MedSchoolCoach http://www.medschoolcoach.com Helping you achieve your medical school dreams Mon, 24 Apr 2017 08:16:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.4 42371106 Preparing for the Medical School Interview http://www.medschoolcoach.com/preparing-medical-school-interview/ Mon, 24 Apr 2017 08:16:20 +0000 http://www.medschoolcoach.com/?p=8831 Whether you are excited for interview season, or view it at as yet another daunting aspect of the application cycle, a bit of preparation can go a long way in terms of providing you with the tools and confidence needed to shine–as you should :)–on interview day. A little anxiety is normal and expected, but

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Whether you are excited for interview season, or view it at as yet another daunting aspect of the application cycle, a bit of preparation can go a long way in terms of providing you with the tools and confidence needed to shine–as you should :)–on interview day.

A little anxiety is normal and expected, but don’t stress out too much. Remember, you were invited for a reason. So relax–believe that you belong at the interview–because you do.

So if everyone is qualified, how do you stand out?

Below, I’ve shared a few tips that helped me prepare for interview season. I hope you too will find them to be just as useful as you embark on this next (and last!) segment of the application season:

Learn as much about the program as possible beforehand.

  • Do you know anyone who has interviewed at the same program? Do you know a student currently in the program? If so, reach out to express your interest and seek their insight on the interview experience and the program itself. If you don’t know anyone, do a quick internet search to see if there is any information on the interview structure available.
  • Some questions to consider asking:
    • Will you have individual and/or a group interview?
    • Who will interview you? Have the interviewers already seen your application, or are they blinded to your application when they meet you?

Of course, it is 100% okay if you do not have the info above, but if possible, the more insight you have on the structure of interview day, the more tailored your preparation can be.

Do your prep work.

  • Do a quick Google search, or ask friends/mentors/advisors about commonly encountered questions that you may be asked.
    • Group similar questions together and make your life easier. 🙂
    • Make a master list of interview questions. At first, this may be overwhelming, but soon you will notice that many questions are similar but slightly different ways of asking the exact same thing.
  • Go through this list, and come up with concise answers that directly address the question at hand. When doing so, try to:
    • Use examples. Anyone can make any claim. Real world, personal examples enhance your credibility by substantiating your claims.
    • When using examples, implement the STAR method: Briefly describe the situation or task, the action you took, and the results you achieved. For example:

“I think my biggest strength is resilience. Last year, I was asked to [insert task]. It was difficult because of [insert challenge]. I approached it by [insert your tactic that demonstrates resilience]. With this approach, I was able to [insert how you accomplished task A]. I believe that this quality will enable me to contribute to your program in a meaningful way by [insert why you would be valuable/add to their program]”.

You don’t need to literally write out each response word for word. In fact, it is important to avoid sounding over-prepared or robotic–even a few bullet points would be just perfect!

  • Diversify your examples. For each practice question, come up with one example related to medicine, and a 2nd, more personal (non-academic) example. Try not to repeat any examples. This exercise will likely be harder and more time intensive than anticipated, but well worth it (at least in my experience). You will learn a lot about yourself and create a plethora of invaluable examples that you can have at your fingertips throughout interview season.

If you have multiple examples for any one question, identify which example is best. Remember, it’s not about giving an example–almost anyone will be able to do that–it’s about providing the best example, so do your best to identify your best example, and then be ready to share it on interview day. 🙂

Practice (literally)

  • To anyone and everyone who will listen.
  • Much communication is nonverbal. Even when content is ideal, do not underestimate the power of your delivery. How you share your example will likely be at least as important (if not more) than the actual words you use
  • As you go through interview season and hear feedback from interviewers, you will get a good sense of which examples are best received–which ones you might continue to use in the future. Edit and revise your master list of questions/examples accordingly.

The day before your interview: relax!

  • Get a good night’s rest, stick to your evening and morning routine, and be excited.
  • If you tend to be an anxious person, sometimes driving by the location the night before can minimize anxiety.

The day of your interview–have fun!

  • Befriend fellow applicants; it will make the day more fun, less stressful, and you may make a lifelong friend (whether or not you end up in the same medical school class together)
  • Be courteous and respectful to everyone. Hopefully you do this already even when you are not in an interview setting. 🙂
  • Don’t let the interview setting detract from your personality
    • For example, if you are a funny person, feel free to insert some humor (in good taste), as you address the interview questions
    • After all, you are at the interview- your application already demonstrates that you possess skills to succeed in that particular program…so much of the interview is actually about finding a good personality fit. Do not underestimate the power of your personality. 🙂
  • Smile, relax, and enjoy your moment!

