The term ‘holistic’ can be pretty contentious. I’ve even heard comments that pre-meds will “never get in” if they use the word in their essays for osteopathic medical schools (but I have hundreds of past students who’ve proven that wrong). The reason it’s so contentious is that it can have several very different meanings to different people. With that in mind, it’s crucial for you to understand how this term can be interpreted so that you don’t use it in a misleading or confusing way. This article will break down the most common definitions and interpretations of the buzzword ‘holistic’ and give some examples of each. That way, you can make it work effectively for your intentions and purposes in your application.
Do you know what ‘machismo’ is and how might it affect Latino men’s health or family dynamics? Do you know why many Jehovah’s Witnesses disagree with blood transfusions? Are you aware of the disparities that have led to greater maternal and infant mortality in African American women and babies? These are just a few of the questions that physicians need to explore in their goal to provide culturally competent care. There’s the key buzzword - the triple C - ‘culturally competent care.’ It might sound like a broken record in pre-meds’ essays and activities, but it has both intrinsic and practical value for you as a future physician. This article will do its best to deconstruct and simplify the term ‘cultural competence,’ while also providing some concrete examples.
Regardless of what you think about the term 'critical thinking,' it has unfortunately become a cliche buzzword in the pre-med world. But like most cliches, there is some truth behind it and its importance in the pre-med path. As with most unavoidable pre-med cliches and buzzwords, the key goal is to “make it your own” through specific illustrations and examples from your own personal experiences. In this article, I will simplify something that’s needlessly complex, explain what ‘critical thinking’ really means to you as a pre-med, and show you how you can effectively demonstrate it to medical schools.
In response to the growing concern over systemic racism, certain medical schools, like Miller School of Medicine - University of Miami, added new secondary essay prompts last cycle (2020-2021) that specifically addressed the problems of inequities and how to solve them. Let’s take a look at Miller’s new prompt and consider some good and bad approaches to answering it in your secondary essays.
Other than the COVID-19 pandemic, the biggest news topics in 2020 were police brutality, systemic racism, and the need for greater equity in the United States. The medical school admissions world has joined this conversation, notably through a slew of AAMC webinars and events that focus around the concept of equity in healthcare and medical education. Certain medical schools, like Loyola Stritch School of Medicine, added new secondary essay prompts last cycle (2020-2021) that specifically addressed the problems of inequities and how to solve them. It's likely that these prompts will be featured again in 2021-2022. Let’s take a look at these new prompts and consider some do’s and don’ts about how to answer them in your secondary essays.
If you look at the data for all applicants and matriculants for California MD medical schools in the 2020-2021 cycle, you’ll find the following statistics: Total applicants: 87,431. Total accepted matriculants: 1,520. Percent accepted: 1.7%. Those numbers are pretty daunting, so it’s wise for in-state and especially out-of-state applicants to diversify their school lists beyond California medical schools. But what do these elite 1.7% of accepted candidates look like? Who are they and what makes them so special?
Beautiful weather, sunny beaches, great food, vibrant culture - who wouldn’t want to spend 4+ years living and training in California? Whether you’re an in-state applicant who’s desperate to say close to home or an out-of-state applicant looking for a new adventure during medical school, the 16 California medical schools draw a lot of attention and receive a bevy of applicants every year. So, how exactly do you get into a California medical school? Well, it’s not that simple of an answer, mainly because the 16 schools are so different. But we’re here to offer a general breakdown of what it takes to get into a California medical school, with relevant data and key information about each institution!
Writing about your virtual shadowing seems like a difficult task. Due to the passive nature of shadowing, it’s already tricky to write about it compellingly, and the virtual format only makes this more challenging. But it can definitely be done, especially if you’ve gone out of your way to find optimal virtual shadowing and taken steps to get the most out of the experiences. We’re here to answer all your questions about writing about your virtual shadowing experiences, including some do’s and don’ts and an example for you to emulate. If you follow this advice, you’ll be able to show medical schools the value of your virtual shadowing experience in a memorable, convincing narrative!
