10 Tips For Applying To Medical School
Thinking about all of the components involved in applying to medical school can easily become overwhelming. If the time has come to apply for your residency, there are even more considerations to made. Here are a few tips to lighten the load and help guide you through the application process.
No matter which stage you are at, you need to get as much background as possible on the potential school or program. This not only lets you make sure that the schools mission aligns with your career goals, it also gives you an edge in interviews. Interviewers want to hear why you chose their program in particular, so be able to relate your personal experiences to the mission of the school.
You already know that ERAS and NRMP websites will give you all the information you need regarding requirements and timelines, but also utilize the people around you. You will notice that building relationships is an important factor throughout the entire application process, but look for a mentor that can be both a guide in the early stages and helpful in the later stages. If your mentor that can offer you coaching, current information, and is well connected in your program area would be ideal.
So your MCAT score is solid and you are comfortable with your G.P.A, but what kind of field experience do you have? Most medical school candidates have done volunteer work in some capacity, but make sure that your experience highlights a highly flexible schedule and desire to serve patients. Admissions officers like to see candidates that have already proven they are willing and able to handle the demanding schedule of a doctor.
The best tip here is to plan, plan, plan! Plan which materials you will use, plan to spend the AAMC minimum recommended study time of 300 hours, and plan a rigorous study schedule. Many have found that 6-8 hours a day, 4-5 days a week has produced high scoring results. Find the schedule that works for you within the first week, and make sure to always have breaks to give your mind time to recoup.
Medical school and residency program interviews can be both timely and costly. Make sure to schedule them as far in advance in possible. If you are a medical school applicant, try to lighten your course load during interview season and at the very least give your professors advanced notice of your interview dates. You may find yourself all over the country for residency interviews, so try scheduling interviews in the same region during the same week. If there is a pre-interview option, take advantage. This is where you get the opportunity to meet current residents and gain a closer look into the program.
For residential interviews, you may find that during your stay there will be opportunities to meet current residents. Always take advantage of any dinners, socials, or other meetings that allow you to gain insight into what life would be like in the program. Be cognizant of everyone that you encounter- you never know if that woman behind you in line is a current resident or medical staff at the program you have applied to.
Numbers give insights on how you perform academically, but those alone do not separate you from next candidate. Your personal statement is the first introduction to you as an individual, so make sure it is reflective but also concise. Include past experiences and notable recognitions, but make sure to relate them to why that makes you the best fit for the school. Write about truly meaningful events in your life so that once interview time rolls around, you will be able to speak both articulately and passionately on your experiences.
Letters of Recommendation
The perfect recommendation letter starts well before the time it is requested. Building relationships throughout academia will give you more meaningful recommendation letters. Do not wait until the last minute to request your recommendation, as there may be several other students with the same request. Ask for your letter while your contributions are still memorable to the person you are requesting it from. After building the relationship make sure to foster it, since you may need another character reference at some point during your medical career.
Now this tip is geared toward those applying for a residency program. You may or may not have a clear idea of what you want to specialize in at this point. Either way, it is always beneficial to reach out to professionals in a variety of fields in order to make or solidify your choice. Their firsthand experiences will give you the most realistic outlook on what to expect should you choose that career track.
Be thoughtful with your rank list. Try not to be swayed by any follow-up letters or emails that you may receive after your interview. Only include programs that you are truly interested in matching with.