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What’s the purpose of a BS/MD Program? http://www.medschoolcoach.com/whats-purpose-bsmd-program/ http://www.medschoolcoach.com/whats-purpose-bsmd-program/#comments Wed, 19 Apr 2017 08:08:11 +0000 http://www.medschoolcoach.com/?p=8352 For anyone familiar with what a BS/MD program is, it seems that their goal is quite obvious: to give a select few high school seniors early, conditional acceptance into medical school. But why? If these students really are as exceptional as the programs advertise, then why do they even need that early acceptance? Shouldn’t they

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For anyone familiar with what a BS/MD program is, it seems that their goal is quite obvious: to give a select few high school seniors early, conditional acceptance into medical school. But why? If these students really are as exceptional as the programs advertise, then why do they even need that early acceptance? Shouldn’t they easily be able to get into medical school four years down the road, through the traditional route?

Indeed, most of the students who get selected into these programs have already developed the study habits and strong work ethic required to be successful as traditional pre-med students. But that just means that by offering these students early acceptance into medical school, the BS/MD programs are aiming to achieve some other goal. This “true purpose” is something few applicants are aware of, but it is something that can give any student a huge advantage, whether that’s at the essay stage or the interview stage of the application process.

Too many students apply to these programs simply because they’re looking for the easy way into medical school. And if we’re being realistic, then of course having an “easy route” into medical school is a strong motivation for anybody (including me!) to apply. But what I’ll try to emphasize throughout the rest of this post is that that shouldn’t be your only reason. If it is, then perhaps you should reconsider applying, because any experienced BS/MD professional will be able to easily see through that.

So I’ll just cut straight to the chase: the purpose of BS/MD programs is to provide intellectually curious students with an opportunity to use their time to explore their interests and enhance their education rather than waste an unnecessary number of hours being burdened by traditional pre-med hurdles. Sounds like a mouthful, right? Well, let’s try and break that down a little.

Intellectual curiosity

The first, and possibly the most important, part of the underlined statement above has to do with regards to a specific type of student: an intellectually curious student. From my personal experience of BS/MD interviews, I can tell you that the students I always found most interesting (and the one’s who I’d categorize as the “Oh yea, they’re definitely getting in”) were those who could not only talk about their previous accomplishments, but also are able to effectively communicate their future undergraduate goals. Whether those goals were or were not academically related was largely irrelevant. The point of focus, rather, was that these students had a plan of action. They knew what there interests were, and they knew what they wanted to spend their time pursuing in the future. Students like this are less likely to waste the precious free time that a BS/MD program grants to its students, and ultimately that is what the selection committee is looking for. Most of your competitors for these programs are going to be just as, if not more, qualified as you. The best way to convince the selection committee that you are the best pick for this program is to show them that you are a proactive student who will use your time wisely to pursue whatever intellectual curiosity you may have.

Academic and extra-curricular pursuits

The second part of a BS/MD program’s purpose is to find a student that wants to “explore their interests and enhance their education.” Depending on the length of your program, your undergraduate career can last anywhere for 2-4 years. And what you get out of those 2-4 years is entirely dependent on yourself. The problem for most traditional pre-meds is that they have to spend so much time securing the highest GPA possible while simultaneously building a resume and acing their MCATs that they are left with no time to pursue outside interests. And while getting good grades and developing a strong work ethic are both essential, they don’t do much to enhance your overall college experience.

Something as simple as studying abroad or getting a major in a non-science related subject sounds like it’s easy enough to incorporate into your college timeline. But it’s not always that easy for pre-med students. Studying abroad requires extensive planning to make sure you’ve got enough time to study for MCATs, write medical school applications, and preparing for interviews. Pursuing a non-science major, on the other hand, means taking extra coursework on top of your required pre-med classes (which coincidentally happen to overlap quite a bit with biology-related majors) and a possible disadvantage when it comes to taking your MCATs. It thus comes as no surprise that most pre-meds choose to forgo such experiences in hopes of maximizing their chances of getting into medical school. But such experiences are just as, perhaps even more, important as studying. Studying abroad, for example, helps students better understand medicine on an international level, and non-science majors, such as economics or philosophy, help students understand medicine from a more liberal arts perspective. Both such experiences can be extremely valuable when it comes to working with patients or running a private practice, but unfortunately, most pre-meds lack these unique perspectives. Therefore, what BS/MD programs are looking to do is grow the best possible future doctors by encouraging them to invest their time in experiences that provide them with a more well-rounded education.

