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Saturday
Oct022010

My own Dante's Inferno...or Applying to Med School: Jon Edition (Part 1)

Welcome back to PMH! As you probably noticed, we've been taking a bit of a hiatus recently. I've been super swamped applying to med schools all summer, Mo's been working his tail off and hyperstudying for the MCAT, and Brian is doing triathlons. On top of all this, all three of us are now back in the swing of school, living our (stereotypical) overcommitted lifestyles. So, yes, we apologize for lack of posting. But soon we hope to start posting regularly again!

Ok, that being said, onto the post. DISCLAIMER: any and all of the following are strictly MY experiences, MY opinions, and MY PERSONAL advice. Aka: They should not be taken as gospel...unless you choose to worship me as some sort of cult leader. In that case, shoot me an email so I know I have disciples.

Anywhooo, so as I've stated before, I literally spent almost all of the summer working full-time in a lab and applying to med school. "Whoa, Jon," you're thinking, "did it really take you ALL summer to apply? Why?!" Well young Padawan, lemme start from the beginning.

Back in the day (aka mid to late June), I started filling out my AMCAS and AACOMAS applications. I know, I know, the applications are available way before then, but per the advice of my pre-med advisor, there is no huge advantage to getting your application in May vs. June. So I took my time, crafted my personal statement (a later post if people so wish to hear how I went about it), took the leap, and started my application.

WARNING: Once you start the application, you are entering an abyss of repetition, redundancy, and repetition. You WILL fill out the same question about a million times. You WILL be forced to type our your ENTIRE transcript (x2 if you're doing AACOMAS for Osteopathic school). You WILL write a million essays, all of which are different enough to require individual attention and not similar enough to copy and paste.

Filling out both the AMCAS and the AACOMAS is nerve-wracking and intense. They require LOTS of information and both are very tedious. That being said, my advice to you is this: if you can, get them done relatively quickly. Why? Because the sooner they get in, and the sooner they get your transcript, the sooner you're application will be verified and the sooner you'll start receiving secondary applications. 

But WAIT a hot second. Let's backtrack a little. Before you submit either of those applications, you need to pick schools (well, at least some of them). How do you go about doing that? Well, unless you've been doing research since you decided to be a doctor when you were 7 (aka NOT me), you'll need a little guidance. You're school's pre-med advisor (if you have one) is a great starting point. Though, often, they won't explicitly tell you what schools to apply to; instead, they'll give you resources. This is how I discovered the MSAR, the Medical School Admissions Requirements Handbook, otherwise known as "The Med School Bible". This tome of knowledge not only contains a pretty decent "How-To" on how to apply to med school, but also lists all the med schools in the country, their average applicant and matriculant GPA and MCAT scores, their mission statements, values, unique offerings, what they look for in an applicant. Basically, just about everything you want to know. Unfortunately, you have to fork over some green to get one, but lots of school libraries have the latest (or recent) ones available for perusal. The osteopathic profession has a similar (FREE) book, the Osteopathic College Information Book (CIB) you can download in pdf format here. After picking an initial list, you'll probably want to visit each school's website to do more research. Consider things like cost, curriculum and timeline, student life, etc.

Oh, speaking of cost, DEFINITELY take this into consideration to fees for applying to these schools. Both the AMCAS and AACOMAS require a pretty hefty fee (variable depending on the number of schools), and secondary application fees can range from $50-$100+.

Also before finalizing your list, consider how much work/time you'll be able to put into applications. Don't be stupid like me and apply to more than 25 schools. You WILL have TONS of essays to write, all of which will require individualized attention and a lot of writing (and believe me, the "Oh, I'll just reuse a lot of essays" mentality won't work here. You might be able to loosely adapt other essays you've written, but almost none are exactly the same).

Ok, this post is already obnoxiously long. Stay tuned for part 2 for advice on tackling secondaries and an ongoing reflection on my own application process (I already have three interviews lined up, so you'll be hearing about those in the future!).

If there's anything specifically you guys wanna hear about, let us know! Post in the comments, find us on twitter or facebook, email us, send carrier pigeon, whatever! We like talking to you guys!

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Reader Comments (1)

Ugh...reading your excellent post is giving me a slightly worrisome substernal chest pressure that may represent ischemia of the myocardium. Or maybe just heartburn. It usually happens when I remember what it was like during the medical school application process. It's a variant of PTSD for sure. If I never post again, y'all will know that I've fully infarcted something and am probably on a ventilator somewhere.

It always amazes me to recall just how high the powers that be have set the activation energy for becoming a doctor-- intellectually, emotionally, and financially.

As someone who's gone through it (and then spent a fair bit of time teaching MCAT and advising applicants), I can say, however, that the ultimately reward of all your efforts can be immeasurable-- intellectually, emotionally, and financially. Ok, maybe not financially, but you get the idea...

So keep up the great work, you crazy neurotic premeds...there will be a light at the end of the tunnel. You'll find your niche somewhere in medicine and it will be awesome. That's it for my cheesy pep talk, homies...keep rocking this great blog!

October 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterZDoggMD

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