Monday, April 13, 2015

Avoiding a Re-application to Medical School

After disappointing admissions cycles, multiple medical school re-applicants hire me every year. Individual cases are complex, but keep the below five suggestions in mind as you approach the application season in order to avoid missteps:

1. Make sure you have robust clinical experiences. No one wants to hire a chef who's never been in the kitchen.

2. Ensure you have the grades/MCAT and apply to schools that are appropriate to your academic level. Check out the Medical School Admissions Requirements (MSAR) to get an idea of what grades you'll need. (Take a deep breath. It might be shocking.)

3. Get very strong letters of recommendation. Consider a mediocre letter a bad one in this competitive environment.

4. Craft a compelling personal statement that distinguishes you from everyone else.

5. Practice interviewing. Don't get as far as the interview only to be rejected because you weren't prepared.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Step 2 CS

For residency applicants, there is an updated version of the Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS) Content Description and General Information booklet now available. As many candidates know, because the test is not a familiarly-formatted multiple choice examination, Step 2 CS requires careful preparation. The test is made up of 12 patient encounters and lasts about 8 hours.

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.