS4 are divisions between years of students at medical school. They stand for Medical Student 1, Medical Student 2, Medical Student 3, and Medical Student 4, with the number denoting what year of medical school a person is currently in. 

On-campus versus off-campus

Different living options for students, usually based on the proximity they want to a central campus.

Post-graduate scholarships

Post-graduate scholarships are merit-based opportunities where students can pursue additional graduate degrees or conduct research after college. funding.

Popular post-graduate scholarships, but are extremely competitive, include:

  • Fulbright
  • Gates
  • Marshall
  • Rhodes
PGY1 / PGY 2 / PGY 3 / PGY 4

These terms are used to denote what year of residency a physician is in. As premeds, you may encounter these terms while shadowing doctors.

Premed Requirements (pre-requisites)

Premed requirements or pre-requisites are required courses pre med students need prior to applying to medical school. 

While the specifics may vary between different medical schools, most medical schools will require the following courses:

  • 1 semester of Math:
  • 2 semesters of general chemistry with lab
  • 2 semesters of organic chemistry with lab
  • 2 semesters of physics with lab: 
  • 2 semesters of Biology with lab: 
  • 2 semesters of English or intensive classes
Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT)

A randomized controlled trial is a scientific experiment method that seeks to reduce bias when evaluating new treatment options by assigning subjects to testing groups randomly.

Resume

A resume is a document that catalogues one’s education, past work experiences, and accomplishments, usually to apply to a job. Get our Cracking Med School tips on how to write a great resume. You can even download a resume template! 

Residential Advisor (RA)

A residential advisor is a peer in college who oversees the health and safety of residents in on-campus housing. Many pre med applicants write about their RA experiences on their medical school applications, often reflecting on leadership qualities and conflict resolution. 

PhD

PhD is short for Doctor of Philosophy and is a post-college degree that focuses on gaining highly advanced training in a specific discipline. PhD programs typically require rigorous research about a typical topic.

Public Health

Public health is a division of healthcare that focuses on safeguarding and improving the health of a national or global population. Public health scholars think about improving the overall health of a population.

Shadowing

Shadowing is a common extracurricular activity that pre-meds pursue, where students shadow healthcare professionals to see what the daily life and requirements of their job entails. Through shadowing, a pre-med can learn more about the profession or medicine. They can also gain insights about patient care and clinical medicine. Want to shadow a doctor? Read our tips on shadowing doctors here: How To Shadow A Doctor

Study Abroad

Study abroad programs are opportunities offered by many colleges to pursue education outside of the United States under their auspices for a semester or longer.

Teaching Assistant (TA)

Teaching Assistant positions are roles undergrads and graduate students can pursue in college, where you teach course material. Teaching Assistants are great resources for pre meds during their introductory science courses.

USMLE

USMLE stands for United States medical licensure exam and consists of three parts that must be taken during medical school in order to get licensed to practice medicine.

Clinical Terms

Familiarize yourself with these terms before you shadow a doctor.

Acute versus Chronic

Acute conditions are sudden in onset, whereas chronic conditions developed over time. Whether a symptom is acute versus chronic may affect a doctor’s medical decision making.

Acupressure

Acupressure is an alternative medicine technique that uses a needle to send a signal to the body to activate immunological or healing mechanisms.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a form of alternative medicine where thin needles are inserted into the body to relieve pain. Patients may turn to acupuncture for pain symptoms. 

Alternative Medicine

Alternative medicine includes treatments and procedures that have not been formally endorsed or supported entirely by scientific knowledge.

Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s Disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that slowly destroys memory and critical thinking and is the most common cause of dementia in older adults.

Amputation

Amputation is removal of a limb, usually due to irreparable damage or infection.

Anesthesia

Anesthesia is a state of controlled and temporary loss of sensation or consciousness induced medically to prevent or relieve pain.  Anesthesia is typically administered by a trained anesthesia technician, anesthesia nurse, or anesthesia physician. 

Assisted Living

Assisted living is a living facility for people with disabilities or for adults who cannot or choose not to live independently

Asymptomatic

Asymptomatic means a patient does not display symptoms (common disease markers) of a particular disease or disorder. For example, a person can be infected with a viral infection like COVID-19, but be asymptomatic, meaning that he or she does not exhibit any symptoms.

