Monday, May 23, 2016

Medical Students: How Do you Select Your Specialty?

'Tis the season: Yes, it's time to make those final decisions about your future specialty. However, the way the medical education system is set up, it's a very difficult and stressful choice to make. Here's my Student Doctor Network article on how to choose your future career.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Get a Better Letter

After over a decade of reading medical school and residency letters of recommendation (LOR), I can tell you that the biggest error I see in the LOR process occurs when applicants settle for mediocre letters. In other words, they know that a supervisor/faculty member/attending isn't going to write them a strong letter, but they fill the LOR slot with the middling endorsement anyway.

Please take a look at my most recent Student Doctor Network article, "Get a Better Letter" for concrete ideas on how to approach the letter of recommendation process.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Personal Statement Errors You Can Easily Avoid

As AMCAS® and ERAS® openings approach, I wanted to remind candidates about a few personal statement errors to avoid. First, take a look at my piece Tales from an Insider on Student Doctor Network about how to write a persuasive (not narrative) personal statement. Second, spend under two minutes (literally) checking out two Guru on the Go® Videos on my YouTube channel: Personal Statement Russian Roulette #1 and #2.

Contact me for personalized help on your documents.

Monday, May 2, 2016

AMCAS Opens this Week

Just a reminder that AMCAS opens on May 3, and you can submit your AMCAS as early as June 7. This application cycle's AMCAS Processing Fee is $160 (which includes one medical school designation). Additional medical school designations are $38 each.

AMCAS has fantastic resources, including a FAQ sheet and pre-med calendar for applicants. Take a look here to get started.

Monday, April 25, 2016

International Medical Graduate (IMG) 2016 Match Statistics Are Out

The ECFMG® recently published 2016 Match statistics for International Medical Graduates (IMGs). In the 2016 Match, only 53.9% of U.S. citizen IMG participants were matched to first-year positions, and of those IMG participants who were not U.S. citizens, only 50.5% obtained first-year positions. While the actual number of IMGs matching was slightly better than last year (with more residency positions on the whole available), IMGs still face large challenges in the residency application process.

Monday, April 18, 2016

For Pre-Meds, What IS Solid Clinical Experience Anyway?

Getting into medical school has gotten so competitive that it's increasingly important to have a strong candidacy with excellent grades and robust extracurricular activities starting early in your college career. As I've mentioned in previous blog entries, one mistake I see pre-meds make is that they are so focused on leadership and research they forget a critical component - clinical experience. To prove you want to be a doctor, it's essential you obtain clinical experience for a significant period of time - not just a health fair or two. Good grades will not make up for a lack of clinical experience.

Working as an EMT, in a good clinical care extender program, or in a low-income clinic are just some ideas for obtaining excellent clinical exposure. (Although you might think free clinics would be thrilled to have a pre-med volunteer, many understandably require one-year commitments.) Shadowing is a mixed bag: Medical schools don't know whether you're second-assisting in the operating room or just standing in a corner being ignored. If you choose to shadow, make sure you strategically highlight your clinical experiences in your written materials. Other popular options include international clinical work (although it is usually short-lived) and working as a volunteer in a hospital (although it might be more clerical than clinical, depending on the position).

Do your research before accepting a "clinical" job so you ensure you'll really get the experience you need to confirm to yourself that you've made the right career choice (very important) and to show admissions committees that you can handle the heat.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Don't Just Do It

Many medical school applicants ask me if they have to do things they don't want - like bench research - to get into med school. While having reasonable academic numbers and some clinical experience is critical, candidates can succeed while lacking traditional aspects of the application, like research.

Now, having a strong research project (especially a publication) under one's belt will almost invariably help propel an applicant's candidacy forward, but finding very strong alternatives is a reasonable option.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Graduate Medical Education Bill Introduced

Here’s some interesting information from the Association of American Medical Colleges on the recently proposed Graduate Medical Education (GME) Bill. The legislation’s intent is to increase the number of residency training slots in an effort to improve the U.S. physician shortage problem.