The path to medicine can seem daunting as a non-traditional student. There is no denying that the journey is chock-full of uncertainty and obstacles. We interviewed two non-traditional students (one medical student and one current applicant) about their roads to medicine and how they overcame their challenges. We hope these FAQs will be helpful in your own journey!
Community college is a practical and affordable way to receive your education, but what about the stigma that surrounds it? Is it really true or just a myth? The following FAQs will break down every major concern you may have about community college to help ease your journey to medical school.
While the pre-med journey is certainly tenuous and competitive, it is crucial to ensure that your precious downtime is spent wisely. Worry not; we have you covered! Here are some recommended books, podcasts, TikToks, and blogs for you to continue preparing for your future as a healthcare professional.
The pre-med path often seems less like a path and more like a smooth-faced, dastardly vertical cliff to climb. Which foothold should we pre-meds choose? How many should we choose in order to stay latched onto the unruly rock? While we all latched onto the plethora of virtual shadowing and clinical opportunities that popped up during the pandemic, is it time to let go? In this interview, Dr. Christopher Behringer surmises how he would have approached shadowing requirements and medical school applications had he been a pre-med right now. Dr. Behringer also discusses the exciting new ways he and the HEAL Clinical Education Network are working to make the pre-med, medical school, and residency paths more integrated than ever before!
Imagine being a pre-med student in Grant, Nebraska. There are no physicians in your city, the closest clinic is miles away, and you have no connections with anyone in the healthcare field. But your dream is to go to medical school, and all of them require shadowing hours, something you simply don’t have the luxury of pursuing. Physician shadowing is often considered to be one of the most important things a pre-med student can do to prepare for applications and get real-world experience. But while shadowing can be an incredible asset, it’s not always feasible for every pre-med.
The pre-med years are infamous for their high stress and burnout rates: the striving for straight A’s and 528s on the MCAT, the anxiety of meeting a gazillion deadlines, accumulating shadowing hours, working on those extracurriculars, and much more! As you can probably already imagine, you will encounter many more stressful situations in your journey from medical school to residency and so forth. If not addressed promptly, these elevated stress levels can lead to burnout and empathy erosion over time. Thus, it can be helpful to home in on those stress-management strategies right NOW and give yourself a head start. We’ve collected some statistics to give you a better view of the level of stress medical students endure throughout their journey, and the habits some of them have adopted to deal with the high-stress environment of medical school.
Do you understand all the challenges that lie between you and your dream medical school? You might recognize obstacles like obtaining a high GPA or taking the MCAT, but there’s a challenge that blindsides many: describing your shadowing experience. Getting shadowing is difficult enough, and its true benefit is often lost through poor or common descriptions. In this article, we’ll provide you with some do’s and don’ts on how to make your shadowing experiences shine while analyzing samples of students’ writing.
“Virtual shadowing is a waste of time.” All of us in the premed community have probably heard or thought this over the past year as we casually sat in our beds and watched clinical shadowing videos. We may also have wondered, does virtual shadowing really count for anything? As fellow pre-meds, we think that virtual shadowing can definitely play a strong role in your medical school applications if applied effectively. Here’s how you can strengthen your application and maximize your medical knowledge by combining virtual and in person shadowing opportunities!
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.
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?
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?
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!
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?
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.
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.
UPDATES 8/27/20: Medical School Applications Have Gone Up 14% Over This Time Last Year. Click here to read more about this development!
The Best Volunteer Opportunities for Pre-meds During Coronavirus (Without Leaving Home)
50 Activities for Your Pre-med College Bucket List
5 Bold Coronavirus Predictions: What Will Happen to Med School Admissions in 2020?
Quiz: Should You Hire a Medical School Admissions Consultant?
5 Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Medical School Admissions Consultant
The Art of Small Talk: 40 Questions for the Pre-med Conversationalist
Pros and Cons of the New Pass/Fail Step 1 of USMLE
On February 12th, it was announced that Step 1 of the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) will now be graded on a pass/fail basis, as opposed to a numerical score. According to the official announcement, the change will be phased in over the next 11-24 months.
On its face, it looks like DO schools are harder to get into than MD schools (their overall acceptance rate is 7 points lower). So what's happening in the data?
They say “everything is bigger in Texas” - 10-gallon hats, 72oz steaks, the world’s largest cowboy boots - but does this expression hold true for your chances of getting into medical school as well?
Imagine a private gathering of medical school admissions officers, perhaps in an ivory tower somewhere. This conclave of academic gatekeepers, mostly from prestigious schools, is meeting behind-the-scenes to discuss candidates and divvy them up amongst their programs.
