Getting Into Medical School

Most Recent Published Article

Here is a link to my most recent article for In-Training magazine:

Rural Appalachia: A Medical Mission in Our Own Backyard

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The following is a list I have comprised of FREE, yes FREE USMLE or COMLEX style questions. Some are directly from the test writers themselves, and others may require you to register for the free question banks (i.e. Kaplan). Either way, there is more than enough free samplings here for you to not register for anything and still have loads of good, legitimate study questions. Happy Studying!!!

Summer Studying Before Your First Semester of Med School

So, several of y’all have emailed me asking, “Hey Joey, what can I study the summer before entering medical school to get the edge?” My standard answer is what most medical schools want me to say, including mine, which is, “Don’t study anything because once you get in there you will have so much information thrown at you that it’ll be like ‘trying to drink water from a fire hose/hydrant’ and blah, blah, blah.”

But, I’ll go ahead and give you the real scoop, you gunner you. See, I know what you’re doing, and I respect that. I certainly didn’t write 4 publications, become a peer-reviewer for Lippincott, keep my grades up, form my company’s LLC, do research, and clock in more than 100 volunteer hours during my first year of medical school by NOT staying ahead of the game and NOT getting the edge on!

Time is of the essence, and for those of you who know me, you also know that I’ve got a wife in nurse practitioner school who works full-time, plus an 8-year old. Believe it or not, we still have time to spend together as a family – often! I only say all of this because I ALWAYS question the credibility of someone suggesting something for me before I apply to my life – especially something as important and vital as a change of study habit. So, I feel ya, and I wouldn’t steer you wrong.

Keep in mind that eBooks will be available for download pretty soon detailing how to do all of this in medical school and keep your head on straight! Remember, the motto is to “work smart, not hard.” Working hard only gets you tired and your brain can’t retain when it’s tired.

Anyway, the following is a list of items that almost all medical students (this includes osteopathic) must learn during their first semester (typically). I will release a second semester list before Christmas break. Remember to check out my other page “Medical Student Study Page” for links on the best resources I know of for studying much of the material. You may want to bookmark that page for future reference during you first and second years of medical school, as I will update it with material you will need up to taking the USMLE and COMLEX. Here’s the list, and good luck studying!

Learn all of the Cranial Nerves and whether they are motor, sensory, or both

– suggested mnemonics for this:

On Ooccasion Our Trusty Truck Acts Funny, Very Good Vehicle Any How”

olfactory, optic, occulomotor, trochlear, trigeminal, abducens, facial, vestibulocochlear (AKA auditory), glossopharyngeal, vagus, accessory, hypoglossal

Some Say Marry Money, But My Brother Says it’s Bad Business to Marry Money”

“S” stands for Sensory, “M” stands for Motor, “B” stands for Both

Learn the foramina of the skull and what nerve(s) exit each

Learn all the sutures of the skull

Learn all the lobes, fissures of the brain

Brachial Plexus – Draw it Out (trust me on this!!!)

Forearm Muscles and their Innervations

Sacral Plexus

Origin and Insertion points of:

– Upper arm muscles

– Forearm muscles

The Gait Cycle

All the steps (including the enzymes involved) of:

– Glycolysis (including the electron transport chain components)



– lipolysis

Familiarize yourself with the following:

– Cahill Cycle

– Cori Cycle

Learn the 5 GLUT transporters and where they are located

Learn all of the products of the pituitary gland and their releasing hormones:

– example: adenohypophysis produces Mi FLAT PiG (the “i” is for ignore) and the releasing hormones are CRH, GnRH, TRH, GHRH

– example: what two products does the neurohypophysis release?

-Extra TidBit: know that the RHs act on the “trophs” which release the products

– example: the CRH acts on the melanotrophs and corticotrophs to release MSH and ACTH, respectively

This should get you good for now. If you need any assistance, email me at:

Top Ten Interview Questions


So, you’re applying to/for _________ (insert intimidating event here). What is it for you? Medical school, a graduate program, nursing school, an undergraduate school, a competitive scholarship, or your first job? Regardless of which one of these situations applies to you, there are a few questions you should be ready to answer. Before presenting these common questions to you, I will give you a little background on why I chose to write this article.

Many of you have taken me up on my mock interviews so far. I have thoroughly enjoyed doing these with you, and given the feedback, so have you. For those of you who have not yet had a mock interview with me, I ask a series of the ten most common questions I have either asked or been asked in interviews. I was fortunate enough to have served on several different committees in my past jobs and colleges where I assisted with interviewing people for jobs, scholarships, and/or admission.