Virtual shadowing experiences can run the gamut in terms of their quality - ranging from pre-recorded videos with no interaction to interactive live observations with physicians and patients in real-time. With this high level of variance in mind, it’s understandable for medical schools to be skeptical and apply a degree of scrutiny to applicants’ virtual shadowing hours. But from the applicants’ perspective, this scrutiny can seem incredibly unfair given how difficult it has been to secure meaningful shadowing (whether in-person or online) amid pandemic restrictions that have lasted over a year. We want to consider both viewpoints - the schools and the applicants - to posit our argument about what kinds of shadowing that medical schools should accept for the 2021-2022 cycle.
As the opening of the 2021-2022 medical school cycle looms near, many pre-med applicants have a pressing question on their minds: in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, how will medical schools evaluate virtual clinical experiences? Well, we’re here to help answer that question. We have gathered data and responses from 162 MD and DO schools to assess how they will treat virtual clinical experiences and what competencies they’ll be looking for in these experiences. Let’s breakdown the data and analyze the qualitative responses so that you know what to expect during this upcoming cycle!
In the 2020-2021 application cycle, the AAMC piloted its Situational Judgment Test (SJT) at two participating schools. And now, leading into the 2021-2022 cycle, the AAMC SJT has expanded to five schools. Even though it hasn’t been explicitly stated, we believe this is the beginning of the AAMC’s long-term goal to compete with the CASPer. Moving forward, nearly all applicants will be forced to take at least one SJT, and thousands will have to take both. So, how do the two SJTs compare? What do you need to know before taking them?
The reputation of a school doesn’t matter as much as one might think, but admittedly, the Ivy League colleges are often better equipped to offer more resources and opportunities for pre-meds. Yet, since seats at elite colleges are limited, thousands of pre-meds must opt to attend elsewhere. And despite not going to an Ivy League school, many pre-meds are successfully admitted to medical school every year. With that being said, we thought it would be useful to assemble a list of the best non-Ivy-League colleges for pre-meds!
The area, state, and school you choose for your undergraduate years could have a significant effect on your eventual medical school destination. With that in mind, we thought it would be an interesting exercise to rank the best colleges for pre-meds in each of the four regions denoted by the U.S. News and World Report: North, South, Midwest, and West. For these lists, we’ll be drawing upon our brand new Best Colleges for Pre-Meds Search Tool!
We’ve received ample praise and positive feedback for our Savvy Pre-Med Medical Search Tool, and we wanted to emulate the same useful resource for younger pre-med hopefuls who are choosing their undergraduate institution. So, without further ado, we’d like to introduce our Best Colleges for Pre-Meds Search Tool!
Soon we’ll be launching our Best Colleges for Pre-Meds Search Tool - organized by liberal arts, national, and regional - with comprehensive rankings based on pre-med advising, class size, popularity, clinical experiences, and prestige. But we don’t want you to simply take our word for it. We wanted to complement our quantitative analysis with some qualitative evidence. That’s right - we’ve polled actual pre-meds to gather firsthand testimonies about their experiences at their various colleges and derive some meaningful takeaways from the trends in their feedback on their institutions.
We’re on the verge of releasing our Best Colleges for Pre-Meds Search Tool! So stay tuned for that sometime this month. However, first, we wanted to answer some of the many questions we’ve received about our Best Colleges for Pre-Meds lists and the data behind them. We’re all about transparency here!
Thousands of dollars in application fees; hundreds of hours writing and editing essays; dozens of schools selected to apply to; countless pre-meds all around the country vying for a seat at a medical school program. A seat. Yup, just one. A single acceptance to a medical school is all that is needed to become a doctor. But what happens if the only medical school that accepts you is a brand new school? Should you accept the offer of admission without hesitation or reject it?
When gaining admission into a US medical school feels impossible (or at least unlikely), less competitive applicants often turn to Caribbean or international medical schools to fulfill their dreams. But what are the consequences of choosing this route? Is going to a foreign medical school a viable option? We’re here to answer all your FAQs about Caribbean and international medical schools so that you can make a well-informed decision before pursuing this option!
