A Tool to Capture the Surprising Cost of Applying to Medical School

FPCS worked with Student Doctor Network to improve usability of their Medical School Application Cost Calculator


Student Doctor Network is the largest online medical community of students and doctors. Their Application Cost Calculator helps students determine the total cost of applying to medical school.

Huntington Beach, CA

  • Design Methods
  • Research
  • Ideation & Product Design
  • Prototyping
  • Brand Identity
  • Visual Design
  • UI Development

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The Challenge

Student Doctor Network (SDN) is the largest online medical community of students and doctors with over 16 million page views per month. As part of their mission to “Help Students Become Doctors,” SDN creates tools to aid students in all steps of the medical school admission, retention, and graduation process. Needs are determined based on the active SDN Forums where students, residents, and physicians discuss all facets of studying and practicing medicine. SDN has popular tools for Studying for the MCAT, Selecting a Medical Specialty, Choosing a Medical School or Residency Program.

In 2017, SDN wished to add a new tool to address a common need among premeds: the cost of applying to medical school. Premeds are aware that the cost of attending medical school in the United States is expensive. However, many prospective students are unaware that they will spend thousands of dollars just to apply.

Key Insights

SDN worked with Brown University MS-1 Benjamin Shapiro to design a basic flow for the Medical School Application Cost Calculator. They then engaged with Flower Press Creative Studio to complete UI design and development for the tool. We started with stakeholder and beta user interviews to gather insights on their experience thus far. Our early interviews yielded this Product Insight:

Premeds were unaware of the number of expenses associated with applying to medical school and therefore felt overwhelmed by the number of items the calculator was tracking. Users asked for some indication of progress through the tool, and total time commitment required.

The Solution

This Product Insight heavily influenced our product design approach. On the dashboard, we indicate the time required, and prominently display a progress bar, which also serves as a navigational element throughout the entire progression.


Based on user feedback, we also included access to the Cost Totals, with a fixed bar along the bottom on the screen, throughout the application.


Another useful function, present within the tool, is the ability to reduce costs and determine eligibility for financial assistance. Users have access to eligibility requirements, and costs will be automatically reduced if they qualify.


With these adjustments, the SDN pre-medical community has used the tool a great deal, and given it positive feedback.

sdn-calculator3 sdn-calculator3

The result is a simple, easy-to-use application that is immensely useful for medical school admission planning.

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