Author Archives: Donna McGill

About Donna McGill

For this particular role, I bring to the table years of writing experience, including a series of more than 100 articles and blog posts on education; specifically, law school reviews and feature columns on law school deans, career specialists and professors. I take my job very seriously and I feel my versatile writing style/voice is what has allowed me to accept and successfully complete a number of writing contracts over the years - from the technical manuals to web content to creative writing projects.

I'm confident that I can add value to the Kaplan online presence by creating conversational, though professional, posts that will benefit the reader looking for information and insight.

January 6, 2014

Stanford Medical School: Pushing You to Dream

While exploring the Stanford Medical School site, you're likely to come across a few gems of wisdom, including this answer to the question of what his inspiration was, "The professors push you to dream, and to dream on a world scale". Those few words summarize Stanford Medical School succinctly and simply. Of course, there was the other student, nearing the end of his career in grad school, preparing for graduation and looking more than slightly exhausted, but we'll save his wisdom for another day. He looked like he hadn't slept in a few days. It should be noted that 2012 was a remarkable year for the institute. Stanford Medical School received two Nobel Peace Prizes and shattered previous fundraising goals. While that may or may not play a role in one's decision to apply to the program, it's an impressive truth that shows the collective determination of both the student body and the educators. Stanford Medical School by the Numbers
  • As of a newly released report, there are 461 students in the Stanford Medical program. On average, the acceptance rate is 2.8%. This highlights the importance of early preparation for those wishing to apply.
  • While Stanford Medical is known for its technological breakthroughs in the world of medicine, in recent years, there has been a focus on urology and most recently, a risk was found that could determine a male's chances of being diagnosed with cancer. This is just one of the many reasons many apply to the program. It's also known for its human genetics and genetic counseling program.
  • Costs include an $85 application fee and full-time tuition, as of March 2013, equates to $47,343.
  • Salaries will vary greatly depending on one's specialty; however, on average, a Stanford cardiologist can expect a median salary offer of $250,000 while a pediatrician can expect $115,000 offers. ER doctors will likely find median salaries of $175,000.
  • According to a new Forbes report, this is the "most empowering time to graduate (from Stanford)". A whopping 93% of Stanford grads have jobs with three months of graduating.
  • As mentioned, urology and genetics are both red-hot choices, but Bioscience is becoming the next "big thing" in terms of medical breakthroughs.
  • The average MCAT hovers around 35 while the average GPA is 3.77. Also - and this is important - there are big changes coming in the very near future with MCAT. Be sure to take these changes into consideration and prepare accordingly.
Stanford Campus Culture Club OK, there's no Boy George or Culture Club mentality (but now you have Karma Chameleon playing in your head, don't you?), but there is a sense of loyalty one feels almost immediately after becoming part of the Stanford family. There are also several student led organizations, including the Stanford Medical Student Association and Stanford University Minority Medical Alliance. From the Mouths of Babes Sometimes, to get a true sense of how things really are, you need to look for those who have lived it. Fortunately, we have a few student testimonials. Matthew Goldstein, a fourth year grad student, sums it up perfectly, "The atmosphere is very warm and personalized. I not only know my classmates well, but also everyone else here. It's a fun, collaborative, cooperative environment." Sometimes, the most overwhelming aspect of attending Stanford Med is the sheer size and "bigger than life reputation". It can be a bit intimidating, but Jane Whitney, a first year grad student, says she felt welcome and that she was able to transition from a small liberal arts college quiet easily. A Day on Campus Life on campus can feel surreal. There's so much to do and with the California environment, complete with sunshine filled days, you have opportunities to explore a lot between classes. The Hoover Tower is a must-see. It's dedicated to providing insight into a free society. The Papua New Guinea Sculpture Garden is a striking collection of many artists' visions, all from Papua New Guinea. These are just two of the fascinating inclusions that define the Stanford environment and the campus as a whole. So Now You're a Doctor. Now What? There exists the Stanford School of Medicine Career Center. Here, you'll discover an entire department that's ready to provide any kind of assistance one needs. Don't assume it's just for graduating students, either. It's a great resource no matter where you are in your education. Job postings, internships and much more awaits you. The fact is, making the decision to become a physician, surgeon or any other medical professional takes a lot of soul searching. It's brutally tough. It's supposed to be. But when you come full circle, see your way through to the other side and emerge as a strong, educated and fiercely determined professional, all of those brutal study sessions and everything else that goes into becoming who you're supposed to be, just falls to the wayside. And in that moment, you know that anything less would equate to a life half-lived. No one should ever know what that feels like. So will it kick you in the teeth? Absolutely. Crazy as it sounds, it's the most incredible pain you'll ever know. And no - we're not a bunch of crazy folks putting these reviews together. We do know, however, what it's like on the other side of grad school. [cf]skyword_tracking_tag[/cf] ...read more
December 23, 2013