Knowledge

The final part of a BS/MD program’s purpose has to do with knowledge; understanding the difficulties of being a pre-med student is essential for you to understand why these programs were created in the first place. Being a pre-med student is hard. Regardless of whether or not you’re selected for a BS/MD program, that’s a fact you cannot get around. Professors challenge you like no other, and the amount of time and dedication it requires to be a successful pre-med student is no joke. With that being said, though, there are a number of hurdles that can be minimized, and that’s why so many people support BS/MD programs.

Back in April of 2015, when I was deciding which university I wanted to commit to, I consulted a number of my mentors who had themselves gone through the traditional pre-med to medical school route. I informed them of all my options, including the REMS program at the University of Rochester, and nearly all of them told me to accept the offer at U of R without hesitation. But why? These people were some of the most successful physicians (or soon-to-be physicians!) that I knew, and all of them had gone through the traditional route. One had graduated from Princeton University and later from David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, another had graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and had also gone onto attend UCLA’s medical school, and the last one had graduated from Ohio State University with a full-ride (though she’d rejected a number of other prestigious college, including Columbia University) and was soon to be a MD/PhD student at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. So if all these ex-premed’s had successfully fulfilled their traditional pre-med duties, then why were they all so strongly pushing for me to accept the BS/MD offer?

Because there is only a finite amount of time available to us in our undergraduate career. And even though any hardworking, dedicated student could use that time towards studying and applying for medical school, why do so if you don’t have to? Instead, use that time and energy to do something that will enrich your life and college experience. Medical school is stressful as is, and there is no point in having to cope with such stresses earlier in life if it can be avoided. Even the most successful pre-med students will tell you that if they could, they would go back in time and try to strengthen their chances at being a strong BS/MD applicant. It’s a prestigious offer that everyone wants, one that could completely change the course of your undergraduate career.

So when deciding whether or not a BS/MD program is right for you, ask yourself three questions:

  • Why do you really want this?
  • What would you do with your free time in college?
  • Do you understand and feel prepared to take on the challenges of being a pre-med student?

If you can confidently answer all the above questions, then you’re most likely on the right track. Keep it up and good luck with the rest of your application process!

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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How your medical school personal statement reflects on your admission chances http://www.medschoolcoach.com/personal-statement-admission/ http://www.medschoolcoach.com/personal-statement-admission/#comments Fri, 14 Apr 2017 08:03:26 +0000 http://www.medschoolcoach.com/?p=8650 Since most medical school applicants have strong GPAs and MCAT scores, applicants must find a way to distinguish themselves from the hundreds of applications reviewed by admissions committees. The personal statement, or essay, is the place to make this happen. Writing a personal statement is often the most difficult part of the application process and

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Since most medical school applicants have strong GPAs and MCAT scores, applicants must find a way to distinguish themselves from the hundreds of applications reviewed by admissions committees. The personal statement, or essay, is the place to make this happen.

Writing a personal statement is often the most difficult part of the application process and you must give it the attention it deserves. The impression it makes can be an “accept” or “reject” factor by admissions committees. Drafting your essay should begin weeks before filing out the application.

It is not enough to say, “I volunteered at my local hospital”. You must explain what the experience says about you as a potential physician and as a person. The personal essay is the place to share with the admissions committee to help them understand your character, your attitudes, your values, your motivation, and your knowledge.

In addition to a strong background in science, medical schools want students who show compassion. This includes empathy, concern, kindness and benevolence.

Remember, to move from the application pile to the accepted pile, you must describe why you would be an ideal medical student, keeping in mind that compassionate people make excellent doctors.

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MCAT scheduling: what factors to consider before signing up for your test date http://www.medschoolcoach.com/mcat-scheduling-factors-consider-signing-test-date/ Mon, 10 Apr 2017 18:46:46 +0000 http://www.medschoolcoach.com/?p=8033 We all know that the MCAT is one of the most important factors in your entire medical school application. Doing well on this test is of paramount importance to making a competitive application. Maximizing your test score is going to require a lot of studying, but also planning. With your heavy pre-med course load or

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We all know that the MCAT is one of the most important factors in your entire medical school application. Doing well on this test is of paramount importance to making a competitive application. Maximizing your test score is going to require a lot of studying, but also planning. With your heavy pre-med course load or hectic work schedule, it may seem as if there is never an ideal time to take the MCAT. In order to schedule your MCAT at the best possible time, check out these tips to ensure that you have adequate time and peace of mind to study:

1)      Plan out courses prior to scheduling your test date: If you are taking the MCAT while school is still in session, make sure you spend some time scheduling your courses prior to reserving your MCAT date. This will help to avoid stressful conflicts with finals or big deadlines.