Attending Physician

An attending physician is senior physician who has completed all post-graduate residency and fellowship training and serves as the head of a medical team.

Autoimmune Disease

An autoimmune disease is a disease when the immune system mistakenly attacks the body, thinking that the body’s cells are infectious agents. Autoimmune diseases including inflammatory bowel disease, Celiac’s Disease, Diabetes Type 1, and Lupus.

Basic Life Support (BLS)

Basic Life Support, frequently called “BLS,” is a level of medical care used by victims of life-threatening illnesses or injuries until they can be provided with full medical care.

BMI

BMI stands for Body Mass Index, which is a common metric used to assess an individual’s health and fitness based on their sex, height, and weight. Physicians use BMI to determine whether an individual is underweight, normal, overweight, or obese.

Cancer

Cancers are a set of diseases caused by abnormal, uncontrollable growth or proliferation of cells. Common causes of cancer in the United States include: breast cancer, colon cancer, and lung cancer.

Cardiac

Pertaining to the heart. For example: cardiac rhythms (heart rhythms)

Cardiac Arrest

A sudden and unexpected loss of function of the heart that leads to a cessation of breathing and consciousness.

Cardioversion

A procedure that restores a normal heart rhythm following an abnormal heartbeat (arrhythmias) via electric shocks or medication. As a pre-med, you may witness cardioversions on the cardiac unit or emergency room.

CPR

CPR stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation. CPR is typically performed when an individual is unconscious, unresponsive, or not breathing. Additionally, you should immediately do CPR if a person is unresponsive and you do not feel a pulse. Many pre-meds who become Emergency Responders become trained in CPR. 

CT Scan

CT Scan stands for computerized tomography scan that combines a series of X-ray images from different angles to create cross-sectional images of bones, blood vessels, and soft tissues inside of the body. Sometimes, you will hear healthcare professionals call CT scans “Cat scans.” 

Cyanosis / Cyanotic

A blue or gray coloring of the skin, nails, lips, or around the eyes, usually indicating a lack of oxygen in the blood.

Dementia

Dementia refers to a loss of memory, language, problem-solving, and other cognitive capabilities that profoundly affects one’s ability to perform normal daily functions. Dementia is often seen in the elderly.

Diabetes

Diabetes is a disease in which an individual’s blood glucoses levels are too high, preventing adequate absorption of glucose, the energy building block of your body. Of note, there are two forms of diabetes: Type I (usually diagnosed at a young age) and Type II (more common amongst older adults).

Digit

Doctors commonly refer to a finger as a digit.

DNI

DNI is an abbreviation for Do Not Intubate. You will see or hear this when physicians talk about an individual’s code status. 

DNR

DNR is an abbreviation for Do Not Resuscitate

ED / ER (Emergency Department / Emergency Room)

The Emergency Department is a section within a hospital that focuses on serving ambulatory patients with highly time-sensitive medical concerns or during hours when specialists are not available.

EKG / ECG

An EKG is an electrocardiogram, which records the electrical signal from your heart which can be used by medical professionals to check for abnormal heart functionality.

Encounter

A patient encounter is a term to describe a patient visit and interaction with a physician.

EMT (Emergency Medical Technician)

EMT stands for Emergency Medical Technician and is a healthcare professional who provides emergency medical services, usually from an ambulance. Getting EMT certified and becoming an EMT is an extremely popular activity pre med students. 

Epi-Pen

An Epi-pen is an auto-injector device that can be used in emergency situations to inject epinephrine (adrenaline) into the body after a severe allergic reaction. Individuals with known severe allergic reactions may carry an epi-pen with them.

ESRD

ESRD stands for end-stage renal disease and is a medical condition that occurs when a person’s kidney fails. Patients with ESRD typically need dialysis and close monitoring of his and her electrolytes. 

Family Medicine Physician

A family medicine physician is a physician who works with patients over many years to ensure their continued health and wellness. This can include providing routine screenings, administering vaccinations, and monitoring chronic conditions. Family medicine physicians work with both pediatric and adult patients. Family medicine physicians can work in both outpatient clinics and in-patient hospital settings. 

Internal Medicine Physician

An internal medicine physician that focuses on treating disorders involving one or more organ systems within the body. An internal medicine physician works with only adult patients. Internal medicine physicians can work in both outpatient clinics and in-patient hospital settings. Internal medicine physicians can also pursue fellowships, or sub-specialties, including: gastroenterology, rheumatology, cardiology, pulmonary disease and critical care, and hematology & oncology.