University of California San Francisco Leads Global Medical Education

Imagine the San Francisco Bay as your backdrop, a number of Nobel laureates leading your medical education and a community that welcomes each new class of medical students, all with the same goal of becoming the best of the best. For more than a century, the University of California San Francisco has introduced the world to some of the finest medical minds in the world. UCSF by the Numbers
  • Each UCSF class admits about 150 students. It should be noted, too, that most are from California.
  • Genetics, which is yielding incredible finds in our contemporary society, is one of the most sought after specialties at UCSF. That, along with obstetrics and research, are a few of the draws for students wishing to specialize in those areas. There's another area the school is known for; and if statistics hold true, it's going to remain a very important specialty. With the statistics show drug and alcohol abuse on the rise again, those who opt to pursue this as a specialty are sure to find many opportunities after graduation.
  • Of course, everyone is interested in exactly how much it costs for them to attend UCSF Medical School. For instate students, you can expect to pay $31,134 and if you're not a resident of California, your costs will hover around $43,379. That includes all fees except the $200 processing fee that's required if a student is accepted and decides to attend. This goes to UC Regents.
  • Finding salary expectations were a bit challenging; in fact, the prestigious school's website explains it this way, "All academics...should be based on the academic merits and expectations, not on salary requirements."
  • UCSF has a great way of assisting graduating students with their job searches. Each department has its own faculty member that works alongside the career counselors to ensure students are getting the best advice for navigating those career waters.
  • Many students are drawn to UCSF because of its research opportunities. Drug and alcohol specialties are also a favorite.
  • The average MCAT score for acceptance into the University of California San Francisco is 35 and the average GPA is 3.79. Because the acceptance rate is less than 4%, would-be students are encouraged to prepare for their MCAT with a reputable program, such as Kaplan Prep Test services.
Campus Sights and Sounds Life on UCSF campus is always energetic. Because there is so much within the university's grounds, there's an "around the clock" buzz that most students can appreciate. Late dinners or a quick trip to the library will likely mean you're running into dorm mates or classmates. For students accepted in 2015, they'll enjoy the brand new campus on Mission Bay. Imagine the salt air coming off of the Pacific as you're preparing for graduation, along with everyone else who is either learning the latest in technological advances in medicine or who are in need of those advances. The medical school is located on the Parnassus Heights Campus and is part of the entire UCSF Medical Center. What Students Soon Discover Students expect - and are rarely disappointed - a world class educational opportunity. Remember, this is an institute that boasts many Nobel winners. Many students and educators are involved in the school's green initiative, too. Of course, the work is hard and there is no way to "skate" through it. In the end, however, those who do graduate find themselves prepared for the future and with an education that can change the world once a graduate puts it to use. The UCSF Campus as a Whole There are twenty restaurants on the collective campus and several retail shops allow you to fill prescriptions, courtesy of Walgreen's and even retail flower shops help define the campus (not to mention it's always good to have a florist nearby for a forgotten birthday or a last minute dinner date). Most recently, the campus "go to" site for unwinding and good food announced it would be offering grilled lunch specials on Fridays beginning in June 2013. Makes the rest of us "non-doctors" wonder if maybe they'd let us sneak on campus each Friday. Eh...but then there are those pesky restraining orders and the police might not be so nice next time we're caught. Did we mention the full service gym on campus? No matter how soothing that salt air is off the Pacific, the fact is, you're going to need to shake off that nervous energy before finals and to that end, fitness and recreational opportunities are easily found. They include cardio training, group fitness classes and even massages - and all help define the gym. As you might imagine, the weather is absolutely incredible. The sounds and scents of the bay, the energetic charge in the air and the incredible folks who define the school come together to ensure an experience no medical student will ever forget. Defining Your Career As mentioned, UCSF offers an impressive method of counseling students on their career options. The Associate Dean for Students, Dr. Maxine Papadakis, oversees the department and is always ready to provide assistance in any way she can. There are "match resources" programs and several job fairs, as well. Clearly, UCSF offers a total experience for students. While getting accepted might be a bit challenging, remember it's all about raising the bar and aiming for nothing less than excellence. And by the way - if you are accepted, we'd sure appreciate an invitation for one of those Friday grills. [cf]skyword_tracking_tag[/cf] ...read more
August 26, 2013