2)      Check in with family and friends: If you anticipate a big life event that would be important for you to attend (wedding, religious function or season, etc.) make sure you plan for this in advance. There are ways to arrange your study schedule around these important events, but conflicts around Test Day could leave you disappointed and distracted when you are trying to focus for the exam.

3)      Free up weekends: One of the biggest score-boosting activities you can do to prepare for the MCAT is to take and then review MCAT practice tests. This can often consume the majority of a day, and the best time to do this is on an undisturbed weekend. Taking several practice tests is recommended, so be kind to yourself and do not over commit your weekends for the 4-6 weeks leading up to Test Day.

4)     Anticipate AMCAS timelines: Scores typically take 4-5 weeks to result after Test Day. For medical school applications, you can access the AMCAS application as early as the first few weeks in May to be ready to submit as early as the first few weeks in June. If your schedule is otherwise permitting, consider taking a test that allows you to have your score back by the end of May or early June. That way, you can hit “submit” and get a jump start on the application process right as it begins. Many schools have a rolling acceptance, and the earlier your application is complete, the increased chance of acceptance you may have at certain programs.

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Common Myths about Medical School http://www.medschoolcoach.com/common-myths-medical-school/ http://www.medschoolcoach.com/common-myths-medical-school/#comments Wed, 05 Apr 2017 08:03:38 +0000 http://www.medschoolcoach.com/?p=8647 A mere three years after graduating high school and joining a 7-year combined BS/MD program, I found myself on the doorstep of medical school, an entity which I only knew through harrowing tales almost always beginning with the words “I heard that in med school…” Before that last semester of college, medical school always seemed

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A mere three years after graduating high school and joining a 7-year combined BS/MD program, I found myself on the doorstep of medical school, an entity which I only knew through harrowing tales almost always beginning with the words “I heard that in med school…” Before that last semester of college, medical school always seemed far enough away that I would never actually have to worry about it; when the time came to face it, I was filled with an uncomfortable combination of anxiety and excitement.

Now that I am nearing the end of this journey, I look back upon my medical school experience brimming with gratitude. Those years were filled with fond memories and immense personal growth experienced with a group of lifelong friends. Here are some of the rumors I heard before starting medical school and realizing that the right mentality is all it takes to break them down into exactly what they are – myths.

Everyone just studies all of the time

What impressed me most about my fellow students was how multi-talented they were. Everyone, at baseline, was intelligent and passionate about studying medicine – however, what was most surprising to me was the wide variety of hobbies they engaged in. My friends who competed in powerlifting competitions pushed me to work harder in the gym. I played guitar with my musician friends and performed several times for the school. And when an exam was over, we all went out and celebrated together. Getting through medical school builds a camaraderie unlike anything else.

But back to the studying – I will not sugarcoat it, you will definitely be studying more than ever, but you will finally be studying information that will be used to save the lives of your future patients. Remember this.

As a medical student, you will be treated poorly by your superiors

It is true that medical training can be very hierarchical, and medical students are at the “bottom”. The vast majority of residents and attendings, however, absolutely love their profession and love teaching. I was constantly inspired by how, even though they worked long and difficult hours for their patients, residents and attendings would still make time afterwards to teach the medical students. Learn from them and remember that the only way to go is up!

The toughest part is getting in

Absolutely not. And trust me, you do not want it to be. You will be surrounded by incredibly intelligent and driven minds. The beauty of medical school is that you will constantly be pushed by your residents, your attendings, your teachers, and your peers to be the best possible version of yourself. Embracing that is what will allow you to grow, succeed, and have a wonderful and memorable experience unlike anything else.

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Advice for writing a medical school personal statement from an expert http://www.medschoolcoach.com/advice-writing-medical-school-personal-statement-expert/ Mon, 27 Mar 2017 14:37:23 +0000 http://www.medschoolcoach.com/?p=7638 We sat down with Dr. Davietta Butty, a Northwestern School of Medicine graduate, avid writer, and pediatrician! She is an amazing MedSchoolCoach advisor who has helped hundreds of students through the admissions process with a focus on the medical school personal statement. Her insights into what an admissions committee member looks for are extremely important,

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Medical School Personal StatementWe sat down with Dr. Davietta Butty, a Northwestern School of Medicine graduate, avid writer, and pediatrician! She is an amazing MedSchoolCoach advisor who has helped hundreds of students through the admissions process with a focus on the medical school personal statement. Her insights into what an admissions committee member looks for are extremely important, so read on for some great tips!

Could you give us advice for students who want to write a good personal statement but aren’t able to start one or are in general struggling to write a good personal statement?

