Monday, March 30, 2015

How to Approach the Medical School and Residency Application Process with a Smile

19890994_sDreading the medical school or residency application process? You are not alone. This marathon is filled with hard work and long hours. How can you approach the process with as little stress as possible?

1. Start early. I can not emphasize this enough. Assume your personal statement and AMCAS/ERAS will take you three times longer than you previously thought. Also, approach letter writers promptly.

2. Read before you get started. Below are two brief pieces on personal statements. Their target is medical school applicants, but the principles are the same for residency candidates: How to Write a Personal Statement for Medical School and What Your Medical School Essay Reader is Thinking.

3. Consider what will make you happiest. If you are a pre-med, do some introspection and make sure you really want to go to medical school. As crazy as that sounds, being assured of your plan will help you stay happy throughout this rigorous application process. If you are a residency applicant, speak to faculty - academic and private - in your planned field, and ensure you are picking the right specialty for you.

4. Get help. My website is here. Having someone experienced on your side will alleviate a lot of anxiety. If you already know you are going to work with me, hire me now. The earlier in the season, the more likely I can help you avoid missteps and get your candidacy on the road.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Medical School and Residency Personal Statement Start Time Has Arrived

Now that we're seeing the end of March, it's time to get started on your medical school and residency personal statements. Do not be one of those applicants who is panicking because s/he did not plan enough time to craft an outstanding essay.

If you think your earnest desire to be a doctor is enough to get you into medical school or your great medical school evaluations will vault you into residency, take a look at these Guru on the Go® videos :).

Monday, March 16, 2015

Match Week

This week is Match Week. A detailed reminder of all events and times is here.

A briefer summary is below:

Monday: Programs find out if they filled; applicants find out if they matched; SOAP begins. Here's a primer on SOAP.
Tuesday through Thursday: SOAP process in play.
Friday: Match Day.

If you were one of my residency clients this year, I'd appreciate hearing from you when you have a moment to update me. I'm sending everyone the best of wishes.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Scheduling Step 2 CS - Don't Delay

The Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates® (ECFMG) recently posted a suggested timeline for those who need to take Step 2 CS. Here is their useful announcement:

Schedules at all test centers fill up quickly. USMLE strongly encourages examinees to complete their scheduling before May 31 of the calendar year in which they plan to test. Testing appointments are typically completely filled at least three to four months in advance. If you try to schedule after August 1, you may find that there are no available testing appointments through the end of the year unless there are cancellations.

More information is available in the "Applying for the Test and Scheduling Your Test Date" section of the Bulletin of Information.

Monday, March 2, 2015

My Own Life

Dr. Oliver Sacks is a Professor or Neurology at New York University School of Medicine who has written numerous best-selling books including, "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat" and "Awakenings." He recently wrote a moving piece in the NYT called "My Own Life" about learning that he has terminal cancer. It's worth a read.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Med Schools Have No Patience for No Patients

For those undergraduates who are starting to think about their medical school applications, I will tell you a secret: One of the biggest weaknesses I advise candidates on is their lack of clinical experience. I've seen students with MCATs in the high 30s who did not get into medical school on their first try. They had little or no patient experience.

So, ensure your application has robust clinical activities. Some suggestions:

Clinical Care Extender
Low Income Clinic Volunteer
Hospice Volunteer
Veterinarian's Assistant (a great way to get hands-on procedural experience)

If you are not excited about getting clinical experience, it is time to question your interest in a career in medicine... which is exactly what admissions committees will do if they don't see that experience :).

Take a look below at my Guru on the Go© Video about this topic.

Monday, February 16, 2015

NRMP Rank Deadline Approaching

Please remember that on February 25 your rank list must be certified by 9pm EST, and changes cannot be made after that time. The NRMP will not enter a list; add, delete or move programs; or modify a rank order list. 

Every year I see applicants making changes to their lists at the last minute. Please take some time to consider your decisions, and submit your rank list well before the deadline.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Paid Undergraduate Science Writers' Fellowship Opportunity

In 1995, I was selected to be an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Mass Media Fellow. I was paid to intern at the Oregonian newspaper where I improved my science journalism skills. The experience was fantastic, and I strongly recommend the fellowship to other science students.

The AAAS has a relatively new fellowship, specifically for minority science writers. The below is information from the AAAS about this paid internship:

The AAAS Pitts Family Foundation Minority Science Writers Internship is for undergraduates who are interested in journalism as a career and who want to learn about science writing. In addition to improving their skills, the program seeks to make a dent in the demographics of the profession: Although science is a global activity, the journalists who cover it don't reflect that diversity.

Funded by the Pitts Family Foundation, the internship takes place each summer at the Washington, D.C. headquarters of AAAS's Science magazine, the largest interdisciplinary journal in the world. Interns spend ten weeks at Science under the guidance of award-winning reporters and editors practicing what science writers do for a living. They have a chance to meet leading scientists, attend conferences and hearings, and cover breaking news.

Interns are expected to contribute to all facets of the news operation, including writing bylined articles for the print magazine and online news service, engaging in social media, and contributing to other news products. Interns receive a weekly stipend as well as the cost of a round-trip ticket to and from Washington, D.C. The internship runs from early June to mid-August. This year's application deadline is March 1, 2015. To be eligible, applicants must be enrolled in an undergraduate academic program at the time they submit their application.