University of Rochester Medical College: Meliora

The University of Rochester's motto is quite simple: meliora. That translates into "even better" and is indicative of the efforts of all who grace the campus, whether it's as a student or an educator. What many may not know is that in 2006, the University of Rochester Medical and Dental School became the first in history to receive six year accreditation. A Closer Look About 100 students are accepted into URMC each year. It's been that way since it was founded in the mid-1850s. It also boasts 26 residency programs, 531 residents and 42 fellowship programs.

Nuclear imaging technology allows for faster heart diagnoses and URMC is leading the way.

For grad students, costs associated with attending University of Rochester Medical College breaks down to $26,650 for stipend, tuition scholarship, $44,608 and mandatory medical insurance plan, which totals $2,616.

Salary expectations are on point with national averages and graduates are able to find positions within 90 days of graduation.

As mentioned, cardiac care is the specialty many students excel in, partly due to the cutting edge technology.

On average, students who are accepted into URMC are accepted with GPA of 3.7 and MCAT scores of 30. Also, because it's a private college, a distinction between in state and out of state students isn't a priority. This is one reason why students should really focus on their MCAT. In fact, Kaplan offers a 20 minute workout for those preparing to take their tests. It's a fine way for students to really challenge themselves to ensure they're ready.

Culture via URMC

There are many who apply every year partly because of the campus environment and its ongoing efforts of charitable giving. The school tackles some of the biggest societal issues of the day, including domestic violence, health care, housing and even unemployment. Students take great pride in the changes they can make in the community as a whole. That spills over onto the campus life.

A Student's View

A student's perspective, again, is focused on giving back. The "Taking it to the Streets" outreach program is a new program designed to help the homeless population. Too many times, people fall through the proverbial cracks. The student body are focused on changing that. It's a compassionate mindset that is both contagious and inspiring.

All agree it's a tough program, but the shared common respect for others speaks volumes about the student body.

Heavy Coats or Heavy Sunscreen?

Remember, University of Rochester Medical School is located in the northeast. That means summer heat waves and winter blizzards. In other words: bring everything in terms of your wardrobe. Socks and flip flops. Baseball caps and skull caps. If there's any consistency, it's that the seasons are predictable in that there aren't a lot of warm days followed by cold snaps.

First the Education, Then the Career

The Gwen E. Greene Career and Intern Center offers an entire library, a series of seminars and resume help. Further, shadowing opportunities are available from alumni and finally, there is an online resource portal made available only to those attending URMC.

In conclusion, URMC doesn't boast the largest campus nor does it offer a massive research program; however, what it lacks in acreage, it more than makes up with the quality education students receive. The nuclear imaging technology is absolutely fascinating and for those who are drawn to that very specific specialty, it just might be the ideal educational institute.

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July 19, 2013

Baylor College of Medicine: Pride and Joy of Texas

Baylor College of Medicine didn't always call Houston its home. In fact, Dallas was the home of the renowned institute for more than 40 years. Seeing it for the first time doesn't betray what one finds on the other side of the doors. It's majestic, though modern, and friendly, yet focused. The leadership that defines Baylor is world class. It's also the only private medical school in the Southwest. The Numbers that Define Baylor
  • Currently, there are 582 grad students enrolled at Baylor with another 977 pursuing their postdoctoral fellowships. More than half of the school's alumni still reside in Texas, which speaks volumes about the state as a whole.
  • Baylor College of Medicine's preeminent program is Genetics. For those whose passions are to delve deeper into the human condition, Baylor just might be the perfect fit. That said, the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas has committed $3 billion to fund what's believed will revolutionize cancer research and prevention programs over the next 10 years.
  • From a financial perspective, first-year tuition costs for in-state students are $19,868. Note, however, that this isn't consistent. One's second-year tuition is $16,467, third year is $15,742, and fourth year comes in at $17,157. For nonresident students, the numbers are $32,968, $29,567, $28,842 and $22,546 for years one, two, three, and four, respectively. Learn more about these fee structures here.
  • Salary expectations are comparable with other regions of the nation; however, the Baylor Career Services department has proven an invaluable resource for graduates who are preparing for the workforce.
  • Without question, genetics and cancer prevention are the two specialties for which Baylor graduates are best known.
  • The average GPA for acceptance is 3.83 and MCAT scores average 11.50.
You Can't Fish on Campus, But... The Baylor environment is always charged with energy. There are so many truths about the school as a whole, it's impossible to not feel the excitement. Students are focused, though laid back. The campus offers acres of green spaces and even small ponds on the edge of the grounds. And before you begin imagining yourself on a rowboat in the middle of a glorious pond, you might want to rethink it. These are more like small creek beds (we're in Texas, remember?). And while some believe any pool of water is fair game for fishing, and you can certainly try, our suggestion is to not even bother baiting the hook. Baylor, as one might expect, is competitive. It's one reason why Baylor University and Baylor College of Medicine developed a program that grants four outstanding high school students provisional acceptance to Baylor College of Medicine—upon matriculation to Baylor University, of course. It's one more reason why it's so important to ace your MCAT. One of those four exceptional students will receive an $80,000 scholarship that can be applied toward their undergrad classes and their medical studies at Baylor College of Medicine. There are certain requirements, and those can be found by visiting the Baylor 2 Medical Track page. Seeing Baylor Through a Med Student's Eyes To understand Baylor, you have to understand Houston. It's the fourth most populous city in the U.S. and it offers up a bit of everything for Baylor grad students. World class restaurants and the best $10 Tuesday pizza specials, a night at a formal symphony, or cheap movies at the local theater—it's all there for the taking. Students will find a bit of everything on campus, and when the city lights pull them into the heart of Houston, they realize just how incredible this Southern town truly is. And did we mention Houston was listed by Forbes in 2012 as one of the "Best Cities to Find a Date"? Of course you're reading this and thinking, "Date? Who has time to date?" but admit it—that's really a bit of info that's good to know, right? The Physical Considerations The physical considerations of the campus—not the dates you're going to find in Houston —are exactly as one might expect. While Texas is generally considered part of the Southwest, Houston is on the state's eastern Gulf Coast. That means humidity-filled summers. (Who are we kidding? Summers last nearly year round in Houston.) Fair warning—the salt air that comes in from the Gulf is hypnotizing, and you won't even notice it until you've returned home to another part of the country and realize just how magical that salt air truly is. You should also know that for six months out of the year, folks along the Gulf Coast live in hurricane season. Not every season are there evacuations and fears of a monster hurricane targeting Houston (or any city for that matter), but there will be those days when precautionary efforts are made to protect those along the coastline and even miles inland. In short: Bring more shorts and tees than sweats, and be sure to invest in an umbrella and weather radio. You're Graduating: Now What? The Baylor Career Services has a stellar reputation. You'll meet with career counselors at particular milestones of your education to ensure you're making the most of your time at Baylor. Your goal is to find success in your chosen specialty, and this team of professionals has one goal, too: to help you cover those bases today so that you can live that dream tomorrow. To be sure, Baylor College of Medicine is one of those institutions of higher education that is always included in conversations with phrases like, "best of the best" or adjectives such as, "stellar" and "foremost." Its rich history and ideal location make Baylor a fine choice. [cf]skyword_tracking_tag[/cf] ...read more

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