For the third year in a row at the AAMC Virtual Medical School Fair, prospective students will “meet” online with medical schools and learn about the admissions process. This year, more than 60 schools from the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico are setting up virtual booths—a 26% increase over last year’s event—and organizers expect higher numbers of students as well, with participants projected to exceed 10,000.
Under a single online “tent,” the fair provides students with a nine-hour, one-stop shopping opportunity to view videos about schools, chat live with faculty members and current matriculants, tuck informational materials into virtual backpacks, and more—all without travel or time away from work or school.
“Our hope is that the fair will help level the playing field by saving students travel expense and time,” says Rebecca A. Rice, AAMC director of services outreach.
“We want to show that anyone can aspire to a medical career and give them hope to pursue their dream of a career in medicine.”
AAMC director of premedical and applicant resources
As in the past, students can navigate to spaces like a welcome lobby with an AAMC general information booth. This year, though, more admissions officers and prehealth advisors will be available to answer questions, and a booth has been added to explain the Summer Health Professions Education Program, which helps students explore health careers while still undergraduates.
“We want to show that anyone can aspire to a medical career,” explains Tami Levin, AAMC director of premedical and applicant resources, “and give them hope to pursue their dream of a career in medicine.”
Last year’s fair was “a great experience—very beneficial,” says Jake Bauer, a registered nurse in Tullahoma, Tenn., who hopes to attend medical school. “It made things a lot easier because it’s all in one spot. I could talk to people from different schools without it being cost prohibitive. There were a lot of resources, like how to help pay for medical school and types of loans. And I wasn’t expecting so much information for nontraditional students like me.” After attending the fair, Bauer took the MCAT exam, applied to several schools, and has been interviewed by three.
From the admissions office perspective, the virtual fair has many benefits as well, says Mercedes Rivero, assistant dean for admissions at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. “It creates more efficiency in the recruitment process,” she says. “We can reach a broader, diverse pool of students with fewer logistical challenges.” Recruitment events generally are regional, Rivero notes, but the virtual fair allows schools to more easily reach students from areas all across the country. “[It helps] find the right fit for student and school.”