Authored by: Samuel L.
A few days ago I was accepted to an MD school. Here’s some things I wish someone told me.
First, the sappy stuff….
- Don’t link your personal happiness with getting accepted to med school. I know you’re a hopeful kid wanting to change the world, improve medicine and whatnot, but don’t let it be the only thing holding up your world. When I applied, I became a slave to the process. I always thought, if I could just get accepted, I’ll be happy. And sure I was happy, and giddy, but the novelty of it wears off at some point, and if you’re not happy before you got accepted, you won’t stay happy after you do. Focus on having quality time with yourself. The application process is a stressful time if you lose yourself to it. There’s more important things to lose in life, like your virginity, you nerds.
- Don’t let other people’s opinions affect your goals, but most importantly, don’t let your own thoughts affect it. I remember when I told my pharmacist how I was applying to med school and I recently got a score of 505 on the MCAT. I said things like, “but I don’t think that’s a good score, so maybe I’ll have to reapply.” I’ll admit I was fishing, but not because I thought it was a good score. I wanted him to reinforce that I’ll be okay. Instead, he told me that might be too low for medical school, and I trusted his judgement enough to feel depressed for more than half the cycle. (Please don’t do this)
Then the BBC of tests.
3. DO NOT DO BLIND CONTENT REVIEW. If you’re going through content by reading Kaplan textbooks and waiting to do practice problems when you’re close to the MCAT, you’re doing it wrong. I know that’s wrong because that’s what I did, highlighting, taking notes, until I had about 3 weeks until the test. When I got to that point, I forgot what the hell Archimede’s principle was and how to apply it. Literally all of the content up until that point was a blur. The only thing that saved my ass and got me a passable score was doing UWORLD (14day free trial-sign up for a new trial when it’s over). The process of actually doing practice problems and taking notes on different ways to approach the problems as well as why the answer is the way it is ultimately the GOAT. Sign up for uworld; don’t read the kaplan texts (without practicing too).
4. Use quizlet/anki. I’m still learning about anki. The ui is not as friendly as quizlet, however anki is great in that it has spaced repetition, a great learning technique to increase the time between things that you have learned in order to reinforce your memory. When I got to the psych/sociology section, I was burned tf out from the sciences. Using quizlet was almost like lazy learning. You can find decks people have made for content review on the MCAT, and just start matching the flashcards. Over time, you’ll memorize it without having to actively stare at your notes until you get it (actually a really ineffective way to learn, but as crammers, we think we got it)
5. Bust a nut on those AAMC materials. I started wayyyy too late on reviewing these (and it shows). These people made the test, it only makes sense to get used to the format as soon as possible. The full length AAMC tests are the holy grail. Do not use one as a diagnostic test like I did. The first practice test you take will 99%of the time suck, so use another test company to tell you that.
6. Don’t understand a topic, type out the topic in Google along with “mcat reddit.” I learned so much of the material this way. Sometimes test companies assume you know some topics from previous classes, but usually that’s not the case (didn’t pay attention, non traditional students, etc). Reddit users dummy down the answers/how to get there because most likely it’s written by a student also studying and learning the material themselves. Don’t get bogged down by details. It’s key to learn how the pick apart the problems critically.
Then the holisticc view.
7. Don’t underestimate the power of clinical training. Many times, students get bogged down by research/publications (I only did minimal research and no pubs). How can adcoms know that you want to be a doctor if you don’t show them that you have experience working with patients? If you don’t have volunteering experience/clinical work, don’t even think about applying. If you have an okay gpa/mcat, you can make it up with patient experience. If you have ballin stats but have never talked to a patient, you won’t impress them. Trust me. As much as we don’t think medical schools are holistic, this is something that is an unwritten rule. It can also reassure you that this is what you want to do for the next bajillion years.
8. Don’t give up if you can’t find a doctor to shadow. I didn’t have connections because I didn’t know anyone who was a doctor, so I just called down the Google search for doctors in my area. Like dating, but their moms answer and usually they’re too busy to see you. Keep calling different doctors.