First of all, it’s really intimidating to look at a blank document and decide “okay this is where I am going to start or this is what I’m going to do” or know how things are going to be organized. I don’t think anyone necessarily goes into their personal statement with everything figured out. I think people get stuck worrying about wanting it to be great and fabulous. It has to be first, before it can be those things. Rather than focusing on how good you want it to be, just start writing. Even if it’s a stream of consciousness or just your ideas but try to get them on the paper because once they are there then you can cut, paste or change the organization so that you have something to work with. You can then decide whether that experience speaks to you or whether you have this other experience that you think might work better; but you can’t actually do that until you are able to let go and start writing. Don’t worry about it being good at first, just worry about getting your thoughts on paper.

Great! From your experience, what are the top three things that you might have seen in great personal statements or what you think comprise a really good personal statement?

I think the best personal statements are the ones that showcase the applicant’s personality. All of the primary applications is all numbers and a lot of data and the personal statement is one of the only places where you can show who you are as a person. I think it’s important to remember that that type of thing to reach medicine but don’t get stuck in trying to be formulaic about it. Remember that this is your story and not anyone else’s story and you get the opportunity to say it how it makes sense to you. I think one of the things a lot of people struggle with is thinking that they don’t have anything unique about them or not knowing what to say in that personal statement because they haven’t lead a mission trip to Africa, won a Nobel prize or created some wonderful medical engineering invention. I think people get hung up on people not noticing them for not doing those things. What people notice is your story, your heart and your ability to show that you made connections with people. Ultimately, you hope that someone is looking at you, sees the things that you have done and say ‘good job’ while giving you an award. Most of the time people are not going to see that. The people who are going to know what kind of job you are doing are your patients. So, if you are able to show the admissions committee and the reader that you are able to in some small way touch someone’s life even in five minutes or less, then I think that’s more important than holding up an award and saying ‘hey, look at what someone else saw me do’ because people aren’t going to be watching or rewarding you for your career. It’s going to be the reward of making contact with your patient and improving their lives even in the short term.

“ In personal statements, what people notice is your story, your heart and your ability to show that you made connections with people.”

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What is a BS/MD Program? http://www.medschoolcoach.com/what-is-a-bsmd-program/ Wed, 15 Mar 2017 08:00:58 +0000 http://www.medschoolcoach.com/?p=8348 College application season is no doubt one of the most arduous parts of any high school student’s career. It requires a large amount of time and dedication to be spent on essays, interviews, financial aid applications, and so, so much more. And the worst part? Doing everything you possibly can and still somehow feeling like

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College application season is no doubt one of the most arduous parts of any high school student’s career. It requires a large amount of time and dedication to be spent on essays, interviews, financial aid applications, and so, so much more. And the worst part? Doing everything you possibly can and still somehow feeling like you haven’t done enough. So why would anyone voluntarily decide to go through such a grueling process all over again? Well unfortunately, for any undergraduate student who’s decided to pursue a career in medicine, there isn’t much of a choice. When it comes to high school seniors interested in medicine, however, there is! And that’s exactly where BS/MD programs come into question.

So what exactly is a BS/MD program? It’s a dual-degree program that has been constructed by undergraduate universities in partnership with some local medical schools to provide high school seniors with conditional acceptance into medical school. The two degrees, Bachelor of Science (BS) and Doctor of Medicine (MD), are offered to students who successfully graduate through both the undergraduate school as well as the medical school. Typically, these programs last anywhere from 6-8 years (in contrast to the traditional 4 years of undergraduate + 4 years of medical school), and they’re specifically targeted towards students who’ve shown a great deal of interest in medicine throughout their entire high school career. These programs are known to be some of the most competitive programs in the country (some of their acceptance rates make Stanford and Harvard’s 5% acceptance rate sound like a joke), and there are a great number of things to know in order to be a competitive applicant. Getting in depth on any point would take an entire post, so below, I’ve outlined the most important points to note when trying to better understand a BS/MD program.

Start Early!

First, and perhaps the most important piece of advice, is to start early. Given that some of the most difficult BS/MD programs have an acceptance rate of near 2%, these universities are looking for students who have known for quite some time that they are interested in medicine and can really show for it. Most students who are serious about getting into these programs don’t just wake up one morning of their senior year and make a spur of the moment decision to apply. On the contrary, many know before they even step foot into high school. Many might ask, “How can you know what you want to do for the rest of your life in just 9th grade?” and they pose a valid point. But even if you don’t know exactly what you want to pursue career-wise at that age, most students will know whether or not they have an interest in science and if they are even open to the possibility of becoming a doctor. It’s okay to not know for sure (that’s what the rest of high school is for!), but it is important to start getting involved with health-related activities so that either (1) you can decide this field isn’t for you after all, or (2) you realize that studying medicine is something you can envision yourself doing and already have the experience to back that statement up. Whether it’s research, volunteering at a hospital, getting EMT certified, or simply shadowing your family physician, it’s never too early to start get involved with the field of medicine.

