Medical Schools in Tennessee

Doctors looking at lab results

 Tom Werner / Getty Images

The state of Tennessee has 160 institutions of higher education, but only four of those schools train doctors. The mission and admissions standards vary significantly, but all medical schools in Tennessee require strong undergraduate preparation in chemistry, biology, physics, and English.

If you are interested in earning your M.D. in the state, here are your options.

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East Tennessee State University College of Medicine

Stanton-Gerber Hall, Eastern Tennessee State University Quillen College of Medicine
Stanton-Gerber Hall, Eastern Tennessee State University Quillen College of Medicine.

 Boboskaditdatin / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Located in Johnson City, the James H. Quillen College of Medicine was established in 1978, making it over 100 years younger than the other three schools on this list. The college has strengths in both rural and primary care medicine. The college is part of a medical campus that includes ETSU's College of Nursing, College of Clinical and Rehabilitative Health Sciences, College of Public Health, and Gatton College of Pharmacy. The medical campus sits just north of East Tennessee State University's main campus.

The college takes pride in its small classes, collegiality, faculty/study collaborations, and the personal attention students receive. The small town location in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains may also be a draw for many students. Quillen is home to seven clinical departments: Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Pathology, Pediatrics, Psychiatry, and Surgery.

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Meharry Medical College School of Medicine

Hulda Margaret Lyttle Hall at Meharry Medical College
Hulda Margaret Lyttle Hall at Meharry Medical College.

Andrew Jameson / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Founded in 1876, Meharry Medical College is home to a medical school, dental school, and graduate school. The institution has programs leading to several health-related graduate degrees including Doctor of Medicine, Doctor of Philosophy, Doctor of Dental Surgery, Master of Science in Public Health, and Master of Science. Located in Nashville, the college has the distinction of being the oldest historically Black medical school in the South. The college is affiliated with the United Methodist Church.

Meharry admits 115 medical students annually. Residents can train in six areas: Internal Medicine, Family Practice, Occupational Medicine, OB/GYN, Preventive Medicine, or Psychiatry. The School of Medicine focuses on serving vulnerable and underserved populations in the U.S. The college is home to numerous research centers including the Sickle Cell Center, Asthma Disparities Center, Data Science Center, and Center for AIDS Health Disparities Research. Many of Meharry's centers focus on addressing disparities in health care.

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University of Tennessee College of Medicine

Cancer Research Center at the University of Tennessee Health Scienc eCenter in Memphis
Cancer Research Center at the University of Tennessee Health Scienc eCenter in Memphis.

 Mclhouse / Wikipedia

With its main campus in Memphis' Medical District, the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) College of Medicine has broad reach across the state through its affiliations with numerous teaching hospitals in Nashville, Knoxville, and Chattanooga. The large Memphis campus is home to 25 departments including anesthesiology, neurosurgery, pharmacology, and radiation oncology. Supporting medical education is the college's 45,000 square foot state-of-the-art simulation center. U.S. News & World Report ranked the college #78 in the country for research and #62 for primary care.

UTHSC is home to many research centers including the Neuroscience Institute, Center for Health Systems Improvement, and the Connective Tissues Diseases Center of Excellence. The Center for Women and Children's Health is located in the Knoxville Campus.

Admission to the College of Medicine is selective. Each class is limited to 170 new students, and recent entering classes have had a mean undergraduate GPA of 3.7 (in both science and non-science classes) and a 510 on the MCAT. A strong personal statement, interview, and recommendations are also important.

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Vanderbilt University School of Medicine

The Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
The Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt.

SenatorDF / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

The Vanderbilt University School of Medicine has the highest overall rankings of Tennessee's M.D. programs. U.S. News & World Report ranked Vanderbilt #16 in the country for research, #23 for primary care, and #10 for the internal medicine specialty. The school also ranks in the top 20 for surgery, anesthesiology, radiology, psychiatry, and pediatrics.The school can boast of an impressive 7:1 faculty to student ratio.

Vanderbilt takes pride in its ever-evolving curriculum, and students gain valuable clinical and research experiences from their first year. Students can play an active role at the Shade Tree Clinic, a free clinic founded by Vanderbilt medical students. The campus is also home to 500 biomedical laboratories, and the Vanderbilt University Medical Center provides students with the opportunity to work directly with patients.

The school's campus sits just southwest of downtown Nashville, on the main campus of Vanderbilt University. Athletic facilities and other campus resources are all within a short walking distance.

Vanderbilt's School of Medicine is highly selective, and for the 2019-20 application cycle the school received 5,880 applications, from which 658 students were invited to interview. From those that interview, the school enrolls a class of about 100 students.

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Grove, Allen. "Medical Schools in Tennessee." ThoughtCo, Jan. 7, 2021, Grove, Allen. (2021, January 7). Medical Schools in Tennessee. Retrieved from Grove, Allen. "Medical Schools in Tennessee." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 6, 2023).