9. Have non-medical related hobbies. Take time to expand on hobbies and things that make you, you. Don’t seem like a cookie-cutter applicant. If you like beekeeping, aquascaping, underwater basket weaving, continue them or develop them if you haven’t. I’ve been told that medical schools accept one of each type of kid. Not sure if it’s true, but I’d like to think that it is. Taking time to further your hobbies will make you more interesting and make you more confident in what you have to bring to the table.
Then The Interview…. (without Seth Rogan though)
10. CHILL TF OUT AND TAKE A SEAT. I consistently checked sdn to see people get interviews in as early as July, stressed about it, and then got depressed that I wasn’t getting any. The interview cycle goes all the way to the end of March, DO NOT THINK ABOUT IT EVERY DAY (and also don’t check sdn every day if you have a weak heart-great resource otherwise). It will work out in the end, and in the off chance it doesn’t and you have to take a year off, why waste time and energy stressing to that day? When you get to the interview season, go live your life.
11. Get the FAP (fee assistance program-as sexy as it sounds). For a family of 4, if your parents make less than 75k a year, you can qualify to get reduced MCAT fees, free secondaries to schools, free aamc study materials, free MSAR access (to look up each medical school’s information). It’s really a dream come true.
12. Do not apply to schools willy nilly. Do some mf research. You do not want to get interviews or even acceptances into places you don’t want to go to. Turning down a medical school looks way worse than reapplying. Go onto MSAR and look up each school and apply according to your stats (if you’re below their 10%, it’s a bad choice. HOWEVER, if you fit their mission statement or have something special about you that you think they would like, go for it. Yolo. Just have a good reason for schools you apply to. It gets expensive otherwise). After stats and mission statement, apply if you can see yourself living there in the environment, the lifestyle, the costs. Take into account the tuition as well, but don’t let it be a deal breaker.
The Interview (but the speaking part, uhm derp)
13. If you’re thinking about taking a shot before the interview, I can assure you that you don’t need it. Just think of it as 30 minutes of your life. Sure, you’re going to be nervous, but if you completely and utterly fail, you won’t have to see these people ever again. Answer each question slowly, take time to think, and back up your answers with examples. Most likely they’re not AS concerned with what you say as long as you are articulate and you don’t come off as a crazy, heartless bitch. 60% saint, 30% honesty, 10% quirk/charm
14. Go through your application before hand. Think about an experience for each type of question (ex. A time you showed integrity, respect, compassion). Group the questions so that one answer can be manipulated into different forms. Ex. One time you bought a girl a drink at the bar. In this case, you can use the scenario for showing bravery and the will to take initiative (but this example is trash, so don’t use it). Most importantly, schools are looking to build a class that can work together. You don’t have to be good at everything, but highlight something you EXCEL at (background with underserved populations, ability to lead, etc).
15. Save money when you go on interviews by matching with tinder people in that city. You can meet new people, and if it goes well, you have a place to stay for free. If it doesn’t, you’re homeless. Weigh the gamble lmao.
When all is said and done…
16. Don’t pack your sunscreen. I know you want to as you wait for schools to get back to you, but just don’t. Rest easy knowing you made it this far. Don’t nitpick everything you did wrong on the interview. You’ll go crazier than your ex. Please please, I’ve said it many times, but go live your life. As much as possible. If you haven’t applied and don’t know what I’m talking about, you will soon. It’s a process that keeps your mind busy.
17. If you get accepted, have fun with that “I’m going to be a doctor someday” high. Change your tinder pic to that of a white coat and watch the matches trickle in (from 2->3).
18. If you don’t get accepted or you get waitlisted, send in the updates if it’s an unranked list! You don’t know what it will do for you, but better to show schools interest and have your name on the table than to look like you dropped off the face of the planet. Do not go to the Caribbean. You have to be a certain kind of person to succeed there, otherwise you will get scammed out of your mind. DO is a wonderful option that is not to be looked down upon. I’ve considered it if I had to reapply. It is 10000x better than the Caribbean