Get those grades

Secondly, keep your GPA high and study hard for your ACT/SAT/SAT Subject tests. As previously mentioned, some of these programs have single-digit acceptance rates, which means having a strong GPA and high ACT/SAT score is of upmost importance. Some schools (such as Drexel University, Case Western, Penn State/Jefferson) require BS/MD applicants to be in the 10% percent of their graduating class in terms of GPA and to have standardized test scores to be above a certain number. Keep in mind, though, that even if a school doesn’t explicitly state a certain GPA or SAT/ACT score that they’re looking for, they still expect stellar statistics. Take, for example, the BS/MD program at Northwestern University, which had an average application SAT score of 2309 and ACT score of 35 in 2015. By no means will a 2400 SAT score and 4.0 GPA guarantee you acceptance into any BS/MD program, but high academic statistics are an indication of academic maturity and thus will increase the chances of being considered for the program.

Organize yourself

Thirdly, stay organized. If you haven’t already, by the time you get the application season of your senior year, you will quickly realize how easy it can be to get lost in all the submission dates, essay topics, and other requirements being thrown your way. And on top of that, if you’re applying to a multiple of BS/MD programs, you’re going to have even more essays and date requirements. So my greatest piece of advice is to narrow down your list of colleges early (and by early, I mean by the end of the summer before senior year, at latest) and to create an excel sheet noting down all the important pieces of information in separate columns. Though it may be a pain to sit down one day and spend hours researching all the specific submission details for each university you are applying to, it will largely pay off in the long run. Some BS/MD programs require you to submit essays through email, while others require it through the common app. Some have an earlier application date set for BS/MD applicants (sometimes as early as mid-November), while others ask you to submit at the same time as all other students in January. Some may ask for 4 extra essays, while other simply ask you to checkmark a box that indicates your interest in being considered for the program. Each of these little details is unique to each program and can easily get past you. Rather than having to Google it every time you forget one tiny detail, having an easy-access document with all the necessary information is much simpler. Take my word for it; this document will quickly become your holy grail!

Keep calm

Fourthly, don’t take it personally! Of course the hardest part of this entire process isn’t editing your essays long into the night or sitting through hour-long interviews. The hardest part is always rejection. And though there is nothing you can do to change the outcome, you can remember to not take the results personally. Of course it’s easier said than done, but this statement holds true for BS/MD programs even more so than it does with regular college applications. Most of these programs accept only a handful of students (10-15) out of the hundreds or thousands (yes, sometimes even more than a thousand students!) of those that applied. They are looking to maximize their diversity, and as you can imagine, that is quite difficult to do in such a small group of people. So at the end of the day, you might have been the perfect match for that school in every way possible, but somebody else just happened to match their criteria (however ambiguous it may be…) a bit better. Getting through the entire BS/MD process is an accomplishment in itself; it’s something not any and every student can do. It takes a great deal of commitment, maturity, and strong work ethic to get through this process successfully. Those are the very same qualities that differentiate a successful pre-med from an unsuccessful pre-med, so hey, you’re already ahead of the game! Look forward to all the great opportunities that have presented themselves throughout this application process and take advantage of them in your upcoming undergraduate career.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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MedSchoolCoach Webinar: Putting together a great application and personal statement http://www.medschoolcoach.com/medschoolcoach-webinar-putting-together-great-application-personal-statement/ Mon, 13 Mar 2017 12:09:49 +0000 http://www.medschoolcoach.com/?p=8556 Free Webinar: Putting Together a Great Application and Personal Statement April 10th at 9 pm EST Join the experts at MedSchoolCoach for a free webinar focused on putting together a great application and writing an outstanding personal statement. MedSchoolCoach advisors will take you through the elements of a medical school application, how it is evaluated by

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Free Webinar: Putting Together a Great Application and Personal Statement

April 10th at 9 pm EST

Join the experts at MedSchoolCoach for a free webinar focused on putting together a great application and writing an outstanding personal statement. MedSchoolCoach advisors will take you through the elements of a medical school application, how it is evaluated by admissions committees, and how you can stand out!

  • Understand the logistics of the AMCAS/AACOMAS and TMDSAS applications
  • Understand how an application is viewed by the admissions committee
  • Learn what makes a great personal statement (and what makes a bad one)
  • Get insights on how to choose which schools to apply to during the application process
  • Learn from actual physicians who have served on admissions committees!

