October 6, 2014
SizeSize is an important factor to examine when you're picking a medical school. You want to examine not only the size of each class, but also the size of the entire school. Class size is important for access to professors and the camaraderie of your class group. However, there's a big difference between having a medical school in the middle of a bustling, 30,000 strong undergraduate crowd and having a medical school that stands unattached or distantly attached from an undergrad base. Overall university size is a factor that I didn't really consider when I was looking at medical schools, but I've really grown to love the fact the University of Colorado medical school is separated from the undergraduate campus. The advantage to the separation is that I'm not constantly fighting for research spots, shadowing spots or opportunities with any undergraduate students. That means that every lab and physician is more than happy to have a medical student. That said, it also means that overall there are fewer researchers with slightly more limited areas of study because there are fewer students overall. You want to make sure your ideal medical school has the right size-balance for you!
LocationI cannot stress this piece enough. Every medical school will give you, more or less, the same amount of information in your first two years of medical school. Yes, there are variations on format and other opportunities which we'll cover, but the content is that same. What that means is, one of the major variable factors to your experience is the location of the school. Do you want to live in a major city? Do you want a smaller location in a more rural situation? There are medical schools in a variety of city sizes. What kinds of activities will help you feel satisfied and happy with your med school choice? How close are these activities? For example if you're into skiing, Iowa might not be the right state for you to move to. Is it important for you to get away from home or be a short flight or car-ride away from your support system? I'm always a little bummed out that I'm out-of-state and away from my family and friends. Fortunately, the flight from Denver to Minneapolis is usually relatively cheap and is less than two hours long. Location is vitally important to your happiness and overall medical school experience, so take time to examine the locations of your potential medical schools.
Student BodyAgain, I'd like to emphasize that the classwork is pretty standard, but the people with whom you share your experience can vary greatly and overall impact your success. Do you want a more collaborative student body? Make sure you ask about whether students study together when you go for your interview day. Are you driven by competition to study hard? Great! Then make sure that competition is highly valued among your potential future classmates. You should also check out the average statistical values for incoming classes. If you’re applying to US allopathic (MD) medical schools, visit the AMCAS website and check out the latest Medical School Admissions Requirements (MSAR) guide. If you’re applying to osteopathic (DO) medical programs, you should visit the AACOM website and check out the Osteopathic Medical College Information Book. Things to look out for would be average class age, different measurements of diversity, whether people commonly took time off, do most students have graduate degrees and whether the majority of students are married. You want to get a feel for the student body and whether it meshes well with your medical school needs.
OpportunitiesYes, you'll spend a lot of time during medical school in class, but don't forget about other opportunities! If working abroad is important to you, make sure that you ask about established study abroad programs at your school. Can you do any rotations or projects abroad? If you're into volunteering or extracurriculars, make sure to ask how easy it is to get involved and talk to current students about their lives outside of school. Opportunities also include topics like scholarships, foci or areas of emphasis for students, potential for getting a dual degree like an MD/MPH or MD/MBA, and where students from the school are commonly matched for residency. It may seem right now that getting into any medical school that will take you is your priority and trust me, I get that. You do want to spend some time thinking about how a particular medical school will suit you. Choosing the right medical school goes far beyond the rankings. You're going to spend a fair amount of money investing into your education and working in pursuit of your “good life,” so make sure to think about how you're drafting your fantasy medical school (at least for as long as you think about your fantasy football team each week)! Happy studying! Want to browse through different careers in your area of interest, see what test scores will get you into the top schools, and read interviews from people like you who have succeeded in pursuing their dreams? All this and more is available at kaptest.com/unlock. Just by visiting and filling out your info, you’ll be entered to win $10,000. The good life is closer than you think. ...read more
August 20, 2014
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 processApplying 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 applicationThe 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:
- request your official transcripts
- start perfecting your personal statement
- take inventory of your extracurricular activities
- make sure you have taken your MCAT! Medical schools will only take their first action and review the primary application if it is considered complete, and this includes having an available MCAT score.
2) The secondary applicationThere 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
3) The medical school interviewIf 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
October 25, 2013
January 17, 2013
- Why our school?
- How did you become interested in medicine?
- What's something unique you could add to our class?
- What's a challenge or obstacle you've had to overcome?
- What are you most excited about in medicine? What are you most concerned about?
- I. The Holistic Review Process
- II. The Personal Statement
- III. Secondary Applications
- IV. Medical Extracurriculars and Experience
- V. Non-Medical Extracurriculars and Experience
- VI. Letters of Recommendation
- VII. Interviews
March 19, 2012
February 6, 2012
November 7, 2011
“So tell me about yourself.”
It’s not even a question. It’s a request, and in the opening moments of your medical school interview, it may sound more like a hostile command. But it is perhaps one of the most common ways in which your med school interviewers may invite you to join in conversation with them. How would you respond to this non-question question? It doesn’t seem easy, as I’m sure you’re well aware. Because it’s so open-ended, we tend to hem-and-haw and sputter out the first thing that comes to mind, and our response usually starts with, “Well, I was born in…” Ugh! No! You’re missing the point of the interviewers’ request. They don’t care where, when, or how you were born; or where you lived until you were seven; or that you currently own a hamster. (On the other hand, if you and your hamster have achieved world fame as a banjo duo, then you might want to mention that.)