I have had several interviews that included my being “grilled” by anywhere from 3 – 13 people staring intensely at me as if they were going to press some button that would make the floor drop from under me if I answered something incorrectly. I have also had one-on-one casual interviews that were much more conversational in nature than expected. I must say, I have come to absolutely love what is called the interview experience now.

      Each one is like a patient – it presents with its own distinctive qualities, so you cannot generalize them all as the same. Yet, they do share some commonalities among them, so you can prepare for them enough to feel somewhat comfortable with them at a base level – a groundwork from which to begin working.

      Without going in too much detail about facial expressions and body language (that’s what the ebook is for!), I will say this – you should know when the interview is done whether or not you have a chance in heck of getting in/hired/making it to the next stage in the process. But, make no mistake about it – these questions I am about to present are asked often, and they will trip you up if you are not prepared for them! Furthermore, you should be aware that your answers to these questions possess the power to make or break the whole interview! Without further ado, I now present to you my top 10 list.

       – Tell me about yourself

       – Why do you want to _________ (work here/become a doctor/become a nurse/etc.)

       – What are your strengths?

       – What are your weaknesses?

       – What would you do if you caught your friend cheating on a test?

      – Why should we choose you out of all the other applications?

       – Where do you see yourself in five – ten years?

       – What do you think this job/occupation/program entails?

       – Who has been an inspiration to you and why?

      – What questions do you have for us? (variant way of asking: Do you have any questions for us?)

Please be aware that ALL of these questions come with pitfalls and ways to absolutely knock them out of the park! However, that’s for another conversation. Good luck and happy hunting!=)

For Medical Students Only: Scholarships!!!


Here is the short list of scholarships for medical students that I use. As mentioned in the nursing students blog, email me for the longer list. Good luck! This was compiled from the same scholarship list that I use. Happy applying, and as always….Remember that our proof-reading services are also available=)

Marvin and Kathleen G Teget Leadership Scholarship (for DO students)

ACOFP Scholarships (for DO students)

Commitment to Diversity SOMA  (for DO students)

AMA Minority Scholars Award

SAAOCFP Scholarship (for DO students)

Piscano Scholars Leadership Program 

Indian Health Services Scholarships

AMA Excellence in Medicine Award

Steury Medical Missions Scholarship

Sherry R. Arnstein Minority Scholarship(for DO students)

AMA Physician of Tomorrow Scholarship

Proofreading scholarship

National Medical Fellowship General Scholarships

SOMA New Member Scholarship(for DO students)

Primary Care Leadership Program (for the economically disadvantaged)

AMA Foundation Leadership Award

ACOFP Writing Award Scholarship(for DO students)

Get Into Medical School Pt. I – Medical School Requirements

Getting Into Medical School Pt. I: the Least You Need to Know

The following is the first part of a five-blog series on being accepted to medical school. Throughout this series you will learn:

                a) What medical schools look for in a candidate

                b) What you can do to make yourself a stand-out (in the right kind of way) candidate

               c) Everything you need to know about each step of the process from applying to the getting the acceptance letter

“To know the road ahead, ask those who are returning”Chinese Proverb

                Now that I am a medical student, I neither think nor claim to know everything there is about getting into medical school. However, I have learned many tips, tactics, and strategies from those who have walked this path before me. Therefore, I am more than happy and willing to share them with any potential med school applicants…er, matriculants! Yes, let’s call them potential med school matriculants, because I believe if you’re serious enough, you WILL succeed! Likewise, I will also share a few of my favorite rules of the game that I learned independently.

                The terms “tricks” or “secrets” to getting in are used often but may be misleading; I believe you’ve either earned the right to get in or not. Yet, this does not stop many books from being sold by placing these “alert words” in the title(s). I have broken down the admissions process to a science for you by explaining the reasoning and importance behind each step and what you need to know about each decisional component.

                This is a five-part series that should give you the nuts and bolts of the process, as well as the knowledge that you need to sell yourself as best you can to the admissions board. After all, you SHOULD be able to sell yourself – it’s the product that you know best and SHOULD believe in most of all. I am just here to give you the inside-track on how to fine-tune your overall appeal, pitch, and application. Email me if you need to or are interested in me proof-reading any of your application materials (including the all-important personal essay), and Good Luck!

The Main Evaluation Components for the Med School Admissions Process:

1. GPA, Science GPA, MCAT:

                NO MATTER what anyone tells you, there are two things you can count on in this category:

                1) They are NOT the final deciding factors or predictors of your med school admissions fate

                2) They ARE very important (and sometimes the sole reason) for getting through the initial         proverbial door

Many applicants have no idea that there are two different GPAs that medical schools consider:

          Overall GPA: This is your overall grade point average for ALL courses taken at ANY accredited post-secondary institution


          Science GPA: This is your GPA for all of your science AND math courses. That’s right! MATH is included in this calculation, as well as a few courses like biomedical engineering (with certain qualifications) at times. But, here is the least you need to know: If the courses fall within the context of BCPM (Biology, Chemistry, Physics, or Math) for their classifications, then count them as being part of you science GPA calculation.

