Aspiring Docs Diaries
A blog about what it's like to be med student today
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Ask the Experts: Creating a Winning Application
Brenda D. Lee is the assistant dean for medical education and student affairs at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. She has more than 30 years of experience in medical education, in the areas of medical school admissions and the recruitment and retention of medical students. In addition to Rochester, she has held administrative positions at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Medical School and Harvard Medical School.
Sunny Gibson is the director of the office of diversity and community partnership at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois. She has worked with premedical students for over six years and has read and critiqued more than 1,000 admissions essays. Helping students tell their stories in personal statements is one of her favorite aspects of her job. Ms. Gibson is also working on diversity at the national level as a member of the AAMC's Minority Affairs Section Coordinating Committee.
I applied for medical school a few years ago and, while I went on several interviews, I was not accepted.
As a re-applicant, what do you recommend I do to strengthen or change my application?
Is your volunteer work or other related experiences part of the medical school application?
If so, how would you include that information in the application?
How unwise is it to major in nursing as an undergraduate student if I anticipate attending medical school?
I've heard that medical schools don't like to accept nursing students.
- Do you have any advice for recent graduates that aren't immediately entering medical school?
Does staying out of school a year (or two) hurt our chances of being accepted to competitive schools?
I was admitted to a medical school in 1996. However, in my third year I was forced to leave due to health and family issues.
Since that time I have received my master's degree and have been working in medical research, clinical trials, and the like for a university and large private hospital system. I have found that I truly enjoy research, and I am currently preparing to resubmit an application for the MD/PhD program a several universities. Do you have any advice?
I am interested in applying to medical school, but due to some bad decisions in my youth, I have a transcript that reflects poor academic involvement.
I have improved my overall GPA and it is currently a 3.5+. I am just wondering if the majority of admissions counselors will look at the overall picture, or automatically disregard my application due to the early pattern of negative progress.
As an undergrad, I held a full-time job in the graveyard shift. This created time constraints and left me exhausted. As a result, some of my grades and MCAT exam preparation suffered.
What is the best way to explain this in my personal statement? And where do you draw the line between an explanation and an excuse for this type of situation?
I just got my grades back for the spring semester and I got a C+ in biochemistry.
That took my cumulative GPA from a 3.56 to a 3.25. I intend to re-take the class when it is offered next spring, but I am due to start applying to medical schools next month. Any advice on how to do some damage control?
Should I still apply to medical school with a 3.0 GPA and a low MCAT® exam score even though I have an MS, five publications, and have discovered a protein that has never before been associated with oral cancer?
I am going to retake the MCAT exam, but because I have two jobs, I'm having a difficult time committing to my study schedule. My plan was to retake and excel in the MCAT in June so I can apply early, but it doesn't look like I'm going to make it.
I have taken the MCAT® exam four times. My best score so far has been a 24.
My undergraduate GPA was a 3.0, but by the time AMCAS calculates it, it's about a 2.85. I had a poor sophomore year and did really badly in some science courses. I have been out of school for four years and have been applying without success. Any advice you have for me will be truly appreciated.
I am a current community college student who will transfer to a four-year university. Should I take any pre-med courses at community college or wait until I transfer?
I was planning to take only chemistry and all the math courses required at community college.
Will medical schools look down on science courses you retook at a community college after graduating?
I can't imagine paying for the tuition at a bigger university, and community colleges tend to have class times geared toward full-time working students.
- What are the most important things I should write about in my personal statement?
I have not had one single experience that made me interested in medicine, but rather a culmination of events. Do admissions committees prefer to hear about a defining experience or moment? More generally, what are admissions committees looking for in applications? What do they prefer not to see? Are there elements that all personal statements should contain?
How can I improve my essay to get a seat in a medical school?
I am a second-time applicant with a lot of medical experience.
- I hear that diversity is becoming more important to medical schools. How can I show that I can contribute to that diversity?