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.

CONCLUSION:

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!

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