Click here for OFFICIAL MCAT info

Click here for MCAT scores percentage break-downs for previous years

Click here for the OFFICIAL MCAT book to purchase and MCAT practice tests!

2. Personal Statement:

The all-important personal statement – this is the one part where you give the admissions committee a first-impression look at yourself straight from “the horse’s mouth.” Just be sure you have it proofread as many times as possible to eliminate it sounding as if it came straight from the horse’s behind instead! Seriously, I have read some poorly-written personal statements. This is not the place in which you want your application to look lackluster. I will go into more detail about this personal statement later. And, once you get to this stage, feel free to email me if you want me to proof-read and make suggestions on your personal statement for a small fee. (Heck, maybe free if you just ask!)

3. Experience in the Field/Job Shadowing Hours:

If you have never worked in the field of medicine, then what are you waiting for? You have no idea what it’s about, how you might react to blood, sputum, etc., or if you are even resilient enough to handle some of the long hours on foot or derogating comments some residents, patients, or clients might throw at you. Do you even know the difference between a resident, patient, or client?

I’m not being mean, but these are the very basic questions the med school admissions board might hurl at you – and they are legitimate questions if you have never experienced any first-hand work in the field. I want you to succeed, so don’t take my comments as me being demeaning. But, trust me – some of those interviewers are ruthless! More on that later.

4. Letters of Recommendation

Typically, there are three letter-writers that you need:

                1) A physician that you have job-shadowed

                2) A science professor who has taught you (and can write you a STRONG academic letter)

                3) A humanities professor who has taught you (and can write you a STRONG academic letter)

Believe me, you DO NOT want to get a professor who has a great reputation but no knowledge of you as a person to write your letter of recommendation. All too often, people fall into the trap of thinking they’ve scored big because a distinguished professor wrote their letter. Only later, they find that this distinguished professor might not have a better choice than the Biology 101 professor who knew them from Freshman to Junior year as a professor and mentor. The Biology 101 professor might have known enough about them to pepper his or her recommendation letter with personal overtones, whereas the distinguished professor kept to strict, vague, non-emotional academic evaluation language. Always ask if the professor feels comfortable writing you a STRONG letter of recommendation!

5. Community Service and Extracurricular Activity  

Health clinics, health fairs, Toys for Tots, the Special Olympics, Council of the Blind…what is your passion? If you have a passion for anything, then there is a volunteer organization for it! Get involved. The days are long gone when medical schools looked for cookie-cutter doctors – the kind that majors in Biology, gets a 4.0 GPA, 36 on the MCAT, and has no people skills. You know the type!

 No, medical schools now want interesting people with a wide variety of interests, hobbies, and swag! Well, I’m not sure I totally know what that last one means in this context, but hey it’s a modern term that seems to fit and contrast the seemingly older synonym “charisma.” No, we want exciting and different. Why you ask? because people are unique and different! We are a cultural salad here in America, no longer a tossed salad, and as such, our health professions should reflect such changes. Read more next time on Blog 2 of this series.


After step 1 above, the rest of the steps (2 – 5) are of concern to you during the actual application process (AMCAS or AACOMAS). I will explain all of this in detail later. But, know that for this blog, here is the least you should know:

Think of the admissions process as such:

a) The GPA and MCAT get you through the initial screening phase (call it “Phase I”) – a look at your packet

b) The application packet (the AMCAS or AACOMAS and your all-important personal statement) gets you through to “Phase II” – a secondary application

c) The secondary application packet gets you through to “Phase III” – The Interview!

d) The interview makes or breaks you to get you through to the final “Phase IV” – Acceptance!

*NEXT BLOG* I will show you charts on the best undergraduate major for medical school and review the best courses to take to make you STAND-OUT!

Get Into Medical School V – Joey, My Friend, I Have Special Circumstances!

Get Into Medical School V – Low GPA, No Money, Non-traditional Students?  No Problem!