What is the point, then, of this non-question question that so often gets us out of sorts? Well, that’s actually sort of the point: they want to see how you respond to an unstructured situation. Rambling on, creating one big messy non sequitur, or – worst of all – asking of your interviewers, “What do you want to know?” all point to the same problem: a lack of both forethought and reflection. Both are essential for being prepared to effectively manage unstructured or ambiguous situations. You mistake their intention if you believe that they really only want to get to know you personally. Sure, this is an opportunity to share personal information (more in a moment on what that means); but what you opt to share in response to the invitation reveals as much – if not more – about you as the actual details of your response. Let me provide an example, but one that is so extreme, I’m guaranteeing you’ll get my point. Saying, “Well, I love to get raging drunk every night.” reveals something about you. And actually deciding that it would be appropriate to say, “Well, I love to get raging drunk every night.” as your opening line in a med school interview also says something – far worse – about you.
Med school interviewers rely on “So tell me about yourself.” because it is unstructured and open ended, and they know that how you respond will reveal not just some of your life details (no matter how banal or interesting) but also some of your character and values. So give some forethought to your response by reflecting on the personal qualities you possess that are most appropriate to share with your med school interviewers. Keep the following in mind:
1. Your med school interview is a job interview; it’s not a first date. Make sure the information you share is relevant to the primary goal of the interview: to determine whether you and that medical school are a good fit.
2. This is only the opening moment of the interview. Keep your response short and to the point. It should only take a minute or so to answer this question. Like a good movie preview or a well written prologue, your response should capture your interviewers’ attention, draw them in, and get them excited to hear more from you.
3. You can take control of the interview conversation by sharing information relevant to topics that your interviewers will be compelled to return to later (because you’ve given them a hint of something interesting about you that they just can’t wait to know more about).
4. Remember that the interview is a continuation of a conversation that began months earlier with the AMCAS primary application, the personal statement, the secondary application essays, and the letters of recommendation. Of course depending on whether your interview is based on an “open” or “closed” file, your interviewers will already know a lot , very little, or nothing at all about you. Regardless, highlight a few accomplishments or qualities and illustrate them with a couple of short memorable stories. People love stories, but only if they’re told well, so practice telling your stories before your interviews.
You’re going to be faced with this question. Don’t fear it! Look forward to it, and be prepared.
So, now that you know more about this question, tell me about yourself....read more
September 8, 2011
by Lauren Poindexter, Kaplan Elite MCAT Instructor
As a future physician, it’s a sure thing that at some point in your career you will encounter patients with some form of mental illness. Psychological health is every bit as important as physiological health, and in many instances the two are hopelessly intertwined. Amid reports of celebrities dealing with mental afflictions - from NFL athlete Brandon Marshall’s recent declaration of his diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder, to actor Charlie Sheen's suspicious descent into madness – you might have missed the announcement of a new challenge proposed to the global health community, the Grand Challenges in Global Mental Health Initiative.
The movement, led jointly by the National Institutes of Health and the Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases, draws from all fields within the greater medical community in hopes of addressing the “top 40 barriers to better mental health around the world." Those 40 barriers were ranked by a panel of experts and narrowed from an initial list of 1,565, a process which resulted in the following top 5 challenges:
- Integrate screening and core packages of services into routine primary health care
- Reduce the cost and improve the supply of effective medications
- Improve children's access to evidence-based care by trained health providers in low- and middle-income countries
- Provide effective and affordable community-based care and rehabilitation
- Strengthen the mental health component in the training of all health care personnel.
News like this should rock your world! Why? Because these initiatives affect every single one of us. As the offspring of aging baby boomers, as college students and college graduates, as soon-to-be-medical students and physicians, and as future standard bearers for the most advanced medical community in the world, we have been/are/will be affected intimately by mental illness of varying severities and types (according to NIMH statistics). Does that sound scary? Why? What do you know about mental illness, or better yet, what do you think you know about mental illness and its many forms?
Like other illnesses, diseases, and injuries, mental illness has verifiable biochemical “roots,” and our (future) patients, friends, family-members, and selves should be treated with sincere compassion, respect, and evidence-based therapies, whether pharmaceutical, psychological, or a combination of the two. The more educated, respectful, and vocal we are about these diagnoses, the easier it will be for patients to find and receive the assistance they need and deserve.
Today I challenge you to review the NIH’s press release and make a point to learn one new fact about mental illness. Every day we make a purposeful action to overcome our own small barriers to “better mental health,” is yet another avenue for affecting positive change in our community!...read more
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- Med School Admissions Statistics, Part I: How Many People Get into Medical School?
- Creating Diversity in Your Medical School Application
- Holy cow! I got into Medical School!
- Pre-Med Priorities: Tips for Building a Strong Academic Foundation
- Med School Admissions Statistics, Part III: What’s the Average GPA? (And What Can I Do About It?)
- Med School Admissions Statistics, Part II: What’s the Average MCAT?
- Finding the Right Medical School For You: Your Questions Answered
- Pros and Cons of Taking the New MCAT 2015 in April
- The Pre-Medical Experience: A Critical Review
- A Tale of Two MCATs: Which Should I Take?
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