Register Today for the Free Webinar

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USMLE Step 2 CK: How to Ace the Test. Advice from an Expert http://www.medschoolcoach.com/usmle-step-2-ck-ace-test-advice-expert/ http://www.medschoolcoach.com/usmle-step-2-ck-ace-test-advice-expert/#comments Mon, 06 Mar 2017 08:38:39 +0000 http://www.medschoolcoach.com/?p=7879 We sat down with Dr. Amy Chen, a MedSchoolCoach tutor and expert on the USMLE Step 1 and 2 exams. We asked her for some advice for students who are currently preparing for the USMLE Step 2, specifically how students could ace the exam! Included below are also very helpful USMLE Step 2 CK references

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We sat down with Dr. Amy Chen, a MedSchoolCoach tutor and expert on the USMLE Step 1 and 2 exams. We asked her for some advice for students who are currently preparing for the USMLE Step 2, specifically how students could ace the exam! Included below are also very helpful USMLE Step 2 CK references for our students.

How should someone best prepare for the USMLE Step 2 CK exam? Are there any resources that you suggest? Is there any schedule that one should follow?

In terms of resources, I don’t think it’s necessary to have too many resources. There’s a lot out there. You could potentially study from 5-7 different resources. I’d suggest keeping your number of resources down to 3-4 just because it can focus your concentration.  I’d say UWorld is definitely the #1 Resource. That is 100% necessary and definitely key to really learning a lot of information. Another resource I really like is Step Up to Medicine. This has a detailed overview of Step 2 CK for internal medicine topics. I think it does a really great job of breaking down the topics and the key information you need to know for each different disease. It also has a lot of nice diagrams and information. It does go into a little bit of detail but I do think it gives you a comprehensive overview of internal medicine. For the other topics like surgery or pediatrics, I think Master the Boards is a good resource to use. I would use Step Up to Medicine for internal medicine topics. Some people find OB-GYN is not covered very well on Master the Boards. If you’re struggling with OB-GYN and you would like a more detailed overview of the subject, I would recommend Case Files’ OB- GYN for that particular topic.

Alright. Is there any specific way you suggest studying from these resources? Would you suggest looking at the topics first and then answering questions? Or is there another way? 

Yes, I think before you start studying, it’s good to get a sense of your own weaknesses and strengths and to kind of start studying from your weaknesses. You can identify those multiple ways. Some people already have a handle just from their classes and their rotations, about what they maybe strong in or what they don’t do so well in. Or you can take an NBME and kind of get a break down of your score. So I would say, start with your weaknesses and start with kind of reading and learning the material. I actually like to do the questions simultaneously with the material. I don’t think you need to finish reading a chapter before you start doing the questions. I think there’s a lot of learning that occurs just from looking at the question and looking at the explanation and really kind of reading and digesting and trying to remember the explanations; then go back and annotate on your textbook the notes from the UWorld questions.

“I think before you start studying, it’s good to get a sense of your own weaknesses and strengths and to kind of start studying from your weaknesses.”

Is that the same way you studied?

Yes. That’s the same way I studied for them. I would focus on Step Up to Medicine because internal medicine is such a big part of the exam. It’s more than 60% of the questions. So I would start there. Make sure you brush up on all your internal medicine topics. Feel comfortable with that and then you can go on and branch out to other topics like pediatrics, psychiatry and surgery and so on.

Great! Then, are there any other mock tests you suggest taking?

Yes definitely. There are 4 NBMEs available. You can buy them – I think they’re like $50 each to buy them online. That way, you can take them in a timed environment and it gives you a score at the end. Otherwise, if you don’t want to buy them, try googling to see unofficial NBMEs. You can get the questions and the answers but the disadvantage is you don’t really get a score at the end. It doesn’t score automatically. You have to score it yourself. But NBMEs are a must. They’re great at assessing your progress. There’s also the 131 Step 2 Questions booklet. It’s a PDF that can be found online. It’s an official resource put out by the USMLE with 131 sample CK questions. Those are also good to go through for practice and they give you the answers as well.

Is there anything one should keep in mind while scheduling the test? 

I don’t think there is anything in particular you have to keep in mind. I think it depends on when you’re applying for residency. Many residency programs will want to see that CK score back by the time you rank in February; by the time you submit your rank lists. Keep in mind though that it can take a month or two for those results to come back. You want to take it with enough time that your results are back by the time your rank list is due in the year you’re applying to residency. Other than that, there isn’t too much scheduling consideration you need to do. It depends on the individual person and when they’re freest in their schedule. I want to say you want to give yourself at least a month to study, but ideally more than that. But it depends on what your goal score is and how well you did on Step 1. But ideally, you’d have some time where you wouldn’t be studying as well with an intense rotation.  Also, if you’re an international medical student or foreign medical student, you do need to have your Step 2 score by the time you apply; so by the time you submit your application. For that you would need your score back by September 15, instead of February.