Gastric

Relating to the stomach. Common times you will hear this term include “gastric cancer” and “gastric vessels.”

Geriatrician

A physician who focuses on the health of older adults.

GI Doctor

A physician who specializes in disorders of the gastrointestinal tract.

Hemorrhage

Hemorrhage is the release of blood from a ruptured blood vessel, either inside or outside the body. Hemorrhage can result in severe consequences if not controlled quickly. 

Hypertension

Hypertension is also referred to as high blood pressure. Hypertension occurs because the force of the blood against the blood vessel walls is too high, which can result in severe health conditions such as heart disease or stroke later in life. In doctor’s offices and hospitals, you will see medical professionals measure somebody’s blood pressure with a blood pressure cuff. This is a great medical procedure you can learn as a pre med.

Infarct

An infarct is a small area of dead tissue within the body resulting from a lack of blood supply over a period of time. For example, when a person suffers from a stroke, their brain may be infarcted.

Intubation

Intubation is a medical procedure where a tube is inserted into the airway of a patient when they are unable to breathe normally themselves. Intubations often occur in the operating room, intensive care unit, and emergency department.

Ischemia

Ischemia occurs when there is inadequate blood supply to an organ of a body, typically because a vessel is blocked. Common times you will hear this term in the hospital include: “ischemic heart disease,” “ischemic heart attack,” and “ischemic stroke.”

ICU

ICU stands for intensive care unit and is a special department of a hospital that provides care for high risk or complex patients.

Malignant

Cancerous. As an example, “malignant tumor.”

MRI

MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging and is an imaging technique that uses magnetism to form a view of the anatomy and certain physiological processes.

OB/GYN

An OB/GYN is a physician who practices obstetrics and gynecology. Physicians specialize in OB/GYN during residency. 

On-call

On-call is a term used by hospital staff to denote a physician or nurse who is on duty and the first point of contact.

Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy is a branch of medicine that uses assessments and intervention to develop recovery plans to regain capabilities to perform daily activities.

Opioid

Opioid a class of drugs that produce a state of euphoria and can be used for pain relief. Recently, they have been highly abused drugs, with overdoses increasing annually. The opioid epidemic is one of the top current events we suggest pre-meds to read about. 

Pathology

Pathology is the study of the causes and effects of disease an injury to understand root causes or potential therapeutic pathways

Patient presentation

Patient presentation how a patient appears physically, mentally, and emotionally during a visit with a physician. Patient presentation can also refer to a physician communicating with another physician colleague about a patient. Patient presentations usually follows the “SOAP format:” Subjective, Objective, Assessment, and Plan.

PCP

PCP is an abbreviation for primary care provider.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy uses kinesiology, exercise, education, and electrical and physical to treat acute or chronic pain following an injury to return an individual to normal functionality. Patients may be referred to physical therapy by physicians if they suffer from pain, after a surgery, or after a physical injury. 

Pimping

Pimping refers to senior physicians asking questions to junior physicians. For example, “during the open heart surgery, the attending surgeon pimped the medical school student about the anatomy of the lungs and heart.” 

Pulmonology

Pulmonology is a field of medicine that focuses on diagnosing and treating respiratory system disorders and is a subset of internal medicine.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses beams of radiation to kill cancer cells.

Resident

A resident is a  physician in their first years of post-graduate training, which involves increasing patient responsibilities and autonomy to care for patients in preparation to become an attending. A first year resident is typically called an “intern.” 

Rounds

Rounds refers to the physician in charge going “around” and checking up on all his or her patients. During rounds, physicians typically review physical exam findings and lab results. Additionally, physicians modify treatment plans and order additional diagnostic work-up if needed. 

Social Worker

A social worker is a professional who helps patients and their families to assess and solve problems in their lives.

TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack)

A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is a temporary blockage of blood flow to the brain. Patients who experience TIA symptoms, such as speech difficulties, facial drooping, and limb weakness, should get additional diagnostic testing for stroke risk. 

Ulcer

An ulcer is an open sore on an external or internal surface of the body that results from a break in the skin.

Ultrasound

An ultrasound is a medical diagnostic procedure that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images of structures within your body to help diagnose and treat a variety of diseases and conditions.