We’ve worked with hundreds and hundreds of pre-meds, and every year we encounter dozens of reapplicants who ask us to troubleshoot their past applications and help them reset for the future. One of the most common trends in these reapplicants is a poorly constructed medical school list. We thought we’d share an (anonymous) example of one to show you the most common mistakes applicants make with their school list and illustrate how our Savvy Pre-Med Med School Search Tool can help you avoid these issues.
There are 155 accredited U.S. allopathic medical schools (including those in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean Islands). Adding in accredited Canadian and osteopathic medical schools, for which there are 17 and 38 respectively, yields a whopping total of 210 medical schools. Applying to all these schools would cost an exorbitant amount of money (not to mention time and energy). So, how do you go about carefully picking what medical schools to apply to?
Most advice steers you towards loans. Loans. Loans. More loans. Would you like a side of loans with your medical education? Or are you willing to donate a kidney? It's much harder to find resources that solely focus on loan-free ways of paying for medical school. While we recognize that graduating from a medical school with zero debt cannot be the case for everyone, we believe that all students have the potential to graduate with a manageable amount of debt. Here's a list of ways to help you pay for medical school without going broke!
How will you pay off the overwhelming amount of tuition and fees in medical school? Should you take out loans? Which ones? What about scholarships? Can you negotiate with medical schools? What are the do’s and don’ts of medical school financial aid? You’re not alone in this difficult journey. Here are 8 testimonies from a diverse set of students to help you avoid mistakes and give you a baseline of advice.
With new deadlines announced recently, we’ve highlighted the crucial dates to submit your 2021-2022 AMCAS, AACOMAS, TMDSAS, and CASPer so that you survive the application gauntlet.
Time is a precious commodity for pre-meds, which makes TikTok a pretty interesting choice for their energy and focus. On one hand, the social media app’s video format is short, so TikTok might be conducive to a pre-med’s busy, on-the-go lifestyle. But on the other hand, the app is literally named after the sound of a ticking clock, representing the passing time that’s potentially wasting away as you endlessly scroll. So, should pre-meds be spending time on TikTok? And if so, what’s the content that’s worth watching?
The holiday break can be a time of blissful unproductivity - lazing around, eating hearty meals, tinkering with new presents - but it can also be a good time to put in some work on your medical school application (hopefully it’s a little bit of both!). So, if you’re feeling ambitious, how exactly should you spend your holiday break? Well, that depends a little bit on how far along you are in your pre-med journey. Regardless of whether you recently applied or won’t be applying for a few years, we wanted to give you 6 possible options for holiday productivity.
As plastic, steel, and carefully crafted artificial intelligence (AI) continue to steal jobs and make professions obsolete, modern life can feel a bit like a Black Mirror episode. And now, the medical scribing profession is the next job being threatened by machines and AI. Whether you’re a current scribe, a hopeful scribe, or an aspiring physician who will eventually work alongside scribes, it’s important to consider the future of this profession (and other ‘nonessential’ medical staff), especially in our current COVID-19 era and in the coming age of telemedicine. Here’s what you need to know.
For each medical school, only about 10-15% of applicants are offered an interview each year, let alone placed on a waitlist. So, if you’re on a waitlist, you’re in rare company! It’s actually quite an accomplishment. Okay - sorry - we know that’s not much consolation. The waitlist is the medical school equivalent of “being in limbo,” so we’re sure you have lots of anxious questions. Let’s get them answered!
Have you recently interviewed at your dream medical school? Were you just placed on its waitlist? Is interview season over, and you’re still waiting to hear back from your top-choice program? If you answered “yes” to one or more of these questions, it’s likely time for you to write a letter of intent. This letter is quite high-stakes, so you want to get it right! This article will help you write an effective letter of intent that gets noticed and moves the needle.
