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.
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.
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!
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.
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?
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?"
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.
The Best Volunteer Opportunities for Pre-meds During Coronavirus (Without Leaving Home)
50 Activities for Your Pre-med College Bucket List
Do's and Don'ts for Writing About Coronavirus in Your Personal Statement
How do ordinary people get into medical school?
How Do Ordinary People Get into Medical School?
The Top 40 Pre-med Summer Internships
Five Types of Med School Gap Years, Ranked Best to Worst
The MedSwipe Dating App: A Guide to Your Med School Application
As you get ready to apply to med school, you should update your resume. But it's not because you will use a resume when you actually apply to med school. You don't submit a resume as part of AMCAS or AACOMA
Running in charity 5Ks. Traveling around the globe. Playing the piano. These might sound like great hobbies to include in your medical school application, but the truth is that every pre-med does them.
One of our core philosophies is based on a question that most pre-meds aren’t asking before they apply to medical school.“Why should medical schools accept you? What makes you stand out?”
The race begins! The AMCAS (American Medical College Application Service) opens tomorrow, and if you’re not one of the first few to fill it out in the hours that it opens, you will never fulfill your dreams of becoming a physician.
Imagine you’ve worked hard for months on your AMCAS application, and you’re showing it to your pre-health advisor for the first time.
Pre-meds have a dilemma - they need to be both qualified and distinct as a candidate, but those two things can feel contradictory, or at least mutually exclusive. How can you be both at the same time? How can you avoid the “boxy” fate of so many pre-meds?
It’s easy to feel inferior as a pre-med. You look around your classes and see people who are smarter than you, work harder than you, who have overcome unbelievable obstacles to get where they are today.
In the late 1980s, Flea and Anthony Kiedis--the two founders of Red Hot Chili Peppers--were having a hard time finding a drummer. The band had already met with some success, releasing three albums, the last of which had climbed to number 148 on the Billboard charts. The original drummer quit after a drug overdose claimed the life of his close friend and lead guitarist. The next two drummers were both fired, one for chemistry and the other because he couldn't stay sober. The Chili Peppers needed a drummer, one who not only could play the drums but would fit with the band.
Do any of the following sound like you?You’re volunteering every week in the hospital to get enough hours to put on your medical school application.You’re pushing through your research internship even though you don’t like it much - because you know medical schools want students with research experience.You’re volunteering your time at a homeless shelter or attending blood drives to get your hours above the threshold most medical schools seek in their applicants (roughly 200 hours if you’re curious).
Being a pre-med is like playing a massive, multiplayer role-playing game (RPG). Similar to characters in RPGs, pre-meds must gain experience, collaborate with others, conquer obstacles, and step into unfamiliar territory.
A ‘manifesto’ is a published declaration of someone’s intentions, motives, or views. Although often associated with radical politics and revolution, manifestos can be written to capture the spirit of any group or movement. Why does research need a manifesto?
Quit your research?! What pre-med in their right mind would question their coveted research position, let alone actually quit? The word ‘quit’ is not typically part of a pre-med’s vocabulary, and the last thing you want is to be viewed as weak or non-committal.
‘Parameters.’ ‘Controlled environment.’ ‘Following protocol.’Let’s be honest - these words don’t exactly instill feelings of growth and independence. Early in your research career, it’s normal to become a tad disenchanted by the lab.
The medical school application process can be cryptic, and the resume is no different.What do admissions committees want to see? How should my resume look? Is X, Y, or Z important to include?
In our first installment, we broke down myths #1-5 in an attempt to decode the cryptic and overwhelming medical school admissions process.Now we’re back to complete the top ten and put an end to the rumors once and for all.
In our work with pre-meds, we hear all kinds of crazy claims. About 95% of the time we hear one of the above phrases, what follows is false. No, you don’t need 400 hours of shadowing to get into medical school. No, it doesn’t help to finish college in three years. And when you get a rejection letter, you shouldn’t call the medical school and plead to be given a second chance.
BONUS: Every Secondary Essay Prompt For Your Medical Schools. Overachievement is clearly the norm for pre-meds. So it’s no surprise that they’re expected to complete something ‘secondary’ months in advance.
Even though it seems straightforward, the Work and Activities Section should not be taken lightly. It’s the first piece of your writing that admissions committees will read (yes, even before your personal statement), so it’s crucial to make the best possible first impression.
Although the information has been altered slightly, this list contains real activities from real former students--all of whom were accepted into medical school. Even though the entries are quite diverse, they all have one thing in common: they’re all unexpected pastimes that deviate from the pre-med norm.
Community service should only feel obligatory when it’s court-mandated. If your service in college feels like the metaphorical equivalent of picking up trash on the freeway, then you’re doing something wrong.
One year from today, your life will be over. When you start medical school, you will be consumed by academic and extracurricular responsibilities, and your free time will effectively end. And of course, while it's hard to think about that day when we haven't yet gotten in, it's important to plan for it nonetheless.