Viral infection

A viral infection is the proliferation of a virus inside of one’s body that results when the virus hijacks the cell’s internal machinery to produce more virus particles.

Will

A will is a legal document that stipulates how one’s possessions should be distributed following one’s death. 

Withdrawal (substance use)

The symptoms that can occur following the abrupt cessation of the use of a highly addictive substance (i.e. drugs).

X-ray

An x-ray is a diagnostic technology that uses electromagnetic radiation to generate images of tissues and structures inside the body.

Healthcare Terminology

All pre-med students should familiarize themselves with these healthcare terms. While the last section focused more on clinical medicine, these terms focus on broader healthcare terms. 

Read our high-yield current events guide: Top 10 Current Events You Need To Know For Your Medical School Applications

CDC (Centers for Disease Control)

The CDC is a public health institute in the United State that is responsibility for overseeing the protection and safety of public health by preventing the spread of disease, injury, and disability. The CDC is based in Georgia. 

Co-insurance

Co-insurance is a type of insurance in which the insured party is responsible for paying a share of the charges from a medical visit.

Co-pay

Co-pay is a fixed amount that the insured party has to pay to the provider before receiving service.

COVID-19

COVID-19 is a global pandemic that emerged in 2019 in the Wuhan province of China and quickly spread around the world, resulting in millions of infections and deaths.

Deductible

Deductible is the amount that an insured party must pay to medical providers before insurance coverage will become available.

Generic drug vs prescription drug

Generic drugs are drugs that are not patent protected and are therefore manufactured by many pharmaceutical companies. Prescription drugs are drugs that must be recommended by a medical professional to purchase.

Healthcare Disparities

Healthcare disparities refer to a higher burden of illness, injury, disability, or mortality experienced by one social or biological group relative to others. Causes of healthcare disparities relate to differences in individuals’ socio-economic status. 

HMO vs. PPO

HMOs these are two health insurance coverage schemes. HMOs provide access to certain doctors and hospitals within its network who have agreed to lower their rates and meet the insurances’ quality standards. PPO plans are a preferred provider organization that provides more flexibility on which doctors to see but has higher costs associated with it.

Low-income vs. middle-income vs. high-income (countries)

This designation applied to countries to denote their relative socioeconomic status and by extension, development and infrastructural capabilities. Low-income, middle-income, and high-income countries replaced previous terminology of “first-world countries” and “third-world countries.” Low-income and middle-income countries are referred to as “developing countries.” High-income countries are referred to as “developed countries.” The World Bank classifies countries by income each year. 

Medicaid

Medicaid is a federal and state program that helps to defray costs associated with medical care for those with limited income and resources.

Medicare

Medicare is a national health insurance program for people age 65 and older to help defray the costs of medical care, which increase significantly as one ages.

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

The NIH is an agency of the U.S. government that funds and oversees most of the the biomedical and public health research that occurs nationally. Premeds can pursue gap years and conduct research at the NIH.

Out-of-network Provider

An out-of-networker provider is a medical provider who does not have an agreement with an insurance company to reduce rates and has a higher cost burden for patients who choose to see these providers.

Out-of-pocket (health insurance)

An individual pays out-of-pocket when the healthcare cost comes upon the patient and is not covered or agreed to by an insurance company.

QOL

The abbreviation QOL is sometimes referenced in healthcare research, and stands for “quality of life.”

Rural Health

Rural health refers to healthcare issues in rural areas. the health and wellness of populations in more rural and less urban parts of the country. Many of the individuals in these populations suffer from workforce shortages, socioeconomic factors, and health equity concerns from a lack of available medical resources.

Social Determinants of Health

Social determinants of health are the numerous conditions and factors in the environments in which people live and work that affect their health, wellness, and quality-of-life.

Socio-Economic Status (SES)

SES is a metric that is depends on one’s social standing or class based on education background, income, and occupation.

Surgeon General

The Surgeon General is a presidential appointee who is the leading voice on matters of public health in the federal government of the United States and oversees the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.

Urban Health

The health and wellness of populations in highly urban parts of the country (e.g. cities). Many of the individuals in these populations suffer from significant disparities in access and treatment equity. Issues in urban health include pollution, lack of public spaces for walking, violence, pedestrian accidents, and densely packed spaces that make infectious disease spread more likely. 

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