In an era of fake news and an explosion of opinions on social media, you may have heard the term “confirmation bias” before. If not, it’s pretty simple - it means we tend to seek out and believe information that reinforces our pre-existing opinions.
People tend to view their strengths and weaknesses as unchangeable - certain superpowers or fatal flaws that are hardwired into their genes and personality.
You've heard us stress the importance of good writing in your medical school application, and being a good writer, just like staying in shape, takes training and practice.
We received a healthy flow of poop responses from all of you, dear readers. Your verbal discharges will not go to waste; no, let us wallow in the bouquet of responses, both good and terrible.
"I'M GOING TO APPLY TO MEDICAL SCHOOL, JUST TO SEE WHAT HAPPENS."
The Savvy Pre-Med: A Conversation with Rob Humbracht
Are you an optimist or pessimist? A glass-half-empty person, or glass-half-full? Patch Adams or Dr. House?
Following the 2016 election, our country has reached unprecedented levels of political polarization. Even the most moderate seem to be caught up in the us-versus-them mentality. People have written each other out of their lives entirely, all in the name of ideology.
“No one can go back and make a brand new start, but anyone can start from the present and make a brand new ending.”
With graduation right around the corner, pre-meds everywhere are taking inventory. You’re looking back - reflecting on your favorite memories and funniest stories from college.
Getting rejected from medical school is like getting dumped. You feel fully committed and enamored with the medical field, only to find out that it doesn’t feel the same way about you. You might feel jaded or cynical. You might even be tempted to give up. It’s only natural to dwell on your flaws or wallow in the self-doubt that comes with rejection.
For pre-meds, this question might sound sacrilegious. Downright blasphemous. Why would we want to stop fixing people?
Like grammar, punctuation helps to ensure clarity in your writing. It’s also a bit like dressing up for an interview--it’s part of your presentation and professionalism, a way to show the reader that you care about how your message is conveyed.
Pre-meds have to be successful to get into medical school: successful at school, on the MCAT, and outside the classroom. The idea of failing might seem foreign or taboo, so resilience is something that pre-meds don’t always realize, or admit, that they need.
When people hear the word ‘valedictorian,’ they might think of a hustling overachiever who participates in every possible organization or activity. Others might picture the opposite--the highly gifted coaster who gets by on nothing but his or her natural ability.
In part two of our new series, the experts at Passport Admissions will be analyzing a student’s application, including both the applicant’s chances of getting accepted into medical school and which aspects of his or her story to highlight. We’ll also give strategies that we recommend to leverage the applicant’s personal strengths and experiences
It’s no secret that doctors are viewed as experts.They are said to provide ‘consultation.’ They hand out notes that free people from work and other responsibilities. If 4 out of 5 of them recommend something, few will disagree. Due to their esteemed position, doctors will always be seen as authority figures whom the public can trust.
In our brand new series, the experts at Passport Admissions will be analyzing a student’s application, including both the applicant’s chances of getting accepted into medical school and which aspects of his or her story to highlight.
When pre-meds see the word “diverse,” they’re likely to consider race, gender, ethnicity, or class status. Most would never think about where their families stored the ketchup.
In the last edition of Highly Recommended, you learned about Dale Carnegie’s famous best-seller, How to Win Friends and Influence People (1936), which encourages certain attitudes and behaviors for achieving social aptitude.But does Carnegie’s advice hold up in the modern era? And if it does, are his steps to winning friends and influencing people even plausible?
Imagine a pot filled with cold water, with a frog peacefully swimming in it. A fire is lit under the pot and the water becomes lukewarm. The frog finds this rather pleasant and keeps swimming, but then the temperature keeps rising. As the water turns hotter, the frog grows uncomfortable, but it also becomes weak, so it stands the heat as long as it can and does nothing.
Pre-meds need help, and not just psychiatric help (though, let’s be honest, plenty of them do). To get into medical school, pre-meds need the help of influential people: professors, doctors, and even other student-group leaders. Pre-meds are often assertive and competitive people, but that’s not always enough to secure letters of recommendation, internships, or research positions.
A fascinating piece by John Oliver and company at This Week Tonight shows just how much money big pharmaceutical companies are spending on marketing to doctors. In fact, while pharmaceutical companies are spending $4 billion dollars a year to market to all 300 million Americans, they're spending $24 billion just to market to the roughly 1 million doctors in the United States.
You’re excited! You’ve got a ticket to the pre-health conference coming up, and you want to make the most out of your workshop schedule. Unfortunately, there’s more workshops than you can possibly attend, so you’re forced to prioritize. How should you figure out what to see and what to skip?