Monday, June 27, 2016

Medical School Interview Questions - Discerning or Disturbing?

This fun piece from the Harvard Medical School (HMS) alumni magazine is worth a read. The article, "Stress Fractures" by Dr. Jules Dienstag, a member of the HMS Admissions Committee, briefly chronicles a history of the "stress" interview at HMS, specifically whether a well-known professor Dr. Daniel H. Funkenstein used the dubious tactic. The famous nailed-shut window story is explored.

Monday, June 20, 2016

ERAS Help and Scheduling

Just a reminder that U.S. medical students can already register for MyERAS and can start inputting their application materials. IMGs must wait until June 21 for their tokens and then they, too, can register. Both groups can "assign" their documents early September, which means that at that time they can start sending their completed applications to ACGME-accredited residencies.

DO candidates for AOA-accredited residencies have a somewhat accelerated cycle; please check it out here.

No matter what camp you are in, please start working on your materials early. Good writing takes a lot of time, and that mad rush at the end is never strategic.

Monday, June 13, 2016

How to Navigate the Residency Personal Statement when You're Applying for a Preliminary Year

Candidates who apply to certain fields - dermatology, ophthalmology, etc. - need a preliminary or transitional year of residency before initiating their specialty training. So does that mean those applicants need to toil over two personal statements?

No, thankfully. It's very appropriate (and strategic) to use the same essay with modifications. Ensure you explicitly address why a prelim year will advance the rest of your career and how you will contribute to the training program as a future specialist.

When you use a very similar essay, you can be honest about what your professional goals are. After all, the reader knows you're applying for a one-year position anyway.

Remember that many preliminary/transitional year programs are eager to match residents who are moving onto competitive fields. In general, those applicants will have strong USMLE scores, evaluations, and clinical skills.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Medical School Help: What are the Next Steps Once the AMCAS is In?

Once you've submitted your AMCAS, what can you do next to best prepare for what's to come in the medical school admissions process?

Here are a few tips:

1. Start to draft secondary essays. Even if you haven't yet received the prompts, you can begin to craft responses to common themes like "how would you add diversity to our school?" and "describe an extracurricular activity that might be of interest to the committee." Good writing takes time, but if you wait for the onslaught of secondary applications, you won't be able to impart your essays with your highest quality effort.

2. Get a head start on preparing for the medical school interview. Practice, practice, practice. Start mocking up answers to interview questions so that you distinguish yourself.

3. Consider what you want. Do some soul searching to determine what you are really seeking geographically, philosophically, and educationally. You want to make considered decisions when the time comes.

Monday, May 30, 2016

AMCAS tips

On June 7, you can submit your AMCAS. In preparation for that rapidly upcoming date, here are a few quick tips for writing your AMCAS activities:

1. Use full sentences. It's a formal application, and you want to make your written materials as readable as possible.

2. Avoid abbreviations. Again, you want to be formal, and abbreviations you think are common might not be familiar to the reader.

3. Make sure you spell out your accomplishments clearly. If your reader doesn't understand an activity, you will not get "full credit" for what you've done.

4. Choose "most meaningful" activities that show a breadth of experience, e.g. one that is related to research, another that is clinical, and a final that is volunteer.

5. Write about yourself and your role - not an organization. For example, don't use the space to discuss Habitat for Humanity. Use it to discuss the specifics of your role at Habitat for Humanity.

6. Use numbers to be persuasive. Saying that the conference your organized had 300 participants says it all.

7. Get help. Do not submit your application without having it reviewed. Don't submit suboptimal materials for a process that is this important and competitive.

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.