By: Ryan Kelly
Oh good, we’re glad to see you’re making your travel checklist for your medical school interview.
Just kidding! These items are taken from Zombie Apocalypse Gear: 25 Essentials for Survival. Is the interview trail that bad? Of course not. But when preparing for the trip, pre-meds might feel anxious, pressed for time, paranoid - worried that forgetting one small thing could mean the end of the world.
Relax. Take a deep breath. We’ve got you cWe’ve assembled the Essential Medical School Interview Travel Checklist, which will hopefully ease your mind and remove some of the thinking for you.
Duh. It’s obvious. But how many times do we forget something crucial like our keys, phone, or wallet? Make sure you have your entire outfit ready, ideally packed in a garment bag to keep it in pristine shape. Pack a backup dress shirt/blouse and a backup tie (if applicable).
This would depend on your interview - maybe it’s multiple days or you’ll be traveling for a while. Shoot for one business casual outfit and one more set of clothes for sleeping/relaxing.
It’s nice to have a simple black portfolio, standard and professional, where you can keep all your important documents - your primary and secondary application, your resume/CV, research abstracts, etc. - anything that might come up during the interview. Make several copies of each, just in case.
This token of appreciation would go towards your host (if you’re staying with a medical student). If you can’t think of anything else, a small Starbucks card works fine.
Think of this as your personal portfolio, for your eyes only. This is where you can take notes about the experience, write down questions that come to mind, record thoughts and anecdotes for your thank you notes, etc. It’s especially crucial for MMI interviews, where you can often use a notepad to help formulate your response.
It’s easiest for you to bring these with you, write them after the interview when things are fresh, and drop them in the mail before you leave.
Take whatever you need to look (and smell) your best. We know (hope?) that pre-meds have a pretty good sense of personal hygiene. Ladies, don’t forget a small makeup kit (if that’s important to you) and pack a few extra hair ties. Don’t forget some breath mints and Advil!
You never know when your interview outfit might lose a button or (god forbid) tear its fabric. It’s good to expect the unexpected and be prepared.
You want a stimulating way to kill time that won’t cause you to obsess even more about the interview itself. Bring a book that will inspire you - maybe about someone you admire, or a topic you find fascinating. Besides distracting you, the book might catch the eye of your interviewer and be a launching point for the conversation.
This could be a funny picture, a token from home, or a favorite quote. Use it as your bookmark or tuck it into the pocket of your portfolio, so that it will pop up and remind you to relax. Keep it close and pull it out whenever you feel the stress building.
Our recommendation: Pictures of sloths.
You might be fed at times, like pre-interview dinners and interview-day luncheons. You also might get a chance to try out local cuisine. But there will be pockets of time where you might be stuck waiting a while before eating. You want something fortifying that you can eat on-the-go and won’t be offensive to the stomach. We recommend protein bars or granola bars.
You may need to pay for things quickly or leave a tip at some point, so it’s best to have a small amount of cash ready. This also makes it easier for you to gauge your expenses.
You don’t want to break your glasses or lose your contacts and end up like Mr. Magoo during your interview.
Some people don’t like wearing them, but you won’t want to be constantly checking your phone for the time, so it might be wise to pack a watch if you have a nice, professional one.
These are especially handy if you have to pack your outfit inside your luggage or if you have to wear outfits multiple times.
Interviewing in New England in October? You’ll probably want some kind of jacket and/or beanie. Headed to Southern California? Make sure to pack the sunscreen. Off to Seattle? Don’t forget your umbrella!
You shouldn’t be using your phone that much, but you’ll still want to pack your phone, laptop (optional), and all appropriate chargers you need to stay powered and connected.
In case you need to sleep on the plane or end up with a noisy neighbor in your hotel.
See? That wasn’t so bad. Pack all these things efficiently into one carry-on bag, and you should be prepared for any scenario you encounter. We’ve even put your checklist into a free downloadable pdf. Download the Essential Medical School Interview Travel Checklist.
Got other items you think are essential? Go ahead and pack them. The goal is to feel as comfortable and confident as possible. If that means cramming in a few idiosyncratic items here and there, no problem.
However, you’ll need it to fit everything in a carry-on bag (checking bags is an unnecessary risk), so try not to needlessly overpack. It’s not the zombie apocalypse after all!