In this last installment of pre-med advising blogs. I will discuss two things:

a) How to make you applications “POP”

b) How to overcome special circumstances

How to make your application “POP”:

Ok, so what to do, what to do to make you stand out? According to an article in the online magazine “”: The number of total med school applicants (including those who have applied in previous years) increased by 2.8% to 43,919 people applying for just over 19,000 open slots. Whoa! that’s crazy, and this was written in 2011! So, how do you compete with that? This means a 2.36% chance of getting in! I’ll tell you how – you must make your application packet “POP!” Far too many people dwell on making their negatives appear more positive, and they understandably do this to emit a vapor of well-roundedness. While this is good in theory, it makes everyone blend in the same. Instead, try this approach: accentuate your positives even more, and improve on these areas even more. A good people person, are you? Well, instead of trying to get a job in analytics or trying to take more math classes to prove to the admissions board that you are all “objective, analytical, and scientific,” why don’t you get a job in customer service somewhere for the summer. Although it is not med school related, it will show the board how well you are in dealing with other humans. And, hey, while you’re at it – get you a customer service certificate or rise up the ranks or something. Really accentuate your high points!

Special Circumstances:

Low GPA: This does not mean the end of the world. In fact, many MD schools will next look at your MCAT if you have a low GPA. If your MCAT is high, they figure that you can’t fake knowing the testing material, so you might have just had some hard professors for certain courses. Be sure to do well on your MCAT though if you’re in this situation! Also check this chart to see where you fall in line and evaluate your best method of attack: GPA and MCAT medical school stats

Low MCAT: This does not mean the end of the world either. In fact, if you’re GPA is high, then they may think you are not the world’s greatest test-taker. Be sure to check this chart to see where you fall in line and evaluate your best method of attack: GPA and MCAT medical school stats

Non-traditional Students: You have stability and are of sound mind at this point in your life. Your marriage(s), child or children, or age has shaped and molded you to become a mature adult student who is now focused and knows what you want. Use this to your advantage. Hey, the average accepted age for medical school students is rising! The proof is there that they want you.

Second time around Students: Remember this, it is not how you start off, but your trend towards the end. In other words, admission committees will forgive you making all D’s and F’s your first semester, but don’t let it be your last semester. Have a good reason as to why you didn’t do so hot in the beginning, but be sure that you have proof of your grades trending in an increasing manner towards the end of your undergraduate academic career. Trust me, everyone can relate to a poor first year of school or a terrible semester at some point in their undergraduate careers!

Low-income Students: There are tons of scholarships out there for those of “us” in this boat. Also, remember this one thing…you have had to work with very little to get to where you are. No mommy and daddy paying for MCAT review courses of $2,000 or more, no push in the back for college success if you are a first-generation college student…you have gotten here by what you have put in. So tell YOUR STORY!

Non-science majors: Spin this in your favor by telling the admissions committee “WHY” you chose your particular major over a science major. There is no shame in this, and statistically, non-science majors have performed just as well in medical school as non-science majors. Check out to see how non-science majors did on the MCAT in the past: non-science majors on the MCAT

Well, I have had fun writing this five-part blog and hope that it has been of assistance to you all. Please remember to be yourself at all times and feel free to send me an email if you have further questions or need help with your personal statements!

Get Into Medical School Pt. IV – Allopathic and Osteopathic Admission Tips

Get Into Medical School Pt. IV – Joey, Please Make Me Stand Out!

Most of the information I would love to write in this blog will have to be available in eBook format only. So, that will be coming soon. Keep checking on my website for updates and download though, because as I see great information for you, I try to keep it all here at

Anyway, let’s get down to it. So by now, you know the scheme:

a) MCAT and GPA are to help you get through the door.

b) Personal statement and application is to get you a secondary application (supplied by each individual medical school).

c) Secondary applications get you the interview, and…

d) the interview makes or breaks you for admittance. This is a good way to look at the whole process at this point.

What is a good GPA and MCAT score for admissions? And, maybe by now you’ve heard on Student Doctor Network or some other outlet people denigrating osteopathic schools saying that they accept sub-par GPAs and MCAT scores. Here’s the skinny on it all…

Many (but not all) MD schools focus on research and certain advancements in the field of medicine. DO schools’ primary focus is on holistic healthcare and as such, many of the DO products are primary-care focused. In fact, I would dare say that the majority of DO students (including myself) go into a primary care residency (Family Practice, Pediatrics, Internal Medicine, sometimes Psychiatry is considered).

For this reason, DO schools tend to look at a person’s application as a whole and not do the GPA/MCAT pre-screening procedure as much. Therefore, non-traditional students who are starting over in life with baggage (because we all know that GPAs earned from our first college course till death are calculated) benefit from the DO admissions process.

