Monday, April 14, 2014

Choosing your Medical Specialty

The medical education system is really quite twisted: We spend a mere 2-12 weeks exposed to a specialty and then must make a quick decision as to whether we want to spend the rest of our careers in it.

A few recommendations:

1) Understand that what you are seeing in your rotation may not jive with what you would really be doing on a day-to-day basis after training. For example, most internists don't spend the majority of their days in the hospital, although you will likely do that on your internal medicine rotation.

2) Ask attendings what they do and don't like about their fields. Make sure you could stomach the worst parts.

3) Consider whether you like the operating room or not. 

4) Shadow a few attendings outside of rotations. 

5) Study statistics on physician burnout by field.

6) Finally, do some soul searching, and don't be afraid to be honest with yourself about your likes and dislikes. It's okay to admit you want a reasonable lifestyle or a salary that could support a large family. Considering those "ugly" issues now may help you avoid a lot of pain later.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Medical School Wait List Advice

Waitlisted for medical school? What can you do?

First, remember that the number of medical school applicants has been increasing yearly, so don't feel insecure. Medical school admissions have become increasingly competitive, and being on the wait list is better than being rejected, despite the anxiety you feel.

Here are a few things you can do:

1. Send a letter of intent. Let the school know of your continued interest and any new accomplishments. Ensure the letter is well written and brief. In the letter, don't make the mistake of dwelling on the school's strengths when you should be highlighting yours.
2. Ask the school if you can set up a second look: Show them you are serious, and provide yourself with more data if you are later offered a spot.
3. Don't neglect other options or opportunities, focusing all of your attention on this institution to the exclusion of others.
4. Plan for last minute notice. I've heard of acceptances being offered to applicants off the wait list the day before medical school was to begin!

Above all, try to keep your chin up despite the expected stress.

Monday, March 31, 2014

ECFMG Data

First of all, congratulations to all residency applicants who matched on March 21! I appreciated the good news from clients. Please take some time to enjoy yourselves before the hard work of residency begins.

The Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) and the National Residency Match Program (NRMP) recently partnered to publish some really important data for International Medical Graduates (IMGs) called "Charting Outcomes in the Match for International Medical Graduates." Previously, "Charting Outcomes in the Match" was available, but it left IMGs trying to interpret the Independent Applicant data. This document is far clearer. It can be found here.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Medical School Personal Statement

As I mentioned in my penultimate (I love that word) blog entry, it's time to get started on your medical school personal statement. We've talked about distinguishing yourself with your accomplishments. Now, let's start at the top and briefly consider the intro.

Catching the reader's attention is a way to make an excellent first impression and increase the odds that your essay will be read - not skimmed. Consider a topic that is distinctive to you that also demonstrates traits, talents, and/or perspective that other applicants might not have. I've read excellent essays that start with a description of applicants' unique hobbies, international experiences, performances, and sports events. Note that these may seem to have nothing to do with medicine at first blush. However, once they are conveyed for a few sentences (not more!), the skilled writer can link the introductory stories to traits, talents, and/or perspective that make the writer a good match for medical school.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Getting into Residency – Sending Appreciation to a Great Audience

I wanted to thank all of those who attended my AMSA national conference lecture. We had such great attendance that we caused a fire hazard - with audience members even packing the aisle. Yikes!

If anyone needs a lecture handout, please email me at insidermedical@gmail.com.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Medical School Personal Statement

Hard to believe, but it's already time to start tackling the medical school personal statement. Over the course of the next few blogs, I'll offer tips on how to get started on your essay, so that you can initiate a draft early and be on top of your application.

Remember that the goal of the personal statement is to distinguish yourself from all of the other applicants. The best way to make yourself distinctive is by showcasing your accomplishments. Your essay should be dense with achievements. Avoid purple prose. After all, who you are to the admissions reader is what you've done.

Here's a short blog of mine from 2012 that reminds applicants that highlighting accomplishments does not mean regurgitating a resume (although the highlights of your curriculum vitae absolutely should be covered in your essay).

Monday, March 3, 2014

Getting into Medical School - Prove You Can Handle the Heat

Getting into medical school has gotten so competitive that it's important to have a strong candidacy with excellent grades and robust extracurricular activities starting freshman year. There is no time to waste.chef

One mistake I see pre-meds make is that they are so focused on leadership and research that they forget a critical component - clinical experience. No one wants to hire a cook who hasn't worked in the kitchen. If you want to prove that you want to be a doctor, it's essential that you obtain clinical experience for a significant period of time - not just a health fair or two. 

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.
To create a plan for your medical school candidacy, secure a Strategy Session with me here.