There are 125 Medical Schools and 19 Osteopathic schools in the U.S. In 1998 there were 41,000 applicants for 16,170 spots in traditional medical schools (see www.aamc.org/stuapps/facts/famg3.htm). There were 9,500 applicants for 2,500 spots in Osteopathic schools. Application is usually made towards the end of junior year of college. There is a centralized application service run by A.M.C.A.S. (American Medical College Application Service) for M.D. schools (cost - $55 for 1st school and decreasing amount for additional schools) and A.A.C.O.M.A.S. (American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine) for D.O. schools. 113 of the 125 medical schools participate in the AMCAS program. There is also the AMCAS-E which allows you to send the application over the Internet. Basically you fill out the application, which includes your grades, personal information and a personal essay and send it to them. They verify the information and send it to the schools that you designate. This saves you from filling out multiple applications and gives the medical school verified information in a standard form. The essay on this application is very important and should be personal, interesting and fun to read. It needs to set you apart from the other applicants.
Some medical schools require secondary applications and letters of recommendation. Many colleges have a premedical committee that writes a unified recommendation letter about each student. It is vitally important that your college send a good letter of recommendation about you.
Pre-Med students apply to average of 13 medical schools. You should generally apply to all the schools in your state, some that you feel are your safe schools, and some that you can only dream of getting into. State supported medical schools take an overwhelming majority of students from their own state. It is close to impossible to get into a state supported medical school if you are not a resident of that state. Occasionally they will take some students from neighboring states or states without medical schools (Alaska, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming).