October 23, 2014

Creating Diversity in Your Medical School Application

Through Kaplan’s exclusive, national partnership with the American Medical Student Association (AMSA), we will be providing a series of personal stories from AMSA leaders about their pre-medical experience and journey to medical school. Daniel Gomez – Ohio State University   [caption id="attachment_1684" align="alignright" width="225"] Daniel studying abroad in Copenhagen.[/caption]

Studying Abroad

It can be expensive and sometimes even overwhelming to participate in a study abroad trip, but it can also be one of the most memorable decisions any college student can make, and one that immediately creates diversity in your medical school application. Searching for a study abroad program that tailors its courses to a pre-medical track can be difficult and requires a certain degree of patience. Your pre-med advisor, your school’s Office of International Affairs, and the American Medical Student Association’s International Health Opportunities tool will provide the proper guidance in order to find the appropriate program.  

How Will Studying Abroad Look to Medical Schools?

Not many students study abroad; in fact, only a little over 1% of college students attend a study abroad program. A question that may be going through your mind is “should I really attend a study abroad program and would it actually impress medical schools?” The answer to that question can have multiple responses. Today I’d like to share the reasons why I chose to study abroad, and why I strongly recommend that you do too. As a fourth year pre-medical student at The Ohio State University I was trying to find a way to spend my summer vacation by taking a break from all the rigorous academic work, but to also be involved in some form of extracurricular activity (medical or non-medical) or unique experience. The opportunity presented itself when I read a poster on my college campus promoting an information session on studying abroad. After attending the session, I spent every week in the Office of International Affairs attempting to seek out additional information. As a result, I studied abroad in the capital of Denmark for two months learning about European clinical psychology and cognitive neuroscience. This gave me the chance to immerse myself in a new culture and to learn about how foreign healthcare systems function.  

What I Took Away From My Study Abroad Experience

Experiencing Cultural Differences:

For the two months I was in Denmark, the Danish students were friendly and showed me their lifestyle. The differences were quite noticeable in both living and academic studies. Having the opportunity to interact with individuals from international countries allows you to sharpen skills such as becoming more culturally aware of different demographic populations and their traditions. This also helps in understanding key differences in medical practice. There can be views on medicine, which differ from the United States, and knowing these differences can be beneficial when aiding these patients as a physician. There’s also the chance to learn a basic level of the language, which can be challenging and very exciting. As a result, you will be able to engage with several groups of people with completely different backgrounds and ultimately become a better-prepared and culturally diverse physician.  

Shadowing Foreign Physicians:

Not only did I get the opportunity to experience a different educational system, but I also got to learn more about the European healthcare system, more specifically of Denmark’s. Physicians in Europe are flexible with permitting students to observe them in their practice, so this allowed me to shadow a neurologist and a podiatrist. By doing this, you can learn so much about key differences and similarities between how physicians practice medicine in the US and other countries. Shadowing a physician is essential to show medical schools that you are aware of how a physicians practice functions, but to also present that you have been involved with medical experiences. This also serves as a great topic to speak about during a medical school interview, if asked about your study abroad program.   Creating Diversity in Your Medical School Application: A student who studies abroad can return with a higher grade point average (which is something that most pre-medical students like to hear). The reason I say this is because I found it to be less stressful when having the chance to study in different areas around a foreign city. It still takes effort and time to achieve a high mark on the grading scale, but a good grade is not the only benefit from studying abroad. This topic can come up anywhere: applying for a job, the medical school application process (during interviews, in your personal statement, and within the application itself), and in conversations at school. This is truly a special experience that can separate an applicant from a large pool of competitive students. This is not to say that studying abroad will guarantee anyone acceptance into medical school, although it can definitely be a topic of interest during an interview session. There are many ways in which studying abroad will make you a better pre-med student, medical school applicant, and physician. These were the primary reasons as to why I decided to study abroad. If it’s possible for you, then I would strongly suggest that you start talking to your pre-med adviser and Office of International Affairs today.   Now that you’ve read about Daniel Gomez’s journey to unlocking the good life and getting into medical school, we’d like to hear from you!  Tell us what the good life means to you in the comments section, on Facebook, and on Twitter using #kaplangoodlife. Visit our Unlock the Good Life site and find out more about a career in medicine. Learn about salaries and read profiles of people just like you who followed their dreams. ...read more
September 25, 2014

Creating A Meaningful Pre-Medical Experience Beyond the Classroom

Through Kaplan's exclusive, national partnership with the American Medical Student Association (AMSA), we will be providing a series of personal stories from AMSA leaders about their pre-medical experience and journey to medical school. Isaiah Cochran: Waynesburg University [caption id="attachment_1608" align="alignleft" width="300"] Isaiah plays tennis as a way to maintain balance in his hectic pre-med life.[/caption] Sometimes it feels as if trying to get into medical school is synonymous with searching for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Pre-medical students hear many stories about how to find their pot of gold. The truth is, there is no magic formula, and at times it may seem as though we are taking a shot in the dark. While I have experienced setbacks, I have also found outlets that help me turn on the light again, so I am no longer taking a stab in the proverbial dark. I am currently a senior undergraduate at Waynesburg University at the helm you might say of my pre-medical experience: interview season. My goal is to give you ideas on how you can become a more competitive med school applicant by creating meaningful experiences through your extracurricular activities. Obtaining an acceptance letter to medical school goes far beyond a high GPA and a high MCAT score. Now more than ever, medical schools are taking a more holistic approach to admitting applicants into their schools.

How Can you Create a Meaningful Premedical Experience?

Joining clubs and organizations that mean something to you is a great way to set yourself apart from other applicants. It isn’t a requirement for you to be a part of the local pre-medical club; the point is to engage in something that you are passionate about. I encourage you to create a meaningful experience out of these memberships by stepping up in the organization(s) that you care about and going after a leadership position. Medical schools are looking for commitment and passion, as well as intellect. My passion has been the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) where I helped to initiate a chapter at my undergraduate institution. I am currently serving on the Board of Trustees for AMSA, because I am fervent about the organization’s mission. Perhaps your passion lies in research. I would suggest you ask your professors about the prospect of conducting research at your home institution. When it comes to research, seek out something that is interesting and important to you. If you cannot find research at your local university there are hundreds of summer research opportunities through the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Check out these applications online-best of all most are FREE! I personally conducted research during the summer of my sophomore and junior years. The first summer (2013) I conducted research at Yale University in DNA repair pathways; the second summer (2014) I conducted research at Harvard Medical School in cognitive neuroscience. I encourage you to seek out the opportunity if research is what matters to you. No matter what you’re passionate about, the point is to pursue it wholeheartedly. Both medical and non-medical extracurriculars add to your overall pre-med experience. I decided to attend Waynesburg University primarily because of academics, but also because I would be able to continue to play varsity level tennis. Throughout my undergraduate career playing tennis was a balance that I needed in my life and something I always looked forward to. I have played every year of undergrad, and as a senior I am now team captain. I wanted to present my experience, as someone who has felt the same anxiety as you, and give you examples of what has worked for me. Remember, go out and engage in activities that you are passionate about, not just something to add as a line item on your medical school application, and create a meaningful pre-medical experience that goes beyond the classroom. I trust you will be happier along the ride and will find that you are a more competitive medical school applicant. Good luck!   Now that you’ve read about Isaiah Cochran’s journey to unlocking the good life and getting into medical school, we’d like to hear from you!  Tell us what the good life means to you in the comments section, on Facebook, and on Twitter using #kaplangoodlife. Visit our Unlock the Good Life site and find out more about a career in medicine. Learn about salaries and read profiles of people just like you who followed their dreams.     ...read more
September 23, 2014

Med School Letters of Recommendation, Part 2

It’s a well known fact that med school letters of recommendation (LORs) are an important part of your application. In my last article, I provided some tips and guidelines to consider when choosing who to pick as your letter writers. Now that you know who you’ll be asking for letters, today we’ll pick things up by discussing how to request your letters and make sure you get them.  

Set Expectations for your Letter Writers

As soon as possible, and in person, ask each of your potential writers if they are willing to submit a great letter of recommendation on your behalf. Yes, you must say “great” in your request! If they aren’t excited to help, find someone else! To those that say yes, offer to meet with them for coffee or during office hours to give them additional information about your background and answer any questions they have about you. My organic chemistry professor and I met after class for this reason and ended up in a deep conversation about his recurring shin pain and how our fathers both have atrial fibrillation. Naturally, the discussion turned to my past professional medical experience and goals for the future – perfect fodder for a letter of recommendation!  

Give Useful Information About Yourself to Each Letter Writer

You need to make sure that your letter writers have enough information to write you a truly outstanding letter. While they should know a fair amount about you already, you need to provide them with the tools to complete the picture. In a big envelope, give each letter writer the following:
  • Cover letter: thank them for their help, share directions, deadlines, and contact info for you and your pre-med advisor, if applicable.
  • Directions for submitting their letter: Visit the AAMC website for complete instructions on submitting your med school letters of recommendation. Some letter writers know how to upload your letters themselves into the AMCAS system via Interfolio or other applications. Others will need an addressed, stamped envelope: the delivery address is either
    • your address
    • that of your pre-med advisor if he/she collects your letters on your behalf
    • AMCAS: Attn: AMCAS Letters, AAMC Medical School Application Services, P.O. Box 18958, Washington, DC 20036

Note: If you are collecting your own letters, keep them clearly sealed and mail them together to AMCAS. If the writer is sending the letter via USPS to AMCAS, you need to also include the official AMCAS Letter Request Form, downloaded from your AMCAS application.

  • Curriculum vitae: your “CV” is an expanded resume containing your educational background as well as work experience, extracurricular activities (non-medical and medical), leadership experience, teaching experience, awards and honors, and publications. Ask your mentor for a copy of their CV for a clear idea of what one looks like; for the rest of your professional career, you will add to this document!
  • Draft of your personal statement: invite them to respond with comments or suggestions for revision, if they wish, but mainly this is to give them a sense of what your application will look like.
  • Academic history: science & cumulative GPAs, undergraduate/graduate/post-bacc GPAs, explanations for poor performance, MCAT test score(s), and your short- and long-term goals for the future! If there’s a gap or flaw in your academic career, a strong letter may be able to help explain it.
  • Tentative list of medical schools to which you hope to apply: you never know who they might know! Plus, they may have insight into some of the schools or offer suggestions for ones you didn’t yet consider.

Be kind, but persistent about getting your letters returned on time!

Send brief, encouraging emails or phone calls well in advance of your deadline. In an email to your letter writer, carbon copy (cc) your letter writer’s secretary or assistant and your pre-med advisor if a deadline passes and you haven’t received confirmation that your letter is complete – this little trick has never failed me!

Submit your letters to AMCAS, and then write personal ‘Thank You’ notes to each writer.

A handwritten, simple, sincere message of thanks means more than you realize! You don’t have to go this far, but I was so thankful that so many busy people helped me with my application that I sent each of them a handwritten thank you note with some homemade cookies and a $5 coffee shop gift card. You don’t have to buy gifts or go overboard – just be thoughtful and communicate this in a timely, heartfelt manner.  

Keep your LOR writers updated with news of your application & acceptance(s)!

Some of these people will serve you well as mentors and friends throughout your medical career, so keep them in the loop! Nothing’s worse than for them to invest time and energy into making you look good for your application and never hearing what became of it. Typically, your letter writers will be overjoyed to hear about your med school acceptances! (At which point you can write them another thank you card.) ...read more
September 17, 2014

What to Expect as a Pre-Med

Hello my eager, freshman readers! Today, I'd like to talk about what to expect as a pre-med student (aka step one in becoming a doctor and living your version of the “good life”). So, you're super excited to start four years of pre-med awesomeness! Let's set appropriate expectations for this time in your life.

There will be challenges

The nice thing about being a pre-med student is that you can major in pretty much anything. I have classmates that majored in engineering, art, music, business, Spanish, English and pretty much every other major you can think of. Regardless of your major, however, you'll need to take pre-med prerequisite classes such as Organic Chemistry, Upper level Biology, Physics, and for the upcoming 2015 MCAT changes, Biochemistry, Psychology and Sociology. The diversity of required classes means that eventually you're going to run into a topic that will challenge you academically. The key is how you respond to the struggle. For me personally, it was Organic Chemistry. Every test in that class was a battle. Nothing came easily and I absolutely dreaded O Chem lab. That said, I learned a lot from truly struggling with material and it better prepared me for some of the challenges I have faced in medical school. There will also be the challenge of balancing your school life, social life and work life. Pre-med schedules are notoriously difficult with lots of lab classes, extracurriculars, volunteering as well as physician shadowing. It can be difficult to avoid feeling crunched for time and overwhelmed. Finding balance is, unfortunately, a struggle that you will carry with you to medical school. However, if you work on good work-life balance struggles now, you'll be practiced and ready to face the same challenge head-on in medical school. You may also be worried already about the MCAT on the horizon your junior or senior year. Fortunately as freshman, your focus is on building a strong science and overall GPA for your med school application a few years from now!  

There will be opportunities

Going through college as a pre-med doesn't mean you have to study all the time. There are lots of really neat medical-related opportunities, such as shadowing a physician or volunteering in a hospital. Additionally, there are tons of non-medical opportunities. You can study abroad! You can join an obscure club. You can use this time to explore all of your interests and make some great friends in the process. The bonus here is that your quirky hobby could make your medical school application that much more memorable! Everyone who applies has shadowing experience and has volunteered throughout their college experience, but not many were concert pianists or the president of the unicycle club. Interviewers love to talk about your passions and will remember you better because of them. Don't be afraid to try something new!  

You can have fun and make life-long friends

I know that it's intimidating to go to college and make an entirely new group of friends, especially when you're in a competitive program as many pre-med programs tend to be. That said, some of my best friends from college were other pre-med students. Now, we're all in different stages of our journey to become healthcare providers! My best friends when I was 18 have grown into colleagues that I respect and adore. How does that happen? You end up spending lots of late nights studying and working on projects together. You struggle through the same classes with difficult professors. They grow to be your support system as well as the people with whom you have many wonderful memories. Being pre-meds brings people together! So, get excited for your next four years! You're in for some struggles, new friends and tons of fun, in-between all of your studying that is. What are you most excited about as a pre-med? Visit our Unlock the Good Life site and find out more about a career in medicine. Learn about salaries, read profiles of people just like you who followed their dreams, and see how far a higher MCAT score can take you. Happy studying! ...read more
August 20, 2014

The 3 Phases of Applying to Medical School

[caption id="attachment_1526" align="alignright" width="300"] Most students will prep between October and April of their junior year. Click image to download.[/caption]

Intimidated by applying to medical school?

We get it; the medical school admissions process can be daunting. After all, the end result of becoming a doctor is something you’ve wanted for a long time—something that’s going to help you pursue your vision of the “good life.” So it’s only natural to want everything to be perfect when you submit your application. Today, we will break down and simplify the application process to take the edge off.  

3-phase process

Applying to medical school is both a three-phase process and a rolling one, meaning decisions at each stage are made on an ongoing basis—not at any one or two predetermined points in the year. In fact, while schools have a final submission deadline, it is often ill-advised to wait for that date to roll around, as classes are sometimes full by that point. Let's look at the phases of the medical school application process.  

1) The primary application

The primary application—as its name suggests—is the first portion you will submit, and generally the earliest it can be sent is the first week of June of the application year—the year immediately before your first year of attendance. So, if you wanted to start medical school in the fall of 2016, you would submit your primary application in June of 2015. Most U.S. medical schools use the American Medical College Application Service® (AMCAS®), which is the Association of American Medical Colleges' (AAMC) centralized medical school application processing service. The great thing about AMCAS participating schools is that, no matter how many med schools you apply to, you submit just one online application to AMCAS. If you apply to non-AMCAS schools, however, you will have to fill out primary applications specific for each one. Prior to submitting, start gathering all the materials that will go into your primary application. It’s best to begin this process in April and May. You will need to: For the month of May, you can input responses, grades, and a personal statement into the system so that it’s ready to send in early June when submissions open. Try to submit your primary application as soon as possible in June. However, don’t rush it, because once you submit the primary application, you can't go back and change anything!  

2) The secondary application

There are two possible outcomes at this phase in the application process:
  • the medical school will reject your application, and the process ends there for that school, or
  • the medical school will send you its secondary application
The secondary application is specific to each school you are applying to—this is where schools ask the specific questions they want answered. Many schools will just want an application fee and no additional info to continue the process, but some will want to know a great deal. The key here is a fast turnaround. In an ideal world, you will spend much of July and August submitting secondary applications. Once schools have your secondary application, they will review it along with the primary application and start dividing students into three groups: those they will invite for an interview at the school, those they will not, and the “unsures.”  

3) The medical school interview

If you do not get an interview from a particular medical school, they will notify you right away, and the process will end for that school. If a school wants an interview, they will also notify you, and you should schedule your interview at the earliest convenient time. Candidates in the third category, however, will not hear anything until that school moves them into one of the other two categories. As schools are interviewing applicants, they are making decisions. Usually, you will hear one way or another within a month of interviewing, but sometimes this phase takes longer: it all depends on the school’s individual process. Some candidates will not be rejected, but placed on a waiting list that will be reviewed as candidates accept and decline offers. It’s long process, but completely manageable with the right planning. In future posts, we will take a look at how to achieve the best outcome at different points in the application process. Stay tuned!   We want to hear from you! Tell us what the good life means to you and how you plan to get there in the comments below, on Facebook, and on Twitter using #kaplangoodlife. We may share your story in an upcoming post. Then stay tuned for more articles to get you inspired!. Visit kaptest.com/unlock to unlock the good life.   ...read more
November 25, 2013

University of Tennessee Medical: The Traditional Choice in Medicine

University of Tennessee Medical College is the oldest public graduate school in the nation. The school has two locations in Chattanooga and Memphis. The college aims to help students whose primary focus is surgery and internal medicine.
  • University of Tennessee College of Medicine has 190 students enrolled in graduate programs.
  • The college has core clerkships for students interested in obstetrics, gynecology and surgery.
  • The cost for full-time students is $31, 432 for in-state transfers. For out-of-state prospective students, the costs are $62, 292.
  • The average GPA for accepted, enrolled students is 3.68 and the average MCAT graduate test score is 29.
  • Students enrolled in the graduate medical education program are paid through the university during internship, and the school pays for insurance and liability.
Student Culture and Campus Life The University of Tennessee Medical School is a less competitive school than most peer, public schools. The UT Medical School is a part of several associations, so students are introduced to communities such as the AMSA Career Development program, the AAMC Medical Student Resource and MedFools, which helps match students with the right residency program. UT also hosts the Center for Advanced Medical Simulation, which is a state of the art simulation center that mimics a real clinical setting. What's unique about this college is its Erlanger Health System. Finding your way around campus can be difficult for first year students. This system is an interactive, real-time map system that helps students find their way to class quickly and create an itinerary for class schedules. Student's Perspective Even graduate students need some time off, and University of Tennessee is placed next to several good eats, coffee and bars for entertainment. Memphis is known for its music and museums, and students who enjoy music can see Elvis' Graceland and Orpheum Theatre. Students who enjoy sports can watch some baseball at AutoZone Park or basketball at Fedex Forum. Chattanooga also has plenty of hotspots to take the student's mind off of stress and studies. Students can visit the Tennessee Aquarium, Lookout Mountain, Rock City and Ruby Falls. Chattanooga also has scenic areas and parks such as Harrison Bay State Park and Missionary Ridge. Tennessee is known for its good food, especially the BBQ scene. For nightlife, Chattanooga has Hair of the Dog Pub, Big River Grille and Black Inn Café. Memphis students can enjoy Silky O'Sullivans, Interim Restaurant, Huey's Downtown and Celtic Crossing. It does not snow as heavily and as frequently as it does in other states, so students will usually see mild winters. Summers are hot, so expect to spend time next to water to cool off or stay indoors. Career Placement and Advising Every doctor must find the right internship and residency program before he can officially practice. University of Tennessee's career advising offers a way for students to find the right program in its clerkship placement. Clerkship starts in junior year, and students can continue their rotation throughout senior year. Advisors also help place students in fellowship programs which include surgery, hospice medicine, neuro-sciences, vascular surgery and gynecology. [cf]skyword_tracking_tag[/cf] ...read more
Applying to Med School
August 14, 2013

Medical School Application: Can One Personal Statement Fit All?

Gain the advantage from Kaplan's 2013 Medical School Insider as we discuss an important component of your medical school application, the personal statement. You will learn how to craft a personal statement specific for different programs and schools. Putting together your medical school application is a challenging process. Get the inside scoop on the personal statement now! For more great videos, check Kaplan's MCAT YouTube Channel. [cf]skyword_tracking_tag[/cf] ...read more
May 3, 2013

Medical School Insider: A ReKAP

What a great event! Medical School Insider 2013 was a huge success and we want to give a special thanks to our panelists for joining us Monday night! -Paul T. White, Assistant Dean for Admissions, John Hopkins School of Medicine -Leila Diaz, Assistant Dean of Admissions, Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine -Dr. Kathleen Kolberg, Assistant Dean, University of Notre Dame -Dr. Elizabeth Wiley, National President, American Medical Student Association We are working  diligently to get answers to your questions you sent in! Stay tuned for answers and for our next pulse event: Monday June 10th, on the impact of the Affordable Care Act. ...read more
Applying to Med School
April 29, 2013

Medical School Insider is here!

Kaplan Test Prep will host our fourth annual Medical School Insider tonight, Monday, April 29th at 8pm ET.  This is our biggest event of the year for pre-meds and you absolutely don’t want to miss it! The insights revealed at #medInsider are incredible, they’ll really change the way you look at the admissions process!  Be sure to mark your calendar now for this year’s live streaming event. Save your spot by clicking here now!  

Medical School Insider

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydIZYCYugog&list=UUwZ7x4y5NY7tz-yEyz9gr4g&index=4 ...read more

About Kaplan Test Prep

Building futures, one success story at a time. We know test prep. We invented it. Through innovative technology and a personalized approach to learning we’ll equip you with the test insights and advice you need to achieve your personal best. Results, guaranteed*.

I am a permanent resident of:

*Higher Score Guarantee: Conditions and restrictions apply. For complete guarantee eligibility requirements, visit Kaptest.com/hsg

2014 The Med School Pulse. All Rights Reserved