That’s good information. Would you suggest any schedule that students should follow? 

I think it really is student-dependent. I think it really depends on how they are already doing and how far they are away from their goal score in terms of studying. But as I said, you need at least a month to prepare for it and ideally more time.

That makes sense. What’s the best advice you got for the USMLE Step 2 CK? After taking it, what do you think you could have done better? And what would your suggestions be based off of that?

I have a couple of ideas of what’s helpful to keep in mind while studying for Step 2. One of the things that’s really challenging for many people is time management. You only have a certain amount of time to answer each block of questions and it’s very easy to get bogged down and then run out of time by the end of each block. The way I encourage people to approach their questions is, when you’re reading the question, you should be actively thinking of differential diagnoses. By the time you reach the end of the question stem, you should already have a most likely diagnosis in your mind before you even look at the answer choices. I don’t think it’s advantageous to look at the answer choices first or read the question and look at the answers and think about the diagnosis. I think you end up using a lot of time in trying to go back and reread the question and so on. Be able to train yourself to have a clear diagnosis by the end of every question because that helps a lot with time management. Also, be very familiar with the lab values. You can lose a lot of time if you always have to go and check if this value is a normal value, if it’s high, or if it’s low. If you can do a good job of learning the normal lab values, that will also save a lot of time. You should know what does it mean when someone has hypernatremia, what are the specific diseases that could cause that? What does it mean when someone has elevated gluten levels? A lot of the times you can get the diagnosis just from the labs. They’re very very helpful. Being sure that you feel comfortable with EKGs and chest X-rays – those are often overlooked but Step 2 will test you on whether you know how to read an EKG and can identify abnormalities in X-Rays. Don’t forget about those as well while you’re studying.

Is there any other advice you’d like to give?

Practice is really important. So just practice as much as possible. Practice with the UWorld Question Bank, practice with your NBME exam. Try to find resources out there that encourage active learning so that you can test yourself with some questions. I think that’s really the key. Get used to the format of the test and used to how the questions are asked; get used to time management and just get used to answering this many questions in 8 hours essentially.

 

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Medical Shadowing: what to do when you have the chance http://www.medschoolcoach.com/medical-shadowing-chance/ Tue, 28 Feb 2017 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.medschoolcoach.com/?p=7963 Every premedical student knows that shadowing is an important part of their medical school application. Shadowing is a great way to understand the profession, see what doctors do on a day to day basis and make sure that you enjoy it! However, oftentimes students are confused as to how to get the most out of

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Premed Shadowing a Physician

Every premedical student knows that shadowing is an important part of their medical school application. Shadowing is a great way to understand the profession, see what doctors do on a day to day basis and make sure that you enjoy it! However, oftentimes students are confused as to how to get the most out of medical shadowing. But if you follow these two simple tips, you’ll be able to maximize your shadowing time and eventually be able to talk about it intelligently on your medical school application as well as during interviews.

Tip 1: Do some homework!

For shadowing experience to be worthwhile, it makes sense for the student to do a little bit of reading before hand just to understand the terminology used. Often times, especially when shadowing a specialist, there are a lot of acronyms and names that are brought up and thrown around.

Preparing a little beforehand to know what types of procedures or what types of things may come up before that experience happens is important. If its going to be a regular shadowing experience, go home and do so some reading about what you saw that day to get a better understanding of what happened.

Tip 2: Don’t be afraid to ask questions

Questions are never something to be afraid of! In fact, as you move along in your medical education, questions will be how you learn! Don’t expect someone to always force feed you knowledge; you must be proactive in wanting to understand medicine. For example, if you are in a clinic and you have seen a patient with a doctor for 20-30 minutes, keep a mental note of questions that would be interesting to ask afterwards. Questions such as, “Why did you do that?”, “Why did you ask that question to the patient?” would be helpful. In addition, I think the key thing to any encounter with any patient is to figure out why the doctor decided to go with a certain plan of action. Each encounter with a patient is split up into two parts: the information gathering part, with questions such as, “Why are you here?”, “Where do you have pain?”, and the second part is the counseling: “Given what you told me, here is what I think we should do.” I think to learn the most you have to really try to understand from the doctor, why did he or she prescribe a certain medication, why did he or she decide on a particular diagnosis over another. I think asking questions around those pieces will provide more insight to what medicine is about and really help you get something out of the experience.

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