Some DO schools actually take pride in the fact that they are frequently on the lowest mean GPA for acceptance list or lowest mean MCAT for acceptance list because it reflects their admissions process. A student with a 4.0 GPA and 30 MCAT score who has no intent of doing patient-centered practice typically will not get into an osteopathic school over a student who is non-traditional, started off poorly his/her Freshman year of college then picked it up to a 3.5 graduating GPA who wants to work primary care in a rural area. If you disagree with me, please do not attack me, check with DO admissions boards for yourself. This is information I have heard “straight from many horses’ mouths.”

I know I focused on what osteopathic schools look for in this blog, but sometimes it is easier to contrast differences by focusing on one of the subjects. Besides, DO schools usually are the least known about in a DO/MD conversation. Learn about the history of osteopathic medicine here: A.T. Still and the history of osteopathic medicine

So, as you can see from this blog and from my previous blog with the AMA quote in it, DOs and MDs are of the same scope of practice all throughout the U.S., but they may be different in approach. The MD may treat the symptom, but the DO treats the body because he/she is more holistic in approach. Neither is better or worse. Both are just different. And, yes, DOs have all the prescribing rights that MDs do! I have heard this question one too many times, lol.

*Next Blog* I will discuss how to make your application “POP” for the admissions committee. And, remember, I am available for hire regarding proofreading and making suggestions on your personal statement. Just email me to ask about pricing.

Get Into Medical School Pt. III – DO vs MD & Medical School Alternatives

Get Into Medical (or Osteopathic) School Pt. III: Medical School Alternatives and Healthcare Careers

DO or MD?

Should one apply to an MD or DO school? Far too much information exists on the web already for me to get into this discussion. Personally for me, I had offers from both schools; but, the DO school that I chose won my heart when I first visited.  However, I do not recommend it for everyone. I have a specific purpose and mission in life – to serve those of rural and minority communities who do not have ample access to healthcare, health education, etc. Therefore, I cannot recommend someone who loves the city-life, wants a large multi-branched metropolitan office, etc. to go here over some of the other medical schools. Although, I do not think they would be disappointed once they arrived. I’m just trying to shoot straight with ya=)

Anyway, here are some good sites to help you discern between and MD and DO. But,  be warned – some people get pretty heated up still about the discussion. However, most practicing physicians will tell you that the difference in practice is minimal besides the OMT offered by DOs (which some do not even practice upon graduating from osteopathic school).

What is an osteopath or osteopathic medicine?

What is a DO?

Unparalleled Overview of Osteopathic Medicine (extracted from Dartmouth College – my favorite booklet on DO philosophy)

What is a medical physician? (FAQs)

How to be a doctor (medical)

So, as you can see from even the AMA (American Medical Association) website itself, whenever asked about the difference between an MD and a DO, the reply is quite simply: “A DO (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine) is a physician just as an MD is a physician.” Therefore, please do not get caught up in all the hype that you may here undergrads talk about when they only have minute, trivial knowledge on the matter – instead, ask the largest association of physicians – both MDs and DOs – around (the AMA).


Below are the links to apply for medical or osteopathic colleges in the United States:

TMDSAS (Texas Medical and Dental School Application Service)

AMCAS (American Medical College Application Service)

2014 AMCAS instruction manual free download

AACOMAS (American Assoication of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service)

2014 AACOMAS instruction manual free download


Caribbean Medical Schools (most often known about; however, others exist):

St. George’s University

Ross University

American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine

– Caribbean Medical Student’s Blog: Diary of a Caribbean Med Student


Other Healthcare Options:

AHEC Health Careers in Georgia Online Booklet

Even though this book was made specifically for Georgians, it is thorough and replete with knowledge.

Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics Health Occupations Handbook (healthcare)

This is published by the United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics; therefore, these numbers are official and matter! Even if you know what field you are going into, it is always good to check the projected outlook (growth rate, etc.) for the next few years.


*Interesting Fact*

Some health professions allow you to enter their professional schools for licensure without having completed a bachelor’s degree (i.e. Podiatry schools and Pharmacy schools). You only need to have completed the minimum requirements and 90 semester hours. Check around and see!


*Next Blog* I will discuss the difference between MD and DO admissions committees,how they view applicants a little differently, and what the ideal applicant would look like for each. And, now would be an excellent time for you to read my blog on “Must Have Books and Free Downloads for Pre-med Students

Must Have Books and Free Downloads for Pre med Students!!!

MSAR (Medical School Admissions Requirements)

Preview of 2014-2015 MSAR (Free Download)

2013 MCAT Essentials (Free Download)

Download this copy of the 2015 MCAT Preveiw Guide (Free Download)

2014 CIB (College Information Booklet) on all Osteopathic Schools (Free Download)

2014 CIB available for purchase here

Opportunities for Minority Medical Students (published by AAMC)