Professors are busy, and they don’t get paid to write letters of recommendation. Other than effectively lecturing in their classes and offering a certain amount of office hours, they don’t owe you anything, so you need to meet them more than halfway and have realistic expectations of them. In other words, the onus is on you to make them care about you and your future. Here are some useful tips that will endear you to your professors, especially during these COVID times of virtual learning.
Canceled MCATs; online coursework; in-person shadowing restrictions; virtual interviewing - COVID-19 undoubtedly shifted the medical school admissions process in 2020 and created unprecedented challenges for pre-meds. But how will it impact medical school admissions moving forward? What will COVID-19’s legacy be in the 2021-2022 cycle?
Capstone projects are a great way for pre-meds to stand out from the pack and be memorable to admissions committees. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has complicated this type of endeavor. So we wanted to give some examples of pre-med virtual capstone projects to show you that it’s still possible to accomplish this kind of initiative, even amid the restrictions and limitations of the virus.
Whether you’ve already applied and are looking for gap-year activities, or you’re a younger pre-med who’s trying to meet requirements, you’re facing an unprecedented challenge in finding meaningful volunteer experiences. Beggars can’t be choosers, but you shouldn’t just sign up for the first available thing you find. Why not? Because your choices will be measured against all the other pre-meds who are in your same position. So, what defines a “quality” volunteer experience during the pandemic, and which ones will make you stand out to admissions committees?
The MCAT has undoubtedly been the most controversial COVID-related topic in medical school admissions. Rather than moving the test online or making it optional, the AAMC maintained its normal in-person procedures for 2020. And guess what? In-person MCAT testing will continue into 2021, despite projections of not getting a COVID-19 vaccine until mid-2021. Find out everything you need to know here.
Based on what we can tell, most medical schools will accept virtual shadowing and clinical hours. That’s good news for pre-meds who have been deemed non-essential during COVID-19. However, not all virtual shadowing platforms are created equal, so you’ll need to carefully choose which ones you pursue. What makes a virtual shadowing experience worthwhile, and which platforms are the best?
Hospitals and clinics have mostly banned pre-med students from shadowing and volunteering, but medical school admissions committees continue to require hundreds of clinical hours (~300 total, 100 shadowing) in order to get in. You could opt to get an EMT or phlebotomy certification, but those essential jobs typically require 20+ hours per week, not a time commitment that most full-time students can keep. So how do you get clinical experience when you're not "essential personnel?"
Selecting medical schools that fit your goals and credentials is one of the most significant decisions during the admissions process. After all, having a well thought out list of medical schools will make a difference between being denied acceptance or becoming a first year at your dream school. So what tools are out there to help you create your list of medical schools? Well, we can tell you this right off the bat: it’s NOT just the MSAR!
Now that medical school virtual interviews are underway, we’ve talked to some applicants who have interviewed already, so that we could pick their brains and share some insider tips with you. Hopefully these insider tips will give you the edge you need, or at least provide some much-needed comfort during this nerve-racking time.
Secondary application fees range anywhere from $75 to $150, averaging at $112.5. What if we told you that you could significantly improve your virtual interview appearance for less than a single secondary fee?
Once you submit your secondaries and the summer dies down, it's time to send update letters to the medical schools on your list! Confused about how to start? What to include? When to send them off? We're here to answer all of your pressing questions and help you craft a stellar update letter that gets noticed by medical schools.
As a pre-med student, your time is precious. You’re writing your secondary essays, practicing your virtual interview skills for AAMC’s VITA, preparing for the CASPer, studying hard for mid-terms, planning your path to med school, and stressing about whether you're good enough to make it in the end. How in the world will you have time to find the information you need to succeed in this application process? The answer: podcasts. Whether you’re studying, driving, or exercising, podcasts allow you to multitask. What better way to kill two birds with one stone? With podcast popularity on the rise, podcasts offer endless options and topics, including the medical school application process, medical education, and medicine. Out of the 700,000 active podcasts, which are most helpful for pre-meds?
You’ll need to meet all the prerequisites to be considered for admission, but you’ll need to go above and beyond to stand out and ensure your chances of getting in. Since you’ll have to go above and beyond, we want this post to do the same thing. We’ll give you all the requirements, BUT we’ll also provide tips and tricks for separating you from the countless other eligible applicants.
We’re not saying that you need to be hyper-obsessive and plan out every little detail, and we’re not saying that you can’t change your mind or take time to explore. BUT getting into medical schools is HARD, and the competition is STEEP, so careful planning will be crucial to your success. And it’s not just about planning in general. You’ve probably heard the phrase “work smarter, not harder.” The same idea applies here. We want to help you “plan smarter” by offering you tips and insights that will give you a strategic advantage.
The makers of the CASPer, Altus Assessments, have decided to create their own version of the AAMC Video Interview Tool for Admissions (VITA), so that they can cash in on this new market (even though they’re a bit late to the party). Now Altus will have two CASPer tests that it can charge applicants for. Maybe they should spell it CA$$$Per…
You might be wondering if there are any strategies that can give you an edge and help you crush the VITA. It’s smart to review the AAMC’s VITA guide, but we want to offer you some additional strategies that you might not be able to find elsewhere.
Even if you practice for the VITA until you’re blue in the face, it might feel like you’re alone in an echo chamber, with no objective way to gauge the quality of your responses. That’s why we wanted to place you in the position of the evaluator by showing you a sample VITA response and inviting you to participate in our critique. By seeing the negatives and positives of someone else’s sample, you can hopefully improve the quality of your own answers.
In the AAMC VITA, you will be presented with complex questions aiming to gauge your ability to address the AAMC pre-med competencies. Don’t panic quite yet! We’re here to cover some tips for how to ace your responses.
In last week’s post, we covered how to look your best on screen during virtual interviews, including wardrobe, lighting, and backdrop. Now we’re back with more tips to ensure that your virtual interview isn’t jeopardized by faulty technology.
The AAMC House of Horrors has instituted a definitely not new and probably not improved virtual interview tool (VITA), to be used as yet another way for medical schools to evaluate you. We’re here to answer all the questions about aesthetics and appearance that you’re dying to ask.
Imagine having to record an 18-minute speech about your qualifications for becoming a physician. Now imagine that speech being sent to all the medical schools you’re applying to, without being able to make any edits or start over. Sounds pretty terrifying, right? Well, that’s essentially how the new AAMC Video Interview Tool for Admissions (VITA) is going to work… more or less.
It was recently announced that two medical schools - University of California Davis School of Medicine and University of Minnesota Medical School Twin Cities - will be participating in the AAMC’s pilot Situational Judgment Test (SJT). If you’re applying to either or both of these schools, you probably have a lot of questions: Is the pilot test mandatory? Will the test affect my admissions chances? What kinds of questions will be asked? We’re here to help get those questions answered!
When we Googled “how to talk to parents,” the results were all over the map. Some were quite serious: depression, dating, moving out, etc. What we didn’t find was how to talk to your parents about applying to medical school. In our experience, this task can range from laidback to very stressful, depending on the pre-med, family, and numerous factors like income or culture. Regardless of where you fall on that spectrum, we have some helpful tips to prepare you for this pivotal conversation in your pre-med journey.
With recent changes to the MCAT start times to 6:30am, 12:15pm, and 6:00pm each day, some people may find that adjusting their biological clock has been added to the test-day preparation list. Good news - we have some tricks that will make adjusting your sleep much easier.
We’re facing a shortage of doctors in the United States, anywhere between 40 and 100,000 by the year 2030. And yet, getting into medical school is harder than ever. What gives?
Submitting your residency application is all about timing. Download our residency timeline PDF, created by residency advisor Ali Murtha.
Join The Savvy Pre-med's 30-Day “No Complaints” Challenge. This is a personal challenge that can help you focus on the big picture of what you are doing and why. It’s directly related to your mindset and success as a pre-med.